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Archive for October, 2010

The Giants take an early lead and then seven innings of beautiful no-hitting falls apart as the Giants surrender a 1-0 game to a 2 run homer by the Braves.
Giants Up 1 - 0 !! Sweet!!

Giants Up 1 – 0 !! Sweet!!

Giants fall behind 1 - 2!! My Heart!! Call 9-1-1...

Giants fall behind 1 – 2!! My Heart!! Call 9-1-1…

Oh, please; oh, please; oh, please...

Oh, please; oh, please; oh, please…

Yeah!! Giants back on top, 3 - 2!!

Yeah!! Giants back on top, 3 – 2!!

Giant Win 3 - 2!!! Where's my bowl? I need a drink...

Giant Win 3 – 2!!! Where’s my bowl? I need a drink…

Then, the Giants rally to take the lead back, 3-2, in the 9th inning. They hold on for the dramatic away win! Stealing one from the Braves in Atlanta, the Giants can win it tomorrow or bring it home for a game 5 tie-breaker on Wednesday.
I AM ORANGE INSIDE !!
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Short version: Read the book.  It’s interesting and well written.  I believe Woodward will end up being considered one of the great historical journalist / authors of the last 40 years (and probably then next 10 or so, too).  The book highlights the reasons for our eventual political and military failure in Afghanistan.  It is inevitable…
Long version: Today I completed Bob Woodward’s latest book: “Obama’s Wars“.  The book is an insiders look at the Obama Administration, the US Military and the on-going prosecution (mishandling) of the war in Afghanistan.  By insider, I mean it is quite obvious Woodward is being fed information by a host of characters to get their view of history in his story.
The book makes several things clear – the “war” in Afghanistan is un-winnable by any normal use of the term “win”.  The current Karzai government is corrupt and not supported by the Afghan people.  The fall is inevitable.  The only question is how much money and how many lives will we waste before we wake up, smell the coffee and get out?
The best we can hope for is to kill a bunch of Al Qaeda, avoid a complete government breakdown in Pakistan (and consequent loss of up to 100 nuclear weapons to terrorists) and not completely bankrupt the United States.
Every account of every review of the situation says we can’t “possibly” stem the tide in Afghanistan unless we commit far more troops than we currently have for far longer than we can possibly afford.
The author is clearly trying to kill a political run for the presidency by General Petraeus (a potential Republican nominee) in 2012 by making him out to be a fairly self-centered and self-serving man.  He (the General) clearly states (repeatedly) that this war will take generations, yet repeatedly asks for troops while promising to be able to move us closer to victory (with numbers far less than he knows can achieve this).  A “victory” he knows will not come in anyone’s lifetime.  General Petraeus is a student of history and knows full well a Democracy cannot sustain a prolonged active conflict – either politically or economically.
The same is true for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is also made out as a scapegoat (one of many) in this tragedy of failure in leadership.  Gates is made to appear to be regretful the US abandoned Afghanistan and Pakistan after the end of the Cold War and the continuation of US involvement in this region is his way of somehow assuaging his conscience.  How this will happen or why he feels the need is not fully explained, but he promises the Afghans we will never leave the area!!
The military leadership, the Pentagon, the CIA and the other “war fighting” agencies in the government do not fare well in this book.  They are apparently only efficient at getting their way in the press.  They can’t “honestly” assess a situation and provide options.  In fact, they are insubordinate and plot to refuse to provide any realistic options to the plan they feel will provide some continuation of the war effort – not victory, just continuation.
Those in the military (active and retired) who try to argue against the single option are systematically marginalized and / or derided.
The White House staff does not escape the broad brush of criticism by the author.  General Jones is used to characterize them (WH Staff) as “water-bugs” and they certainly come across that way in the narration.
The only person who survives the ridicule is President Obama, who is portrayed as thoughtful, caring, conscientious and (at times) forceful.  The author appears to be making the case that President Obama cannot simply withdraw US forces from Afghanistan.  He must allow the military sufficient rope to hang itself so he can later justify a decision (an already made decision) to withdraw from Afghanistan.  It appears this decision will come shortly after the Dec 2010 review.  (Just after the Congressional elections – what a coincidence!)
The bottom line for this book – and war – is that President Bush did exactly what he campaigned against – nation building.  He tried to topple a government he didn’t like (Taliban) and then install one he did (Karzai).  When there was initial success: the Taliban were driven from power, Bush installed a corrupt leader who would never be able to unite and lead his country independently.  Bush then lost interest and went on to illegally attack another country (Iraq) to do the same thing.  Now Karzai will fall in Afghanistan and despite the present appearance of progress in Iraq, it will also collapse before the political situation in that area stabilizes.  And no amount of propping up by the US military will make a damned bit of difference…
The remainder of this blog is my personal opinion and not really part of the book review…
Bush failed miserably in both efforts at nation building – although he was clearly a success in initially overthrowing both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
Bush has left President Obama to clean up his (Bush’s) utter failures and, unfortunately, President Obama has followed bad advice and is choosing to slowly extract us from both Iraq and Afghanistan.
I personally do NOT believe leaving 30,000 to 50,000 troops (and a similar number of contractors) in Iraq is “withdrawing“.  I want every single post closed and every last soldier brought home.  I feel the same way about Afghanistan!!  Out NOW!!
As un-liberal, un-Democratic and un-Christian as this sounds, we do not need to be there to kill people over there – lots and lots of people.  Yes, many innocents will also be hurt and killed, but the bottom line is their leaders don’t care about them (the average person).  Their leaders only care about themselves.  If we have to blow up a few thousand innocent civilians to get to their leaders, so be it.  It won’t take many “examples” before the rest of the world realizes we are serious and mean business – and don’t mess with us.
The flip side to this is we should also stop propping up the governments of other countries and we should bring all of our soldiers home – from Europe, Asia and Africa.  If a foreign government nationalizes some part of an American company – tough!  You should have kept your capital here where it was safe or you should have invested it in such a way the government didn’t feel they had to seize your assets.  Other than American citizens overseas, we have NO national interests in other countries!!  Read George Washington’s farewell address…  Avoid foreign entanglements!
Self-governing is difficult enough for Americans here in the United States.  Let’s leave other governments to their own people for a change.
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Some thoughts by “Rally Dog” on yesterday’s heartbreaking loss by the Giants: 5 to 4 after being up 4 to zip…

