:: Saturday, April 05, 2003 ::
I picked this strip for today because it's late, I'm tired, and this is the first one I came across.
:: David 10:39 PM [+] ::
Among the highlights of visiting the in-laws in Oxford: Abner's. Man, if Abner's were to open here, that would be among the best and worst things that have happened to me.
:: David 10:38 PM [+] ::
Jumpin' Jack Bass
:: Friday, April 04, 2003 ::
You know, it's really kind of a sad day when you buy gas for $1.43 and marvel at what a great deal you got. It's about $1.69 here, but during my travels, I saw it as low as $1.37.
:: David 10:36 PM [+] ::
As Only NASA Can
OK, here's another way working for NASA is different from other jobs I've had.
Bathroom graphitti is generally some pretty unclassy stuff--those of you who went to Ole Miss can likely remember some pretty choice examples.
So I'm in the men's room in the Flight Projects building today, and scrawled above the urinals was a debate as to which was bigger--Skylab or Mir. The two space stations were depicted as RV trailers, with one drawn a little bigger than the other. To pro-Skylab guy, to show which one was which, had even drawn a tiny stick figure drinking vodka inside one so you could tell it was Mir. Beside it was written, "Skylab was a little bigger than Mir," in which someone had added the word "NOT" after was. Now where else are you going to see that?
:: David 10:59 AM [+] ::
Nicole and I are leaving this afternoon to go visit her family in Oxford, so tomorrow may be the first time that there's no new Daveblog. Sorry. I'll post if I get a chance, but don't know that I'll be around a computer (And I may yet post more today, of course).
:: David 9:52 AM [+] ::
Remember that time Hippie betrayed his Southern roots to go ally himself with the North?
:: David 9:51 AM [+] ::
More Reasons To Dislike Marvel
Lain sent me this one: Captain America, Traitor?
:: David 9:49 AM [+] ::
Hey, You Laika The Space Toys?
OK, now this is just amazingly tempting, but the $50 price tag is a little steep.
CollectSPACE (if you read this, Robert, I think I got the style for the name correct this time [I even changed it in the link on the sidebar]) has info today about new cosmonaut toys being released by the tiny-toy company, Kubrick.
"Made by Medicom Toy of Japan, Kubricks are a cross between LEGO and Playmobil, but modeled to represent celebrities and other pop-culture favorites. New to their line this May are 'Cosmonauts' including mini-versions of Yuri Gagarin, first (space) dog Laika, and a surprisingly detailed Vostok spacecraft. Imported from Japan, the box set will retail for approx."
The info at CollectSPACE even has a link to pictures of the toys, which are very cool.
:: David 9:37 AM [+] ::
One Of These Days
The European Space Agency has unveiled its solar-powered SMART-1 lunar probe, which will launch this summer. Among its missions will be to search for water in deep craters on the Moon.
The ESA is really proud of the low $100 million price tag on SMART-1, noting that it's part of their efforts to build spacecraft more cheaply than NASA can. Ironically, NASA is currently moving away from the mandate to build smaller, cheaper spacecraft, which was a major initiative under former administrator Dan Goldin. Instead, NASA is moving back in the direction of building better spacecraft, which are actually capable of performing more scientific research when they reach their destination.
:: David 9:26 AM [+] ::
The Space Shuttle Challenger launched for her debut flight 20 years ago, at 1:30 p.m. EST April 4, 1983.
Interesting trivia: Challenger was not originally intended to be a flight-worthy member of the Orbiter fleet, but rather a test article. After it was decided not to modify the heavier Enterprise from its Approach and Landing test configuration, Challenger was instead modified for flight capability.
:: David 9:14 AM [+] ::
Space Club Drop-Out
While still interested in possibly moving ahead with an unmanned lunar probe, India is apparently backing away from recent claims that it would launch a manned space program soon.
:: David 8:59 AM [+] ::
Up With Quark
:: Thursday, April 03, 2003 ::
New details are here about Quark XPress 6, the first version to be OS X native. Hard to believe I've gone seven months now without using Quark. There probably weren't many times in the preceding 13 years that I'd been more than a couple of months. What a brave new world that doesn't have such software in it.
