:: Saturday, March 22, 2003 ::
Dave's Shopping Spree, Cont'd
I bought tiny Star Wars Legos today.
:: David 9:51 PM [+] ::
God Speed, United States Post Service
I took my first step into a geekier world today by mailing John Glenn a copy of his memoir, in hopes of getting him to autograph it. It's the first time I've written off for an autograph (except maybe once in eighth grade, for a class project; I'm not sure).
I bought today a copy of "Deke!", so that I now have books by three of the Mercury Seven. (And I also picked up a remainder copy of Gene Kranz' "Failure Is Not An Option.")
:: David 9:46 PM [+] ::
"You Must Fight The Bear" Book Club
While I was out today, I saw that Jasper Fforde's new novel, Lost In A Good Book, is now out in hardback. This is the sequel to his delightful The Eyre Affair, now out in paperback, in which Detective Thursday Next has to hunt a devious killer through the pages of Jane Eyre. Wonderful stuff. If you haven't read The Eyre Affair, pick it up now. (These books are actually cheaper at Bamm.com, but Amazon has better descriptions. [I've probably offended Richie now by providing convenient and easy ways to buy these books, rather than having to use an arcane method which requires that someone help you to pay more.])
That said, I didn't buy Lost In A Good Book, because I'm currently lost in a good book. I'm about halfway through Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, and after that, I'm reading Grisham's The King of Torts.
Hopefully, not long after that is Dave Barry's Tricky Business, and possibly Christopher Buckley's No Way To Treat A First Lady.
Among my recent reads are Douglas Coupland's Miss Wyoming, Scott Dikker's disappointing You Are Worthless, and the latest crappy Star Wars paperback.
:: David 9:43 PM [+] ::
Remember When Pirate Was A Noun?
The people who make the arguement that Napster and online song trading have hurt the music business are certainly supported by the fact that, based on listening to WZYP while driving around town, there are only like four songs left in existance. And at least one of them is Celine Dion's inferior cover of "I Drove All Night."
:: David 9:29 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, March 21, 2003 ::
Nicole is in the hospital (again). Waiting to see how serious it is, so I really can't tell you right now.
(BTW, this is why it's late, light bloggin' today. Not that anybody reads this thing during the weekend anyway. Five blog points to anyone who posts feedback here before 5 p.m. Sunday.)
:: David 9:28 PM [+] ::
When you visit Japan, be sure to try the chicken and curry. Also, they have a great bookstore for Richie (pics from Engrish.com).
:: David 1:27 PM [+] ::
It's A Trap!
Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Sa'eed al-Sahhaf, says of the allied forces, "We will not allow them to get out of this quagmire which we trapped them in. They will see their end there."
:: David 1:10 PM [+] ::
Panther is coming.
:: David 10:27 AM [+] ::
Tyrranical Regime, Rusted
Yahoo had a news headline today, "B-52s Head To Iraq." Surely the Iraqi people will turn against Hussein when treated to the wonders of "Love Shack" and "Rock Lobster."
:: David 10:20 AM [+] ::
Tomorrow, the first Hatbag strip to appear on t-shirts will celebrate its anniversary.
:: David 10:04 AM [+] ::
OD on Odie
In a film concept that seems from the outset irredeemable, plans have been announced for a live-action Garfield film, according to AICN. Garfield would be computer-generated, while the rest of the movie would be live-action, including the other animals. Part of any experiment to see if the Garfield franchise could possibly get any lamer at this point.
:: David 9:43 AM [+] ::
We Don't Have To Talk About The Matrix...
:: Thursday, March 20, 2003 ::
"The Final Flight Of The Osiris," one of the animated short features that make up "The Animatrix," will premiere tonight in theaters, attached to "The Dreamcatcher." This short serves as a prelude to Matrix Reloaded, which opens in May, I believe. Go see it.
I'm not sure if Osiris will show before or after Dreamcatcher, so if anybody does see it, let me know.
:: David 9:38 AM [+] ::
Beagle On Mars
Europe's first Mars spacecraft, which will include a lander, is nearing launch.
In addition to the European lander, two NASA rovers will leave for the red planet this summer.
