|:: Friday, August 20, 2004 ::|
The Blog Has Moved!
Find it at alltheseworlds.hatbag.net.
|:: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 ::|
I found something even sillier than the Enterprise Mission:
Another revelation to those who understand the symbolic language of the Illuminati is the hidden meaning of the names of the Space Shuttles, "A Colombian Enterprise to Endeavor for the Discovery of Atlantis... and all Challengers shall be destroyed."
Of all the topical strips we did, this one seems to be timely the most frequently (though we should have left out the reference to Hawaii).
Take A Nap! Now!
Tons of new great posting on the Joe Blog.
Rutan For The Future
Per Flight International:
A one-person version of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne that reaches an orbit of 130km (81 miles) to rendezvous with an orbiting hotel may form the next stage of Burt Rutan's private manned spaceflight plans.
...the aerospace designer detailed how such an orbital vehicle could be evolved from his existing three-man, suborbital 3,000kg (6,600lb) SpaceShipOne. The amount of spacecraft mass dedicated to fuel would be increased to achieve the greater altitude and speed required.
...Rutan referred to plans by Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, to develop a space hotel based on NASA-originated inflatable habitat technology.
That's No Moon!
I figured this was coming after the story I linked to yesterday about the two new tiny, tiny Saturnian moons that Cassini has discovered. Astronomers are raising the question of what exactly constitutes a moon. Just as Sedna and Quaoar (and Pluto)are making us reconsider definitions for what a planet is, these two rocks are forewarning of an approaching time when, without a limitation on what a moon is, hundreds more moons may be added to our solar system's roster.
The Flying Car
For at least half a century, we've been promised The Flying Car at some not-to-distant-yet-still-futuristic date. The latest: The Flying Car is coming in 10 years. Not that you'll have one in 10 years, of course.
With the completion of several key milestones, Discovery is on track for a NET March launch.
So apparently RealNetworks supports Freedom of Choice but not freedom of speech.
Per Spacflight Now:
It thus appears that the first generation of stars in the Milky Way galaxy was formed at about the time the "Dark Ages" ended, now believed to be some 200 million years after the Big Bang.
It would seem that the system in which we live may indeed be one of the "founding" members of the galaxy population in the Universe.
Change Is Coming...
|:: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 ::|
I think I may have discussed this before, but I can't remember how many Hatbag characters have real names.
Ahead Of The Times
I've been proudly lowercasing internet for years.
Still in the early days of mission, Cassini has already discovered two new Saturnian moons, and they're tiny.
Paramount and I have had one discussion about my appearing on "Enterprise." I mentioned money and they stopped calling. my best, Bill
Though not using the software I linked to yesterday, I did figure out how to download .mp3s over WiFi and play them on my Newton (well, I should say an .mp3, since I currently only have enough memory on mine for one song at a time). Not bad for a machine that predates WiFi and mp3. I also did some cool Newt-enchanced grocery shopping last night.
Jurassic Park Is Melting In The Dark
These spoilers for Jurassic Park 4 are just too amusing to not link to. Let me just point out that this would be a horrible, horrible movie.
|:: Monday, August 16, 2004 ::|
I'm considering registering a domain for the Daveblog, but I wanted to open it up for input. The domain name would be something space-related, probably something similar to the current blog name (though www.alltheseworlds.com is taken, though not currently in use).
Upsides include potentially easier-to-enter address (though how often does anybody type in an entire URL anymore, and the current address, though it does have a slash, is still pretty short and easy). I could do other stuff with the URL (i.e. have other space-related content on the site), and am looking at the possibility of having sub-domains, which could give me multiple top-level sites (for example, if the address were currently blog.hatbag.net). And, of course, having a URL more closely linked to the content. There's also a chance that I could make e-mail addresses for the URL available to blogfans (i.e. email@example.com).
The biggest downside would be, natch, that the address would change (though I'd certainly be keeping hatbag.net, so I could set up an automatic referral page). Also, and this is a downside mainly just to me, it would separate out the traffic stats for the blog and the comic strip site, which, though giving a more accurate picture of the traffic for both, would make my numbers fall, which would make me sad.
It's apropos of nothing, but I found a line in this article to be amusing:
The eMac is now silent enough to actually be able to enjoy music.
