Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ahh, The Power Of Cheese

Life is better with cheese! This November, vote for cheese.

Nostalgia: I Believe In Miracles

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing in small doses. This made me laugh in 2001; it'll make you laugh now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Care Subsidarity

David Freddoso has an enlightening article at the Examiner about doctors who want to give away health care for free, but are constrained from doing so largely by the Government.

Stan Brock just wants to help. The former co-star of "Wild Kingdom" wants to deliver free medical, dental and vision care to the poor. Whereas most politicians talk about "bending the cost curve" in health care, Brock simply wants to break it - to provide care free of charge, at the hands of unpaid volunteer doctors and dentists using donated equipment.

RAM [Remote Area Medical] runs on a shoestring budget of about $300,000 and takes no government money. It concentrates its operations in Tennessee for one simple reason: It is the only state with a full-blown "open-borders" policy toward volunteer out-of-state doctors. The obstacles in many other jurisdictions are daunting for an organization that seeks to treat thousands of patients in a short period.

Now I understand the need for high medical standards and accountability and to make sure that not just any quack can start tinkering with the lives and health of the poor (simply because they are poor), but outfits like RAM illustrate a vital point: people who actually want to help out their neighbor don't lack the skill or the will, just the way.

Seems like we need more of this kind of thing and less of that centralized planning model kind of health care "reform". Government's job should be to encourage and enable this kind of innovation, not take it over. What RAM appears to be doing here fits a lot better with the Catholic principle of subsidarity (h/t Brad Miner):
subsidiarity: A term (the Latin subsidium for aid, help) from Roman Catholic social philosophy which expresses the view that, whenever practicable, decisions ought to be made by those most affected by the decisions.

Put another way: the national government ought only to do what the states cannot; the states only what communities cannot; communities only what families cannot; families only what individuals cannot.

This is not to suggest that Catholic social theory (especially as read in papal encyclicals) is always in favor of the minimalist state. John XXIII in Pacem in Terris (1963), while affirming the doctrine of subsidiarity, called for publicly funded health and unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and government support for the arts. Still, it is clear that “a planned economy . . . violates the principle of subsidiarity.
Or put another way, we desire health care subsidarity, not just subsidies. Catholic Bishops have been calling for "universal health coverage" for decades, but the devil is in the details. The "preferential option for the poor" is not synonymous with the current "public option" being rammed down taxpayers' throats in what amounts to a takeover of a fifth of the U.S. economy. Troubling issues remain like abortion coverage, individual mandate, penalties, rationing, privacy concerns -- there does not have to be this all-or-nothing approach the current legislation proposes.

The efficacy of any government program is inversely proportional to the urgency of the need they claim to pass it.

Three Umbrella Day

This week in D.C. it's been raining like the dickens.

Soft and sprinkle-y at first and then sudden deluges. Although the Northern Virginia climate sees the least amount of storms in the whole state, the path of thunderstorms seems to follow Rte. 66 like an arrow.

Having to hoof it from the Metro and parts of D.C., it's important to pack an umbrella or two during the rainy season. I have a compact one that fits in my laptop bag and a cane umbrella that offers more protection from stronger rains and unwary pigeons.

I chose the cane umbrella for today's unpredictable gusts, but when I pressed the release button and gave it a little shake, the hollow metal tubing bent and the wooden handle snapped off! Now I had a fine top cover with no way to effectively hold it.

I pitched the cane umbrella in the trash and dug out the collapsible. It released fine, but half of the vanes were broken and wouldn't hold up the entire canopy. I limped along the street until I got to my building, then trashed the second umbrella.

Now, it's a proverb that you shouldn't buy an umbrella on a rainy day, since you'll get gouged, but what's a body to do when you go 0-2 on umbrellas in a single day? I settled on a cheap job from CVS to take me home in relative dryness, but I'll have to get a "real" one later.

My last and best umbrella when all else fails is a shapeless baseball hat stuffed in the bottom of my bag. At least it's not subject to structural integrity problems or "wardrobe malfunctions".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tied Up In Knots

Wynken and I went on a Boy Scout camporee where the older boys were teaching the younger boys how to tie knots. I've always been fascinated by knot tying, but am completely unable to tie anything other than my shoes.

