Tuesday, August 31, 2004

ok that didn't go so well

ok that didn't go so well

I was planning on getting out of Calgary tonight. I had everything all packed up... until I realized that I was missing X and Y and Z and had to run around all over town. I sure hope X (the WiFi) works with this computer, as it is an older model laptop. It should work according to the box, but one never knows.

And then there's Y, the digital camera. I picked one up for a fairly good... check that, excellent price secondhand. I haven't tested it out yet. That's a project for the morning.

Speaing of which, I am exhausted. I have been really plugging away trying to get everything ready to go, and just came up short by a few hours. I suppose it might have gone better if I had gotten some sleep yesterday - I've now been awake for 46 hours - working two shifts with no sleep in between, and the time in between shifts spent running around all over town pulling my stuff together, as well as packing and cleaning up around the apartment.... well, it takes its toll.

It's a good thing my landlord is an understnanding guy. I suppose it helps that of all his tenants I'm the only one who paid the rent every month on time.

Anyhow, I'll be outa here tomorrow, testing out all my stuff five miles outside of Calgary. So it looks like the major part of the trip will start the day after that, September 2nd: That's when I will be out on the open road, heading towards Medicine Hat.

well, here I go

well, here i go

After months of thinking about it and thinking about it, I'm finally doing it; my first vacation in 17 years. I guess that makes me the vacation cicada.I am in the final stages of packing up my stuff; in an hour everything will be packed and in a few hours more I'll be on the road. I'm going to stop by a friend's place just outside of Calgary for the night, to test out everything while I am still right next to civilization. Tomorrow I begin in earnest; I hope to get to Medicine Hat from Conrich in two days. I may even have a few photos in my next blog post.

My parents, though worried about me, have been enormously helpful,. Thanks, mom and dad, it would have been a LOT more difficult without both of your' help.

I have to pack the computer now. See y'all in a few days.

Monday, August 30, 2004

well that didn't take long

well that didn't take long

I already commented about Kerry. Dang. And after his daughters getting booed, I was able to hold off for a whole day, too.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hubble robotics prediction

Hubble robotics prediction

Amid more talk of a robot rescue for Hubble, I will venture a few inches out on a limb: I predict that the robotic mission won't happen, nor will there be a shuttle mission to save it. In fact, I predict that NASA will dither and twiddle their collective thumbs until Hubble becomes completely uncontrollable, when safe deorbit is no longer possible. At that point Hubble will crash where ever it happens to crash.

Hopefully it won't crash on a populated area.

Friday, August 27, 2004

i've had enough

i've had enough

That's it. I'm not writing anything further about John Kerry. It just makes me sick to my stomach.

Maybe I'll start pointing out instead how far to the Left George Bush has swung. Or maybe I'll just lay off politics altogether for a while. I dunno.

At any rate, the month of September will be mostly dedicated to photoblogging. I'm going on vacation soon, and I'll be taking my laptop computer and a camera with me. So, expect this blog to soon contain lots of pictures of landscapes, stuff I happen to see on my travels, and every hot chick I meet in the next month.

I'll be spending most of this vacation on my bike; rather than having the countryside whiz by me at sixty miles an hour (or below me at 500 mph) I'll be moving at a nice leisurely 20.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

my open letter to John F. Kerry

my open letter to John F. Kerry

I sent a letter to John Kerry, through his website. Here it is:

Senator Kerry: You have a choice. You can either sign the form 180 today and put an end to the SBVT accusations about your medals and conduct in Vietnam, or you can continue to allow their charges to gain credibility.

That assumes, of course, that your military records will back up your version of events. I will be looking especially for all the after-action reports describing the "cutting off ears, cutting off heads" and so on that you testified to in the early 70s.

I assume that you included these incidents in your after action reports. If you did not, or indicate that you made no effort whatever to put a stop to the illegal actions you testified about (you were an officer, and there are pictures of you being armed with an M16, therefore you would have been in a position to stop these actions), then I refer you to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, under which you face life imprisonment for dereliction of duty.

Note that under the UCMJ (article 104) you also face execution for negotiating with the north Vietnamese.


