Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Mars Phoenix Lander is reaching the end of it's mission .... unlike the rovers ... as Mars moves into winter the landing site where Phoenix is will become progressively colder and darker ... the Lander will no longer be able to function and will eventual be encased in carbon dioxide ice as the polar cap begins to extend.
What makes this more interesting ... I've been following the progress of the mission on Twitter .... @MarsPhoenix is the only person (thing??) I'm following on Twitter that is sent to my cell phone .... also the team has been tweeting in the persona of the Lander. Lately it's all been talk about how the team is doing everything it can to keep her going ... as if the doctors and family were keeping vigil at her bedside. It's like we're loosing a friend.
It seems like only yesterday I posted this.
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:35 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Winter is here '08
Not too surprising .... we've had snow for Halloween before .... however Mother Nature wasn't prepared this time ....
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 10:07 AM
Sunday, October 19, 2008
A lesson in Putting Country First
I hope Mr. McCain was watching "Meet The Press" this morning. He and is running mate have campaigned on the platform of "putting country first" but I think this morning former Secretary of State Colin Powell taught us all a lesson on the topic.
Colin Powell, General in the United States Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush during the first Gulf War, former Secretary of State for George W. Bush, by all accounts a committed Republican, today endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President.
The reasons Mr. Powell gives for his decision:
On the economic crisis: "[McCain] was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem.... He didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had."
On Mr. McCain's choice of running mate: "I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of vice president... that raised some question in mind mind as to the judgment that Sen. McCain made."
On the whole William Ayers issue: "I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for."
On the insinuations Mr. Obama is a Muslim: "What if he is [a Muslim]? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that's not America."
On where the Republican party is going: "It has moved more to the right more than I would like to see it." "Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower." " ... the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration."
Here is the segment in his own words:
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 6:14 PM
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Rob's Rants endorses Barack Obama for president
Note: The title of this post was going to be: "Reasons I prefer Obama over McCain" but after putting so much work into it it just didn't seem right.
Last nights debates prompted me to think about any personal debates I may engage in. Intelligent debate requires preparation, so I decided I should list the reasons why I will be voting for Mr. Obama this fall rather than Mr. McCain:
Mr Obama would champion increased federal funding for basic research doubling that amount currently funded over the next 10 years. He would also propose federal funding for "high risk - high payoff " R&D that the private sector would be reluctant to fund. His education department would encourage a strong science curriculum with the hope of attracting more young people to technology based careers. Finally his administration would make the current R&D tax credit to business permanent.
Mr. McCain says he will also fund basic research in nanotech, biotech and manned space exploration by eliminating wasteful spending and elimination of earmarks.
My opinion, Mr. Obama is more focused on funding education and academia vs. Mr. McCain who would rather drive federal funds toward corporations in biotech and aerospace.
2- Stem Cells
Mr. Obama believes stem cell research holds great promise and should be federally funded, unencumbered by ideological restrictions. Mr. McCain says he also favors federal stem cell funding but is unclear and says it should not "sacrifice moral principals." Accoring to votesmart.org Mr. McCain would NOT allow laboratories to create new lines of stem cells for additional research. I trust Mr. Obama more to do the right thing.
3- Women's Reproductive Choice
Mr. Obama supports a woman's right to choose while Mr. McCain is strongly opposed to abortion and has a senate voting record to back it up. Mr. McCain considers Roe v. Wade a "flawed decision" however he seems to lighten his stance in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Mr. McCain also opposed legislation that requires health plans to cover the cost of contraception.
(sources: Fact Check: Obama on McCain's abortion stance
McCain's lack of candor on reproductive rights)
4- Sex Education
Mr. Obama believes in and has supported legislation for comprehensive sex education in schools. The McCain camp attempted to turn this support against him by implying he supported sex education for children as young as kindergartners, while it's true the legislation mandated some sort of sex-ed at that level, the type of education would be more about recognizing and responding to attempts at sexual abuse.
Mr. McCain favors abstinence only sex education. In our day and age, children get bombarded with messages about sex from the TV, Music and the Internet. Even if you are the type of parent the closely monitors their media there are still their friends at school that fill them in and apply peer pressure. What's worse teenagers having safe sex or teenagers dropping out of high school to have babies?? Abstinence-only sex ed defies common sense. Those who favor abstinence only sex-ed believe "It is the will of God that you abstain from sexual impurity until you are married." Some promoters of Abstinence-only admit: It's doesn't matter if the programs are effective at preventing teen pregnency and STDs but rather the "values" that are being taught.
(source: McCain's lack of candor on reproductive rights, It's Magic: How Can McCain and Palin Still Support Ab-Only?)
