Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Potpourri XIX

Jeez, I spend one day away from the blog, and I'm flooded with interesting stuff! That'll teach me. I do have a lot of stuff to post this evening, but before I get into the usual space and smashmouth, you've got to go see this lady sing on YouTube. If only "American Idol" was this classy, I might watch it once. Okay, back to the usual foolishness...

An article in The Atlantic on education, and Jerry Pournelle's comments afterward.

Congratulations due to Your Humble Narrator: There have been several stories on this. According to the Department of Homeland Security, I am now considered a likely right-wing nut-job terrorist. Okay, not me specifically, but apparently people like me or vaguely like me. Here is the specific footnote from Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups--not me, wait for it), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority (this would be me, on several issues), or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

What should have been said is "those that are violently antigovernment, rejecting federal authority..." etc. And there's this problem: there are millions of Americans who believe that the federal government has exceeded its authority as stated in the Constitution:

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

I don't hoard guns, wear a sheet, hate immigrants, bomb abortion clinics, or use vile words to describe our President. Nevertheless, that is how people who think like me are being portrayed by this innocuous footnote. It's disgusting and rude and paints with too broad a brush. I've got friends I disagree with on a multitude of issues, covering all the items listed above, but I don't consider them candidates to become left-wing terrorists. I hope someone in DHS takes the time to scrub their verbiage next time they write one of these reports.

Saw this link from one of the folks on Facebook: a seminar on open collaboration in government.

NASA is offering the opportunity for people to vote on the agency's greatest contributions to the environment.

Thanks to Doc and another reader for pointing out that there are free books out there for Kindle buyers. I "bought" Red Mars for $0.00 yesterday. Woo hoo!

I'm getting some requests to do more pro bono work for the Mars Foundation's Mars Education Center. I haven't said yes to all of the requests, but some of the smaller jobs. If you're interested in a Mars-themed educational experience, this is a project worth pursuing.

Darlene the Science Cheerleader has referenced a link to policy fellowships for scientists and engineers.

Some rich guys in Hong Kong have built Noah's Ark according to the specifications noted in Genesis Chapter 6.

California's largest utility has made a deal to purchase electrical power from a company promising to build a solar power satellite.

Fedora tip to Tracy for these:

  • A decent article on Hubble.
  • A book on "Generation Me," explaining what's afflicting Generation Y.
  • An editorial by Seth Shostak on the realistic chances for deep space exploration. This one will not make my space settlement buddies happy, but it deserves to be considered.

NASA is supposed to send astronaut Suni Williams onto The Colbert Report to announce the name of the so-far-unnamed new node of the International Space Station. Finally. Put this foolishness to rest. I'm bored by it. I have a feeling this won't be the end of the matter, regardless of what decision is made.

Mike Griffin is taking an "eminent scholar" position at the Unviersity of Alabama in Huntsville. Maybe now I can get a copy of his book signed. It's actually a pretty useful book.

Hat-tip to Hu for these: some more speculation on what the latest DoD budget will mean for our military. Also here, here, here, and here.

And another from Hu, this one on robotics: MIT students develop a robot capable of caring for tomato plants.

And, to close this edition of potpourri, a little guerrilla theater, Sound of Music style. Tip o' the fedora to Father Dan for this. Have a splendid evening!

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