Performance Rights Act and Radio Freedom Act

I heard about this today. From the website:

There are currently two bills pending in Congress that would levy a performance tax on local radioH.R.848, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (MI-14) and S.379, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT). Your members of Congress need to hear that you strongly oppose these bills.

Additionally, anti-performance tax resolutions have been introduced in the House and Senate in support of local radio. In the Senate, Sens. Blanche Lincoln (AR) and John Barrasso (WY) introduced S. Con. Res. 14, and in the House, Reps. Gene Green (TX-29) and Mike Conaway (TX-11) introduced H. Con. Res. 49. Both are known as the Local Radio Freedom Act. Many members of Congress already support local radio and resolutions against the performance tax. Others still need to hear your voice.

Take action now!

Neither Texas senator supports S. Con. Res. 14, the Local Radio Freedom Act. Tell them how you feel.

The following Texas representatives support H. Con. Res. 49, the Local Radio Freedom Act:

  • Brady, Kevin
  • Burgess, Michael
  • Conaway, Mike
  • Carter, John
  • Culberson, John
  • Cuellar, Henry
  • Edwards, Chet
  • Granger, Kay
  • Green, Al
  • Green, Gene
  • Hinojosa, Rubén
  • Hall, Ralph
  • Marchant, Kenny
  • McCaul, Michael
  • Neugebauer, Randy
  • Olson, Pete
  • Ortiz, Solomon
  • Paul, Ron
  • Poe, Ted
  • Reyes, Silvestre
  • Sessions, Pete
  • Thornberry, Mac

First nuclear plant in 30 years

This is great news. I’m glad we finally got a power plant. I’ve been out of the nuclear game for 12 years, but I have always wanted more nuclear power in the United States.

The Obama administration yesterday (Feb 16, 2010) pledged a conditional $8.3 billion loan guarantee to support the construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear plants in more than three decades. Source: | PETER BEHR | February 17, 2010 | DOE Delivers Its First, Long-Awaited Nuclear Loan Guarantee.

Thirty years ago a series of events led to the stoppage of nuclear power in the United States. The Three Mile Island accident occurred March 28, 1979. Then a severe recession began in December 1980 and the prime interest rate eventually reached 21.5% by June 1982. Nuclear power was deemed unsafe and too expensive.

Today, terrorism is more of a concern than accidents. Unfortunately for the industry I fear the results would be the same. If an attack was successful, I think the nuclear power industry in America would shift into reverse. Existing power plants would be taken offline, and their radioactive materials would be buried deep underground. I could be wrong. They might strengthen walls, increase security, and fight back, but that is less likely considering the tension between the public and nuclear energy.

Here’s an interesting comparison. In 1977 Crystal River began operating one PWR. Doing my ol’ back of the napkin calculations, the estimated cost (in 2006 dollars) to build would have been roughly $1,365,940,000. The an average overrun of 169% the actual cost would have been roughly $3,667,926,000. So, that tells me costs went up roughly 13%. This time its not inflation or interest its labor and materials that puts the price so high.

838 MW * $1,630,000/MW = $1,365,940,000

838MW * $4,377,000/MW = $3,667,926,000

Fifth Blogiversary

Five years ago today I posted Zeitgeist Defined – my first blog entry. Happy 5th Blogiversary!

A lot has changed since then. I moved from Blogspot to Blogger to WordPress and tried to keep all my posts together. Ironically, in 2005, I foresaw the hassle of moving blog content around and that’s what held me back for a few years. But, alas, I had too much to say and no where to keep it so I started teamsiems zeitgeist.

I’m still observing the times and happens around me – still staying true to the original premise.

Here’s to the next five years.

Social Media Bursting Bubbles

From Business Insider, an online news site, an article titled “This Guy Represents The Biggest Bubble Yet” talks about how Keith McCullough, CEO of Hedgeye, thinks politics is the next bubble.

The story is really shallow, but it made me think of the bigger picture. If there is a bubble it’s actually part of a transparency bubble that exists in every private and public sector. If it bursts it will be because the sector didn’t share the truth with their customers or constituents. This is a growing concept in social media and it pervades the latest generation(s) of workers/voters. Basically the concept says, “if you can’t converse with me and be honest then I don’t want to be your friend and you can’t follow me.”

Doing a Google search for this topic I found a note-page on Facebook that was written by Keith McCullough that talks about the bubble of U.S. politics.

2010 Election Information for Central Texas

Since today, February 15, is the start of early voting in the Texas Primary, I thought I would list the candidates so I know who is running and who to vote for. The following is the most current information I could find as of January 30, 2010.

Texas Secretary of State website lists Important Dates for 2010 Elections in Texas:

  • Primary election day: March 2, 2010
  • Primary runoff day: April 13, 2010
  • May uniform election date: May 8, 2010
  • November uniform election date: November 2, 2010

The Secretary’s website also lists What is on the ballot.

