|:: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 ::|
Lain sent me this article: "So much left to discover, so few ready to do it "
Get You Free Comics
Lest I forget, Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Don't miss out (like I'm going to).
Searching through the debris from Columbia, it was discovered that worms from one of the science experiments were still alive.
Don Pettit has written his farewell to ISS entry in his Space Chronicles series. A good read.
I Think That I Shall Never See
Bad news, Richie: Poetry is dead.
About danged time, if you ask me.
I just bought some t-shirts from the Hatbag store, and let me tell you, they're very nice. Buy yours today. All the cool people are wearing them.
Fly Me To The Moon
Since establishing a long-term presence on the Moon won the recent Dave poll, I'm including a link to this Wired article about the future of lunar exploration.
Among the things it talks about is whether there is accessible water on the surface of the Moon, which many now believe there may be in the shadowy bottom of deep craters or around the poles. If it's discovered that there are ice deposits on the surface, then the Moon might be considered a much more attractive place to establish a colony.
I would add, though, that I'm not necessarily sold on the idea of needing a "compelling reason" for manned exploration of other worlds. Such reasons are frequently brought up--what if they find water on the Moon, what if the find proof life existed on Mars, etc.
But here's the catch--what if they don't? But what if they find that life has existed, or does exist, on Europa or Titan, or any of the places in our Solar System less dry and barren than the Moon or Mars? How practical would it be to begin manned exploration by attempting a first expedition to a Saturnian or Jovian moon?
Rather than ending up in a position where we have a compelling but overly-challenging goal, we should begin making preparations today. There are any number of practical reasons to establish a lunar colony, among them enough resources to power civilization on Earth for 1,000 years cleanly and safely. But even if there weren't, we need the practice. We have the opportunity, without even leaving our own planetary system, to establish a colony on another world. If we encounter unanticipated challenges, home is just days away. We have the luxury of people able to get it right. And then, when we get ready to push onward, we have a new base that could be a potential resource for future exploration.
The same is true for Mars--when we need to push on to the outer solar system, a hydrogen mining operation on the red planet could make things a lot easier, not to mention the benefits of experience in interplanetary travel.
The Sky Is Falling
The NASA News Briefing site had this report from ABC news about the only proven case of a person who was hit by an object from outer space, Lani Williams of Tulsa, Oklohama, in 1997:
Williams: "I felt the tap on the back of my shoulder. As it rolled off my shoulder, I realized at that point that it wasn't somebody but it was something. And I heard it hit. It sounded metallic. So, I said, hmm. I kind of looked back like this."
Krulwich: "And she saw a lump. But of what?"
Williams: "Then, I kicked it."
Krulwich: "She told ABC News a few years ago, when she picked it up and asked around, it turned out this was a piece of a US rocket, that had dropped, gently, apparently, to earth. Unlike this 500 pound rocket tank that landed the same day in Texas."
Williams: "That would have been a pretty big tap on the shoulder, don't you think?"
Krulwich: "So Lani was grateful but a little disappointed not to be hit by something really cool like a meteor or a star."
Williams: "I was thinking I had celestial, you know?"
Krulwich: "But still, she is unique. Of six billion human beings on the planet, how many people have taken a direct hit?"
Williams: "I think I'm the only one. You know, I'm probably the only one."
Krulwich: "She is, so far."
Man, TV people are a breed apart. She was sorry she wasn't hit by a STAR?!?!!? Um, that could have been kind of unpleasant.
While the idea of the space tug is certainly nothing new, it sounds like this is a pretty serious possibility for making it come about. It's an interesting concept, and they're right that there probably is a market for it.
I hope that if water is discovered in the Martian Underground, it also has cheap tie vendors like the Atlanta Underground.
Return To Flight
Almost-contrary to reports referenced here a little while ago, Sean O'Keefe has said he believes it will be possible to resume Shuttle flights by the end of 2003 (The Space.com article that link goes to also includes some comments by O'Keefe about the Project Prometheus nuclear spaceflight initiative).
Mach My Day
To me, the neatest part of the guy who wants to set the sky-diving altitude record is that during his free-fall, he'll actually be travelling at supersonic speeds without any sort of vehicle. That's just kind of cool.
JoCasta sent me this handy guide, useful to the world traveller with frequent mortal cranial wounds.
|:: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 ::|
Sizing 'Em Up
This page is an interesting chart showing the relative sizes of spacecraft from different movies and TV shows, along with some real world guides for comparison. Kinda cool.
If you felt the earthquake, report it here.
I Come From Alabama
Man, don't you hate that you've missed your chance to buy this?!
The recently-reported revelation from Entertainment Weekly that The A-Team is "5 Minutes Ago" made me realize I should probably use this strip as the Daily Hatbag soon, before it became any less hip.
My Feeling, As Usual, Is That The Mountain Will Come To Mohammed
Man, I hope something like this works out.
Awaiting Her Time To Fly
While this Washington Post article is not a great piece about Barbara Morgan, it's the first one I've seen since Columbia.
More debris has been found, more questions have been raised.
If You Believe They Put A Man On The Moon
One of the things I do look forward to with the coming transitions involving the two NASA sites I'm babysitting is not having to deal with Moon hoax questions. Most of the time, I just refer people to check out one of these two sites, and that's the end of it. Today, though, I had some guy write me back with follow-up questions, some of which were easy (If NASA went to the Moon, why do they keep the Apollo craft locked up at NASA? Why isn't it at the Smithsonian? Um... it is.), but one, and I hear this one frequently, is a little tougher, and that is why no one has been back to the Moon.
Here's my reply. What else needs to be said?
"The last question is a little more difficult, since there's no simple cut and dry answer. But you ask why no other country around the world has sent anyone to the Moon. First off, you have to define your terms. While there are many, many countries on Earth, only two actually have manned spaceflight capability. (And China, which is on its way to becoming the third country with manned launch-vehicles, has announced that it does intend to send a man to the Moon, which it wouldn't do if it weren't pretty confident it were possible.)
To a large extent, the motivations for the Moon race were political, to see which side of the Cold War could achieve it first. When the goal was reached, a lot of the incentive for continuing the program was gone. The Soviet Union was actually still a pretty good ways from being able to achieve a Moon landing, due to the way they were going about it.
Rather than performing a lunar docking manuever, as with the Apollo program, the Soviets were attempting to build a phenomenally powerful super-rocket that would have been able to fly to the Moon, land there, take off, and fly back, without the Apollo CM's advantage of returning to Earth from lunar orbit rather than the surface. Such a rocket was not developed prior to the American landing, and the incentive to continue such an expensive program was not there.
With the Moon landing accomplished, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. decided that it was time to move on to other goals, and began working on establishing space stations. You have to consider, also, that during this phase of the Cold War, there were military considerations also. While the Moon held little strategic value, there was fear by both sides that if the other dominated Earth orbit, they would be able to drop bombs from space.
Further, for many, there was the belief that rather than wasting resources going to the Moon, man should instead press ahead to Mars. While the Soviets/Russians have done research toward a Mars trip, they have never committed the funding to make it a reality. The U.S., on the other hand, has essentially been working since the early 1970s on a project that is just now becoming a reality. The Apollo program was cancelled in favor of the Space Shuttle, and one of the Space Shuttle's main goals was the creation of the Space Station. And now, 30 years, later, that goal is finally being realized."
Lain asked in a feedback recently about India's space program, so here's a story about where they're heading.
Fortune has a really good article about the new iTunes Music Service.
The one question I haven't seen answered is that this really seems like if violates Apple Computer's agreement with Apple Records.
So I'm in bed with my wife last night and felt the Earth move.
For those too far away to experience it, we had an earthquake last night, the first I've ever experienced.
It was a 4.9 magnitude, close to the Alabama-Georgia state line.
It was enough to wake us up and make us wonder what was going on (my best theory--testing at the arsenal [which apparently was not the case, unless they're working on that project from "The Core"]), but it didn't knock over anything.
I didn't even realize we could have earthquakes in this area ... Nicole thought that it might be one, but I figured that would require there being something big going on at the New Madrid Fault, I guess 'cause of all the scenarious they talked about when we were supposed to have that big New Madrid earthquake in '89 or '90.
And So It Begins...
Well, I've just had my first spoiler ruined for Episode III. I refused to read the information when it was on Aint It Cool News, lucked out of seeing it on CNN, but, this morning, it was on the Yahoo homepage, with the complete spoiler in the headline of the article. Oh well. Man, I hate that. Anyway, if you think you can avoid knowing, stay out of the feedback for this post, 'cause we may discuss it there. Man, I hate that, and there's still 2 years left to wait.
|:: Monday, April 28, 2003 ::|
Dude, You're Getting A Dell
And the most amazing part is, PC users are actually smug about it.
We Have The Con
We're having a sci-fi con in Huntsville in October. Just not a very good one.
A New Day Has Come
Alright, far be it from me to be overly dramatic about Apple, but I really do feel like I've just watched the beginning of the future of the music industry--from here on out, everything changes. Not that it wasn't changing already, from as of this afternoon, rather than the inevitable being brought about with much kicking and screaming, all of the parties involved are actually working together for mutual benefit--now, Hilary Rosen wants me to download music.
It will be interesting to see what effects this has. Eventually, I imagine it could have a huge effect on conventional music sales, but given how long it's taken cassettes to fade away, it could be a little while. People will want to have their music in a portable format, and not everybody has iPods and CD burners right now. But certainly the winds of change have begun in that area.
What I'm far more interested in is the eventual paradigm shift this will entail in the way music is made. As of today, the album, the cornerstone of the music industry, is obsolete. People will buy songs they want, and not songs they don't. It's obvious what that will mean for acts like the Baja Men and Los Del Rio. No more buying complete albums just for Who Let The Dogs Out or Macarena. Don't even bother recording more songs, guys. To their advantage, a lot more people would pay a buck for those songs than $15, so the return on a one-hit-wonder could be even greater.
For other artists, it won't make as big a difference. There are plenty of artists whose albums I would just download in their entirety when they come out.
But then, there are those artists that I buy an album for a handful of songs, only to find more I like the more I play the album. How will that work? Will people be as likely to buy "the other songs" on an album? Or will this end up meaning artists are less likely to come up with as many new songs when their bread and butter comes from a few hits?
Of course, that whole question may prove to be silly as the incentive for artists to release an "album's worth" of materials disappears. Rather than working for however long to put together enough songs for a CD, artists can just release individual songs as soon as they're finished. This could have the effect of letting songs that otherwise would be lost on an album have their day in the Sun. Theoretically, that could really improve radio. It could put an end to the pattern of an artist releasing an album, a handful of singles coming out, and then radio stations playing those singles repeatedly until the next album comes out. Instead, new songs could be played continuously as they are released.
Have I mentioned lately that Apple rocks!
So far: new iPods, iTunes 4, and we're just now getting to the good part.
Addendum: 12:32 p.m.: Again--Oh, man!
Addendum: 12:40 p.m.: O Brave New World, that has such iTunes in it!
Addendum: 12:45 p.m.: BTW, you can get the latest info at MacRumors.
Addendum: 12:48 p.m.: Steve Jobs just bought some good Cranberries online.