I've always suspected that my iPod is able to actually enjoy music, since it having musical taste is the only way to explain why its "random" selection likes some songs better than others.
Doubt that I'll actually be using this software since it only runs in Classic (and I have about enough memory free on my Newt for one song), but I did think this is a kinda cool site.
There's no 10th anniversary strip today, so I'm posting this one to demonstrate how well HATBAG avoided the sci-fi Singularity problem described below.
Whither The Future
There's an article in Popular Science that has some rather interesting bits, about The Singularity and its effect on science fiction.
The idea was conceived by Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist and science-fiction writer who’s now a professor emeritus at San Diego State University. We’re living through a period of unprecedented technological and scientific advances, Vinge says, and sometime soon the convergence of fields such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology will push humanity past a tipping point, ushering in a period of wrenching change. After that moment—the Singularity—the world will be as different from today’s world as this one is from the Stone Age.
To try to summarize the element of the article I found interesting, the idea, not even put into such concrete terms, that a Singularity is pending in the immediate future (say the next 20 years), has diminished the world of science fiction, which is having a difficult time creating futures which are both advanced from our own and believable.
New Frontiers For Huntsville
I was surprised to read this bit of news in the paper this weekend:
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. has been selected as the site of NASA's Discovery and New Frontiers Program Office. ...
The Discovery initiative includes focused, scientific investigations that complement NASA's larger planetary exploration. Its goal is to launch numerous small missions with a faster development phase -- each for considerably less than the cost of larger missions. The Discovery program has launched numerous missions to date, including the Mars Pathfinder, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous-Shoemaker, and Genesis missions.
The New Frontiers initiative addresses high-priority investigations identified by the National Academy of Sciences. NASA's first New Frontiers mission is called New Horizons, which will fly by the Pluto-Charon system in 2014, and then target other Kuiper belt objects. NASA recently selected two mission proposals under the New Frontiers program for pre-formulation study, leading to a selection of the second New Frontiers mission in May, 2005.
Without saying too much about this, this is a new area for Marshall, one which does not appear immediately to play off the center's traditional strengths. Of course, the one area of overlap is that Marshall has done a lot of work on next-generation propulsion methods, which may mean that the agency is looking for ways to speed up implementation of those methods in solar system exploration.
A fascinating bit of news, indeed.
And here's more about it from The Huntsville Times.
As The Apple Turns has some speculation on the tablet Mac rumors.
As does Cult of Mac.
|:: Saturday, August 14, 2004 ::|
You Want Weekend Dave-Bloggin'?
I got your weekend Dave-bloggin' right here.
What Might Not Have Been
Here's an excellent article about the history of Macintosh, addressing the whole OS licensure question and looking at what might have been, what would not have been, and what should have been.
Action Versus Plot
Saw AVP last night. Not as bad as it could have been, but it could have been a whole lot better. The first thing that would have helped it is if someone had actually read the script before they started shooting it. Even without going into the canon of the two series, the script had tons of just minor, annoying problems. I'm generally the sort of person who lets stuff like that slide, but throughout this movie I found myself going, "Yeah, but..." Plus, and I've never seen either of the Predator movies, but this film played surprisingly fast and loose with the Alien canon, particularly considering the involvement of one of the creators of the original Alien (to be fair, though, tweaking the Alien canon to fit your story is an old trick that dates back to the James Cameron days. I just don't remember it ever having been this egregious before.)
The other major problem with the movie is that it breaks the "make-or-break" rule of the Alien series, which is, in short, "To thine own self be true."
Each of the Alien movies has been in an entirely different genre, and the best are the ones that know what sort of movie they are, and play to that.
Alien, of course, is your conventional horror movie, a classic monster movie. The monster just happens to be an alien, and the haunted house just happens to be their spaceship, but it follows all of the rules and conventions of a good horror movie. By following the monster movie rules, and having a darned scary monster, it works perfectly.
Aliens is obviously a war movie. The basic story elements and emotional notes could be transferred to World War II or, particularly, Vietnam, and work just as well. And, again, it's good at what it does. Aliens is an excellent war movie, and the addition of a darned formidable enemy makes it perfect.
