Friday, December 4, 2009

Rest in Peace Eric Woolfson


Eric Woolfson, the signature voice of the Alan Parsons Project died Wednesday of cancer at the age of 64. The singer, who crooned many of the greatest hits of the progressive rock band was also a playwright, composer, musician, and politician in his native England. He also recently released a solo album.

Woolfson will be most remembered as the lead singer of some of the Alan Parsons Project's best songs including Eye in the Sky, Time (Keeps Flowing), and Don't Answer Me. One of the best songs he sang was Ammonia Avenue. In it he really has the chance to show the talent and full range of his beautiful voice.

It has been said that Alan Parsons used Woolfson's voice like an instrument in his compositions and I'd have to agree. If Mr. Woolfson was akin to any instrument, I have always thought him to be close to a French horn due to his mellifluous, brassy voice.

Time will keep flowing on in Eric Woolfson's absence, but the world will be a little poorer because of it, and the choirs in Heaven perhaps a little richer. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters. See ya some other place, somewhere, some other time Eric. (photo credit BBC)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Horrific Persistance of Incorrectness - Grammar 101


There are some grammatical issues that inexplicably persist in popular culture, perpetuated by even the most learned among us (or apparently learned). The one I address here today is actually a simple, straightforward grammatical rule. It concerns the confusion which sometimes seems to arise when trying to figure out which indefinite article to use in front of certain words starting with the letter H.

A or An?

"An" certainly sounds more Ivy League when used in front of certain words. But "sounding" knowledgeable is a stone's throw away from disinformation.

Most words in the English language that have H as their first letter also have the hard H, or consonant sound. Think Hit, Happy, Hair, Humidor, House, Hot, Hog, and History to name a few. Which article do you use in front of these H words? The answer of course is "A". ("I had a history test.")

A relative small number of words begin with an H that has a silent H, or vowel sound. Think Hour, Honor, or Honest. Which article do you use in front of these H words? The answer in these cases is "An". ("American Idol is an hour long today.")

It is always wrong to use the word "an" before any word beginning with a "hard" H. This includes the word "Historical". Let me repeat, the word "History" and its derivations begin with a consonant sound and so are preceded by the article "a" -- never "an".

Remember, "an" is used before words beginning with vowel sounds, and "a" is used before words beginning with consonant sounds.

It's not a hard rule. But it is a hard and fast rule.

Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition for help with this and other grammatical astigmatisms.

www.gradeAedits.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Couples Retreat Movie Review


If you're up for a funny movie (and who isn't these days?) then Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and many other great and talented actors is for you. It's a light-hearted look at problem resolution in marital relationships. It doesn't offer real solutions, but it does offer real laughs. The movie is set in the Caribbean and centers around four couples who go to an all-inclusive resort that promises to help them work out their problems. The humor is sometimes raunchy and always wacky. (The movie is rated PG-13, but I rate it PG-16 for simulated sexual activity and references.)

I love this movie and am definitely going to add the DVD to my collection when it comes out. Grab a friend or significant other and see this fun romp in the sun and sand.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Unearned Peace Prize Is Nothing New


Today the Nobel Prize committee has shown itself and its Peace Prize officially to be without value or significance. Not that we haven't seen many past poor selections already. At least when this liberal organization gave former President Carter his unearned Nobel Peace Prize, he had been out of his failed presidency a few years and had done something. But for this organization to hand a Nobel Prize to someone who hasn't done anything yet, except talk a good game, is a joke.

Did Ronald Reagan receive a Nobel Prize for helping to end the tyranny of the Soviet Union? Did he receive it for negotiating to reduce and even end whole classes of nuclear weapons? Did George H.W. Bush receive a Nobel Prize for saving Kuwait from an invasion by Iraq?

The Nobel Peace Prize is a continuous year after year joke. Just look at some of the past recipients: The International Council on Climate Change and Al Gore (for Peace?), Jimmy Carter, the UN and Kofi Annan, Yasser Arafat; and Mikail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union for helping to bring down his own country.

Someone who is humble and who recognizes that he has not accomplished anything in his presidency yet would decline this award. But President Obama is the opposite of humble.