:: David 8:53 AM [+] ::
I've set a new Dave-blog record--I've blogged the whole day without posting anything worthy of feedback! Oh well, they can't all be winners. Sorry, guys.
:: David 5:29 PM [+] ::
The Microgravity Science Glovebox onboard ISS is working again.
:: David 2:25 PM [+] ::
Two days left
The sweatshirt sale at the Hatbag store ends tomorrow.
:: David 11:46 AM [+] ::
This guy needs a job
I'm not saying he was right to do this, but anybody that can scam money using the good name of "Baywatch" has legitimate talent.
:: David 11:41 AM [+] ::
WFOR-TV of Miami, FL (4/2, 5:32pm) reports, "NASA is sending out images of Baghdad burning from space. The Expedition-6 crew aboard the International Space Station capturing these pictures of smoke rising from Iraq. NASA says this video was recorded March 31 during one of the orbits of Earth."
For other satellite Iraq pictures, go here.
:: David 11:34 AM [+] ::
Let there be light
It turns out Al Gore had many more inventions. These are mildly amusing, maybe, but the face Gore's making in this one is priceless.
:: David 11:30 AM [+] ::
Xur and the Kodan Armadillo
As I mentioned earlier in the week, Starchaser Industries today unveiled their Nova capsule, the manned spaceflight equivalent of the car Lain's parents used to use for cow-tipping.
On a related note, here's a link to Armadillo Aerospace, a Texas-based (hard to believe, huh) company aiming for the X Prize that has already performed manned drop tests of their capsule.
Be sure to check out the video of the capsule drop test... they're apparently planning to use the most creative form of capsule recovery I've seen.
:: David 11:13 AM [+] ::
Russia will fund extra ISS flights, but they're not happy about it. Again, shades of 2010.
:: David 10:57 AM [+] ::
Everybody knows one of these people.
:: David 10:48 AM [+] ::
This Week At NASAexplores
:: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 ::
The two new articles this week at NASAexplores deal with the Canadarm robot arms on the Space Shuttle and Space Station, and with aerocapture, a proposed method of "braking" for interplanetary spaceflight.
:: David 10:45 AM [+] ::
Han Solo's Higher Power
As a too-devoted Star Wars fan, I was aware that the Millenium Falcon was equipped with a "rectenna," which apparently is that satellite-dish-looking thing mounted on the outside. However, other than snickering a little at the name, I had no idea what one was. Now that I do, I'm a little disappointed.
Rectenna--n. RECTifying anTENNA. An antenna comprising a mesh of dipoles and diodes for absorbing microwave energy from a transmitter and converting it into electric power. In future rectennas will be used to generate large scale power from microwave beams delivered from orbiting SPS satellites.
If the Lucasfilm gurus are correct, then the Falcon relied, at least in part, on an external power source. Hard to believe.
:: David 4:58 PM [+] ::
Guess Who's Back?
So like five and a half years ago, Lain, Richie and I went to Lilith Fair in Atlanta. Great concert, great performers, great performances. But the big surprise of the evening was Jewel, who had not yet come out with her second album, but was already known for her sensitive, folksy ways. But at this concert, Jewel ROCKED hard. Well, for Jewel anyway. Certainly she rocked more than anybody else at the concert. So then the new album came out, and we thought maybe this was going to be the new rocking Jewel album. And it wasn't. And then another album. A little more upbeat, in places, but nothing like the Jewel rocking we had witnessed years earlier. I've even seen video of Jewel performing live, and no rocking. So maybe it was just like a one-night thing. Or maybe on that tour she flirted with rocking, but decided against it.
So, anyway, Jewel's got a new album out after two years. And the Netscape homepage says it rocks. And for Jewel, it does. Certainly it's a long way from that Hands stuff of Pieces Of You crap ("Ugly giiiiiiiirl..."). But nothing like the great lost Jewel-rocking of 1997. The world may never see such Jewel-rocking again.
