Saturday, July 30, 2005

not the 11th planet

not the 11th planet

Mark Whittington proposes naming the Kuiper Belt Object 2003EL61 as Persephone. He also calls it a planet, even though it is only 1/3 the mass of Pluto. Too bad it is probably too small to be considered a planet, and also too bad that there is already an asteroid named Persephone.

Update: Mark changed the link in his post; as I suspected, he meant to point to an article about 2003UB313. However, he still wants to call it Persephone.

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early retirement?

early retirement?

The Washington Times, the San Antonio News-Express, and the Pasadena Star-News call for the permanent grounding of the shuttle fleet.

The San Fransisco Chronicle questions both the shuttles' future and that of the space station. The Daytona Beach News-Journal says that the shuttle program should not depend on luck. The Lincoln Journal Star says the US space program is out of date, pointing out that very few people would drive a 21 year old car (Discovery first flew in 1984).

These calls are only going to become louder and more persistent as it becomes clear to everyone that the shuttle design is severely flawed. It is time to stop beating a dead horse and ground the shuttle fleet, permanently.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

tenth planet

tenth planet

2003UB313, a Kuiper Belt Object about 97AU from the sun, has been determined to be at least as big as Pluto (ie ~2600 km diameter; Pluto is about 2250 km), making it the tenth planet of our sun. This is considerably bigger than Quaoar, which had been the best previous candidate to be the tenth planet until its diameter was determined to be 1250 km, about the same size as Pluto's moon Charon. There are probably a handful of other similarly-sized Kuiper Belt Objects yet to be discovered.

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civic holiday

civic holiday

It's that time of year again: the August Long Weekend. Officially it is called the "civic holiday" - nice generic term that means absolutely nothing. Apparently somebody with no imagination decided that Canadians needed a long weekend in August.

Now, I'm all for long weekends. The August long weekend has (for the last several years) become a tradition for my mom's side of the family; a reunion of sorts in Fairmont BC.

But, somehow "August Long Weekend" is decidedly unpoetic. I know, the Victoria Day weekend is more commonly known as "May long weekend", but the lack of imagination is disturbing... sort of reminds me of the Canadian Football League a decade or so back, with only 9 teams but two of them named "Roughriders" and "Rough Riders".

So, I am hereby proposing that we give the August Long Weekend a better name.

It should be a name that means something, a day to honour some individual who has helped to define Canada as a nation. I propose that the first Monday in August be renamed Terry Fox Day. His Marathon of Hope, besides being a huge inspiration to all Canadians, continues to raise money worldwide for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Runs.

I don't know how to get this made official though. Maybe if enough Canadian bloggers support this, we can get some MPs on side and get the government to make it official. Let's make it happen.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Alberta Blogs

Alberta Blogs

I have a new addition to my sidebar: the Albertan Blogroll. I was born there (in Viking, famous for the Sutter brothers), grew up there, and have lived there for most of my life. It's good to know that there are so many other Albertan bloggers out there. Some of them have already made it onto my main blogroll (hi, Candace); now though I have a few dozen more to read. Geez... I need to turn this blog thing into a regular job. Maybe Pyjamas Media will be up and running soon.

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...or maybe not

...or maybe not

I said yesterday that the next Shuttle launch would be in September. Well, now that we know that large pieces of foam peeled off the external tank about two minutes after launch, Shuttle program manager Bill Parsons has said that the Shuttles will not launch again until the debris issue is understood. How long that will take is anyone's guess.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

and awaaaaay we go

and awaaaaay we go

Well, after fighting with my digital camera for a sufficiently long time, I managed to actually wrestle some pictures out of it.

Because of heavy traffic, we weren't able to make it as close as I would have liked to the shuttle launch. We only got within about 15 miles of the launchpad when it blasted off.

These first 7 pictures were captured from NASA TV:

an astronaut gets the last of his gear on in the "white room" just outside Discovery's hatch

astronauts being strapped in

side view inside the cockpit

And now the launch; the shuttle was out of sight within a minute. We were too far away to hear much engine noise, but it was audible.