Wynken actually has trouble tying his shoes securely, so I was amazed to see him picking up these knots so quickly and easily. I think his fine motor coordination has finally caught up to where it needs to be. Intrigued, I sat down with the boys and tried to learn the knots myself. If you do any serious camping you have to know how to tie knots.

I was actually able to figure out one or two, and then I came home and found this great site, I Will Knot, where they break down the knots with step-by-step videos. This totally takes out the mystery for me since I can't always "get" what is supposed to happen by illustration alone.

I actually spent three hours learning and tying knots -- it's a little addictive. Now I just need to know when to apply a particular knot and I'll have a "real" skill. The Nodlings found the knot tying cool, too. "Daddy, Daddy, teach me another one!" I had to laugh, "Give me two minutes to learn it myself!"

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #28

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: God is in the small things.


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

God Is In The Small Things

We've all heard the scripture where Elijah goes up on the mountain because he is told the Lord will be passing by. The Lord is not in the earthquake or the wind or the fire but in the quiet whispering sound.

Life is sometimes like that. This week there have been no "big events" -- no spontaneous conversions, no deep experiences of God, no marathon prayer times -- and yet it's been one of my favorite weeks of late.

Work has been interesting with a little side project, Nod-girl has been delighting with her musical knowledge, we're on our fifth night of fuss-free bedtime routine with the kids, and we had a romp at the park.

We have enough money to pay our bills, we invested in a side of beef, and Mrs. Nod and I got to enjoy a little Father Brown movie together.

Nothing huge, just ordinary life humming along. And yet I knelt in Mass today and whispered to my God, "Thank you."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

People Watching

One of the more interesting things about riding the Metro is there's ample opportunity to watch people. All kinds of people, coming and going. Most people act like you can't see them 5 feet away. That's a pleasant fiction most days.

I saw Moses again today. Moses is tall, black, with bleached braids, sandals, a walking staff, no shirt, and jean cutoffs with a slit up the side all the way to the waistband. Oh, and Moses goes "commando" under those shorts. Don't ask me how I know. Moses is having a grand time.

I saw a late 20-something girl on the train. Plain, slightly heavy on the lower half, pleasant, soft-spoken, frameless glasses, nails that are bitten to the nub. Plain girl reaches into her bag and surreptitiously pops out a birth control pill out of a non-marked pack and swallows it. No ring, therefore unmarried; sad. Nervous, slightly repressed.

I saw a tall woman, 30-ish walking down the platform. It was hard to miss her, since she was literally head and shoulders above the crowd -- at least 6 foot 6 inches. So tall that she has to walk slouched. No makeup, no particular care in appearance. She seems so sad.

I see iPod guy. He's got that short haircut that purposely has that slept on it look. You know, the one with all the gel in it to make it stick up all over. Trendy clothes, maybe even a little retro. His iPod is so loud I can hear his music clearly 15 feet away. iPod guy must be deaf.

Just another day on the Metro ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Threw A Brick

Laying brick is hard. Oh, there are any number of videos on YouTube that will show you just how easy brick laying is, and Lowe's wants you to believe that the DIY brick project is definitely within your skill set. But let's face it, if it was that easy, we wouldn't have brick masons.

There really is such a thing as ACME Brick. Sounds cliche, but there it is. My bricks look nothing like this one, but I still thought it was cool. My version of the brick is throwing up an airball while playing basketball, not this grunt work. Mine is a simple job of laying pavers in a small, nearly rectangular area. Should be easy, yes? No!

My mistake was in 1) digging too deep, 2) not measuring depth with a string/snap line, and 3) not back filling in with enough rock base and sand to bring it up to grade. Now my bricks are lower than the grass area around it -- not good. There is nothing like preparation for a job to make it go right, and this is nothing like it.

Sigh. I'll have to dig 'em up again and try again. It's because I have nothing else to do, right?

