Well, if not the moon, at least space:
Electrician Alan Watts said he flew to and from the United States on Virgin Atlantic flights more than 40 times in the past six years, earning him enough miles to take the trip into space with Virgin's space wing, London's The Sun newspaper reported Friday. The trip cost 2 million frequent flier miles, compared to the 90,000 miles required for a first-class flight from London to New York.
Now that's what I call traveling in style!
Spaceflightnow is carrying this update on the Pluto-bound New Horizons space probe. The probe took some long-distance images of Jupiter, mostly as a shake-down test of its systems. Much more information is expected when it performs a fly-by of the planet in 2007. It's not expected to arrive at the recently demoted
planetoid sub-planet mini-me whatever the hell the astronomers are calling Pluto this week until 2015.
It appears Chrysler may soon be importing Chinese-built Chery automobiles. If the quality is as good as our PT's, they should do well. If not, well...
Virgin Atlantic is now providing a "first look" at its upcoming Space Ship 2. The site includes details of what you'd actually get for your $200,000 ticket. Guess it's time to sell the house...
New Scientist is carrying this update on the Cassini space probe's recent flybys of Saturn's moon Titan. While they have found no evidence for oceans of liquid methane, they have found strong evidence of lakes of the stuff filling and emptying at the poles. As per usual, the obeservation teams aren't sure why it's happening, only that it is.
Space.com is carrying this update on the long-lived rovers. Opportunity has reached its latest destination, Victoria Crater, and the images it has returned show great promise:
"This is a geologist's dream come true," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for NASA's twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit. "Those layers of rock, if we can get to them, will tell us new stories about the environmental conditions long ago. We especially want to learn whether the wet era that we found recorded in the rocks closer to the landing site extended farther back in time. The way to find that out is to go deeper, and Victoria may let us do that."
Pretty good progress for an interplanetary riding lawn mower, no?
Just to prove it is possible, we have this article from an author who's political views went from far left to libertarian:
The Far Left believes that bad policies come from evil motives. In this view, villains, such as powerful corporations, oppose good policies, and political incumbents lack the strength and courage to overcome the villains.
Libertarians believe that context is more important. We believe that government power is inherently corrupting, regardless of who holds leadership positions or how they are influenced. We believe that the market does a relatively good job of channelling self-interest toward socially desirable ends.
Long ago in college, I too once held beliefs which could be called far left. Fortunately I got better, and for most of the same reasons listed in the article.
Fark linked up news that the wreckage of the 1930s-era airship USS Macon has been found. The Fark-linked article didn't include pictures, but the Live Science article we're linking does.
From those pictures, it doesn't look as if there's much left to salvage, but you never know.
New York City health officials are seeking to ban the use of "trans fat" in the city's 24,000 restaraunts:
The city’s health department proposed a new health code on Wednesday that, if implemented, would give restaurants six months to switch to oils, margarines and shortening that have less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. In effect, restaurants would then have until 1 July 2008 to ensure that everything on their menu has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, per serving.
Paternalistic policy-making at its finest. "You don't know what's good for you! We do! Obey!"
Just because it's supposed to be for our own good doesn't make the whip crack any softer.
Looks goth, dances techno. A kind of bizarre light beer, if you will. Just about as tasty. I wonder if bleach works on ears?
Making the rounds: Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, the creative team behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy, are to be involved in an extension of the Halo universe. Just exactly how they'll be involved is a bit unclear, even after reading the article. The results of Hollywood types on gaming has been uneven, so this is no gaurantee of anything good coming out. Still, should be interesting.
Apparently this cat was hanging out by the tour bus. Props to Nina for the pix!
The club was nice enough to make O chicken fingers before the show.
Nina is :"I'm in charge of merch for the band, but I'm also the assistant tour manager and take care of all press functions...interviews, meet & greets, aftershow, etc..."
Finally, a government job I'd enjoy:
The TSA’s changes to the complete liquid ban may require persons with augmented breasts (or other body parts) to comply with further inspections at security checkpoints.
Because we all know how easy it is to smuggle explosives using surgically emplanted devices. Clever bastards, those terrorists.
Siflay linked up this "Best of Iraq" letter from the front. It's not all positive, but it's far, far from all negative as well. Again, it seems striking that the closer you get to the fighting, the more positive the reports seem to become. Quite the opposite of 69-72.
Slashdot linked up news of the introduction of a "triple-view" LCD display from Sharp. You get three different screens depending on the angle from which you're looking. Which sorta made me blink, until I read the article:
So while driving you can see the GPS navigation your kid at the backseat can enjoy Ace Combat on his PS2 while your wife in the passenger seat checks out tourist sites and restaurants all in full-screen view.
Well, technically it was yesterday, but I think even a day late it's important to celebrate the man who saved the world. Literally. And he was a Russian to boot!
Most people, many of whom are old enough to know better, remember the 80s as a warm-and-fuzzy time of economic growth, silly music, weird clothes, and goofy hair. Like the 60s before them, the reality was nowhere near as idyllic, and a whole lot scarier.
It sounds like some sort of comic book plot line, but apparently Polish doctors used a well-known biological "back door" to save entire villages from the Nazis. Of course, the Soviets were nearly as awful in their treatment of Poland after the war, so who knows if the ruse was used twice?