The next launch is scheduled for September. We'll get an earlier start next time, and hopefully I'll get some pictures of that launch from Cocoa Beach.

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Let's try this again

Let's try this again

In just under six hours, NASA will attempt once again to launch Discovery. I'm going to be getting fairly close, five or six miles from the launch pad, and if it launches I'll be taking some pictures, and posting them here.

Of course, there is no guarantee that they will launch on any given launch day. Given that they don't know for certain that they have the engine cut-off sensors fixed, and given that there are 2 and a half million parts on the shuttle, any glitch could cause them to scrub again. There is also a 20% chance that the weather won't cooperate.

But if they do launch, I'll be there and posting here. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Let the Flame War Begin

Let the Flame War Begin

A few weeks back, I was involved with some discussions in the comments of Angry in the Great White North, Tory Blue, Small Dead Animals, and Being American in T.O. about same-sex marriage.

Specifically, I asked on all four blogs (variations of the below, this was the comment I posted at SDA):

"Can anyone suggest to me any reason that polygamous marriage, adult-child marriage, and man-dog marriage should remain illegal in Canada? ... any reason, that is, that was not used and declared invalid by the Supreme Court and the government in the arguments against same sex marriage?"

Some of the responses I got were:
(1) homosexuality and pedophilia/bestiality/polygamy are not the same thing
(2) that's silly! it would never happen
(3) such a suggestion is bigoted
(4) marriage is a right

Now, I was posting my question as a hypothetical, since I did not think that bill C-38 had been thought through well at all. I honestly wanted to know what could legally prevent bestiality, pedophilia, and polygamy.

The only response I got that met the criteria I had set (not already considered and discarded by the Government of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada in the fight against same-sex marriage) was from J. Bielecki, commenting at AGWN, that pedophilia and bestiality would remain illegal based upon "legal consent" arguments. J. Bielecki further stirred the pot, however, by bringing the question of incestuous marriages into the fray.

Well, I'm going to take on the other arguments listed above first. "They are not the same thing" is an invalid argument, as proponents of traditional marriage (correctly) used that to argue against the inclusion of same-sex relationships in the definition of marriage. This has obviously been declared invalid, since we know that C-38 has passed.

The "that's silly" argument is also invalid. Silly laws get passed all the time. C-38 is an example.

The cries of "bigot!" are unfounded. I asked what remained to prevent these other relationship forms from being included in the definition of marriage. If anything, I was pointing out that the restrictions had all been lifted. After all, if we can change the law from "two people of opposite gender" to just "two people", then we can surely change the word "two"... any word at all in fact.

The idea that marriage is a right is false. If marriage is a right, then governments cannot grant divorces, and the divorce laws must be repealed. Fact is, only individuals have rights, not any group of two or more people. If one could marry oneself, then marriage would be a right.

And now, we find that even J. Bielecki's good argument is going to be smashed as well. In the wake of the passage of C-38, we find that animal marriages are on the horizon. (hat tip to Aizlynne at Exposed Agenda)

So, to my (*ahem* select few) readers, I pose this challenge: come up with an argument against polygamist, pedophiliac, bestial, or incestuous marriages that would stand up in the Supreme Court of Canada. By that I mean, any argument that has not already been considered and ruled irrelevant in the battle against same-sex marriage.

Honestly, I don't think that any argument against these things, no matter how common-sense or grounded in law they are, will stand. I think that Canada has passed a point of no return on the slippery slope, and that any form of depravity of which one can conceive will inevitably be protected by the force of law.

Prove me wrong.

update: Fidelis argues against same-sex marriage based on aesthetics.

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ok, besides bombing Mecca...

ok, besides bombing Mecca...

Patricia at Atlas Shrugs posts some of the suggestions from Jihad Watch about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack on multiple US cities, besides Tom Tancredo's suggestion of bombing Mecca.

