Saturday, November 29, 2008

Scott Knows His Elements

I knew that getting that chemistry degree would come in handy someday...

Name That Element

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pissing Around With Stuff In Space

When you go into space, everything needs to work right. Especially when you're talking about new systems designed to recycle urine and sweat into drinking water.

Which is a problem, since station commander Michael Fincke and space shuttle Endeavour astronaut Donald Pettit are pissing around with the way in shich a centrifuge is mounted in a urine processor, which doesn't appear to be working properly. Hopefully, a supply of extra Dasani was brought along just in case.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

After Killing Fellow Republicans' Chances, Bush Takes Aim at Engangered Species

President Bush did his best to drive Republican politicians to extinction. Now he's after endangered species.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, One of America's Great Newspapers, animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don't pose a threat, under regulations the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them.

I won't include the entire article here, but the bottom line is this: Now that the election is o
ver, President Bush is redoubling his efforts to harm to our nation as much as possible before he is sent back to Texas in disgrace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

RIP Burgh Blog - And Theories On Its Demise

I started my blog 34 months ago. At that time I had no idea what it would turn into. I've written serious pieces, posted some photos, written some haikus, taken some quizzes and posted the results, and whatever else struck me. I've gotten a lot of hits, but most have come from people Googling the Manny Ramirez photo, the pieces on Joe Hardy and Kristin Georgi, and a post on blow-up dolls. So very few people know or care about Scott's Spot.

One of the first blogs I started reading was The B
urgh Blog, in its original Blogger incarnation - my favorite one. I've followed it faithfully ever since I discovered it, and subscribed to its feed on Bloglines. I posted the occasional comment and even got an email or two from PittGirl.

One of the key features of the Burgh Blog was that it was published anonymously. A few people knew who PittGirl was, but she(?) made
a point of maintaining her anonymity. And I kind of understand that - I have my first name on my blog, and you could probably find out my identity if you cared to and looked hard enough, but there aren't too many people who know who I am, and I prefer it that way. I even made some changes to my blog when an anonymous lawyer tried contacting me to discuss my posting about some 4-year-old girl who couldn't get Hannah Montana tickets.

So I understand a little bit about the anonymous blogger mentality.

But my theory is that PittGirl didn't intend for the Burgh Blog to last forever. She could have easily written her posts in a way that would preserve her anonymity indefinitely, but she didn't. I think that she intentionally provided clues that would enable some inquiring mind to discover her identity, toying with her readers, seeing how much she
could disclose until she was finally identified. She was intoxicated by seeing how close to that line she could get - but she finally crossed over it and someone was finally able to assemble the puzzle she laid out for all to see.

So now it's over. I think that PittGirl is sincere in her statement that

" that I’m cutting it away, I’m realizing what a big cut and a deep cut it really is. And how much it is hurting to let it go."

It's hurting us to see you go, too, PittGirl. I hope to read your writings in whatever forum you publish them in the future. And I hope you can console yourself with a Zima.

Hartwood Celebration Of Lights - Offsetting the Offsets

The Hartwood Celebration of Lights is a breathtaking 3.2 mile stretch of holiday light displays consisting of more than two million lights. The displays range from 3- to 40-feet tall. It is in Hartwood Acres, an Allegheny County, PA, park. The lights are powered by diesel electric generators placed throughout the park, which produce 303 tons of carbon emissions each year.

But don't worry about that! According to WDUQ News, this year's Celebration of Lights is going to be carbon neutral. Thanks to a donation by Sustainable Pittsburgh and Native Energy. this year's festival of lights by purchasing carbon offsets to assuage the guilt of burning all that diesel fuel to keep the lights on. So, you'll feel like an environmentalist while driving past the generators and breathing the fumes.

The festival of lights begins on November 21st and will last through January 4th. It's nice that it'll be done earlier this year - I live near the park and you can hear "The 12 Days of Christmas" blaring until 10 or 11 pm when the event closes for the night and they turn the generators off.

It'll cost you $12 to drive through the lights, so I recommend that you start up your gas guzzler and pack in as many people as you can.
I'll personally be viewing the lights with my family in our Suburban. Around 600,000 other people will be joining me. None of us will be purchasing any carbon offsets, so we're going to offset the offsets!


Update: I was contacted by the Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, who informed me that the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicles expected to drive through the lights were included in the offsets calculation. You can click here to learn more about carbon offsets.

FOUND - The Source of My Paranoia - My Cat Is Out To Get Me

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

I Am 44% Politically Radical

You Are 44% Politically Radical

You've got some radical viewpoints, but you aren't completely nuts. You're more of a visionary than a radical.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two Hearts Of the Same Sex

It's like same sex marriage, but different. I'm talking, of course, about the latest medical study, which found that heart transplant patients have better odds of survival and a lower risk of rejection if they get organs from donors of the same sex. Size may be part of the explanation. Men's hearts are bigger than women's and have greater pumping capacity, and men who get men's hearts fare better.

