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So we’re up to day 2 of no power due to the outage from the snow storm that made it’s way through the DC region on Wednesday night. The temperature in the house is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the street behind my house has power, the main road at the end of the street has power and the end of the block has power. PEPCO, the power company who likes to claim – “We’re connected to you by more than just power lines” – now says that they may have power restored by Sunday night at 11PM. To add salt to the wound it turns out that PEPCO waited until well into the storm before asking for help from neighboring utilities.

I’m sure I’ll get e-mail from people saying “well…go out and buy a generator” (that would probably be the Republican answer) and others will say “PEPCO should be fined for their lack of reliability” (BTW – they rank near the bottom nationwide in terms of electric reliability) (that would probably be the Democrat answer). In the end I will probably go out and buy a whole house generator as insurance that the next time this happens (and I’m sure that it will since PEPCO doesn’t seem intent on doing jack-shit about their infrastructure) I will at least be able to stay in the house comfortably and get things done. But that’s the rub – why should I have to go out and spend thousands of dollars to make sure I can have reliable power? Wasn’t that what deregulation and all that bullshit was supposed to provide? Wasn’t deregulation supposed to be a win-win for the consumer? Yes I get my power from an alternative provider – but the problem is that the distribution network is all PEPCO. There’s no way for another provider to come in and say “hey, I can provide you power distribution more reliably than PEPCO.” So in the end the consumer is screwed and has to spend his own money to do the very thing the utility is supposed to do!

I also noticed this morning that I’ve got two branches from a white oak tree on my property that broke due to the weight of the wet snow. So now I’ve got to get someone to come in and cut them back. What would probably cost me $100 in Texas will probably end up costing me $500 here in Maryland. Why? Well, because in Maryland, everything costs more. It costs more to live here, it costs more to eat here, it costs more to drive around here…it just costs more. I’m sick and tired of being asked to pay more and more for less and less. I’m no certainly no Republican or Tea-Party wannabe but I’m at the point when I think enough is enough. I realize that taxes have their place…and I don’t mind paying my fair share. What I DO mind is paying my fair share only to find that others find ways around paying THEIR fair share by sleight of hand and financial trickery and enriching themselves. Then they go around and bitch and moan about how taxes are STILL too high.

It seems that everything I buy at the store is made in China these days. Why? Because it’s cheaper for the company to make it in China…the company’s profits are higher, the CEO’s bonus is bigger and yet the products are worse. It’s all about competitiveness…uh huh…and if you believe that then I’ve got some land in Libya that you may be interested in. It’s all about profit…and making great numbers every quarter to make sure the analysts on Wall Street (who should all be thrown in the ocean anyway…What do you get when you’ve got 1000 Wall Street analysts at the bottom of the ocean? – A good start!) are happy so that the stock prices go up. That’s the truth. And if they can get you to pay MORE for the product that costs them LESS to manufacture and ship over here…well so much the better. That’s what a Capitalist market is supposed to do, I get that. But it’s getting to the point that I feel like I’m paying more for less and that less is breaking more often or not lasting nearly long enough to make it worth the “more” I’m paying for it.

So, I’m expecting PEPCO to ask for more money in a little while in order to cover their expected infrastructure upgrades to make their system more reliable. And, somehow, I figure the Maryland PUC will acquiesce and allow PEPCO to charge more. And in the end that money will go to higher salaries and bigger bonuses for executives and senior managers at PEPCO with no real change in the reliability of their infrastructure. And when the next storm rolls through here, I won’t be surprised that the power goes out again for days on end…hopefully then I’ll be sitting in a house that is powered by my own generator.

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I heard it but couldn’t believe it. I had to whip out my phone and start surfing the web for information about it. Surely the quote was taken out of context. He must have been misquoted…but alas, no. I looked at the links Google had returned, selected one and started reading.

Apparently NASA, whose historic mission was to promote and help lead research and development in the field of science, math, and engineering in the US and to develop America’s space capabilities has now been charged with a new mission – to reach out to Muslim (and predominantly Muslim) nations – to help them “feel good” about their contributions to math, science and engineering – to “boldly” go where no one has gone before!