The Nobel Prize Committee should be raked over the coals for its blatant attempt to influence world politics.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint


There is an easy way for the concerned eco-citizens of our much-beleaguered world to reduce their carbon footprints.

What's a carbon footprint you ask? For those of you who may not know it, a carbon footprint is how much carbon you unwittingly spew back into Mother Earth's bosom by virtue of your everyday existence. It is measured for individuals, industries, and countries in tons of carbon emitted to the atmosphere each year. Natural sources are of course not considered.

As you may know, the European Union has a carbon trading program for industry and now the Democrats in the United States congress and the Democrat President want the same for the United States.

Carbon trading, Cap and Trade, or Cap and Tax, is a scheme where if a business produces less carbon dioxide emissions than it is allowed, it can sell what remains to some company that knows it is going to produce too much carbon dioxide. These carbon credits will be traded on Wall Street, which will give them hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new business, so they are literally salivating at the prospect that The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 will pass. It has in fact passed the House of Representatives but is idle in the Senate.

Beyond the higher prices everyone will pay for energy as a result of the Carbon Tax, we the little people need to get in on carbon trading too. And I know how to do it, without a broker, without fees, without license, and for free too. Yes, you too can acquire carbon credits and thereby control the size and impact of your odious carbon footprint.

The process is a little involved and requires some work, but you're doing this for Mother Earth so a little work ain't gonna slow you down from doing right, is it? This Personal Carbon Footprint Reduction Plan (PCFRiP as I call it) is also built on fairness, honor, and respect.

The plan goes like this. Choose a newspaper, a local one in your area would be best for this. If there aren't any newspapers left in your area then choose on online newspaper, but whichever paper you choose it should have an obituary section. Open said newspaper or website and go to the obituary section and look for a recently deceased person with the same last name that you have. If you have a common name like Smith or Patel you may find many. If you have a less common name like Frankenstein you may have a harder time. It may take days or weeks of hard work but you are doing this for all the right reasons people (to prop up failing newspapers and reduce that carbon thingy).

Once you find someone whose last name matches your last name (and assuming it is not you!), clip the obit, save it somewhere and acquire that person's Carbon Credit History. Unless you know the person, how much you actually receive can be based upon national averages (19 metric tons per year in the U.S.). Once you have acquired this person's Carbon Credit History, you can add it to your Carbon Credit History and add 38 tons of carbon to the Earth's atmosphere without increasing the net total carbon load on the Earth's atmosphere by a single extra pound.

Brilliant right? There's no downside. I have acquired the Carbon Credit History of seven decedents with my last name and now have the ability to add 152 tons of carbon to the atmosphere guilt-free, without increasing the total atmospheric load by one net pound.

I haven't been able to take advantage of all this extra emissions capability yet, but it's there when I need it and if anyone has an unusual last name or is in a hurry to offset their carbon usage, they are free to contact me to purchase some of my excess Carbon Credit History. So now the average guy or gal won't be left out of the Carbon Trading boon that is now upon us. We can all be green and expend a little energy too.

(P.S. A look at neogreen British Petroleum's [BP] carbon calculator website shows that even one of the world's LARGEST providers of carbon products can repeat the oft-repeated liberal complaint that "the U.S. despite having just 5 percent of the world's population uses 26 percent of the world's energy." Really! I would think liberals would just get tired of saying the same things over and over. But for British Petroleum to have anything to do with the phrase is laughably hypocritical.

And to address the point ever so briefly, would you expect the world's largest and most productive economy to use less energy than say, Indonesia and remain a strong and productive country? I think perhaps a personal boycott of BP is the order of the day. We can use 26 percent of ExxonMobil's energy just as well.)

Next week find out how to acquire property on the moon without paying a radio shill!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Old Republic Gazette


The name of this blog has changed today to The Old Republic Gazette because that name seemed to me to be more in line with some of the issues that have been touched upon in these pages and in recognition that the Old Republic of these United States was better in most ways than this new republic is fast becoming.

The breadth of topics covered has not changed and we will still talk about issues like science, technology, the environment, politics and policy, literature, history, relationships, world events, and more.

