Tuesday, October 31, 2006

---Kerry Goobers Up, Iraqi PM Gives Orders, Hubble Mission is Go, Elephants and Black Holes 

Publishing from Ubuntu Linux/Open Office Writer this time. Some trouble with hyperlink editing, but HTML in the Blogger.com publisher is remarkably clean, unlike the train wreck that results from posts written in MS Word.

Kerry says U.S. troops are stupid...

Voting | Vote | 2006 Elections - FOXNews.com
...essentially. Last week, I predicted that the Democratic Party principals wouldn't be able to keep their mouths shut until the mid-term U.S. elections were over. I just left out some obvious suspects, including Kerry and Rangel.

This can't be good....
My Way News [AP] - Iraqi PM Ends Some Joint Checkpoints
The PM of Iraq is showing off his independence, by ordering U.S. troops away from critical checkpoints around the stronghold of some of the most serious loons in the country, the Sadr militia. We could tell them about both ancient and modern history that shows that republican government cannot co-exist with private armies, but nobody is listening anyway---too busy throwing the gates open to anarchy.

Spaceflight Now | STS-125 Shuttle Report | 'Go' for Hubble servicing mission
Yes, I'll be the first to admit that Hubble makes really nice pictures, but isn't it a little soon for NASA to get back on this path? Confidence is good when it's justifiable. What are they going to do with all the waivers they signed off based on the expedient that the crew could bivouac on the ISS if anything went wrong? Oh well, they'll probably get away with it....

The elephant and the event horizon - fundamentals - 26 October 2006 - New Scientist Space
This example was also discussed on a recent presentation on the Discovery Science channel that I'm too lazy to look up again. This is part of the ongoing scientific Brain Beach faceoff between Leonard Susskind and Stephen Hawking over what happens to stuff that falls into a Black Hole when the Hole disappears through Hawking Radiation.
Hawking has always contended (until recently) that the stuff ceased to exist, which bothered Susskind to no end---a so-called Information Paradox. Susskind now claims that matter that falls in is both destroyed at the event horizon and passes through unharmed only to be destroyed by the singularity at the center. Then there's this idea from somebody named Maldacena that the "reality" seen at the event horizon---and possibly also in our Universe---is some kind of "holographic projection" of what exists at the boundary.
What do you suppose these guys talk about at parties?


Post a Comment

Monday, October 30, 2006

---October in Iraq, Israelis Attack German Ship, Mormon Cultist Executed, Los Alamos Drug/Document Raid, Caffeine, Space News Rundown, WordPress 

My Way News [AP] - 100 Americans Die in Iraq During October
It has been alarming, of course, to see the daily news of truckloads of mutilated bodies on the streets of Iraqi cities and the rising toll of American lives---but only just in the last few days has it occurred to anyone in the regular news media to speculate that these baby-murdering thugs might be trying to influence the American elections.
What does it say about the future of American republican government (little “r”) if they succeed?

Israeli jets clash with German ship near Lebanon | International News | Reuters.com [found on BlogsNow]
This isn’t making it to most of the national news media, and the reports (there are no photos) may not have been entirely “Reuterized”. Israeli jets buzzed a German warship---part of the U.N. naval monitoring fleet off Lebanon---and apparently fired a couple of warning shots. Further information doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

FOXNews.com - Cult Leader Convicted of Killing Family of 5 Executed in Ohio
Why do these freak shows posing as “belief systems” always boil down to murdering children? Why do they always pose as Christians?
The leader of this Mormon splinter group off another Mormon splinter group went to his death insisting that his beliefs gave him the right to shoot a family of five---including a seven-year-old---into a pit in a barn. Yes, there are demons, and they do still possess people.

My Way News [AP] - Drug Raid Yields Los Alamos Documents
FBI agents looking for methamphetamines at the home of a Los Alamos scientist found more than they bargained for---a stash of classified nuclear weapons documents. What exactly was in the documents, and what the worker planned to do with them, is undisclosed. This is just the latest in a long series of security nightmares at the Nation’s premier nuclear weapons facility.

My Way News [AP] - W. Va. Weighs Record Term for Byrd
...has to have its priorities, obviously.