I don't expect a response (I am a Canadian, so I can't vote either for or against Kerry). However, a handful of my readers are Americans, and their words would carry more weight with the Kerry campaign than mine. Therefore I urge that handful to ask Kerry some questions of their own, at the link posted above.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

brothers in arms or war criminals?

brothers in arms or war criminals?

Mark Steyn's "Mekong Mailbox" contains this pincer maneuver from Russ Vaughn:

"John Kerry's actions in combat were not that of a single person but that of the commissioned leader of an enlisted crew. One way or the other, those men are either participants in war crimes as originally admitted to by their commanding officer, or they are witnesses to his war crimes and failed to report them to higher authority. Either position is subject to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

So there you have it - either John Kerry lied in sworn testimony before Congress, or he and his band of brothers are bona-fide war criminals. Either way, Kerry is toast.

implode implode implode

implode implode implode

Curmudgeons Corner makes everything clear... when John Kerry was testifying before the Senate in the early 70's, he wasn't talking about other swift boat vets... he was talking about guys like Max Cleland, John McCain, Al Gore... all of the Vietnam vets except for the swift boat guys.

And then we see Kerry unable (or unwilling) to answer a simple question from Jon Stewart: "Were you or were you not in Cambodia?" ... bear in mind, this was an event that Kerry himself stated, on the Senate floor in 1986, was "seared--seared" into his memory. Kerry is the guy who wants to set foreign policy for the United States of America, yet he gets derailed by that media heavyweight Jon Stewart. Think how Kerry would handle Yasser Arafat. Or the North Koreans.

Then the Washington Post refutes Kerry's first purple heart, using Kerry's own diary:

A primary claim against Mr. Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans is that Mr. Kerry's first Purple Heart — awarded for action on Dec. 2, 1968 — did not involve the enemy and that Mr. Kerry's wounds that day were unintentionally self-inflicted.
They charge that in the confusion involving unarmed, fleeing Viet Cong, Mr. Kerry fired a grenade, which detonated nearby and splattered his arm with hot metal.
Mr. Kerry has claimed that he faced his "first intense combat" that day, returned fire, and received his "first combat related injury."
A journal entry Mr. Kerry wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier.
"A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky," wrote Mr. Kerry, according the book "Tour of Duty" by friendly biographer Douglas Brinkley.


The only way I can see for Kerry's journal to match with the first Purple Heart is if Kerry was in the habit of writing the dates in his journal in Roman numerals... utterly preposterous for a military man, and utterly bizarre for ...well, pretty much anybody.

Then someone posts the entire text of John Kerry's book The New Soldier to the internet. Now everyone can read for themselves why it is that the Swift Boat vets are so mad at Kerry.

If Jon Kerry keeps on imploding at this rate, he'll be a black hole by the beginning of November.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

cognitive dissonance

cognitive dissonance

Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organization is developing new generation weapons that are based on insect swarms - cheap, expendable robots that communicate with each other and work together as a sort of hive-mind.

That's fine, that's their job. However, this quote shows that these guys are lying to themselves about the very nature of their jobs:

"(Alex) Ryan said the project aimed to reduce the need to send troops into hazardous situations.

'That the driving force behind this, it's about saving lives,' he said."


Get that? A new weapons system that is about saving lives. Either this guy is a complete idiot or he's a liar. Oh yeah, he's a mathematician in charge of the team developing this new weapons system, so I think the "idiot" charge can be thrown out.

It's a weapons system fercryinoutloud. Yes, such a system may make it safer for an army to do things like reconnaissance, but seriously, when have the actions of any army been about saving lives?

I want to make clear that it is not the development of a new weapons system to which I object: such things are a necessary part of the operations of any armed forces. What I object to is the cognitive dissonance that leads one to state that such developments have anything to do with "saving" anybody. Such developments are undertaken for one purpose only: to improve an army's ability to kill their enemy.

Mr. Ryan, you're either deluding yourself or lying to everyone else.

virtual losers

virtual losers

3G mobile telephones will soon have a Tamagotchi-like virtual girlfriend game.