All Your Debt Are Belong To Us

I saw this back cover of the Newsweek magazine, and it had its intended effect. Buying the magazine?, no not that effect; the effect of being shocked and slightly outraged at being almost completely owned by foreign interests. I took pictures with my camera phone, but I like these much better from

I've been sounding my own personal alarm bell at how much of our debt the Chinese own. I'm firmly convinced they mean us no good, but are just biding their time. The numbers are kind of revealing. Out of our $11 trillion debt these countries own:
  • China ($768 billion)
  • Japan ($687 billion)
  • Caribbean banking centers (Bahamas, Bermuda, British VI, Caymen Islands, Netherland Antilles, Panama – $214 billion)
  • France, India, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Turkey ($204 billion)
  • Oil exporters (Algeria, Bahrain, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Venezuela – $192 billion)
  • Russia ($138 billion)
  • United Kingdom ($128 billion)
  • Brazil ($127 billion)
  • Egypt, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Thailand ($124 billion)
  • Luxembourg ($106 billion)
  • Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sweden ($90 billion)
  • Hong Kong ($79 billion)
  • Taiwan ($75 billion)
  • Switzerland (68 billion)
  • Germany ($55 billion)
  • Ireland ($55 billion)
  • All others ($156 billion)
This is what we call very bad. A slightly closer look, however, reveals that foreign entities all together (only!) own $3.3 trillion of our debt; the remaining $7.7 trillion is held by U.S. entities. Although this is still a stinking lot of money to owe anybody, 70% is still held domestically. That reduces the picture from "very bad" to "not good".

If you owe somebody a lot of money, then he calls the shots. This is something that Ireland and (gag) future EU president Tony Blair are about to find out since they recently ratified the EU Lisbon treaty. This is also something that the U.S. may find out the hard way. Regardless of who holds the debt, foreign or domestic interests, debt is not a good thing; debt kills. That is why the current spending habits of the Administration are so reckless. Spend, spend, spend, without a hope of ever paying it back. Already our grandchildren owe X amount of dollars, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Only problem is, yadda eventually will go from words and abstract concepts to real world hardship for real persons.

Magic Metro Keys

So as I'm leaving the Metro station from the last train -- This train is out of service! -- I see them close the doors and turn out the lights. Then, a Metro employee comes up to one of the train doors, opens a side panel, sticks in some kind of magic key and - voila! - the door opens, the light comes on and he steps inside.

I've never seen this before. Nor did I know about the magic access key that opens the doors from the outside. I wonder what it looks like and how it (really) works. More than that, I wonder how many employees have a magic door key. How many people who no longer work for Metro have a magic door key? Does that same key make the train go, too?

Inquiring minds want to know. Given the appalling lack of safety in the Metro transit system of late, it's not a far stretch to believe that the procedural security of the system is also lacking. Someone should check, don't you think?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Musical Notes From Nod-girl

I am delighted with Nod-girl these last few weeks. With some one-on-one time recently, I decided to first teach her Do Re Mi. She got it. I then had her learn it backwards. She got it. I held up 8 fingers and wiggled one at random. She can tell you which note it is.

Nod-girl is only six years old.

I taught her the names of the notes on the piano, A-G. She can pick them out by herself. I asked her where the H was. Silly Daddy, there is no H.

For fun, I taught her what sharps and flats were. She knows that A sharp and B flat are the same note. I asked where the B sharp was. Dad, you're trying to trick me, there is no B sharp on the piano! I am stunned.

We tried to give Blynken piano lessons, but she has a hard time with the boring foundations. We also discovered that Blynken is terrible at math; no small coincidence. On the flip side, Nod-girl is relatively good at math and basic music theory.

We may have found our pianist!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #27

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: My six year-old has better theology than celebrities. Read on as Nod-girl takes down Seal and Heidi Klum and 17 year old Utahans.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Kind Comes From Kind

I love six year-olds some days.

Nod-girl knows we're going to be getting a side of beef later this week. Kids her age love to reassert things they know. So she turns to me at the dinner table and says:
Baby cows come from Momma cows, not zebras or hippos.
What is so great about this statement is that it is plainly obvious to her that like comes from like, kind comes from kind. We had just gone over this together in the Creed: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.

What is also patently obvious to her is that human mommies have baby humans, and mommies shouldn't try to kill their babies. So simple, you'd think you wouldn't have to explain it to adults (or pregnant 17 year old Utahans who hire people to beat them up). This isn't a football game where the side judge looks to see if the player's foot was over the line or not. There are no moral ambiguities here.

So I'll take the simplicity of a six-year old any day. She never looks for tomatoes on a corn stalk.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Overheard In My House

I guess I don't need to know technology to get into Heaven. Although, I may get there and find the Good Book has been replaced with a database!