My Way News [AP] - Caffeine-Stoked Energy Drinks Worry Docs
Little cans o’ death, and available in six-packs (actually, “Sam’s” will sell these murderous concoctions by the case):
"How much of your favorite energy drink or soda would it take to kill
you? Take this quick test and find out." - From the "Death by Caffeine"
calculator: http://www.energyfiend.com/death-by-caffeine/
In Space News:
NASA - 'McMurdo' Panorama from Spirit's 'Winter Haven'
The MER “Spirit” has put together a large panoramic montage of the hilltop vantage where it has been holed up for the Martian Winter. Also available in 3D.
Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | MESSENGER spacecraft completes Venus flyby
In case we forgot---the Mercury orbiter made it to its first slingshot pass at Venus. Pictures were limited, because the closest approach happened on the other side of the Sun. It seems to take an awful lot of energy to spiral in Sunward toward the innermost planet, especially to get there with enough fuel to enter orbit.
JPL.NASA.GOV: Multimedia: "Cassini at Saturn" JPL.NASA.GOV: Multimedia: "Seeing Mars Better Than Ever"
A couple of videos with details of the latest flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan, and images returned from MRO in low Martian orbit.

WordPress › Free Blog Tool and Weblog Platform
Yet another tryout of a free weblog service at Savage Utopia. I probably should call it “HelpMeThinkofaNameforMyBlog.com”. Observations about WP, so far:
So far, it isn’t clear that the free hosting at WP is actually an improvement over Blogger.com. To see everyone elses’ comments, I must be missing something. WP is open-source, which may not be entirely to its advantage.


Post a Comment

Friday, October 20, 2006

---A Little History 

FOXNews.com - Bush to Meet With Gen. Abizaid on Iraq Tactics
As bad as the situation in the world is at the moment, there are ways to make it almost instantly worse,
which seems to be the trend in current political polls in the U.S..
As for the situation in Iraq, maybe a historical perspective would be appropriate:
"The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any
actual hostilities." -Sun Tzu
"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its
warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." -Thucydides
"He that makes war without many mistakes has not made war very long." - Napoleon Bonaparte
"The most dangerous moment comes with victory" - Napoleon Bonaparte
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” -Helmuth von Moltke
"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has
seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." - Dwight Eisenhower


Post a Comment

---Kim Apologizes to Chinese, Chinese Shoot Tibetan Pilgrims, Chinese Wreck a Church, Dow Over 12k, Ozone, Stingrays Again, and Other Stories 

On the carpet....
My Way News-Report: N. Korean Leader Regrets Test
Naughty megalomaniacal dictator Kim Jong-il apologized to the Chinese for testing a nuclear device,
and promised not to do it again. Kim agreed to return to regional talks if the U.S. would be nice. This
shows what China could be doing to calm tensions in Asia and the Middle East if it wanted to....

YouTube - chinese soldiers shooting tibetan pilgrims at mount everest
...it becomes evident that the Chinese have other business on their minds. This extremely graphic video
[which, oddly, hasn’t made its way to any major Western news service] is making the rounds on the
I/Net. It shows Chinese troops firing on a line of religious pilgrims making their way through the
Himalayas. In sight of a group of European climbers, the Chinese methodically shoot pilgrims and leave
them to die, with less consideration than an American cattleman might give to clearing out a pack of

Still elsewhere....
In China, Churches Challenge the Rules - washingtonpost.com
...the Chinese have started to crack down on private, non-government-sponsored Christian Churches,
according to this WP story. Photos and video, apparently smuggled out of China, show Chinese troops
demolishing a privately built Church with wrecking cranes in front of the congregation who had just
completed it. Later, the Chinese troops evidently rounded up some members of the congregation
for recording the demolition for the outside world to see.
"They're absolutely lawless. They consider God to be the most powerful authority and ignore the law," a
local official said of the congregation.
Yeah, we have that problem with our Christians, too. [Acts 4:18-20 ]

So you think your connection is slow....
Iran Bans High Speed Internet
Iran has decided to put a lid on I/Net dissent and opposition, by making the I/Net really slow and

FOXNews.com - Florida Man Stabbed in Chest by Stingray
What is it with the stingrays these days?! This one actually jumped into the boat of an elderly Florida
man, and drove its stinger into his lung and heart when he tried to pick it up. As of yesterday, surgeons
had removed most of the stinger from the man's chest, but there has been no further word on his condition
that I can find.

Too bad...
FOXNews.com - Dow Industrials Close Above 12,000 for First Time
...it’s just a number. Now if we had some kind of “world civilization index”, to show where we rank
between a world worth living in and murderous barbarianism and chaos, it might be a little more relevant.
Of course, when everybody found out the planet has been in a perpetual depression throughout the 5,000 years of
known record-keeping, the stock market would probably tank...

