Archive for January 27, 2004

More Space, Less Sports

Oooooo – I’m so ticked off. I’ve had my television tuned to educational access pretty much constantly since they started airing NASA-TV round the clock. It’s the only place (in visual media – their website is great) that actually explains the science and engineering with any detail or accuracy. Listening to their press conferences and then the reports made on the evening news is like watching a big game of telephone, and one where the most interesting bits are left out.
So I switched it on this morning to see how they’re progressing with getting Opportunity up and moving, and some jerk is a New England Patriots jacket is blathering about the superbowl. On educational access! And now they’ve actually switched to airing clips from old football games.
Network television is going to do a fine job covering this game, and there are entire cable stations which will be doing nothing but. Must we be so unintellectual as to preempt the only decent coverage of a historical event for hyping installment thirty-eight of a game?

2003 Book Reviews

I’ve been really bad about writing book reviews the past year, but I did bother to do my annual list and mini-review of the books I read in 2003. My list of favorites from the past year was: Babel Tower by A.S. Byatt, Can’t Buy My Love by Jean Kilbourne, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, and The Big U by Neal Stephenson.

Best Elements

I always forget that Book of Ratings continues to update, which is great, because then I remember and I go back there and have a ton of entries to read. Which is particularly good when there is a three part rating of elements.

Aluminum
Science has delved into the very nucleus of this element, alloyed it and amalgamated it, but nonetheless is still unable to determine why aluminum is able to block all known forms of alien and governmental mind-controlling rays. Certainly it’s a frustration to the CIA and the R’ylegh’ni, but I think it’s a testimony to the resourcefulness of our nation’s insane paranoid freaks that they’ve discovered so effective a defense. B

Unmanned NASA Successes

Whooo! Whooo! Rover rolls onto Mars! I’ve been watching the daily updates from NASA and JPL, and it’s unbelievable how well this mission is going. Right now I’m listening to NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe talk about their proposed new direction to various NASA personnel, and he’s clearly working hard to sell the advantages of having a unified direction. He talked a lot about debating over the best way to achieve a specific goal rather than continuing to debate over what goal to try to achieve. It’s also the first place I’ve heard a good account of how the decision to set a goal of returning people to the moon and beyond, as compared to all the other goals, was decided upon. And, having been in on the decision-making process, it’s not surprising he’s working hard to sell it.
I personally think it’s a little odd to be returning to a focus on putting people in space just as our robotic missions are having such fabulous successes. But then again, maybe that’s exactly the time to do it – before the fears of risking lives raised after the latest shuttle accident coupled with the realistic ability to use robots instead of people to explore makes us retreat from allowing people to do the exploring. My gut reaction is still that the proposed timetable is too fast, and I’m more enthusiastic about focusing on the current Mars missions and wouldn’t want to see work on a new manned exploration vehicle displacing this mission. And I haven’t heard much discussion of the exploitation of moon resources and why we feel justified in doing so and how we could do so in a responsible manner.

2003 Photos

As I did the past two years, I’ve collected together all of the images that I put in my weblog during 2003 into one album of photos. Almost half of them are from my participation in Photo Friday last year, and it’s pretty easy to locate the point in time where my camera broke. All in all, I’m pretty happy with my collection. Last week’s Photo Friday asked for one’s favorite image from the past year. I just selected from the ones I took specifically for that project and chose my entry for Multiples.

New Public Domain Works

Over the holidays, a few sites announced the works which came into the public domain in various countries. In many countries, works by those who died in 1933 are just entering the public domain and you can check Wikipedia’s entry for 1933 for a partial list. (As a side note, I had never looked at their entries for specific years, and they seem quite good.) Lessig passes on in his blog some of the more prominent names entering the public domain in Canada (including Turing, Stalin, and Hank Williams…), while pointing out that in the US it will be 15 years until any more published works enter the public domain.

Bunkering In

Wheeee – a new year, and it’s going to be a busy and exciting one. And the holidays brought me a new digital camera, so new photos will be showing up here again — I’m planning on restarting Photo Friday. I also got some good books, including Kilbourne’s semi-recent Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, which was very good, and I would recommend it even if you’ve already heard her speak or seen her film.
With the frigid temperatures up here (high of 0 – woooooo!), I’ll probably be spending most of the weekend on the sofa with my laptop in my lap and educational access’s round-the-clock Nasa Mars rover coverage on the television, and hopefully I’ll send some fun links this way.