|:: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 ::|
Fantasy Film Update
If you haven't registered your film at Fantasy Film League for the July season, do so RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW!
I promised a while back this was coming, so, here, to further demonstrate just what a classless pop-culture consumer I am, is the list of the top-grossing movies of all time, adjusted for inflation. Going into it, I'm guess I've seen fewer of these than of the last list, which was actual dollars, and thus waited more towards modern fluff than beloved classics. Movies I've seen are in bold.
1 Gone With the Wind
2 Star Wars
3 The Sound of Music
4 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
5 The Ten Commandments
8 Doctor Zhivago
9 The Exorcist
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
11 101 Dalmatians
12 The Empire Strikes Back
13 Ben-Hur (Several of this are ones I've seen bits and pieces of, but not all the way through)
14 Return of the Jedi
15 The Sting
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark
17 Jurassic Park
18 The Graduate
19 The Phantom Menace
21 The Godfather
22 Forrest Gump
23 Mary Poppins
24 The Lion King
27 The Jungle Book
28 Sleeping Beauty
30 Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
32 Independence Day
33 Love Story
34 Beverly Hills Cop
36 Home Alone
41 American Graffiti
42 The Robe
43 Around the World in 80 Days
44 Blazing Saddles
46 The Bells of St. Mary's
47 The Return of the King This has got to be the animated version, right? ;)
48 The Towering Inferno
49 National Lampoon's Animal House
50 The Passion of the Christ
51 The Greatest Show on Earth
52 My Fair Lady
53 Let's Make Love
54 Back to the Future
55 The Two Towers
57 Smokey and the Bandit
58 The Sixth Sense
59 Finding Nemo
61 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
62 West Side Story
63 Lady and the Tramp
64 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
67 The Best Years of Our Lives
68 The Fellowship of the Ring
69 The Poseidon Adventure
70 Men in Black
71 The Bridge on the River Kwai
72 Its' a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
73 Swiss Family Robinson
74 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
75 M*A*S*H Can you get partial credit by watching AfterMASH?
76 Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom
77 Attack of the Clones
78 Mrs. Doubtfire
81 Duel in the Sun
82 Pirates of the Caribbean
83 House of Wax
84 Rear Window
85 The Lost World: Jurassic Park
86 Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade
87 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
88 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
89 Sergeant York
90 Toy Story 2
91 Top Gun
93 Crocodile Dundee
94 The Matrix Reloaded
95 Saving Private Ryan
96 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
97 Young Frankenstein
98 Peter Pan
100 Monsters, Inc.
So, yeah, 64 out of 100, versus 73 out of the non-adusted list. Still better than my 44 of the 100 best, though.
To make up for the bad strips I've run recently, here's the strip so good The DM ran it twice. Though that may have been a mistake.
I'm blogging this mainly for Lain, but the Atlanta Time Machine site is pretty cool, if lacking in actual time machines.
I thought this that I just found at collectSPACE was an interesting bit of trivia. Mike Fincke is the first American to perform an EVA who was born after the first EVA was conducted. Leonov and White both conducted their EVAs in 1965, Fincke was born on March 14, 1967.
I had hear that Fincke also now holds the record for the shortest-ever EVA at 14 minutes, but upon doing some research, it looks like Leonov had him beat by a good 2 minutes. Perhaps Fincke holds the record for the shortest American space walk, but I'm too lazy to actually verify that. I can't imagine who would have a shorter one, though.
Today In History
On this date 33 years ago, the crew of Soyuz 11 died during reentry to Earth when their spacecraft depressurized. The crew had arguably been the first to man a space station.
Nearer To Mars
Here's an interesting bit from an article largely about Rosaviakosmos seeking ESA in its next-generation spacecraft:
Perminov believes that by combining efforts, the terrestrials will be able to send a manned spaceship to Mars some time before the year 2020. "Such an interplanetary flight is technically feasible but it must be thoroughly prepared. Any one country by acting alone will not be able to implement such a large-scale programme," he emphasised. Perminov said NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe shares his view of the prospect.
The FSA chief is confident that "A manned mission to Mars can be accomplished before 2020. This will require serious preparation and solutions to matters concerning all the three aspects: financing, technical execution, and the training of astronauts and cosmonauts."
EVA And SOI
NASA's got big stuff going on today in orbit around two different planets. (That's kinda cool.)
NASA will provide two simultaneous satellite feeds of live news events Wednesday evening: a spacewalk by the International Space Station crew and the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft's arrival at Saturn. ...
Coverage of the spacewalk by Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke begins June 30 at 4:30 p.m. EDT. The spacewalk itself begins about 5:40 p.m. EDT. Padalka and Fincke will replace an exterior circuit breaker and restore power to one of four Station gyroscopes that help orient the complex. The excursion is expected to last as long as six hours. Station managers will meet Tuesday morning to finalize plans. ...
NASA TV will cover the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft throughout the day and into the evening on Wednesday. Cassini will fire its engines for 96 minutes to put itself into Saturn's orbit.
More on the space walk is here.
More on the Cassini orbital insertion is here.
Who Is That Mystery Man?
Does the administrator of NASA have a second career making bad movies? Well, probably not. But, it'd be kinda cool.
|:: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 ::|
Somebody should put this strip on a t-shirt.
Latter Day Cylons
So it turns out Battlestar Galactica is just Mormon propoganda.
Nine of the top ten stories on the Blogdex list of most-blogged items today are about the Apple WWDC yesterday. The one exception is No. 8, "New York Daily News - Politics - Sex pros get ready for party..." (I should note, though, that WWDC news also appears many places on the list other than the Top Ten.)
Bidding On The Future
Here's an interesting bit of Vision-related news, but it's outdated now, and I can't find anything more recent telling how things came out.
Today In History
On this date 9 years ago, Atlantis conducted the first Space Shuttle docking with the Russian Mir space station on the STS-71 mission. (If I'm reading this correctly, this mission was one of the rare times the Shuttle has carried eight people at a time.)
10.4 Good Buddy
So, yeah--Tiger. Huh.
Spiderman 2 hasn't even been released in theaters yet, and already the second DVD version has been announced. Spiderman 2.5 will feature about 5 minutes of footage that was cut from the movie, all very small additions.
Fantasy Film Update
The July season of the Fantasy Film League begins Thursday. For the third time, I'm entreating the readers of this blog to join in my You Must Fight The Bear little league. What else can I tell you? It's free, it's fun. You pick out actors from upcoming films and put them in your movie. Over the course of the next year, your movie makes money based on how real movies starring your actors do. Whoever makes the most money at the end of the year wins. Lain and I have already entered two seasons. In the January season, my "Automan: The Movie" is leading "Bandolier of Schmutz," and in the April season, my "Heat Vision and Gump" is dominating Lain's labor of love, "Twiggy vs. James Bond: The Movie." Do you have what it takes to compete against my next cinema behemoth, "None More Batman"?
|:: Monday, June 28, 2004 ::|
Lain argued for the alien strip I posted Friday as the worst Hatbag ever, but this one that turned 10 over the weekend, has my vote for worst artwork, and was pretty far down the list in terms of concept as well. Sorry, whoever wrote/drew it.
Michael Moore has hurt Ralph Nader's feelings.
Last week's aboard ISS EVA has been rescheduled for Wednesday, at 4:40 p.m. CDT (if I'm doing the GMT conversion properly). On a related note, the problem in last week's EVA attempt has been determined to be a faulty switch in Mike Fincke's Orlan suit.
Strange New Worlds
I posted a while back about a picture that may be the first direct imaging of an extrasolar planet. I haven't heard yet whether it actually was or not, but more photos of extrasolar worlds may be coming soon.
A Newt? It Got Better!