U.S. Congress:

First, look at the congressional district map for Texas. I live in the 17th congressional district for the U. S. House of Representatives; south central Texas including Waco and Bryan.


Representatives (District 17):

Election Candidates:

Texas Legislature:

I live in the Senate’s 5th district and House’s 14th district.

Texas Senate (District 5):

Election Candidates:

Texas House (District 14):

Election Candidates:

Texas Governor:

Rick Perry (R) Next Election: 2010

Election Candidates:

Here is some interesting news. Texas Senator Steve Ogden (R-District 5) is Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. This position has an automatic seat on the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). The LBB decides, among other things, the State’s support to public universities. So, one of the people that lowered property taxes (temporarily) and raised cigarette taxes (permanently) in the name of education* will help decide how that money is spent. It’s good to be in Finance.

* From Steve Ogden’s website, I’m Proud of What We Accomplished in the Special Session: “Other tax changes included revising the calculation of sales tax on used cars and raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack effective January 1, 2007.At the end of the day,this means state tax revenues will now fund about half of public education, up from approximately 38 percent today.” tagline

I don’t write about myself or this site too often, but I had a small epiphany about the tagline of Like every other story I can remember this story starts off with, “I was surfing around the web and….” I happened upon the Google’s Webmaster Tools website. This site lists, among other things, a ranking of your site’s pages in the Google search engine. It made me realize that visitors were coming to my site for some odd topics, and furthermore the tagline was basically lying or misrepresenting the content of After that revelation I wanted to fix it and make it more search engine friendly.

I started this site in 2006 as a sandbox to try new web technologies and techniques. In the back of my mind I always wanted to make this into a business. Here we are in 2010 and I have launched a few sites from here, but for the most part this site has become my collection of blog posts and PHP code. It’s time to acknowledge that this site will not become a business anytime soon and clearly state that this site, like my life, is a collection of odds and ends and (seemingly) random bits of information.

How do I reflect this idea on this site? I started with the tagline. I’ve burned through a few description tags and taglines since 2006, but the last one I wrote was done quickly and it only furthered the murky purpose of this site: organized chaos of a web developer. I am a web developer, but really doesn’t have anything to do with web development.

I rewrote the tagline. It’s not as easy as it looks. It took me a while to think of a tagline that more accurately reflects the scope of this site: The Siems Team: observing life on the web. I think this is true. My name is Siems. I recently added more members to my family and it’s not a stretch to call us teamsiems. I think the last part is clever. I observe and collect information from the web and store it here – on the web.

So, until I change it again, this site will remain a collection of life taken from the web and saved on the web.

Memphis Ribs in Winter?

In my defense I offer two arguments: 1) it has been about 8 months since I made brisket, 2) tomorrow is the Super Bowl and (2.5) we had good weather today. I wanted some ribs so I found a recipe from Marlboro of all places and decided what the heck.

There is something you need to know about BBQ: all barbecue is not the same. And for god’s sakes don’t slap some barbecue sauce made in New Jersey on a rack of ribs and call it barbecue. I didn’t learn about barbecue styles until I came to Texas, but apparently there are 4 styles in the US.

Memphis style comes wet or dry. The wet is mopped with a mustard and vinegar sauce while cooking. The dry is made with a rub and not mopped.

Carolina style is rubbed and mopped with a vinegar sauce. Variants range from North to South Carolina.

Kansas City style depends on the sauce. The rubbed meat is smoked and then  served with sweet sauce at the table.

Texas is so big it has 4 regions of it own. From experience I can say Texas style is cooked with a rub and then a tomato-based sauce at the table – if you really need sauce. In fact they will probably call you a Yankee if you sauce your bbq; it’s all about the rub in Texas.

Well, I’m made wet and sloppy Memphis style ribs today. I rubbed them this morning and let them setup for 5 hours in the refrigerator. Then I made the mop sauce when I lit the gas grill. I setup the grill for indirect cooking as much as one can on a gas grill. For ribs its not really about the low and slow method. These ribs were supposed to cook within 2 hours.

Rub Ingredients

1/4 cup paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp dark brown sugar firmly packed
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
6 lbs pork ribs (I use two 3lbs racks of baby back ribs)

Mop Ingredients

1/4 cup prepared mustard
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

The secret to tender ribs is to pull off the membrane on the back. Make a cut parallel with the ribs in the membrane and insert the knife under the membrane and gently pull it up. Then pull the rest of the membrane up with your fingers.

Combine the rub ingredients and rub about 2/3 on the ribs. Wrap in plastic-wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

When you wait for the grill to come to 200° F, combine the mop ingredients and set aside.

Cook the ribs 1 hour meat-side up then mop the top and let cook for another 30 minutes. Flip them over and mop and let cook for 30 minutes. Continue mopping and cooking for 30 minutes until you run out of mop sauce or the ribs are done. Be sure to check the temperature. I try to keep mine at 200° F the whole time. It took my ribs about 2 1/2 hours to cook.

I served my ribs with baked potatoes and baked beans.