David Kirkpatrick

October 31, 2008

The GOP is broken

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:22 pm

I’m talking splintered. Sarah Palin busted the three-legged stool and apparently the “faithful” got all the shrapnel and are now cranky. And more than a little dumb.

How else do you explain this comment at Power Line about David Frum, a man whose conservative bona fides are unimpeachable?

Frum is indeed a “third-way” conservative, which is to say, a little conservative here, a little progressive there.

Screw him and the RINO he rode in on.

Whoa — Gallup polling four days out

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:50 pm
Sorry Gallup, this link goes to the Daily Kos. Mostly because it’s value-added if you hit the comments after checking out the extra content.

538 four days out

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:19 pm

Holding steady for Obama.

And of course, If you’re finding this page later than today’s date hit this link for my latest update, or better yet head straight to 538 for their very latest projections.

Halloween video fun — Dimmu Borgir, “Spellbound”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:55 pm

Not the greatest audio on this clip, but great camera work.

I saw these guys last night — not this show — and they totally brought it. And it wasn’t even the full varsity lineup. Totally brought it.

Happy Halloween all — be safe, stay spooky.

That’s right, it’s Halloween so I’m doubling down. The audio on this is much better, so either turn it down or just brace yourself.

October 30, 2008

News from NASA — the 11/14 launch is a go

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:00 pm

A release from this late afternoon:

NASA Gives ‘Go’ for Space Shuttle Launch on Nov. 14

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA managers completed a review Thursday of space shuttle Endeavour’s readiness for flight and selected the official launch date for the STS-126 mission. Commander Chris Ferguson and his six crewmates are scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station at 7:55 p.m. EST on Nov. 14.

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

Endeavour’s STS-126 flight will feature important repair work to the station and prepare it for housing six crew members during long-duration missions. The primary focus of the 15-day flight and its four planned spacewalks is to service the station’s two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow its solar arrays to track the sun. Endeavour will carry about 32,000 pounds to orbit, including supplies and equipment necessary to double the crew size from three to six members in spring 2009. The new station cargo includes additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and a resistance exercise device.

Endeavour’s launch date was announced after the conclusion of Thursday’s Flight Readiness Review. During the meeting, top NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle’s equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.

Ferguson will be joined on STS-126 by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus. Magnus will replace space station crew member Greg Chamitoff, who has been aboard the station for more than five months. She will return to Earth during the next shuttle mission, STS-119, targeted to launch in February 2009.

For more information about the upcoming shuttle flights, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

Update 11/14 — The shuttle is off. Godspeed.

Reax to Obama’s infomercial

From Culture11. I’ve yet to add the site to my blogroll — but I bet I do. If you are looking for interesting, intelligent and forward-thinking (read: these bloggers understand Sarah Palin is the death of the GOP, not its savior) blogging from the right side of the aisle, you could do worse than visiting Culture11 every day.

Sure it’s fun to read the increasing crazy at the Corner and Ace of Spades and some of the other usual suspects, but in reality I much prefer to read good, conservative arguments and reasoned thought. You can get that at the Daily Dish, but the loony right wing has somehow decided Andrew Sullivan is, what? His gayness is out, but he’s a closet liberal? Hardly, but he is a principled conservative thinker from more a Tory standpoint than the evangelical nutjobs that currently hold the GOP hostage.

Back to Obama’s infomercial — here’s Freddie deBoer’s take from that link way up in the first sentence:

Three thoughts occur to me in response to Obama’s infomercial.

The first is that this production shows again the great folly of the McCain campaign’s decision to bet the election on “otherizing” Obama. I think anyone who watched, and wasn’t already in the tank against Obama, would be very hard pressed indeed to see this man as a radical, or a terrorist, or a socialist out to steal their money. I think that they would be very hard pressed to see him as someone who they couldn’t trust, or who they “just didn’t know about.” I think that they would find him reassuring. I think that they would find him refreshingly normal, refreshingly American. I think that they would see him as a decent, loving family man.