TrueGrit has some advice for moderate Muslims. What the hell is wrong with you is clearly frustrated. And Natasha at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler says take your fatwa and shove it up your ....

update1: John of Arrgghhh!!! tells us why bombing Mecca is a bad idea.

update2: John and I have quite the discussion about this going on in his comments section (and via several emails, which I have asked him to copy to his blog; we'll probably have to wait for him to take care of some real-life things first though). Follow the link in update1.

update 3: Jeff Goldstein agrees that keeping the nuclear option on the table is a good idea; he just expresses it far more eloquently than me.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scotty, we hardly knew ye

Scotty, we hardly knew ye

Goodbye, James Doohan, you'll be missed.

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the nuclear option

the nuclear option

No, I'm not talking about a way of ending filibusters.

It isn't often that I find myself disagreeing with Glenn Reynolds, Ed Morrisey, Hugh Hewitt, and Betsy Newmark on an issue. This is one of those times.

Congressman Tom Tancredo, when asked a hypothetical question by Pat Campbell of WFLA about a possible American response to an al-Quaeda nuclear attack on American cities, responded that one solution would be to bomb Mecca. To quote Hugh Hewitt:

"Destroying Mecca wouldn't destroy Islam. It would enrage and unify Islam across every country in the world where Muslims lived."

Hewitt seems to think that a nuclear attack by Islamic fanatics has nothing to do with Islam, despite the oft-stated goals of Osama bin Laden. He also seems to think that a simultaneous nuclear attack on Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and Washington would not enrage Americans. This is so naive as to be stupid.

Now, Rep. Tancredo did not specifically say "nuke Mecca", but the implication is clearly there. Hugh Hewitt is wrong about what such a retaliatory attack would mean. If Mecca is radioactive, then the Hajj is impossible, and Islam is finished. Enrage and unify Islam? It would destroy it utterly. It would be a vivid demonstration that Allah sure as hell ain't Akhbar.

Note that such an attack would be in retaliation for a devastating Islamic extremist attack; a nuclear or smallpox attack or some such. This hypothetical attack would be a de facto declaration of Total War.

If America wins a Total War, then its enemies actually stand a chance of surviving. If America loses a Total War, then every American is slaughtered. It really is as simple as that.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005



The earliest the space shuttle Discovery could be launched has now been pushed back to next Tuesday. NASA engineers still haven't figured out what caused the problem with one of the low-fuel sensors in the external tank. Even if they do find the problem, it will take at least four days after they fix it before a launch is attempted.

They are keeping their options open though. NASA is looking at the possibility of extending the launch window into early August, although the lighting conditions necessary to photograph the entire boost phase are much poorer then. If they can't do it this time around, the next window opens in September, and then another in November. Of course, each time they push back this launch, it pushes their entire schedule back (Atlantis is scheduled for the September window, and if Discovery has to wait until that time, then Atlantis will be pushed back too).

In the meantime, all three remaining shuttles get a little older, and a little closer to retirement.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Red Ensign Standard XXVI

Red Ensign Standard XXVI

The flag flying at the top of this post (and on my sidebar) is a flag that disappeared in Canada before I was born. I grew up with the by-now more familiar Maple Leaf. The Red Ensign hearkens back to a very different time in Canada.

There was a time when the Red Ensign represented Canada to the world. A time when criminals paid their debts to society in prison, rather than earning free university degrees there. A time when the average family didn't spend more than half their income to pay taxes, and yet received timely health care and government services. A time when Canada's military was larger than the New York City police department (indeed, the third largest navy in the world), and when our voice in international politics carried some weight. A time when we defended Britain and France, rather than ourselves being defended by the United States. A time when people came from all over the world to become Canadians, searching for a better life, rather than leaving Canada by the millions to search for a better life in the USA. A time when the still-unborn were protected by law, rather than being murdered at the rate of a hundred thousand a year. A time when our nation had no debt, instead of a debt of hundreds of billions of dollars (to be completely paid off sometime in 2193). A time when left-wing moonbattery was not considered the "centrist" position. In short, a time when Canada was sane.

