Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You knew it was coming...

A law testing the new Supreme Court on upholding Roe v. Wade. Both houses of the South Dakota legislature have passed a bill that outlaws all abortions except those that save the life of the mother. A major point in this bill is that life begins at conception. There are no exceptions for the mothers health, rape, or incest.
I think you can all guess where I fall on this one. I'll post some more tomorrow on my reasonings.
Here's a shortcut to the bill.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Went to the Tulsa Skywarn program last weekend. I do enjoy the presentations they put on. One discussion in particular has me thinking; the new enhanced F-scale.
I like the idea behind it, but I think the final product is lacking. I need to look into it a little more, but some aspects of it seem way off.
One of the supposed purposes of the new scale is to allow for more accurate ratings in areas where the old common indicators (houses) were lacking, thus the new list of 28 indicators, including trees. So now we can have a rated tornado when it goes over open country (assuming trees are present). The max rating for hardwood tree damage would be F3, or around 147 mph. This is better than the old damage based rating of F0, regardless of actual wind speed.
However, if I understand it correctly, F5 damage can't be determined in a residential area, because according to the new scale, the upper threshold winds required for total destruction of a house (nothing but ruble), are just below the wind speed in an F5 tornado (now 200 mph).
Here's what I'm getting at: that while ratings will improve in open country, they will not improve on the higher end, as in the residential setting case. In order to rate a tornado a definitive F5, it would have to directly hit the likes of a shopping mall, medium or high rise building, or an institutional building. In other words, the May 3, 1999 Moore tornado with measured winds of 316 mph would have likely officially been recorded as an F4 (even if we are conservative with the measured speed and say 300 mph, something is still wrong).
Granted, the original F-scale wasn't very accurate at higher wind speeds, but I don't think this is an improvement. I think more needs to be done to accurately survey damage from large tornados that (increasingly) have measured wind speeds, to derive more accurate indicators for higher speeds.
Because of lack of time and funding, I feel the new Enhanced F-scale turned out to be experts' best guesses at more "accurate" wind speed damage indicators. I also feel that there should have been more public discussion and debate about the shortcomings of this new scale.
If, as I find out more, I discover my interpretations to be wrong, I will bring it up here.
As if I didn't have enough to keep up with, I thought I'd start a blog for keeping up with storm chasing related thoughts and discussions. (Don't roll your eyes more than 3 times Steve) Last year was a very dull year here in Oklahoma, and I'm not all that excited about what I see coming this year either, so this may not take that much time afterall. Hah. Enjoy!

Georgia and the Ten Commandments

A lawmaker in Georgia, Tommy Benton, is trying to get posters of the ten commandments displayed in all county and municipal courthouses. Lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives have approved a bill (see, which main purpose is "to recognize the religious heritage of America". It specifically mentions the display of 3 documents: the Mayflower Compact, the Ten Commandments, and the Declaration of Independence. In the words of the bill these three documents are "Public displays which acknowledge religious heritage".
The bill mainly does three things:
1. Directs the Secretary of State to prepare and distribute these displays to all counties and municipalities, at the Georgia taxpayer expense.
2. Authorizes these county and municipal governments to display them.
3. Directs the Attorney General to defend and bear costs of defending such actions.
Normally I wouldn't worry too much about this, but with the new U.S. Supreme Court makeup, it very well could get upheld. Talk about a waste of millions of dollars that could go to MUCH more useful purposes.
Here's why I don't think that the Ten Commandments offer any legitimate constitutional or legal historical context: Only 4 of the 10 commandments are law. Murder, stealing, adultery, and bearing false witness are all illegal, although adultery is not enforced, and bearing false witness is only illegal in court while under oath (arguably sometimes while under investigation). Those things also happen to be illegal in many other countries whose history have nothing to do with the ten commandments. These offenses are morally wrong whether any religion says so or not. In fact, doing some of the actions the commandments tell you not to do are actions that are protected by the Constitution! So the ten commandments are definitely no basis for the Constitution.
Do the commandments have historical significance in our society? Yes, definitely. But so does the bible, god, religion, and many other countless items. That doesn't mean any of them should be displayed in governmental institutions. This bill is just another way for over-zealous christians to impose their religion on others. We're back on a downhill slide here. Time will tell what direction this takes.

Let the games begin, again...

Ok, so I think I've made a decision about blogging. I can't research the hell out of every subject I post on. I have quite a few drafts of blogs I started, but never finished due to lack of time to research. So I think from now on, I'll just post my opinion, and maybe from time to time, do a detailed blog. This should allow me to post much more often, if I can just post my opinion, maybe why I have it, and move on. So let the posting resume.