How sad is that? These things will be equipped with a modicum of artificial intelligence:

"But to keep their companions happy, subscribers will have to send their girlfriends virtual gifts that cost a lot of money and allow them to progress further in the game and unlock new levels."

And what if you don't keep your virtual girlfriend happy? Does she virtually dump you? And would that be considered even more pathetic than being so socially inept as to require a virtual girlfriend in the first place?

want to vie for the Ansari X-prize?

want to vie for the Ansari X-prize?

Rocketplane Limited is looking for engineers. For any engineers in the Oklahoma City area, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor of the burgeoning suborbital space industry.

527s and Kerry

527s and Kerry

Captain Ed brings it on.

the meme is spreading

the meme is spreading

Dennis at Classical Values has a good roundup of some articles that show the Christmas in Cambodia story is gaining traction among the mainstream media.

traffic

traffic

Instapundit got over a quarter million hits yesterday. On my best day so far, I have (drumroll) .... twelve.

Consider yourselves in elite company. Or maybe you're on the lunatic fringe. I guess which category you, dear reader, belong in, depends on your opinion of this blog.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Should John Kerry be executed?

Should John Kerry be executed?

That is a very strong statement, I know. However, as Steve Gilbert points out in The American Thinker, Kerry's actions in the early 1970's, which include negotiations with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese delegations in Paris in May 1970 (which occurred while Kerry was still in the Naval Reserve) are actually punishable by death under article 104 (Aiding the Enemy) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Furthermore, there is no statute of limitations for crimes that are punishable by death under the UCMJ.

US Democrats: I warned you back in April about the waffle king. And yet, you nominated him anyhow. Not only that, your campaign strategy was to highlight his service in Vietnam and to ignore the intervening 3+ decades. Well, as Dr. Phil would say (along with, I am certain, numerous other barnyard analogies), the chickens are coming home to roost.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

NASA fudging data?

NASA fudging data?

My friend Charles Shults has been poring over NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rover photographs since February; he has made a rock-solid case for the presence of fossils there, by the billions. Lately, he has been looking at some of the photographs of the sky on Mars and has come to the startling conclusion that NASA is editing the images using simple graphics software, and has been deliberately colorizing the skies to make them appear reddish - in fact, the Martian sky is a greyish blue.

Whatever could possess those at NASA with access to the raw data to make these changes? And not only that, but to make their edits obvious? Is somebody Simon Jestering NASA from within? Or is this editing an official policy of NASA? and if it is official policy, why?

One thing is certain: NASA receives its funding from the American people. If NASA cannot be trusted to give accurate data, or if they are editing it in such a way as to give a false impression of the results, then Americans are not getting good value for their money.

When faced with a choice between incompetence and conspiracy to explain the dubious actions of an agency like NASA, incompetence is the case 99% of the time. However, whether the edits of the images are due to incompetence or policy, neither choice reflects well upon NASA.

It is time for NASA to come clean. If they are intentionally misleading the public (you know, the ones who pay their salaries) then fraud charges are warranted, starting with Sean O'Keefe and going right on down the line. If the edits are the result of incompetence (ie poor security), then there ought to be mass firings in their IT department.

gutting Canada's military

gutting Canada's military

Paul Martin's foolish election promise to create a 5000-member Peacekeeping Brigade is going to lead to the mothballing of all Canada's remaining destroyers, and a grounding of 1/4 of our CF-18 fighter jets, in order to free up the money to fulfill the campaign promise.

So in answer to Rand Simberg, no, I can't seriously imagine Ottawa using the army to stop Alberta secession - there won't be much of an army left to stop anything.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

in America's best interests?

in America's best interests?

Mark Steyn suggests that for the prosecution of the war on terror, it would be better for the USA if Canada was to break up into several nations. Can't say I disagree with him.

Friday, August 20, 2004

new from blogger

new from blogger

... is the blogger taskbar, at the top of the page. Using the search function included in the taskbar, one can search for a keyword anywhere in my archives (or whatever Blogger blog you happen to be reading). It works not too bad at all.

hypocrites

hypocrites

That would be the New York Times. They claim a "web of connections" between the SwiftVets and the Republican party - my, how they squeal, though any connections are tenuous at best, like mine to Kevin Bacon. But, where were they when this was going on?