Alien^3 is where this begins to fall apart. Alien^3 is, at its heart, a drama. The story isn't about the alien, it's about the people, the alien is just a catalyst for telling the story. Unfortunately, someone, likely the studio, never really understood that, and tried to make it something it wasn't, pretending to some extent it was a horror movie. It wasn't, and doesn't work as one, and adding those elements to a drama means that it doesn't work as anything. I still find Alien^3 to be underrated, possibly because I try to watch it as what it was meant to be instead of what it was forced to try to become, but it lacks the internal consistency of the first two.
Ditto Alien Resurrection. Alien Resurrection, in my mind, is the least ambitious of the series from a genre perspective, in that it uses the same science fiction elements as the others (spaceships, aliens, etc.), but unlike the others, used them to tell a science fiction story. Whereas the others have the synergy of the deft repurposing of elements of one genre to service another, AR is flat and lacking in creativity; as impressive as the alchemy of turning lead into lead. Unfortunately, AR apparently doesn't even realize what it is. I doubt its writers even gave any thought to the whole issue of genre. AR is a fanboy film, which attempts only to do cool things with the rules of the Alien universe, which is what makes it science fiction, it attempts to do tricks with ideas.
But I think its creators were under the mistaken impression that they were making a horror film, and indeed, it does have some scary moments, as do all of the Alien films. But one has to wonder if they really thought that saggy-breasted baby Skeletor was going to be scary. A horror movie, to work, has to have a scary climax. And AR just plain doesn't. Saggy-breasted baby Skeletor is pure science fiction, the culmination of interesting ideas--a combination of the aliens and humanity. From that perspective, he works. From being something out of a horror movie, he just doesn't. It's hard to believe that anybody that thought that softening the alien up with humanity would somehow make it scarier. So, again, another Alien movie weakened by failing to stay true to its core concept.
So now we have Alien Versus Predator. And, once again, we have the same problem.
It took me a while after watching it to realize what genre film this was. It pretends, as did the last two Alien movies, to be a horror film. But, like the last two Alien movies, it's just not.
But, it's possibly actually less sure of what it actually is than any of them. I finally decided that if you stripped away the entire movie and rebuilt it around its core, that what it actually would be is, and this makes sense from the title, a fight movie. It's the Rocky or Karate Kid or Stricly Ballroom or Searching For Bobby Fischer of the Alien series (and the Predator series, too, I guess).
And that's where it suffers it's biggest failure. A fight movie has to have--has to have--a hero. Imagine watching Rocky and not knowing if Rocky was the one who was going to be in the big fight at the end. Imagine watching the Karate Kid and wondering if maybe it was going to be about Johnny. You have to have a hero.
A horror movie, on the other hand, is just the opposite. The hero develops. At the beginning, you have to have no idea who will live or die. Someone watching the first Alien movie, having never seen the others and knowing nothing about them, is not going to know that Ripley is the hero into well into the movie.
That's part of why the changing-genre aspects of the Alien movies works to well. In the first movie, Ripley develops as the hero. Which is how a horror movie should work. By the second movie, we know Ripley's going to be the hero. Which is fine, because you need a hero in a war movie. The second one would not have worked as a horror movie once you knew Ripley is the hero.
AVP pretends at the beginning to be a horror movie, but, because it's not really, it doesn't work as one. Unfortunately, by pretending to be, it doesn't do due service to the hero, which means that it can't work properly as a fight movie either.
Of course, to be fair, watching the movie, I wondered how they could make a movie with such blaring problems, but then, when it was over, and heard the applause, I realized the answer. The target audience of AVP are those people that want to see cool Aliens fighting Predators stuff, and in that respect it does pay off. I imagine those people came into the movie of a checklist of things they wanted to see, and I can imagine that by the time they left most or all of those items had been checked off.
Leaving those of us who were fans of Alien and Aliens because they were good movies to keep hoping for that rumored Ridley Scott and James Cameron team-up Alien movie.
Rich Beyond The Dreams Of Avarice
You know, I'll be the first to admit I know nothing of the technology involved, but it seems to me that there's a gold mine waiting for the company that figures out how to broadcast WiFi like cellular. I would pay good money for the ability to connect to the internet wirelessly anywhere in town. (And notice I've managed to go this entire post without mentioning how phenomenally cool that would make my WiFi Newton. Oh crap, so much for that.)
|:: Friday, August 13, 2004 ::|
Not only can I now blog wirelessly from my Newt at work, I can also read my blog on it as well! Fear the power of NEWTON!!!