I read it and just about fell off my chair. What kind of nonsense is this? I figured that perhaps the writer of the column must have gotten it wrong. He must have misunderstood. Sadly…no. I heard it from the proverbial “horse’s mouth”:

Yep…you heard it right. Apparently President Obama charged NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, with a new mission for NASA. No longer was space exploration (either manned or unmanned) it’s primary goal. No longer was research into aeronautics and astronautics a goal. No…the new goals are:

  1. Help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math,
  2. Expand America’s international relationships, and
  3. Reach out to the Muslim world

Ok…#1 and #2 — that makes sense. When I heard #3 my brain did a quick double take to make sure I understood what I had just heard and read. #1 and #2 fit in with NASA’s historic missions of science, math, and engineering research and development as well as our cooperative efforts in space exploration with other countries. But #3? Now, NASA is supposed to “reach out to the Muslim world”? And not just reach out to the Muslim world (as well as the “dominantly Muslim nations”) but to “help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” You know, I’m sorry if they don’t “feel good” about themselves or their past contributions to science, math and engineering…but is that really America’s fault? I mean come on, yes, Islam did make very significant contributions to math, science, and engineering but that ended centuries ago. Since the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 Islam’s advances in sciences has been on the decline and has continued to do so due to a wide variety of factors. But why does the American taxpayer have to pay for NASA to reach out to the Muslim world in order to make them “feel good” about those contributions? That is not what NASA’s mission ever was or should be.

And why does this administration single out Muslim and “dominantly Muslim” nations as a focus for this effort? Why not reach out to the Indians? Or the Congolese? Or the Zulu? Why the Muslims? As Charles Lane of the Washington Post put it:

But does it follow that the U.S. government should seek cooperation on space projects with the government of a particular country explicitly because its people are mostly Muslim?

Doesn’t this put us in the position of categorizing nations by religion as opposed to other characteristics, such as whether they are democratic? We did not pursue space partnerships with Europe because it was “Christian” or Israel because it was Jewish, did we?

Lane, Charles, “NASA: Mission to Mecca“, Washington Post, July 7, 2010

This is one of the most ridiculous re-visioning of NASA’s mission that I have ever seen. First, President Obama says that we can’t get anywhere beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) without international help (hmmm….let me see…aren’t we still the only country who has landed a man on the moon and returned him safely to earth – even now…40 years after the accomplishment was made?) and now he wants NASA to become some sort of outreach organization to help Muslims feel good about their past accomplishments. If the Muslims want to feel good about their past accomplishments they can certainly do so without our help. On top of that it seems that this administration policy may well be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. As Charles Lane of the Washington Post continues:

[T]he Constitution expressly forbid[s] the establishment of religion. How can it be consistent with that mandate and the deeply held political and cultural values that it expresses for the U.S. government to “reach out” to another government because the people it rules are mostly of a particular faith?

Lane, Charles, “NASA: Mission to Mecca“, Washington Post, July 7, 2010

This has to be one of the worst ideas to come out of this administration. It is a waste of NASA talent, a waste of American taxpayer money, and it certainly doesn’t make sense…to me as well as to many other people. As Charles Krauthammer said in an interview on Fox News: “This is a new height in fatuousness…this idea to feel good about their past scientific achievements is the worst combination of group therapy, psycho-babble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy. If I didn’t know that Obama had told this I’d demand the firing of Charles Bolden.” Amen to that Mr. Krauthammer…Amen to that!

Apparently when the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the BBC (among others) decides that they’re not. It seems that the Western media has some serious problems with telling things accurately and objectively. In the terror attacks in Mumbai this past week which left hundreds dead these news organizations refused to call these murderers for what they really are — terrorists. Instead they choose to use a more generic term — militants and in doing so they tacitly gave moral equivalence to these attackers as legitimate military forces.

The difference, and this is very significant, is that military forces abide (hopefully) by the 4th Geneva Convention. Today, even true quasi-military organizations like the Congolese rebels are expected to abide by the Geneva Conventions. But terrorist organizations eschew such restrictions and deliberately target civilians in order to effect their primary aim — to instill terror among them. As such they are nothing but murderers and deserve no protection from the Geneva Convention. But to call them militants clouds the distinction between actual military organizations and these murderers. And it seems that the Western media such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC (among others) consciously choose to do so in order to inject their subjective viewpoints. In doing so they give an air of legitimacy to these terrorists that their acts of barbarism and murder is justified.

But these news organizations are WRONG. There is absolutely NO justification for deliberately targeting civilians and murdering innocent men, women, AND children. But according to the New York Times, the Washington Post and the BBC there apparently is…and hence they call them militants instead of what they truly are — terrorists.

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