Of course, that’s not sufficient, for a Presidential candidate. It’s not enough to be decent, or a good husband and father. It’s not enough to be normal, or American. It’s not enough to be not a radical. But this is the bed that the McCain campaign has made: when they made the election about Barack Obama’s basic decency, about his normalcy, when they insisted that the reason to oppose him was because he represented some terrifying unknown, they set the bar for the Obama campaign incredibly low. It turns out that proving you’re not some terrorist-sympathizing socialist with a crazy foreign name isn’t that high of a hurdle to clear. And once cleared, the McCain campaign’s own rhetoric damages them. If what’s important is that whether or not Americans can trust him, the answer for most of us is clear: yes, we can. After claiming for six months or so that the appropriate question for a Presidential candidate is whether he is a trustworthy American, America appears poised to accept that question, and in the case of Barack Obama, answer in the affirmative.

The economic malaise is truly international

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:47 pm

We do live in a world economy. Banks are closely tied together across borders and oceans, and even relatively potent economies are hurting because it’s pretty hard to export when there’s no buyers.

From the link:

The U.S. economy shrank in the third quarter as the financial crisis raged while Japan and Germany said on Thursday they would spend billions of dollars to provide a cushion against a deep global recession.

The spending measures would complement a series of interest rates cuts, including those from China, Norway and the United States on Wednesday.

 

Japan may cut rates on Friday and the European Central Bank, Britain and Australia are expected to follow next week, which would come just as data showed a rapid deterioration in major economies.

 

“A harsh storm seen only once in 100 years is raging,” Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso told a news conference.

 

The world’s largest economy shrank at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the sharpest contraction in the United States in seven years.

 

The specter of recession had unnerved U.S. consumers, who slashed spending at the sharpest rate in 28 years in the third quarter, undermining growth.

JJ Grey & Mofro, “Country Ghetto”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:19 pm

Lots of music blogging this week from me, but I had to get the word out about this band — JJ Grey & Mofro — and their album, “Country Ghetto.”

Here’s what I came up with trying to characterize the music —  “R&B influenced slow funk with more than a spoonful of Southern gospel thrown into the mix.”

And here’s what Harp magazine had to say:

“Smoldering Otis Redding-inspired ballads…full-bore blues-rock, down-home roots and country-soul…uproariously funky and melodic homespun tales that are gritty and deeply personal…Grey’s resonant vocals are potent and authoritative, mature beyond his age.” –Harp

And to provide a taste, here’s a video of “Orange Blossoms” and a second video of an interview with JJ Grey. Good stuff all around!

 

 

Data mining internet users

The release from the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research:

Two Dutch researchers analyse striking behaviour of websurfers

27 October 2008

What behaviour do website visitors exhibit? Do they buy a specific product mainly on Mondays? Do they always return at a certain time of day? Being able to recognise and make use of such patterns is lucrative business for companies. Edgar de Graaf discovered that interesting patterns often contain a time aspect. Jeroen De Knijf developed methods to detect relevant patterns quicker.

In subject jargon it is called data mining: looking for interesting relationships within large quantities of data. Many data-mining programs produce a flood of potentially interesting patterns: as a user, how can you then find what you are looking for? Furthermore, the files are not always set up for such search actions, as is the case on the Internet or for instance in bioinformatics. It usually concerns semi-structured files: they often contain, for example, hyperlinks to other files, and contain (partial) information in a range of formats, such as text, images and sound.

MISTA project

Edgar de Graaf and Jeroen De Knijf both worked within the NWO-funded MISTA project (Mining in Semi-Structured Data) on methods to find patterns more quickly and effectively within large quantities of semi-structured data. De Graaf discovered that some patterns are interesting because they occur in quick succession. Other patterns are striking because, for example, they occur weekly. According to De Graaf, this time aspect merits further investigation.

The patterns can best be presented visually so that the user can find the information sought at a single glance. To realise this De Graaf described various ways of presenting different types of information.

Wikipedia compressed

De Knijf demonstrated that the number of patterns can be drastically reduced by allowing the user to indicate in advance the minimum requirements that a pattern must satisfy. This allows the data-mining program to find the interesting patterns much faster.

A second method De Knijf devised to reduce the number of results is the compression of the entire collection of documents (for example, Wikipedia pages) into a single document. By building accurate models that only make use of the compressed document, De Knijf was able to demonstrate that this summary does indeed contain the essential information from the entire collection.

The research was funded from the Open Competition 2003 of NWO Physical Sciences. 

A molecular clock

This is a cool story from Technology Review.