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores.com, I've got an article about the Heated Tube Facility at NASA's Glenn Research Center, and Maggie's got a piece about clean rooms.
Take One Tablet...
OK, keep in mind that most Apple rumors on the internet aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Also keep in mind that Jobs said not that long ago that Apple had developed a PDA but had decided not to sell it (though this isn't strictly a PDA). Of course, you can also keep in mind the fact that Apple not that long ago dug up the handwriting recognition software from the Newton (still the best ever developed) and adapted it to work with OS X as Inkwell. With those caveats firmly in mind, I thought this is kind of interesting:
Apple has filed for a European design trademark which may provide a tantalising glimpse of the company's long-awaited tablet computer. ...
The filing ... covers a "handheld computer" and contains sketches of what look like an iBook screen minus the body of the computer.
The drawing, of course, could be of anything--it could just as easily be a wireless monitor, which has been rumored before. And, even if the filing does in fact say it's a handheld computer, it could be paperwork filed in connection with the developed-but-killed PDA.
In the meantime, it's an interesting Apple rumor.
One of very, very many.
Following up on the conversation about Fred Haise and his unique role in space exploration, I thought it worth pointing out that as interesting as he is, apparently neither Haise nor fellow Mississippian astronaut-turned-NASA-administrator Richard Truly (nor Space Shuttle Winona rider Don Peterson) merit inclusion in the upcoming Mississippi Encyclopedia. I have sent e-mail to the Managing Editor recommending their inclusion, and even offered to write the entries myself, but to no avail. Stennis Space Center, which played a vital role in sending men to the Moon, is also ignored. In fact, the encyclopedia apparently will not recognize scientific contributions of any Mississippians who aren't women. (Dr. James Hardy, who performed the world's first heart transplant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1964, is included--under contemporary issues.) To me, this just goes to further stereotypes about the state.
Anyone else who finds this an appalling oversight is welcome to join me in writing to those responsible.
This one turns 7 tomorrow, which is also when my youngest brother turns 16.
There's been a lot of hype in the last year about China's plan to put a man on the Moon... maybe... or not... or whatever... at sometime... unless they don't, but very little during the same period about India's plans to put a man on the Moon by 2015 (to be fair, possibly because, unlike China, they haven't put a man in space, or even, to the best of my knowledge, flown a man-rated spacecraft). So now India is saying maybe they won't send people to the Moon either. The country does still plan to orbit a lunar probe next year, though.
When I first saw this story yesterday, I was going to ignore it as silly, but now it's all over the place:
An expedition of Russian researchers claims to have found evidence that an alien spaceship had something to do with a huge explosion over Siberia in 1908. Experts in asteroids and comets have long said the massive blast was caused by a space rock.
The new ET claim is "a rather stupid hoax," one scientist said today. And it's one with a rich history.
So I stumbled across Blogshares.com last night while doing a Google search. Initially I came across the Blogshares page for Nik's blog, and was glad to discover that an outgoing link on my blog was worth $175, compared to only $116 for Nik's blog! Yay, me! But then I discovered that outgoing links at Taking A Nap were worth a high of $458. Of course, shares of my blog are worth $59, compared to 24 cents for Joe's. To be fair, though, all three of our blogs have multiple Blogshares entries, each with different values, so it all depends on which one you go with.
|:: Thursday, August 12, 2004 ::|
And, since I know you've been in suspense for the last 24 hours, here's the second part of the series.
Alas, Poor Geoffrey
Apropos of nothing but a short period of Dave history, Toys R Us may get out of the toys business.
collectSPACE reports today that the U.S. Postal Service has authorized Stamps.com to begin offering customer-designed stamps. By going to the PhotoStamps Web site, you can upload an image that you would like to see on a stamp, and then order them.
Today In History
On this date 27 years ago, the Space Shuttle Enterprise made its first free flight, commanded by Apollo 13 LMP (and Mississippian) Fred Haise and piloted by Gordon Fullterton, after being carried aloft on NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. (Though the picture above is actually from the second of the five free flights.)