Welcome readers and bloggers to The Old Republic Gazette - Where Free Speech Gathers with Thought.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Tsunami of Taxpayer Discontent Reaches Washington


If you have time and want to watch some of the speeches from the historic 9/12 taxpayer march on Washington DC, this link is to the C-Span video of the event. It's about two hours. Many moving and passionate speeches.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What Is the Best Digital Camera?


By nature, people are different and use their cameras for taking different kinds of pictures. So the best digital camera for one person may be different than another’s best. But overall, most people who use a camera have similar requirements. With that in mind we can determine what the best digital camera is for most casual to serious digital photographers.
Picking a digital camera can be easy if you think about what you want in one. If you don’t think about it first, you may at some point feel a huge lack of love for your new camera. A little knowledge, a little research, and wallah! “I love my camera.”
OK, let’s get serious. Consider the following when buying a camera. These features are more important than all the rest of the functions or options you can get on a digital camera:
  • Optical Zoom
  • Resolution
  • Size
  • Price
Let's discuss each of these necessary features briefly.
Optical Zoom -- Most of the smaller digital cameras today are really lacking when it comes to zooming in on a target. Zoom gets you closer to your subject, without you having to actually move closer. For instance, if you are at the zoo and want a closeup of the White Tiger (but don’t want to get closer!), a 2 times or 3 times optical zoom will not close the gap very much. The tiger will still seem far away. The camera may have a digital zoom feature as well and you try that, but when you get back home and look at your tiger closeup you won’t be happy. Digital zoom uses the camera’s software to “zoom in” on something artificially. The result can be a blurry, pixelated (grainy) mess. A telescoping lens is used in optical zoom, and the result is a clean and clear closeup of your target.
Optical zoom should be as high as you can afford. If you want to see the eyelashes of the White Tiger, then 10 or 15 times optical zoom is perfect. But this will make the camera a little bit bulkier and more costly. A good optical zoom lens though is something you’ll put to use every time you turn on the camera, and it is a critical component if you want what is the best digital camera for your needs.
Resolution -- You'll see a camera’s resolution referred to as MP or megapixels. Besides military police, MP stands for millions of pixels. This number is the quality and size of the picture that a camera can take. It is always better to get a camera with the highest number of megapixels you can. At least 5 megapixels will be enough take professional-looking shots, and since you are going to use your camera to take pictures that are important, often memory-making events, you will be happy you chose a camera that gave you clear, non-pixelated (ungrainy) pictures.
Size – Cameras can be very small these days, and many of the cameras sold are credit card sized. These small cameras are perfect for fitting in your pocket or purse, but you'll often find them not worth the 60 or 80 dollars that you paid for them due to their lack of functionality when you need them. The optical zoom is usually very poor on these smaller cameras, though sometimes the resolution is okay.
Price – The best digital camera for your needs doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is something you will hopefully use for many years to come. If you think about the features you want and need and make sure your camera meets some of the requirements that we’ve discussed here, you won’t have to buy a camera every three years. You’ll also save money in the long run. But even in the short-run, a camera with these features shouldn’t be too expensive. As a general rule though, stay away from the cameras that you see on sale at drug stores, Target, Wal-mart, and Kmart.
Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Identity Theft


When we have Health Care Deform imposed on us in the United States, and our medical records are digitized (as they want to do to "save money") am I going to have to buy Lifelock to protect my medical records from theft and misuse as I currently do for my financial information? The abuse and theft will happen. No digital information is safe from prying eyes, as we have seen over and over.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Real Party of No

Welcome the "real" party of NO in American politics.
As a party, these "changers" in the Democrat Party consistently say no to nuclear power, no to storing nuclear waste, no to a strong defense, no to TORT reform, no to Clean Coal, no to drilling for American oil, no to enforcing the border, no to windmills in their towns or off their coasts, no to solar panels in the desert, no to the freedom to drive what we like, no to choosing our own light bulbs, no to guns, no to school choice, no to Fiscal Restraint, no to less taxes, no to Capitalism, and no to Liberty. "Yes, we can't."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Labor Day!