Following the arrival of some networking hardware last week, I'm getting closer to being up and running with my new Newton. I can transfer packages from my iMac in OS X, and I've synced (sunc?) the Newt with my iCal and Address Book. I can connect to the internet wirelessly, and can send e-mail to myself and Nicole, but that's about as far as I've gotten online.
I thought this was an interesting tidbit. For the new DVD release of Night of the Living Dead, extras include a new audio commentary by Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000. While not the same as the full MST3K treatment, it's an interesting idea, if he's indeed MST'ing the movie. I would be in favor of more DVDs hiring out the MST team to do commentary tracks. How cool would that be?
Also, more Bruce Campbell Elvis commentary tracks would be nice.
Also, I would watch any movie on DVD, I don't care what it is, if it had a commentary track from Elvis, Crow, and Tom Servo.
The Perseids are coming. This summer meteor shower will be particularly good this year. The show will begin in mid-July, building up to an August 12 peak, when viewers may be able to hundreds of meteors per hour.
Idiot Savant Update
So, it turns out Marilyn vos Savant has backed away from her claim that there is no alien life.
In Sunday's paper, she writes:
You recently assured a child that there are no such things as aliens visiting Earth from other planets. But do you believe that extraterrestrial life may exist?
It may. Here on Earth, life is based on carbon, which "happens" to be present in abundance. By this, I mean that the abundance may be why terrestrial life is based on carbon in the first place. It may not be necessary elsewhere. Planets with lower or higher temperatures might possibly have life based on other atoms. Not that this would be life as we know it. But we could still call it life. And if we found a planet with Earthly conditions--through the possibility is remote--I would almost expect to find life.
They're tearing down my old high school. Alas.
|:: Friday, June 25, 2004 ::|
You could tell this alien was ahead of his time because he's got an iPod, back in '94. In fact, it may be some sort of futuristic iPod PDA, with a stylus sticking out of the top.
Today In History
On this date 7 years ago, the Progress M-34 unmanned supply ship collided with the Russian Mir space station's Spektr module, puncturing the hull.
Also, 20 years ago tomorrow, the Space Shuttle program had its first pad abort.
Transform And Roll Out!
Spaceref.com has an interesting, if convoluted article about NASA's reorganization to prepare to implement the Vision for Space Exploration. A more straightforward version is available from NASA.
Yesterday's Expedition 9 space walk was cancelled due to problems with Mike Fincke's Orlan spacesuit, about five minutes after he went outside. The EVA has been delayed until at least Tuesday.
Popeyes Chicken, second only to KFC in fast-food chicken sales, is now testing no-carb items in 300 of its stores. The "naked" items include both Popeyes Naked Chicken and Popeyes Naked Chicken Strips.
(How does the chicken strip if it's already naked?)
Ha! For once, I win! I love the movie "The Shawshank Redemption," and have wanted to add it to my DVD collection since I first got a DVD player. But, it struck me as a travesty that the DVD release had basically no special features, and I was confident that the situation would eventually be remedied, if I would just wait a little while. And, though I didn't expect to have to wait four and a half years, I was right. The Special Edition of Shawshank Redemption will be released on October 5.
|:: Thursday, June 24, 2004 ::|
Like Being Inside Of Joy
Kirk's jumping from space scene will be restored for the Special Edition of ST: Generations, along with other scenes, including the original ending.
On a side note, here's some new Star Wars packaging pictures.
Ah, yes, that useful tool that is the internet: How many inches are in a meter?
Here ya go.
Talking To The Future
At the Keo.org Web site, you can write a message which will travel through space for 50,000 years before returning to Earth to be read by people in the future.
Paging Senator Kelly
Somewhere in Germany is a baby Superman, born in Berlin with bulging arm and leg muscles. Not yet 5, he can hold seven-pound weights with arms extended, something many adults cannot do. He has muscles twice the size of other kids his age and half their body fat. DNA testing showed why: The boy has a genetic mutation that boosts muscle growth.
Microsoft has been awarded a patent for technology to use human bodies to power electronic devices.
Two events related to the Vision will be broadcast (and Webcast)on NASA TV today. At 10 a.m. CDT, Administrator Sean O'Keefe will give a NASA Update addressing changes that will be made in the agency in the wake of the President's Commission report to prepare for implementation of the Vision, and at 2 p.m., there will be a press conference about the changes, which will feature a "special visitor." (I have no idea who it is.)
Going For A Walk
The CMG repair space walk will begin at 4:50 p.m. CDT today. Space.com has a rather overwrought feature about it.
No GO To Orbit
The man who was announced to be the next space tourist, Greg Olsen, will not be traveling to the ISS, after having been barred from flight by Rosaviakosmos due to health issues.
While this article says that a Russian cosmonaut will likely take the third seat on the April 2005, I'd be surprised.
Addendum: Or maybe not.
Addendum: Or maybe so.
And One More Thing
In addition to the formal preview of the new Tiger version of OS X at next week's WWDC, rumor has it that in his keynote, Steve Jobs will announce the G5 iMac, which will feature a new form factor.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores.com, we have my profile about Expedition 7 science officer Ed Lu, and a piece about Flat David's visit to Marshall.
|:: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 ::|
The last issue of Troy Hickman's six-part Common Grounds mini-series hits stands today. Buy it! And eagerly await word that it's been picked up as an ongoing.
I read the first part of Troy's Witchblade two-parter. That was some messed-up stuff (this is a family blog, after all), and I mean that in the best possible way. One of the more interesting, unique, and frightening comic book villians I've seen in a while.
A while back, I jumped on the meme of posting which of the AFI's 100 best movies I'd seen, so now I'm doing it again, with the 100 top-grossing movies. Bolded titles are movies I've seen.
2. Star Wars
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
7. Passion of the Christ
8. Jurassic Park
9. Shrek 2
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
11. Finding Nemo
12. Forrest Gump
13. Lion King, The
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
18. Independence Day
19. Pirates of the Caribbean
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999)
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
22. Home Alone (It doesn't seem like that long ago this was in the top ten. Though I'm not complaining at seeing it fall.)
23. Matrix Reloaded, The
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
28. Monsters, Inc.
30. Men in Black
31. Toy Story 2
32. Bruce Almighty
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
36. Ghost Busters
37. Beverly Hills Cop
38. Cast Away
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The
41. Rush Hour 2
42. Mrs. Doubtfire
43. Ghost (1990) (I've seen large bits and pieces of this one, but not the whole thing all the way through
45. Saving Private Ryan
46. Mission: Impossible II
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember
49. Back to the Future
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
52. Exorcist, The
53. Mummy Returns, The
55. Gone with the Wind
56. Pearl Harbor
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
58. Toy Story (1995)
59. Men in Black II
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
62. Dances with Wolves (Never have, never will)
63. Batman Forever (And yet I have seen this dreck)
64. Fugitive, The
65. Ocean's Eleven (Presumably the Clooney version? They give us a year for Ghost, like there'd be any confusion there, and yet not for this?)
66. What Women Want
67. Perfect Storm, The
68. Liar Liar
70. Jurassic Park III
71. Mission: Impossible
72. Planet of the Apes (Uh... again... which one? Though I have seen both)
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
74. Pretty Woman
76. Top Gun
77. There's Something About Mary
78. Ice Age
79. Crocodile Dundee (again, don't know that I've seen it all the way through)
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
82. Air Force One (Best... Movie...Ever...!)
83. Rain Man
84. Apollo 13
85. Matrix, The (I woulda thought this would have been higher)
86. Beauty and the Beast
87. Tarzan (1999)
88. Beautiful Mind, A
90. Three Men and a Baby
91. Meet the Parents
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
94. Catch Me If You Can
95. Big Daddy
96. Sound of Music, The
97. Batman Returns
98. Bug's Life, A
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
100. Waterboy, The
So, 73 out of the Top 100 grossers, versus only 44 of the top 100 best. And so Dave learns that he's not as cultured as he'd like to believe. Also, it's pretty top-heavy, showing I most like the most popular stuff. Oh well.