Olivia can't get enough of the movie. She's probably seen it four times in the past five days. Which has led to some... interesting... behavior.
The other day I was in the kitchen feeding the cats and here she comes jogging up with my swiffer broom in both hands. For those who don't know what that is, here's a much earlier picture of The Princess in action with it.
"Mama! I need the turtle!"
"I play game with him!" And then she started scooting the swiffer across the floor with a huge smile on her face.
Then I realized what she really wanted to do was use him as a curling disc in the kitchen, on the tile floor. Just like the turtles in the movie are used for...
"No Olivia, you can't use Om for that!"
"But MAMA! I need the turtle to play the game!"
"No! We do not use turtles as hockey pucks in this house!"
Scott, being ever so helpful, then said from the living room, "actually, they're not pucks, they're stones."
Olivia then tried her divide-and-conquer approach. "Daddy! I need the turtle to play! Could you get him for me?"
"No Olivia, no turtles."
The whole time Om just sat in his pen, with this "oh hell no" expression on. Well, from what we could see anyway. He wisely stayed inside his shell.
"No Olivia, no turtles."
Whereapon she harumpfed mightily and, in patented three-year-old fashion, got distracted and forgot about the whole thing.
Hopefully Om will forget about it too. I gave him a slice of strawberry just in case.
What's the only way to MOON that perfect individual and get your feelings out from thousands of miles away while remaining completely anonymous?
AssInTheBox, That's How!
What will they think of next?
No, really, blogs in space:
Space tourist Anousheh Ansari's space blog is giving armchair tourists on Earth a unique, non-professional's view of spaceflight, including the trials of space sickness and the unique thrill of living and working in weightlessness 220 miles up.
The blog itself seems quite interesting, and can be found here.
Spelunkers in the audience should find this discovery of a "vast" new cave complex in California of interest.
My friends and I did a bit of cave exploring when I was in college. But all we had was Devil's Den, which is essentially a muddy crack in the ground. Still, it was fun in its way to sneak around the place at 1 am. Hey, it was dark on the inside of the cave, why not?
Fans of flight simulators should find this view familiar. Except, of course, it's a real plane.
I want one. I want one bad.
Jane Galt is taking some TV producers to the woodshed for an appalling bad "documentary" detailing the dire results that the peak oil loons have been shrieking about for the past few years. Of course, since it's peak oil we're talking about here, it's not the documentary itself that's to blame, but the really stupid assumptions behind it that make for a head-crunching viewing experience.
Making the rounds: French surgeons are set to perform the first zero-g operation on Wednesday. Unfortunately that appears to be all they've said so far. No word on what the procedure will be.
A US commissioner from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) emerged unharmed after falling into a water tank at the Dukovany nuclear power plant on Friday.
Dukovany, Czech Republic, that is. Fortunately this wasn't one of those tanks with the neon-blue lumps in the bottom of it, so he's fine. Soaked, but fine.
Pat gets the tiniest of no-prizes for bringing us this update on new developments in nanotechnology. It looks like that, after years of promises, actual devices we can use are finally going to make their way to the market.
That's the ultimate strength of a diversified economy. When one sector falls, another is nearly always right behind it to take its place. The trick is figuring out which one of those waves to surf.
There's Mythbusters, and then there's this.
Yeah, it's silly. I've been trying to learn a new computer language. Critical thinking tends to get mushed around like an old banana when I do that.
I am more interested in making the poor and middle class better off than I am in making the income distribution more equal; I don't feel that Larry Ellison's harrier makes the modest new rug I bought in Turkey somehow less beautiful or enjoyable.
And on the recent revelation of a "devestating" new report on Iraq:
As always, read the whole thing, then come back and accuse me of being a thick-headed right-wing shill. I do so love it when you do that. Gives me a warm n' fuzzy.
Those deathly allergic to cats (like our good friend Mark) may find the introduction of a supposedly hypoallergenic cat of interest. $4000 will buy a lot of fancy coins though, so something tells me we probably won't see a new addition to his home any time soon.
The Washington Post today carried this front-page article detailing the discovery and repatriation of the remains of an MIA soldier. The catch? He was discovered in France, and died during the First World War. It's thought this is the oldest successfully identified soldier the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) has ever dealt with.
To mom, it was an opportunity to clean out the coat closet. To the Princess, it was all about adding to the wardrobe.
Couples in Amsterdam are writing out their dreams of passion for the chance to spend a night in a small car fitted with a bed and hoisted up on poles.
For a free overnight stay, couples must write to the Italian artist who converted the hatchback, and explain their romantic intentions -- ranging from marriage proposals to re-enactments of teenaged backseat fumblings.
My luck, the damned door would open at the just the wrong time. Explain that one to the emergency room!
If my statistics and economics classes were like this when I was in college, I might've had a different major.
Yeah, right. At any rate, a very neat look at how the world has grown, and grown more wealthy, in the past forty years.
Slashdot linked up this high-resolution look at the "Mars Face", courtesy of the Mars Express space probe. Not surprisingly, when looked at in a higher resolution, the thing turns out to be just another big lump of rock.