Addendum: 12:56 p.m.: The cool thing about doing a big announcement about a new music service, is that it's made all the more dramatic by the fact that it has a built in soundtrack.
Addendum: 1:06 p.m.: Alanis and Bono say it's great!
Addendum: 1:10 p.m.: Don't wait for the homepage to update--use the backdoor now! Applemusic.com I'm downloading iTunes 4 as I type, and I'm about to visit the store.
Addendum: 1:20 p.m. OK, there's only one of the two Garrison Starr albums (just the new one... and Eighteen Over Me is "out of print"), but that's still better than Gnutella. And there is some non-album Tori stuff, though not as much as Gnutella. Of course, I guess if something's not for sale, it's not stealing to download it, right?
Addendum: 1:28 p.m. When I went on, a lot of the stuff listed as most popular was the stuff Steve Jobs used in his demo and had talked about buying, so apparently he personally was still a large portion of the system rankings... meaning that apparently, based on checking out the Tori listings, Steve Jobs likes the song, "Leather."
I had intended to mention Saturday, but forgot, that it was the 17th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
Striving For Accuarcy
OK, I take real exception to Reuters' headline "Soyuz Relieves Stranded U.S.-Russian Space Crew". At no time were the members of Expedition Six "stranded" on ISS. Anytime they wanted to, they could have come on. I find it irresponsible for them to lead people to believe that the crew was somehow stuck on Station if anything bad had happened.
This story is also an example of some interesting semantics this spaceflight has brought up--it reports, as have several others, that the Expedition 6 crew will include the first "U.S. astronauts" (or "American astronauts" in other stories) to come home on a Russian vessel. Well, that depends on what an astronaut is. The Webster's definition is "a person who travels beyond the earth's atmosphere." By that definition, Dennis Tito, the California businessman who bought a Soyuz ticket to ISS, would qualify as both American and an astronaut. NASA's definition is a little more technical (according to the JSC Web site, Christa McAuliffe was not an astronaut, but rather a payload specialist), and would preclude Tito. It's really no big deal at the moment, but it IS a semantic issue that will have to be worked out when people start seriously trying to win the X Prize--will the first person to fly into space in their own private spacecraft be an astronaut?
Web browser Mosaic was created 10 years ago this month.
Amazons In Space!
I read an interesting article about the fact that China's upcoming manned spaceflight was such a big deal because it was the first new manned space program in over 4 decades, since the U.S. and Soviet Union stepped up their space race in 1961. Which is true to an extent, but not completely accurate. While China will be the first country since the U.S. and Russia to start a manned space program, that doesn't mean that it's the only one. Forty-two years ago, it was a race to see whether the USA or USSR would reach space first. Today, the space race is between China and the guy that created Quake (who formed Armadillo Aerospace, mentioned in here a while back), among others--though I doubt either of them sees is that way.
So, anyway, it turns out that also working to start a manned space program is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who likely actually has the resources to do it.
I have to say, Lisa Marie Presley's new singing career makes me have more and more of a hard time believing she's a fake, which rumor was actually of some comfort when Elvis' daughter married Michael Jackson.
Well, with X2: X-Men United opening this weekend, Summer Movie Season is well and truly here.
Hey, Mr. Steve Jobs, Put A Record On...
MacMinute will offer ongoing coverage of the Apple announcement at noon CDT today. In The NYT, RIAA chair Hilary Rosen said that Apple's music service "has compatibility with a hardware product that is elegant and easy to use. The Apple system has the potential to do for music sales what the Walkman did for the cassette."
17 Days And Counting
I finally got around to watching the CG Animatrix short "Final Flight Of The Osiris" last night. Not bad. Made me that much more ready for the coming Matrix-y goodness.
But that said, with sequels to the movie that brought you "bullet time" and to the movie that brought you "liquid metal" both coming out during the same summer, I propose the following bill for the Hollywood legislature: When making a movie during the next year and a half or so, you can either steal a cool effect from T3 OR from the Matrix sequels, but not both. I think that's more than fair.
At Home In Space
The Expedition Seven crew entered the ISS this morning at 2:27 a.m. CDT, arriving at what is scheduled to be their home for the next six months. A news conference with Exp. 6 & 7 will be held today on NASA TV (available, as always, online) at 10:30 a.m. CDT.
|:: Sunday, April 27, 2003 ::|
Little Orphan Annie
Turns out that, according to The Associated Press, Death Row at Parchman is an unpleasant place to be, and the people there don't like it. Stop the presses! Could it be true?!
Remember back when everybody on the face of the Earth was reading Grisham? Those were heady times for Oxford.
Who's house? Grisham's house!
A Painted House, which I consider to be one of Grisham's better works in recent years, will be aired as a Hallmark movie tonight. Check local listings (in other words, I'm too lazy to go find out when it comes on right now [though I do plan to watch it]).
|:: Saturday, April 26, 2003 ::|
According to Entertainment Weekly, Knight Rider nostalgia is "in." Unfortunately, this means that The A-Team is bumped down to "Five Minutes Ago," which, really, when you consider how long ago it went off the air, it not actually that bad.
Someday, I want to grow a full beard, but Nicole won't let me. That barely has anything to do with this strip, but it's true. And honesty is the most important thing we have.
Our Loving Public
If you're like most people, you probably at least vaguely remember that a while back a Space Shuttle, like, blew up or something and killed a bunch of people. Sound familar? It was a huge national tragedy, and for a period of at least a day, maybe two, people actually cared about spaceflight again. People who previouly had forgotten about what we were doing because it had become routine were reminded of the dangers of exploration, and were going to start paying attention again.
So I get up this morning, visit several of the sites I go to that list headlines, and a total of one of them actually mentioned that an American astronaut had been launched into space for the first time since STS-107, and that a new crew was on its way to the International Space Station. To be sure, this "return to flight" isn't and shouldn't be the big deal that the launch of STS-114 will be, but still... (Google news gets partial credit. They had a headline this morning mentioning that a Russian rocket was PREPARING to launch--about 11 hours after it had already done so--particularly interesting considering that the last update to the story about the rocket preparing to launch was 10 hours after it took off).
And I've been involved long enough in the media to be savvy enough to know that there's a huge difference, but I can't help but think about what the coverage would have been like this morning if the launch had been unsuccesful versus the actual coverage. And it just makes me sick. Sorry, I'm done. </ranting>
Return To Flight
The STS-114 crew has been officially named as the crew of STS-114.
Commander Eileen Collins, pilot James Kelly, the mission's pilot; mission specialist Stephen Robinson, and Japanese NASDA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, were named as the four members of the crew of the next Shuttle flight. Those four had been previously named as the prime Shuttle crew of 114 when it was supposed to launch March 1 to exchange Expeditions 6 & 7. O'Keefe said that the four-person prime crew was being preserved in anticipation of STS-114 being used as a crew rotation flight when it takes place. No word was given when that would be.
|:: Friday, April 25, 2003 ::|
The World Is Safe For Another 8 Days
Well, you'll be able to know that you can now sleep better at night.
"You've Got To Fight For The Right Party"
I'm increasingly tempted to get a Blogger Pro account once I learned you can enter draft entries, so that you can enter notes that won't be posted until you finish them later.
For instance, I know there's a joke here, but I just can't quite find it:
" ... I don't think it would be wise for us to hold back on speaking out about oppression just so we could go there and entertain."
-- Beastie Boy ADAM YAUCH, a.k.a. MCA, on the possibility of playing in China one day.
Apple Says: Don't Steal Thunder
Surprisingly, Steve Jobs has declined to reveal what the surprise announcement Monday will be--but says it'll be big.
Oh, sure, robot soccer sounds harmless and cute at first, but then think about how serious (and violent) people in other parts of the world get about their soccer. Now picture a World Cup riot--by robots. Not so cute now, is it?
(What is this on-going anti-robot sentiment in my blog? When the robot holocaust comes, let no one say this blog didn't do its part to stop it--unless, of course, you're testifying before our new robot masters)
I'm glad one person understands the way the First Amendment works:
"The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street."
Perhaps, some legal scholar could explain this to Springsteen. Richie?
Got You Covered
The very first post office aboard the International Space Station will soon be open. But if you thought stamps were expensive at your post office, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Hug Your Genes Today
Today is National DNA Today.
X Prize--Don't Fight The Future
FOXNews has an interesting article about the X Prize and the status of commercial passenger spaceflight. Check it out. I do find interesting the article's claim that Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne announcement last week made people take the X Prize more seriously. I question how much difference it really made--those who follow such things were already familar with the Prize, and with accomplishments of other groups trying for it, and I question how many people that weren't already familar with the Prize really heard enough about SpaceShipOne for it to make any real difference. But maybe so. I'm fairly out-of-touch with mainstream media, so FOX probably has a much better idea than I do.
We Come With Peas For All Mankind
If all goes according to plan, second-generation plants will be grown in space for the first time in history this year.
Expedition 7 Update
In the first manned launch since STS-107, the Yuri Malenchenko and Ed Lu, the next ISS crew, will be launching aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-2 capsule tonight at 10:54 p.m. CDT from the Baikonaur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Not sure if the launch will be televised. More information about their mission is at Spaceflight Now.
Addendum: The launch will apparently be shown on NASA TV (which streams on the internet for those of you who don't get it on cable). I've never seen an actual Soyuz launch, so I, for one, plan to stay up and watch it.
Per MacNN.com: Larry Wheeler of Memphis, TN writes: "WHBQ, Channel 13 Memphis, reported that Apple Store, Saddle Creek was broken into, early this morning. They showed surveillance video of a vehicle smashing through the glass doors, and the "bandits" made off with several laptops and digital cameras. The store was closed for repairs today. They mentioned no arrests."
Daily Garfunkel Update
During the first week or so I was keeping this blog, I had a "Daily Garfunkel Update," which lasted for exactly one day. Since I've totally neglected that feature, I thought I should mention that the Simon & Garfunkel Concert In Central Park will be released on DVD in August. So now you know.
|:: Thursday, April 24, 2003 ::|
Lost the template again. Fortunately, I had a back-up this time, but I hadn't updated it for the new feedback system. Plus, for some reason, it won't let me edit the template. So I'm back up, for the time being, but not at 100 percent . Sorry.
And the old feedback system, which I reported earlier was showing the numbers again, no longer is. Aarrgghh!!
Addendum: I can't even find the code for the last system I was using, and it won't give it to me again. Unfortunately, that means all that feedback for the last several days is apparently just lost. Trust me, I'm very sorry. Since I lost the template again, I'm assuming that it must not have been a problem with that feedback system I really liked, so I've implemented it again. Sorry for all the problems.