Also on this date, 42 years ago, two manned spacecraft were in orbit simultaneously when Voshkod 4 joined Voshkod 3, which had been launched the day before.
True Private Spaceflight
While this blog is getting carried away with X Prize fever, here's a little something else to dream about: the day when individuals could own their own personal spacecraft.
Alan Boyle interviewed Armadillo Aerospace and Doom mastermind John Carmack about the future of the Black Armadillo program after the weekend crash, and among the interesting things that Carmack had to say, this stood out:
"$35,000 is basically what the vehicle cost. The new one will probably be closer to $40,000, because we are doing more custom machining and using some more expensive materials. ... If we built two identical ones at the same time, cost would go down a little, probably 15 percent, and labor for the second one would probably be cut in half."
Now, granted, this is for an unmanned prototype, and, granted, this doesn't cover launch costs, but consider that there are people willing to pay $100,000 for a suborbital flight. Is it too hard to imagine that within a couple of decades the cost for an assembly-line personal spacecraft would fall low enough that there would be people willing to pay it?
Picture Of The Day
Clouds on Mars. Courtesy SpaceRef.com
You know, I completely forgot about the Perseids last night/this morning. Did anybody out there see anything?
If you, like me, missed it, the show's not over. Go back out tonight and try again. After midnight, there should be about a dozen meteors per hour.
Dave's Wish List
So I'm waiting patiently for word that either USA's The 4400 has been renewed on as an ongoing series or that Troy Hickman's Common Grounds comic book has been picked up as an ongoing. Two great miniseries that deserve to be continued.
(For that matter, I'm watching for any word on what Hickman will be doing next. I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago that the second part of his two-ish run on Witchblade is now on shelves, and I don't know what he's got planned after that.)
So it turns out that the ultimate Matrix Collection won't have extended cuts of the films, which saves me a nice chunk of change. That said, the idea of adding commentary tracks from critics who hated the films in a novel concept.
I should note that before Japan successfully deployed its solar sail material in space the other day, a team at Marshall deployed two solar sails in a vacuum environment, albeit one on Earth.
Addendum: And here's a fresh update on another solar sail project, which is leading the race to be the first true solar sail "propulsion" flight.
|:: Wednesday, August 11, 2004 ::|
I'm publishing this post wirelessly from My Newton
I'm publishing this post wirelessly from My Newton!
Slightly old news, but I'm just now seeing it. Discovery was powered up a couple of weeks ago and is returning to a normal processing work flow after having been powered down for Return to Flight modifications.
Forgot to post the two-part series that started the month.
Attack Of The Clones
Britain has issued the first license for human cloning. The focus of the license is stem cell production.
Now It's Even Meteor!
Tonight will mark the primo skygazing opportunity for the Perseid meteor shower. Go out after dusk tonight for the chance to see rare but magnificent Earthgrazer meteors. Then get up before dawn tomorrow morning for the shower's peak, when better than a meteor a minute should be visible.
I posted a couple of days ago a link to where you can buy flown patches from the first spaceflight of The da Vinci Project's Wild Fire, and here's yet another opportunity to buy an official X Prize souvenier--official parts from "decommisioned" Armadillo Aerospace rockets (presumably like the one that was "decommisioned" hard into the ground this past weekend) for a mere $125.
Japan has deployed a makeshift solar sail, sorta. The sail was not used to test propulsion, but just to demonstrate a superthin material which could be used for a sail.
It's A Short Way Down... The Street
You know, I'm enough of a space and science fiction buff to think that it's really, really cool that scientists are experimenting with antimatter just half a mile from where I work, but I've also seen enough starships explode for it to make me a little nervous.
Latest from the continuing changing reports of what exactly China's space program is going to do. They will not be launching a female taikonaut any time soon, and they will someday be sending humans to the Moon, but it's anybody's guess when, and there may or may not be two taikonauts on next year's Shenzhou VI.
The Best PCs...
Apple Computer received the best "overall rating" for both desktop computers and notebooks in the Reader's Choice awards at, yep, PC Magazine.
The PC mag questions whether they may be a reason for the rating other than high quality: "Can all of Apple Computer's survey success be chalked up to fanatical users?"
I have no doubt that the intensely loyal Mac user base has at least something to do with the results, but, you know, there is a reason why Mac users are so loyal.