Then again, that face image was taken in 1976. Those Martians, they're clever little buggers. Wouldn't put it past them to... oh, hang on. Damned foil hat fell off again...
News: Retail giant Wal-Mart begins to offer large numbers of generics for $4 for a 30 day supply, promising significant savings to America's poor and vulnerable populations.
Of course, criticising the media usually means I'm just not paying attention. Silly me.
Mike J. gets a no-prize in a world, until now, for bringing us the mother of all movie trailers.
Well of course it's silly. If we took this all seriously you wouldn't come around so much.
Olivia's officially cured! She thought the cast saw was tickly, and was far more interested in building up her sticker collection than she was in her X-rays. Fortunately those turned out to be completely normal, showing the bone healing very nicely. No more arm bags in the bath!
The increasingly popular war in Iraq. No, really!
Color me unsurprised this didn't get an above-the-fold headline in the Post.
Having solved all other problems and put all other bad guys in jail, the state of California is now turning its sites on car companies. Again:
California sued six of the world's largest automakers over global warming Wednesday, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have caused billions of dollars in damages.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.
Only those on the extreme left side of the peanut gallery will be surprised to find out Mr. Lockyer is running for election this year. Scariest of all is that he's not doing it just to please himself. Apparently at least some citizens of the People's Republic of California will be happy enough with this to vote for the guy.
The mind boggles.
While reading about the recent Thai military coup, I was struck by a lack of explanation in the MSM. The best I could find were vague implications that Thailand's president was a "staunch Bush administration supporter", and that, somehow, confusingly, lead to his downfall. The truth, it would appear, is far more complex, and has little if anything to do with US or Thai foreign policy:
Thaksin has made it almost impossible for the Thai people to get him out of office. I consider that the army is doing nothing more than carrying out by arms what the people have been unable to do by themselves.
The whole article details what would appear to be a conventional east-Asian family political takeover attempt, thwarted by an army loyal to higher principles. That the MSM have ignored this and instead attempted to spin the whole thing as some sort of repudiation of the current US administration will most likely have some on the right tightening their foil hats and mumbling about conspiracies.
Which will be, of course, incorrect. The media spin things when they don't really understand what's going on. Can't figure it out? Frame it in a way that makes sense to you and run that as the story. Americans have a deserved reputation as being more than a little narcissistic, so if it can somehow be attributed to (or blamed on) us we'll usually believe it. And off it goes, without involving anything so difficult as actually doing research or, you know, thinking.
In other words, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence."
Ron gets a fishy no-prize for bringing us this MSNBC article detailing the discovery of many new species of coral, shrimp, and fish species made during a survey of the waters of New Guinea.
No, Ellen, you can't have any.
The Washington Post today carried this report summarizing the recent discovery of a nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile Australopithicene africanus. Electronic scanning of the teeth has revealed the child to be female, about three years old at the time of death. It's thought she may have been caught in a flash flood of some sort. While technically not the child of the famous fossil "Lucy", she is from the same species. The find is in excellent condition and should provide many answers about how the children of our earliest ancestors lived.
Mike J. (via Mark) gets a goofy rappin' no-prize for bringing us the latest Weird Al parody. Personally, I don't see anything at all I have in common with this.
Then again, parody is often lost on those at which it is poking fun.
Oh who am I kidding. I still have all my old D&D books. I just don't use them anymore. My story, sticking to it.
With a name like "TMX", I was expecting the newest Elmo to sport a diamond grille and perhaps baggy pants. Alas, the reality is somewhat different, if no less surreal. Fortunately, at least for now, Olivia seems to have lost most of her interest in Elmo. She's now graduated to more action-oriented things. The latest fave? An anime chop-sake show called "Avatar". After just one episode, she started yelling, "daddy! Watch me! I'm Avatar!" Whereapon she'd go through some karate chops, a few "hiii-YAH"s, hop in the air and land on her butt with a solid thud. Or she'd spin around a few times, yell "Avatar!", stumble into something, and land on the floor.
Hey, she is my child after all.
Slashdot linked up news of a student-run attempt to get into space for not quite $2000. Now not only are we building our own spacecraft in various garages, our kids are doing it in their spare time. Put that in your madrassa and smoke it.
There was a fishy death in our house last night. Perry the all mighty super sized fancy tail goldfish, could no longer take the computer game Scott was playing and had a stroke (well, something happened to him since it happened in front of Scott).
Perhaps it was like one of those Japanese cartoons that caused all those kids to seizure? No one will ever know.
MOP also died this past month. Her left eyeball popped out and she died a week later.
Personally I think there is a fishy conspiracy in the tank going on. Maybe it's the Pleco...
Pat gets a no-prize to warm the heart for bringing us this story of the Maine Troop Greeters:
Maine Troop Greeters has about 100 volunteers who operate out of the small room, which is lined with American flags, signed military T-shirts and maps of Iraq. They arrive about three hours before a flight to set out cookies donated by a local Sam’s Club, pies baked by volunteers, and candy and donuts. They also make sure free cellphones donated by local providers are available for troops to use.
Well why not?