There was very brief discussion on the Ole Miss journalism listserv about this article today, which I thought was kind of interesting. On the one hand, I've read the column in question, and feel that it's kind of silly, not too well done, and not particularly great journalism. I would note that several other college papers have a similar column, but Ole Miss can't always get away with things other colleges can. Perhaps most intriguing to me was Ralph Braseth's comment that it was "a mistake for students to print the column. It jeopardizes the credibility of the newspaper. It offends too many people." Frankly, I tend to agree, but it's interesting seeing the head of the student media center (sorry, The S. Gale Denley Student Media Center [well, actually I guess not until Friday]) criticizing The DM publicly. Particularly coming so soon after the press controversy, in which The DM's editor took issue with the j-school just as publically (and even more harshly semi-publicly). While I commend The DM staff for the courage of their convictions, of course, I would also note that sometimes you have to pick your battles carefully. Yeah, certainly I believe The DM has the right to print this column, but I do kind of have to question whether it's worth it.
And, having to add an adult content disclaimer for the how-many-th time in the last couple of days, the link to the article in question is here. I'm including it solely for the purpose of background for discussion. Don't go if you don't want to read it. And here's another one, in which the feedback is less dominated by comments made since The Clarion-Ledger's article (If you want more, you know how to use a search engine).
The Real Saddam
'Cause it'd feel so empty without him.
Sweet Home Alabama
And I thought Mississippi politics were messed up.
OK, under the laws of nature, Matrix on Imax would have to be pretty cool.
Don't Miss Archer
The Enterprise Project is a new site where you can go to help make sure that Enterprise is picked up again for a third season. From everything I've read, their fears are probably groundless, but that just makes it more likely they'll be succesful.
Let Slip The Dogs Of Terrorism!
The U.S. government met with Trekkers in hopes to fight against Klingon terrorism. Seriously.
One last time
Alright, I just found out that the feedback counts from the first system I used are working again, so, theoretically, I could go back to that one if there was interest in me doing so. Advantages included the smaller box, and that it would solve the problem of fixing the archive, since all of the old comments would still be in the system. Disadvantages included the reverse-order posts.Let me know what you think.
BTW, since I'm on site maintainance, during the weird outages last week, somebody voted for going to Mars on the poll, and that vote was lost when I had to rebuild the poll. If you still want to go to Mars, vote again (I really need to change the poll soon... any ideas?)
Why We Do What You Do
Let no one doubt that the bears must be fought.
And The Market Responded
Did you hear about Alan Greenspan being hospitalized from an enlarged prostitute?
To answer backlash against their protest of the Iraq war, the Dixie Chicks have decided to pose naked with some of the insults that have been used against them painted on their bodies for the cover of Entertainment Weekly. I'm not entirely sure what exactly it proves, but I have a feeling it may work anyway.
(Sheesh, Lain, this blog just gets smuttier by the day).
Alright, it's been a real point of pride that thus far, I have not used a particular word in this blog, or even acknowledged its existance. It's been all over the news, and has dominated the science section of Yahoo, where I occassionally get links, but I've intentionally and adamantely refused to jump on the bandwagon. I hate pop news, and I hate empty news scares. But, I just came across a story that was just too interesting to pass up. But before we start, let's just get it out of our system, shall we?
SARS SARS SARS SARS SARS SARS SARS SARS SARS SARS
OK, we can move on now.
Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log had a story today about a theory that has been proposed that SARS is actually from outer space. The idea of microbial life coming to Earth from space is not new, but is still not taken all that seriously. Still, it's an interesting idea, and has other historical incidents which follow the pattern.
And, of course, if it were proven to be true, then that would certainly answer the question of whether life exists "out there"--without leaving "down here"--which could easily provide a nice boost for NASA.
Remember how, a few weeks ago, investigators believed that the breach in the left wing occurred in Carrier Panel 6, until they found in the debris, Carrier Panel 6, relatively intact. And so then they decided that the breach occured in a heat-shield T-seal, which they believed was the object that was spotted floating away in orbit early in the mission. Well, guess that they've found now in the debris. To be fair, though, they only found a part of the seal, meaning that it's possible that it was the problem, and that only part of it came off of Columbia in orbit.
Dextre, the Space Robot
The Canadian Space Agency has announced that the official name of its new ISS Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator robot will be "Dextre."
Dextre is the third and last component of the Mobile Servicing System, Canada's contribution to the International Space Station, along with the Canadarm2 robot arm and the mobile base which currently transports the arm around the station (both the arm and base will also be used to transport Dextre).
Scheduled for launch in 2005, Dextre is a highly advanced, relocatable two-armed robot designed to be placed either on the end of Canadarm2, on the Mobile Base, or on the Station to perform external maintenance on the International Space Station.
Return To Flight
According to numerous reports today, a NASA official has said that the Shuttles could return to flight within a year, and possibly within a year of the Feb. 1 loss of Columbia. What is not stated implicitly, but certainly appears to be the subtext, is that this is backing away from earlier discussions of a return to flight this fall. What can I say? As a NASA contractor, I fully support the agency's decision. And, personally, if that's what it takes to reach the appropriate level of safety for the Shuttle program, then, of course, that's what needs to be done. The one interesting item in the articles, is that the official, Michael Kostelnik, who heads the shuttle and space station programs, noted that while ISS will be OK as far as food, water, and spare parts into the fall, supplies will get low in November and December. If it were determined that ISS would have to be de-manned without return to flight this year, I wonder if that would affect the decision-making process. Also, and this is just pure speculation on my part, when they were talking about return to flight in the fall, I was guessing that would mean a likely ISS crew rotation at that time, with Atlantis bringing down the two-man Expedition 7 crew, which will have been there for a good 6-month stay at the end of October, and taking up a three-man Expedition 8 crew, restroring a "full" crew complement to the Station. Delaying until next year will mean crew rotation will have to be performed with the Russian Soyuz TMA-3 capsule, which would have to fly to the Station in the Oct.-Dec. time frame anyway to replace the TMA-2 that launches Saturday, and that, particularly given the supply situation, Expedition 8 will likely be a two-man crew as well, meaning that only minimal science will be supported for a full year of ISS operation. On an interesting side note, it will mean that Expeditions 7 and 8 will both consist of two-person crews who, unlike previous expedition crews who received occassional visits from Shuttle and Soyuz crews, will spend their entire time on ISS alone. More, as always, as it develops.
Today In History
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery 13 years ago today. Celebrate the occassion by checking out NASA's Hubble homepage.
Also, 36 years ago today, Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed with Soyuz 1 crashed on reentry due to a failure to deploy parachutes.
Remember, kids--Apple says, "Don't Steal Music!"
Music Makes The Apple People Come Together
Apple has announced that, in addition to a Webcast, it will offer a satellite broadcast of the special event coming up at noon CDT on Monday, so that major news networks can use the video in newscasts, which makes it sound like Apple, at least, thinks that whatever they've got planned will be a pretty big deal. Apple has reportedly promised that the announcements will be "music to your ears," supporting earlier speculation.
For a little bit more information, check out this USA Today article.
|:: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 ::|
What sort of world do we live in when profiteering by time-travel is illegal?
This Time For Sure
Alright, as you'll notice, I've decided on a comment system, and eliminated the other two. Hopefully, this will improve the overall speed of the main blog page as well, since the multiple feedback systems were slowing loading. Before eliminating the other two systems, I went back manually and copied the comments from them into the remaining system (except for the ones that were about selecting a feedback system).
BTW, here is some information about the feedback system I've implemented. Lain said he would be willing to chip in towards the cost of a pro account, which I may be interested in doing after a while if this system works out OK. Going pro costs 14 pounds, and I'm just not sure if I've got 14 pounds to spare (ha).
In response to Lain's comments the other day about Hippie's travels, here's a rare reference to Black Guy going somewhere.
More Offensive Web Humor
Alright, I'm sounding the Lain-alarm again--If this post is going to offend you, don't read it.
Yahoo today has an article titled, "Kitten Wins Rear Of Year Award,", about the fact that a member of the pop trio Atomic Kitten was honored for 2003 by an annual award recognizing well-shaped bottoms.
"Kitten Wins Rear Of Year Award"? If you ask me, it's a catastrophe!
People for the Evil Tarantula Armageddon
As tempting as it may be to mock PETA for offering to pay towns to change their names, I think their actions show what a serious organization they are.
In fact, I think other non-profit agencies, as well as businesses, should pay some Mississippi town to change their names.
For instance, we could have "OxChevrolet" "NativeAmericanola" and, thanks to NOW, "JillDaughter."
Just south of the capital, you could have "Proletariatland," a much less elitist name than the current suburb of Richland.
The CAIB held a press conference yesterday. Here's what they had to say about the current state of the investigation (Texas).
|:: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 ::|
Modern chemical weapons were first used 88 years ago today.
Bad Knight Rider Movie News
It turns out that even if the Knight Rider movie gets made, we may not can watch it in good conscience.
The Perils Of Dating, Lewinsky-style
Due to concerns about the family-friendliness of the following post, I've grayed it out. Readers mature enough for mild innuendo can drag over the text to read it.
Monica Lewsinky on her past in USA Today:
"Some men are uncomfortable, just tabling the subject, and some are very quiet about it. You never know which way to go. Is it easier to just bring it up and get it out of the way, or is that not the right thing to do with someone else, since that's going to freak them out?"
So, basically, she just starts each date waiting to see how it's gonna go down...
Chernobyl's sarcophagus needs its own sarcophagus.
Rumsfield has announced that the U.S. will not establish a long-term base in Iraq.
Frankly, I think we should just tell them, "All Your Base Are Belong To U.S.".
In fact, the message needs to go out to Saddam, whereever you are: "You are on the way to destruction. You have no chance to survive make your time."
We should make it clear that the U.S. will take off every zig. For great justice.
I certainly hope that this doesn't speak to any of my readers.
No Need For Concern
Interesting trivia, also from MSNBC, but by the far-more-talented James Oberg:
Veteran Cosmonaut Nikolia Budarin, the sole Russian member of the Expedition 6 crew, will command the Soyuz TMA-1 capsule when he and his stationmates return to Earth early next month.
" Only twice before in the history of the Russian human space program has a non-pilot cosmonaut commanded a Soyuz vehicle. Both missions, in 1979 and 1980, turned out to be very unlucky. On one, a maneuvering engine exploded, and the men had to make an emergency landing. On the other, a seemingly routine landing suddenly turned hazardous when the soft-landing engine failed and the capsule smashed into the ground with bone-jarring force.
These failures were only coincidentally associated with who was in charge of the mission. So unless Budarin is overly superstitious, he and his shipmates should have nothing to worry about. If there is any reason for concern, it rests with the novelty of their new-model Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft, which had never been flight-tested before its current mission — and with any possible quality repercussions on its manufacture due to the near-bankrupt state of the Russian space industry."
On an interesting side note, and American astronaut will have to be waiting for Pettit and Bowersox upon their landing with visas and passports, since they weren't planning on travelling abroad when they left in November.
It comes as no real surprise at this point, but NASA is expected to officially endorse the foam-impact theory regarding loss of Columbia during a joint conference with the CAIB Thursday.
Continuing the topic of private spaceflight, Aviation Week has an article with more technical details of Scaled Composites' recently-unveiled SpaceShipOne spacecraft, while MSNBC has an article that paints a broader picture of the private space race (flavored with dabs of inaccuracy and ignorance--"rockets like the Mercury and Redstone," for example).
Ticket to Mars? Pay For It With PayPal!