OK, here's how topical Hatbag is: this strip from 10 years ago is still relevant today, with Clinton once again making headlines this week (though I guess the Bob Barker bit is a bit passe).
OK, this is kind of cool: It's one of those magic-eye stereogram things, but done with text. Stare at it long enough and see the magic!
Today In History
On this date 10 years ago, NASA extended the offer of partnership in the International Space Station program to Rosaviakosmos.
The head of the U.S. space agency NASA says returning the space shuttle fleet to orbit is proving more challenging than expected. His comments raise the prospect that the first shuttle mission after last year's Columbia accident will be delayed again.
This contradicts reports following Friday's RTF update saying that things are still on track for a March launch, but even that report acknowledged that large obstacles still remain.
The Future Will Wait
Though reports Monday were that Burt Rutan would soon announce when Scaled would make its first X Prize attempt flight, SpaceShipOne has been grounded until Scaled can figure out what caused the glitches Monday and get them corrected.
On a side note, The NYT has a good article about Melvill.
Also, Cosmic Log has a good piece, though I dispute Rutan's claim that a NASA astronaut would be fired for eating M&Ms in space. Also, it's nice to know that Shatner was there for the SSO flight.
As it turns out, I was apparently wrong yesterday: Expedition 9 is still scheduled to perform an EVA Thursday. The "dress rehearsal" was completed yesterday.
|:: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 ::|
Here ya go.
A few more thoughts from my reading of Calvin & Hobbes:
This is an astute observation:
Calvin: People complain that the entertainment industry caters to the lowest common denominator of public taste, but I disagree.
Hobbes: You do?
Calvin: Yeah, I think it's a fallacy that taste bottoms out somewhere. If they could find a way to aim even lower, they'd make some real money.
(Of course, it's entirely possible that those two panels are responsible for our entire modern entertainment industry.)
Also, it strikes me that today, you wouldn't receive the same reaction to a strip that frequently features the main character blowing up his school and shooting at teachers and students.
Today In History
On this date in 1978, astronomer James Christy discovered Pluto's moon, Charon.
Also on this date in 1973, the first crew of Skylab returned to Earth after 28 days in space (I'll spare you the lengthy history lesson this time).
A planned rehearsal, originally scheduled for today, of the upcoming ISS space walk has been delayed, with no new time set. Reports are that the EVA itself, scheduled for Thursday, will likely also be delayed again (with one report indicating a possible rescheduling for Friday).
Beyond The Sky
Highlights from coverage of yesterday's SpaceShipOne flight:
From NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe:
We applaud the remarkable achievement of Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and test pilot Mike Melvill following the first successful suborbital flight of SpaceShipOne.
Not unlike the first U.S. and Soviet space travelers in 1961, and China's first successful spaceflight last October, these private citizens are pioneers in their own right. They are doing much to open the door to a new marketplace offering the experience of weightlessness and suborbital space flight to the public.
We congratulate the SpaceShipOne team and wish all those who may follow safe flights.
Astronaut Mike Fincke, who is living and working on board the International Space Station, conveyed his congratulations to the SpaceShipOne team during space-to-ground communications today.
"Fantastic!" Fincke said upon hearing the news that test pilot Mike Melvill had successfully completed the first privately funded suborbital human space flight. "We were wishing them the best of luck. We're all in the space business together, helping mankind get off the planet and explore the stars."
Per USA Today:
Even with the problems, Melvill flew well beyond 50 miles, qualifying him for U.S. astronaut status. After the flight, an official from the Federal Aviation Administration gave a tearful Melvill the USA's first "commercial astronaut wings." ...
Melvill was high enough that he could see the curve of the Earth. When he released a bag of M&Ms into the cockpit, he said they "just spun around like little sparkling things."
Per Florida Today:
That's why Monday was a "turning point" for space travel and Florida's role in it, says Winston Scott, a former NASA astronaut who is executive director of the Florida Space Authority, charged with luring new space business to the state.
And it's also why it should be a catalyst for immediate action.
"We're at the start of a new day. In fact, I predict that in 25 to 30 years, the number of private launches will outpace the number of government launches," said Scott.
Where is NASA in all this? The recently released report from the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond refocuses NASA on what it does best: exploration. The discoveries from the Hubble Telescope and the Mars rovers continue to amaze us and teach us more about the universe. Like Lewis and Clark, they are the pioneers, and we are the settlers.
After almost 50 years of waiting, the time has come to open up shop 200 miles up. NASA continues to blaze new trails. Now it is private industry's turn to pave the road.
Per The New York Times:
Mr. Rutan called the malfunction "the most serious safety problem we have encountered" in the nine years it took to create and launch SpaceShipOne. He added, however, that the backup systems and Mr. Melvill's training all came together for a successful flight.
Mr. Melvill also said that during ascent he had heard a loud bang, which was apparently caused by a cover over the tail nozzle that buckled during the flight.
"I was pretty scared," he said.
Per The Washington Times:
"Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable," Mr. Rutan said.
Mr. Rutan said the mission was cut back from its planned 360,000 feet (more than 68 miles) because of a steering problem.
Per The Houston Chronicle:
But after its civilian pilot calmed steering woes and jerked the experimental rocket ship back on course, he rolled to a historic stop in the Mojave Desert crying a triumphant "Yeehaw!" ...
"You really do feel that you touch the face of God when you do something like this," said Melvill, a 63-year-old grandfather. "The colors were pretty staggering looking down at the Earth from up there. It's almost a religious experience. It's an awesome thing to see."
Per Spaceflight Now:
As always during a test flight, he was wearing his lucky horseshoe, a piece of jewelry he designed and presented to his girlfriend when she was 16 years old. The two were married when she was 17 and have been together now for 48 years.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, also was on hand to greet the new astronaut "and to have him come up and shake my hand and congratulate me and tell me I'd joined the club, that was serious stuff, man," Melvill said.
Michael Lembeck of NASA's office of exploration systems said such prizes would go to private explorers for such landmarks as "the first soft landing on the moon, or for returning a piece of an asteroid to Earth." ...
Lembeck said NASA would consider offering $10 million to $30 million in prizes to encourage private investors to develop space vehicles. There was even discussion of offering "a couple hundred million dollars for the first private orbital flight," he said in a telephone interview.
Per The Christian Science Monitor:
In many ways, the moment is more Wild West than Wilbur Wright, opening a new frontier for the geniuses and thrill seekers, businessmen and hucksters who have long followed pioneers to new lands and new markets.
"It's like the opening of the West," says Howard McCurdy, a spaceflight historian at American University in Washington. "Entrepreneurs followed in the wake of the oft government-funded explorers. There were a lot of characters and a lot of innovation."
Per Cox News Service:
Rutan's company, called Scaled Composites, is the leading contender among 26 companies and teams from seven countries competing for the X prize. The winner must launch a spaceship capable of carrying three people 62.5 miles into suborbital space and repeat the feat within two weeks.
Rutan said he would probably make a decision on when to go for the prize in a few days.
And all of this, of course, is just a fraction of the total coverage.
Army Of Mac
COLSA today announced the purchase of 1566 dual processor 1U rack-mount 64-bit Xserve G5 servers from Apple to build a new supercomputer, which it expects to be one of the fastest in the world. The supercomputer, named MACH 5, is expected to deliver a peak performance capability of more than 25 TFlops/second at a cost of $5.8 million and will be used to model the complex aero-thermodynamics of hypersonic flight for the US Army.