5- Health Care
Mr. Obama would like to see ALL children covered by health insurance, with either a new public health insurance or private plans. He would also look to insurance companies to cover young adults on their parents plan until age 25. Employers that don't provide a "meaningful" health insurance to their employees would be required to pay a new payroll tax that would fund the new public plan. Those who could not afford (based on income) to purchase health insurance would receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance or enroll in the new public plan.
Mr. McCain would prefer to encourage competition, decrease regulation, expand the use of Health Savings Accounts, and provide a $2,500 tax credit to individuals, $5,000 to families to help pay for private health insurance. Well that's nice .... but what if you don't make enough money to PAY $5,000 of taxes in the first place????
(source: The Joint Center on Economic and Political Studies: Health Care Proposals of the 2008
Democratic and Republican Presidential Nominees)
6- Gay Rights
Neither candidate supports gay marriage. However both oppose the "Defense of Marriage Act" and believe the issue should be left to the states to decide.
Mr. Obama opposes "don't ask, don't tell" believing that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. He also believes gay couples should have equal rights in matters of adoption.
On the other hand Mr. McCain believes "don't ask, don't tell" has been "effective" and that gays in the military "presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline." He is against gay and lesbian couples adopting children, and states: "it is important for us to emphasize family values."
Mr. Obama realizes you can't have "diplomacy in isolation." In order to find diplomatic solutions one must have a dialogue. Mr. McCain has echoed Mr. Bush's phrase "all options are on the table" basically signaling our adversaries should bend to our military might. Let's not forget his famous ditty "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!" Clearly he is in "Clint Eastwood" mode with his finger on the trigger waiting for someone to flinch.
(source: Presidential Candidates on Foreign Policy)
Mr Obama seeks to remove combat troops from Iraq immediately leaving behind a small contigency (35,000) to protect diplomats and weed out Al-Qaeda. Mr. McCain's plan: a continuation of the Bush plan, stay fight and see what happens .... no end game in sight ... no goal to speak off.
(source: Presidential Candidates on Foreign Policy)
9- Net Neutrality
A tough one to unravel since there is no commonly accepted standard for what is Net Neutrality. While John McCain claims he supports an open internet by "keeping the internet free of government regulation" That might work if the internet wasn't run by large telecoms that function as pseudo-monopolies interested in only promoting their product. Barack Obama supports Net Neutrality openly.
10- The Economy
Both candidates want to give tax breaks, they differ in who they want to give them to. No surprise, Mr. Obama would prefer to give tax breaks to individuals and families rather than corporations. He would look to create a $500/person or $1000/family tax credit which would virtually eliminate federal taxes for the poorest 10 million Americans. He would look to eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 a year. He looks to streamline the tax filing process by having the IRS use information it already receives from financial institutions and employers to pre-complete tax returns that individuals need only sign and return saving nearly $2 Billion in tax preparation fees. Mr. Obama will also look to create new jobs by investing in our nations infrastructure.
Mr. McCain, like most of his Republican colleagues, feels the best way to help the economy is from the top, by giving businesses and the more well-to-do tax breaks. He would look to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and fund those cuts by reducing "pork barrel spending" .. easy to say ... hard to do when just about EVERY piece of legislation in Washington has a "little something" tucked in it to get someones vote. He speaks of a "line item veto" which was tried once before during the Clinton administration and the Supreme Court found it to be unconstitutional. He would also look to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax COMPLETELY rather than just adjust it for modern times.
The Obama plan intends to put money back in the hands of those who will spend it and drive the economy, while the McCain "trickle down" approach will likely not do that.
(sources: Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan, McCain proposes economic plan with corporate tax break, McCain's Economy Platform: Big Tax Cuts, With Caveats)
11- Choice of Running Mate
This is more personal opinion that fact based .... but I'll try .... Barack Obama picked Joe Biden. Mr. Biden has years of experience in Washington and is also a long-time member and current chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. So one could say where Mr. Obama lacks experience, he can count on his most trusted adviser his Vice President. It's also clear that Mr. Biden would be ready to assume the roll of President if it ever became necessary.
Mr McCain, as the Chicago Tribune says:
"McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country."
I can't blame him for trying to put a woman on the ticket, but what about: Olympia Snowe, Elizabeth Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jodi Rell, Condoleezza Rice .... No, instead of brains and experience we get the "pit bull" with a "six pack." What was he thinking??? Mr. McCain sold out his country, the country he fought for and sat in a P-O-W camp for .... to make nice with the conservative fringe of his party.