Swift Vets raise the stakes

Swift Vets raise the stakes

The first ad was devastating. The second ad, featuring Vietnam POWs' comments on John Kerry, hits him broadside. As an active war protestor following his return from Vietnam, Kerry leveled accusations of war crimes against his fellow soldiers; the selfsame accusations that the POWs were forced to utter as part of their torture.

No wonder Kerry wants to silence the swiftvets with lawsuits and legal threats against their book publisher and TV stations. Kerry has even gone so far as to call on Bush to silence the swift vets, knowing full well that Bush is not legally allowed to coordinate his campaign with them in any way under 527 laws.

...and the implosion continues....

the sticky details of nanomanufacturing

the sticky details of nanomanufacturing

Space Daily reports on a new nanoassembly technique developed by the University of Michigan. Basically, "sticky patches" are precisely placed and oriented, and then nanoparticles use the sticky patches as guides to self-assembly.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

end of an era?

end of an era?

Jayson Javitz thinks the Democrat party is going through its death throes as the FDR bloc ages and dies.

the Kerry implosion begins

the Kerry implosion begins

Actually, it started a few weeks ago at the Democratic convention, but that won't become obvious for a while yet.

The Kerry campaign began the convention with a military salute, and "John Kerry, reporting for duty". With that, Kerry finally outsmarted himself. He has spent the better part of four decades crafting himself in an image: the ├╝ber-candidate. If a party needed a war hero, someone who could look tough, he could be that. On the other hand, if a party needed a war protestor, someone who could look compassionate, why, he could do that too. He could be anything to anybody, promise anything... as long as he looked good, he would come out on top.

And now, the truth is coming back to haunt Kerry. His entire career, built on a stack of cards, is about to come cascading down. The reason? John Forbes Kerry is all about appearances. His whole career has been a self-crafted illusion.

The Democrat party needed a candidate who would appear to be tough with terrorists - not one who actually would be tough on terrorists, because those people are in the White House now. In the new JFK they hit the jackpot. Here was a guy who won three purple hearts, bronze star and silver star. The Dems rah-rah'ed it up at the convention, played up his Vietnam service, indeed made it the central plank of their platform.

"If you want to know what John Kerry is made of ... spend three minutes talking with the men who served with him." Better yet, visit their website. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an organization that includes most of the men who served with, above, and under John Kerry, make some fairly strong statements about his character - or rather, his lack of same.

Kerry's version of Vietnam and the versions of the others who were there are polar opposites, and the documentation (what the Kerry camp will release) bolsters the Swift Vets' case, not Kerry's. What emerges is a man whose every action in life has been geared to one end: the acquisition of power by guile. The latest bizarre chapter in Kerry's merry Vietnam adventure is the sampan incident:

"Critically important is the fact that Kerry filed a phony after-action operational report concealing the fact that a child had been killed during the attack on the sampan and inventing a fleeing squad of Viet Cong. The operational report is one of the important missing documents that Kerry neglects to make public on his campaign Web site. "

Will the Kerry camp release the document in question? Or the medical reports from his Purple Heart awards? Based on the August 19th 2004 statement by Larry Thurlow on the Swift Vet's site, I am beginning to suspect that the officer who recommended Kerry for all of his medals was none other than LtJG J.F.Kerry.

One thing is certain: if we leave it up to the old media, this story will get swept under the rug. One thing is different in this election from all the previous ones though: blogs. With most of the mainstream media in the USA leaning heavily to the left, there is a disincentive for them to criticize their favoured political party, and an incentive to demonize the Republicans. The old media have left in their wake a fact-checking void. This has been going on for a long time, and were it not for the internet would continue.

But the internet has changed political discourse radically in the last four years, with the arrival on the scene of blogs. Now, when journalists shirk their job responsibilities, Instapundit can do on his lunch break as much fact-checking as "reporters" do in a week. Captain Ed has done some serious digging on Kerry, too, enough that it ought to sink Kerry's boat. And - this is the point that eludes the press - these bloggers and millions of others like them are providing instant references to what they write, linking to each other, fact-checking and correcting each other, and in general circumventing the mainstream press.