A legal holiday from (and for) labor in the United States and Canada.

On September 5 in 1882, thousands of workers walked together from city hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade. The parade was to honor the workers of America and to call attention to the many labor issues that workers had at the time, including long hours, low wages, and continuing exploitation of child workers. These parades were held in the following years, grew in popularity and spread to most other states. The United States Congress declared the first Monday in September as a legal holiday (Labor Day) in 1894.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Would it be OK to Taser Terrorists?


Deaths to individuals from Tasering by police in the U.S. since 2001 -- +335


Deaths to terrorists from waterboarding in the U.S. since 2001 -- 0

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Letter to my Senator re: Health Care Deform

Dear Senator Frank Lautenberg,

As I am sure you understand, you represent the citizens of New Jersey, not Republican or Democrat issues. And there is a great deal of opposition to this "government option" for health care that is being pushed in the House, Senate, and by the President. You have seen the reports of everyday people showing up at townhall meetings to express their feelings regarding this latest government expansion. It is widely disliked.

With these things in mind, I ask you to vote against wholesale change of the health care system in this country. The government doesn't need to get its hands into more of the citizen's business. The government doesn't need to get bigger, it needs to get smaller. This scale of change is not necessary, and during a recession is most definitely the wrong time to undertake it.

The best quality health care system in the world, one which people in other countries come to when theirs fails them, will be ruined by taking this step. Other steps and other ways can be taken to fix the things that do ail the U.S. health care system.

The funding of health care (insurance and medical costs) needs targeted change, change to the ease with which lawsuits may be brought against doctors and hospitals, and limits to rewards. TORT reform. And hospitals need help to recover the crippling costs they bear by uninsured people and illegal aliens who do not pay their bills. The federal mandate that hospitals help everyone needs to be dropped or funded. But that's not the same as a government health care option.

We don't need another entitlement program which will raise the deficit, raise the debt, and increase the monies that the government needs to collect from the citizens. Not to mention the fact that the government isn't doing so well with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Amtrak, the Post Office, the Veterans hospitals, and many other large beauracracies.

Adding health care to the U.S. government's responsibilities is also unconstitutional. It is not the purview of the Federal government to administer health care, nor is it the government's business to force people to buy health insurance, debit their bank accounts to pay for it, force citizens into a government plan when insignificant changes are made to their private insurance, decide or be involved in end of life care, etc.

There are other roads to reform which are not so drastic, some of which have been put forward in the house and senate. I am all for working on fixing the things that don't work, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here, and that's exactly what is going on.

And by all means, please read the bill before you vote on it. Crib notes by definition leave things un-noted.

All the best to you,
Brian M. Holmes

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Truth, Liberty, and Health Care Deform


The following post was sent to flag@whitehouse.gov, which is an e-mail address that is collecting information from "whistleblowers" about the opposing viewpoints in the Health Care Deform debate. This sounds like a tactic from behind the Iron Curtain. The article discussing this sham is on the White House web page.


Brown$hirt$,

Truth is what is being spoken person to person (and under the surface and above surface and at the coffee pot and water cooler and in the car repair waiting room) about this Health Care Deform. What are you going to do about truth? Squash it? Call it shrill and loud?

I think the spending this Health Care Deform represents is irresponsible when this country is in near bankruptcy and saddled with huge deficits.

Not to mention that federal government healthcare is unconstitutional, takes away more of our freedom, and imposes more governmental control on the citizens of the United States.

Society is not here to make choices for me, healthcare or otherwise. But more and more, this society wants to make all my choices for me.

How about fixing Medicare? How about fixing Social Security? How about fixing the economy? How about ending illegal immigration instead of offering them healthcare?

Stop wasting my and my neighbor’s money.

And stop throwing away our money on car rebates too, increasing the Obama bloated deficit even more.

Brian Holmes

Friday, July 31, 2009

Radio Mysteries


How does someone who can't speak the language clearly enough to be understood get a job on the radio?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Liberty and Tyranny Review


I just finished Mark Levin's book Liberty and Tyranny and found it a sober and intelligent look at conservatism and liberalism in America today.