:: David 4:01 PM [+] ::
In Case Of Emergency
I found this link on Dave Barry's Blog. Some of it's a little off color, but it's hilarious stuff.
:: David 3:50 PM [+] ::
It turns out, according to a new article, that Microsoft software makes it easier for hackers to get into your computer!
I'm shocked! And did you know smoking's bad for you?!
:: David 3:41 PM [+] ::
Um...I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this.
(Of course, he was probably just glad to win the election)
:: David 3:39 PM [+] ::
Since you weren't able to enjoy the fine pizza party we just had to celebrate the launch of the new version of NE, you can read this strip instead (Sorry, DeeDee--Go buy yourself some Papa John's tonight, and tell 'em to send the bill to NASA).
:: David 1:33 PM [+] ::
This Week At NASAexplores--A New Day
:: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 ::
The new version of the NASAexplores site went live today, so be sure to check it out. Stories this week are about the Propulsion Research Center at Marshall, and about a system for detonating landmines safetly using extra Shuttle fuel.
:: David 9:53 AM [+] ::
Columbia's flight data recorder has been found.
:: David 9:13 PM [+] ::
It has begun
:: David 9:09 PM [+] ::
Fear the power of the e-bomb.
:: David 5:35 PM [+] ::
Be sure to sign the petition asking George Lucas to release the original versions of the first three Star Wars films on DVD, as well as the Special Editions. Future generations have a right to know that Han shot first (and to experience the aforementioned yub-yub song).
I was signer number 14,814.
:: David 5:26 PM [+] ::
The say there's a DVD that lives in the sky
If you don't have your copy of "The Right Stuff" on DVD yet--good. The Digital Bits reports that there should be an announcement soon of, finally, a decent special edition of the movie.
:: David 5:22 PM [+] ::
Today marks one full month of the Dave-blog! Five free blog points for everybody!
:: David 5:09 PM [+] ::
Sadly, this is exactly how I got through college.
:: David 9:26 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 ::
Apple has discontinued the original iMac, first released in 1998. The multicolored, plastic-bubble, G3 CRT iMac was removed from the Apple online store yesterday (The new flat-panel G4 iMac is still going strong, of course, as is the new eMac, which has a more similar form factor to the old iMac).
:: David 9:22 AM [+] ::
This site features a haiku for each element on the Periodic Table.
:: David 2:08 PM [+] ::
Not Begun, Thus Iraq War Has
According to today's Cosmic Log, Iraqis already wishing to surrender are being turned away since the war hasn't started yet.
:: David 2:02 PM [+] ::
Tales From San Francisco
I saw this column in The San Francisco Chronicle while I was there and found the first half of it kind of amusing.
:: David 1:32 PM [+] ::
Our Oncoming Story
If you missed the post yesterday about the new Dave-blog writing project, check it out here, or just scroll down to the bottom of yesterday's posts for a better link.
The idea is, each person adds the paragraph that comes BEFORE the paragraph on top, so that the story is written from end to beginning.
So far, it's the most exciting fiction writing ever on this blog.
:: David 1:29 PM [+] ::
Sadly, this could be a scene from my life right now.
:: David 1:27 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, March 17, 2003 ::
I just returned from a crew visit by members of the STS-113 crew, and Expedition 5 ISS Science Officer Peggy Whitson. First off, as I've already mentioned, I'm like the biggest astronaut groupie, so just getting to meet them was a huge thrill. That said, I always enjoy the astronaut appearances at Marshall because they're a little less watered down. They assume that you know the basics involved, and so it's a little more detailed, a little more "insider" info. And, as always, the videos are so cool. The signing afterward was a little rushed, so I wasn't really even able to get what I wanted, much less anything for anybody else. Sorry.
:: David 1:25 PM [+] ::
Jesse now has amazing powers over other journalists.
:: David 1:26 PM [+] ::
Trying to do a bit of re-designing. I'm not able to do fancy stuff like DeeDee, but I'm trying to do those things that I know how to do in Blogger. In particular, you'll notice an expanding sidebar to the left. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share any ideas.