Mark gets a really helpful no-prize for bringing us these important terrorist safety tips. Hey, can't be any worse than the damned color codes, eh?
Yes, yes she is named after the journalist. That still does not get me out of the shit I am in. Did I mention I really need that backhoe? No really! I'll buy it from you! REALLY!
Wendy, Amber and I are in the deepest shit possible. We hit a reptile show this Satruday and ALL came home with a snake.
Did I mention we need shovels? Dontations are accepted. So are backhoes.
Mahmood's latest videoblog has a novel use for a cat. Oh relax, the cat is fine. Nice to see they can clean as well as they can mess.
While a bit on the extreme side, this LA Times op-ed still has many very valid points:
A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.
Unfortunately, such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope. Numerous studies have found that the most radicalized Muslims tend to have better-than-average educations and economic opportunities.
And before you write the guy off as yet another right wing nut, be sure to read Instapundit's excerpts and, as he recommends, the whole thing.
It took Europe two paroxysms of literally unbelievable violence, death, and destruction before they were willing to accept the solutions that would break them out of their downward spirals. I would very much rather the Middle East not have to go through all of that to integrate them safely into the modern world.
Unfortunately I very much fear that far too many in the region are taking our unwillingness to unleash such destruction as a sign of our inability to do so. This is quite simply not the case, and anyone who ignores this does so at their, and their fellow's, peril.
Considering the brand of beer they're using, I can think of no better use than to fire the cans out of a canon to smash into various objects. Beer, canons, things to smash, high-speed film. It just don't get no better than that.
Pat gets a no-prize with pointy ears for bringing us this Op-Ed by none other than Ron Moore, creator of Battlestar Galactica. Star Trek definitely loomed large in my own house. With a dad who worked in the space program and literally no other SF on TV, it was hard to avoid it. I can't say I took all the same lessons as Moore did (but then again, who does), but I did take a few similar ones.
It's nice to see someone else who remembers it was more than just goofy costumes and bad special effects.
It's inevitable that Ellen will find out about this, so figured I'd just go along: it's "talk like a pirate" day! Every year, she loves this thing. Except now that Olivia is such a big Sponge Bob fan, Ellen'll probably get her in on it as well this year.
So, for the first time in five or six years, I'm going to try and teach myself a new computer language. Not just any computer language, but C# (pronounced "see-sharp"), Microsoft's answer to Java. Why not Java? Tried to teach myself that no fewer than three times in the past ten years, and have failed every time. I enjoy programming, but find it to sometimes be very hard. I just never did get Java.
Why not find training instead of books? What part of "non-profit" do you not understand? I've tried perhaps half a dozen times to get them to fund the 30-days and perhaps $8000 for formalized training, and they've hemmed and hawed their way out of it every time. Plus, if something's going to make me feel stupid I'd rather it be a book than a person. Eidetic memory and an ego the size of a small galaxy combines to limit the effectiveness of "classic" teaching on me. In other words, "it's a Scott thing, don't even try to understand."
So, while it's impossible to pry multi-thousand-dollar training out of this place, they're actually quite good about buying books. I'm now the proud owner of 2 C# books, one asp.net book, with a Visual Studio book on the way. The ultimate goal is to replace my creaking ColdFusion 4.5/Netscape Enterprise Server 3.0 app server with a gleaming chrome Win2k3/asp.net machine running the very latest in computer technologies.
Oh, that reminds me. The other advantage of 501c3 status is monstrous discounts on Microsoft products. We usually get 85-95% discounts on all their stuff. Which is why I'm also the proud recipient of a Visual Studio Pro (VSP) license. It costs God knows how much in the real world but set my workplace back about $200.
I'm on page 29 of the first book, Learning C# 2005, another "animal" book from O'Reilly. I just now spent an hour wrestling VSP back to its "default" configuration after I blew it up randomly clicking X's. The start of something great? Who knows.
I stand atop this bus proudly, howling in triumph and more than a little confusion. I'm hoping to learn to drive it, but could easily end up chasing my tail until I fall off.
Gotta tell you, feeling a little dizzy right now.
Somehow in all the confusion I missed that Orianna Fallaci died last Friday. I guess she really wasn't too mean to die after all. Definitely my favorite Italian female. Well, except for the one I currently live with. Little surprise that reading Orianna's work was sort of like reading Ellen's mind.
Update: This article provides more background and a few links to her work.
Hey, it's his car, he can do whatever he wants with it. We've got a couple of these wandering around the Northern VA area. Last one I saw, as I recall, was an old Ford LTD.
The Washington Post today carried this article detailing the creation of a most peculiar sort of pollution detector. By housing bluegill fish in small tanks equipped with special sensors and filled with water from various areas, scientists are able to detect various impurities with remarkable success. The fish are "cycled" every few months, none the worse for wear, and replaced by a new set which then continue the testing.
Slashdot linked up this BusinessWeek Online article detailing what has become the largest job-growth sector in the US during the 21st century:
If you really want to understand what makes the U.S. economy tick these days, don't go to Silicon Valley, Wall Street, or Washington. Just take a short trip to your local hospital. Park where you don't block the ambulances, and watch the unending flow of doctors, nurses, technicians, and support personnel. You'll have a front-row seat at the health-care economy.