Mr. Levin, a fire-brand radio talk show host and constitutional lawyer, discusses the nuts and bolts of both philosophies, their origins and their aims in American society. Since the book is a "conservative manifesto", liberalism is not shone in a beneficent light in the book, to say the least.


The book is well researched, thoroughly referenced, and its depth and discussion of core human interrelational concepts will lend it staying power in the political/philosophical realm for years, perhaps decades to come. It has shown its staying power on the New York Times bestseller list as the best-selling nonfiction hard cover book for most of the last three months.

One thing which I did not agree with in the book was the introduction of a new term for someone of liberal philosophy -- "statist". The term feels unnatural and clunky, and is an unnecessary refinement of terminology.

One memorable section of the book lists all of the maladies caused by global warming (a big liberal cause celebre). It is pages long and in small type and true. Global warming acolytes blame every insignificant shift from the norm on human caused global warming. It is stunning, and almost funny, to see the extent of it printed in a book.

What is not funny is the control of our lives that will be lost as global warming legislation passes in governments all over the world. It is a vehicle for greater taxation and greater tyranny.

The book Liberty and Tyranny displays with forceful example that no one can (or should) remain a fence-sitter, or apolitical in this day and age in America. Nearly every facet of our lives is affected in some way by government bureaucracy, policy, law, and taxation handed down by school boards, home owner's associations, town councils, state governments, and the federal government.

Not a difficult read, nor long either, at the very least the book should inspire citizens to vote more often and armed with knowledge based on facts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

To the Courageous People of Iran,


Despite the fact that the President of the United States is not taking a firm stand on the dangerous situation in Iran because he "doesn't want to meddle" and wants to take a diplomatically safe position, I am with you in your stand against tyranny and so are most other Americans. Good luck and may you reach your goals with little or no more blood shed. Power to the People!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Earth-Friendly, Green Tip #17


Lithium-ion batteries are great for vacations because they are very long lasting and because they are lighter than regular alkaline AA batteries. In addition, you don't have to worry about recharging them. So, even though they are more expensive than alkalines, you are getting more for your money! More energy, more convenience, and a lighter device.

I used four non-rechargeable lithium AA batteries in my digital camera on a trip recently. And they lasted about a month beyond that trip. Finally, even though they were dead as far as the camera was concerned, they still had voltage in them that I wanted to use up before throwing them away (recycling them).

My solution? Use them in a wall clock I have at work whose battery had recently died. Now you might be saying, "Go ahead, use dead batteries in your clock at work Brian, and five o'clock will never come."

Step back, oh ye of little faith.

The clock uses one AA battery at a time. I had four "dead" lithium batteries at the beginning of March and now in June the clock is operating on the third battery, or at about the rate of one dead lithium battery per month. New life was found in batteries that were headed for the battery recycling bin.

What makes this possible is that an electric clock uses extremely little energy, perfect for draining the last drop of power from batteries used initially in higher drain devices. This process of "hypermiling" works in low-power remote controls and probably in certain LED flashlights as well.

This stuff isn't going to save the planet from "the sky is falling" disaster that Al Gore and his minions are predicting, but it does fit into the "waste not want not" category. And I think in this economic climate we can all agree on using things as long as possible and getting the most value for our buck.

BTW, using rechargeable batteries whenever possible, is even better for the environment (Earth-Friendly, Green Tip #8).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Robert Meets Gillian

(The following is a vignette-type short story I wrote a few years ago.)

Robert says to Gillian as they sit on the airplane's soft, first-class seats, "Well, I had come to know you a little because of your article in Summerscape magazine. Since I am ever on the lookout for a soul mate I had to contact you because I felt that some of your passions resonate with mine. I don't know the status of your love life and if you are solo for a while and enjoying it, then keep going. People should definitely go through periods in their lives where they are not part of a couple--makes them stronger and all that.

"Do you want a soul mate? Do you feel that a lasting love relationship is based on shared interests, or something deeper? One of the most important things that you expressed was your effort to live in the moment. Now, I said, here's somebody who's on my wavelength."

