Why Continue to Fund Space Research?

•March 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In these tough economic times, we need to look at the many superfluous programs that our State and Federal Tax dollars are being spent on. I increasingly hear people wonder why we’re funding the Space program. “Shut NASA Down, We’ll save Billions”, I’ve heard it a hundred, if not a thousand  times. Sounds reasonable to me.

In support of our Space program, I could give a lengthy list of all the things, products, and technologies that come directly as a benefit from Space research.*  (For a full description. please go here:  http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html) However, aside from all of these wonderful gizmo’s, there is one real answer:

Our survival as a species depends on it.

On Monday afternoon, an asteroid (named 2009 DD45) passed dangerously close to the earth.  At 40,000 miles out, it passed at less than twice the distance of most of our satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which is approx. 26,200 miles above the Earth.  It was estimated to be the same size as the asteroid that exploded over Siberia in 1908 and leveled more than 800 square milesof forest. Had 2009 DD45 slammed down onto the Earth, it would have exploded with the force of a large nuclear blast somewhere in the Pacific Ocean west of Tahiti.

Most surprising of all is that we only had 2 days notice… 2009 DD45 was spotted last Saturday by astronomers in Australia, and verified by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre (MPC), which catalogues solar system rocks. Not to add any alarm, but 2009 DD45 will get another chance at hitting us… Astronomers said the asteroid is likely to return for another series of near misses since it’s drawn in by our planet’s gravity.

This ‘Near-Miss’ is by no means an isolated occurrence.  Peter Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, said the last rock “as large or larger than this to come this close was in 1973 and the next time will be in 2029 when Apophis makes its close approach.”

Apophis initially caused some concern among scientists when its plotted course revealed it to be on a collision trajectory with Earth, but further investigations have since shown it will pass harmlessly by. You can find the wiki here.

Two days’ notice… that’s all. I don’t expect vacations on Mars, but I personally would like a little more notice before our world (or at least a sizable portion of it) is wiped out.

In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking gives his reasoning for believing that advanced civilizations could only exist on the fringes of any galaxy. To paraphrase, trying to establish civilization in a more densely populated region of space would be nearly impossible, since those planets would be much more susceptible to being routinely extinguished due to galactic activity, such as radiation from supernovas. I believe that space debris i.e., asteroids,  would fall into that same category. We already know what happens when our planet is hit by a large object… it’s happened before.  Also, the effect of gravity is always attractive, so I believe that, as these asteroids pass by, they will inevitably get drawn closer, as there’s no force to push them further out away from Earth, and into Space.

Does this sound like a worth while application of our tax dollars? I believe that it is.

Most impacts are in rural, uninhabited areas. As our population grows, the chances if an asteroid hit in a large populated area increase.

For details on the Siberia 1908 incident, here’s a great reconstruction from eyewitness accounts. Remember, this exploded in the atmosphere… it didn’t even ‘hit’ the ground…

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* btw, here’s a ‘short’ list of those ‘benefits’ that came directly from the space program: Advanced keyboards, Customer Service Software, Database Management System, Laser Surveying, Aircraft controls, Lightweight Compact Disc, Expert System Software, Microcomputers, Design Graphics, the Dustbuster, shock-absorbing helmets, home security systems, smoke detectors, flat panel televisions, high-density batteries, trash compactors, food packaging and freeze-dried technology, cool sportswear, sports bras, hair styling appliances, fogless ski goggles, self-adjusting sunglasses, composite golf clubs, hang gliders, art preservation, quartz crystal timing equipment, whale identification methods, environmental analysis, noise abatement, pollution measuring devices, pollution control devices, smokestack monitors, radioactive leak detectors, earthquake prediction systems, sewage treatment, energy saving air conditioning, air purification equipment, Arteriosclerosis detection, ultrasound scanners, automatic insulin pumps, portable x-ray devices, invisible braces, dental arch wire, palate surgery technology, clean room apparel, implantable heart aid, MRI, bone analyzers, cataract surgery tools, gasoline vapor recovery, self-locking fasteners, machine tool software, laser wire strippers, lubricant coating process, wireless communications, engine coatings, improved engine designs, storm warning services (Doppler radar), firefighters’ radios, lead poison detection, fire detectors, flame detectors, corrosion protection coatings, protective clothing, robotic hands, safer bridges, emission testing, airline wheelchairs, electric cars, auto design, methane-powered vehicles, windshear prediction, and aircraft design analysis, to name a few. I think the prospect of improving on those ideas and technologies is worth funding, don’t you?