:: David 3:31 PM [+] ::
How Strong Is Your Kung-Fu
OK, discussion question. I got to thinking about this earlier. What skill do you have that would take the longest to learn from scratch? I don't know that I have any that would take more than a day to learn. Now, I'm not talking about ability level, but just being able to perform a task. I mean, while it would take the average mortal years, if ever, to learn to write a news story as well as I do, you could take any person of moderate intelligence, and by the end of the day, they could write a functional news story. Compare that to, for example, brain surgery. There is no way you could no nothing about brain surgery and be able to do it functionally with any small amount of training. I got to thinking about this because I was looking at some of the code for the sites I'm operating, and realized that I would likely need actual lengthy, formal education to do that, as opposed to the basic coding I do now. Everything you would need to know to reach my level of web programming, I could teach in a day (well, some of that would be learning how to learn more, but, still...). Even including just basic life skills, I'm having trouble thinking of exceptions. Despite the fact, for example, that it takes a semester to teach driver's ed, you really can cover the basics pretty quickly. Since my readership is pretty liberal-arts-intensive (if DeeDee's still out there, she may be the exception), I would be curious to see if any of you can come up with an exception, either for yourself or for me.
:: David 1:54 PM [+] ::
Questions? Dave's Got Answers!
BTW, as part of my work on the NASA Kids and Liftoff sites, I've started answering a reader-submitted question three times a week (MWF) on each site. Check it out here and here. I've even help set up FAQs (with links from those pages) to which the answers will be added, but only a few of the FAQ answers are mine currently.
On a related note, I plowed further back into the e-mail backlog on those sites than I'd been before, and ran into something kind of sad. I get a bunch of e-mails assuming that the person reading the e-mail is going to be like the head of NASA, or an astronaut, or the crew of ISS ("How's it going up there in space?"). I also get a lot of messages addressed to Becky and Patrick, the former curators of the sites. But I saw this one sent in late January, addressed to Laurel. Who's Laurel? Well, after reading it a couple of times, I figured it out. Laurel is STS-107 astronaut Laurel Clark. The message was sent by a relative of hers (the grandfather of her nephew), and talks about looking forward to hearing about her adventure when she returns. And it ended up in my inbox. Hmmm.
:: David 1:43 PM [+] ::
Want a $300 G4 clone? This 21-year-old guy says he'll sell you a brand new iBox soon.
:: David 12:49 PM [+] ::
I still hate that our glorious Alaskan rebirth was so star-crossed.
:: David 9:51 AM [+] ::
Talk To The Monkey
This is interesting also. I read David Brin's Uplift novels years and years ago, in which humanity helps other primates and dolphins become members of the galactic sentient community. Apparently pretty prescient.
:: David 9:37 AM [+] ::
Gates to Mars
I missed this yesterday when it was posted. Exciting news, but I hope their ship doesn't crash (like Windows, get it?).
:: David 9:37 AM [+] ::
Hughes on the Hill
Lain's dad is currently addressing a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate about cell phones. And, thanks to Internet streaming, Lain can hear him now.
:: David 9:30 AM [+] ::
Another Columbia Update
This site also has a fair bit of news. In fact, if you're following the investigation (or several other topics), it's a good one to bookmark, since it summarizes several news reports.
:: David 9:28 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 ::
Well, apparently it wasn't RCC panel No. 6. Two steps forward, one step back.
:: David 9:19 AM [+] ::
This is AT&T
JoCasta sent me this lesson in telephone ettiquete a while back. Kind of funny.
:: David 3:51 PM [+] ::
Yet Another New Feature
I've added, at the very bottom of the sidebar to the left, a poll. Not the greatest poll in the world, I just wanted to see if it would work. Let me know what you think, and if you have any ideas for future polls. And, BTW, I obviously have nothing to do with the ads (or other content) on the results page.
(And now, not only is the number of Idle Ramblings not showing up, the name has revered to Shout Out again. I don't know why. Hopefully this means it's being fixed.)