"When can I talk, Robert?" Robert bit his lip. "I'm just kidding. I hope humor is on your wavelength too."

"Sure it is. But that's not a good enough reason to think you'd be a perfect match for me is it?"

"No," said Ms. Anderson, who became decidedly annoyed when the flight attendant interrupted their discussion. The fellow went away and she said, "But I'm kind of pretty aren't I?"

"You're beautiful, and that and what I said before about you trying to stay in the moment certainly might be enough to induce me to think you'd be soul mate material. And it has also been a couple of years for me since I found out that our thoughts aren't really ours, that we can usher them out. But it feels like I haven't become very masterful at staying in control. But beauty isn't the icing on the cake, it's the candied sprinkles or the candles. There has to be more."

Gillian looked a little coquettish as she joked, "There is, Robert, there is."

"Well of course there is Gillian! Everyone has something to be proud of. Everyone has something to offer another person. But you CARE about your appearance and your body's health and that is something I share. And it's something different than if you cared too much about your beauty."

"So what have you got? Health conscious and moment conscious. Still doesn't sound like enough to base a life on?"

"Well, there's more," said Robert. "But if there wasn't it'd be enough to go out on a date or two to get to know each other better."

"I guess."

"The idea that you don't eat wheat intrigues me, though I have no idea why someone would get rid of that. Cut down maybe."

"Okay, a little intrigue is nice."

"Somewhere else maybe. You tell me why you don't eat meat and I'll tell you why I don't eat mammals."

"Later," she said. "Though that intrigues me a little. Maybe there is something else that makes you think we are soul mates?"

Robert believes that anything worth having is worth working for so he agrees with Gillian. "I took Tai Chi for a while, I notice you did some of that. That you feel you can become one with nature, I like that. You're from Michigan where I'm from."

"Yeah. Me and about 4 million other females."

"Oh hush. It just adds to the feeling of kinship. Do you feel that life is just a game sometimes? That maybe to enable us to enjoy life a little more sometimes people should just view life as a game."

"I'll get back to you, Bob, as soon as I get my 200 dollars for passing go."

"Like I said, I can wait. I've waited a while already. . . . You smoke."

"That's a plus?" Gillian turns to the window to see the wide Mississippi River out the window.

"I think you don't use it as a crutch. You know that it has a small significance in your life, is there for enjoyment and you never overdo anything you enjoy."

"Except maybe sex."

"That's good to know."

"Don't jump the gun there, Roberto."

"How about the beauty of something done perfectly? Maybe I should mention that I am not one of those people who would put up a web page shrine in your image."

"Good. There's enough of those already."

"Look, before I read that article about you I didn't know the first thing about you. What is that sort of worship based on anyway? Looks and acting ability. Both of which are plenty prevalent today."

"So now I'm run of the mill?"

"You were just the actor who played a character in a show I liked before that article. It'd be easier if you were a Realtor or a doctor. But what you are isn't as important as who you are in your soul, your spirit."

"Maybe there's something about me you won't like once you get to know me."

"That's true. But we're taking a chance. With all the choices you have it's up to me to convince you to take a chance on me."

"I already have, Robert."

Computer Spring Cleaning


The following computer maintenance instructions can help to speed up your Windows-based computer and should be done at least as often as you change the oil in your car! The instructions are for a Windows XP computer, but are fairly similar in other versions (Vista, 2000, ME).



To do a disk cleaning on your computer.
Click the Start button. Click All Programs.
In Programs menu find the Accessories folder and in that find the System Tools folder. Accessories>System Tools
Click on Disk Cleanup in the System Tools menu.
Click OK to clean the C: drive (or whatever letter is the main hard drive).
Click OK again and it should clean up temporary files and more. Be patient as the computer looks for what files it has to clean up and also for the actual cleanup. Both may take more than a few minutes.


To Defragment your hard disk drive.
Click the Start button. Click All Programs.
In Programs menu find the Accessories folder and in that find the System Tools folder. Accessories>System Tools
Click on Disk Defragmenter in the System Tools menu.
Click on the Defragment button.
Once you start defragmenting you should not do anything else on the computer since it is reorganizing files. Defragging is best to do before you go to bed, or when you are going out to the store as it may take a couple of hours.