The study was paid for by the federal government and led by Dr. Eric Weiss, a cardiac surgery researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He presented his findings Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference.

So sex matters. And size matters. Go figure.

Racism - Alive And Well In Pittsburgh's North Hills

Just in case you had doubts about Rep. John Murtha's comments about racism in Western Pennsylvania, consider the following example, reported in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, One of America's Great Newspapers:

The A.W. Beattie Career Center has suspended an instructional aide for "unprofessional and unacceptable" comments about President-elect Barack Obama.

The aide, identified by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review as Chris Skertich, told a 16-year-old biracial student that Mr. Obama was going to be shot and killed, the U.S. flag would be changed to the KFC flag, and the national anthem would be changed to "Moving On Up."

Another staff member of the McCandless vocational school was also reported to have heard the comments, and reported the aide to the school's administration.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Like GM, I'm Looking For A Government Bailout

It turns out that General Motors and I have something in common: we're both nearly out of cash. Can a government bailout be far behind?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sore Losers At The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Regardless of your opinion of John McCain’s political views, you have to regard him as an American hero and a true public servant. This was certainly evident in his concession speech, in which he pledged to work with President-Elect Barack Obama to move the country forward. This is the kind of bipartisan spirit that is necessary to move the United States beyond the disastrous 8 years of the Bush presidency.

Unfortunately, such a spirit of conciliation is nowhere to be found at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, whose lead editorial today is entitled “Obama wins, America loses.” This whining piece ends with the following statement:

“It is customary to wish an incoming president the best of luck. But it's the American people on whom we bestow that wish today. For they'll need all the luck that can be mustered to weather what one can only hope will be a one-term anomaly.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review should get out of its hate-radio-mongering rut and look to Senator John McCain for an example of how to behave when you don’t get your way.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NRA Defends Killing of South Carolina Trick-Or-Treater

12-year-old T.J. Darrisaw from South Carolina was killed while trick-or-treating Friday night. A convicted felon unleashed a barrage of bullets from inside a home, pumping at least 29 shots through the closed door and front of the house. The boy's father and brother also were wounded.

The suspect, Quentin Patrick, 22, opened fire with an AK-47, killing Darrisa
w and wounding father Freddie Grinnell Jr. and his other child.

But that's OK with the National Rifle Association. The NRA opposes all restrictions on the sale of assault rifles like the AK-47. No registrations. No background checks. No restrictions whatsoever.

I am a hunter and gun owner. But I'll never be an NRA member. If you're an NRA member, you should quit. If you're not a member, don't join. We can support second amendment rights without being NRA extremists.

Poll Closing Times

There's one area in which election reforms are desperately needed in America. Poll hours. In Georgia, Virginia, and Indiana, the polls are only open until 7 pm. That's too early! A lot of people don't make it home until 7 pm.

I live in Pennsylvania, and I work close to home, so I usually leave vote at lunchtime to avoid long lines. But most people don't have that luxury, and have to vote at the beginning or end of he day, when there are usually long lines.

We need true electoral reforms, like Internet voting or voting for a 24 or 48 hour period. In our system, it's important who wins, but it's even
more important that everyone gets a chance to participate.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Electoral Vote Prediction and Map

Here's my Electoral Vote prediction and map for tomorrow's election. Obama 318 - McCain 220. I feel least comfortable about my prediction for Virginia, as I believe that the Bradley Effect may come into play there. If Virginia were to go for McCain, that would put the totals at Obama 305 - McCain 233.

Our system works best when everyone participates, so I encourage all eligible voters to vote, regardless of your political persuasion.

Barack Obama - Is ANY Black Too Black For Pennsylvania?

The United States seems poised to elect its first black president. I wasn't expecting us to arrive at this moment until much further in the future. But I guess I wasn't expecting to have a candidate with the poise, intellect, and vision of Barack Obama.

Pennsylvania is one of one of the swing states of the election. It went for Sen. John Kerry in 2004, and Sen. Obama appears to have an insurmount
able lead in recent polls.

But there's one thing...
The Western PA area is very racist. It is very common to hear references to "colored" people. And that's when the N word isn't used.

Recently, Congressman John Murtha was castigated for stating the obvious - Western Pennsylvania is a racist area. I moved to the Pittsburgh area 22 years ago, and 21 years ago we bought out current house, located in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Before we moved in, the former owner explained that he refused to have a "For Sale" sign in front of his house because he didn't "want the colored to come in."

As it turns out, one of the couples who helped us moved in was black, and we thought afterward that, after we were all moved in, all the whites should have left and left our black friends here. That would have started us out on the right foot in this neighborhood!

It will be very interesting to see the election returns on Tuesday. I could be wrong, but I'm expecting the Pennsylvania results to be a lot tighter than polls are indicating.