:: David 2:14 PM [+] ::
Happy Birthday, Apple
The greatest computer company in history turns 27 today (Meaning that Jobs and Woz started Apple about 8 months after I was born, no doubt knowing that there target audience had come into the world).
:: David 12:38 PM [+] ::
Not my fault
A Blogger problem this morning prevented publishing. Sorry for the delay!
:: David 11:37 AM [+] ::
That's No Moon!
Astronomers are on the verge of a problem: What is a moon?
:: David 8:50 AM [+] ::
Sometimes, you just gotta see the light.
:: David 8:48 AM [+] ::
According to SpaceDaily, British company Starchaser Industries is preparing to unveil on Thursday its new rocket capsule, the Nova II, which will then be transported to the US for drop-testing to prove its landing system. Once that's done, unmanned and then manned rocket launches will follow.
No timetable is given, so I can't guess as to whether this will occur before China becomes the third country to launch a manned rocket later this year.
The Nova II is a stepping stone for Project Thunderbird, Starchaser Industries' effort to when the $10 million X Prize, offered to the first non-governmental organisation capable of launching three people into space with a reusable vehicle.
:: David 8:42 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, March 31, 2003 ::
Wanna travel faster than light? Here's your chance.
:: David 8:31 AM [+] ::
OK... my new favorite beliefs of Moon hoax conspiracy nuts: The Challenger was destroyed to kill McAuliffe, whom NASA knew, even though she had not yet been into space, was going to reveal that you CAN see stars in space.
Another victim of NASA/the U.S. government was O.J. Simpson, who was framed for murder for his part in trying to expose the Moon hoax, to wit: Starring in Capricorn 1, 20 years earlier.
:: David 5:13 PM [+] ::
My friend Mark Rogers has created his own snazzy version of the Terror Alert page. A few of the messages are the same ones I linked to last week, but he's mixed in quite a few great ones of his own devising. Check it out.
:: David 3:57 PM [+] ::
ISS Science Officer Don Pettit has posted two more entries in his Space Chronicles series.
:: David 3:20 PM [+] ::
More DM update
Thanks to Joe, here is a link to a more complete version of the story at the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Finley's comments make an even stronger argument in this version.
:: David 12:37 PM [+] ::
DM Press Update
Jim sent me an AP story about the press, though not the link, so here's the full text:
Ole Miss student paper losing printing operation
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Renovations at the University of Mississippi will move the printing of the student newspaper off campus.
The decision to remove the on-campus printing operation, one of only a handful remaining in the nation, wasn't one based on cost, said Stuart Bullion, chairman of the school's journalism department.
It was based on space in Farley Hall, he said.
Bullion said the university has expanded the budget to include the construction of more space in Farley Hall to accommodate more classrooms.
"It came down to the press or more classrooms," he said. "Considering the press is a less essential function of the newspaper than what goes on in the newsroom, we decided to remove the press."
Julie Finley, editor of the Daily Mississippian, said students will be missing out on an important operation of a newspaper.
"It makes us aware of the entire process," she said.
Most nights, the news staff has completed its duties and has the paper ready for the press by midnight. If printing goes off campus, reporters will have less time to cover events that happen later in the evening, such as basketball games and student body meetings, she said.
"Our goal is to get the news to the reader. With the press here, we have an advantage," Finley said.
Finley said experience gained by working at the newspaper outweighs classroom studies.
"It would take away a huge recruiting tool," she said. "It would take away the heart, the essence, of the Daily Mississippian."
:: David 12:27 PM [+] ::
Ex Astra, Ars
NASA should become an arts patron.
I thought about this watching The Core Saturday, which like I said had a pretty pro-NASA slant (I saw at least two former astronauts in the "Thanks" section of the credit, and think the agency was probably there also). That said, other than possibly fostering a little positive sentiment, it does the agency little good, in that it does not promote awareness for anything we're actually doing.