From the link:

A Fast, Programmable Molecular Clock

The bacteria-based timepiece could be used as a biosensor for changing environmental conditions.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
By Emily Singer

UC San Diego bioengineers have created the first stable, fast, and programmable genetic clock that reliably keeps time by the blinking of fluorescent proteins inside E. coli cells. The clock’s blink rate changes when the temperature, energy source, or other environmental conditions change. Shown here is a microfluidic system capable of controlling the environmental conditions of the E. coli cells with great precision–one of the keys to this advance.
Credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

A molecular timepiece that ticks away the time with a flash of fluorescent protein could provide the basis for novel biosensors. The clock, or synthetic gene oscillator, is a feat of synthetic biology–a fledgling field in which researchers engineer novel biological “parts” into organisms.

To create the clock, scientists genetically engineered a molecular oscillator composed of multiple gene promoters, which turn genes on in the presence of certain chemicals, and genes themselves, one of which codes for a fluorescent protein. When expressed in E. coli bacteria, the feedback system turns the fluorescent gene on and off at regular intervals.

McCain is robocalling Arizona

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:40 am

A very desperate move by a very desperate campaign that doesn’t have the money to defend states like Arizona and still hope to compete in battleground states.

From the link:

John McCain and the Republican National Committee are now running robocalls attacking Obama as weak on terrorism — in McCain’s home state of Arizona, according to multiple readers from the state.

The call signals genuine worry about McCain’s home state at a time when several polls show the race to be much closer than expected there.

Do political media endorsements matter?

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:01 am

Maybe according to this Brown University study.

The release:

Endorsement Effects: Are Voters Influenced by Newspaper Picks?

More than 150 newspapers across the country have already endorsed Sen. JohnMcCain or Sen. Barack Obama for president, with more to come in the remaining days before the election. Do these endorsements really matter? In a new paper, economist Brian Knight investigates the effect of endorsements on voter decision making and finds that they are, in fact, influential.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Newspaper endorsements for presidential candidates can influence voting decisions, according to new research by two Brown University economists. In a working paper, Brian Knight and graduate student Chun Fang Chiang demonstrate that voters are more likely to support the recommended candidate following the publication of an endorsement, but any degree of influence depends on the credibility of the paper’s pick.

The researchers take into account that newspapers are potentially biased in favor of one of the candidates and found that voters rationally account for the credibility of any endorsement. That is, endorsements for the Democratic candidate from left-leaning newspapers are less influential than endorsements from neutral or right-leaning newspapers and likewise for endorsements for the Republican candidate. Knight said these results “suggest that voters are sophisticated and attempt to filter out any bias in media coverage of politics.”

To estimate the influence of newspaper endorsements, the researchers used individual-level data on voting intentions and newspaper readership in the months leading up to the 2000 and 2004 elections. They measured endorsement credibility based on the ideological leanings of newspapers, ownership, and reader preferences.

To provide a sense of the magnitude of endorsement effects, Knight and Chiang feature a data table that shows the estimated influence in the top 20 newspapers during the 2000 presidential campaign. They show the least credible endorsements were for Al Gore from The New York Times and for George W. Bush from the Dallas Morning News, which convinced less than 1 percent of their readers to switch allegiance to the endorsed candidate. By contrast, the endorsement with the largest effect came from the Chicago Sun Times, which was predicted to endorse Gore with a probability of 58 percent, but instead endorsed Bush. This endorsement convinced about 3 percent of readers to switch allegiance from Gore to Bush, according to the findings.  

These findings are particularly interesting considering the 2008 presidential endorsements. According to Editor and Publisher Magazine, more than 27 newspapers that backed George W. Bush in 2004 have endorsed Obama this year (as of Oct. 22), including large papers such as theDenver Post, Chicago Tribune and New York’s Daily News.

“We expect these Obama endorsements to be particularly influential since they have more credibility than endorsements from newspapers that always support the Democrat,” said Knight, associate professor of economics and public policy.

 A full copy of the paper is available to download (PDF) from Knight’s research web site. 

Less than a week out, here’s Charlie Cook’s analysis …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:55 am

of the presidential race. I guess technically this analysis is for one week out since he put it out on Tuesday.

From the link:

October 28, 2008
Since early September this race has shifted rather dramatically in Obama’s favor. As long as the focus is almost exclusively on the economy, this race is almost unwinnable for McCain. It would take a major external event, the proverbial October Surprise, to shift the spotlight to national security or some other subject that would allow McCain to highlight his strengths. At this stage, the most relevant question would seem to be: “How big will the train wreck be for the Republican Party up and down the ballot in November.” Obama currently has a 286 to 163 Electoral vote edge, with 89 Electoral votes in the Toss Up column. 270 are needed to win.