The general public is starting to see this too - seeing blogs scoop the mainstream news by in some cases weeks. Editorial cartoons covering subjects not covered anywhere else in the paper, but covered in the blogosphere, are starting to appear. As the newspapers and TV news decline in credibility, blogs increase in credibility. With that credibility comes readership, and the advertising dollars will follow soon enough, morphing the most successful political blogs into the new fourth estate.

update: Dean Esmay agrees.

know thy enemy

know thy enemy

Mark Steyn says that our enemies know us pretty well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

O'Keefe taking fire

O'Keefe taking fire

Bruce Moomaw has an article out today entitled The Case Against Hubble. The article has some pretty harsh criticism of NASA in general and Sean O'Keefe in particular:

"But O'Keefe's ignorance of basic details of aerospace technology is now infamous; and this is not the first time he has been tricked into backing a seriously questionable major new program by his more experienced NASA underlings. They hold a strong and predictable desire to keep the agency's total funding level pumped as high as possible, whether it's justified or not."

I disagree with the first sentence quoted above: O'Keefe does not strike me as one who is easily fooled. Of course, the implications of that are probably worse than if he was "tricked".

As to the second sentence above, I fully agree; I would go further to state that such a desire stretches across all bureaucracies. It goes beyond a desire; it is the survival and reproductive trait of Bureaucracy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

better late than never

better late than never

NASA is planning on using Robust AI on future planetary rovers. About damn time.

I've been working on this very idea for quite some time now - 13 years. Wanna bet I have a commercial version built before NASA gets one deployed?

two new moons

two new moons

The Cassini probe has found two new moons, about three and four km across respectively, orbiting Saturn between the orbits of Mimas and Enceladus.

There are going to be lots more of these small mountain-sized moons found orbiting the giant planets as more probes are sent to them.

next, orbital

next, orbital

With one suborbital manned flight under their belt, and an X-Prize attempt in the early fall, Burt Rutan is already looking further. In a lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, Rutan talked about a one-man version of SpaceShipOne, capable of reaching a 130km orbit. The Spaceship would rendezvous with an orbital hotel such as the one envisioned by Bigelow Aerospace.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Oh for crying out loud

Oh for crying out loud

Only last Monday Sean O'Keefe was making a speech, talking about using a robot mission to save the Hubble telescope. Then on Thursday this story came out in Wired.

"NASA science chief Al Diaz told reporters the agency had not yet chosen a specific robot, nor had it ruled out the possibility of sending a human crew to repair the Hubble -- if the agency decides to service Hubble at all."

As I said in the last week, talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

best seller

best seller

Still at the number one spot on Amazon.com is the book by John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, Unfit For Command.

I have commented directly on Kerry before; nothing I have seen since has improved the man's image in my eyes. In fact, my opinion of Kerry has gotten worse: I think he may have been nominated solely based on the very deep pockets of his wife. When other candidates were running out of money and dropping out of the race, Theresa was still selling lots of ketchup.

John Kerry has the potential to unmask the entire Left in America. Being all style and no substance has its perks, to be sure. But they are illusory benefits, and if unmasked have the potential to expose the core of leftist philosophy, socialism itself: the idea that the productive members of society will support the slovenly, that the evil will be given life by the good, merely because those who would provide the support are productive and good. It is based on the premise that those who contribute to society in meaningful ways ought to be the willing slaves of those who leech upon society.

As John Kerry's Cambodia story unravels, hard on the heels of the exposure of Joe Wilson as a liar, the twisted spin put on by the NY Times and other major media to the 9/11 commission (which concluded that Bush was not lying to bring the nation to war with Iraq, merely acting on intelligence no better than the intelligence available prior to 9/11 about that horrible day), and counterexamples of press hysteria over the Bush administration too "numbrous" to list here, the mainstream media's bias is abundantly clear.

Big media organizations make haughty claims about "independence" and "objectivity". Such claims are worthy goals, but they are hardly the case in practice. It has been this way for a long time, but the blogosphere is establishing a check-and-balance on the media itself. The Swift Boats Veterans for Truth ad is getting out there due in large part to the power of the hyperlink.

