Friday, June 05, 2009

Potpourri L (for 50, not for Large)

Holy cats! WAY too much stuff in the inbox this evening. Well, I'd best get cracking. I've got a couple letters to write tonight, too. The wild, out-of-control life of a space geek blogger.

The Space Frontier Foundation has extended the deadline for its space business plan prize to June 19. Don't have time for it myself, but there might come a day when $5,000 might come in handy. I have ideas, mind you, just haven't got the time to focus at the moment.

The web site for the Human Space Flight Panel is now up. If you're ready to tell the representatives of your elected officials what they should do with the human spaceflight program, now is the time. Go get 'em!

Some more stuff from Lin on the potential for hyperinflation, which I've addressed on this site before.

For those of you who are familiar with the term, my apologies. The point is that we are almost out of wiggle room when we have to send the US Secretary of the Treasury hat-in-hand to grovel to the Chinese to keep buying our worthless paper.

Tip o' the fedora to Martin for finding this: a diorama of a sort of Mount Rushmore for the Moon. It's pretty cool.

I got this summary on the Air France crash from my daily AIAA news feed:

ABC World News (6/4, story 5, 2:15, Gibson) reported, "Next, to the investigation into Air France Flight 447. ... French investigators reported that automatic messages from the plane indicated it was not maintaining consistent air speed. And that prompted the plane's manufacturer, Airbus, to issue a warning to all airlines flying its planes." ABC (Stark) added, "Late today, Airbus warned airlines that fly all models of Airbus planes to follow correct procedures if pilots are dealing with unreliable speed indications or data. ... In what's called an accident information telex, Airbus reminded airlines that if that occurs, pilots should maintain their power and level off if necessary, and start troubleshooting procedures. Aviation experts say in some cases, such air speed problems can be difficult for cockpit crews to detect."

Jeff Foust found some insightful stuff from the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel on former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin.

Ian Murphy asks some tough questions about the "why" of space exploration, a topic that motivates most of why I do what I do for the space business.

Need free internet "radio?" Doc had a couple of suggestions for me the other day:

Bored with "Whack a Mole?" Try "Whack a Kitty." I am not kidding--the couple who put this video together--and it really is pretty harmless--were on one of the cable news shows because some folks on the internet were utterly offended and thought they were encouraging cruelty to animals. And speaking of cats, someone else sent me an internet video on cat yodeling. No doubt someone will raise heck about this as well. This is probably why Robert D. Raiford calls us the United States of the Offended. Sense of humor is apparently out the window.

Congress is cutting the exploration portion of the NASA budget. Oh, joy.

Okay, I don't talk about my day job much, but I thought I'd share this. Dan Kanigan, the NASA Public Affairs Office (PAO) guy I work with on Ares I-X, got a break from I-X to travel along with the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) 747 as it ferried Atlantis back to Kennedy Space Center. He did a couple of cool live reports, which are worth watching:

Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, has bought himself a ticket to be a tourist at the International Space Station.

There's a great editorial on on why the future ain't what it used to be. It called to mind the Avery Brooks commercials done for AT&T, where he railed, "Where are the flying cars? There were supposed to be flying cars!"

Some good stuff from Tracy:

From the NASA PAO, a notice of NASA research opportunities.

Some great discussion at work today. I learned, for example, that it's often cheaper to buy Xbox 360 to play Blu-Ray DVDs than to buy a straight DVD player. What else? Oh yeah, Doc also mentioned that Microsoft has an online store for buying music and podcasts via Xbox and the Microsoft Zune marketplace. This is akin to the Amazon store feature available via Kindle. The convergence of new media continues. If I want to make money in the future, I'm going to have to describe myself as a "content developer," not a "writer." Writing implies pens, typewriters, paper, and other archaic technologies. We'll have none of THAT stuff on the Internet, pal...

We also had a discussion about some guy plugging an eyeball-size camera, which transmits images to a server via wireless internet. This might be a next step toward connecting the camera to the human brain--the Singularity moves ever closer.

Doc and I had an extended conversation on the merits of various adults beverages. He's a beer and whiskey snob, I'm a wee bit of a wine snob. We're both occasional fans of bourbon whiskey. He recommended a few brands that I might consider trying "if you have some money to burn." They include:

And here's the quotation of the day, also from Doc (though a bit altered, as I didn't write it down precisely when and as he said it): "You can't help having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) anymore. It's not an affliction anymore, it's a survival skill." HA! Perfect!

And lastly, there's a new Star Wars video game coming out about the Old Republic. The lead villain looks like a character I created for my own sequels and prequels backindaday. I probably won't play the game, as I don't own a game console (I waste enough time "talking" to people who are reputedly "real" on the internet as it is). The game's "trailer" looked pretty cool, though.

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