Senior Moment

I may be too young to have a senior moment, but then again, maybe not.

I frequently can't come up with a particular noun that I want to say. I have the concept in my mind, but can't remember the exact word that expresses it. Sorry, no synonyms allowed. It's been that way my whole life. I'm an exact wording kind of guy.

They say that the mind is the second thing to go ... I just can't remember the first.

Friday's Been Canceled

You just don't know what tomorrow will bring.

According to the BBC, global warming has been canceled and global cooling will take its place. Carbon credit junkies would prefer if you'd just call it by its generic name, climate change.

Banks everywhere are canceling people's credit cards and loans have dried up due to the global recession, even for people with good credit.

Joanie Loves Chachi has been canceled for decades, but nobody really noticed.

But to top it all off, according to the weather channel, Friday's been canceled as well. It doesn't matter -- apparently it was going to rain anyway.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Newsflash: Babies Don't Choose Their Parents

Recently news came that supermodel Heidi Klum and Seal had a fourth child together. That's great and I commend their openness to love and life.

What they don't seem to understand is the relationship between the creator and the created and the parents role in participating in this mystery. Seal writes:
“Lou Sulola Samuel was born, and from the moment she looked into both of our eyes, it was endless love at first sight. She is beautiful beyond words and we are happy that she chose us to watch her grow over the coming years.”
Hello, there is no baby warehouse in the sky where unborn souls wait to become embodied. Before she was conceived the baby simply didn't exist, and therefore didn't choose anything, much less you to be her parents. The created doesn't choose its creator, like the potter and the clay in Isaiah 29:15-16.

You chose to be open to life, and God chose to create a person -- that's how it works. It's an image of the Trinity in the flesh: two persons love each other completely and unreservedly; and that love is so real, so tangible that you have to give it a name 9 months later.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where's The Beef?

Sometime this month I will be taking possession of half a cow -- roughly 250-300 pounds of meat.

This of course means that I have to go out and get that deep freezer to hold it all. This meat represents a year's worth of beef for my family. It's farm raised with a minimum of drugs, etc. so this will be "organic" -- but without the label.

This will cost on average $4.00 a pound. That's slaughtered, butchered, flash frozen, and cryo-packed. You get to pick it up yourself with a really big pickup truck. Now $4.00 a pound is kind of expensive for hamburger (avg. $2.80/lb.) but insanely cheap for T-bone, filet mignon, ribeye, or New York strip (avg. $18 - $25/lb.). Of course we'll throw in all the choice roast cuts, top round, short ribs, flank steak (fajitas!), shish kebab, stew meat, and the like.

The hardest part was figuring out what cuts I wanted. I found this video instructive.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #26

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Holy Mole

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Holy Mole

I fed the Nodlings Mole sauce (pronounced mo-lay) for the first time yesterday over chicken burritos. I also called it "chocolate burritos", since it does contain cocoa as one of its ingredients.

It's a tasty Mexican sauce, but if you've never had it, well, it's got some of the strangest ingredients: peppers, soybean oil, crackers, peanuts, sugar, and cocoa among others.

I expected the kids to not like it, but they surprised me: Wynken didn't like it but Blynken did (who doesn't like anything new); Nod-girl said it was "yucky" and then ate all of it and said I could make it again(?).

The Nodlings wanted to name the dish: chicken burritos with cheese, refried beans, salsa, red peppers, tomatoes, black olives, and mole sauce. So we came up with Holy Mole; partly because it rhymes (sorta) and partly because we said grace over it (as usual).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nobel? Puh-leze

So everyone is a-buzz with the news that President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Since the voting began in February of this year, pundits from both the right and left are a bit shocked and puzzled. Obama had only been in office for one month.

It's not a partisan question to ask: don't you have to DO something before you get awarded a Peace Prize?

Maybe this explains it ...
In Norway there are no separate laws relating only to drugs. The use and possession of minor quantities of drugs fall under the provision of the Act on Medicinal Products (1992). Penalties comprise fines or imprisonment for up to 6 months.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Man Who Was Thursday

One of my boyhood delights was listening to old-time radio stories. Imagination is so much more vivid that celluloid.

Unsolicited Praise

That makes twice this month that somebody said they would go out of their way to work with me. I'm not accustomed to that.