I had heard of SpaceX, a new entrant in the launch vehicle business, but didn't realize that it was started by the former brains behind PayPal. Now, he's taken the money from the sale of PayPal to eBay and started his own rocket company. The commercial launch business is not the necessarily the best one somebody could get into right now, having run into a huge slump, but Elon Musk believes he can be competitive by offering launch costs at a third of what's available now. His dream, however, is to leverage commercial launch profits into the creation of a more-powerful launch vehicle to be used for a robotic mission to Mars, aimed at stirring up public interest in manned exploration of the Red Planet. A nice idea, to be sure, but what exactly he would do to stir up more interest than the three Mars rovers launching this year, I have not heard.
Wired has an article with more info.
Future Literary Giants
Long post. (Normally, I would just link to something like this, but I got it through e-mail, so I'm having to post it in toto. I thought it was funny enough to merit it, though.)
These are actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays:
Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a thigh master.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
He spoke with wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
She grew on him like E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
She had a deep throaty genuine laugh like that sound a dog makes just before he throws up.
Her vocabulary was as bad, as, like, whatever.
He was a tall as a six foot three inch tree.
The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge free ATM.
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7 pm instead of 7:30.
Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
The hailstones leaped up off the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
Long separated by cruel fate, the star crossed lovers raced across a grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, on having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resemble Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the east river.
Even in his last years, grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
Young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
"Oh, Jason, take me!" she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night.
He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a really duck that was actually lame. Maybe
from stepping on a land mine or something.
The Ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids with power tools.
He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
She was as easy as the TV guide crossword.
Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
Her voice had that tense grating quality, like a generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightening.
It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
Space Shuttle challenger
SpaceDaily is engaging in more Shuttle-bashing today.
Time To Move On
At this point, I've tried basically every feedback system I can find online. I currently have three of them installed on the blog, but I'm about ready to pick one and move on. Try out the ones that are here now, decide what you like, and let me know. I would ask that you do your testing and leave your feedback at this post, rather than scattering it throughout the blog. In addition to the three that I have installed now, theoretically we could go back to the very first system, and hope that they someday fix the comment numbers (I checked last night, and there was no new updates on the problem in about 2 1/2 weeks). I would note that both the top and bottom systems allow some degree of customization, but the middle system does not (I can't even make it say Idle Ramblings with paying them), so if one of the other two would be close to what you want with some changes, let me know that, too.
Panther Is Coming
Rumors continue regarding the features on OS 10.3.
|:: Monday, April 21, 2003 ::|
The Two Towers will be released on DVD on August 26.
And, also, on Nov. 18.
As with Fellowship, the initial release will be a decent two-disc set with the movie and a disc of special features, followed 3 months later by a giant four-disc set, with an extended cut of the film and a new set of special features.
I thought this was kind of a cool picture.
In response to popular demand, I've made the box in the feedback where you type your comments a little bigger, and Lain will be happy to know that you now can, once again, add smileys to your comments.
Hey, if Hippie can work in a research lab, then I can work for NASA.
Apple will announce ... something ... a week from today.
According to speculation, it likely has something to do with music, in some way or another.
U.S. News has an interesting article about the Project Prometheus nuclear powered spaceflight initiative.
It offers a really good explanation of what exactly is being proposed, and balances it with views of opponents of the program.
I still have trouble, though, taking seriously claims like "we believe the technology will be cross-fertilized into the Pentagon as well," when you consider that one of the reasons ex-Navy-honcho O'Keefe likes the Prometheus idea so much is that the military has been using nuclear power on naval craft for decades. Why exactly would they need to get from NASA technology that NASA is co-opting from them?
The clues continue to come together.
The Orlando Sentinel offers an interesting article about some of the changes being considered for the Shuttle program in order to return to flight.
T -6 days
Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Science Officer Ed Lu have arrived at Baikonur Cosmodrome in preparation for their Saturday launch to the International Space Station.
|:: Sunday, April 20, 2003 ::|
I put the Hatt in Hatbag
I grateful that this site has linked to the Hatbag site recently enough to use the current Hatbag.net address, though it would have been nice if they had spelled my last name correctly. Still, considering that Lain didn't get mentioned at all, I guess I can't complain too much.
ADDENDUM: Um... upon further review, it would have been nice if they had gotten the name of the strip correct, also. Still, I really do appreciate the link.
25 Days And Counting
New Matrix trailer, commercials, are here.
Here's your chance to take a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Hatbag.
Here is a story with more information about the spacecraft which Scaled Composites unveiled Friday, which I mentioned in the blog earlier this week. The designer, Burt Rutan, is best known for Voyager, the airplane which flew non-stop around the world in 1986.
Not Really Columbia Update
Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore is expected to announce his resignation from NASA soon. According to this article, Dittemore had already been planning to resign, but delayed his resignation due to the Columbia disaster.
|:: Saturday, April 19, 2003 ::|
Hope everyone has a Happy Easter.
(Um, sometimes, there's just not really anything else to say after the title.)
(Really, I could have just stopped after those two words, but now I've written four lines).
(Five, if you count this one).
Anyway, Happy Easter.
You Think You're So Pretty
Nicole, Jonathan, and I watched the Anger Management tonight. Pretty entertaining film. More or less what I expected going into it, quality-wise. Full of rich Jack Nicholson goodness.
Spock & Smokey
Lain created this, inspired by the Spock & Smokey pic that's one of the bear pics in the pool.
Apologies once again to Richie, 'cause I think this one is also a rerun, but, hey, I'm never going to have a better time to post it.
Now I just to put together a Hatbag about Jim Lovell I can use later.
Four weeks ago today, I wrote in here about sending John Glenn a copy of his memoir in hopes he would autograph it.
It arrived the mail today, inscribed, "To David, John Glenn."
Pretty darn cool.
It's the first time I've actually written to an astronaut asking for an autograph, and I had been waiting to see how it went before trying again. Friday, I picked up copies of portraits of three astronauts while I was at work, thinking that maybe starting with the first American to orbit the Earth, one of the greatest heroes of our nation's space program, might have been aiming a bit high. Rest assured, those will be going out in the mail this week.
And if anybody is interested in writing to Glenn, contact me offline and I'll share what I did.
The niece was here today, so the bloggings late.
|:: Friday, April 18, 2003 ::|
Beta Than Ever
OK, I think I've resolved most of the technical issues that have plagued me this week (a some a little previously). Trying to fix one smaller problem (not being able to see how much feedback had been posted) has led to some major problems (having to rebuild everything from scratch). On the upside, it's given me a chance to go back and hopefully improve a bunch of stuff.
The look of the main page is different, but function similarly to the first version of the site. Graphically, I'm fairly pleased with most of the changes. I'm happy to have the bears in the header instead of the sidebar (more bears will be coming soon), I find the color scheme brighter and a little more attractive, I like having something for the title other than just plain text (though Lain thinks the title should be more logo-esque, and that may be a later change). I still need to fix the archives so that old feedback can be read, and that is coming, I promise (I'm just trying to figure out how to do it in a way that won't break my new Google links). Unrelated to the template changes, I also this week started including inline graphics.
Hopefully, I've arrived at a feedback system that will work for a while. The numbers show up on the main page again, and the posts appear in descending order. I liked the feature on the last one I tried that let you see from the main page who had posted last, but it doesn't work with this system. I've tweaked the colors of the feedback system to match the colors of the blog, and I think I've done so in a manner that everything should be legible. I'm not 100 percent pleased with everything, but it may be getting close to as good as it gets. Certainly, I have far more control over this feedback system than the original one (I'm still working on adding smilies).
This week has pushed the limits of what I know about Web site formatting, and much of what you're seeing here is still Frankensteined together piecemeal, though much, much more of it is mine than in earlier versions. I had seen several blogs that used the same template as I was using originally, and thus looked EXACTLY like mine, whereas now I have a look that is distinctively my own, which is a good feeling.
Anyway, I really would appreciate feedback, both on the changes to the main blog page and to the feedback system. And, heck, if you've got anything to say about the blog in general, here's your big chance. Thanks.
No American Can Resist This Doll!
Oh, man! Who wouldn't want one of these?
When Ignorance Is Cash, Tis Folly To Be Wise
The criticism of NASA's nuclear-initiative Project Prometheus has begun.
This UPI page has some dumb quotes, but you have to scroll down through some other articles to get to them.
Basically, some people fail to understand that using nuclear power on a long-range spacecraft is not a military application. Once you use the word nuclear, you might as well begin the bombing.
Reacting to NASA's strategic plan, Alice Slater, director of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment, had this to say: "Hopes for meaningful progress towards nuclear disarmament have been shattered, particularly by the shameless grab to dominate space."
And, then there are those brilliant souls who decide to fight against what they think the agency is planning, without even finding out what it is.
Karl Grossman, a professor at the State University of New York, is author of "The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat to Our Planet": "At all of our peril, O'Keefe is moving to expand NASA's program of using nuclear power in space -- including reviving the decades-old notion of building nuclear-powered spacecraft. What if the Columbia shuttle had been nuclear-powered? Nuclear debris would have spread over Texas and Louisiana. Still, two days after the Columbia tragedy, NASA advanced its new $3 billion space nuclear program, Project Prometheus. It is being pushed despite the development of new safe space energy systems, including solar-electric propulsion and solar sails."
I guess if you point out that at the point the agency is only working towards using nuclear power for long-range spacecraft that would not be flying on Earth, it would be a lot tougher to sell books about the "Threat To Our Planet." Why learn about what's really going on, when spreading ignorance keeps the cash coming?
Sorry, Richie, another re-run. I was looking at the Web stats for the site the other day, and noticed that this strip was one of the most viewed pages on the site recently. Not too surprising, since I had posted it as a Daily Hatbag, which usually bumps up the traffic enough to make a visible difference. But then I noticed that it was also one of the leading entry pages to the site, meaning that people were coming there from outside the hatbag.net domain, so part of it couldn't be people who linked to it from my blog.
My best theory...the names of the image files for the strips on the site consist of their order number and the file name we originally saved them with (The first strip, for example, is 001origin). As it happens, this strip's number and file name were 107 and finalmission, meaning that I'm probably picking up some Columbia traffic. Even though it was completely unintentional, I feel kind of guilty.
Ah, USA Today
Man, I was excited to see a link this morning to a story saying that the CAIB had "pinpointed" the location of the hole which allowed plasma into Columbia's wing.
As the details have gradually come together, this is one mystery that has yet to be solved exactly. Investigators know roughly what happened, but not precisely where. Originally, it was believed that Carrier Panel 6 on the left wing's leading edge was where the breach occurred--until Carrier Panel 6 was discovered, intact, in the debris. Currently, they believe it may have been a T-seal near Panel 8, except that this is further down the wing from where the foam was seen to have struck, making it more difficult to explain how a breach could have occurred there. While the basic concepts are the same, knowing the exact location of the breach would determine exactly what happened, whether a hole was created by direct impact, or whether the impact sort of knocked the panels together, creating the breach further down.
But, according to a USA today article late yesterday, "the panel looking into the accident has pinpointed the hole's likely location: the panels and seals that make up the wing's front edge."