Lain sent me this link to a WeddingChannel.com entry on my friend Jesse Holland's wedding. But sure to go to About the Couple to read the story of their engagement.
I'm Your Private Spacecraft
I was amused by the headline on The Huntsville Times' story yesterday about SpaceShipOne: "SpaceShipOne lifts privately into space." I guess on a big day like that, you gotta have your privacy.
Still, The Times did put the story on the front page, though at the very bottom.
|:: Monday, June 21, 2004 ::|
No Post Here
Since I always avoid politics on my blog, I, of course, won't be posting that Clinton believes Bush was right on the war in Iraq.
Today we celebrate the anniversary of this strip that celebrates the anniversary of Woodstock. I'll have to remember next year to celebrate the anniversary of this post.
In some of best internet news recently, The Hulk is back.
There was much made in the space news community about a letter drafted by former astronaut Walt Cunningham and cosigned by several others arguing that the Shuttle should be sent on the cancelled Hubble servicing mission. Recently, however, two of the astronauts who signed the letter, Tom Stafford and last man on the Moon Gene Cernan have retracted their support for the letter.
Cernan wrote: "I am now better informed, am a little wiser on the subject, and today am retracting my support as expressed in the subject letter. I believe we all realize the significance of both the scientific results of and public interest in the Hubble. I also believe that if there is a way either manned or robotically, the Hubble will continue to be a serviceable asset without comprising the shuttle's primary mission of space station completion."
Stafford wrote: "We all agree that the HST is a marvelous scientific instrument, and it is my hope that its operational lifetime can be extended. This can indeed be accomplished via an unmanned robotic mission instead of with a manned Space Shuttle.
It is not necessary to send humans when a robotic mission can extend the useful life of the HST. By advocating an unmanned robotic mission to the HST, NASA has not only embraced the CAIB recommendations, but has taken a step to preclude undue risk. As an added benefit, the demonstration of such robotic capabilities will be important as NASA implements the vision for space exploration."
While much work remains to be done, the next Shuttle flight is still on track for March, according to a NASA RTF update Friday. Engineers are behind on developing an inspection boom for the Shuttle's robot arm, and in developing a procedure for repairing large holes in Shuttle tiles. However, none of those problems are seen as deal-breakers for a March return to flight.
Instead, the agency is focusing on plans for a rescue mission.
Space Tourism company Space Adventures recently conducted an informal poll of people who have paid deposits to make suborbital spaceflights. While that's a pretty unusual demographic, some of the results are somewhat interesting.
Today In History
On this date, this year, the first private human spaceflight will be made.
Save The Saturn
I'll allow The Huntsville Times to blog my weekend for me.
And while I'm linking to The Times, here's a story about iPods in Huntsville.
|:: Saturday, June 19, 2004 ::|
Join The Fight!
If you would like to help save Remington Steele from Robocop, sign your name in the feedback system!
|:: Friday, June 18, 2004 ::|
Per NASA Spaceflight:
Father's Day came early for Astronaut Mike Fincke, 225 miles in space aboard the International Space Station, as he received the best present on Earth -- baby daughter Tarali Paulina Fincke, born Friday.
Although Fincke is among thousands of American fathers whose service to the country has prevented them from attending the birth of a child, he is the first U.S. astronaut to have celebrated the event from space.
The City of Canton (MS) has named a park after Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson, who had family there.
Hippie takes drugs!
Today In History
On this date 21 years ago, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on the STS-7 flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Hall Of Fame
C3P0, Asimo, Astroboy, and Robby are among the most recent inductions into the Robot Hall Of Fame, which will be the world's foremost museum after the robot holocaust. Of course, you gotta love a story that features both C3P0 and Wozniak.
Since I may not get a chance to blog it again before it's too late, the launch of SpaceShipOne for the first private manned spaceflight is scheduled for Monday morning, with roll-out at 8:30 a.m. CDT. CNN plans to carry live coverage.
Days Of The Comet
Findings from a historic encounter between NASA's Stardust spacecraft and a comet have revealed a much stranger world than previously believed. The comet's rigid surface, dotted with towering pinnacles, plunging craters, steep cliffs, and dozens of jets spewing violently, has surprised scientists.
"We thought Comet Wild 2 would be like a dirty, black, fluffy snowball," said Stardust Principal Investigator Dr. Donald Brownlee of the University of Washington, Seattle. "Instead, it was mind-boggling to see the diverse landscape in the first pictures from Stardust, including spires, pits and craters, which must be supported by a cohesive surface.
I'm so old-school hip it hurts. I refused to upgrade from Word 5.1 for years, and it was the last version of Word I used on my Macs. When I got the G4 iMac, I started using Appleworks instead, largely because I preferred working in something OS X-native. I had no idea, though, that there were others who shared my love of Word 5. Basically, I liked the fact that it was a good, passive Word processor. It just let you type, without trying to second-guess you the whole time.
In other old-school Dave news, my Newton arrived yesterday. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to get around the bootstrapping problem, which kinda limits my use of it at the moment. I was amazed that it's actually bigger than my old MP120, but, yeah, it's cool.
|:: Thursday, June 17, 2004 ::|
When the Hatbag movie is finally made, I'm looking forward to all the big musical numbers.
Don't OD On Odie
It turns out the Garfield movie is perfect--a perfect part of the Jim Davis' empire. Slate.com has an interesting article about how Davis has made Garfield a success through aggresive mediocrity.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, we've got Maggie's profile of astronaut Charles Camarda, and some logic puzzles.
All the focus in the X Prize contest right now is on Scaled Composites, which will be making the world's first private human spaceflight in a mere 4 days, but work is still continuing elsewhere. John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace just made a successful test flight of a small-scale version of their spacecraft (I've launched rockets higher myself). While progress continues, Carmack admits that, even if Scaled were out of the running, Armadillo would have a tough time meeting the prize goals before the end-of-the-year deadline.
The President's Commission report has been released. To be honest, I haven't read it yet. That's one of my projects for today (I've been asked to share any feedback I have on the education-related portions of the report).
I'll get back to you later, after I've had a chance to review it.
In the meantime, you can read it yourself, from a link on this page.
I'm sure you will all be glad to know that, on October 19, D.A.R.Y.L. will be released on DVD. No word on the special features, but aren't the adventures of a Data Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform special enough? And remember--you're not dead 'til you're braindead!
Don't know that I've posted here about Frazz, the comic strip that some conspiracy theorists believe is the second coming of Calvin and Hobbes. They would have you believe that our Calvin was Calvin Frasier (His last name was never revealed, of course), and that Bill Watterson is now using the pen name of Jef Mallett to further the adventures of our now-older protaganist, now known as Frazz. As evidence, they cite the artistic style which is somewhat similar to C&H, the main character's distinctive hair, some of the lettering, the fact that some of the jokes are A LOT like some old C&H jokes. And, of course, then there are all the little things that conspiracy theorists love: this article about Watterson, in which most of the C&H artwork is by Mallett, a passing reference in a Frazz strip to Watterson, the fact that one of the main characters is named Caulfied, which they say is a reference to Holden Caulfield, the main character of Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger, a brilliant writer who created his masterpieces and then just quit and disappeared from the public eye (sound familar? I don't think Salinger ever authorized any CITR t-shirts or stuffed animals, either).
Of course, in cross-examination, it comes out that information is available about Mallett, and he's not Watterson. ("So what?!" demand the conspiracy theorists. "They could have made all that stuff up, and paid somebody to use his picture!") He's a self-confessed huge fan of C&H, who admits drawing heavy inspiration from Watterson. And, beyond the superficial, Frazz is definitely not C&H (of course, it's not uncommon for a comic strip artist to lose his edge over time).
