Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Potpourri XCVI

Get behind a couple of days, and the content piles up. So off we go: zoom, zoom, zoom...

More on the state of the human spaceflight program:

Got a bunch of stuff from Lin:

  • A Washington Times editorial on how Bush derangement syndrome has spread, and why.
  • A Canadian health official is concerned that their nationalized healthcare program is in danger of collapse. I'm shocked, shocked...
  • A mixed-bag review of Obama's position on veterans' healthcare.
  • Michelle Malkin on the appropriate way to protest. has a good article on the need to update Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

This truly astounds me: the Swiss government has told the UBS bank to hand over financial records on over 4,000 people to the U.S. Government. This is astonishing because the Swiss have the strongest bank privacy laws in the world--or did, anyway. I wonder what the fallout will be from this. My guess is that banks in the Cayman Islands will get more business. The truly terrifying line in the article is this one:

"This announcement today should send a signal, no matter what institution you're with, the IRS is willing to pursue both the institution and the individual," Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman told reporters on Wednesday.

I'd take the cars...a lady winning 25 million frequent flyer miles (think for a moment how many gropings by the TSA she had to endure to rack those up) has a choice of the following prize packages:

  • a trip to space with Virgin Galactic and two return flights to Los Angeles with V Australia or
  • two Alfa Romeo Spider sports cars plus $5000 petrol vouchers and $10,000 cash or
  • the ultimate shopping spree valued at $170,000 or
  • a luxury holidaypackage in Blue Holiday vouchers valued at $100,000 plus $50,000 cash

From Martin: a wing-nut editorial on the secret history of our space program.

From Yohon: Facebook breakups.

More from the Singularity front...a video of a super-fast robot.

New from Hu:

  • A dual-Orion mission to an asteroid? Sure, why not?
  • Could ESA or another space agency send humans to space when they haven't before? If so, let them be friendly. We've got enough problems.
  • A reality check on the space elevator.
  • Earth might get smacked by an asteroid due to "obtuse, tightfisted bozos." Nothing like a little uplifting rhetoric to raise the tone and seriousness of the issue.

Microscopic traces of the amino acid glycine are reported to have been found by the Stardust probe. However, "We couldn't be sure it wasn't from the manufacturing or the handling of the spacecraft." So while we might find the fundamental building blocks of life beyond the Earth at some point...odds are, it might not necessarily be now.

A chart showing the history of NASA's percentage of the federal budget. It would've been more instructive if they'd included going all the way back to 1958.

A NASA video on the Hubble deep field.

The United States debt clock. Terrifying.

Female swimmers in the UK are encouraged to wear "burkinis" to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities. Wow.

And that should do for now. Thanks for reading--all 17.5 of you, based on my latest metrics. :-)

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