Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Potpourri CXXXVII

Here's the latest batch of foolishness...

Boeing flew a formation flight with its newest and oldest aircraft.

Israeli nanotechnology researchers claim to have developed an anti-icing surface.

Some good news for a change: Russia wants to work with the U.S. on space projects past 2020. I don’t think that means they’ll lower the price of Soyuz launches anytime soon, but the sentiment is nice.

The problem with Voyager 2 has been addressed: a bit was “flipped” through random radiation.

The FAA chief doesn’t like his agency being a “piƱata” for airlines’ schedule delays. Okay, fine. But if the FAA has been slow to upgrade our out-of-date air traffic control system and ATC delays are the primary cause of planes being stuck on the tarmac, shouldn’t FAA be a legitimate target for the stick?

A citizens group from Texas is visiting Capitol Hill to make a plea for the Constellation Program. Visits matter. So do well-written letters. If you want the U.S. to continue having a human space exploration program (as opposed to just sending humans to low-Earth orbit, which is not exploration), then your voice matters!

Steven Colbert visited Johnson Space Center recently. Nice to have at least one influential media personality digging space.

The inner workings of a 1950s ballistic computer. Cool!

A 1939 Popular Mechanics article describing a transcontinental airplane flight—all 15 hours of it. Yikes!

A Saudi woman beat up a member of the nation’s morality police. I admire her spirit, but don’t like to think about the ultimate outcome.

The Long Now Foundation is sponsoring a talk on fusion.

Food for thought: Science Warriors vs. Philosophers of Science.

From Walt Disney World: How to move a 120-ton Winnie the Pooh tree.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s something of a revolution going on in Thailand.

From Hu, for D2: two articles on training marine mammals for homeland security purposes: here and here. Cindy, Sandy, Seymour, and Clyde have been busy.

The White House blocked a Chicago chef’s tweets as he was being brought in to serve the President. Predictable. Organizations want to use social media when it’s to their advantage and suppress it when it doesn’t. Can’t have it both ways, guys. And really: what's the security risk on a chef?

From Jerry Pournelle: why don't more medical discoveries become cures? Would you believe government regulations have something to do with it? Would you be more likely to believe it if the story was from Newsweek?

Sabine has some interesting thoughts regarding the No Child Left Behind Act (a regular volleyball Doc and I bat back and forth during some of our daily bull sessions). I will have to reread the entry when I get some more time. I'm not sure if I'm qualified or knowledgable enough to argue for or against any of her points, but she posits a very important question. Paraphrased, she wants to know how failing school systems are supposed to clean themselves up when they're given no money or other resources to do so?

Late Addition from Kate Down Under: a Civil War hero of Gettysburg receives a posthumous Medal of Honor 147 years late. I've actually stood at the position where Alonzo Cushing's artillery battery was emplaced, and it was not exactly excellent ground, nor could it have been easy fighting with no long-range guns. Cushing's unit held Cemetary Ridge in the face of Pickett's Charge at close range. I don't know what would've been crazier: being one of the 13,000 men Pickett led in a dash across an open field or being one of the artillerymen forced to hold the line against 13,000 charging Confederates. The Civil War (called "The War Between the States" by some historians or "The War of Northern Aggression" by historians in my neighborhood) is the reason why American military doctrine has since emphasized minimizing casualties. Over 600,000 American lives were lost in that conflict.

That'll do for now. Off to attempt 8 hours of sleep. I know: craziness!

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