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Archive for January, 2009

blackhole
There is a term in physics called escape velocity. This term refers to the speed at which an object must be launched from the surface of another object in order to escape that object’s gravity and continue on traveling infinitely in space. The escape speed of the Earth is approximately 11.2 kilometers per second. This means that in order to throw a tennis ball off of the planet into space you would have to throw it at a speed of 11.2 km/second.

Of course, the bigger the object, the greater the escape velocity. The escape velocity of the sun is 617.5 km/second. Also, it seems that the more tightly packed (dense) an object, the greater the escape velocity. If you took all the mass in the Earth and packed it into the size of a ping-pong ball, its escape velocity would approach the speed of light (300,000 km/second). The sun would achieve this same escape velocity if you packed it into a ball with a diameter of about 4 miles.

There is an object, called a black hole that is so dense that its escape velocity exceeds the speed of light. That means that not even light can escape its gravitational pull. Now that’s pretty darn dense.

But not quite as dense as this guy:
blago
So long, Blago. It’s been fun.

Cross-posted to Facebook.

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Beck on Inflation

fredgraphfile
I have written before about the effects of inflation on the value of the dollar. In a nutshell it is this:
In the United States we are no longer on any type of gold standard, so the government (via the Federal Reserve Bank) can print as much currency as it wants and inject it into the economy. This new currency devalues each dollar that is already in circulation, eventually increasing prices for goods and services that Americans purchase. This is inflation. Glenn Beck did a masterful job explaining this concept on his program this afternoon. Give this a watch (it’s worth it just to hear him do the funny voices while mocking Al Gore and Richard Nixon):

Incidentally, if you are wondering about the accuracy of Beck’s information, you can find it here, again via the Federal Reserve.

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Dear Mr. Obama

quillpeninkwell
Soon I will begin writing my thoughts about the Obama presidency. I thought it only fair, before I start complaining (mostly), that I let the President know where I stand. Maybe then we can all get on the same page. So in a spirit of hope and optimism:

Dear Mr. President:

I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to you on your election as the 44th President of the United States. While I do not agree with you on all issues, I feel I share with you a profound desire to see our nation grow and prosper and to see her people continue to enjoy the unique blessing of liberty God has so richly bestowed upon us.

We face many challenges in the opening days of your administration. American soldiers, sailors, and marines are bravely fighting two major wars. The controversial issues of abortion, firearm control, and marriage rights for all continue to divide us. But perhaps no issue is more pressing in the lives and minds of Americans than our faltering economy. It is this issue that I would like to discuss with you.

The media is reporting that, as you consider your initial economic plans, you are studying the policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office as possible model. As a student of history, I have already seen parallels between your methods and his, notably your own modern weekly “Fireside Chats” using YouTube videos. I applaud this effort at transparency and communication, but the results of using the economic methods of massive government deficit spending, as Roosevelt did, in a effort to pull the economy out of a coming depression will be surely ineffective and possibly disastrous.

In your weekly address of January 24, you presented a blueprint for a massive “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan” that involves spending at least $750 billion to stimulate the economy. You claim that “experts agree” that if this is not done and done quickly, unemployment could reach double digits and the economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity. This statement is probably true, but may I suggest to you, sir, that this “doomsday scenario” is the quickest way to economic recovery. New economic studies ( Cole & Ohanian, Journal of Political Economy, August 2008; among others) indicate that Roosevelt’s massive spending programs actually prolonged the Great Depression by seven years. Their research shows that had the market been allowed to self-correct, the Depression would have ended in 1936. I urge you, sir, to learn from history so that the American people are not doomed to repeat it.

I realize that you are receiving advice from economists that you consider intelligent and reliable. I also realize that you are under considerable pressure from the Senate and House leadership to implement these massive spending programs. However, I believe that you yourself are intelligent enough to seek out all of the information available before making important decisions. With this in mind, I urge you to take some time to consult economists with alternate viewpoints, such as those from the Austrian school, and study what they believe to be the best course of action. Experts at organizations such as the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Cato Institute would be more than willing to assist you. These economists successfully predicted our current crisis years in advance and can devise the best plan for recovery; your advisers did not and can not.

Again, congratulations on your election. I hope your time in office will be a period of renewal and prosperity for America.

Respectfully,
Garret Myhan

Cross-posted to Facebook.

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We awoke this morning to discover that Libby’s toy horse had snuck into our bathroom in the middle of the night and committed suicide.

christmas08-0021
I guess he just couldn’t take it any more.

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Monday: off
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: off
Friday: off
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: off
Total miles: 20

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Week 15
Monday: off
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: off
Sunday: off
Total miles: 9

Week 16
Monday: off
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: off
Friday: off
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: off
Total miles: 23

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patrickmcgoohanVeteran actor Patrick McGoohan died yesterday after a short illness. He was 80 years old.

McGoohan starred in many movies and television programs including “Danger Man”, “The Prisoner”, “Colombo”, “A Time to Kill”, and “Braveheart.” He won two Emmys for his work on “Colombo”. But I remember him most vividly for his portrayal of English country parson Dr. Syn, and his alter ego, the Scarecrow.

I don’t think any movie had a more profound effect on my childhood life than “Dr. Syn alias The Scarecrow”. drsynIt is the story of soft-spoken Dr. Syn, vicar of England’s Dymchurch parish. By night Dr. Syn becomes the Scarecrow, a masked smuggler outlaw determined to thwart governmental tyranny. The year is 1736; the heavy toll of King George III’s taxes has come down on the peasants of southern England. In desperation they turn to the mysterious Scarecrow and his band of smugglers to provide them with their daily bread.scarecrow_2

To me it was the ultimate story of good verses evil. A tale of a man of God who was not afraid to fight on earth; the perfect blend of faith and works. I remember watching that movie with my brother over and over again, so many times that I can still sing the entire theme song from memory 25 years later. I remember the thrill of watching the Scarecrow ride on horseback across the marshes pursued by the King’s redcoats, only to escape at the last minute. No super powers. No magic spells. Just right battling might, with a healthy dose of daring do.

Rest in peace Dr. Syn. Ride on Scarecrow.
syn002c

Cross-posted to Facebook.

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