Wow. Way to stay on top of things, guys.
X Prize Update
Scaled Composites, an X Prize contender, will be unveiling components of a human space launch system today, according to NASA Watch. Scaled Composites is a serious contender for the prize, being an established aerospace contractor. While no other information about the project to be announced today is given on NASA Watch (or on the Scaled Composites homepage, which as far as I've seen does not even mention their X Prize efforts), this site does offer a little bit of information about what Scaled may be planning.
|:: Thursday, April 17, 2003 ::|
OK, hopefully, it's going to work this time. I've implemented a new comment system, not as good as the last one, but hopefully a little more stable.
I've completely redone the look of the blog, ending up with something I like a little better than the last two designs. This time, I took bits and pieces of a couple of templates, but did some extensive modifications until I had made something that was more my own... unlike the original design, there are no blogs anywhere that look quite like this.
I still have to go in and fix the archives, hopefully such that when I'm though the majority of the comments that have been posted to date will still be available. But I've done all I'm doing tonight.
A Short Time Ago
For a three-minute version of Star Wars acted out by action figures, this ain't half bad.
It happened again.
My template disappeared.
I assume it's the feedback system that's the problem.
I'm going to have to find a new one, and we'll try it again.
The Classic Battle
Prepare to have your life changed by the greatest song of all time: Monkey vs. Robot.
Try your hand at these impossibly difficult kids' space games from the official Web site of the space agency in "Canada."
Whoops, almost forgot to most one. So here's one, picked more or less at random.
People v. Steve
I wonder if Larry Flynt knows about this.
(For those who don't know, one of the courtroom scenes in the "People Vs. Larry Flynt" was filmed in Oxford, and my brother-in-law Steve got a part as an extra, as he had previously in previous Oxford-filmed movies "Heart of Dixie" and "The Gun In Betty Lou's Handbag." In "P v. LF," Steve was a juror, and, demonstrating what a serious method actor he was, ACTUALLY FELL ASLEEP during filming. No pretending for this guy. You can actually see him on the video in the jury box dozing away.)
I mentioned earlier in the week that this was coming, but the CAIB has released its first preliminary report on the Columbia investigation. No real surprises.
Over one-third of Columbia has been recovered, representing a total of more than 70,000 pieces. I have yet to see anything indicating how much more of the Orbiter they expect to recover, how much is simply lost indefinately, and how much was destroyed during re-entry.
Also, Space.com has a really good interview with Sean O'Keefe.
"Senator Kelley Calls Me Mutie"
One would like to think that the America of the X-Men movies is unrealistic, that even if there were individuals with anti-mutant sentiments, and there would be, that society as a whole would still treat them as human beings.
But then you read things that make you think that maybe Magneto is right.
According to the latest issue of Toyfare, a U.S. federal judge has actually ruled that the X-Men are animals, not people.
It turns out that under U.S. import laws, figures of people are considered dolls, while figures of animals, vehicles, etc., are considered toys, and subject to a lower tarrif rate. In hearing a case about X-Men toy imports from China, a judge ruled that the X-Men should be classified in the lower category, essentially deciding on behalf of the U.S. Government that the mutants are not people.
(BTW, the title of this blog is a line from Modern Humorist's take on an X-Men movie theme by Jewel, which is hilarious, if you haven't heard it. Well, actually, it's hilarious even after you have several times.)
This Week At NASAexplores
New to NE this week is an article about VASIMR, a proposed plasma-based spacecraft engine that could not only get a man to Mars much faster than conventional rockets, but could also refuel once it got there and help protect the crew from radiation along with the way. In addition, it could also possibly help keep the International Space Station in orbit without requiring any extra fuel.
Also new this week is an article about a new cap that may be used to monitor brain function in orbit, and might replace MRIs on Earth.
Check 'em out.
Part of the reason I didn't jump all over the blog problems last night, BTW, is that Nicole was involved in a car wreck yesterday. She's pretty sore, but nothing broken and no lasting damage to her. The other couple was also OK, and required no medical attention. I don't know what the status of our van is--it was dented up pretty good, but I don't know what sort of internal/axle damage it suffered.
OK, bad blog day yesterday. For some reason, my template disappeared. As a result, I was not able to post after like noon yesterday, which was inconvenient. But it also meant that I'm having to replace/rebuild the template, which is a bigger problem. In an unrelated problem, the Hatbag server was down for a while yesterday, which had nothing to do with the Blogger problem, but just added to the general inconvenience.
I'm using this as an opportunity to try out new templates, which I had been interested in doing before but was likely going to be far more problem than it was worth. Let me know what you like/don't like. Once I settle on a template, I'll start rebuilding all the now-missing features.
The comment system should be back online soon, if it's not already.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
|:: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 ::|
Didn't This Used To Be A Bigger Deal?
Tonight, Michael Jordan will be retiring from basketball.
Apparently, he's been working towards being able to have a quite retirement by spending several years gradually making himself irrelevant.
(This comes much easier for some of us).
The record for the farthest a human has ventured from the Earth was set by Apollo 13 during its lunar fly-by, at a distance of 248,655 miles from Earth.
You Must Fight The Bear Science
OK, here's another new feature on the Daveblog: "You Must Fight The Bear Science"
Whenever anyone posts something in feedback with questions about YMFTB-referenced science, or that demonstrates a lack of understanding of scientific concepts (well, maybe not EVERY time), I'll include a link to information about that concept in as close to layman's terms as I can find.
For instance, this NASAexplores article about space elevators is probably on about a high school level, and links to re-writes down to a K-4 level.
Teaching Science We Barely Understand: Yet another way we strive to do the impossible at "You Must Fight The Bear," only to probably end up frustrating ourselves and those around us.
We do it because we care!
(BTW, this is the first time I've referred to this blog by its acronym... that's a lot easier... I should have been doing that I while back).
Blog Tech Update
Alright, I've gotten tired of not being able to tell whether anybody has posted to the Shout Outs without going through and clicking on each link, so I'm going to start using a new service.
You should notice the new Idle Ramblings link under the posts now.
I didn't want to take the "Shout Outs" off yet, since that would mean all the feedback that's been written in those would be lost, so for the time being at least, both feedback systems are still on the blog.
I would ask that you start using the Idle Ramblings now, though, instead of the Shout Outs (preferably during this transition time even if you're responding to something somebody wrote in Shout Outs), and we'll gradually phase the old system out.
The cause theory has been modified a little.
Also, the CAIB is preparing to make its first two recommendations by Thursday, recommending that NASA increase inspections of critical thermal panels, and that the agency have satellite photos taken of Shuttles in orbit.
Daily Dave Friend
Richie suggested that I start posting pictures of other members of the "You Must Fight The Bear" family in the blog, as I did for Lain a while back. So, here's Richie's pic. That's likely the end of this series, unless I get any requests.
OK, this has got to be about the biggest waste of bandwidth yet in the Daveblog. No offense, Richie.
DVD Release Dates
After over a year of waiting, The Simpsons Season Three will be released to DVD on August 29.
Also recently announced was a July 29 release date for the Daredevil DVD.
Plus, there are so mane benefits to common cultural touchstones.
You wanna know one of the tragedies of the modern world?
Remember Bob Ross?
The guy that would teach you to paint on PBS? Soft voice, big 'fro? "Happy little trees?"
Of course you do. Everybody remembers Bob Ross. People that couldn't paint anything to save their life remember Bob Ross.
They were talking about Bob Ross on the radio morning show today, and of course, everybody knew who Bob Ross was. And then they started talking about some program on PBS today, and had to go into great depth explaining what it was.
And here's why--You had to watch Bob Ross. When we were little, you had four channels if you were really lucky. And most everybody had PBS. So if you watched TV, when you changed channels, eventually you were going to see Bob Ross. It was just a given, no way around it.
Today, our TV with the fewest channels still goes almost all the way up to 100. I don't know what all's out there, and I know there's just tons of stuff out there I've never seen. Heck, Bob Ross has been dead for like 8 years, and I don't know if he's still on TV or not.
There's something sad about the loss of shared experience, that handy little universal references like wishing you could just twitch your nose like Samantha on Bewitched are going away.
OK, I'm through griping. On with the blog.
|:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::|
Come for the avengence!
This is good stuff!
While you're waiting for the Knight Rider movie, you can go here.
After quite a bit of waiting, my blog has been crawled by Google. Get ready to watch the traffic soar (um... thanks to the flying minivan below).
Mr. Denley, whoa-oh
During a ceremony to be held on Friday, April 25, the Student Media Center at Ole Miss will be renamed "The S. Gale Denley Student Media Center." A tribute book is being assembled, and anybody wishing to contribute a salute or anecdote to Mr. Denley can get in touch with me and I'll forward the info to you.
Here is my own tribute to Denley, written at The DM, on the occassion of his induction into the MPA Hall of Fame.
Deep Thoughts On Space Travel
One of the readers of the Liftoff site suggested a couple of weeks post-Columbia that NASA is thinking about space travel all wrong, and that we should launch the Shuttle from a platform established in geostationary orbit. Crews would change on the Earth, but that way the whole operation would take place in space! It seems to be there's something wrong with this logic, but I just can't put my finger on it.
Big Day For Dave At AICN
Rumor has it that both Batman and Superman movies will begin filming later this year.
Even though I read something about it not that long ago, I had basically just assumed that this movie had fallen through and wasn't going to be made. The liner notes for one of the Knight Rider DVDs said that the movie will feature KARR, which would be cool, but I don't know if that's still true.
And, appropriately enough considering the item two posts down, AICN had news on Tron 2.0. The game by that name comes out in August (according to the article), and will be released for multiple platforms, which makes me happy, since previously I had only heard about a PC release. Hopefully that means it will be coming out for my PS2. Anyway, supposedly a script has been approved for a Tron movie sequel, but has not yet received the greenlight, and whether it does so will apparently depend at least in part on how the game does. So reserve you copy today (except Lain).
Some rumors could be taken to mean that James Cameron will begin filming next year on a big-budget, 3D, largely digital Alien 5. The interesting thing about this article, though, is that on down into it, talking about the possibility of Cameron eventually filming in space as mentioned recently, it says that Cameron "stressed that he was willing to do anything NASA required of him..." Hmmm... I wonder how exactly this works... 'cause I really would like to see another decent Alien film...
Of course, now I've made this entry too long by putting all this news in one post, probably stopping these important issues from each getting all the feedback they deserve. Whoops.
This Week on Liftoff
There's a new story this week on NASA Liftoff and NASA Kids about astronaut observing auroras from space (and in case you missed it, there's links to the five most recent Liftoff stories at the bottom of the sidebar to the left).
Tron and War Games tied as the 80s sci-fi movie most deserving of a sequel in the last poll, with seven votes each. The Last Starfighter and D.A.R.Y.L. each received one vote as well. I know there was some serious multi-voting on this one, with Lain casting several votes for War Games, at least in part due to his dislike of the Tron, and I suspect the other results may be somewhat skewed as well.
A War Games sequel in the era of homeland security could really be an interesting movie, with a more thriller-esque feel to it. And, of course, Joe could produce a great Tron sequel script just as soon as Disney asks involving virtual reality.