That power will only increase, as more and more users blog for themselves, interconnecting the vast web of information available to us in real time, as history unfolds for our digital cameras.

So the big media organizations have aligned themselves with the Democrats, big time, and the blogosphere is filling the void of objectivity by representing the whole political spectrum.

The question becomes, why? What would lead the Press to embrace the sick philosophy of the Left? Could it be that it is the mainstream media itself that is all style and no substance? No wonder they studiously avoid the Kerry-in-Cambodia story. They might actually have to be objective.

World War 4

World War 4

Einstein said "I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Norman Podhoretz apparently disagrees, and has written a wonderful essay entitled "World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win".

The essay is very broad, deep, and far-ranging. It covers the genesis of the War on Terrorism (ie World War 4, the Cold War was World War 3 according to Podhoretz) in the post-Vietnam era, right up to the present day. The essay is very complimentary of the Bush Doctrine for prosecuting the war, seeing it as a parallel to the Marshall Plan of the Cold War.

Podhoretz's essay is quite long; it took me several hours to read. It gives a good historical context to present day events, showing the roots in the cold war and the reaction of the American people to the retreat from Vietnam. The facts presented (along with a bibliography of references) cut the knees right out from under all arguments against the war on terrror, and the method by which the war has been executed. And for a history, it is remarkably up-to date, incorporating events as recent as this summer.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

India contemplates manned mission

India contemplates manned mission

The Calcutta Telegraph reports that the Indian Space Recearch Organization has practice a retreival of a manned space capsule. ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair says that a manned mission is possible in 7-8 years.

Meanwhile, Scaled Composites will be putting on a second manned mission to space on September 29th of this year. Is there any further doubt that government space programs are due for a radical change in approach?

better hydrogen production through nanotechnology

better hydrogen production through nanotechnology

The BBC reports on a solar-powered fuel cell that uses a special nanocrystalline metal oxide film to convert sunlight from across the entire spectrum into electricity, which is then used to crack Hydrogen from water. The current efficiency of the system is 8%; at 10% it becomes commercially viable.

"Using a 10% cell, we say that a seven-metre squared array will power a Mercedes A class car for 11,000 miles a year [in LA sunlight conditions] without going to power station."

Big day at the ISS

Big day at the ISS

Yesterday, astronaut Michael Finke and cosmonaut Gennady Padalk participated in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

And today, a Russian resupply vessel has docked with the space station.

Now, can anyone tell me, how much primary research has been accomplished on the ISS?

Olympic Games

Olympic Games

Well, the Olympic Games are on again.

It happens every time; in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, I always say to myself, "I'm not going to watch 24/7"... and then, from the opening ceremonies until the flame is put out, I'm glued to the TV. I find myself watching sports I never would otherwise, like synchronized diving (which, for a subjectively-judged event, is nonetheless pretty cool) and ... well, they've damn near crammed pretty much every remotely-physical human activity from ballroom dancing to ping pong in there.

Citius, Altius, Fortius... while I understand that ballroom dancing may be a mentally exacting and physically challenging endeavour, I fail to see how it falls into any of the categories fo Faster, Higher, Stronger.

For events like javelin and weightlifting and cycling, an athelete is competing against the others in an event that can be objectively measured, by the measuring tape or the stopwatch or the scales. Events like wrestling and ping pong and boxing (more on boxing later) pit one athelete directly against the other, with only the winner advancing.

I believe that certain events need to be eliminated from the Olympic Games, purely because there is no objective way to measure the performance of the atheletes. There is no "prettier" in the Olympic motto. Ballroom dancing is one of these; in the Winter Olympics a good example is figure skating.

The big problem with my position is that people watch figure skating and diving and some of these other subjectively-judged events, they tune in their TVs and get big ratings. There is no way that they will be eliminated from the Olympics, because they pay the bills.