October 29, 2008

Wednesday video fun — Dimmu Borgir, “Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:54 pm

Don’t know if anyone noticed, but I took yesterday off from blogging. My wife was off work and I decided I could use a break before the last few days of presidential horse race.

My other break this week will be going to see these guys. Should be fun.

(video warning — mild nudity)

Fast and cheap nanoscale dimensioning

The release from today:

Nanoscale dimensioning is fast, cheap with new NIST optical technique




This schematic shows how a TSOM image is acquired. Using an optical microscope, several images of a 60 nanometer gold particle sample (shown in red) are taken at different focal…
Click here for more information.

A novel technique* under development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) uses a relatively inexpensive optical microscope to quickly and cheaply analyze nanoscale dimensions with nanoscale measurement sensitivity. Termed “Through-focus Scanning Optical Microscope” (TSOM) imaging, the technique has potential applications in nanomanufacturing, semiconductor process control and biotechnology.

Optical microscopes are not widely considered for checking nanoscale (below 100 nanometers) dimensions because of the limitation imposed by wavelength of light—you can’t get a precise image with a probe three times the object’s size. NIST researcher Ravikiran Attota gets around this, paradoxically, by considering lots of “bad” (out-of-focus) images. “This imaging uses a set of blurry, out-of-focus optical images for nanometer dimensional measurement sensitivity,” he says. Instead of repeatedly focusing on a sample to acquire one best image, the new technique captures a series of images with an optical microscope at different focal positions and stacks them one on top of the other to create the TSOM image. A computer program Attota developed analyzes the image.




Using an optical microscope, several images of a 60 nanometer gold particle sample are taken at different focal positions and stacked together. This computer-created image shows the resultant TSOM image….
Click here for more information.

While Attota believes this simple technique can be used in a variety of applications, he has worked with two. The TSOM image can compare two nanoscale objects such as silicon lines on an integrated circuit. The software “subtracts” one image from the other. This enables sensitivity to dimensional differences at the nanoscale—line height, width or side-wall angle. Each type of difference generates a distinct signal.

TSOM has also been theoretically evaluated in another quality control application. Medical researchers are studying the use of gold nanoparticles to deliver advanced pharmaceuticals to specific locations within the human body. Perfect size will be critical. To address this application, a TSOM image of a gold nanoparticle can be taken and compared to a library of simulated images to obtain “best-match” images with the intent of determining if each nanoparticle passes or fails.

This new imaging technology requires a research-quality optical microscope, a camera and a microscope stage that can move at preset distances. “The setup is easily under $50,000, which is much less expensive than electron or probe microscopes currently used for measuring materials at the nanoscale,” Attota explains. “This method is another approach to extend the range of optical microscopy from microscale to nanoscale dimensional analysis.” So far, sensitivity to a 3 nm difference in line widths has been demonstrated in the laboratory.

 

###

 

* R. Attota, T.A. Germer and R.M. Silver. Through-focus scanning-optical-microscope imaging method for nanoscale dimensional analysis, Optics Letters 33, 1990 (2008).

 

Trading stocks right now …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:33 pm

requires quite a bit of testicular fortitude. And a casino roll doesn’t hurt either.

Wall Street had another astounding advance Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrials soaring nearly 900 points in their second-largest point gain ever as late-day bargain hunters stormed into the market. The Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index were each up nearly 11 percent.

There didn’t appear to be any one catalyst for the surge that saw the Dow nearly double its gain in the last hour of trading. Many analysts said investors were grabbing up stocks in the belief that the market had fallen too far in recent sessions; the Dow had dropped 500 points in two days. Some said buying early in the day came from anticipation of an interest rate cut Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, and the market just followed its recent pattern of building on its gains or losses in the last minutes of the session.

“There is nothing fundamental that came out today or yesterday that would take it up or down. We’re all groping for something meaningful to talk about,” said Bob Andres, chief investment strategist at Portfolio Management Consultants. “The market is exhausted from going down.”

Ray Kurzweil honored by silicon.com

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:28 pm

From KurzweilAI.net — Congrats to Ray for being honored as a “top visionary” in international technology and IT industries.

