Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Carnival Of Space: Week 4.
Labels: Carnival of Space
It's Over; The Fat Lady Has Sung.
I don't dispute O'Donnell's right to express herself and to believe whatever she wants to believe. It's a free country. That freedom gives me the right to call her an uninformed ignoramus for those views. And in this case, I wouldn't need to rely on the public figure defense in a libel suit because truth is an absolute defense. What a country!
Technorati: Rosie O'Donnell, terrorism, 9-11.
Monday, May 28, 2007
The Love Boat To Mars.
Lynn sees things this way. "We cannot expect astronauts to spend three years in a spacecraft and not have sex -- of some kind. Probably with each other, and likely in more than one combination." She suggests that astronauts should be sent to "the adult internet" to learn about "the wide range of human sexual relationships." For example:
"They can observe and experiment with sex without possession, partnership without monogamy, sexual pleasure without expectation of roses or breakfast.Okay, this is a serious issue and I don't want to minimize the problems astronauts will face on long missions. But are we talking about a space exploration mission or an adult sex cruise? I'm sure the Earthbound husbands and wives of distant astronauts might have a different perspective on the whole "whatever gets you through the night, love the one you're with" attitude expressed in Lynn's suggestions.
They can discover group love, bond with a special someone, or both. They can try letting go of jealousy and fear, figure out how to protect themselves from other people's drama, and develop healthy ways to cope with desire, love and rejection.
Some astronauts might discover they are comfortable with polyamory or bisexuality while others might reaffirm their commitment to monogamy. The important thing is that they practice living and working respectfully with others regardless of who is sleeping with whom."
In any event, the truly uncomfortable reality of sex in space is not about relationships, morale, techniques, alternative sexual lifestyles, and the whole gamut of things that first come to mind when sex in space is discussed. The truly uncomfortable reality of sex in space is that the biological purpose of sex is reproduction and artificial birth control sometimes fails. What do we do if an astronaut becomes pregnant?
The adverse health problems that plague humans from prolonged exposure to weightlessness and radiation are well-documented. Adult humans with fully developed bodies have ways to mitigate the health problems that come from living in space.
We can't be certain how weightlessness or even reduced gravity would affect a developing human in the womb or an infant, and we don't know what should be done to protect its health in space. A pregnancy on a long, three-year mission to Mars, for example, would certainly help us learn. But that knowledge would come at the cost of unplanned experimentation on a human being that never consented and couldn't.
Until we know more about the effects the conditions in space would have on a human being in the womb or an infant, the better advice for astronauts on long-term missions to other planets is sublimate, sublimate, sublimate. And if that doesn't work, they should try something that rhymes with sublimate. They can practice the techniques they learned exploring the adult internet.
Republished twice to correct errors: affect, effect, whatever.
Technorati: NASA, space, astronauts, sex, sexuality.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Proof That God Exists And Loves Us.
And more good news came out just the other day. Four cups or more of coffee each day benefits health, too. (Here.) Thank you, Lord! Thank you.
Technorati: health, religion, atheism.
NASA As An Arts Program.
Technorati: NASA, astronomy, space, art.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The Birds Of Paradise: Part 6.
Technorati: birds, birding, photography.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Cry Me A Rio Grande.
Thomas Sowell is the latest commentator to criticize the plan to offer legal status to current illegal immigrants. He complains that the plan would not be tolerated as a way of dealing with other crimes. As he puts it,
"Does anyone suggest that, if domestic criminals come forward, pay some fine, and apply to have their crimes overlooked, they can be put on a path to be restored to good standing in our society?" (Here.)One wonders if he's ever heard of probation.
What he describes is pretty much what we do with petty criminals who deserve some kind of punishment and monitoring but who don't deserve imprisonment. We have them pay a fine, we may make them serve a bit of time, we monitor their behavior, and we set them on a path to be restored to good standing in our society. We'll even expunge their crimes from court records in certain cases.
If probation is an option for petty criminals, it should be an option for illegal immigrants. Illegal aliens violated our immigration laws to come and stay here, but at least they are here to work. Let's secure the US-Mexican border as needed. As for the illegal aliens already in our country, let's make probation an option.