All in all, it's a nice thought. I think, even if intellectually, a lot of us believe it's better for Watterson to have left us one pure good thing and then not tarnish or dilute it, I imagine many of us also have a romantic side that likes the idea of Watterson returning, working in secret to further the story of his beloved creation.
But, it's just not true. Sorry.
All of that is lengthy precursor to what I was originally going to ask. In Frazz, the supposedly-would-be-Calvin character is working as a school janitor. It somehow just doesn't jibe with how I thought Calvin would end up, though, to be sure, I never really sat down and tried to plot out the course of his life. I never really pictured him as a grown-up at all, much less with a career. Reading the strips again, as I'm doing now, I could see textual support for a Frazz sort of situation--Calvin is certainly bright enough, but he's hardly an overachiever. Likewise, Frazz is probably the smartest character in the strip, and he seems perfectly content as a school janitor. I guess I always just pictured Calvin as someone who would really bloom later, finding a way to channel the creative energy.
Calvin was 6 in 1985, and, though he didn't age in C&H, based on that he'd be 25 now. Where do you think he would be now?
|:: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 ::|
Not long after I started this blog, back in the "You Must Fight The Bear" days, I named the feedback system "Idle Ramblings" as an homage to my friend and erswhile mentor, Joe Gurner, who had used that as the title of his columns, dating back to the old Preview days, and which he went on to use as the name of his blog.
Joe has now written the final installment of Idle Ramblings, and is leaving the newspaper business after many years. To mark the occassion, and the end of an era, he's retiring the Idle Ramblings name. Since no more columns will bear that name, he's taking it down from the top of his blog as well.
Since I stole the name from Joe in the first place, I can do no less. You'll notice that the feedback system for ATW is no longer called Idle Ramblings. For the time being, it's kinda generic. I'm receptive to changing it to something else with more character, but I don't have any ideas yet. If you have any ideas, please share them (in the "comment" system below). Bonus points if they fit thematically with the rest of the blog.
In the meantime, go visit Joe's blog, read his column, and encourage him to keep blogging. Obviously, I can identify pretty heavily with his piece about leaving the newspaper business and moving back to his hometown. Joe's final column feels like a milestone in my own life. An era is ending.
From the introductory video of the O'Keefe/Aldridge talk on the Commission Report: "I agree. Let's to it. I know a little about this. My name is Neil Armstrong."
Here ya go.
Today In History
On this date 41 years ago, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, commanding the Vostok 6 mission, over 20 years before Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
Dextre's Observatory Update
According to Space.com, it looks like there's a good chance Dextre will be tasked with saving the Hubble.
Today Is Gonna Be The Day...
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will share the findings of the Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy Wednesday afternoon during a special agency wide broadcast available on both NASA Television and www.nasa.gov.
The Administrator will be joined by Commission Chair Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, Jr. tomorrow at 3 p.m. EDT from NASA Headquarters in Washington.
OK, I'm once again breaking my self-imposed avoidance of political issues to link to, and comment on, Space.com's exclusive article on Kerry's thoughts on space exploration, which are pretty disappointing.
A few highlights:
“However, there is little to be gained from a ‘Bush space initiative’ that throws out lofty goals, but fails to support those goals with realistic funding.”
“While reducing the Bush Administration’s reckless deficits will be one of our early challenges, continued investment in a reinvigorated NASA that is innovating, creating jobs, and returning real value to the American taxpayer is what you can expect under a Kerry presidency,” Kerry wrote.
Kerry is opposed to the Bush plan because he doesn't think it's adequately funded, but himself plans on "continued investment" (note lack of word "increased") in NASA, assuming the economy allows it. At no point in his comments does Kerry commit himself to pursuing exploration beyond LEO.
Kerry said that the most immediate impact of the Bush plan is that NASA’s resources are being stretched “even further than they were before the Columbia tragedy,” forcing NASA to make unpopular choices like canceling a space shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA is currently seeking industry proposals for servicing Hubble robotically...
I would be more confident in Kerry's ability to set sound space policy if he were at all informed about what's going on. The decision to cancel HSM-4 was based on safety issues, to wit CAIB recommendations that additional safety protocols be developed for future missions, which are easier met on flights to ISS, as all other remaining Shuttle flights would be. I've yet to see cost estimates for the proposed robot servicing, but it wouldn't surprise me if its comparable to a Shuttle mission, belying the idea that cost is the driving factor in the decision.
Kerry also criticized the Bush Administration for abandoning the hunt for low cost space transportation, a central goal of NASA during the 1990s.
The hunt for low-cost space transportation has been going on since 1969, when work began on the Space Shuttle, which, for all of its strenghts, was a massive disappointment in actual versus projected launch cost decreases. Along the way, there have been plenty of other failed attempts, including, but not limited to the Orient Express NASP, the Delta Clipper DC-X, and the VentureStar X-33. The one thing all of these have in common is that they just didn't work. There has been plenty of money invested in low-cost space transportation over the decades, and very little payoff. The Vision for Space Exploration focuses on getting the most return on the taxpayers' investment, making the best use of proven technology rather than betting on technological longshots. That doesn't mean NASA is abandoning research into future space technologies, just focusing more on what they know they can do. More importantly, it's almost certain that today's Presidential Commission announcement will reveal the most important step the government can take in decreasing launch costs--increasing investment in the private launch vehicle industry by buying more COTS launches. The private industry has been more successful than government in lowering launch costs, and this proposed change will only drive that further.
Kerry also defended the space legacy of former U.S. President Bill Clinton -- the last Democrat to occupy the White House. Although the Clinton Administration cut the space agency’s funding, Kerry said NASA still managed to launch and land dozens of shuttle flights, including three servicing trips to Hubble.
OK, that's as frightening as anything else he said. A testimony to the least space-oriented president we've had in over two decades, praising him for the fact that, though he cut funding and trapped humanity in LEO, at least he mostly managed to preserve the status quo. Thanks, Bill. This is the president, who, confronted with what was believed to be evidence of life on Mars, still spoke against human missions there.
Kerry also credited policies pursued under the Clinton Administration with cutting in half the time and money needed to develop space missions, including missions to Mars.
Oh, yeah, that's what we need more of--more Mars Climate Orbiter missions. It may have been faster and cheaper not to coordinate who was using what units--but probably not better. Goldin's FBC policy is pretty much universally recognized as a failure and a false economy (you can have any two, but not all three). A return to the space ideals of the Clinton era would be disastrous.
Kind of interesting news, but the sort that's so putting-the-pieces-together logical that one has to wonder if it's real or just speculation. Pixar, of course, has recently divorced itself from Disney. Miramax is in the process of renegotiating its contract with Disney, and there's speculation that the Weinsteins may leave as well. So, there's now a rumor that Jobs and the Brothers Weinstein may join forces to form their own new film company.
Breaking New Grounds
So, after posting last week that I hadn't been able to find issues 2 & 3 of Troy Hickman's Common Grounds series, I managed to track them down and order them through the mail (what sort of geek does that? . As with the other three issues, darned good stuff. If you're not reading them, you should be.
Also, a slight amplification--when I wrote that CG was ending after six issues, I didn't realize that's because it's a six-issue miniseries. There's talk that it may become an ongoing, but don't know that the decisions been made yet. I've asked Troy who needs to be harassed to make sure it gets picked up--this series is simply too darned good not to.
In the meantime, Hickman wrote a two-issue arc of Witchblade, the first part of which comes out today, so I'll be buying my first issue of Witchblade this afternoon.
And, I need to point out, that I'm saying all this strictly because Common Grounds really is really, really good stuff, and not 'cause Troy posted feedback on this blog. Frank Miller could post feedback to every entry on this blog, and I still wouldn't pretend Dark Knight 2 was anything besides a stinking mound of crap.