One idea I had would be for the agency to make a feature film about a Shuttle mission, possibly the next one. Basically do something similar to some of the Imax movies NASA has partnered on, only make a feature film instead. Take a camera up on a Shuttle flight, and film some pre- and post-mission stuff as well. Possibly even hire an effects house to soup it up a bit, combining real launch and landing footage with effects sequences, creating something a la Apollo 13. The one problem is, to be able to sell it nowadays, you need a plot. And movies like The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, and (now this movie sounds odd in this list) Space Camp are the rare contemporary-esque space movies that, like The Core, don't require either aliens or a bad guy. Oh, I guess also Armageddon. For every one of those, there's plenty of Space Cowboys, Mission To Mars, and even 2001-type stuff that needs either a villian or an alien to work.
That's why STS-114 might work for a movie, since you have the dramatic tension generated by STS-107. Plus, you've got interesting characters like Eileen Collins, the first female Shuttle commander. I wonder how hard it would be to sell such a movie?
To me, the Shuttle has such untapped potential for motion picture stardom, which you see a bit of in things like The Core, Space Cowboys, and Armageddon. It has the huge advantage of being both science-fictiony and iconic, since it is both a working spacecraft and a national landmark. It's just a matter of doing it right.
Another option, and possibly a more potentially succesful one, is for NASA to become an arts patron, giving genius-grant-type awards to people involved in certain projects, such as novels, or scripts for movies.
The projects would have to meet two criteria: They would have to be positive and possible, which is to say, pro-spaceflight, and based in real science achievable in the next 20 years.
The idea would be to support mass media that would raise public awareness of manned spaceflight, to remind people just how cool this can be.
Such an endeavour could even help pave the way to Mars: One of the biggest things standing in our way right now is a lack of political support, which in turns answers to public opinion. Books, movies, TV, etc. that won over public interest in a Mars project could actually help make such a thing a reality.
Such an idea is not completely without precedent. NASA paid for the "Way Up There" song to celebrate the centennial of flight, which was also used as a memorial for the STS-107 crew. NASA has also met with Hollywood to discuss working together before. In fact, the ideas discussed then could even help make scripts generated through a system like I'm proposing more likely to actually make it to the screen.
Anyway, just an idea.
:: David 11:33 AM [+] ::
Pravda published this article a while back about pregnancy tests being sent to ISS. Amusing reading.
:: David 10:45 AM [+] ::
Pope Of Deliverance
McCartney warned: Don't wake the Pope.
:: David 10:33 AM [+] ::
How Much Longer Will The World Be Safe?
According to e-mail I just received from my former editor, Jim Abbott, he heard on the radio this morning that Ole Miss is going to shut down the press for The Daily Mississippian, ostensibly because they need the room. If anybody hears any more about this, let me know.
:: David 10:18 AM [+] ::
More Yuri Gagarin News
Man, this guy is just all over the place lately. SpaceDaily has a new story about the Yuri's Night event being planned for April 12, marking the anniversary of the first manned spaceflight.
:: David 9:51 AM [+] ::
New information from Columbia's flight data recorder shows that the overheating of the left wing began sooner than previously known, meaning that the breach apparently already existed prior to re-entry.
I read an interesting article in The Washington Post that pointed out that the flight data recorder had already been missed once in a search of that area, but that the search team was sent back out because it was determined that area was where the box should have landed. That's just pretty darned impressive.
:: David 9:50 AM [+] ::
Looking for a Hatbag strip, I noticed for the first time that the guy who falls for Hippie's psychic bit actually used to live with Hippie. Shouldn't he have known better?
:: David 9:44 AM [+] ::
In The Globe And Mail, a former Windows devotee writes that the newest Macs are "probably the best personal computers ever made."
:: David 9:26 AM [+] ::
I'm sure you'll all be delighted to know that the Herbie "The Love Bug" movie is getting its special edition DVD release May 20.
:: David 9:21 AM [+] ::
Pictures ... from spaaaaaaaaace!
:: Sunday, March 30, 2003 ::
Atleast for the duration of Exp. 6, Science@NASA has set up a Space Station Science Picture of the Day Web site. Every Monday through Friday, a new picture taken on ISS will be posted on the site. Today's pic is a view of the amazingly dense starfield visible from ISS in the southern sky.