Top Visionaries – Agenda Setters 2008
KurzweilAI.net, Oct. 29, 2008

Silicon.com announced today its selection of the top visionaries in the worldwide technology and IT industries whose ideas shake up the status quo.

The top three visionaries named were Tim Berners-Lee, Jimmy Wales, and Ray Kurzweil.

Other visionaries named were environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, reality TV guru Peter Bazalgette, free software advocate Richard Stallman, Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi, journalist and political activist Arianna Huffington, and cyber law professor Jonathan Zittrain.

Silicon.com also announced the Top Techies, Top Entrepreneurs, Top Agenda Setters, Top Business Leaders, and Top Politicos.

Less than one week 538 projections

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:42 pm

Holding strong for Obama.

And of course, If you’re finding this page later than today’s date hit this link for my latest update, or better yet head straight to 538 for their very latest projections.

McCain supporters stayin’ classy

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:40 pm

Things are getting pretty ugly in GOP-land.

From the link:

After the rally, we witnessed a near-street riot involving the exiting McCain crowd and two Cuban-American Obama supporters. Tony Garcia, 63, and Raul Sorando, 31, were suddenly surrounded by an angry mob. There is a moment in a crowd when something goes from mere yelling to a feeling of danger, and that’s what we witnessed. As photographers and police raced to the scene, the crowd elevated from stable to fast-moving scrum, and the two men were surrounded on all sides as we raced to the circle.

The event maybe lasted a minute, two at the most, before police competently managed to hustle the two away from the scene and out of the danger zone. Only FiveThirtyEight tracked the two men down for comment, a quarter mile down the street.

“People were screaming ‘Terrorist!’ ‘Communist!’ ‘Socialist!'” Sorando said when we caught up with him. “I had a guy tell me he was gonna kill me.”

Asked what had precipitated the event, “We were just chanting ‘Obama!’ and holding our signs. That was it. And the crowd suddenly got crazy.”

October 27, 2008

Rush Limbaugh killed the GOP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 pm

Good stuff from Ross Douthat.

From the link (and taken from the middle of a longer graf):

For Rush, there are only two kinds of people in Republican Party: True conservatives like him, and “moderate Republicans.” The latter is an ideologically-inclusive category: You can be pro-choice or pro-life, David Frum or Colin Powell, a Rockefeller Republican or a Sam’s Club conservative; indeed, the only real requirement for moderate-Republican status is the belief that the Republican Party needs to reach out to voters who don’t agree with, well, Rush Limbaugh on every jot and tittle of what conservatism is and ought to be.

YouTube contest on conserving energy from SmartPower

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:49 pm

This release hit the inbox today. Sounds fun.

SmartPower Launches Online YouTube Ad Contest

$10,000 Awarded to Winning Video on How to Conserve Energy

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ — SmartPower launched a new online video ad contest today to promote its national marketing campaign on energy efficiency. The SmartPower Energy Smart Online Ad Challenge uses new media and online social networking to promote conservation and energy efficiency. Anyone can participate by submitting a 30 second public service announcement to SmartPower through www.smartpower.org/adchallenge.php and www.youtube.com/group/energysmart.

“Our YouTube online ad contest is not only an opportunity to win a $10,000 grand prize and be featured on national television,” said SmartPower president Brian F. Keane. “It is also a fun way to educate Americans about how to save energy, save money, protect the planet and promote national security.”

The goal of the contest is for the general public to create videos that show how energy efficiency helps Americans save money. SmartPower provides helpful facts on how to conserve energy on its website. These Energy Smart tips are simple and inexpensive ways people can conserve energy and reduce utility and fuel costs. Contestants are required to reference the SmartPower website and logo as well as the Energy Smart tips in their submissions.

Though open to everyone, SmartPower’s Energy Smart Ad Challenge is designed to target young adults and teenagers. SmartPower’s award winning research has revealed that young people are the key when it comes to changing the culture of energy use and energy conservation. They have the power and the willingness to reduce consumption, influence their peers and parents and contribute to a safer and more sustainable future.

SmartPower Launches New Brand and Website (www.smartpower.org)

The SmartPower Energy Smart Online Ad Challenge coincides with the organization’s recent decision to expand its mission beyond promoting and marketing clean, renewable energy to include energy efficiency. In addition to helping consumers choose clean energy sources, SmartPower wants to educate Americans about ways they can conserve energy in their day-to-day lives. SmartPower has designed a new user friendly website and has adopted ‘Let’s Get Energy Smart’ as its new tagline.