Technorati: Immigration, border, illegal immigration.
Breaking News: Mars Used To Be Warm And Wet.
We all know that Mars used to be warm and wet already. I've done public talks about Mars since the rovers first landed on Mars and audience members typically know about the water on Mars discoveries. How exactly is it that three years on it's dramatic and surprising that more evidence of past water is discovered? Is funding for the rover missions on the chopping block or something?
Wake me up when there's more evidence of present water on Mars. Or some other material that would be useful for humans once we get our behinds in gear and send some astronauts there to make the red planet our own.
Come to think of it, the Science Daily story is actually about the discovery of a patch of silica. Silica is a useful raw material for manufacturing different things like glass, porcelain, food additives, ceramic re-entry tiles on the Space Shuttle, among others. (Here.) Now that's interesting. There's stuff on Mars we can use to make things. Too bad the story wasn't about that.
Technorati: NASA, Mars
Plants Love Freeze-Dried Grandma.
So it should come as no surprise that environmentalists hope to change how we dispose of human remains. The website Terra Daily tells of a move in Sweden to freeze dry corpses and turn the remains into compost.
"The freeze-drying method offers an environmentally friendly burial transforming corpses into organic compost. Traditional burials and cremations hurt the environment by polluting air and water, as a corpse buried in a coffin will take many years to decompose completely." (Here.)What is surprising is the organization advocating the change: The Lutheran Church of Sweden. It's strange to see a Christian church promoting such dehumanizing treatment of human remains. Freeze-drying the corpse is significantly different than typical burial or cremation. In traditional burial or cremation, disposal of the body is done as an end in itself. Freeze drying, on the other hand, treats the corpse as mere raw material for plant food.
Perhaps the Lutheran Church of Sweden's involvement is not that surprising. The church is part owner of Promessa, the company that has developed the freeze-drying burial. This is what the Terra Daily story says about Promessa's plans. "Promessa has promoted the idea of using the human remains, like compost, to feed plants and shrubs." Where's Charlton Heston when you need him? (Here.)
Republished once to correct a noticed punctuation error. Whatever unnoticed errors there are remain.
Technorati: environment, religion, Sweden.
Monday, May 21, 2007
When Is An Outdoor Park Just Like An Enclosed Airplane?
No surprise but smokers are sneaking cigarettes where they can. Don't expect the policy to change to make reasonable accommodations by allowing outdoor smoking areas, however. San Diego mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz says,
"'Creating smoking areas in an outdoor environment is laughable. It's no different than creating them on an airplane. There's nothing to stop the smoke.'" (Here.)Hold that thought. Let it linger in your brain the way you would hold a puff of delicious cigar or pipe smoke in your mouth. Savor the delicious lunacy of the statement. A smoking area in an outdoor park is the same as a smoking area in an airplane. In other words, the environment inside an airplane is the same as a park's. Now that's laughable.
What isn't laughable is the level of anti-smoking zealotry in the formerly free state of California. Anti-smokers started out reasonably enough with bans in restaurants, workplaces, and bars. In other words, indoor locations.
Lately, however, anti-smokers have taken their abolitionist crusade to the great outdoors. Sometimes they dress up their proposals with health reasons. Every whiff of second-hand smoke will kill you, don't you know. Other times they propose bans so that children won't be exposed to seeing adults smoke. The horror.
But the real motivation behind anti-smoking zealotry comes out in Braun's column when Sainz describes the need to protect the public from second-hand smoke as "a moral imperative." This is what the anti-smoking campaign is about. It's a moral crusade. Smoking is a sin and smokers are sinners.
Republished once to fix label.
Technorati: smoking, smokers, tobacco.
Outer Space Travel Agents.
Technorati: space, space tourism.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The Birds Of Paradise: Part 5
So, for now, here's another bird photograph from the backyard. It's a bluebird taking off, phoenix-like, from the feeding platform with a piece of food in its beak. Nice.
Technorati: birds, photography, baseball, Padres.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Peacetime, Wartime. Whatever.
