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Showing posts from September, 2004

X Prize Launch - SpaceShipOne

SpaceShipOne started its pursuit of the X-Prize today by launching from the Mojave Spaceport today. While the flight appeared to have some issues (the rolling post ignition reared its ugly head once more), the flight was successful. Rutan and Co. have two weeks from today at 11:34 AM EDT to make a second flight to the 100km altitude.
It's difficult to say at this point just how significant this prize could be. Cheap, efficient, and solid technology to orbit payloads in the hands of private business and citizens will revolutionize the way we think about and use space. The difficult part is to say how this revolution will materialize. Will we vacation in space? Will we finally start to reach beyond the surface of this planet in numbers? Will science finally have a way to experiment and manufacture things in ultra-low gravity?
Aeronautics changed the way we think of the world; places once off the grid are now accesible just by changing planes. Extrapolate that concept to space flight…

The interrobang‽

We need to bring this back!
In 1962, the interrobang (‽), was introduced by the New York publishing establishment as "a twentieth century punctuation mark". The interrobang combined the functions of a question mark and an exclamation point. It received some attention at first, but never caught on, although for a brief period during the 1960s it was added to some typewriter keyboards.
What a great symbol for the internet-enabled masses. How many times have you gotten a message that ended with the string of question marks and exclamation points. (ala ?!?!?). You can make the symbol with Unicode; just enter ‽.
Link [via BoingBoing]

UPDATE: Go figure, Microsoft, the king of standards, doesn't support the Unicode for the interrobang. If you're reading this post in IE, sorry. Try Firefox; it displays this properly and it's a hell of a lot safer.

Oh please, oh please, oh please

How bloody cool would this be? A (Virgin-themed) space hotel. Sure, Richard Branson is a loud, arrogant, blowhard, but he's got the track record and accumen to, if not pull something like this off, at least give it a good gooes in the right direction.
It's getting closer to reality. Sounds like Branson is going to license the SpaceShipOne tech from Paul Allen/Burt Rutan. Private flights could begin as soon as 2007. We need to bring Howard Johnsons back just to have one in space.
Link[via Drudge]

Bashing the McMasses

Another great article from what is becoming one of my favorite sites, Spiked. In her article/critique "Bashing the McMasses", Josie Appleton takes filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who made the "docu-blockbuster-cum-human-experiment Super Size Me," to task. It's good to see people who watch movies for the techniques used to sway your opinion and not get caught up in the emotion with which so many filmmakers try to cloud your judgement. (See any Michael Moore or Leni Riefenstahl joint for ample reference material.)

Super-Size Me is one of those films that starts off with a pre-ordained path: the filmmaker is dating a vegan chef and walks all over Manhatten on a daily basis, which makes him relatable to the majority of Americans (oops, forgot to turn off that sarcasm toggle... ah, there we go).
Read the article; it's a wonderful example of why so many "artists" love deconstructionalism. If you can't or aren't supposed to deconstruct a piece of art, …

It's the END! Again...

If someone writes in a paranoid manner about paranoia, do they get a hat or sticker or button?
One easily can imagine a tyrant with worldwide ambitions and high-tech capabilities scheming even now to pull off the greatest hoax of all time, after years of conditioning the public to anticipate precisely such a crisis. This may sound like the ultimate techno-paranoid nightmare, yet it's consistent with the high volume of current warnings that the end is nigh.

Link

List item: Bust eBay cherry; check

Slowly, I start to get this internet thing. I sold my first thing on eBay (well, things actually, but. one's a little different). I still haven't got paid or shipped, so the process isn't complete, but it was very fun to watch my item get bid on at the last minute... knowing that somewhere, someone is looking at the same page I am, trying to buy something I currently have.

It's not as if it's the money, because getting excited over $40 really wouldn't do it. Do salesmen get a rush when they make a sale, like somehow they succeeded in converting the buyer?

Link to completed auction

Foreign Policy: Hating America

You read statements like this, and you suddenly realize that no one person is worthy of leading this country.
There are many issues on which the United States is the crucial organizer of collective goods. Someone has to be concerned about terrorism and nuclear and biological proliferation. Other countries might bristle at certain U.S. policies, but would someone else really be willing to bully, threaten, cajole, and bribe countries such as Libya to renounce terror and dismantle their WMD programs?
Thank God for checks and balances

Link (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Ouch... Genesis crashes

In what is definitely the worst possible scenario for the Genesis project, the parachute on the re-entry craft failed to deploy and the stuntman-piloted helicopters never had an opportunity to attempt a recovery. Unless some miracle remains for the team, looks like the whole project is a wash over the most basic part of re-entry; slowing down. Tough luck.
Link

Who Cares About the Truth?

Oh god, I'm slipping into moral realivism.
Such rough-and-ready pragmatism taps into one of our deepest intellectual veins. It appeals to America's collective self-image as a square-jawed action hero. And it may partly explain why the outcry against the White House's deception over the war in Iraq was rather muted. It is not just that we believe that "united we stand," it is that, deep down, many Americans are prone to think that it is results, not principles, that matter. ...some of us find worrying over abstract principles like truth to be boring and irrelevant nitpicking, best left to the nerds who watch C-Span and worry about whether the death penalty is "fair."
So, by not opposing the Iraq war, you may as well have joined all those nuts not engaged in worrying about "abstract principles like truth".
An unswerving allegiance to what you believe isn't a sign that you care about truth. It is a sign of dogmatism. Caring about truth does no…

Guardian Unlimited Books | Review | Beyond dentistry

I think I have to read this.

"The danger of American foreign policy," [John Gray] writes, "is not that it is obsessed with evil but that it is based on the belief that evil can be abolished." Such foolishness, he points out, is far removed from the wisdom of America's founding fathers, for whom "the purpose of government was not to conduct us to the Promised Land but to stave off the recurrent evils to which human life is naturally prone".

Link(via Arts & Letters Daily)