But who wouldn't go see a movie that was a sequel to both Tron and War Games--how cool would that be?!
Since "You Must Fight The Bear!" is nothing if not a blog of the people, I've posted a poll today to help me better serve the people. Even if you're just a casual reader, I would really appreciate it if you would take the time to fill out the poll, which should only take a second. Feedback about the poll can be posted to this entry.
NASA officials are saying that Columbia will not be simply buried as Challenger was.
One Short Flight, One Giant Leap
Anybody who wants to buy me one of these is welcome to.
NASA Saves Moore's Law
One of the things that really bugs me is the people who talk about the fact that there aren't any spin-offs of the space program any more. It really isn't our fault that those people don't pay any attention to the world around them. Further complicating the matter is that people are far more fascinated by the spin-offs of the Apollo era than ones today that have a far more significant impact largely because today's spin-off technology is more complicated. Tang and Velcro were wonderful space sping-offs, because you could drink your own Tang, and wear your own Velcro shoes. Carbon nanotubes that could provide another decade of steadily increasing microchip speeds are far less noteworthy, in as much as that you can't drink the nanotubes or make snazzy shoes with them.
Ladies and Gentlemen ...The Flying Car!
Students participating in a NASA contest are working to create a prototype flying minivan.
Is there another Kryptonian on Earth? Find out on tonight's Smallville, and expect some griping from Dave in the morning if there is.
Co-habitating Toward Gomorrah
Ole Miss will have co-ed dorms this summer. Kinda.
Ha! After struggling to find related strips, this one actually contains the same key concept as the post below. How you like me now! Huh! Boo-yah!
(BTW, I was also more of a Coleco cat myself)
Still have all those old Atari 2600 cartridges, but hate having to sit in front of your TV to play them? Let this guy build you your own custom handheld Atari machine.
Land That Washing Machine, Forrest!
Apollo 13 will open on the Imax screen in Huntsville Memorial Day weekend. If anybody's interested in coming to see it, let me know.
|:: Monday, April 14, 2003 ::|
The Biggest Development In The History Of The Internet
Yoda's Mud Hut is BACK!
Since I have not done so before, Lain asked that I put a picture in the body of my blog. So now I have.
The one catch is that the picture has to already be online, and I don't have a way to post pictures online except at my computer at home. So that's why I never do it. Although, I guess I could. Oh well.
Check out the Marshall Star to see Nimoy give Huntsville the two-handed Vulcan salute.
"I Now Inform You That You Are Too Far From Reality"
Everybody needs some products from this store.
What's In A Name?
As pointed out on Dave Barry's blog, this is possibly the coolest college name ever.
So far, it's a slow day, and I've got nothing to say. If you do, do it here.
Um... since the only thing I've posted here so far today is about the internet, kind of, this strip is also about the internet, kind of.
Apple has released Safari Beta 2. I've downloaded it, but haven't installed it yet.
|:: Sunday, April 13, 2003 ::|
You must fight the bears.
The guy who allegedly stole the Moon rocks also was alleged to have stolen other things, such as dinosaur bones.
Lain raised the excellent question of what a person would need with both Moon rocks and dinosaur bones, and offered these possibilities:
-Breeding dinosaurs...on the moon!
-Training dinosaurs to throw rocks
-Training dinosaurs to ROCK! (this is how the Rolling Stones do it)
-Cloning the moon, possibly in case the U.S. government feels the need to destroy it.
-Something involving Canada
Quotes of the Day
Lain sent me these quotes from Newsweek.com:
"We have to know the difference between defense and offense. I also think this war was about a pretext. It was not about whether they had weapons of mass destruction. Let's face it: Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction, homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction, lack of adequate education is a weapon of mass destruction, our children not having good neighborhoods is a weapon of mass destruction. We're blowing up bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates, (but) we're not building bridges in our own cities."
- Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
Obviously, Rep. Kucinich believes the U.S. needs to start pre-emptive bombing of the poor and uneducated before they have a chance to deploy their WMD. While I believe this is probably a little harsh, I could suggest some good "shock and awe" targets to begin the campaign. "Well, it's OBVIOUS that man never landed on the Moon because... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
"I opposed the war and I'm still saying that I do not see the necessity for the war. I do not see where we've seen the nuclear weapons that we were told were there. I do not see the imminent danger. I do not see the necessity for the military action. I'm glad Saddam was toppled, but I also would like to see things toppled in this country, like no health insurance, like illiteracy, like childhood obesity. The real question to me is if we can come up with billions to occupy Iraq, why can?t we come up with money for the budgets of the 50 states we already occupy?"
- Rev. Al Sharpton of New York
Clearly Sharpton has the same outlook on the results of the Civil War as many of the people I knew in Mississippi.
The local improv group will be holding performances on Fri. and Sat., April 25 and 26. I believe this will be the first performance with the troupe of my co-worker JoCasta's daughter Megan.
Centuries Of Missiles
After watching the Great Moonbuggy Race Friday, Nicole and I went yesterday and saw my brother's Boy Scout troop(?) hold a catupult building competition, and then last night we launched some Estes model rockets for my first time in probably 12, 13 years. Great fun.
Happy anniversary to this strip.
According to the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (or, at least, the most recent one I've got), The South is "In," and Tori is writing a book.
(The West Coast, BTW, is "Five Minutes Ago" [The quake must have hit], and The Northeast is "Out," making the dispositions of the North and South a complete turnaround from 140 years ago.)
|:: Saturday, April 12, 2003 ::|
More Apple Rumors
According to informed sources, Apple has a new behind-the-scenes plan to make me give them money.
Sooner or later, I will most likely own an iPod, whether I want to or not.
WAR! Huh! What is it good for?!
Answer: this site, which is working now. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, be sure to check out WeLoveTheIraqiInformationMinister.com.
And while you're at it, here's an interesting article about the site.
Tin Roof, Blasted
U.S. troops have discovered Saddam's Love Shack.
"One of the airbrushed paintings depicted a topless blonde woman, with a green demon behind her, pointing a finger at a mythic hero. From the tip of her finger came a giant serpent, which had wrapped itself around the warrior."
On This Day
Today marks the 42 anniversary of the first manned spaceflight, and the 22 anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch.
I still haven't decided whether to get that Q-bert arcade game. Maybe if they'd come down another $50.
|:: Friday, April 11, 2003 ::|
Face It, Saddam
According to the Mars Face people, Saddam is part of the interplanetary conspiracy. Check out these pictures. The "Saddam Airport Face" will likely change your life.
I'm The King Of The ... Um, Well ...
If he can work it around The Princess Bride in his schedule, perhaps one of the next space tourists will be director James Cameron.
One of my favorite recent astronauts, Expedition 5 Science Officer Peggy Whitson, has said she wants to go back up.
Stop Untrue NASA Rumors!
Responding to the piece from The Onion that I linked to Wednesday, NASA astrobiologists have reported to NASA Watch that they "are not cranky."
Visit Once-Watery Mars
Landing sites have been selected for the two new Mars rovers that will launch this summer.
Read the official newspaper for the coolest city ever.
Hmmm... this is kind of an interesting development, if true (of course, that's the big catch...considering that past rumors about Apple-media mergers include such things as Disney buying Apple and Jobs running both, these things have to be taken with a grain of salt).
Apple has done an excelent job integrating multimedia functions into Macs in the last few years, and with the new online music sharing service on the way, this would be a consistent next step. Apple is creative enough to figure out a way to bring the music industry into the internet era, something that no one else has done succesfully. Achieve such synergy and controlling means of production would give Apple a huge advantage. And if this article's Pixar speculation is true, Apple really could be positioning to be a major media player.
Of course, rather than translates into anything other than Apple continuing to be really cool is yet to be seen.
The late blogging today was due to the fact that I was serving as a scorekeeper at NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race.
Oops, I Explored The Attributes Of A Finite Barrier Quantum-Well Again
I had seen this before, but upon having it sent to me again by an actual engineer working in a scientific field, I decided it was worth including it here.
|:: Thursday, April 10, 2003 ::|
Another NASA Conspiracy
The Mars-face people contend that you can find secret truths in certain NASA images if you study them closely enough.
Certainly that's the case with this brand new NASA image which reveals something we're probably not really supposed to know: Nobody actually lives in Canada.
This Week At NASAexplores
Two new stories at NE this week:
Finally, the long-awaited astronaut underwear story is online for the enjoyment of all. Thrill as you learn about ISS crewmember wearing undies for days at a time! Learn how Don Pettit grew plants in his dirty spaceunder wear! Learn the secrets of the Russian scientists working to unleash an underwear-eating bacteria! All this and more! Don't miss it!
In addition, find out about the Eagle, which could be the first airplane to fly through the skies ... of Mars!
Lain sent me this link.
Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me.
The Loons, Chakotay
Perhaps now that Kate Mulgrew is playing Katherine Hepburn, the can figure out a way to create a very special Trek in which Hepburn plays a really, really old Janeway. This should somehow be central to the temporal cold war.
And if you haven't been back to read it, the Trek discussion several posts back has now turned to what you expect from a good Vulcan.
The Core Was Nothing
NASA Watch brings to our attention some very important questions raised during a Congressional hearing yesterday with NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, such as what NASA knows about "any pollution resulting from our space probes that cut through the thin veil of light that surrounds the globe." When you go to NASA Watch, scroll down until you find the section titled "Congressional Babbling."
As a tribute to the Concorde, I give you this strip.
There's A Demon That Lives In The Commercial Sky
Supersonic commercial flight is on the way out as the Concorde fleets will be retired later this year. Despite its operational problems in the past few years and the still-amazingly-high ticket price, the Concorde remains state-of-the-art in high-speed passenger flight, proving that some technology remains viable even after 27 years. Um, other than the fact they're being mothballed.
My DogCow Won't Bite If You Sit Real Still
In an example of Dave's dream syndergism, Tori Amos has teamed up with Apple (and also Rollingstone.com) to give you a chance to create the video for her next single. Check it out at Tori's Taxivision. As always, anybody wishing to form a team-up, let me know. Hopefully, this will lead to an ongoing Tori-Apple relationship. "Snow iMacs can wait, I forgot my mittens," "You bet iLife it is, just put in the password," "Made my own customized G4 machine ... iBooks on my right side, iBooks on my left side."
What Family Is For
On behalf of my brother, who lacks a paypal account, I just purchased this.
|:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::|
If You Believe They Put A Man On The Moon ...
As a reward for your loyal readership, here a link to a free lunar lander game. Enjoy!
(Though they have a slightly different definition of "virtual reality" than I do)
If You Believe They Put A Man On The Moon ...
As a reward for your loyal readership, here a link to a free lunar lander game. Enjoy!
(Though they have a slightly different definition of "virtual reality" than I do)
Today In History
Forty-four years ago today, the Mercury Seven were announced.
Return to Flight
Spaceref.com posted this schedule from Johnson Space Center showing a proposed STS-114 date of October 1, 2003. This has not been announced to the public yet and is not official (in fact, the date has changed in the last two weeks or so--this one was set Tuesday), but it gives you an idea of what the agency is looking at.