SmartPower is accepting submissions for the Energy Smart Ad Challenge through Earth Day, April 22, 2009. For detailed information on the contest, including rules, criteria for judging and submission procedures, please visit www.smartpower.org/adchallenge.php.

About SmartPower

SmartPower is a national, nonprofit marketing organization committed to promoting clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. SmartPower’s mission is to build the clean energy marketplace by helping the American public become smarter about their energy use. In under a decade, SmartPower’s award-winning marketing campaigns have been credited with creating unprecedented demand for wind, solar and hydropower. Today, SmartPower has become known as the nationwide “Got Milk” organization on clean energy. www.smartpower.org

Source: SmartPower
   

Web Site:  www.smartpower.org
www.smartpower.org/adchallenge.php
www.youtube.com/group/energysmart

Well, the “bailout” was a rousing success

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:35 pm

Not so much.

From the link:

First, the $700 billion rescue for the U.S. economy was about buying devalued mortgage-backed securities from tottering banks to unclog frozen credit markets.

Then it was about using $250 billion of it to buy stakes in banks. The idea was that banks would use the money to start making loans again.

But reports surfaced that bankers might instead use the money to buy other banks, pay dividends, give employees a raise and executives a bonus, or just sit on it. Insurance companies now want a piece; maybe automakers, too, even though Congress has approved $25 billion in low-interest loans for them.

Three weeks after becoming law, and with the first dollar of the $700 billion yet to go out, officials are just beginning to talk about helping a few strapped homeowners avoid losing their homes in foreclosures.

As the crisis worsens, the government’s reaction keeps changing. Lawmakers in both parties are starting to gripe that the bailout is turning out to be far different from what the Bush administration sold to Congress.

Is Virginia the key ..

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:24 pm

… to an Obama victory next Tuesday?

Possibly.

Here’s a bit from TPM Election Central:

Three new polls have now found Barack Obama with a clear and decisive lead in Virginia, bringing him one crucial step closer to a majority in the Electoral College:

SurveyUSA: Obama 52%, McCain 43%, outside of the ±3.9% margin of error, not significantly different from a 53%-43% Obama lead from three weeks ago. Nine percent of respondents have already voted, giving Obama a 67%-30% majority, and he’s ahead 50%-44% among the remaining 91% of likely voters.

Zogby: Obama 52%, McCain 45%, with a ±4.1% margin of error. There is no other recent Zogby phone poll for comparison.

Washington Post: Obama 52%, McCain 44%, with a ±3.5% margin of error, compared to a 49%-46% Obama lead a month ago.

The early-vote number from SurveyUSA shows just what a hole John McCain is in. If he loses the early vote in a given state, he has to not only win the vote on Election Day, but win it by a large enough majority to overcome his early-vote deficit.

And here’s FiveThirtyEight:

Wish state might the McCain campaign really, really wish that they hadn’t insulted?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not technically a state, but rather, a commonwealth.

Five separate polls of Virginia have been released within the past 48 hours. Zogby has Obama ahead by 7 points there, the Washington Post by 8, SurveyUSA by 9, Public Policy Polling also by 9, and Virgnia Commonwealth University by 11.

Virginia, with 13 electoral votes, is a bit more electorally potent than Colorado; Obama could afford to lose either New Hampshire or New Mexico if he won there (though not both), which is not true about the Rocky Mountain state. We are currently projecting Obama to win every John Kerry state, except New Hampshire, but plus Iowa, by double digits. If Obama wins all of those states plus Virginia, he’s at 268 electoral votes, meaning that any more electoral votes anywhere in the country would win him the election.

538 projections one week and day out

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:07 pm

And as an added bonus, I’m throwing in their “super tracker.”

 

And of course, If you’re finding this page later than today’s date hit this link for my latest update, or better yet head straight to 538 for their very latest projections.

October 25, 2008

Palin “goin’ rogue”

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:55 pm

Look for a lot more stories like this over the next while — up to election night and beyond. The GOP is fractured already and only getting worse.

From the Politico link:

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said. 

Associated Press facing real heat

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:18 pm

It’s about ‘effin time. The “Anachronistic Press” has been so brain dead about everything internet it’s sad. Reminds me of the RIAA and MPAA’s futile and doomed efforts against this digital world.