Canada was not perfect 40 years ago. No nation is. However, the last four decades have seen the decline of Canada from a nation of independent, proud, decent people into something much less. All hope is not lost however; from one end of the country to the other, and scattered around the world, there are still Canadians who believe in the Canada that was, and could be again. Some of them are bloggers, gathered together in the Red Ensign Brigade; today, I am lucky enough to be the host of those bloggers (and OH MY GOD are they ever a prolific bunch) in the 26th edition of the Red Ensign Standard. We've got a lot to cover this time around, so let's just dive right in:

London Bombing / Terrorism

This was easily the biggest story of the last two weeks, and Canadian bloggers had a lot to say about it.

Of course, the Monarchist had a plenty of opinions. Beaverbrook calls the anglosphere cheese eating surrender monkeys with which McMacPaddy begs to differ; Adams argues that the anglosphere still has the heart of a lion. Catesby argues in favour of the Iraq war, saying "If their war wasn’t with us before, it most definitely is now." Cato looks at root causes of terrorism, and concludes that Iraq ain't one of them.

Marzi gets a new pimp hat and discusses the London bombings. Angry in the Great White North hopes that America stays the course.

Babbling Brooks takes the boy scout motto to heart on the war on terror and looks at insurance issues in an age of terrorism. Chris of Taylor and Company agrees with Damian Brooks and starts preparing while he ridicules Islamic terrorists. Anthroblogology also comments on the "religion of peace".

Andrew at Bound by Gravity notes the doubling of Canada's troop strength in Afghanistan. He has a personal connection to an old terrorist attack and a great grandfather who knew what it meant to fight an implacable enemy. He also links China to terrorism, as ChrisCam points out the dangers of ignoring China. ChrisCam also takes aim at the BBC and the New York Times. Temujin of West Coast Chaos also gives the back of his hand to a terrorist (and the BBC).

Ravishing Light examines Canadian Muslims' reaction to the London bombings and finds them wanting and notes that Canada is a target for terrorism. Blue Perspective says that defence is not enough. The Conservative Hipster mocks TTC Chairman Howard Moscoe while The Last Amazon says we should be doing more to prevent terrorism in Canada.

Keith at Minority of One says "It's the Jihad, Stupid", while Alan at GenX at 40 points out the futility of suicide bombings. John of Argghhh!!! says Gitmo, Schmitmo. Grandinite argues in favour of violence. Finally, Raging Ranter has a message for the London bombers.

The Return of Hockey

2004/2005 was the longest winter on record. That does not refer to the weather, of course, but the lack of NHL hockey. The relative dearth of posts on the end of the NHL lockout should have everyone involved with the NHL quaking in their skates.

905Tory sees a correlation between a lack of hockey and an increase in the number of babies; hey, it gets COLD up in Canada in the winter. Enter Stage Right tentatively welcomes the end of the NHL lockout. And the Phantom Observer cheers the return of Don Cherry.

Calgary Stampede

Yahoo! It's that time of year again, when a million Calgarians show up for work every day with blue jeans, cowboy hats, and massive hangovers.

Bumf recommends cowboy hats. M.K. Braaten drags his ass back from the Calgary Stampede, while The Meatriarchy pines for some media coverage of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Same-Sex Marriage and Religion

The government has already passed legislation allowing same-sex marriage, but that hasn't stopped it from being a hotly-debated issue. One of these days I'm going to weigh in on this issue, too. Hey, I like a flame-war in my comments section as much as the next guy.

Ravishing Light is in favour of compromise on same sex marriage, while Shane at the Left Handed Right says government has no place in marriage at all and will be homeschooling his boys.

Angry in the Great White North argues that the marginalization of religion, not equality, is the goal in same-sex marriage. He supports the Catholic Church's refusal of communion to those politicians that vote for policies that violate Catholic teachings, pointing out that choices have consequences.

Canadianna talks about the issue and expands on the theme after comments on that post.

Rebecca at Doxology has some thoughts on catholicism and on perspective. Peter at Rempelia Prime notes the Christian influence on Confederation, as does Grover.

Health Care

A perennial favorite.