Alanis released an entire new album as an iTunes exclusive yesterday. It's not new songs, just new versions of songs, joined by VH1-Storytellers-type commentary, but that's still kinda cool. If you've got iTunes, here's the link to the album (I believe--I've never actually done a link to iTMS before). If you don't have iTunes, what's wrong with you?! Even you Wintel folks can get iTMS now. On a side note, it's in the news today that Alanis is getting married. Apparently, the Eiffel Tower approves.
Can't Get Arrested
So, Arrested Development (the '90s band, not the sitcom) will be playing Huntsville Friday. I had really wanted to see them when they had been supposed to come to Ole Miss many years ago, when they were at the height of their popularity, but the concert got cancelled. Now, I'm getting a second chance, but I don't know how interested I am now in paying the money to go to an outdoor concert at 10 p.m. on Friday to hear them play Mr.
DenleyWendal, Tennessee, and People Everyday.
I've found a site that will let you publish iCal calendars so that other people can subscribe to them. I thought about publishing a calendar of aerospace events, similar to the list in the sidebar of this page. If I were to do so, are there any iCal users out there that would be interested in it?
|:: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 ::|
Well, I'm rejoining the world of Newton owners. I use to own an old MP 120, but the main use I put it to was playing an Othello-type game on it. I would occassionally use it to make journal entries while I was on the road. I put the calendar to very little use and the address book to next to none, as that I wasn't sufficiently organized to use either. Lain used it to do a great adaptation of the Aliens movie trilogy, but that's neither here nor there. The darned thing was very cool, and had an awesome interface, I just wasn't really able to take advantage of it.
But an interesting thing has happened. In the 6 years since the last Newton rolled off the line, technology has begun to catch up with the MP. Back then, you could, for example, check e-mail on a Newton, but you either had to use a landline (which tied you in place) or a cell phone equipped to be used with a computer (which, back in 98, was a real investment). Either way, you had to have a dial-in account and were limited by the speed of your modem.
Today, however, you can just plug a PC wireless card into the Newton, and you're online at blazing WiFi speeds.
An article 2 years ago in Wired summed it up nicely:
In January, Jonathan Wise's Handspring Visor organizer died, so he decided to get a different handheld.
After shopping around, he found a machine that did it all: Web, e-mail, calendar and address book, but it could also recognize ordinary, cursive handwriting that wasn't as awkward as graffiti.
Wise, a Web developer from Ontario, Canada, was impressed by the handheld's hardware: a big, clear screen; two PC card slots; external memory support; and long battery life.
can connect to Macs, PCs and Unix machines, as well as all kinds of networks, from wireless Wi-Fi networks to the new, always-on GPRS cell-phone nets.
It streams MP3s off the Net and can read headlines aloud that have been automatically fetched from online news sites.
What is this amazing machine? The latest sleek Clié from Sony, or a skunkworks Pocket PC yet to hit the market?
No, it's the granddaddy of them all: Apple's Newton, which is still going strong despite being discontinued by Apple in 1998.
The more I've been reading about the Newton world today, the more I wanted to start playing with my Newton again.
Unfortunately, I can't find my MP120 any more. I realized this weekend that there's a box full of computer stuff, including a variety of USB peripherals, that I haven't seen since Indianola. I fear the Newton is among this stuff (I'm hoping I may know where in Mississippi it might be, but getting it back could take a while).
But, the more I read, the more I realized I wanted a newer model, which, unlike mine, would be capable of participating in the wireless world.
So I've ordered an MP2100, the top-end model that was the last version produced; 6 years old, but with a little extra hardware here, a little extra software there, competitive with any thing being produced today (with the exception, of course, of its ideal-for-self-defense form factor).
I've joined a Newton mailing list to tap the expertise of the modern Newton community, who are impressive in their devotion. The Newton community makes the Mac community look kinda halfhearted in their love of the Mac, which is saying a lot. They've managed to keep the platform alive through sheer force of will, homebrewing the software needed to keep going in a OS X world that no company will write.
Thanks to its unique architecture, the Newton is amazingly flexible. I'll definitely use mine as a portable organizer, able to sync information with my Macs at home. I'm looking forward to being able to check my e-mail with it, and think the idea of blogging from a Newton is very cool. Since I've already got an iPod, I'll doubt I would do this, but it's nice to know that with some extra hardware, I could turn the thing into a 10GB iTunes-compatible mp3 player if I ever wanted to.
And, yeah, this is more than a little motivated by the fact that it's a Newton. There are plenty of other PDAs out there, and some of them can do all the same stuff (though they'd probably cost more to do it). But, since long before I got my original MP120, I've always thought the Newton was very cool. The poor thing was a victim of a bad first impression--most people still think of the Newton the way it was presented in those Doonesbury strips, with a user interface that was literally a joke. The thing is, the problem was quickly fixed, and the handwriting recognition of the later MPs is still unmatched. No special alphabet, no character-by-character input. You just write.
So, in a PDA-intensive world, I look forward to being able to stand out. I can't out high-tech the people I work around, but I can out-hip them with a bit of retro old-schoolery. I look forward to a bit of mockery, 'cause I look forward to being able to show off what the thing can really do.
Anyway, all of this is kinda premature--my new Newt hasn't even shipped yet. I'll let you know how it goes.
You can call Hippie Betty.
I was disappointed that this article didn't live up to its headline, in that there's actually no reference at all to Gurner in the story. (There's a guy in some of my space discussion groups who writes for The Daily Show named Dave Blog.)
The Grand Vision
Tech Central Station has an interesting column about the Vision, though I'm just as glad Bush didn't use any lyrics from Fastball songs in his January announcement.
Old Trek Reborn
Lain just pointed out a Trekweb article to me which says that not only may Enterprise be coming to DVD next year, but that The Animated Trek series may be released on DVD next year as well. I've seen several of these, but wouldn't mind having a decent copy of the whole series.
Red Berries For A Red Planet
Per The Register:
A Kent-based farmer is working with NASA to develop strawberries that could make it to Mars. The space agency is looking for something astronauts could grow on the two-year flight to the Red Planet, and that could also be cultivated on Mars itself.
Reality Of Space
The idea has been bounced around for years, but apparently various producers are once again looking into the possibility of a space-based reality show.
|:: Monday, June 14, 2004 ::|
Here ya go.
But now Japanese scientists have turned fantasy into reality by creating an invisibility cloak that makes it possible to see straight through its wearer. He, or she, simply vanishes from view.
Addendum: More info.
On This Date...
Today In Alternate History
Originally scheduled for tomorrow, an EVA on the International Space Station has been pushed back until NET June 24 due in part to communications conflicts involving a Russian satelite launch. During the space walk, the crew will make repairs to a power controller for one ofthe stations attitude control gyros.
NASA has released "Level 0" Exploration Requirements. Level 1 requirements are usually the most basic summary of what a particular project will involve (for example, the Level 1 requirements for Orbital Space Plane gave potential contractors a one-page summary of what NASA wanted from an OSP). The Level 0 requirements thus give a very, very broad outline of what will be involved in implementing the Vision for Space Exploration (and, I'm sure, are subject to change).
A few interesting points:
(1.5) NASA shall conduct human expeditions to Mars to extend the search for life and to expand the frontiers of human exploration after successfully demonstrating human exploration mission to the moon.
I'm not sure, but this may be the first time this was stated as an official goal. Though the commission the president appointed to review implementation of the vision referred to itself by the unofficial title "The President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond," the president's January 14 speech notably did not ever actually refer to sending humans to Mars. It specified the Moon as an immediate goal for human exploration, but then mandated exploration continue to an open-ended other destinations in the solar system. This is not really a surprising new detail, but mildly interesting nonetheless.