The Houston Chronicle has one of the best articles I've read recently about NASA's planned Orbital Space Plane. In it, O'Keefe says the timetable for development of OSP could well be sped up by a couple of years, and he paints an interesting picture for OSP support of the International Space Station.
Dear Worldwide Court of Public Opinion:
This should count for something.
Interim recommendations from the CAIB could come as early as Friday. The board currently plans to issue its final report in June.
Is Hubble in trouble?
You'll be happy to know that Robin Williams' "Popeye" will be released on DVD on June 24.
Ah, remember Hootie?
(Actually I think they have a new album out.)
Vote For NASA
Cast your vote in the Webby People's Choice Awards for NASA and the Earth Observatory.
No life on Mars
Mean NASA scientists have announced that Mars is devoid of advanced life, according to The Onion.
I got this in e-mail. Long post, but these are kind of cool:
Can you guess which of the following are true or false?
1.. Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.
2.. Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a bellybutton.
3.. A pack-a-day smoker will lose approximately 2 teeth every 10 yrs.
4.. People do not get sick from cold weather; it's from being indoors a lot more.
5.. When you sneeze, all bodily functions stop even your heart!
6.. Only seven (7) per cent of the population are lefties.
7.. 40 people are sent to the hospital for dog bites every minute.
8.. Babies are born without knee caps. They don't appear until they are 2-6 years old.
9.. The average person over fifty will have spent 5 years waiting in lines.
10.. The toothbrush was invented in 1498.
11.. The average housefly lives for one month.
12.. 40,000 Americans are injured by toilets each year.
13.. A coat hanger is 44 inches long when straightened.
14.. The average computer user blinks 7 times a minute.
15.. Your feet are bigger in the afternoon than the rest of the day.
16.. Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep.
17.. The REAL reason ostriches stick their head in the sand is to search for water.
18.. The only 2 animals that can see behind itself without turning it's head are the rabbit and the parrot.
19.. John Travolta turned down the starring roles in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Tootsie".
20.. Michael Jackson owns the rights to the South Carolina State anthem.
21.. In most television commercials advertising milk, a mixture of white paint and a little thinner is used in place of the milk.
22.. Prince Charles and Prince William don't travel on the same airplane just in case there is a crash.
23.. The first Harley Davidson motorcycle built in 1903 used a tomato can for a carburetor.
24.. Most hospitals make money by selling the umbilical cords cut from women who give birth. They are reused in vein transplant surgery.
25.. Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana. They were 7th cousins.
26.. If coloring weren't added to Coca-Cola, it would be green.
(ALL OF THE ABOVE ARE TRUE)
|:: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 ::|
DM Press Update
OK, finally got off my butt and stopped just mouthing off about the DM press situation and decided to find out what was actually going on. So I picked up the phone and called the editor of the DM, Julie Finley (I had e-mailed her earlier about a letter to the editor, and had received a reply, but no more details). So here's what's going on: Nobody really knows. The original plan was to get rid of the press and outsource the printing (likely to The Eagle), but the DM staff/student media center convinced them to step back and really look at that situation. So the administration agreed to consider just moving the press elsewhere, either on or off campus. The problems are, nobody knows where, and it's going to cost a bunch. Add into that the fact that if it's moved, given that it's not exactly a new press, nobody can say for sure that it can be calibrated correctly again (keep in mind, this is the beautiful color DM these days). So The DM staff wants to keep the press in Farley, where it belongs. However, it sounds like if a new home can't be found, then the outsourcing option may be eyed again. Basically, I told her to keep my e-mail address, and that if they need help, to let me know.
Per Lain's request, I'm entering this post as a forum for discussing how to save Star Trek (see this article).
Let me begin with a caveat: I don't know to what extent Trek needs to be saved. Certainly I want it to keep high enough ratings to continue, but I don't know that I want it to have mass market appeal. I would hate for Apple to say, hey, we only have a small market share, how can we make our computers more like PCs. Plus, some market share can be regained just by producing better Trek, not better-engineered Trek. Nemesis had action and effects and sex and a supervillian and all the blockbuster ingredients, while Star Trek IV had basically none of those. This above all else, to thine own Trek be true.
That said, I would continue to play up the adventurer aspect of Enterprise. It's interesting the way that, to me at least, the Trek series alternate between frontier series and scientist/diplomat series. Lay off the cerebral, we're-so-civilized aspects of TNG and Voyager, and play up the "boldly go" aspect. Require every Trek writer to watch "The Right Stuff" every year. Ignore the old Trek tropes. We don't have to have the Borg on Enterprise. Better yet, ignore the new Trek tropes, and pull some old ones back out. Make the writers watch TOS to refresh themselves on what the galaxy was like at that time... who were the major players, and who had we not heard of yet. By and large, I really like the direction Enterprise is going. I like the characters, and think the show is second only to DS9 in using the characters to drive plots, rather than vice-versa. Basically, just do more of the Enterprise-y type stuff, and less Trek type stuff.
So, what are your thoughts?
Baghdad has been captured by The University of Georgia (contributed, natch, by Lain).
Just another example of how ahead of its time Hatbag is: Note that this strip was written six years before Colin Powell actually became a politician.
Batman movie plans (kinda)
OK, so this is one of those AICN rumors that you just assume isn't going to happen, and don't let it bother you. After becoming a criminal, young Bruce Wayne hires Alfred, and then later, after becoming Batman, seeks "bloody vengeance" after his wife is killed.
According to this AICN article, among the projects to which James Cameron is currently attached is an "Untitled Princess Bride Project," written by Danny Ruben. I checked IMDB, and Danny "Rubin" is the guy who wrote Groundhog Day, and has no writing credits in 9 years. Hmmmm....
In case you've missed it, U.S. troops are beginning to commit suicide in Baghdad. The soldiers of Saddam Hussein have given them a lesson they will never forget. The Iraqis are encouraging more suicides, and have given U.S. troops death and poison. Officials are saying that American leaders in Washington have sent the military here "to be burned." Baghdad is safe and secure, and the Iraqi people are strong. Also, Americans are silly and stupid.
Before the war, there was discussion as to who the star of this Gulf War would be, a la "Scud Stud" Arthur Kent in Gulf War I. For my money, the breakout debut of this conflict has got to be Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. I actually cheered this morning when they announced that he had not been killed in the bombing yesterday. He really needs to get a talk show or something after this war is over.
For the true Superman fan whose not happen until they're collection includes something just slightly disturbing, you can print out a life-sized poster of Smallville's Kristin Kreuk, who plays Lana Lang (Similar posters are also available for Clark and Lex, but not Pete or Chloe. Nor are posters available for John Schneider, so if that was all you were lacking for your life-size Duke Boys collection, you'll just have to wait).
|:: Monday, April 07, 2003 ::|
Well, Atleast They're Cheerful About It
When I got home today, the following message was awaiting me on my answering machine: "This is the Family Christian Store calling to remind you that Armageddon is coming out tomorrow."
Accidentally came across this review of the movie Dune while surfing the Web. Apparently, it's written by the guy that does The Outside Scoop in The Onion, inasmuch as that it combines a vague understanding of its subject with a love of random bold letters. But maybe I'm just being elitist. Anyway, it's great reading, check it out.
And if you enjoy that one, there's plenty more good reading in the site's archive.
DM Press Plea
When I was in Oxford this past weekend, I was reading through recent copies of The DM, and saw this letter. Would anybody out there be interested in co-signing a similar letter? I could see us easily sending a letter with a dozen names on it of former DM staffers. What points should such a letter make? I think it's worth noting that I, for one, had to take some journalism classes outside of Farley, and would not for a moment have considered trading the DM press just to have all of my classes in the same building. Again, speaking just for myself, but the DM was a huge part of why I came to Ole Miss, and the press was an important part of what made the DM unique. I would add that having the press there and being able to work so closely with the press operators helped me learn alot about printing (that isn't taught in any j-school class) that served me well in later years. What else?
Well, JLA won the first You Must Fight The Bear Poll, with 44 percent of the vote (a whopping four votes). Watchmen came in second, with two votes, and the others each received one vote.
So, what's your dream casting for the JLA movie?
(The next poll should appear later today).
You Must Fight The Bear Book Club Update
I wrote a while back about my reading list, so here's a little aside on that: My copy of "The Little Friend" is signed by Donna Tartt, thanks to Richie, ditto Grisham's "King of Torts," "No Way To Treat A First Lady," was inscribed by Christopher Buckley thanks to Lain (I now have two generations of signed Buckley books), and Jasper Fforde's "Lost In A Good Book" was purchased signed at Square Books in Oxford (where I also picked up a $4 signed Bill Fitzhugh), so I now have signed copies of the full list, with the exception of Dave Barry's Tricky Business (which I could have bought signed online a while back, but didn't).
To be honest, I really couldn't explain what the appeal of signed books, etc., is for me. Lain met Buckley last week, had a copy of his book at home, stood in line to get a book signed for me, and yet didn't get one signed for himself, though it would have taken a good 30 seconds of effort (well, other than finding the book). (Lain does have signed pictures of Lobot and Khan that I've bought him though).
What about anybody else? What are your thoughts on signed items, and do you have any you're particularly proud of?
Things Dave's Wondered
Every once and a while I come across answers to things I've wondered for a while, and so I post the info here just in case anyone else has ever cared. Today's entry: Growing up in Huntsville, I'm quite familar with the German V-2 missile, but what exactly was the V-1?
Rare Hatbag behind-the-scenes trivia note: The musical notes in this strip are actually completely meaningless.
James Cameron said he might be willing to try to make another decent Aliens movie. (That said, I actually liked Alien3 OK).
Take Me Back To The Astro City
Another issue of the greatest comic book of all time comes out Wednesday.
|:: Sunday, April 06, 2003 ::|
A while back, I wrote about eating with my brother at Cheeburger, Cheeburger, where he got his picture put on the wall for eating a 1-pound cheeseburger. At the time, he wondered if he could get anything else for eating more. The answer is: a full page spread in the local newspaper. But you've got to eat ALOT more than he did.
Font Of Wisdom
According to Entertainment Weekly, the purveyor of all that is cool and once-cool, the font Courier is "In," Helvetica is "Five Minutes Ago," and Chicago is "Out." (I was never really that keen on Chicago to begin with).
Nimoy says Onward
According to The Huntsville Times, Leonard Nimoy said space exploration should continue, during his speech here Thursday night. But mostly he talked about his new photography project about the feminine nature of God, which, unsurprisingly, consists of a lot of pictures of naked women (NOTE: I'm serious. If you're going to be offended by naked women pictures taken by Spock, don't follow the link).
This strip is dedicated to my co-worker, Mindi, who missed the joys of ST:TNG during its run, only to recently discover them on DVD, and for whom the series is just now about to end.
|:: Saturday, April 05, 2003 ::|
I picked this strip for today because it's late, I'm tired, and this is the first one I came across.
Among the highlights of visiting the in-laws in Oxford: Abner's. Man, if Abner's were to open here, that would be among the best and worst things that have happened to me.
