Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Latest Stuff in the Inbox

All sorts of excitement out there in Cyberland, so let's get to it.

The Saudis want economic assistance if their economy is wrecked by the world turning away from fossil fuels. Ronald Reagan was right about government's approach to business: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.”

The Singularity will not go away. They make this stuff sound so cool, so worthwhile, so seductive, so (dare one say it?) "progressive," that you can lose track of the fact that they’re endeavoring to dislodge contemporary civilization from any sort of historical roots. And you can’t do that, because if you don’t know where you’ve been and why, you can’t honestly assess where you should go in the future. More thoughts will come to me, I’m sure. My goal is not to stop progress. My goal is to get people to think about the side effects or tradeoffs before they embrace change too quickly.

Assorted Headlines

Some folks are raising heck about the Lunar Crater Reconnaissance and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) impactor mission, which will crash into the Moon tomorrow morning at 0630 Central Time. I suggested a real-world example of why this is utterly ridiculous.

Let’s say a 195-pound kicker punts a football downfield and a 225-pound receiver catches it and runs it back. He gets downfield, and the only one between him and the end zone is the kicker. The odds are pretty good that that receiver is going to run past the kicker without slowing down a bit, and he’s only got 30 pounds on him.

Now let’s look at LCROSS. The portion of the booster impacting the Moon is 4,410 pounds. The Moon would weigh (if you found a scale big enough) 1,310,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lbs. (1.316 X 10ˆ23 lbs. or 5.97 X 10ˆ22 kg.)*

Guess which player isn’t moving the other.

(* Per

Yes, I know, mass and weight are not precisely the same thing, but for this particular application, I think it gets the point across. Just sayin’.

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