Andrew at Bound by Gravity looks to cut some of the fat from the health-care system, while Toronto Tory says Roy Romanow has run out of health-care ideas and looks at a poll saying Canadians actually want private health care, asking "what are we waiting for?"

Pretty Pictures

What would the blogosphere be without pictures sucking up bandwidth? A lot of boring text.

Alan at GenXat40 does some archeology behind city hall. I look at the wrong technique for keeping food from bears, and have pictures from the Deep Impact mission.


Because sometimes, if you don't laugh, you'll cry.

CW4BillT of Arrgghhh!!! does his part to bring peace to the battle of the sexes and brings us a story of Chamomile and Intergalactic war.

Myrick tells you how to find out if you are a prostitute. Rempelia Prime reviews a Jean Claude van Damme movie and frowns upon giraffe humour.

Rhetoricking With Myself gets drunk, The Conservative Hipster eats some spam, and The London Fog has a laugh at walking stereotypes. Temujin of West Coast Chaos gets a new battle cry, and finally the Phantom Observer shows that Rick Mercer still has a sense of humour (at Ralph Klien's expense).

General Canadian Politics

Yes, there is more going on in Canada besides same-sex marriage and health care debates.

Shane at the Left Handed Right tells us why he joined the Red Ensign.

General Rick Hillier garnered a lot of praise from the Red Ensign Brigade; John of Arrgghhh!!!, Blue Perspective, and John the Mad all had nice things to say about the guy in charge of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ravishing Light figures that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has a future as a Canadian Liberal party hack. Angry in the Great White North takes on Gwynne Dyer, as does Blue Perspective. Bound by Gravity takes a close look at Joe Volpe's expense account. John the Mad rips Carolyn Parrish a new one. Canadianna defends Monte Solberg. Glenda at Just Between Us Girls talks about the smearing of Gurmant Grewal and the continuing aftershocks of BSE.

Peter at Rempelia Prime remembers Chuck Cadman, as does Stephen Taylor. Stephen also notes the the RCMP had to pay the Liberal party for the "privelege" of protecting the PM and figures that John Kerry is more right-wing than the Conservative Party of Canada.

John of Arrgghhh!!! has some Canadian Artillery and thoughts on the military's transformation. Babbling Brooks bemoans the nadir of the Canadian military and the end of the 429 Bison unit. Dust My Broom argues that the Canadian military needs its own planes, and that they shouldn't be flying Air Canada. Myrick has a harsh word (and an etymology lesson) for Air Canada and Scotiabank.

Dust My Broom looks at anti-Americanism entrenched in the Canadian mass media and is thinking that Alberta may be all that is left of Canada. M.K. Braaten is in favour of the Alberta Firewall, and shows the similarity between Alberta politics and federal politics.

Raging Ranter shows that Canadians lack political perspective. Right Jab looks at the reasons behind the Conservative Party's "hidden agenda". The Conservative Hipster backhands the Calgary Observer and laughs at unions. He might not laugh much longer, as M.K.Braaten figures unions are becoming irrelevant. Bound by Gravity fisks the Calgary Observer, too. Finally, the Phantom Observer tries to get Brian Neale of NealeNews awarded the Order of Canada.

the Blogosphere

A little navel-gazing.

Angry in the Great White North says that the blogosphere doesn't have much influence but contradicts himself by getting some Australians in contact with their loved ones in London after the terrorist attack (way to go Angry). Curt at North Western Winds discusses the (apparently illusory) power of the blogosphere. The Phantom Observer says journalists should be scared.


The dismal science is a popular topic this time around.

The Meatriarchy says that Jacques Chirac is economically illiterate and notes that Bob Geldof knows as much about economics as Tom Cruise does about mental health. (Of course, Mick Jagger is a different story, seeing as how he actually has a degree in Economics... but then, the Rolling Stones didn't show up for Live 8, did they.) Blue Perspective tells Bob Geldof that trade, not handouts, is the real aid. Nicholas at Quotulatiousness has praise for microloans in the third world and thinks that sales taxes may be the reason that kids have trouble with math. Raging Kraut takes on extended warranties. The Last Amazon compares life under Castro to life under 19th century slavery, and finds Castro worse. Finally, the London Fog notes communist nostalgia on the free market.