What's most remarkable to me is a complete lack of mention of the 800-pound gorilla that must really be driving this: aging boomers. As they have throughout their generation's existence, their changing needs are altering the whole country's economy in fundamental ways. Some will be good, some will be bad, but since it's boomers were talking about here expect a whole lot of hand-wringing and mirror-watching as it all takes place.
The world's most photographed nation appears set to add "and the most yelled at" to their title:
Street offenders on Teesside are being shamed by "talking" CCTV cameras.
Seven cameras in Middlesbrough town centre have a facility, which allows operators to bark orders at those involved in anti-social behaviour.
Of course, if they don't follow it up with cops or something, I'd imagine all that would happen was a rude gesture or two.
Conrbread's first stage debut! He was a live piece of jewelry.
A pix from earlier today at the Reston Multicultural Festival. My instructor, Wendy on the left, me in the middle and of course O!
Fark linked up news of the discovery of lunar meteorite in Antarctica. About the size of a golf ball, the rock was collected during a 2005 expidition. Its composition is quite different than that of samples recovered by the Apollo moon missions, which apparently are thought to be quite anomalous compared with the rest of the moon. This new/old sample is thought to be more representative of "the moon as a whole."
Yeah, I don't know what it means either. But personally, I welcome our new lunar overlords!
Little surpise that at this year's family reunion (last month), Olivia did her best to take complete charge of the hose.
Today's "well that shouldn't be there" astronomical moment is being brought to us by this BBC article:
Astronomers have found a strange new world that has them pondering again the essential properties of a planet.
This new object, designated HAT-P-1, orbits one member of a pair of stars 450 light-years away in the constellation Lacerta.
Hell they can barely agree on what a planet is when it's in our solar system. Small wonder something that far away can cause problems.
If it's weird and it moves, this site seems to have a picture and a description of it. From the Minority Report Lexus to the BMW 600, all and more seem to have their entry. They even have monowheels, although thankfully the one featured in South Park isn't there.
If you have to ask, trust me, you don't want to know.
The Japanese continue their progress in robotics, this time creating a robot that can hop. By the looks of it, that's pretty much all it can do right now, but a proof of concept system often looks like that. Sorta looks like a giant plastic turkey leg to me. Just the thing for a giant nerdy sci-fi Renaissance fair, eh?
Did I mention the four hours of Sponge Bob?
And now for something completely different. And I do mean different. Safe for work, but very different.
Ok, when I was a little kid staying home sick with a cold, lazing around all day watching cartoons was the best part. Now that I'm the grownup watching the kid, not so much.
Spongebob is only your friend for the first few hours. Then he becomes a short, bizzare, yellow square of doom!
Slashdot linked up this CSM article detailing the peculiar relationship the two priniciples of the Discovery show Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, have with each other. Who would've thought Jamie once was a teenage runaway?
The recent sharp drop in the global price of crude oil could mark the start of a massive sell-off that returns gasoline prices to lows not seen since the late 1990s — perhaps as low as $1.15 a gallon.
"All the hurricane flags are flying" in oil markets, said Philip Verleger, a noted energy consultant who was a lone voice several years ago in warning that oil prices would soar. Now, he says, they appear to be poised for a dramatic plunge.
What wacky speculation giveth, wacky speculation taketh away. The funniest part will be all the enviroweenies who'll start pissing and moaning when all of their alternative fuel projects dry up and blow away.
BBCnews is carrying this report on the discovery of what could possibly have been the last place Neandertals ever lived. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal deposits indicates Neandertals were living in a cave complex in Gibraltar perhaps as recently as 24,000 years ago. The date is several thousand years later than the commonly held time when Neandertals disappeared.
Nintendo continues to roil the game space waters and confound predictors of its imminent demise, this time with a "leaked" announcement of a launch date and price point. $250, available early November. Can you say, "the next frenzy toy of the Christmas season?" I knew you could.
Slashdot linked up news of the discovery of the oldest galaxy yet found. At 12.88 billion years, it's close enough to the beginning of the universe that it's probably one of the oldest things we can see, since that's right around the time the hydrogen filling the universe became transparent. Before that, if I recall my astronomy classes right (no promises), the universe was like the inside of a ping pong ball. A really large, really hot ping pong ball.
The Washington Post today carried this article detailing real-world efforts at introducing working "bionic" limbs to replace those lost to accidents or disease. It provides the first extensive coverage (that I've read at any rate) of exactly how these systems work, and what it's like to use them.
They still sound primitive, even in prototype form, but something tells me they won't stay primitive for long.
The digital shutterbugs in the audience should find this list of the top 10 digital cameras owned by Flickr users of interest. Like the site says, it provides an objective, albeit perhaps not statistically correct, review of the types of digital cameras people are actually using.
This particular page of the site is SFW, but I can't vouch for any of the links.
Scientific American is carrying this summary of the development of a paper towel which can detect hazardous chemicals simply by wiping it on a surface. Scientists used nanofibers to trap antibodies in the material, which react with biohazards by changing color.
The system is still in the early stages of development, but if brought to market promises to create a whole new class of hypocondriac phobias. Just think, now you can know just how nasty that toilet seat is!