I try to be good at what I do in a matter of fact way. Historically, this has bred resentment or jealousy. Now, it may actually be creating ... admiration? I may have to work on how to take a compliment.

I'm advanced enough in my career field that I actually have things I can teach to those who are up and coming. If they're willing to learn, I'm willing to mentor.

That's how I learned it myself. Where is that eager beaver kid now? Excuse me, I have to go count some grey hairs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Work Vs Study

I've got a week's worth of training classes that I get to do, which of course means I don't have to do my job in the interim.

It's a refreshing change, but like most novelties I don't think I'd want this to be my de facto mode. Learning is hard work if done properly. Most days you don't have to put in hours of unbroken concentration that learning requires. Oh sure, some of our jobs require thinking, but most of it probably doesn't require intense concentration on every little bit.

That's what makes learning so tiring. But for a week or so, it beats working.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vasovagal Attack

Here's a recipe for a killer headache: low blood sugar and a pronounced vasovagal reaction.

Huh? Wuzzat? That's what I said.

I went to the doctor to have a blotch on my shoulder looked at. He said it looked benign but we'd biopsy it just to make sure. So he does his thing and gives me one stitch to make it all nice and neat. No biggie.

Only problem is he gave me lidocaine with epinephrine as a local anesthetic. It's kinda like taking a downer with a chaser of adrenaline. (Adrenaline supplements make the numbing agent last longer.) I hadn't had anything to eat that morning and I tend to be on the low end of both blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and blood pressure (110/65).

All of a sudden I felt dizzy and nauseous. The doc lays me down, but I go 1-2 seconds with my eyes rolled up in the back of my head. I bolt upright with my heart pounding, feeling flushed, and break out in a fine sweat all over. "Ugh. (pant pant) What happened?"

[WebMD] Fainting, also called syncope (pronounced SIN-ko-pe), is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness and posture caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. Many different conditions can cause fainting. These include heart problems such as irregular heart beat, seizures, panic or anxiety attacks, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), anemia (a deficiency in healthy oxygen carrying cells), and problems with how the nervous system (the body's system of nerves) regulates blood pressure.

A simple faint, also called a vasovagal attack or neurally-mediated syncope, is the most common type of fainting. It is most common in children and young adults. A vasovagal attack happens because blood pressure drops, reducing circulation to the brain and causing loss of consciousness. Typically an attack occurs while standing and is frequently preceded by a sensation of warmth, nausea, lightheadedness and visual "grayout."

Warmth, nausea, lightheadedness -- yep that's me. That little episode made me feel off all day, even after eating and taking a little nap after work.

A little unnecessary excitement if you ask me. I know what you're thinking: Dude, you fainted.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #25

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents Disasters.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beknighted Dunkel: Aftermath

Making beer is as much about taste as it is about sustenance. Beer, properly made without fillers, is like drinking a loaf of bread. It is the yield of the grain, the staff of life. What can be more basic than wheat beer?

On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, WBN chronicles the making of a Dunkelweizen, or dark wheat, beer.


So I've got our Beknighted Dunkel sitting side by side with the World's Oldest Brewery's Weihenstaphaner Hefeweissbier Dark. The color and aroma are actually nearly identical. The Weihenstaphaner has the edge on body and head -- this may be due to continuing problems in getting and keeping the correct carbonation.

In the taste category, the Hefeweissbier dark has a very slight sweetness to it, while the Beknighted Dunkel is definitely more bitter with a few off flavors. I'm guessing that a lack of secondary fermentation contributes to this condition -- we should have siphoned it off to the secondary carboy after the first week. Ironically, the Weihenstaphaner is more cloudy than our Beknighted Dunkel.

So on balance, the Beknighted Dunkel is a dud. "Tastes like a homebrew" was the criticism -- and not in a good way.

Honesty is the best policy here; we'll simply try again. Career tally: 1 win, 1 loss.

A Third Hand Version Of The Challenger Disaster

The other day I met a guy who claims to have worked for the company who made the ill-fated O-rings that caused the first space shuttle disaster aboard the Challenger. He told me his version of the story which I then fact checked (well, ok, it was only Wikipedia).