So there you have it, well thought out, finely researched, all sources cited. I welcome any and all opposing viewpoints ..... but be prepared to back them up.
Special thanks to my loving wife and intellectual confidant Lisa who squelched some of my more snarky comments in an effort to keep me on message.
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 12:04 AM
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Why is the USA content to be stupid??
A story in the New York Times caught my eye: Math Skills Suffer in U.S., Study Finds.
The story goes on to say how we are failing to develop math skills of boys and girls ESPECIALLY AMONG THOSE WHO COULD EXCEL AT IT.
From the Times Article:
A major reason, according to the study, is that American culture does not highly value talent in math, and so discourages girls — and boys, for that matter — from excelling in the field.
A Study done by the American Mathematical Society: Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving goes even further saying:
So there you have it ... it's just not cool to be smart.
Many USA-born white and historically underrepresented minorities who are gifted in mathematics do not participate in MATHCOUNTS®, AMC examinations, or, even, school mathematics clubs and teams. When asked why, a typical response is, “Only Asians and nerds do math (extracurricularly).” In other words, it is deemed uncool within the social context of USA middle and high schools to do mathematics for fun; doing so can lead to social ostracism. Consequently, gifted girls, even more so than boys, usually camouflage their mathematical talent to fit in well with their peers.
It makes me angry, it makes me sad. I just don't understand it. Why is it cool to be ignorant?? I can't say it's that everyone is so self absorbed to care about the world around them .... because I'm willing to bet the last season of American Idol saw more votes cast then will likely be cast in the upcoming election. It just seems that everyone is distracted about things that don't really matter.
It doesn't make any sense ... it seems counter intuitive .... on an evolutionary scale .... why does it matter who got voted off the island .... or who will be the next super model??? It's like mosquitoes being drawn to the the bug zapper. Why is our country so preoccupied with the "bright and shiny" to the detriment of useful knowledge when it will eventually lead to our demise?
Don't get me wrong ... I'm not so much of a nerd that I read ONLY math books for entertainment .. I like watching Football, Soccer, Basketball, Women's Beach Volleyball. But I know what's important. I question the world around me ... why stuff works the way it does ... I don't believe everything I hear with out researching it more ... and I sit here and write about the things I don't understand in the hopes that someone with the answers will read this someday and share that knowledge with me.
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:28 PM
It's the rise of the religious right.
Ignorance is bliss, remember. That's why Adam and Eve were ejected from the garden of Eden, for eating of the tree of knowledge. And that's why Satan is evil; he offers knowledge and free will.
Can't run a pyramid scheme if people know too much. An intelligent populace that can do math would never allow the future of their children to be mortgaged by billionaire CEOs, or contribute to a charity that already controls $50 trillion in assets.
Feeling anxious? Pop a pill and wash it down with a 5000 calorie fast food meal. You'll feel better in no time.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
US debt clock runs out of digits
Well it seems that $700 Billion bailout (err .. excuse me ... as Mr. McCain would say "rescue") broke something else .... The National Debt Clock in Manhattan "rolled over" .... the National Debt now exceeds $9,999,999,999,999 .... or $10 Trillion. The owners of the clock have had to improvise and tack on a number one. They will be making a more permanent modification soon .... adding TWO more digits positions .. upgrading the capacity to just shy of $1 quadrillion.
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:16 AM
Friday, October 03, 2008
Joe Sixpack ????
It's been hard enough over the last 8 years dealing with a president that thought he represented the "regular guy" .. dressing up in his Wranglers, checkered shirt, cowboy hat .. toting his chain saw around the ranch clearing brush .... talking with terms like "Wanted: dead or alive" .... I've winced every time I saw the man ....
Now the Republican Vice Presidential candidate wants to represent "normal Joe Sixpack" .... I physically SHAKE every time I hear that ..... WTF!!!!
Doesn't that offend anybody??? It conjures up an image of an overweight guy, belly hanging over his pants, t-shirt riding up .... hasn't shaved in 3 days .... hair is a mess ... covered with a "CAT Diesel" hat .... with a six-pack of bud (cans) in one hand and pretzels in the other ..... are people seriously proud of looking like that???
Is this the image we want to project to the rest of the world???
#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 1:21 PM
It's like we've given up on trying to elect leaders who are smarter than we are for some reason. I just don't get it. On a recent radio talk show, the host actually asked a pro-Palin caller this question, and the caller indicated that no, he did not want leaders smarter than him. The host was stunned into silence for a moment before saying something like, "then you're too stupid to even be on the radio", and hung up. Just when you think we've hit the low point, you're proved wrong yet again. Never overestimate the general public.