Jason at Countercolumn featuring is this informed fisking of a particularly clueless journalist about the recent Lebanese conflict, which includes this bon mot: "Really, if the local inhabitants object to the hazards of falling objects, perhaps they shouldn't let Hezbollah launch rockets from their back yards."
One would think.
Slashdot linked up this list of USB gadgets that aren't what you'd normally expect to see attached to a computer. While different from an earlier list we linked up awhile back, it does include a few of the same things. That bottle chiller looks pretty interesting to me.
Fark linked up this New York Post editorial which nicely summarizes why anyone who believes 9/11 was a giant conspiracy is a complete and utter loon.
Not like that'll stop any of them. If proof was all that it took to debunk popular myths then JFK would've been killed by one nut with a rifle long ago. Elvis would be quite dead and buried in his tacky back yard. Bigfoot would be a tall guy in a costume. The Loch Ness monster would be a wooden cutout in a lake.
Well, except for oil prices. Those really are controlled by an industrial/Republican cabal who have quarterly meetings with Carl Rove in the Willard to make sure the elephants stay in power.
BBCnews is carrying this report which summarizes the findings of a study which claims wearing a helmet actually increases the chances of a bicyclist getting into an accident. While a whacky idea on the face of it, the scientist who performed the experiments seems to have used rigorous and technical methods. So what gives? It seems that drivers give less space as they pass to someone wearing a helmet than they do to someone who is not. Stranger still, they gave more space to women than men.
From my own experience, most drivers actually do a good job of giving me enough space on the road. City bus drivers are especially nice, doing what they can to move as far away as possible. Which is good, because there's nothing quite as unnerving as a solid wall of roaring diesel passing a foot away from your shoulder.
Of course, it only takes one inattentive driver to completely ruin a cyclist's day, so I'm really careful, use trails whenever possible and avoid narrow or shoulder-less roads wherever I can. It's worked so far.
Oh, and I'm still going to wear my helmet!
Instapundit linked up this roundup of "good news" from Iraq. Most of the good stuff seems to be happening in the north and south, with the central area being the complete basket case. Guess where all the MSM reporters are stationed?
Olivia, while we were sitting on the couch Sunday watching an episode of Mythbusters, observed, "Daddy! That's a skelington!"
"Yes, that's right! And you have a skeleton inside you, too."
She shook her head gravely and replied, "No daddy, I'm not a skelington. I'm a little girl."
"That's right Olivia, but you have a skeleton inside you."
She then got a so-close-it's-scary version of her mom's patented "must talk slowly to the retarded husband" look on her face and said in very crisp tones, "daddy, that is skelington. I am Olivia."
So I tossed a wad of play-dough at her.
Oh come on. It's play-dough. She threw it back! Well, sort of. I got it out of the cat's hair before Ellen got home, at any rate.
New Scientist is carrying this article detailing a remarkable discovery about "viral stowaways" and their role in mammalian embryo development:
New research in live sheep has demonstrated for the first time that they help embryos change shape, implant themselves in the womb and grow a placenta. The same almost certainly happens in other mammals, including humans, they say.
The mind boggles.
Aviation Week and Space Technology this week is carrying this cover story providing a detailed look at what the US and Israel are thinking about in terms of reigning in Iran's nuclear ambitions. It includes an unflinching look at last-resort military options.
What should be a time of celebration for Anna Nicole Smith has turned into a time of mourning.
The former Playboy Playmate's 20-year-old son died in a Nassau hospital Sunday, three days after Smith gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the Bahamas.
Never been that much of a fan, but still...
So we both spent the 5-year 9/11 anniversary working our butts off. I came in to two mission critical servers down for completely weird reasons, and then lots of general chaos and commotion left over from our just-completed board meeting. I'm not sure what happened over at Ellen's work, but she was just as busy. So no bombastic essay, no mellifluous memorial. We still thought about it. We just kept motoring on with our lives, that's all.
In a funny sort of way, I think it's the best tribute we can make.
BBCnews is carrying this report summarizing new research that claims Earth-like planets may be far more common than we imagine. By using new computer models, scientists have discovered that the same environment that causes Jupiter-like planets to end up so close to their stars creates planet-making opportunities in the "habitable zones" of the system. The thinking goes that we may not be able to see them, but they certainly might be there, even in a system with something five times the size of Jupiter whirling around its star two or three times a day.
While speculation about what is being worked on at Area 51 tend to be heavy on "what I think" and light on "what I know", this Popular Science article still makes for a fun read. Stealth transports, resurrected A-12s, and Auroras, oh, my!
Ministers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries arriving in Vienna on Sunday have indicated concern that oil prices may fall. Though the eleven-nation group is unlikely to officially reduce its production quota when it meets on Monday, the change in ministers’ tone could be a harbinger of things to come.
OPEC seems to have forgotten the lesson it was taught in the late 70s and early 80s: the US may piss and moan about high oil prices, but if they stay high enough long enough we will change our consumption habits, and that will have a profound, very long term effect on oil prices. Western economies can survive high, even very high, oil prices because they're rich and very diversified. It's a lot harder for oil producing nations to survive low, especially very low, oil prices, because that's all they've got.
