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Posts Made By: Lee Spain

February 7, 2006 08:52 AM Forum: Politics

Re: Gentlemen start your SUV's

Posted By Lee Spain

Anti-SUV bigotry is somewhat ridiculous. You don't necessarily know everything about an SUV owner and anti-SUV people make a variety of assumptions. A person can own an SUV and still be more efficient than someone who owns are car.

Here are some ways that I've been more efficient than many car owners as an SUV owner -
* I've walked to the bus stop.
* I've driven a short distance to a park-n-ride.
* I've left the SUV parked and taken the smaller car to work.
* I've car-pooled.
* We've supplemented the SUV with a economy car.

In addition, there are several cases where an SUV can be justified -

1) Large Family - You just can't move a family of 6 or 7 in a small car.
2) Severe Weather - In some places, 4-wheel drive and high ground clearance are very useful.
3) Special Recreation Needs - An SUV can be useful for hauling a really big telescope, a sail boat, or other hobby equipment.
4) Tall person. Even at 6'2", I find that many small or midsized cars are a squeeze and that the ergonomics can be dangerous (i.e. low hanging rearview mirrors). At 6'4" my dad has trouble finding a comfortable car.

People are trying to balance a variety of needs when buying a vehicle. Literature from my insurance company shows that SUV injury claims are far less than injury claims for smaller cars. People act out a lot of crazy emotional crap on the road. In some cases, driving the smaller car has forced me to change my driving route simply because people drive very aggressively where I live. While we generally drive about in the small car and leave the SUV for special circumstances.

We often take the SUV when the roads are wet or when we suspect the drunks are out. As people switch to small cars, I suspect that highway deaths will increase significantly. wink

February 7, 2006 11:11 AM Forum: Politics

Bio-diesel Question

Posted By Lee Spain

I have a serious question about bio-diesel-type alternative fuels. It appears that we can grow certain crops or use bio-degradable waste from farming to create alternative fuels like bio-diesel. On the surface, this sounds great. smile

However, I wonder if there wouldn't be some pretty bad unintended side effects if we adopted that on a truly massive scale. For example, aren't these current waste products (leftover stalks, dead plants, etc) now allowed to recycle back into the soil? If we interrupted this cycle and diverted this organic matter into our cars or centralized fuel processing facilities, wouldn't that lead to more soil depletion and erosion problems in rural areas and less crop production in the long run? shocked

February 7, 2006 12:04 PM Forum: Politics

Re: Cuts to the budget

Posted By Lee Spain

I don't think the baby of public radio should necessarily be thrown out with the bath water of commentary.

NPR should simply not be in the business of producing news or social commentary because they are an extension of the government.

NPR should simply be about preserving and broadcasting America's musical heritage (jazz, blues, etc.) and it should be allowed to receive a degree of paid advertiser sponsorship (without any change to its mission as stated above).

If the government gets out of public radio, public parks, and museums, we stand to lose a lot culturally.

February 8, 2006 09:49 AM Forum: Politics

Should we sell the moon?

Posted By Lee Spain

Governments have a lot of competing priorities to balance and seem to be pretty slow about getting cool things like moonbases and space stations established so that average people can visit them.

So, what if we allowed the UN to sell a small portion of the moon for non-military commercial purposes? Then people like Richard Branson, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates, or corporations like Disney might be enticed to invest with the intent to build vacation destinations.

For example, if Disney owned part of the moon, they could put a hotel there, they could make countless reality shows about building transportation to the moon, or featuring people who compete to become civilian astronauts, and even host a golf tournament up there.

The sale proceeds could fund UNICEF and other UN-sponsored social programs or be divided among nations.

Does anybody think selling off part of the moon would be a good idea?

February 10, 2006 10:24 AM Forum: Politics

Did Conan subvert Finnish Democracy?

Posted By Lee Spain

Here's a lighter question for a Friday: Did Conan O'brien's mock ads in support of Finnish president Tarja Halonen (sp?) subvert Finnish democracy? shocked

February 13, 2006 05:35 PM Forum: Beginning Astronomy?

TheSky - Setup 4 Urban / 70mm?

Posted By Lee Spain

I'm installing Orion's version of The Sky that came with my Observer 70 alt-az. When the software shows everything, the number of visible objects on the screen is unmanageable. I'd like some advice on filtering down to things I can reasonably see with my 70mm F/10 refractor.

I observe from a light polluted environment on Atlanta's perimeter (about 8 or 9 miles from the center of downtown), but with the naked eye I can generally see Orion, The Pliaedes, Big Dipper, the Hyades, Castor and Pollux, and the Meat Cleaver part of Canis Major.

Available Settings:

The magnitude is currently set for -6.0 at the brightest and 30.0 at the faintest. I've got to think that 30.0 is way too faint for me to see. Any suggestions?

There are a number of objects to possibly filter out as well. For example, I think I'll add double stars as seeking them out is fun with a small scope. Also, are there any suggestions for filtering out dark nebulas, lenticular galaxies, irregular galaxies, etc.?

Thanks much for any advice! smile

February 14, 2006 07:50 AM Forum: Politics

Iraq War Vet Drops Out of Ohio Senate Race???

Posted By Lee Spain

Does anyone know what Iraqi War Vet, Paul Hackett, dropped his democratic bid for an Ohio senate seat?

CNN and MSNBC articles imply that the Democratic party and selected party leaders were urging him to drop out. They also said that he feels betrayed by his party.

However, the articles are really incomplete and didn't provide any background information on why the Dems had pulled their support. I want my four Ws and an H. Does anybody know the "Why?" behind this story?

February 14, 2006 01:49 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

MisAl Optics Broadband Nebula / LPR Filter?

Posted By Lee Spain

Does anyone have experience with the MisAl Optics filters? I'm particularly interested in their Broadband Nebula / LPR Filter. This is an inexpensive LPR filter and certainly fits my fairly modest Astronomy budget.

February 14, 2006 09:37 PM Forum: Politics

The Trials of Saddam

Posted By Lee Spain

Today on the news, they said that Saddam faces five more trials after this one. At this pace, he could be in court for five years... cwy

Is that ridiculous or what?

February 15, 2006 07:11 AM Forum: Politics

Next Homeland Security Director

Posted By Lee Spain

It looks like Michael Chertoff is getting slammed by Congress. I thought like he looked too much like a Washington insider and policy geek from the get go. For the record, if he does get the axe, I'd like the next Homeland Security director to be either a fire chief, police officer, or general. He also needs to be a hot-headed arse kicker (like a Norman Schwartzopf-type) who will
get the bureaucracies moving.