S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good news out of Texas

Sometimes it is hard to find any good news on Mondays - you have to work hard at it. Today's labor of optimism is centered in three arenas in my home state of Texas: space, energy and law enforcement. Why those topics?
NASA's space headquarters is in Houston, where the space program's main control rooms are located. And two of the astronauts are from Texas, Mission Specialists, James Reilly II and Danny Olivas. NASA Houston is where the action will be today. If the Russian computers on the ISS are functioning correctly, the shuttle Atlantis' crew will undock Tuesday and head back to earth for another nail biting dead-stick landing. This positive headline caught my eye, "Life on space station gets back to normal." It is from today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram. To quote from the story,

Restoration of a failed computer system returned life to a regular rhythm on the international space station Sunday, as two astronauts completed the fourth spacewalk since the shuttle Atlantis docked with the outpost a week ago.

"We're slowly moving back into a normal mode of operations," station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin radioed Mission Control in Moscow.

The "normal mode" included the last spacewalk of the mission, a previously unscheduled fourth trip outside the space station that finished up tasks originally scheduled for Friday's third spacewalk. Astronauts on the third spacewalk had the unplanned job of repairing a thermal blanket, which had peeled back near Atlantis' tail during the June 8 launch.

The nearly 6 1/2 -hour spacewalk ended with astronauts Patrick Forrester and Steve Swanson completing nearly all of their tasks. is an interesting website I recently discovered. It is (naturally) green and "earthy" looking, and very rich with all you might want to know about almost everything. The following two Texas articles come from their web pages.
Cost prohibitive energy - This story comes under the heading of "good news/bad news." Headlined, "Texas company halts coal gasifying plant," from, the story is another example of taking the easier road to clean energy, rather that the right road. Natural gas and coal are a fossil fuels and non-renewable. So far coal gasification is not yet a clean nor an affordable process. And government is not helping very much. Quoting from the article,

Plans for a coal gasification plant in Texas have been canceled due to high technology costs.

Tondu Corp. a Houston-based company, planned to build the plant in Corpus Christi but announced Thursday it was too expensive. Instead, a natural gas plant, between 125 and 150 megawatts, will be built with the option of implementing integrated gasification combine cycle technology, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The cost of the coal gasification technology put a $1.5 billion price tag on the plant compared with $500 million for the natural gas plant. The coal gasification developers won't provide performance guarantees, one of the major price drivers, said Joe Tondu, chief executive officer of Tondu.
Relatively free energy - This story is all good news. The research was done at my alma mater, UTA. Wind is a free and renewable energy resource. And, after I get my Orange Mobile Wind Charger, I will not need to worry any more about being marooned with a dead cell phone.The headline,"Mobile phone charger powered by wind," is again from, from which I quote,

Bristol-based Orange UK is showing its Orange Mobile Wind Charger, a new phone charger that is powered by wind energy.

The portable phone charger is the recent result of research done with Shashank Priya, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Orange UK lauds it as the solution for summer music festival attendees and campers who live in tents for days at a time.
Texas Law Enforcement gets it right - During my professional years I worked with many women and men who had been hurt by sex offenders, perpetrators of crimes that can leave behind horrific psychological scars. I have so far been able to muster little sympathy for these offenders. I am always relieved when the law is able to make it safer for those most vulnerable among us. We can cheer this recent headline:"Texas authorities arrest 7 former MySpace members" from Reuters. To quote from the story,

Texas police arrested seven convicted sex offenders after MySpace handed over identity details about the former members of the Internet social network, the Texas attorney general's office said on Thursday.

The seven, whose profiles on MySpace had already been removed under an internal program to weed out sex offenders prowling the News Corp.-owned site, were arrested for breaking parole or probation rules.

The arrests, which occurred over a two-week period, come after authorities in several states asked MySpace to hand over information on convicted sex offenders.
Hope you have a good news week! Technorati Tags:

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