From the BuzzMachine (first) link:

So now Tribune Company has given the AP notice – two years’ – to cancel, joining the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Bakersfield Californian, Idaho Falls Post Register of Idaho Falls, and Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World. These are more than shots across AP’s bow. They are shots at the AP, which has to reinvent itself. More on that later.

More high-performance steel news

Did a little steel blogging recently here involving nanotech, this release covers another high-performance steel, sans nanotech.

The release:

ORNL scientists develop high-performance steel for possible use in ITER fusion project

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 24, 2008 – Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. ITER Project Office, which is housed at ORNL, have developed a new cast stainless steel that is 70 percent stronger than comparable steels and is being evaluated for use in the huge shield modules required by the ITER fusion device.

ITER is a multibillion-dollar international research and development project to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power and to enable studies of self-heating burning plasmas. It will require hundreds of tons of complex stainless steel components that must withstand the temperatures associated with being in the proximity of a plasma heated to more than 100 million degrees Celsius.

The ITER device will be assembled in Cadarache, France, using components fabricated in the United States and in the other partner nations – China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation. It is based on the tokamak concept, in which a hot gas is confined in a torus-shaped vessel using a magnetic field. When operational, the device will produce some 500 MW of fusion power.

Jeremy Busby of the ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division said the ITER shield modules present a particular challenge. “The United States must produce nearly 100 of these modules that are 3-4 tons each and include geometric shapes and openings,” he explained, adding that drilling holes in solid steel would result in the removal and loss of 30 percent of the material.

Busby said casting the steel into a near-final shape was another alternative, but it weakens its properties. “We’re working to improve the materials’ properties to reduce the amount of machining and welding and allow for better performance,” he said. “The use of casting can have potential value engineering benefits resulting in cost savings on the order of 20 to 40 percent as compared to machining, so this could be a fairly significant economic issue, both for ITER and in other future uses.”

Busby and his team have worked on the effort for some 18 months, after being approached by Mike Hechler, USIPO manager of Blanket Shielding and Port Limiter systems. “He talked with us because of ORNL’s materials science expertise,” Busby said. “He was familiar with our industry work and hopeful that we could help provide a solution.”

The team has utilized a science-based approach involving modeling, advanced analytical techniques and industrial experience, building upon past R&D 100 award-winning efforts with other cast steels. The availability of advanced materials property simulations at ORNL also played a significant role. “We have used all the science tools available to us at the laboratory,” Busby added.

The effort began with the preparation of test steel compositions in small batches that will be scaled up to more representative geometries. Focus areas include improvements in fracture properties, tensile strength, microstructure properties, welds, impact properties, corrosion performance and radiation resistance.

Busby is hopeful about when the new material might be needed for ITER. The overall design of the device is being tweaked as part of an international review held earlier this year. “We expect to hear fairly soon about how our cast stainless steel may be used in this groundbreaking project,” he said.

 

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ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy. U.S. ITER is a DOE Office of Science project.

University of Western Ontario cameras capture ‘fireball’

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:28 pm

This is a very cool press release. Be sure to hit the link at the bottom of the release for photos and links to AVI video from the seven cameras of Western’s Southern Ontario Meteor Network (SOMN).

The release:

University of Western Ontario cameras capture ‘fireball’

Meteor may have crashed near Guelph, Ontario

For the second time this year, The University of Western Ontario Meteor Group has captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth. The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a region north of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, that may total as much as a few hundred grams in mass.

The Physics and Astronomy Department at Western has a network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the sky monitoring for meteors.

On Wednesday, October 15 at 5:28 a.m., all seven cameras of Western’s Southern Ontario Meteor Network recorded a bright, slow fireball in the predawn sky.

Associate Professor Peter Brown and Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral researcher in Planetary Science, are hoping to enlist the help of local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed.

“This event was a relatively slow fireball that made it far into the Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteoroids burn up by the time they hit an altitude of 60 or 70 kilometres from the ground,” explains McCausland, who is heading to the region next week to investigate. “This one was tracked by our all-sky camera network to have penetrated to an altitude of about 37 kilometres and it slowed down considerably, so there is a possibility that at least one and possibly several small meteorites made it to the ground.”

By knowing the trajectory from the camera observations, the researchers can also track backwards to get the orbit of the object before it hit the Earth.

“The meteorite was on a typical Earth-crossing asteroid-type orbit, so we also expect that it is a stony-type meteorite,” says McCausland.