Props to me for a foil hat note in the same essay, since both Fark (who linked it) and others who've sent me mail recently have been pointing fingers at the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy as the Ultimate Source. Just come a little closer... it needs some adjustment.
It was a request from my teacher that any of us in Troupe to please have our own websites for promotion of our abilities.
Here is mine so far.
Yes, that is OM and Goblin hanging out in the kitchen together.
I know! I'm not allowed to have one this big!
A LITTLE bloating after a big meal is an occupational hazard for pythons. But this unfortunate creature found itself unable to slink away and sleep it off.
Really cool pix is included with the story!
Cobb has a very interesting take on one of the things that is often considered "wrong" with black folks, namely, that black males are disposed to create children but not support them:
Along with Cosby, I throw shade against the Forty Percent.. those below the middle class who don't appear to be holding up their end of the bargain. The Civil Rights Movement was a success. We destroyed Jim Crow, but you can't take blackfolks to the next level if you as a man haven't handled your own business at home. And for this, I'm convinced there is no government cure, and nothing politics can do but preach. We can't have people coming around to police how black men handle their social relationships. That's all on us.
I understand that I will never understand, but that doesn't stop me from trying. It's good to see there are people out there who want to help me try.
Since today's the day I noticed the abandoned bike in the parking garage of my own building was missing, I thought it appropriate to link up this collection of abandoned bikes scattered throughout Manhatten. Thing is, with the right set of tools it's usually not THAT expensive to turn any old piece of junk into a decent single-speed cruiser.
I've heard of long-distance on-line romances before, but this is ridiculous:
A teenager who flew to the Middle East to be with a man she met on the social network site MySpace.com has detailed her online romance and the fallout her trip caused in Seventeen magazine.
Ok, that's it. I'm going to lock Olivia up in a room and not let her out again until she's 21. Make that 30.
Leave it to the Japanese to turn a port-a-potty into an ejection seat. We get the added bonus of several demonstrations in the use of the Japanese squat toilet. Which just makes it weirder, I guess.
Includes a few shots of bare hineys, but otherwise is SFW.
No more complaining about how obtuse my writing is, okay? Personally, I rather like the vegetable soup one.
The Martian winter is nearing its end, so the rovers are back at it again. This time Opportunity is closing in on a new crater, Victoria, which already promises a much more detailed look at Martian bedrock than has been available before in that area. This year, the rovers will also have the assistance of the MRO, which should be able to provide detailed high-resolution maps as it orbits over the rover sites.
A photo that accompanied a newspaper obituary apparently led to an attempt last weekend to dig up the grave of a 20-year-old woman who was killed in a motorcycle accident Aug. 27, authorities said Tuesday.
Crystal meth's a bitch, ain't it boys?
People turn to a life of crime because they're too stupid to do anything else.
Amber and Ron's new baby cornsnake(*ahem, Cornbread's new honey) was delivered by the Fed Ex stork this morning! Everyone start knitting pink snake booties!!
Pixes will go up as soon as I get them.
Pat gets a myserious no-prize for bringing us reaction to the tale of Natascha Kampusch, an Austrian girl who claims to have been held captive by a stranger for eight years.
I hadn't heard of this at all until I read this Washington Post story this morning, which seems to summarize things well enough. The whole thing is a little too neat, in my opinion. It sounds like some lurid '70s kidnap novel, complete with a climactic suicide of the bad guy at the end. Still, one would think the police would have lots of evidence in hand to legitimize the whole thing. Or not.
Very, very strange.
Slashdot awhile back linked up news that Phillips had created shirts that were self-illuminating, but Fark linked up actual video. First impression: more living science fiction. Second: Doesn't look like it's all that bright, note every shot is very dark. Third: This thing would make for an amazing wet T-shirt contest.
Oink oink oink...
Fortunately Olivia plays more with stuffed animals right now than she does with dolls:
Gwen Stefani is no longer just a girl. Now she's a doll, too. The singer, actress and fashion designer announced Tuesday that she will bring her trademark rock 'n' roll style to the toy industry with a series of limited-edition dolls.
The operative phrase being, "right now". Don't worry, I can hear that clock ticking loudly enough without you shaking it in my face. Mommy buys dolls, daddy buys airplanes. She plays with what she likes.
Which is usually dolls. Ah well, at least I don't have to have an engineering degree to play with them, unlike other toys, and that's just fine with me.
That's my story, am sticking to it.
Many people have experienced the phenomenon of receiving a telephone call from someone shortly after thinking about them. Now a scientist says he has proof of what he calls telephone telepathy.
Rupert Sheldrake, whose research is funded by the respected Trinity College in Cambridge, England, said on Tuesday he has conducted experiments that proved such precognition exists for telephone calls and even e-mails.
I still don't buy it, but the guy seems to be dotting all his i's and crossing all his t's by doing falsifiable research. I hate the phone, so there's no psychic involvement for me... if the phone rings, I already know I don't want to answer it.
Via Siflay, who already knew we were going to link it.
Space.com is carrying this summary of upcoming events in the Orion and Ares programs now that a contractor has been selected. The testing program looks quite similar to what previous capsule-based programs used, right up to the unmanned "dummy" shots.