:: David 12:43 PM [+] ::
In Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log for March 14, he talks about new findings regarding radiation exposure on a trip to Mars ... and it may not be that bad.
:: David 11:12 AM [+] ::
BTW, NASA Watch is generally a pretty decent site for background information about NASA news. It features links to stories about agency goings-on, but then offers a little extra insight placing things in context.
:: David 10:56 AM [+] ::
Today's Lesson In Politics
Does the Columbia disaster make war with Iraq more likely? Yep.
:: David 10:50 AM [+] ::
Eight Is Three
According to an article at SpaceDaily, the RSA has announced that after the two-person Expedition 7 crew, the Expedition 8 crew will once again consist of three people, including an ESA astronaut.
:: David 10:46 AM [+] ::
Black Lightsabers In That Slow Sithin' Style
AICN posted this info and link about the fact that the Episode III crew is reconstructing two locations from the original Star Wars trilogy for the next film. AICN guess that one of them iis possibly Dagobah, which would make sense. That would leave as possibilities for the other one Yavin, Hoth, Cloud City and Endor (and the Death Star, though the article makes a distinction between space- and planet-based locales). Since it wouldn't make sense for interiors on Yavin and Hoth to look the same pre-Rebellion, that leaves Endor and Cloud City.
Hmmm... Cloud City? Could this be where Grando Calrissian comes in? Is the rumor true?!
For those that missed it, AICN posted a rumor a while back that was the worse SW rumor ever (it's apparently since been removed from the site, or I would link to it). It involves such things as Lando's dad, Grando, flying the Falcon, and Darth Sidious killing someone (Dooku? Palpatine?) with a black lightsaber. Sorry, I'm not even beginning to do it justice. Lain, if you remember any more, please help me out here.
:: David 10:38 AM [+] ::
Fly Me To Mars
Alright, as long as I'm ranting about dumb articles, let me point your attention to this one in WIRED magazine.
The basic arguement is that we should scrap the Shuttle fleet, mothball the Space Station, and use the savings (which he estimates at about $6 billion per year) to go to Mars.
The problems with this concept are numerous. One, even sticking $6 billion in a sock every year, it's still going to take a while to save enough to go to Mars (and a REALLY big sock).
A bigger problem is that we're not ready to go to Mars yet. The technology is getting close, but is not there yet. During the interim, what's the point in not using tools we've already paid for to continue space research.
And even this writer acknowledges that we have to continue doing research. Before we send crews to Mars, we have to learn more about physiological reactions to microgravity and space exposure. So he suggests we build small, Skylab-type Space Stations to do that research on.
Why exactly this would be better than using the larger, far better Space Station we already have, he never quite explains (as he also never explains his comment that ISS is not suited for this sort of research). Nor does he explain how much of the $6 billion a year he thinks we'll have left after designing, building, launching, and operating more space stations. Particularly considering that he also proposes designing, building, launching, and operating new Saturn V-style heavy launch vehicles to carry these stations up and launch crews back and forth from Earth. The cost of these launch vehicles would be even greater for the agency since, unlike current, expendable launch vehicles, NASA would likely be the only customer for these new super-rockets.
And, what exactly would be the benefit to the expendable capsules he recommends building, as opposed to the re-usable Orbital Space Plane NASA is currently designing.
The writer has some decent thoughts, and I certainly would not argue with an initiative to go to Mars. But his tenet that going to Mars means not doing things we're doing now to get ready is completely unsupported, and his ideas for how these would work are unfeasible.
A simple counter-proposal: While I'll never see $6 billion in my lifetime, in the federal budget, it's a tiny drop in the bucket. Why not just add the extra money to NASA's budget, work towards a trip to Mars, and still do the things we're doing now to get ready to go there?
:: David 10:28 AM [+] ::
The Complete Dope
Who would have thought that a site that had such useful information about Heinz 57 sauce could go so wrong?!
Maggie, NASAexplores' Texas Bureau science writer, sent me this article at The Straight Dope, which was coincidentally the site I linked to in here recently for the explaination of where Heinz' "57 Varieties" slogan came from. For that article to have been so useful, this one's pretty bad.