On the armrest, assume the position - waiting for the pre-game show...

On the armrest, assume the position – waiting for the pre-game show…

Everybody up for the National Anthem

Everybody up for the National Anthem

National Anthem's done. Where's the chips and dip?

National Anthem’s done. Where’s the chips and dip?

Their leadoff batter gets the first hit of the game. I'm sooo tense!!

Their leadoff batter gets the first hit of the game. I’m sooo tense!!

4 - 4 !! These Giants are tearing my heart out!

4 – 4 !! These Giants are tearing my heart out!

Stick a fork in me. I'm done... 5 - 4 Loss!

Stick a fork in me. I’m done… 5 – 4 Loss!

Keep the Faith – We’ll get ’em Sunday!!
I AM ORANGE INSIDE !!
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Ok!
The Giants win the series opener: 1-0 vs. Atlanta.
One down, two to go to advance.  Game two tomorrow night!
I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!
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A reasonable percentage of the general public have heard of Einstein’s formula for equating Mass with Energy (E=mc²).  Now the way I was taught this, the “c” is merely a constant representing the value of conversion – so, a little mass will equal a lot of energy.
The value of the constant “c” is equal to the speed of light (commonly know as 186,000 miles per second).  So, when squared, you receive a tremendous amount of energy for a little mass.
But, what happens if “c” isn’t “just” a constant?  What if “c” is an actual “thing“.  That is, what if “c” is actually equal to space AND time (or what we understand these two things to be).  What then?
c² = E / m
Now, we (normal folks) think of things as lines (one dimension), planes (two dimensions) and cubes (three dimensions).  Move a cube through space (meaning over some length of time) and you are starting to get a fourth dimension (space in time).
Now, what is “c”?  It is the distance light travels through space in a set amount of time.
Ok.  But what does this leave us with?
Without high level math skills and a pretty high level of understanding of physics, I can only say, “I don’t know…”
My feeling is that we are fundamentally incorrect in our current understanding of the universe.  At the moment, we (“science”) believe we come from a Big Bang.  There seems to be residual radiation all around us and this is believed to be the after-glow of creation.
One problem with this understanding is that we appear to be in a universe which is growing greater (expanding) in all directions.  That is, all parts are moving apart, in all directions, and at ever accelerating rates.  Logically, if we all come from some fixed point of origin, we should all be moving away from that point equally.  This does NOT appear to be what is experimentally provable.
That’s a problem because either the data doesn’t agree with the theory (and the theory is incorrect); or, the logic is incorrect (the universe isn’t expanding from a central point of origin AND the theory is still incorrect); or, there is something wrong with the way we are measuring and gathering the data (in which case the theory may or may not be correct, but we can’t tell and won’t be able to until we can come up with a valid experimental measure).
Now, let’s suppose we had one or more places where mass could not exist (as we know it) because of tremendous energy forces – say for example, in a singularity (aka “A Black Hole”).  Energy can’t escape and additional mass is continuously being added.  Where is all this “stuff” going?
We don’t know…  Maybe to another “universe” or a parallel dimension?  We don’t know…  But, what if it’s merely being turned into space/time?  What if deep gravity holes “create” high gravity peaks?  What if at some related, proportional distance, “new” space/time is being created and this (new space/time) is what is actually driving all of the universe apart.  The creation of this space/time would almost of necessity create “friction/vibrations” (for want of a better term) between other points of creation.  This “frictional vibration in space” is what I would use to describe something more popularly know as energy.  In turn, compressed energy becomes mass (“matter”) in space/time.
Thus my little thought experiment has accounted for continuous creation of the universe (at least we now have no way to determine its age), the background energy (of the Big Bang) – it’s the “sound” of continuous creation, and what’s going on in singularities (they are converting – recycling – mass and energy into space/time).
There now remain three issues (aka problems): 1) theory, a math proof – a neat equation; 2) observation, experimental proof – confirming data; and, 3) a test – a workable experiment.  As I stated, I do NOT have the math skills to propose a workable equation, nor would I really know where to start mathematically.
The best I could do would be to ask: where is the background energy weak and strong?  Is there anything in either of those two types of areas?  Are “new” galaxies in or near the weak/strong points?  If yes, is there any commonality amongst them?  If no, where are new galaxies relative to the map of the background energy?
And these, folks, are the musings of a blogger wondering about the universe on a Fall evening…  “Just another disturbance in the time-space continuum”
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Happiness never decreases by being shared.
  —    Buddha
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The SF Giants have clinched the National League West!!
Next up are the Atlanta Braves…