The Return of Mr. Bill! Woo Hoo!

•June 11, 2008 • 3 Comments

The BigDog over at Another Day In The DogHouse writes about the return of Mr. Bill…

Mr. Bill Returns… “Oh, Noooo!!!!”

This hit me as ‘Well Played’…

I remember watching ‘Saturday Night Live’ as a teenager when most of the episodes were new. One of my favorite bits was ‘The Mr. Bill Show”. Cracked me up every time. Since my name is Bill, I’ve walked into a room or situation thousands of times, only to be greeted with ‘Oh, No, Mr. Bill!!!!’.

I love that. I absolutely love that.

It’s a lot better that the things that you normally hear when your name is Bill (or even worse, when I was younger, it was always ‘Billy”). ‘Which way you going, Billy’, ‘Billy, Don’t be a Hero’, and no, I can’t bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy. Getting asked where the other the Billy Goats were at. There were many, many songs and nursery rhymes where being Bill or Billy wasn’t very cool.

Then along came Mr. Bill. Suddenly, and for maybe the first time in my life, it was cool to be a Bill. Or, make that, Mr. Bill. Sweetness.

Read today in the New Your Times Online that my friend Mr. Bill is making a comeback. Here’s the link, and here’s the article:

Mr. Bill Returns (in One Piece) to Pitch a Debit Card

By WENDY A. LEE
Published: June 3, 2008

MasterCard executives have found a new poster boy for the angst-ridden economy: Mr. Bill.

The small clay figure that appeared in “Saturday Night Live” short films three decades ago — being dismembered, pulverized and humiliated to his falsetto cries of “Oh, nooooo!” — will be the latest star of MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign.

He is being revived as a debit-card holder who gets roughed up but keeps on going. The 30-second spot, to start airing next Monday, casts Mr. Bill as an urban professional on his daily routine:

Mr. Hands pours hot coffee on him (“coffee: $2”), a personal trainer launches him off a treadmill (“gym: $59/mo.”), and an opened briefcase flips him onto the windshield of a city bus (“briefcase: $120”).

Mr. Bill, rolling with endless punches, just enjoys the ride home: “Making it through the day: priceless.” A voice-over adds, “For whatever comes your way, there’s debit MasterCard.”priceless. Mr. Bill faces life’s daily trials with resilience.

The spot is meant to tap into the current “unsureness about what’s going to happen next,” said Joyce King Thomas, executive vice president and chief creative officer at McCann-Erickson, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, which created the “Priceless” campaign for MasterCard in 1997.

“This is the sunny Mr. Bill,” she added. “We wanted to make him a character who can handle things beyond his control and stay optimistic.”

Part of the idea is that baby boomers who made “oh nooooo!” jokes in their college dorms will remember Mr. Bill fondly, and younger people to whom the shorts are ancient history will enjoy seeing him get abused.

“It’s very interesting that 30 years later, you can bring this character back,” said Edward Russell, an assistant professor of advertising at Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “It tells me that they’re really going after 44-plus-year-olds, which would make sense since this is a group with more disposable income.”

Continue reading ‘The Return of Mr. Bill! Woo Hoo!’

Video Game Addiction Can Lead To Child Abuse

•July 16, 2007 • 2 Comments

First, let me say this: I am a gamer. I grew up in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, Diplomacy, and Risk. However, I do believe that there is a time and a place for everything.

At work, I watch a generation of Gamers who are unable to seperate their on-line life from work. I’ve seen people skip showers because they were up gaming all night (not to mention the people who have to pick up their slack because a sleep-deprived person can’t function as well), or people so distracted that they make mistakes that they should normally catch. I see people passed over for promotion and advancement, not because they lack skills or education, but simply because they can’t turn off World Of Warcraft.

This may be an extreme case, but this story from the AP and reported by Wired shows what happens when you don’t focus on what’s really important (and no, it’s not a Level 60 Druid/Ranger… more after the story).


RENO, Nev. (AP) — A couple authorities say were so obsessed with the Internet and video games that they left their babies starving and suffering other health problems have pleaded guilty to child neglect.

The children of Michael and Iana Straw, a boy age 22 months and a girl age 11 months, were severely malnourished and near death last month when doctors saw them after social workers took them to a hospital, authorities said. Both children are doing well and gaining weight in foster care, prosecutor Kelli Ann Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Michael Straw, 25, and Iana Straw, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts each of child neglect. Each faces a maximum 12-year prison sentence.