In March, the network of all-sky cameras captured video of a meteor falling to Earth that may have crashed in the Parry Sound area.

 

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For high-resolution images, videos and maps, please visit http://aquarid.physics.uwo.ca/2008_oct15.htm

October 24, 2008

A hope, a prayer and a little bit of magic …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:35 pm

from K-Lo. Man, the Corner is just sad these days. Bill is rolling in his grave with ferocity.

From the link:

Be Optimistic!   [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

I woke up this morning with a bad cold, throat closed off, and things not looking good. A nap, some drugs, and a lot of OJ later, I’ve made a turnaround.

I am interpreting it as a physical sign of the political turnaround to come. Hey, if it works . . .

With Fred Thompson speaking truth to pessimism, Sarah Palin on the road, and everyone doing his part to use Stanley Kurtz and Andy McCarthyas your weekend talking points, fowarding Robby George and other previews of life under Obama, and using David Freddosoas your coffetable book when you have friends over (have undecided friends over!), things can turnaround for John McCain. This election is close and nowhere near over.

 

That Pitt McCain volunteer mugging victim?

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:16 pm

(Note: headline changed to reflect the correct city for the “event.” Sorry Philly, I’ll have a cheesesteak in penance.)

Not so much.

From the Daily Dish link:

McCain Spokesman Implicated In Mugger Hoax

<!– –>And Palin called Todd:

John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”

Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the “B” stood for Barack.

McCain also called the hoax-merchant. Is this the kind of judgment you want in a president?

Here’s another report on the sick, false hate-crime hoax.

And here’s TPM Election Central’s report:

Report: McCain Volunteer Who Claimed “Carved B” Attack Confesses To Making Up Story

Wow. By now you’ve all heard about Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain volunteer who claimed that she was assaulted in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night by an attacker who scratched a “B” in her cheek after learning that she was for McCain.

The story was flacked madly last night by Drudge, even though few if any details had been established or independently confirmed.

Well, take a look at this banner headline, from Pittsburgh’s KDKA:

A Pittsburgh police commander says a volunteer for the McCain campaign who reported being robbed and attacked near a bank ATM in Bloomfield has confessed to making up the story. Police say charges will be filed. More details to follow.

More soon.

Late Update: KDKA’s full story has now been posted. It’s based on anonymous sources. So it’s still unclear what the story is. Stay tuned.

Late Late Update: It’s worth keeping in mind what Fox News executive vice president John Moody had to say about what this would mean if this story proved a hoax:

“If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.”

Worth keeping an eye on Fox’s coverage of the latest turn in the story.

Late Late Late Update: Police are set to hold a press conference to discuss the news, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Latest Update: There are now conflicting reports on whether Todd confessed or police simply concluded the mugging story was a hoax.

Later Than Latest Update: Some extraordinary new details about her confession from the AP:

Ashley Todd, 20-year-old college student from College Station, Texas, admitted Friday that the story was false and was being charged with making a false report to police, said Maurita Bryant, the assistant chief of the police department’s investigations division. Police doubted her story from the start, Bryant said.Todd, who is white, told police she was attacked by a 6-foot-4 black man Wednesday night.

She now can’t explain why she invented the story, Bryant said. Todd also told police she believes she cut the backward “B” onto her own cheek, but did not provide an explanation of how or why, Bryant said.

Update 10/25 — Here’s the latest from TPM Election Central, including a little brushback against Team McCain’s assertion their spokesman in Pennsylvania is not a race baiter. Pretty thin gruel if you ask me.

From the link:

A spokesperson for McCain’s national campaign is pushing back on our story yesterday reporting that McCain’s Pennsylvania communications director was giving reporters an incendiary version of the attack hoax story before the facts were in.

But Keith Olbermann does a nice job of skewering the push-back. From the Countdown transcript:

Tonight, McCain`s spokesman, Brian Rogers, denied the campaign gave out those quotes, telling COUNTDOWN, they came from the police and were attributed to the McCain camp because of sloppy reporting.An account that doesn’t explain why two television stations both quoted the McCain campaign, or the fact that one of them, KDKA Pittsburgh specifically followed the McCain quotes with the line, quote, “Police, however, have not confirmed that.”

And tonight, COUNTDOWN asked the reporter from the other station, WPXI to check his notes. He says he got those quotes first, 4:08 p.m. yesterday from McCain`s Pennsylvania communications director.

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