"Blair saw Britain through tragedy and triumph. He comforted a mournful nation after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. He stood defiant as British support for involvement in Iraq waned and when four terrorist suicide bombers killed 52 people in 2005 in the worst peacetime attack in London's history. On Tuesday, he saw a shared government between once-warring Protestants and Catholics restored in Northern Ireland -- long a Blair goal."*There are two kinds of people in this world. There are those who read that paragraph and breeze right by the line "worst peacetime attack in London's history" without a second thought. And then there are those who are brought to a screeching halt by the line. Count me in the latter category. The Jihadist bombing in London in 2005 was an act of war committed by war criminals during wartime. We were not at peace in 2005 and we are not at peace now.
* You'll have to take my word for the quote from Stinson's story. USA Today has already archived the story on its website and charges a fee to view it online. Not gonna happen.
Technorati: War, terrorism, Jihad, Blair.
About That Hubble Servicing Mission ...
"Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute that manages use of the Hubble, told a Capitol Hill breakfast May 11 that one more servicing mission may be all scientists will want to give Hubble. 'This telescope is 17 years old,' he told a session organized by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable and the California Space Authority. 'It's done an amazing job. But there are other great things we need to do.'" (Here.)I've advocated scrapping the Hubble for over two years now. (Here.) Rather than spending the money, time, and energy trying to keep Hubble going past its "use by" date, we should have been focused on building a replacement. (Here.) But space scientists pushed back hard when plans surfaced to scrap Hubble. The telescope is their baby and they weren't going to let it be abandoned. It will be interesting to see how high this trial balloon flies before space scientists begin to take aim.
But as NASA's Colleen Hartman aptly puts it in the Aviation Week story, "'At some point you are going to come the point where getting a new car is the right thing to do.'" Makes perfect sense to me. (Here.)
Technorati: Hubble, astronomy, NASA.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The Birds Of Paradise: Part 4.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Saving The Planet One Lawn At A Time
Today's news is about the cost of implementing California's very own law to save the planet. (Here.) Under the rule of its new law, California's carbon emissions have to be down to 1990 levels by 2020. How much will that cost California's economy? Who really knows? Who really cares?
"Regardless of how funding disputes are resolved in the Capitol, [California State] Sen. [Alan] Lowenthal said the public will have to accept the costs. The alternative – doing nothing – would result in 'catastrophe,' he warned.What are a few billion or trillion dollars more of less when the fate of the entire world is at stake?
'This is just the beginning,' Lowenthal said. 'There's going to have to be changes to every part of life. Ultimately, we will all pay.'" (Here.)
So when it came time to buy a new lawnmower, I knew I had to do my part to help save the world. A gas mower was out of the question. Too polluting. A hand-pushed mower was the most green alternative. But who wants to spend all the livelong day mowing the lawn? Not me. Just because the world is hurtling towards environmental doomsday doesn't mean I have to give up my weekends. Does it?
So, here it is. My new $400 rechargeable electric lawnmower. Sure it's $250 more than I would have spent on a perfectly fine gas mower, but the world may last a bit longer because of my sacrifice. And not only is it greener than a gas mower, so I can cop a holier than thou attitude, it's also a really cool, cutting edge gadget that makes me the envy of my neighbors. It's a twofer! Yes, life is good.
Technorati: Global Warming, environment.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Long Live France?
"Some hope for a new era in US-France relations after the frostiness caused by Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war.That last snarky bit about global warming notwithstanding it's nice to have a French leader pledge friendship to the United States. But words are easy. Actions matter more.
"Sarkozy said the United States can count on friendship from France but urged Washington to show leadership in the struggle against global warming and that it would be a priority for his government.
"Sarkozy said 'a great nation like the United States has the duty to not create obstacles in the struggle against global warming.'" (Here.)
France has been singularly unhelpful in foreign affairs for a long time now. I hope Sarkozy changes that. I'd like to end my personal anti-French boycott. Some have boycotted lighter drinks. (Here.) As for me, I haven't had my favorite red wine, Burgundy, in four years, and I've worked up a powerful thirst.