First, his (abbreviated) version:
Steve the general contractor says the Shuttle disaster wasn't caused by faulty O-rings, but because they launched the shuttle when it was too cold. The O-rings were known not to be effective below 68 degrees. The contractor said "don't launch", Reagan said "Launch, I want a teacher in space for my state of the union speech". A too-cold rod that held the rocket in place snapped. The top of the rocket tilted out, the bottom tilted in and punctured the fuel tank. Boom. Disaster.

Steve says the shuttle launched that day with over 350 critical issues, any one of which would result in a complete loss of the vehicle. He says that today they only launch with 150 critical issues. Progress? He also said that NASA figured that they would lose 1 out of every 25 launches. In 27 years, they've only lost 2. Success?

Now the official version:
[Wikipedia] Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB's aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.

The Rogers Commission found that NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes had been a key contributing factor to the accident. NASA managers had known that contractor Morton Thiokol's design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings since 1977, but they failed to address it properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the cold temperatures of that morning and had failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.

Thiokol engineers argued that if the O-rings were colder than 53 °F (12 °C), they did not have enough data to determine whether the joint would seal properly. This was an important consideration, since the SRB O-rings had been designated as a "Criticality 1" component—meaning that there was no backup if both the primary and secondary O-rings failed, and their failure would destroy the Orbiter and its crew.

One argument of NASA people in contest to Thiokol's concerns was that if the primary O-ring failed the secondary O-ring would still seal. This was unproven, and was in any case an illegitimate argument for a Criticality 1 component. (As astronaut Sally Ride cited in questioning NASA managers before Congress, it is forbidden to rely on a backup for a Criticality 1 component. The backup is there to provide redundancy in case of unforeseen failure, not to replace the primary device, leaving no backup.) The engineers at Thiokol also argued that the low overnight temperatures would almost certainly result in SRB temperatures below their redline of 40 °F (4 °C). However, they were overruled by Morton Thiokol management, who recommended that the launch proceed as scheduled.[4] Despite public perceptions that NASA always maintained a "fail-safe" approach, Thiokol management was influenced by demands from NASA managers that they show it was not safe to launch rather than prove conditions were safe. It later emerged in the aftermath of the accident that NASA managers frequently evaded safety regulations to maintain the launch manifest (schedule).
So Steve's story was true in the main, if not the particulars. Interesting ...

Media Bias Against Catholics Even When Not Part Of The Story

So the irritant of the day involves the last acceptable prejudice: anti-Catholicism. This is a minor case, but it shows the mindset of people who have it in for the clerics and people of faith.

A Kentucky church ordains a sex offender as a minister. The church is a Pentecostal one, not Catholic. Everybody there knows what this guy did and that he served a 5 year prison sentence for pedophilia -- and they're ok with that. (Not me, but they are and it's their church.)

So a former leader at the church is protesting this guy along with SNAP. The article, by Dylan Lovan, gratuitously inserts a quote slamming the Catholic Church (who is not involved here).
"He's still a threat" to children, said Cal Pfeiffer, who was abused by a Catholic priest as a young student in Louisville in the late 1950s and early 60s.
Really now, was it necessary to drag the Catholics into it in order to write an article on a tiny church who willingly ordained a pedophile as a Pentecostal minister (and hasn't been accused of doing anything since?) Sure, it displays either a courageous act of forgiveness and redemption or else a stupendous lack of good judgement. (I'm for the latter.)

But it ain't a Catholic story and keep us out of it.

Now if the guy were Roman Polanski, the media might be easier on him.

Did You Call Miss Utility?

There's construction going on across the road which is natural enough. What you don't expect at 7am in the morning is to see the fire hydrant going off like an errant fountain.

Not sure that was planned.

Life is pretty interesting if you're conscious.

Sweeping Away The Heebie Jeebies

The Washington DC Business Improvement District (BID) actually does a pretty decent job of keeping the Triangle clean and looking good. I'm sure the businesses pay a pretty penny to tax themselves voluntarily for this service, but the results speak for themselves.

Street sweepers, fresh flowers, helpful men in uniform ready to direct tourists and hand out maps all say: I care. (Because if they didn't it would be enough to trigger the screaming heebie-jeebies.)
[DowntownDC] The Downtown BID area covers approximately 140 blocks from Massachusetts Avenue on the north to the National Mall on the south, from Louisiana Avenue on the east to the White House on the west.


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