Aviation Week covered this extensively in their latest issue, and one interesting thing they noted was how the Ares I rockets will be launched. The external crane system used by the shuttle will have to be raised at least 100 feet, making the final stack sixty feet taller than the Saturn V system. Since the base of the Ares-1 is nearly identical to that of a shuttle SRB, the rocket will be mounted over the shuttle exhaust port closest to the crane system on the mobile launch platform, giving the whole thing a decidedly asymetrical look.
Also of note is the people who will be building the escape tower system are located about a mile away from my house. Now to see if I can score a tour...
But hey, it's not like I care. I only hope they don't have the suits available in "plus" sizes.
Oh be quiet. I'm a pig, haven't you figured that out yet?
Also from fark, the premiere of Battlestar Galactica, the Resistance, a "webisode" series of short films that follow developments leading up to the series premiere in October. First one's already up. Since they're only 4 minutes long, it's kinda got the feel of a cartoon strip in the paper, but I imagine things will flesh out nicely as time goes on.
Even after the first webisode, I can see they didn't completely trash everything. I couldn't see any way out at the end of the last season. Now I think I can see some of the directions they're heading.
Fark linked up this video of an impressive flight demonstration by a MiG-29 equipped with thrust vectoring. It's one thing to see these maneuvers pulled off by a 3,000 pound stunt plane, quite another to see them done with a 30,000 pound fighter.
So far I've yet to see a flight demonstration of the F-22, which should be far more impressive than even this.
Looks like SMART-1 successfully met its fate on Saturday. This is just the basic press release, which unfortunately doesn't discuss if they discovered anything interesting or not. Anybody think to look? The skies were actually clear around here that night, but we forgot.
BBCnews is carrying this summary of recent research in to the history of human occupation of the British isles. Scientists have extended the time of first settlement back a whopping 200,000 years, but have also found evidence of spans of time when absolutely no humans lived there at all.
Econlog is featuring a paper which attempts to link depression with evolutionary and economic pressures. The main gist, as I read it: acting depressed is a way of withdrawing your support from the group in a way that draws attention to your contribution. This creates incentives for the rest of the group to provide more attention and/or rewards, which re-integrates the individual and allows life to go on.
Sounds plausible, especially when posited as something evolved long ago that's part of our biology, not culture. This would seem to allow its explanation of where depression came from while still validating the current scientific thinking of major depression as a chemical imbalance of the brain.
I've re-tuned the spam filters SLIGHTLY, hopefully comments with links will be more likely to get through. If you get snagged, send an e-mail to me and include the link, I should be able to figure out which rule is causing the problem and perhaps modify it.
While it died down noticeably early this year, by May the spambots had come roaring back. The filter stops about 1200 spam comments per day now, so it's not going anywhere.
Wired is carrying this article detailing what seems to be the "next big thing" in architecture, "smart buildings" which radically adapt themselves to changing situations:
At the Office for Robotic Architectural Media & The Bureau for Responsive Architecture, Tristan d'Estree Sterk is working on shape-changing "building envelopes" using "actuated tensegrity" structures -- a system of rods and wires manipulated by pneumatic "muscles" that serve as the building's skeleton, forming the framework of all its walls.
Without exception, all of the "avante guard" buildings I've ever been in have had one or more essentially unfixable problems directly related to their loopy designs. Roofs that always leak, switches that never work, wiring that sparks entertainingly at unexpected times and HVAC systems that blow cold on freezing days and hot on steamy ones, all and more seem to be fixtures of multi-award-winning buildings. Now you're telling me they're going to build a structure that can collapse itself. On purpose.
Yeah, ok. You go in there, have fun, I'll stand outside and take pictures. Hopefully when it starts raining the worst it will do is leak.
Personally, I take a strange sort of comfort in this:
The global debate between scientists and conservative Christians over evolution has hit Kenya, where an exhibit of one of the world's finest collections of early hominid fossils is under threat.
As the famed National Museum of Kenya (NMK) prepares to re-open next year after massive EU-funded renovations, evangelicals are demanding the display be removed or at least shunted to a less prominent location.
Hey, at least now I know America doesn't own all the Christian fundie wackos in the world! We spread it around!
Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.
"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.
Read entire article here.
Fark linked up this shot-by-shot comparison tracking the changes between the original Star Wars theatrical release and its latest DVD release. The results reveal what I'd thought all along... Lucas leveraged his extra money and advanced technology to make the film better in many different ways, some of which I'd never noticed in twenty-five years of watching the original.
Heresy, I know, but it never did make all that damned much difference to me who shot first, especially if it meant I got to see more and cooler X-wings and TIE fighters. It's all about the gear, man, the gear!
Since it combines no fewer than 5 LCD screens and weighs in at over 200 pounds, I'm not at all surprised at the lack of a price list. Since I needed to ask, I obviously can't afford it.
But it sure does look nice.
Congratulations to Lockheed Martin for their successful bid to be the manufacturer of NASA's next manned space vehicle. As with anything NASA does, it's not without controversy, and there's still no solid guarantee it'll ever get built. But even if it's not a step in the right direction, at least it's a step.