Continue reading ‘Video Game Addiction Can Lead To Child Abuse’

Cheap-Ass Toilet Paper…

•July 12, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Seems like we have your ass covered with news today…

We’re Too Cheap To Let You Grab Your Own Toilet Paper

From TechDirt – Get the orig. here:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20070711/180644.shtml

You knew it was coming: the infrared automatic toilet paper dispenser (via Boing Boing). Given the proliferation of similar devices for paper towels in restrooms, this isn’t particularly surprising. What’s slightly more amusing here, though, is that the company making the device, TP giant Kimberley-Clark, isn’t even trying to pitch the device on environmental or other grounds: no, it just wants to save companies money by dispensing less toilet paper, since a company exec says “People generally in life will take what you give them.” Apparently the company’s research has shown that the optimal amount of toilet paper — presumably from a financial aspect, and not a user-experience one — is 20 inches’ worth, or 5 standard-length sheets, so it’s preset the device to dispense that amount. For generous bathroom providers, the device can be set to dispense 24 inches; cheapskates can set it to only deliver 16. Of course, they seem to be ignoring the fact that users could simply just wait for the device’s timer to reset and get another 20 inches of paper, either because they need it, or just out of spite. Every industry feels the need for innovation to grow sales; whether it’s actually needed or not is a wholly different matter.

Here’s the link to BoingBoing…

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/07/11/robotic_toilet_paper.html

To Diaper or not to Diaper… Astronauts make tough decisions every day…

•June 29, 2007 • Leave a Comment

From The Washington Post June 29, 2007…

Lawyer: Ex-Astronaut Didn’t Wear Diaper

By MIKE SCHNEIDER

The Associated Press
Friday, June 29, 2007; 1:25 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. — Former astronaut Lisa Nowak didn’t wear diapers during her 950-mile road trip to confront a romantic rival, her lawyer said Friday, disputing one of the more bizarre details to emerge from the NASA love triangle.

“The biggest lie in this preposterous tale that has been told is that my client drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, nonstop, wearing a diaper,” Donald Lykkebak said after filing motions to suppress evidence in Nowak’s criminal case. “That is an absolute fabrication.”

The tidbit that Nowak wore diapers during her trip was written in the police report filed after Nowak’s arrest in February.

Continue reading ‘To Diaper or not to Diaper… Astronauts make tough decisions every day…’

2007 will have more SPAM than HUMAN EMAILS!

•April 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

“Spam volumes are growing faster than expected due to the success of image-based spam in bypassing antispam filters and of email sender identity spoofing in getting higher response rates,” said Mark Levitt, the VP in charge of IDC’s Collaborative Computing and Enterprise Workplace research. “Instant messaging, joined by free and low-cost VoIP….

read more | digg story

Hillary Clinton: Potty Mouth?

•March 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment

It’s safe to say that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Hillary Clinton. However, being a fan of NOTA.org (None Of The Above), Character is of primary importance to me. The following are documented quotes from our Senator from New York (I thought that they were from Arkansas… my bad. Wasn’t Bill Governor there?).

This is not suitable for children.

I just report… you decide …

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“Where is the G-damn f**king flag? I want the G-damn f**king flag up every f**king morning at f**king sunrise.”
(From the book “Inside The White House” by Ronald Kessler, p. 244 – Hillary to the staff at the Arkansas Governor’s mansion on Labor Day, 1991)

“You sold out, you mother f**ker! You sold out!”
(From the book “Inside” by Joseph Califano, p. 213 – Hillary yelling at Democrat lawyer.)

“It’s been said, and I think it’s accurate, that my husband was obsessed by terrorism in general and al-qaida in particular.”
(Hillary telling a post-9/11 world what a ‘great’ commander in chief her husband was; Dateline, NBC 4/16/2004.)

“I have to admit that a good deal of what my husband and I have learned [about Islam] has come from our daughter.”
(TruthInMedia.org 8/8/1999 – Hillary at a White House function, proudly tells some Muslim groups she is gaining a greater appreciation of Islam because Chelsea was then taking a class on the “religion of peace”)

“F**k off! It’s enough that I have to see you shit-kickers every day, I’m not going to talk to you too!! Just do your G*damn job and keep your mouth shut.”
(From the book “American Evita” by Christopher Anderson, p. 90 – Hillary to her State Trooper bodyguards after one of them greeted her with “Good morning.”)