Boxing presents a quandary; The only way to eliminate judging in boxing (other than the referee) is to force the fights to go to a knockout. That option has been abandoned for the simple reason that even if one started with only eight competitors instead of 32, there is no way that the winners of the first matches would be physically capable of a enough consecutive fights to fit within the Olympic timeframe. Such fights could go for Sullivanesque lengths, in the tens of rounds instead of only four. So, the only way to incorporate boxing in the Olympics is to have judges counting landed blows. Boxing has improved in this regard since Seoul, with a computerized voting system between multiple judges keeping track of the score in real time, for the audience to see.

The thing to do is to follow boxing's lead: to have the score voted on by the judges in real time, displayed for the crowd to see as the performance unfolds. Torvall and Dean may have deserved their sixes, Nadia Comanechi may have deserved her tens - with such a real-time voting system, their scores would have started at 6 and 10 respectively, and stayed there for the duration - displayed in real time for the home viewing audience.

Hmm... something like that might even enhance the sports in question.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

arrgh

arrgh

Yesterday, my cable modem died. I suspect there might have been some kind of power surge involved with it, because my computer wouldn't recognize my primary hard drive after that. I ended up switching the primary with the secondary and reinstalling Windows on an existing partition. What a pain in the ass. Looks like I haven't lost any of my data though.

It is amazing how much I have come to rely upon internet access at home. I was going nuts, not being able to check my email or reach any websites at all. Frustrating as hell. And, since I had to reinstall Windows, it has also taken me several hours to reinstall the security updates, java, several other items, and to restore my desktop. I have been at it now for four hours, and I am only about half done.

It is a damn good thing I make regular backups of my data onto CD. Had I lost it all, I would have been one very unhappy camper.

update: Well, that worked, temporarily. I am back to intermittent net connections. I have to say that my ISP, Shaw Cable, has been extremely helpful in troubleshooting this problem. Looks like it might be something wrong with the connection outside my building; hopefully those guys can get things straightened out before I lose the rest of my hair.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

robots to save hubble?

robots to save hubble?

The Canadian Space Agency's Dextre robot is a likely candidate for the attempt to save Hubble.

"On Monday, O'Keefe gave his strongest endorsement yet of a robotic mission, praising the preliminary work done by Hubble scientists and engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and urging them to press ahead with fix-it plans minus astronauts."

Gee... February 1 2003 to August 9, 2004... it has only been 18 months since Columbia tanked. In the meantime the gyros on Hubble have started to fail, one instrument had to be shut down last week, and the batteries are dying. 18 months to do basically... nothing.

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. This is a decision that ought to have been made on February 2nd 2003; satellite integration with the launch vehicle ought to be going on today. I guess they are waiting until Hubble's gyros completely fail and it becomes impossible to fix or safely deorbit.

If NASA thought shit hit the fan with Columbia, wait and see what happens if they wait too long to save or safely deorbit Hubble. Hopefully it doesn't crash in downtown Beijing or some other heavily-populated area.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Wireless Pig

Wireless Pig

Carnegie Mellon university has developed a wireless robot that explores gas mains, currently being tested in New York. This robot is capable of making 90 degree turns inside the pipes, and travelling nearly half a mile from the operator.

There have been "pigs" like this used for a long time to do pipeline inspections, but they have not been wireless, nor nearly as dextrous.

"It is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using high-tech wireless inspection devices in areas traditionally thought to be inaccessible to human beings. The implications to potential cost-savings for preventative maintenance, inspection and emergency response should not be overlooked by any utility that has to manage its underground infrastructure."

mobile

mobile

NASA has outfitted its Robonaut in two mobile configurations: one with a single leg for use in zero gravity, another with a Segway providing a mobile base.

The Robonauts have extremely dextrous hands, capable of handling the same tools the astronauts use. These robots or something very much like them will be essential components of future space missions, allowing astronauts to perform EVAs by teleoperation.

Affleck a wuss?

Affleck a wuss?

Memo to John Kerry: if you are relying upon star power to help bring in the crowds, perhaps calling said star a wuss is probably not a good way to keep him working for you.

And in fact, Affleck is now gone and Dave Grohl is in.

