Author: Chris

Maybe an engineering school in Athens isn’t a bad idea

So GaTech researchers can get back to important matters:

As seen on slashdot:

Dog owners can sleep easy tonight because physicists have discovered how rapidly a wet dog should oscillate its body to dry its fur. Presumably, dogs already know. From the article: “Today we have an answer thanks to the pioneering work of Andrew Dickerson at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and a few buddies. But more than that, their work generates an interesting new conundrum about the nature of shaken fur dynamics. Dickerson and co filmed a number of dogs shaking their fur and used the images to measure the period of oscillation of the dogs’ skin. For a labrador retriever, this turns out to be 4.3 Hz.”

Engineering at UGA

Stephen Fleming, a former Venture Capitalist, who now handles commercialization of intellectual property for Georgia Tech (and has done more to create jobs in Georgia than the entire General Assembly in my opinion), penned a good blog post on UGA’s expressed interest in creating an engineering program.

Campus rivalry aside, Fleming makes the case that the money could be best spent elsewhere. More funding for K-12 Math and Science, expanding the Georgia Technical College System, or expanding the instructional facilities at Georgia Tech, would cost a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars it would cost to create an engineering program from scratch in Athens.

In addition, unless UGA planned to drastically lower its admission standards, it wouldn’t be admitting a whole lot more Georgia High School graduates than GaTech already does.

At a time when the Georgia budget is stretched so thin, is it really worth spending millions of dollars to boost the prestige of a University President?

Finally, he takes aim at the You-Must-Have-A-College-Degree-To-Succeed myth, and makes the case for more technical education:

If you’re 18 years old and have no idea what you want to do with your life… major in engineering! I don’t really care what branch of engineering. The interesting stuff happens at the edges, anyhow (merging electrical engineering with biomedical engineering leads to implantable heart monitors, etc.). But, engineering remains rigorous, engineering remains grounded in reality, and you can’t gobbledygook your way to an engineering degree. If you get the design wrong, or flub the calculations, the bridge will fall down, and not all the neo-Marxist deconstructionist twaddle in the world will change that.

Engineering will kick your butt, but you will learn something… and you’ll learn how to learn. (Something that cannot be said for the earnest young undergraduate who can regurgitate the entire works of Jacques Derrida, but whom I wouldn’t hire as night watchman in a cement factory.) And that will set you up for a lifetime of fulfilling and successful work, whether you choose to continue in engineering, or switch to medicine, or law, or farming, or building electric guitars.

Barnes releases his ethics plan………..

For me this year, ethics trumps even limited government conservative values as the top issue. Too many elected officials in Georgia are screwing around with lobbyists and staffers (opening themselves up to being blackmailed) or using their position to secure sweetheart deals from the state or from various party establishments. Until we see ethical government we will never see limited government.

I’m not yet endorsing Barnes. He has his own set of issues. However his plan is a breath of fresh air after the frat-house General Assembly and the Gainesville Mafia.

The following is Roy Barnes’ press release. My comments are in italics.

Roy Barnes: Restoring Ethical Leadership

Standing in front of the Georgia Gold Dome today, Roy put forth a comprehensive plan to restore ethical leadership to Georgia state government.

Roy’s Ethics Plan includes:

  • Open government to the people by promoting access and transparency, strengthening Georgia’s disclosure laws and limiting lobbyist influence.
    • Close the loophole that allows the General Assembly to be excluded from Georgia’s Open Records Law [ Lots of luck getting the Jerry Keens and Don Balfours to agree to that ]
    • Mandate that all candidates for statewide office release seven years of complete income tax returns, including all schedules and addendums.
    • Eliminate lobbyist and vendor gifts. [ I disagree here. While gifts are a problem, prohibition will just mean they are harder to find out. I prefer greater transparency]
    • Require state elected officials to adhere to election year disclosure requirements every year. [ Or what? ]
    • Strengthen transparency by requiring that state vendors who earn over $10,000 in non-salary earnings from the state register as vendor lobbyists.
    • Prohibit any executive employee from having private meetings with a state or federal elected official about his personal business
    • Reveal any contract or business arrangement with state of Georgia within 10 years
  • Fight corruption and increase ethical standards by bolstering corruption laws, strengthening the authority of the State Ethics Commission and implementing ethics training for agency heads and senior staff.
    • Strengthen Georgia’s anti-corruption laws to ensure that they are as strong as or stronger than the federal RICO laws.
    • Strengthen the authority of the State Ethics Commission by allowing them to initiate investigations based on reliable and publicly disseminated information.
  • End conflicts of interest by requiring statewide elected officials to put their financial interests into a blind trust and holding appointed board members financially accountable.

Roy’s Press Release and his full plan.

Judges Gone Wild

AJC this morning has a write-up on all the judges who are being forced to resign for misconduct.

Apparently this one confused this role of Judge with playing Santa Claus:
“This month, Cobb County Superior Court Chief Judge Kenneth Nix abruptly announced he would leave Oct. 6 and admitted he had “flicked” the two women’s bottoms while they sat in his lap for a photo. The women countered in a public statement that it was no playful touch, it was a “sex crime.””

Others refused to show up to work, never bothered to rule on cases, and took court property for personal use.

Nathan Deal isn’t the only one who quits rather than have is misconduct exposed.

“Most judges choose to resign when confronted rather than go through the embarrassing process of having the commission bring formal, and public, charges against them. If they resign, the allegations often remain secret, which has brought criticism of the agency.”

Roy Barnes is a bastard for stealing my post

…. with his new ad out.

