Saturday, June 21, 2008

NPR - Solstice Thoughts

Well, at a minute before 5:00 pm yesterday (PDT) the summer solstice occurred and the earth began its orbit back from one extreme to the other next December. It's a day here in paradise where there are a lot of events, including the famous Fremont Fair, famed for its outragous people, many nearly nude, and for its eclectic sense of itself with the fair at Gas Works Park. Here in paradise people take the solstice as an excuse for forgetting yourself.

Anyway, I'm also a fan of Formula One having watched races in the early 1960's in Germany. And this weekend is the French Grand Prix. Sadly, it's not always a good race as there is little passing and most of the winners were from the first row of the grid and almost all from the first two rows, meaning where you start matters where you finish, especially if you want to win. And then Ferrari is the favored and favorite.

Besides being a good car, Ferrari is noted for getting favors from the officials running Formula One since they know as Ferrari goes so goes Formula One. It's unfair as the other competitive teams, McLaren, Renault, BMW, etc. don't seem to be as competitive this years as with most year (yes, Ferrari did have some bad years, mostly when McLaren, Lotus, etc. had better engineers and equal drivers). Is sad that Formula One is Ferrari and everyone else.

Don't buy the favoritism? Well, when Lewis Hamilton hit Kimi Raikkonen's car in the Canadian GP he was penalized 10 spots this weekend, but when Kimi hit Adrian Sutil's car, he wasn't penalized. I've seen track marshals and workers help a Ferrari driver which was illegal under the rules and then refuse to help another car, when they go off and need/want help getting restarted or pushed out of the sand.

When a McLaren engineeer got the design specs. for last year's Ferrari, McLaren lost all their team points and paid a $100 Million fine. When Ferrari hired another McLaren engineer in the middle of the season last year, they weren't penalized at all. The engineer had for more information about the team and the cars than in the manual, but FIA, the governing board of Formula One, didn't nothing against Ferrari, only punish McLaren.

It didn't used to be this way, but started when Michael Schumacher became Ferrari driver and won 7 championships for himself and the team. There were years when Lotus, McLaren, Renault and other teams were dominate for a year or two, and Ferrari was competitive but not usually the winner. But since Michael, Formula One has been all about Ferrari, and the FIA gives them just that little bit of edge to be the dominant car every year now.

This was also true when there were two tire companies, now only Bridgestone. While Michelin had 6 or more of the teams to make tires for and had to balance the tires between all the cars, Bridgestone set up an engineering shop in Ferrari's team shop and specifically designed their tires for the Ferrari team and all the rest had to adapt and adjust to those tires. Now with Bridgestone the sole tire, there is more variation in the tires, but it still seems to favor Ferrari. It's a real "Hmmm..."

While it's still fun to watch, it's not fun knowing it's not a level playing field anymore with one favorite team who wins most of the races anymore, excepting the rare bad luck like the Canadian GP this year, and everyone else who's on the next lower level. This sounds questionable, but considering all the money in the sport with each of the teams, like Honda, Toyota, BMW, etc, and especially McLaren, why hasn't any team been consistently competitive with the Ferrari.

It's not all about the engineering. And it's not all about the edges each company and team tries to push the rules, but just maybe Ferrari is given a little more latitude near the edge of the rules? I think so and the race results show it.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. And other thoughts.

Well, why is the public campaign reform program not working? When almost all the candidates forego public campaign money, they cry the program doesn't work. But didn't they develop and pass the program (through Congress), so they created a system and a program that they don't like, don't want and won't use?

This baffles me except it is a ruse to make it appear it's campaign reform when it's not really used?

And even John McCain who used it for the start of his campaign, then decided against it when he was getting more money than the program allowed. In short he used it to build his campaign and then left it when it worked. And when it was shown that violated the rules, he had to give the money back, the Federal Elections Committee who oversee the program, foregave him for this oversight.

The system they created is broken but they don't want to create one that works? Why? Money? They know the program they want we don't want, which is unlimited campaign financing and all the PAC and 527 groups you want, and the program we want, simple public financing and no PAC's or 527's, they and the lobbyists don't want. Big money wins. So they create a system and program to appear it's what we want then simply leave it on the shelf to do what they wanted anyway.

And they say our democracy isn't working. It is, if you're rich and only want only other rich people to participate and eventually control government to do even more for the rich. And the rest of us pay the bills.

This one I love. Remember the Democrats crying about the FISA law? And promising not to do what the Republicans, especially the President wants? And they said they would only vote for the return of our civil rights and liberities, meaning privacy and protection from warrantless surveillence and searches?

Well, they lied. And big time. The Democrats became the Republicans and voted for the Republican version of the FISA law. We lost everything, again. And we'll have a government uncontrolled and unfetterred in its ability to spy on us at will, and there will be nothing we can do when it happens.

It's not about finding terrorists. It's about spying on people. They used bait and switch to sell us fear of terrorists and got fear of our own selves. We are, in their view, the enemy of their government. It's not our government anymore, because we're have little protection and few rights against government surveillence and searches.

Overkill? Not really because all the government has to do is claim a suspicion of providing material support to terrorist groups and the judge doesn't have to see any evidence, but just the FBI's word we're suspects. And there is nothing we can do to stop the telecommunications companies from aiding the NSA, CIA and FBI from their surveillence. In fact they'll have to do what they ask or face legal problems of impeding and obstructing an investigation.

We have lost and losing more every year Congress meets and passes new FISA laws. And we won't get it back. Fear has won for both the terrorists and our govenment. It's never been about terrorism, because why else would our own government suspect all of its citizens being terrorists and need to conduct surveillence and searches at will without notifiying us?

Gee, lots of rants at life. Ok, have I said MySpace sucks now? I won't get into that because I have a MySpace Web page, but I rarely use it anymore. It's all hype and little content. It's like New York City tv comedy, all fluff and no stuff.

Ok, I'm done with Solstice thoughts. I'm working on small updates to the Website, namely learning to do a simple contact form Web page. Yes, I know, simple dumb stuff, but it was an interesting lesson.

And I found a 1896 report on Mt. Rainier's glaciers, but Israel Cook Russell. It is the first exploration of the glaciers on the Moutain, and written in that era style of nature and science writing. It's almost boring until you remember they had no roads, no modern technology, little navigation tools, modern clothes, etc., and ask yourself if you could do the same. I couldn't, but it's a great read with some interesting 1890's photos too.

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