I like Ben Affleck. I think that he and Kevin Smith make a great team. I think that he and Matt Damon make a great team too. And it's good to see him getting involved in politics, unlike some other actors (I'm looking at you, John Cusack). Too bad he hitched his wagon to Kerry, to be used and discarded like an empty ketchup bottle.

armadillo droppings

armadillo droppings

Yep, it's been a bad day all around for Xprize teams. Armadillo Aerospace suffered a complete loss of vehicle. They are out of the running for at least five weeks due to long lead-times on replacement parts.

Dammit dammit dammit.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

dang

dang

Well, the Rubicon launched alright. Then, less than 1000 feet in the air, BOOM. I'm sure the explosion was a sight to behold at that altitude. Afterwards, the parachute on the capsule didn't deploy, and it crashed.

Space Transport Corporation will have to completely rebuild the Rubicon; fortunately the rocket only cost them $20 thousand to build (by way of comparasin, NASA goes through that amount of money every 42 seconds; it is also about 1/1000 of the development costs of SpaceShipOne).

Hopefully these guys can get another one built soon. Not that I think they will win the X-Prize (I'm leaning heavily in favour of SS1 for that, 60-40 over WildFire), but I sure want to see them build a viable business. I'd hate to see them drop out of the suborbital market, after coming so close to operating a viable suborbital spacecraft for such a small amount of money.

goodbye, red

goodbye, red

Now this is a guy who would have made a heckuva president, if he didn't have such a hard-on for capping blazing oil wells.

godspeed

godspeed

Space Transport Corporation is doing a test launch of their rocket, the Rubicon, today. Good luck, boys.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

you play with fire...

you play with fire...

The Dems should have seen this coming when they hyped Kerry's war record at their convention.

This ad was produced by a private organization, the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth. In Canada, if any private individual or group tried the same thing during the election, and spent more than $3000 in any one riding (electoral boundary) to do so, they would be facing jail time - our Supreme Court sees nothing wrong with this election gag law.

and the race is on!

and the race is on!

The da Vinci project announced its official Ansari X Prize Attempt. They have set a date for the first of two launches from the Kindersley spaceport: October 2nd, only 3 days after Scaled Composites makes its first of two launches. Each team has a two week window to make their second launch, which wins the prize. With the two launches occurring within days of each other, this will go down to the wire in early October.

great rant

great rant

Mike at Cold Fury has a fantastic rant called Someday, some way. A sample:

Press: “Mr. Ridge, how do you respond to charges that this security alert is really a scare tactic being used for political purposes by the Bush administration?”

Ridge: “Christ almighty, what is it with you people? You’ve spent a couple of years asking why we didn’t prevent 9/11, calling for an investigation, asking ‘how much did Bush know and when did he know it?’ You blamed us for something we failed to prevent after eight months in office, and yet to this day you give the Clinton admin a free pass, even though he had eight years—eight fucking years, people—to do something about al Qaeda and didn’t do one goddamned thing.

...

“You people are, frankly, full of shit. It’s damned if we do and damned if we don’t with you Clymers, and I’m beginning to wonder why we even bother at all. No wonder nobody but yourselves and those pitiful few poor saps you still manage to fool pays much attention to you anymore. It’s too damned bad it’s come to this, but it’s your own damned fault.

“No more questions. Shove it.”

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Firefly

At Backwoods Home, Claire Wolfe gives a glowing review of the DVD set for the TV series Firefly. Having seen the series, I agree wholeheartedly with her assessment.

Fifty-nine Deceits

Fifty-nine Deceits

Dave Kopel has put together a list of 59 "deceits" in the Michael Moore movie Fahrenheit 911.

There is also a revised version of the first 14:34 of Fahrenheit 911:

"The new version includes all the material in the original movie, plus captions to point out where Moore misleads or omits critical facts"

The revised version is available as a BitTorrent file on Suprnova under the movies/documentaries section, called Fahrenheit911FactsFixedPromo. Definitely worth a look before deciding whether to spend 50 bucks at a movie.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

mid-vacation blues

mid-vacation blues

I started a little vacation on Friday, and here it is Sunday and I'm bored out of my tree. I was sure lucky to find internet access at all here in this little resort village (Fairmont, BC)... and now I just want to get back to my own computer at home. Ahh, well, only another day or two of this and I'll be back to regular posting. Cya later.