25 years of tax returns seems a bit overkill to me. I’d settle for the last ten. Of course, the Deal people are probably still going back and making his returns look like an APS CRCT exam to clean up all the “mistakes” and “misunderstandings” in them.

For example, is it passive or active income when you use your official capacity as a US Congressman to pressure state officials to keep your sweetheart deal with the state?

State Ethics Commission wants a prosecutor to look into the Oxendine PACs

This story will continue to add to the Culture of Corruption narrative the Democrats are working up for this year’s election.

The head of the State Ethics Commission on Tuesday said the state should seek possible criminal charges against two insurance companies and a group of political action committees she said are stonewalling an investigation into their donations to John Oxendine’s gubernatorial campaign.

Stacey Kalberman, the commission’s executive secretary, told the board that it was “time for you to consider turning this matter over to the prosecutor.”

The recommendation was seconded by Stefan Ritter, a top official in the attorney general’s office who cited “potential criminal violations” by the insurance companies and the Alabama-based PACs in not handing over requested financial information when the commission issued subpoenas

Like the serial killer in a horror flick that comes back to life once before the end of the movie, Oxendine’s damage to the GOP is not done yet.

Deal refuses to debate Barnes


Moderator Sonny Dixon, an anchor with WTOC TV, said the format was changed because the Deal campaign “didn’t think it was time for a face-to-face confrontation.”

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said that — fresh off the Aug. 10 runoff — the campaign never agreed to a debate.

He said Deal is prepared to debate Democrat Barnes “from Hiawassee to Hahira, just not today.”

“Just Not Today”. Lame.

What Crimes? How about these?

In another thread, fishtail threadjacked with a detailed run down of possible laws Nathan Deal and his Chief of Staff might have broken. I’ve asked him to refine his post a tad, and here it is…

What laws has Nathan Deal broken: Here are a few.

1. First, there is 31 USC 1301. Though it makes no mention of enrichment, it strictly prohibits ANY use of taxpayer funds for ANY purpose for which they were not authorized. Deal would not be enriched by issuing a $1 million check to Chris Riley, but it would be illegal. (In actuality, they tried that to the tune of $90,000 and Riley got caught and had to return the cash. In that case they claimed ignorance of overpayment rules, and so far have not been further punished to date, but a prosecutor could well decide that, given that Riley would have had to certify that he had received training in those rules, he therefore was criminally liable — as Deal would be for certifying that the payment was made legally.)

2. Regardless, just so as not to let this bit of Orwellian double-speak pass, enrichment means acting to better yourself financially from what your position might otherwise be had you not acted. If the monopoly was done away with — which is what Deal was trying to prevent — then he would have been worse off. By moving to preserve it, he was attempting to enrich himself. Nice try.

3. There may be corruption here going back to Deal’s originally obtaining the franchise, which could be an ongoing criminal enterprise.

4. There is no circumstance in which Riley committed a crime but Deal did not, because Deal signs the monthly payroll sheet saying that Riley’s salary was solely used to employ him to do official business. That is the import of 18 USCA 1001. 31 USC 1301 forbids the misuse of government resources, and 18 USCA 1001 makes it a felony to sign a false statement about the use of those resources — Riley’s time. Riley is not allowed to have outside employment working for Deal’s firm, nor is he legally allowed to undertake Deal’s personal business as a favor, so the only legal possibility is that he did so as a staff member. Even were he to claim that he could be acting in some other capacity, the use of his official email not only to schedule the meeting, but to negotiate for legislative provisions makes it abundantly clear that he and Deal are using office resources, most notably staff, for Deal’s personal gain (or avoidance of loss, if you prefer, for legally and of course morally, they are no different).

5. As to the constituent issue, you should read the whole report. The House Ethics Manual — the document which defines the purposes for which the monies allotted to Members of Congress is appropriated — strictly prohibits the use of House staff for personal financial interests. That prohibition is absolute, and does not allow for staff to pursue constituent concerns that are in the direct financial interest of the Member of Congress.

6. As a matter of commonsense credibility, we have only Riley and Deal’s testimony that there were any such constituent contacts. Deal states that constituents told him that they could not get information on the program, but his own legislator, who the revenue commissioner said “hotboxed” him about the provision in question at the meeting, admits that no constituent other than Deal and his business partner contacted him. So, let’s decode that: If Deal and Riley have not perjured themselves (a distinct possibility), then in all likelihood the “constituent” in question is Deal’s own business partner. The law is not that easy to get around. Of course, again, as the report notes, it doesn’t matter one bit whether there were “constituent” concerns, because it’s still not legal for Deal’s staff to pursue them. And, uh, since when do Congressmen command state department heads for three meetings on an issue for which there is ZE-RO federal involvement?

There’s just no daylight for the partners in crime here. My opinion? Yeah, but also that of a unanimous panel of six bipartisan investigators. Think a jury would see it any differently? Only if it was made up of Deal’s “constituent”.

7. As an aside, Nathan is fortunate that the statute of limitations has actually run from the time he started this enterprise – when he was in the legislator. Bobby Whitworth went to prison for doing a lot less and getting a lot less money.

Unlike Nathan Deal, SCOTUS says birtherism is frivolous

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has upheld a $20,000 fine against a leader of the movement [Orly Taitz] challenging President Barack Obama’s citizenship.


Taitz sued in Georgia federal court on behalf of Army Capt. Connie Rhodes. Rhodes sought to avoid deployment to Iraq by claiming Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

Justice Samuel Alito on Monday rejected Taitz’s second request to block the sanctions. Justice Clarence Thomas had rejected the request earlier.

via Supreme Court upholds ‘birther’ sanction  |

Those wacky activist judges Alito and Thomas.