Spaceflight Now |Breaking News | Antarctic ozone hole is a record breaker
Of course, a relatively light seasonal Antarctic “ozone hole” was measured by the founder of the theory
before chloroflourocarbon refrigerants were invented, and nobody knows what the overall cycle of the
“hole” was like before that.
Scientists appear to be struggling to explain why the phenomenon continues to set records for size and
depth even though “the concentrations of ozone-depleting substances in the lower atmosphere (troposphere)
peaked around 1995 and are decreasing in both the troposphere and stratosphere.” The intensity of the “hole”
clearly varies with average yearly temperatures and numerous climatic factors.
I have a feeling, though, that somehow the explanation for this record-setting Antarctic ozone season is
likely to boil down to the ozone researchers being a whole lot smarter than the rest of us.

Lunar lander prototype passes test- The New Space Race - MSNBC.com
Carmack is still puttering about in the private spacecraft business, this time with a lunar lander concept vehicle.
My memory of Carmack’s description of the Armadillo team’s attempt at the XPrize for a suborbital
flight, using V-1/Redstone-style steering vanes, still gives me chills. Fortunately, the lander contest appears
to involve only unmanned craft.

This image, of gullies in the wall of a Martian crater, shows a interesting fun-fact about the
MRO/HiRISE images. Only the middle 20% swath of each image is in color, mostly to aid
mineralogical analysis according to the caption.


Post a Comment

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

---Houston Storms, Hawaii Quake, Response to NK, More HiRISE Pictures 

Houston storms
My Way News [AP]- 3 Dead in Texas Thunderstorms, Flooding
11-13 inches of rain wouldn't normally be catastrophic, but this time it was
teamed with heavy onshore flow into Galveston Bay. The higher than normal
tides in the Bay, where much of the Houston area drains through a network of
bayous and creeks caused water to rise all over the city and the surrounding
The resulting flooding has killed four at latest count, including a mother and
daughter who were tragically trapped in rising water under an underpass. It
seems from news accounts that they might have escaped if they had basic
lifesaving information about getting out of submerged vehicles. I guess we won't
ever know for sure.
[ This http://www.lifesaving.com article mentions kicking out the back window. I
believe that most or all auto windshields are also designed to pop out if struck at the
upper center. I guess if the car sinks nose-first and flips over, that might not be an option.
Panic probably keeps a lot of people in this situation from being able to think about the
need to equalize pressures before the doors will open, often with disastrous
results. Intentionally flooding the car with water is the last thing many of us would want to
consider. Electric windows can also complicate escape by refusing to open.
I finally had to go outside after most of the rain had gone through. I had no idea
that there were lingering problems, because our street and yard were only damp.
I had to ford several small ponds in the sedan, and our van spent several hours
parked on a sidewalk. Cars and trucks were abandoned everywhere, often
disabled by water. A few hours later, it was all cleared away in most of the area,
leaving all the streets damp and muddy.

My Way News [AP]- Hawaii Quake Damage Estimated at $46M
$46 million damage to schools, harbor facilities, and other property so far.
Blessedly, no known fatalities or serious injuries.
The story compares this to $25 billion damages in an earthquake of similar
intensity in Los Angeles in 1994. Of course, if the million dollars of damage is
done to your property, the comparison probably isn'’t that helpful.

Here we go!
My Way News - Rice Vows 'Full Range' Defense of Japan
Just along for the ride, though....

More nice pictures
HiRISE Operations Center -- HiROC
A larger batch of extremely high resolution pictures has come back from the MRO-HiRISE
reconnaissance camera at Mars. This one includes a stratified cliff face in a possible "“delta"
or "alluvial fan"” in the Holden Crater:
I don't see real estate developments going up on any of this terrain anytime soon....


Post a Comment

Friday, October 13, 2006

---The Next Scandal, U.S. Midterms, Woodward, NK Nukes, Victoria, and Other Stories 

Scandal du jour
MyWay News [AP] House Ethics Panel to Subpoena Documents

C’mon guys, they’re all lawyers! One perversion more or less....

It appears from accounts by some of the usual suspects [a] that the page at the center of the scandal was 18, making it more in the class of the Clintonian misuses of power and government facilities.
It’s thegovernment we deserve”...corruption, scandal, vice, demagoguery and abuse of power are the rule rather than exceptions. Everything potentially decent and constructive has been thoroughly extirpated from public discourse, and nobody anywhere near a microphone is saying anything about it.
It’s theInfinite Monkeys” principle of government, where the assumption is that if power is shared among a sufficiently large number of individuals, one of them will at random produce a good government---whereupon the other monkeys will promptly beat him to death and continue with business as usual.