3.3 NASA shall separate transportation of crew and cargo to the International Space Station to the maximum extent practical.
Again, there's been a lot of talk about this, but now it's included as an official requirement.
(4) NASA shall pursue opportunities for international participation to support U.S. space exploration goals.
Ditto. Though Bush made mention of international cooperation in his speech, there's been some criticism of VSE as an isolationist space program.
(5) NASA shall pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting the International Space Station and exploration missions beyond low earth orbit.
This, I'm sure, is a reaction to some of the "suggestions" that will be made when the President's Commission report is released on Wednesday.
Martian Road Trip
"We have arrived. We’re there. We’re at the hills now and already see new things there that we haven’t seen before."
After months of driving, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has reached the Columbia Hills. Elsewhere on Mars, Opportunity is making its way into Endurance Crater.
Per Space Daily:
China plans to send its first woman into orbit by 2010, but the country, which prides itself as an equal-opportunity society, does not plan to let her sit in the driver's seat, state media said Monday.
No word in the story on which flight this might be. It almost certainly won't be next year's Shenzhou 6, and all the Chinese have announced (that I know of) about their future flight plans is that Shenzhou 7 will be flown before 2010. Which means that either they plan on flying a woman on their third flight, or they are planning on making more than two more flights before in the next 6 1/2 years (which one would hope they would).
It's also worth noting, for a bit of context, that while cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space in 1963, flew her own spacecraft, the U.S. did not have a female pilot on the Shuttle until 1995, 12 years after Sally Ride made her first flight.
Yesterday In History
According to my history file, on yesterday's date 21 years ago, the Pioneer 10 space probe became the first man-made object to leave the solar system, though I'm not entirely sure what that means.
NASA's JPL has released high-quality images of the Saturnian moon Phoebe from the near-pass by the Cassini space probe on Friday. And, the Phoebe pics are just the warm-up act; the show's just barely getting started.
This Week At NE
This week Er... Last Thursday at NASAexplores, we posted a new article I wrote about the newly selected astronaut class 19, and Maggie's got a story about reducing airport noise reduction, a common theme at NE.
|:: Friday, June 11, 2004 ::|
|:: Thursday, June 10, 2004 ::|
Here ya go.
From The Onion:
MOSCOW—Orbiting the earth aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 9 scientists were chagrined to report a bevy of equipment and supply problems stemming from the behavior of an inquisitive raccoon Monday.
(Though, while I'm not going to be nitpicky enough to point out all the mistakes, I will note that the picture they have labelled as ISS is actually of Mir, for some reason.)
The three images shown here, the latest of which is twice as good as any image returned by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1981, were captured in the past week on approach to this outer moon of Saturn. ...
Cassini's powerful cameras will provide the best-ever look at this moon on Friday, June 11, when the spacecraft will streak past Phoebe at a distance of only about 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) from the moon's surface.
Rescheduled following the death of former president Reagan, the President’s Commission on Moon, Mars, and Beyond's report will be publicly released during a press conference Wednesday, June 16, at noon.
|:: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 ::|
All right--after that little diversion yesterday, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming. My apologies to all to whom they're due.
According to a recent study, 80 percent of spam comes from Windows PCs infected with Trojan horses.
Poorly Played, Clerks
Per NewsAskew, the pilot for the live-action Clerks television show will not be included on the 10th Anniversary Clerks DVD, as original plans had called for. Which is disappointing. Though I'm mostly just posting this so I can use the Kevin Smith animated gif again.
Whose Broad Stripes And Bright Stars
I'm no expert on protocol or math, so bear with me here if I'm wrong, but I haven't seen this addressed anywhere yet. Reagan died on Saturday, June 5, and protocol dictates that the flag be flown at half-staff for 30 days following the death of a former president, which, unless I'm missing something, means that the Fourth of July will be celebrated this year with flags at half-staff. Which seems like it'll be kinda odd.
Shave Your Face With Some Mace In The Dark
Five more episodes of the Cartoon Networks' Star Wars: Clone Wars series are being produced, and each episode will be 12 minutes long, rather than the 3 minutes of the previous series. The new episodes won't be aired until March, though.
|:: Tuesday, June 08, 2004 ::|
Unofficial IQ Test
How well can you do?
Ah, yes. Definitely one of our classier moments.
Best Movie EVER!
If you haven't been there recently, and certainly that's understandable given the month of no updates, there's a bunch of new posts on Joe's blog on subjects such as REM, books, moving, summer movies, Republican punk, other books, Tuesdays, and, surprisingly, Trek. Go check it out.
Today In History
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the first flight of the X-15 rocket plane, which was piloted on that maiden unpowered glide flight by test pilot Scott Crossfield.
As NASA begins to fill out the details of a possible robotic Hubble servicing mission, Canadian firm MD Robotics is suggesting using a clone of the Dextre "robot hand" to save Hubble. Dextre is a robot device designed to work with the Canadarm2 robot arm on ISS, but can also function independent. (For more on Dextre, here's an article I wrote about it.)
In light of all the stories in the last couple of days about how Reagan supported the advancement of spaceflight, it's kinda ironic that, in death, Reagan has delayed the future of space exploration by about a week or so.
The President’s Commission on Moon, Mars, and Beyond has delayed the release its report to the public from June 10 to sometime the week of June 14 because of the activities in Washington in honor of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Commission spokeswoman Susan Flowers said June 7.
There's A Little Black Spot On The Sun Today
Space.com has pics of the Venus transit this morning. Next show's in 2012.
Oh, man, this sucks:
Jobs stated that he is proud not only of the products Apple has shipped, but also the products Apple has decided not to ship. When asked to elaborate, Jobs replied, "an Apple PDA."
Just repeat to self: Apple can do no wrong. Apple can do no wrong. Keep repeating 'til you believe it.
Aspyr has posted a Mac demo of Space Colony, which appears to be a space-themed SimCity type game. If you try it out, let me know what you think.
Kevin Smith announced that he plans to pass on directing the Green Hornet movie, though he will still write the screenplay for it, making GH the first time someone else will direct a Kevin Smith script.
|:: Monday, June 07, 2004 ::|
In what would be one of the most disappointing exciting discoveries of our lifetime, it appears that Atlantis may have been found. It's all speculation at this point, and all extremely mundane, considering that it's supposed to be Atlantis.
Editor's Note: Today's strip is not carb-friendly.
The Future Is Soon
Thanks to new technology, the U.S. military will soon be able to set phasers to "hurt really, really bad."
Per Florida Today:
He took office just months before the first shuttle launched in 1981, set NASA on course to build what is now the International Space Station and comforted the nation with his words in the days after seven astronauts were killed in the explosion of the shuttle Challenger.
Former President Ronald Reagan, who died Saturday in California, was perhaps as closely involved with NASA as any chief executive other than John Kennedy.
If you miss the transit of Venus tomorrow, you can't blame it on this blog. Also, if you look at the Sun and go blind, don't come crying to me. And, if you actually go through the time and effort of building one of those funky filter things and still don't see anything, I don't wanna hear about it.
Personally, I'm just gonna wait and look at the tons of pictures I'm confident will be posted all over the frickin' internet tomorrow.
Guns N' Stone Temple Roses
So, anybody got any thoughts of the much-hyped Velvet Revolver album coming out tomorrow?
Opportunity Too Good To Miss
NASA has decided to definitely send the Opportunity Mars rover into Endurance Crater, despite the risk that the rover will not be able to climb back out. The rover could enter the crater by early next week.
