Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Potpourri CXLV

Laissez les bon temps rouler...


It was "Embrace Your Geekness Day" at the New York Stock Exchange today. Get in touch with it, y'all!

NASA is sponsoring a science fiction writer's workshop. Hmmmm. Of course I had some snarky individuals tell me that I have been writing science fiction for the last four years, as I was writing for Constellation. That's just mean.

I think I've found a birthday gift for Doc: a coffee cup that combines Twitter and Cthulu.

Disney's new version of The Sorceror's Apprentice has a Facebook contest where you can win a trip to Disneyland and a chance to be an "Imagineer for a Day." Cool. Unfortunately, my stepmom still works for Disney, so I believe that makes me ineligible. Dagnabbit!

There's a place offering ninja training as a homeowner benefit. Weird.

From Father Dan: What's the future of furniture? Check this out.

Flight Global commemorated the 70th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain this week.

This was just cool: Art Deco trains from yesteryear.

Ever kissed an octopus? Me, neither. But some folks have. Blecchh.

Suggestions for making soccer more exciting (good luck with that): My buddy Anika suggested to me that some folks view soccer as the equivalent of war. Well, okay, but if so, they need to work on their tactics. I actually watched the last 30 minutes of the World Cup, after napping through the first 90, and I noticed that while defensive formations/maneuvers tended to have 2-1 or better advantages, offensive efforts toward the goal tended to be singular, one-on-one play. When on defense, teams seem to fill their side of the field, but when it comes to scoring goals—you know, the point of the game—the offense only sends 3-5 players across midfield. Is that on purpose? Are those part of the rules of soccer? That, and perhaps the teams were too big for the game. Doc suggested that the field was too big—you can see higher scores in (for example) American high school games because they’re playing on an American football field. A smaller field tends to increase the likelihood of contact between teams. Anyhow, there are options for making the games more exciting (e.g. higher scoring). It’s very difficult to convince American audiences that “competitive” games that end with a 0-0 score are exciting. More scoring at least give one a sense of drama, rise and fall, changing fortunes, what have you. When a game goes on for nearly two hours and the most suspense you can muster is whether someone will score, that, my friends, is a recipe for a channel changing. Or a nap.

Here's an impressive, but vertigo-inducing hotel to see if you're ever in Singapore.

Science, Technology, and Space

From Tracy: an historical review of the NASA budget early in the Constellation Program. She made the point that there wasn't enough money for Shuttle and ISS at the time, which goes a long way toward explaining why there wasn't enough for exploration. Hm.

What do futurists actually do for a living? Check this out.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has a Frequently Asked Questions document out to address "myths" regarding commercial space launch providers. For the most part, the document is on point. However, they neglect to address "human rating" standards, which are basically a bunch of extra bells and whistles that NASA adds to space hardware to ensure that astronauts have a better chance of surviving an emergency.

NASA has three new "Centennial Challenges" out there for competition.

This item made me a little crazy: some writer is advocating for the ending of air conditioning in the name of global warming. Brings to mind Jimmy Carter's suggestion that people turn down their heat and wear more sweaters when the fear was global freezing. My sarcastic response is, "You first, pal. Good luck with that." On a more practical note, people are about four times more likely to die from heat-related complications than freezing to death (see the Center for Disease Control here and here for the stats).

Brevard County, Florida (home of Kennedy Space Center) has its own version of Huntsville Space Professionals at work.

Paul Spudis has an article this week on NASA that's worth reading.

The future of composite repairs. This will become a bigger and bigger concern, as more and more aircraft have a larger percentage of their airframes made from composites.

From MIT: The Never Ending Drawing Machine

Graphical comparisons of the Gulf oil spill to other historical spills. While ugly, it’s not the worst (yet), by a long shot. and

Senator Nelson is looking to revive the Constellation Program at the expense of commercial-space launches.,0,2094998.story. NASA could be in for a long summer, waiting for its budget to come in.

Foreign Affairs

The bad guys are still out there. An al Qaeda-affiliated group from Somalia killed a bunch of people watching the World Cup in Uganda when South Africa's security proved too tough.


This article deals with both education and creativity, and the state of both in this country. One interesting note: while this country is trying to "get back to basics," other nations are trying to copy our model.

Economy / Jobs

For my Huntsville friends...the following companies are hiring:

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