:: David 9:14 AM [+] ::
So, I mean, what's the point of having a blog called You Must Fight The Bear if there are no bears? Consider that remedied! There's a series of random bears that will come up each time you come to my site. If you find another fight-worthy bear, send them my way.
I've also added a link to Arlo & Janis, the greatest contemporary comic strip (assuming you consider Hatbag defunct). For a sampling of A&J strips, click here.
Also, on the off chance you haven't noticed it, at the bottom of the sidebar I've included a news feed from Liftoff, one of the NASA sites I'm curating. Good stuff down there. Check it out.
:: David 9:10 PM [+] ::
Ah, who could forget those heady days of Animaniacs?
:: David 8:19 PM [+] ::
Whoever said the human race is logical?
Click here for travel photos from Spock's tour of America.
:: David 7:54 PM [+] ::
For some reason, the number of Idle Ramblings is not displaying after each entry. I don't know why, but I do know that some other blogs that use this system are suffering the same problem (and some aren't). The messages are still there, and can still be added, it's just inconvenient. As soon as it can be fixed, it will be.
:: David 7:48 PM [+] ::
Somebody leave the light on
Alright, it's time for the first ever "You Must Fight The Bear" movie review. We went and saw "The Core" last night, so here's my thoughts.
First, a personal note. After 9/11, I was one of those that said that movies filmed before then that featured the World Trade Center should be left as is, rather than removing the towers from the film. I thought it a poor tribute to pretend they had never existed.
Going in to see this movie, I agreed with the director's decision to leave the Shuttle scene in its original form. And I guess I still do. That said, I thought I was ready to watch it. I wasn't. For most of the people reading my blog, it shouldn't be a problem. For my co-workers, I might advise waiting a little while, or at least steeling themselves a little more than I did (Watching San Francisco be blown away, on the other hand, was fine. Nothing personal, S.F.)
That said, it was kind of cool seeing a movie where NASA is so instrumental in saving the world. It wasn't even a big deal, it was sort of subtle, kind of a "Well, of course NASA would be involved" sort of thing.
Anyway, back to the movie. It was exactly as good as you would think it would be from the trailers and commercials. I couldn't name any significant flaws with it, but neither was there anything transcendent about it. All in all, is was a pretty decent popcorn movie. The science was, to a liberal arts major, surprisingly non-problematic, compared to, oh, say, um, Armageddon, for example (remind me sometime to write in here about the "Goodnight, Moon" movie idea that Lain and I developed). The only major science problem I had was the extent to which things early on were written simply to solve problems at the end... there were several times when they were building the ship that I thought, why would they want it to do that, only to have that question answered at the end. But it was the sort of thing that probably wouldn't bother 98 percent of the audience, including Richie (though other things might).
So, there you go. A movie review with no useful information. And to think, I used to get paid to do this.
:: David 7:45 PM [+] ::
Get Up, Stand Up
I got to play Tron last night. The old Tron arcade stand-up video game is one of my favorite arcade games of all time (the original Star Wars game is probably number one) and so it's always great when I find the machine somewhere. Sadly, the one I found, which used to be elsewhere in Huntsville and whose new location I discovered only last night, has been sold, so soon it won't be there anymore. Here's the other sad thing, though: despite my love for the game, I'm not any good at it, never have been, and never will be. I think one time I might have made it to the third board, though for the life of me, I don't remember how. Oh well.
This place also had a Q-bert machine for sale as well. Neither one of us is a huge Q-bert fan, though Nicole used to be a pretty serious Q-bert Atari player back in the day. Nonetheless, at the price they've got it at (cheap, even at more than what you would pay for any console on the market), it's darned tempting just to own an arcade stand-up. I mean, who hasn't wanted their own arcade machine? Ironically, that's one that's been a dream of Nicole's even more than mine. Visitors would be awed by our sheer coolness (we'd turn the A/C way up, too).
So, I need advice... what would it be worth to own a Q-bert arcade machine?
:: David 7:31 PM [+] ::