No problem....
My Way News [AP] - Bush to Campaign for Troubled Lawmakers
The Democrats pronounced their victory in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections far too early. The usual principals---Howard Dean, Nancy Pelousi, Teddy Kennedy, the former co-Presidents Clinton---will never be able to keep their mouths shut until November. By the time this is over, the Democratic Party will be lucky if it doesn’t lose seats.

FOXNews.com - Bob Woodward Defends Claims Made in New Book
Woodward evidently has to make up to one faction or another for crashing the last scandal du jour. The point here---that the Iraq war was a mistake---is a waste of effort. All wars are mistakes---arguments about just whose mistake a particular war is don’t really address the problem.

I’m not a nuclear physicist...
FOXNews.com [AP]- Report: North Korea Nuke Test May Be Less Than Claimed
...never played one on TV, and didn’t stay in any hotels that might temporarily qualify me to comment on nuclear technologies. From early accounts, it sounds like the NK’s were trying to cause critical assembly with a very large amount of conventional explosive, albeit without implosion technology or Plutonium.
NK supposedly has plans for Chinese implosion warheads, but a consensus of web sources seems to conclude that they possess only HE-Uranium, probably from reprocessed reactor rods.
Other opinions berate the NK’s for being possibly the only nation to date to flunk its first nuclear test---producing less than the equivalent of 0.5 KT of TNT in explosive yield, compared to 15KT for the U.S. Trinity device. Alternatively, Kim is possibly pathetic enough to attempt a sham nuclear test with a nothing more than a heapin’ load of conventional explosives.

[Update: My Way News [AP]- U.S.: Test Points to N. Korea Nuke Blast U.S. air sampling after the claimed NK nuclear test did show evidence of radioactive debris. This suggests that the test resulted in a nuclear "fizzle", usually the result of poor containment of the fissionable mass after "assembly" causing it to be blasted apart before significant fission can take place. All this is consistent with a primitive HE-Uranium bomb designed in isolation from outside resources. The NK's (defective) missiles probably aren't going to be launching any kind of practical nuclear warhead anytime soon, unless they get them from someone else. While this is going on, how many of the people of North Korea have died of starvation and readily preventable disease?]

"Victoria Crater" at Meridiani Planum
has returned a nice shot of Mars’ Victoria Crater. The “Opportunity” rover is clearly visible on the rim, along with its wheel tracks and the shadow of its pan-cam mast. Also see: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/images/rover-color-close-up2_th265x228b.jp

Back in business....
The Flame Trench space blog by Florida Today
NASA is comfortable enough with its recovery from the Columbia "mishap" to resume launching Shuttles at night, when the careful observations of the ascent phase will be severely limited. They gotta finish that Space Station....

Spaceflight Now | STS-116 Shuttle Report | Station gyro off line; impact on shuttle flight assessed
ISS crew had to shut down one of the control gyrodynes after severe vibrations occurred.
Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Jupiter's Little Red Spot growing stronger
The “Little Red Spot” is strengthening, and may shed some light on the formation of the “Big Red Spot” that was there when Galileo first pointed a telescope at the planet 400 years ago.
ESA - Venus Express - Complex meteorology at Venus
ESA’s Venus probe has returned detailed IR studies of the planet’s cloud structure, mostly confirming that Venus is a very nasty place.


Post a Comment

Sunday, October 01, 2006

---Private Prisons in Afghanistan, 1st Close-Up MRO/HiRISE Images, Armstrong Said "A" After All 

Now, here’s a really great small business idea
My Way News - U.S. Prison Head Freed in Afghanistan
Why can’t I ever think of this stuff?

First HiRISE Image of Mars from Mapping Orbit: Ius Chasma, Valles Marineris
From the version of the MRO/HiRISE images available on most of the news services, it might not be obvious what all the back-slapping at JPL is about. This HiRISE site, however, has the full-resolution (about 9 MB) image, and a nice zoom-and-pan implementation that demonstrates the incredible detail from these first shots. It is possible to zoom down into the floor of this section of the Valles Marineris to see individual boulders strewn across the dunes and ridges. According to the description, the resolution is enough to see objects about three feet across, which would just barely allow it to see a hypothetical human standing on the surface.
My favorite spot, so far, is a small, rough mesa and some ridges near the upper right corner (NE?) of the image field. The cliffs on one side of the elevated area---more-or-less the NW---seem to be edged with a very bright material, and it appears that the areas below are partly obscured by some kind of mist or fog (see inset to right).

Now we can all rest easier...
SPACE.com -- Software Revises Neil Armstrong's Moon Quote
....knowing that Neil Armstrong didn’t actually fumble the most important explorer-debarkation tag line in history.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?