Sunday, December 06, 2009

Potpourri CVI

I have been accused of neglecting this blog of late, to which I can only plead guilty. I have been rearranging my priorities--partially to make room for someone else in my life besides me and my oversized glass writer's ego and partially because I've experienced a corresponding lack of interest in the hot issues of the day. Those who make talk radio or other political hot topics the center of your day should probably take note...there is a life outside of politics, and it is very good.

From Father Dan, a link to something called the Social Security Death Index, which lists (as near as I can tell) the deaths of all U.S. persons since 1962.

From the Sapporo beer label, a specialty item: beer made from space barley (i.e., barley that has been in space).

Interested in learning how to learn your fancy new Apple hardware? Check out this site. Apple provides seminars, which you can search by zip code.

My favorite rocket scientist, Les Johnson, has a new book coming out soon called Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Planet Earth. It looks intriguing--using space resources as a way to reduce the strain on Earth's environment by accessing space resources. If it is like Les's other books, it will be highly informed and clearly explained for even the English majors in the reading audience. Looking forward to reading it!

From Lin:
  • An article from the U.S. Geological Survey on a potential 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil lurking beneath North Dakota and wonders if the folks advocating for energy independence in the Obama administration are listening/reading.
  • An article from Commentary Magazine, which I have but haven't read yet, on why Obama is wrong in his approach to missile defense.
  • Lin had a question about this article regarding the release of environment/climate data from NASA and one person's effort to extract it from the agency. It sounds like a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request got ignored, and the complainant is using the occasion of the climate data fracas at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to press his case.
On another personal note, I have been worn down by the sheer complexity of 21st century reality, and will soon be purchasing a smart phone of some kind. The folks responding to my request for inputs on Facebook have mostly recommended the iPhone, which I've rejected out of a knee-jerk anti-Apple attitude more than anything else. However, if it does what I want, I might relent. That doesn't mean I'll go out and buy a Mac next (as Father Dan might say, "Get a grip!"). Another hot item on the market right now is the Droid, which is Motorola's answer to the iPhone and features a hard-key popout keyboard that I lilke, being less than savvy with touch screens. Most of my friends and family members who have these toys use something out of the BlackBerry. What interests me is that they all use different models, and all seem equally happy with them, so I guess I might end up taking one friend's advice and just going with what looks cool. :-)

How do you keep a space geek in suspense? Tell you you'll get back to him after the next NASA program study. The Obama administration wants to emphasize international cooperation. Great. Can they at least allow Constellation/Ares/Orion to continue building hardware in the meantime?

This was a pretty good interview on NPR regarding current goings-on in space.

From opportunity to market your own blog via t-shirt/sweatshirt. Might have to look into that. Not that I don't love the 15 of you who check in on a daily basis, but eventually I might need to pay bills with this site, ya know?

A Business Week article on the Singularity University giving lectures to CEOs about the future. Sounds cool. Anyone got 25 grand they care to loan me?

From Gwen: An Arizona public school teacher lost his job for running the SETI @ Home application from his work computer.

From D2:
  • On a slow day, I was wondering aloud what I could do to make myself more useful or marketable in my current line of work. Dede suggested looking at the IRS tax credit available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, a.k.a., the stimulus) for lifetime learning expenses. I'm far from a pure libertarian on such things--I got through my M.A. with a federal loan--but a) I'm not sure how long ARRA money will be available, and b) I can probably find better ways to spend my time and other people's money.
  • Xerox is offering the opportunity to send "thanks to the troops" postcards. Worth checking out.

A good editorial by Patti Grace Smith (former FAA person in charge of Commercial Space Transportation and now an aerospace consultant on why commercial rockets to the International Space Station are not inherently unsafer than government-built vehicles. I go around and around with my coworkers on this issue. The usually concede that commercial entities could do the job, but they haven't done it yet; ergo government must continue to do it. Yeah, I contend, but for how long? At which point the conversation peters out, as I hear vague terms like "human rating" and "flight rate." The federal budget is not endless, and NASA will not get much past the Moon until it is set free from low-Earth orbit and ISS operations. Just sayin'.

That's about it for now. Be good to yourselves and each other. There's a lot of weirdos out there.

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