Enjoy your faster computer!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Star Trek the Blockbuster


I saw the latest and greatest Star Trek movie today. It was awesome squared. My kids, (15 and 18 years old) who are not particular followers of the Star Trek series enjoyed it very much, too. You really do not need any background information from the series to enjoy this movie. Though it is a prequel to the original series, it is it's own, self-contained and engaging story.

And it's filled with non-stop action. There's more action in this Star Trek movie than in any past movie from the series. Poor James T. Kirk gets the hell beat out of him from start to finish.

The special effects were amazing and the set design was outside the box... different. I liked the design of the Enterprise's bridge and Captain Nero's ship, inside and out.

Casting was terrific. Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock were spot on. Doctor "Bones" McCoy was played uncannily by Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana played a great Uhura. The other cast members were really superb too.

The story was well paced and engaging and didn't get bogged down anywhere in the film. It was a nicely done script with plenty of humor in the style of the original series as well.

Star Trek is my idea of a summer blockbuster movie. I hope they make another one! My recommendation...Go see it. You won't regret it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Moving Money Around


I'm not a money expert, but if you've moved money out of the stock market because of large short term losses and you have placed it into CDs or savings accounts to prevent it from further hemorrhaging, you may not be doing yourself any favors. Why? Because inflation and low interest rates will steal its value.

At this time (Spring 2009), the annual inflation rate is pretty close to zero, (as are bank interest rates) but the inflation rate won't be naught for long. As the economy warms back up, inflation numbers will start to rise again and it's a good bet that the way the Federal Reserve is printing money (diluting the dollar's value) that inflation will shoot up into the double digits as it did during Jimmy Carter's tenure as president. Rising oil prices alone, because of oil's thorough union with all aspects of the economy, could cause inflation to rear its ugly head sooner rather than later. And just about anything these days could cause oil prices to rise, as it seems there is a potential trigger a day lately.

Convert the investment dollars into gold or other tangible goods, or buy back into the stock market while it is on the way back up. Stay away from Chrysler and GM stocks though. Yikes. Talk to an investment advisor before taking any action with a significant amount of money.

Friday, May 22, 2009

NASA's New Transport Vehicle Orion, Is All Wet


The Hubble space telescope was just serviced by the astronauts of the space shuttle Atlantis, who are still up in space waiting for a clear landing strip in un-sunny Florida. The mission to replace the batteries and update the scientific instruments was supposed to be very dangerous but thankfully was a huge success.

I wish NASA's space shuttle, or something more like it were going to be the near future of American spaceflight.

Instead, the future is Orion, a capsule on top of a rocket...again -- like Apollo 30 years ago, and like Russia's and China's launch vehicles today. Servicing missions with the capabilities that the space shuttle presently has won't be possible with the unimaginative Orion crew capsule.

I really think it is up to private concerns like Burt Rutan's The Spaceship Company (Spaceship One) and Virgin Galactic to move us forward into the space age. NASA's sometimes lofty goals are too often interrupted by politics and budget considerations and therefore programs are often axed or funding is reduced and what you end up with is the Apollo program redux. And just you wait, even that compromise will be defunded, delayed, and derided.

Oh, I'll be there to watch the splashdown of the Orion capsules, but they'll be pale evanescences compared to shuttle landings and the hoped for Space Ship Two deorbits.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Welcome to Optimized Life


Welcome to Optimized Life. We'll discuss many issues here, always intelligently, of course. And from my side it will be done with an attempt at proper punctuation and decent sentence structure. (Hey, I'm an editor.) The range and breadth of issues covered here will seem wide at times, but the purpose is to engender discussions that will help me and the reader understand life and human community better.

Sometimes an inane topic will fit the bill and sometimes something more weighty will be discussed. Humor is a part of life as is seriousness. The articles here will have some of both of these.

I hope you enjoy the discussion here, as much as I enjoy starting it and partaking in it.

Let's optimize life together and have some fun and enlightenment along the way.

Brian