Jumpin' Jack Bass
You know, it's really kind of a sad day when you buy gas for $1.43 and marvel at what a great deal you got. It's about $1.69 here, but during my travels, I saw it as low as $1.37.
|:: Friday, April 04, 2003 ::|
As Only NASA Can
OK, here's another way working for NASA is different from other jobs I've had.
Bathroom graphitti is generally some pretty unclassy stuff--those of you who went to Ole Miss can likely remember some pretty choice examples.
So I'm in the men's room in the Flight Projects building today, and scrawled above the urinals was a debate as to which was bigger--Skylab or Mir. The two space stations were depicted as RV trailers, with one drawn a little bigger than the other. To pro-Skylab guy, to show which one was which, had even drawn a tiny stick figure drinking vodka inside one so you could tell it was Mir. Beside it was written, "Skylab was a little bigger than Mir," in which someone had added the word "NOT" after was. Now where else are you going to see that?
Nicole and I are leaving this afternoon to go visit her family in Oxford, so tomorrow may be the first time that there's no new Daveblog. Sorry. I'll post if I get a chance, but don't know that I'll be around a computer (And I may yet post more today, of course).
Remember that time Hippie betrayed his Southern roots to go ally himself with the North?
More Reasons To Dislike Marvel
Lain sent me this one: Captain America, Traitor?
Hey, You Laika The Space Toys?
OK, now this is just amazingly tempting, but the $50 price tag is a little steep.
CollectSPACE (if you read this, Robert, I think I got the style for the name correct this time [I even changed it in the link on the sidebar]) has info today about new cosmonaut toys being released by the tiny-toy company, Kubrick.
"Made by Medicom Toy of Japan, Kubricks are a cross between LEGO and Playmobil, but modeled to represent celebrities and other pop-culture favorites. New to their line this May are 'Cosmonauts' including mini-versions of Yuri Gagarin, first (space) dog Laika, and a surprisingly detailed Vostok spacecraft. Imported from Japan, the box set will retail for approx."
The info at CollectSPACE even has a link to pictures of the toys, which are very cool.
One Of These Days
The European Space Agency has unveiled its solar-powered SMART-1 lunar probe, which will launch this summer. Among its missions will be to search for water in deep craters on the Moon.
The ESA is really proud of the low $100 million price tag on SMART-1, noting that it's part of their efforts to build spacecraft more cheaply than NASA can. Ironically, NASA is currently moving away from the mandate to build smaller, cheaper spacecraft, which was a major initiative under former administrator Dan Goldin. Instead, NASA is moving back in the direction of building better spacecraft, which are actually capable of performing more scientific research when they reach their destination.
The Space Shuttle Challenger launched for her debut flight 20 years ago, at 1:30 p.m. EST April 4, 1983.
Interesting trivia: Challenger was not originally intended to be a flight-worthy member of the Orbiter fleet, but rather a test article. After it was decided not to modify the heavier Enterprise from its Approach and Landing test configuration, Challenger was instead modified for flight capability.
Space Club Drop-Out
While still interested in possibly moving ahead with an unmanned lunar probe, India is apparently backing away from recent claims that it would launch a manned space program soon.
Up With Quark
New details are here about Quark XPress 6, the first version to be OS X native. Hard to believe I've gone seven months now without using Quark. There probably weren't many times in the preceding 13 years that I'd been more than a couple of months. What a brave new world that doesn't have such software in it.
|:: Thursday, April 03, 2003 ::|
I've set a new Dave-blog record--I've blogged the whole day without posting anything worthy of feedback! Oh well, they can't all be winners. Sorry, guys.
The Microgravity Science Glovebox onboard ISS is working again.
Two days left
The sweatshirt sale at the Hatbag store ends tomorrow.
This guy needs a job
I'm not saying he was right to do this, but anybody that can scam money using the good name of "Baywatch" has legitimate talent.
WFOR-TV of Miami, FL (4/2, 5:32pm) reports, "NASA is sending out images of Baghdad burning from space. The Expedition-6 crew aboard the International Space Station capturing these pictures of smoke rising from Iraq. NASA says this video was recorded March 31 during one of the orbits of Earth."
For other satellite Iraq pictures, go here.
Let there be light
It turns out Al Gore had many more inventions. These are mildly amusing, maybe, but the face Gore's making in this one is priceless.
Xur and the Kodan Armadillo
As I mentioned earlier in the week, Starchaser Industries today unveiled their Nova capsule, the manned spaceflight equivalent of the car Lain's parents used to use for cow-tipping.
On a related note, here's a link to Armadillo Aerospace, a Texas-based (hard to believe, huh) company aiming for the X Prize that has already performed manned drop tests of their capsule.
Be sure to check out the video of the capsule drop test... they're apparently planning to use the most creative form of capsule recovery I've seen.
Russia will fund extra ISS flights, but they're not happy about it. Again, shades of 2010.
Everybody knows one of these people.
This Week At NASAexplores
The two new articles this week at NASAexplores deal with the Canadarm robot arms on the Space Shuttle and Space Station, and with aerocapture, a proposed method of "braking" for interplanetary spaceflight.
|:: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 ::|
Han Solo's Higher Power
As a too-devoted Star Wars fan, I was aware that the Millenium Falcon was equipped with a "rectenna," which apparently is that satellite-dish-looking thing mounted on the outside. However, other than snickering a little at the name, I had no idea what one was. Now that I do, I'm a little disappointed.
Rectenna--n. RECTifying anTENNA. An antenna comprising a mesh of dipoles and diodes for absorbing microwave energy from a transmitter and converting it into electric power. In future rectennas will be used to generate large scale power from microwave beams delivered from orbiting SPS satellites.
If the Lucasfilm gurus are correct, then the Falcon relied, at least in part, on an external power source. Hard to believe.
Guess Who's Back?
So like five and a half years ago, Lain, Richie and I went to Lilith Fair in Atlanta. Great concert, great performers, great performances. But the big surprise of the evening was Jewel, who had not yet come out with her second album, but was already known for her sensitive, folksy ways. But at this concert, Jewel ROCKED hard. Well, for Jewel anyway. Certainly she rocked more than anybody else at the concert. So then the new album came out, and we thought maybe this was going to be the new rocking Jewel album. And it wasn't. And then another album. A little more upbeat, in places, but nothing like the Jewel rocking we had witnessed years earlier. I've even seen video of Jewel performing live, and no rocking. So maybe it was just like a one-night thing. Or maybe on that tour she flirted with rocking, but decided against it.
So, anyway, Jewel's got a new album out after two years. And the Netscape homepage says it rocks. And for Jewel, it does. Certainly it's a long way from that Hands stuff of Pieces Of You crap ("Ugly giiiiiiiirl..."). But nothing like the great lost Jewel-rocking of 1997. The world may never see such Jewel-rocking again.
How Strong Is Your Kung-Fu
OK, discussion question. I got to thinking about this earlier. What skill do you have that would take the longest to learn from scratch? I don't know that I have any that would take more than a day to learn. Now, I'm not talking about ability level, but just being able to perform a task. I mean, while it would take the average mortal years, if ever, to learn to write a news story as well as I do, you could take any person of moderate intelligence, and by the end of the day, they could write a functional news story. Compare that to, for example, brain surgery. There is no way you could no nothing about brain surgery and be able to do it functionally with any small amount of training. I got to thinking about this because I was looking at some of the code for the sites I'm operating, and realized that I would likely need actual lengthy, formal education to do that, as opposed to the basic coding I do now. Everything you would need to know to reach my level of web programming, I could teach in a day (well, some of that would be learning how to learn more, but, still...). Even including just basic life skills, I'm having trouble thinking of exceptions. Despite the fact, for example, that it takes a semester to teach driver's ed, you really can cover the basics pretty quickly. Since my readership is pretty liberal-arts-intensive (if DeeDee's still out there, she may be the exception), I would be curious to see if any of you can come up with an exception, either for yourself or for me.
Questions? Dave's Got Answers!
BTW, as part of my work on the NASA Kids and Liftoff sites, I've started answering a reader-submitted question three times a week (MWF) on each site. Check it out here and here. I've even help set up FAQs (with links from those pages) to which the answers will be added, but only a few of the FAQ answers are mine currently.
On a related note, I plowed further back into the e-mail backlog on those sites than I'd been before, and ran into something kind of sad. I get a bunch of e-mails assuming that the person reading the e-mail is going to be like the head of NASA, or an astronaut, or the crew of ISS ("How's it going up there in space?"). I also get a lot of messages addressed to Becky and Patrick, the former curators of the sites. But I saw this one sent in late January, addressed to Laurel. Who's Laurel? Well, after reading it a couple of times, I figured it out. Laurel is STS-107 astronaut Laurel Clark. The message was sent by a relative of hers (the grandfather of her nephew), and talks about looking forward to hearing about her adventure when she returns. And it ended up in my inbox. Hmmm.
Want a $300 G4 clone? This 21-year-old guy says he'll sell you a brand new iBox soon.
I still hate that our glorious Alaskan rebirth was so star-crossed.
Talk To The Monkey
This is interesting also. I read David Brin's Uplift novels years and years ago, in which humanity helps other primates and dolphins become members of the galactic sentient community. Apparently pretty prescient.
Gates to Mars
I missed this yesterday when it was posted. Exciting news, but I hope their ship doesn't crash (like Windows, get it?).
Hughes on the Hill
Lain's dad is currently addressing a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate about cell phones. And, thanks to Internet streaming, Lain can hear him now.
Another Columbia Update
This site also has a fair bit of news. In fact, if you're following the investigation (or several other topics), it's a good one to bookmark, since it summarizes several news reports.
Well, apparently it wasn't RCC panel No. 6. Two steps forward, one step back.
|:: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 ::|
This is AT&T
JoCasta sent me this lesson in telephone ettiquete a while back. Kind of funny.
Yet Another New Feature
I've added, at the very bottom of the sidebar to the left, a poll. Not the greatest poll in the world, I just wanted to see if it would work. Let me know what you think, and if you have any ideas for future polls. And, BTW, I obviously have nothing to do with the ads (or other content) on the results page.
(And now, not only is the number of Idle Ramblings not showing up, the name has revered to Shout Out again. I don't know why. Hopefully this means it's being fixed.)
Happy Birthday, Apple
The greatest computer company in history turns 27 today (Meaning that Jobs and Woz started Apple about 8 months after I was born, no doubt knowing that there target audience had come into the world).
Not my fault
A Blogger problem this morning prevented publishing. Sorry for the delay!
That's No Moon!
Astronomers are on the verge of a problem: What is a moon?
Sometimes, you just gotta see the light.
According to SpaceDaily, British company Starchaser Industries is preparing to unveil on Thursday its new rocket capsule, the Nova II, which will then be transported to the US for drop-testing to prove its landing system. Once that's done, unmanned and then manned rocket launches will follow.
No timetable is given, so I can't guess as to whether this will occur before China becomes the third country to launch a manned rocket later this year.
The Nova II is a stepping stone for Project Thunderbird, Starchaser Industries' effort to when the $10 million X Prize, offered to the first non-governmental organisation capable of launching three people into space with a reusable vehicle.
Wanna travel faster than light? Here's your chance.