Go Giants!!! (I’m ORANGE Inside…)

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Here’s the seven photos Hil and I keep on the dressers in our bedroom.
Where your treasure is, there also is your heart…
— Luke 12:34

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Before I had even heard of football (American Football) – there was the Giants.  My mother loves baseball.  It reminds her of growing up in Kansas, and for her, it will always be “America’s Pastime.”
My earliest recollection of professional sports was going to see the Giants play at Candlestick Park.  Back then we had Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal.  Some of my earliest memories are playing catch for hours with a tennis ball against the steps of a neighbor’s house.  [We lived on a hill and they had a flat driveway next to their cement/stone steps.]  I dreamed of being Brooks Robinson – playing third base, making the diving catch outside the third base line of an otherwise foul ball to win the World Series!
Unfortunately, I grew up near-sighted with glasses and never was able to get the hang of hitting.  You have to practice hitting with others; unlike fielding which you can practice by yourself until your arms and legs give out, or it gets too dark to see, or (more frequently) the neighbors come home from work and tell you to get off of their driveway.  Being a bit of a loner (aka book-worm), I never had the opportunity to get enough swings in to learn to hit.
Anyway, I forgot about baseball.  But every few years, the Giants play well enough to get close to the playoffs and the old itch comes back…
I must admit – I am now only a complete bandwagon jumper/follower.  I wear my Giants t-shirt or hat after our first win and after our last game each season.  Other than that, I have almost nothing to do with baseball and they (shirt and cap) are both safe in their respective hiding places (the drawer and the closet).
I will normally (but not always) watch the World Series, but other than that…  I’m just not a fan of the game anymore.  I’d rather play catch than watch a game on TV.  And I no longer like crowds, so attending games is pretty much out of the question.
But this year, the Giants are in it to the very end.  Our magic number to win the National League West is one.  Tomorrow is the last game of the season and we are playing the second place team (the San Diego Padres).  If we win, the best they can do is wild card.  If we lose, we have an extended season – one extra game, in San Diego…
The excitement is growing here in the SF Bay Area.  Tonight, Hil and I went out to buy me a new t-shirt.  I wanted an orange one with black trim because all of my older kit has always been black with orange trim.  We went to JC Penny and I found a package deal of two t-shirts for $25!!!  One black and orange and one orange and black!!
So, I’m changing my Avatar’s until we win it all or until we’re wupped and out.
Orange Inside!!

Orange Inside!!

Go Giants!!!  I AM ORANGE INSIDE!!!
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Every year, the Concord High School Marching Band troops around the neighborhood near the school to raise money for the music department.  Traditionally, they finish with at the Safeway store on Clayton & Treat with a short (4 or 5 numbers) recital.  Here are a couple of photos of our Sarah standing at attention and playing flute.
[Please excuse the poor quality, the shots were taken with my phone-camera.]
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Yesterday, 1 October 2010, was the start of the new fiscal year for government employees.  So, Happy New Year!!  (Full DisclosureI am a government employee.)
We currently have no approved budget, but we do have a “CR” (continuing resolution) which will carry us through the next two months.  That’s Congress’ way of keeping the government going without them having to argue in front of the American public about what needs to be a priority, what needs to be cut in this time of deficits and/or what taxes need to be raised in order to pay for running the country.
When it takes longer to agree to a new budget than the budget itself runs, you have what is known as a structural defect in your budgeting system.  The “normal” fix (by rational adults) is to either shorten the time it takes to agree (work faster) or lengthen the duration the actual budget covers.  Shortening takes leadership and a willingness to compromise (in the country’s best interest) by both parties, while lengthening the duration would take a change to Federal law.  There is no Constitutional requirement for an annual budget.  However, changing the law carte blanche would take a considerable amount of explanation to the American public, so that can’t really be expected to happen either.
Since neither party seems able to provide leadership in an election year, and because there seems to be a dearth in willingness to compromise, we are left with a CR.
And that is your local, state and Federal civics (budget) lesson for today!!
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