Archive for August 2006

Ride #13 19.4 miles, 261.4 total

August 31, 2006

Another fantastic weather day, about 70°F, dry, little wind, and a clear blue sky. I had other priorities, but Dad really wanted to ride, and I’m glad we did. The chain fell off again; I don’t think the bike shop did anything about that when the bike went in a few weeks ago. Even so, we kept up a very good pace.

For the first time in a while, I did get a silly, made-up song stuck in my head. So I changed it to try and make up rhymes for a song I’m hoping to write for a podcast I like. I jotted down three good ideas after the ride!

Link- Thought-provoking essay on mankind’s connection to the night sky

August 31, 2006

Star Trails Over Namibia has a wonderful, thought-provoking essay on the relationship our species has had with the night sky for tens of thousands of years, before the invention of the light bulb last century. I recommend it highly.

(Image Credit: “Star Trails Over Namibia” by Josch Hambsch.)


Link- A Meteoroid hits the Moon, and NASA’s got the movie to prove it!

August 30, 2006

On May 2, 2006, a meteoroid impacted the Moon in the Sea of Clouds, and NASA somehow had a 10″ telescope recording video at the time. The impact produced an explosion equivalent to 4 tons of TNT, and judging from the movie, it hit in the shaded portion of the Moon and was easily visible.

Check out this NASA web site to see the impact for yourself, and read up on some of the science and history behind the observation. It turns out that this wasn’t the first recorded Moon strike, but so far it is the best.

Scientists are working on automating the process of finding Moon strike movies. Currently it takes a person to view the video tape, preferably slowed down, to find the speedy flashes. In future, a computer could do this tedious work, and much faster.

For DirecTV subscribers: free Starz SuperPak, September 14-17 2006

August 29, 2006

Read here for more details.

UPDATE 8/30/06: I corrected the dates from 9/15-9/18 to 9/14-9/17.


Link: How Big Are We? (Updated 8/29/06)

August 29, 2006

Here are a series of pictures that show the relative sizes of our local planets and stars. If you’ve ever considered yourself an infinitesimal dot in a vast universe, this will give you some small idea how right you are! Keep in mind when viewing the images that you’re seeing only objects from our local galactic neighborhood, and that it would be even more mind-blowing if we included some sense of relative distances!

Update 8/29/06: Here is another page with the same theme, but limited to the solar system. There are three wonderful photographs, and some thoughtful writing and reader comments as well.

Link- “US Airways to place ads on sickness bags.” I wanna fwow up.

August 28, 2006

(Disclosure: I used to work as a producer/director in advertising, and I tried to make TV ads that were fun to watch, rather than repetitive and oppressive. That was a long time ago.)

I am sick and tired of advertising. I can’t go out without being surrounded by it, whether it’s dealer logos on the backs of cars, whole cars re-painted with a brand name on every surface, billboards, small planes dragging ads through the air… Even in stores, they have blinking LEDs to attract my attention to ads, ads on the floor so I can’t avoid them by looking down, and soon, ads on fresh fruit. There are ads on self-serve gasoline nozzles and on LCDs in the pumps, ads a foot from your face when using a public bathroom (some even with color LCD and sound), and more. In researching this, I found an article about elevator advertising, which detailed even more kinds of intrusive ads I hadn’t even thought of.

Now, ads on barf bags. At first I thought it was a joke. I thought, what’s next, toilet paper? I found out, yes, toilet paper is already used for advertising. How far into one’s private life moments do marketers intend to pry? Who is getting to paid to think of this stuff? Does anyone believe that, after emptying one’s stomach contents into a bag, the victim of airsickness is going to look weakly at the side of the now-warm, squishy bag, and think, “You know, I should really get that HDTV?”


Link- CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s story: When reporting and real life meet

August 27, 2006

I found Dr. Gupta’s story moving as well as informative. I don’t want to give too much away, but he was in Iraq to report on medical advances on the battlefront when he unexpectedly got drawn in to, well, the war itself, in a very immediate way. He got much more than he bargained for by the time he came home.

Link- will re-run 9/11 coverage in real time on its fifth anniversary

August 26, 2006 is reporting plans to re-run CNN TV’s 9/11 coverage, to be replayed in real time matching the timing of that day, starting at 8:30AM 9/11/2006. Five years have gone by.

I don’t know if I’ll watch. It might be interesting to relive the day without all the uncertainty that overshadowed the actual day. It would be strange to hear the panicked reports that later turned out to be only rumors, such as the presumed building fire on the Washington Mall, which was thought to be due to another plane.

UPDATE: News story: “DETROIT – A federal judge has ruled that the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program violates the Constitution.”

August 26, 2006

Read it here. Even though you’ve already read it. That one sentence really is the whole story. Maybe Yahoo will add more to it later?

UPDATE: U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor made the ruling, and has ordered an immediate stop to the NSA’s warrantless domestic surveillance program.

UPDATE #2, 8/23/06: CNN has a comprehensive report here.

UPDATE #3, 8/26/06: An article from the Washington Times, July 17, reports that President Bush has been blocking Congressional attempts to review the program.


Link: Pluto is demoted to a “dwarf planet.” The backlash begins.

August 26, 2006

The New Solar System

(Image Credit: BBC)

It seemed unavoidable. The media covered it extensively. We now have eight “classic planets” and four “dwarf planets.” But the BBC is reporting that politics, not science, was behind the historic decision. And, the definition itself is flawed. Anybody want a “Honk if Pluto is a Planet” bumper sticker? No kidding!