So titled because it is getting late, I'm tired, cranky, overcaffeinated, and starting to get really lazy.

Dust My Broom talks about gang violence on native reserves and native gangs off the reserves. He also looks for a common-sense solution to mosquitos and the spread of West Nile virus: minnows.

Anthroblogology says punk is dead, but that doesn't stop Alan at GenXat40 from playing DJ. The Phantom Observer has some musical hallucinations; good thing he has an Ipod Shuffle for those long road trips. Barely skirting the edge of the musical theme of this paragraph, I write a poem about a decidely non-poetic subject.

Curt at North Western Winds gives Sartre a few whacks upside the head with a shovel and examines pre-Socratic philosphy.

Chris of Taylor and Company reviews War of the Worlds. The result of another war echoes today, as the Green Baron mourns Bastille Day.

The Freeway to Serfdom likes Paul Tracy. Temujin of West Coast Chaos has a new car while Sue at Turning 30 and a half looks at an old tank and proudly displays a note commending her grandfather, from 1918.

Terrorism isn't the only thing out of Britain making waves in the blogosphere. There's a new Harry Potter book out, too. Angry in the Great White North takes a look at the Pope and Harry Potter,
and concludes that magic and ignorance are the same.

The newest gee-whiz killer app out there is Google Earth. It got praise from Abracapocus and the Freeway to Serfdom

So miscellaneous I can't logically clump these together with anything else: Absinthe and Cookies gets hit on at a wedding . James at Hammer into Anvil has a lousy neighbour. And Lastly, Younger Pitt at the Monarchist calls for more respect for Prince William.

So, that's all for this edition of the Red Ensign Standard. I think I got everyone who posted in the last two weeks. If I missed anyone, well, sorry. Would I do it again? Yeah, in a heartbeat. But first, I'm going to sleep for two days.

update: thanks for the plug, Professor Reynolds. It's my very first Instalanche!

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Acrobatic Bear

Acrobatic Bear

My cousin Ryan works in the forestry industry in northern Alberta. He sent me some pictures today (with the message "And all I thought bears could do was eat my quad seat") that cast some doubt upon the conventional camping wisdom about hanging your food in a tree so that the bears don't get at it. These pictures were taken in the Long Lake area (near Athabasca).

Now, to those folks in the few square kilometers that comprise Toronto: remind me again why you want to take our rifles away? Canada is still a very big place, and most of it is still wilderness. Remember these pictures the next time you go camping.

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indefinite delay

indefinite delay

NASA still hasn't figured out what went wrong with the low-fuel gauge in the external tank on the space shuttle. This means that the launch has been delayed indefinitely. If they do find the problem and fix it soon, then after that it will take at least four more days before they are ready to launch again.

Spaceflight Now, Reuters, and the Houston Chronicle have more.

Now, in the past I had predicted that the shuttles would never launch again. Of course, it will only take one launch to prove me wrong, and probably five years without a launch to prove me right. Long odds.

However, the experiences of the last few months lead me to the sneaking suspicion that I may have been correct after all. The shuttle is a bad design, and any modifications that NASA makes to patch up the problems require testing, which turns up further problems, requiring further patches, ad infinitum. The will have these problems as long as they are stuck with this flying kludge.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005



Looks like I won't be taking any pictures of a shuttle launch today. A low level fuel sensor failure has led NASA to scrub the launch. When I know more, you'll know more.

update: more here

update 2: NASA chief Mike Griffin says the launch will be delayed until at least Monday, July 18th... and that is if they can figure out the problem with the fuel sensor. NASA has until the 31st of July for this launch window; after that the next available window is from September 9th to 24th.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

T minus 50 hours

T minus 50 hours

Space Shuttle Discovery is nearly ready to return to space more than two years after the Columbia burned up on reentry. I had predicted that the Shuttles would never launch again, and it looks like I'm going to be wrong about that.