So I had been planning on writing something today anyway about Common Grounds, and so thought it was a nice bit of serendipity when Newsarama had a CG story I could link to in the post. I started reading the series just recently, after its writer, Troy Hickman, posted on Nik Dirga's blog. It's good stuff--similar in some ways to the more light-hearted Astro City stuff, which is a high compliment. I bought all the back issues in Huntsville, which unfortunately means I'm still missing issues 2 & 3 (of five, so far).
Unfortunately, according to the Newsarama article, the series will end with issue 6. Oh well.
For Lain, who wanted more animated gifs:
|:: Sunday, June 06, 2004 ::|
Farewell And Godspeed
"...It is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
--Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
|:: Saturday, June 05, 2004 ::|
Long Ago... At Hogwart's
Found this online at this site and thought it amusing enough to repost:
|:: Friday, June 04, 2004 ::|
Thanks to Nintendo, you, too, can be a comics whiz (humor not included).
For some reason, I'd always read this strip that both of the comments about Al were spoken by the same person. Not that it really matters, it's just a little something I just noticed.
OK, here's some news about the Venus transit next week that actually seems worthwhile: an astronomer will use the occassion to conduct an unprecedented study of the planet's atmosphere.
The i Of The Tiger
So apparently Mac OS X 10.4 will include tweaks to the Finder and better integration with Apple's .Mac service. <sarcasm>Whoopee</sarcasm> Forgive me if I'm not beating down the door to pay $129 to get more out of a service I have to pay $100 for. Here's hoping some worthwhile features get announced for Tiger sometime soon.
|:: Thursday, June 03, 2004 ::|
Heh. It may be a bit of a Bloom County rip-off but this strip still tickles me, 10 years to the day later. Of course, I'm also a sucker for that Bloom County strip (Is Opus still being published? Is it any good? Who knows? Not me!)
Nothing Like The Original
Outside of comic books, music, and coffee, one of my main passions is classic old-school Trek. There's just something about seeing that Enterprise and those characters in episodes that seemed to be less about technology or clumsy allegory (Yeah, I know. The first person who brings up "The Omega Glory" gets popped in the head.) and more about story. They did things - Kirk coming up with a last minute strategy to keep the ship from being destroyed, Spock and McCoy bickering while managing to come up with a last-minute solution, Sulu running around the bridge with a foil, acting like the lost Musketeer.
Go to his blog, read the rest!
If anyone's been trying to come up with an idea for a really expensive present to buy me, this would do nicely.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about a new invention that puts an entire biological experiment lab onto a CD. We'be also got stories about how a greenhouse could be established on Mars to grow plants, and about cutting aircraft-related pollution.
Today In History
On June 3, 1965, astronaut Ed White became the first American to conduct a space walk, on the Gemini 4 mission, commanded by Jim McDivitt. White's space suit was smaller than later EVA suits, since it did not carry its own oxygen supply. Instead, a hose to an oxygen supply on the Gemini capsule connected White. Bundled with the oxygen hose were electrical and communication wires and a safety tether. While outside the spacecraft, White was able to maneuver himself outside the spacecraft using a handheld air-pressure gun. However, it quickly expended its supply of gas. On Gemini 10 and 11, a hose to a nitrogen tank aboard the spacecraft connected a modified version of the handheld device. This allowed the astronauts to use it for a longer period of time. Another maneuvering unit was developed for the Gemini program, but was never used during an EVA. This larger device would have been worn like a backpack.
The Race Is Still On
Cosmic Log, one of the few space sites informed enough to note that the planned June 21 flight of SpaceShipOne will not be an X Prize attempt (Space Daily proved just how moronic it really can be with a headline of "First X Prize 'Flight' June 21"), has an article discussing other competitors' odds of claiming the X Prize.
When the Mars Rover Spirit (remember it?) first landed, it spotted what would later be named the Columbia Hills in the distance, an intriguing feature far out of range of the rover, with its limited 3-month lifespan. After months of roving, Spirit should reach those distant hills in a week to 10 days.
The Cost Of The Moon
To be sure, it's hard to pin a number on the cost of the Vision For Space Exploration, but a report by the Congressional Research Service takes an educated stab at it: an additional $53 billion by 2020.
Is This Carbs What I Have?
Noted Hollywood intellect Jessica Simpson on low-carb dieting:
"Atkins really messed me up mentally. I was so starved for carbs, I binged on them."
In related news, while Avril Lavigne has said that carbs made her angry, this report argues that low-carb diets can make celebs cranky.
Man, why can't I find my Newton?! Six years after it was discontinued, the Newton's cooler than ever!
Click! OK, I'm Hanging Up Now!
Because Bill Gates desparately needs to make more money, you'll now have to pay to click your mouse (Well, not if you just click it once). In what sounds like it should be an article for The Onion, Microsoft has been granted a patent for double-clicking.
Hide The Cat
Season One of Alf will hit DVD on August 10, though $40 is a bit much, IMHO, to pay for extra-free Alf.
|:: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 ::|
The Irritated Man
Per Secular Blasphemy:
Michael Moore stole the title to his fictuous documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" from author Ray Bradbury (picture), who in 1953 wrote his dystopic scifi classic "Fahrenheit 451." So what does Ray Bradbury, now 84 years old, think about Moore using his book title for his Bush-bashing movie project?
The answer is, as journalists in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter found out when they called the author, that he is mighty pissed off. Here's my translation of the juicier bits of the interview.
"He is a horrible human being. Horrible human!"
"I called his publisher. They promised he would call me the same afternoon, but he didn't."
The Future Nears
A privately-developed rocket plane will launch into history on June 21 on a mission to become the world's first commercial manned space vehicle.
The pilot of the craft, still to be announced, will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.
Baby You Can Cut My Carbs
So June is now "Low-Carb Awareness Month." In honor of the occassion, here's some low-carb news, for the two of us that care.7 Up is releasing a new low-carb version that, like the planned new low-carb Coke and Pepsi drinks, is actually higher carb than the diet versions available now. Unlike those drinks, however, "7 Up Plus" will have, like, vitamins and stuff.
Panera Bread has some new low-carb stuff, for those of you who care about low-carb stuff and have a Panera Bread nearby, which I don't.
Tony Roma's, another restaurant I don't think I have locally, has a bunch of low-carb menu items, including a zero-carb barbecue sauce.
Some Dutch scientists have developed a low-carb potato, though it doesn't say how "low" it is.
Krispy Kreme, which blamed Atkins dieters for falling profits, is planning low-carb items, including sugar-free donuts.
General Mills is releasing a bunch of low-carb stuff, including Hamburger Helper, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls.
So the strips for June are all out of order, so I'm just kind of guessing on some of these. I was about to say that I probably could have written a better Hatbag than this while I was trying to figure out which one to use, but nowadays I don't know that I could.
I don't really have the opportunity to look at this much right now, but this has to be one of the coolest things on the internet. I'd appreciate a review from anyone who can play with it some for me.
For reasons unknown, the Smithsonian Institution Press has decided to drop a new biography of von Braun about 2 months before it was scheduled to be published. The book was written by Bob Ward, who was my managing editor during my days at The Huntsville Times.
Lowering The Boom
On The Space Review's Web site, an economist looks at the odds of success of some of the current big name private rocketeers, though reading the article, one gets the impression that his main criteria of judging their odds of success is the fact that they've been successful before.
|:: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 ::|
With the beginning of June, the 10th anniversary of Hatbag resumes.
Discoverynews.com has an article about the pending release of the report of the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond, with some interesting comments from the commission members. The article says that the report is targeted for public release "about June 10." (The Commission's Web site states that the "report is due to the President through the NASA Administrator no later than June 7, 2004.")
Need more Zod in your life? Who doesn't! You can do your part by participating in the write-in campaign for a restored Superman II on June 19.