For example, in explaining that the idea of spin-offs from the Space Program is a myth, he uses a quote from 1993 from a "space skeptic" and the fact that at a Senate hearing in 1991, nobody had any documentation with them about spin-offs. To me, you're arguement seems pretty weak when you're having to dig that hard to support it.
With two clicks of my mouse, for example, I can produce this site, which has lengthy documentation about spin-offs. And this page is only one page about small business spin-offs, just a tiny fraction of the resources NASA has on-line about technology transfer.
In his research section, he uses one quote from one group, which he then provides his own context for. Again, assuming that he really isn't interested in doing a good job of research, just the materials on the recent STS-107 mission would show the numerous benefits of space research.
Under his argument involving space colonization, one could just as easily reason that since the Wright brothers couldn't build a Concorde, they should have stayed on the ground. What good was a flying machine that could only fly a few yards?
And his coolness argument is basically just that he's not that interested in space travel, so it's not "cool," or worthwhile. Man, that's quite the standard. Considering all the things government spends money on just because they're cool--from the Olympics to Maplethorpe exhibits--surely there are enough people in the world other than this guy that do think spaceflight's cool to make it worthwhile.
Which leads me to a question--why do we explore space? I mean, working for NASA, I could talk for literally hours about the benefits and justifications of spaceflight, but the fact of the matter is, I loved the idea of space exploration just as much when I was little and had no concept whatsoever of microgravity protein crystal growth research or low-energy combustion experimentation. Nowadays, though, it's like we have to stick with the cost-effective reasons for space travel. Better treatments for diabetes carry an obvious benefit, but saying that we explore space for the same reason mankind has always explored, learned, discovered, investigated and challenged is a little more intangible. And heaven help my friend who believes in the space program because he believes there must be other civilizations out there, and we need to go find them. So, what's your answer to the question of why?
:: David 10:05 AM [+] ::
If I ever wrote an autobiography, Page 1 would be this strip.
:: David 9:35 AM [+] ::
On The Fly
I've decided what I want to be when I grow up.
During my flights to and from San Francisco, I noticed that during the pre-flight announcements, they tell the passengers that it is a violation of federal law to refuse to follow an instruction from the airplane crew. This means, in effect, that airline crewmembers have the authority to make up their own federal laws! If the captain tells you to hop on one foot, it is a federal crime for you not to hop on one foot. Even a stewardess has more authority than the President of the United States! How cool is that?
:: David 9:30 AM [+] ::
Steps Of Liberty
JoCasta send me a link to this site, where you can Squash A Terrorist.
:: David 9:17 AM [+] ::
The Day BEFORE The Day After Tomorrow
:: Sunday, March 16, 2003 ::
I've finally figured out what the reverse-order Idle Ramblings section that bugs Lain so much is good for.
It's time, boys and girls, for the first ever You Must Fight The Bear Write-Off. I'll start, or rather end, a story in the Idle Ramblings section, and the we take turns adding the passage BEFORE that. When the stories finished, or rather begun, a person would be able to open the Idle Ramblings and read the whole story from beginning to end in proper order.
:: David 9:14 AM [+] ::
Does anybody know how often Google crawls? I've been trying to figure out how I could make this blog available to the public (without having it listed at Yahoo! or anything, I just want it to show up if somebody searches for something that I've talked about in it). I couldn't figure out why Google would have the rest of the Hatbag site indexed, but not the blog, until I remembered that Google only updates their index every so often. Does it only follow existing links? In other words, since nothing links to my blog in the Hatbag site, would Google still be able to find it, or do I need a link to it somewhere? Anyway, if anybody knows anything about how Google works, I'd sure appreciate the help.
(BTW, Altavista and Lycos don't even find the new Hatbag site at all, so Google is now the official search engine of Hatbag Productions, as far as I'm concerned).
:: David 12:55 PM [+] ::
For The Record
I have nothing to do with this, which is found at www.davehitt.com.
:: David 11:27 AM [+] ::
To Boldly Go
Please consider signing the National Space Society's petition in support of continued manned spaceflight.
:: David 11:24 AM [+] ::