I am only an hour's drive away from Cape Canaveral right now, and I'll probably be going to the Cape on Wednesday. I'll be bringing my digital camera with me, and posting a few pictures of the launch here on my blog.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

how's that for irony

how's that for irony

The city of Budapest, Hungary is erecting a memorial of Ronald Reagan in their capital city park.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Relativistic Effects

Relativistic Effects

I don't write poetry very often. By that, I mean that I haven't written a poem since high school. (my God, has it really been twenty years already?)

Last night I was in the Physics:1 Yahoo! chat room, and was discussing relativity with someone who isn't familiar with physics. I was explaining relativistic mass, when she stopped me with "I'll never remember that. If it rhymed and explained it, then I might remember."

So, I wrote a relativity poem. Here it is:

Your mass at rest
is as small as it gets;
it gets bigger the faster you go.
If you travel at c
it's as big as can be,
but your time and length drop to zero.

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Monday, July 04, 2005



Ever hit a bullet with another bullet? JPL did last night, from a gun they fired six months ago. The Deep Impact spacecraft slammed into comet Tempel-1, creating a spectacle:

the impactor approaches the comet

just before impact

view of impact from flyby craft

Congratulations to the Jet Propulsion Lab.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

July 1st and July 4th

July 1st and July 4th

This is the first time in my 36 years that I have spent July 1st outside of Canada. Today, I am in the United States.

While the two countries are similar in many ways, I am struck most by the differences.

In America, there is such a thing as "the American Dream" - that if one works hard, then they can be successful. In Canada, there is no equivalent "Canadian Dream" - unless it means "to be anything but American".

In America, the adjective "American" is a patriotic term, signifying much more than the people who live here; it also signifies ideals like liberty, innovation, competence, and pride. In Canada, at least in Ontario and Quebec, "Canadian" means "Ontario and Quebec", and "American" is a pejorative. A political party in Canada seeking to, for instance, innovate in the area of health-care delivery, is accused of seeking to impose an american-style health care system - "accused", because, well, up there "american" = "bad".

In America, top-level judges (ie at the district and Supreme court level) are nominated by the President and vetted by the Senate. In Canada, judges are appointed by the Prime Minister, whose word is final. There is no vetting process. Similarly, Canadian senators are also appointed by the PM, a lifetime position.

In America, the military projects American might around the world, defending all its allies. In Canada, successive governments have gutted the once-proud Canadian military, reducing it so severely that Canada cannot defend itself, nor provide more than a token force in any combat situation.

Americans think of their country as the greatest country in the world. Canadians think of their country as "nice".

Americans consider calling someone "un-American" an insult. So harsh is the insult that one cannot imagine a US President using that appelation on an entire state or region of the country. In Canada, it is routine in an election campaign for a Prime Minister to declare westerners, or in particular Albertans, to be "not really Canadian". Ontarians will not elect a political party whose leader is from western Canada, nor elect a political party whose support base is in western Canada.

America has a left-wing political party and a right-wing political party. Canada has a centrist party, a left-wing party, a further-left-wing party, and a couple more ranging from left-wing to completely-moonbat-left-wing.

Canada became a country on July 1st, 1867. During my lifetime, the name of the national holiday was changed from Dominion Day (named after the Biblical verse "and He shall have dominion from sea to sea") to Canada Day. This was part of a concerted effort to erase all ties between present-day Canada and its history; the effort included changing the flag from the Red Ensign (which flies on my sidebar) to the current Maple Leaf, changing the words of the national anthem, and completely rewriting the Constitution, among other things.

America became a country on July 4th, 1776. July 4th has since been known as Independence Day. This has not changed. It would never occur to Americans to change the name - to do so would remove all meaning from the day they became independent from Britian.

Americans stand for truth, justice, and liberty. Canada used to stand for something but has so thoroughly expunged its history that nobody remembers just what exactly Canada stood for. As the saying goes, if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything.

Happy Canada Day, and God Bless America.

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