“You f**king idiot.”
(From the book “Crossfire” p. 84 – Hillary to a State Trooper who was driving her to an event.)

“If you want to remain on this detail, get your f**king ass over here and grab those bags!”
(From the book “The First Partner” p. 259 – Hillary to a Secret Service Agent who was reluctant to carry her luggage because he wanted to keep his hands free in case of an incident.)

“Get f**ked! Get the f**k out of my way!!! Get out of my face!!!”
(From the book “Hillary’s Scheme” p. 89 – Hillary’s various comments to her Secret Service d etail agents.)

“Stay the f**k back, stay the f**k away from me! Don’t come within ten yards of me, or else! Just f**king do as I say, Okay!!!?”
(From the book “Unlimited Access”, by Clinton FBI Agent in Charge, Gary Aldrige, p. 139 – Hillary screaming at her Secret Service detail.)

“Many of you are well enough off that [President Bush’s] tax cuts may have helped you. We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you.<u> We’re going to have to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
(Hillary grandstanding at a fund raising speech in San Francisco; SFGate.com 6/28/2004.)

“Why do I have to keep proving to people that I am not a liar?!”
(From the book “The Survivor,” by John Harris, p. 382 – Hillary in her 2000 Senate campaign)

“Where’s the miserable c* ck sucker?”
(From the book “The Truth About Hillary” by Edward Klein, p. 5 – Hillary shouting at a Secret Service officer)

“No matter what you think about the Iraq war, there is one thing we can all agree on for the next days – we have to salute the courage and bravery of those who are risking their lives to vote and those brave Iraqi and American soldiers fighting to protect their right to vote.”
(Was posted on Hillary Clinton’s senate.gov web site on 1/28/05)

“Put this on the ground! I left my sunglasses in the limo. I need those sunglasses. We need to go back!”
(From the book “Dereliction of Duty” p. 71-72 – Hillary to Marine One helicopter pilot to turn back while en route to Air Force One.)

“A right-wing network was after his presidency…including perverting the Constitution.”
(To Barbara Walters about the Republicans who impeached her husband; 20/20, ABC 6/8/2003.)

“Son of a bitch.”
(From the book “American Evita” by Christopher An derson, p. 259 – Hillary’s opinion of President George W. Bush when she found out he secretly visited Iraq just days before her highly publicized trip to Iraq)

“What are you doing inviting these people into my home? These people are our enemies! They are trying to destroy us!”
(From the book “The Survivor” by John Harris, p 99 – Hillary screaming to an aide, when she found out that some Republicans had been invited to the Clinton White House)

“I mean, you’ve got a conservative and right-wing press presence with really nothing on the other end of the political spectrum.”
(C-Span, 1/19/1997 – Hillary complains about the mainstream media, which are all conservatives in her opinion.

“Come on Bill, put your dick up! You can’t f**k her here!!”
(From the book “Inside The White House” by Ronald Kessler, p. 243 – Hillary to Gov. Clinton when she spots him talking with an attractive female at an Arkansas political rally)

“You know, I’m going to start thanking the woman who cleans the restroom in the building I work in. I’m going to start thinking of her as a human being -Hillary Clinton
(From the book “The Case Against Hillary Clinton” by Peggy Noonan, p. 55)

“You show people what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends.”
(From the book “The Agenda” by Bob Woodward, ch. 14)

“We are at a stage in history in which remolding society is one of the great challenges facing all of us in the West.”
(From the book “I’ve Always Been A Yankee Fan” by Thomas D. Kuiper, p. 119 – During her 1993 commencement address at the University of Texas)

“The only way to make a difference is to acquire power.
(From the book “I’ve Always Been A Yankee Fan” by Thomas D. Kuiper, p. 68 – Hillary to a friend before starting law school.)

“We just can’t trust the American people to make those types of choices…. Government has to make those choices for people”
(From the book “I’ve Always Been A Yankee Fan” by Thomas D. Kuiper, p. 20 – Hillary to Rep Dennis Hastert in 1993 discussing her expensive, disastrous taxpayer-funded health care plan)

“I am a fan of the social policies that you find in Europe!” Hillary in 1996
(From the book “I’ve Always Been A Yankee Fan” by Thomas D. Kuiper, p. 76 – Hillary in 1996)

This ill-tempered, violent, foul mouthed, hateful and abusive woman wants to be your president and have total control as commander-in-chief of a military that her party so openly and proudly admit they detest! Never mind her public facade. This is the real Hillary.