...ah c'mon. It's just a figure of speech. There's no need to get your knickers in a bunch. What do I care if you don't want to have a happy new year? It's no skin off my nose.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Saturday, December 20, 2003
It is as true to the original story as is possible for a film to be. The original was never intended to serve as a screenplay; Tolkien himself doubted that it could be adapted. But Peter Jackson and his crew did the impossible. They took a great story and put into a filmable form without losing the charm of the original work.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
I was reading an account on the NY Times site of last night's early showing of the movie. The Times has an entire page dedicated to the Lord of The Rings. A review of the new movie is there as well as of the two preious movies. But I scrolled down the page and found that they have re-posted their book reviews for the novels starting with Anne T. Eaton's 1938 review of The Hobbit.
After the press screening, I overheard several critics complaining about “the Neverending Movie” and “the Movie with Seven Endings.” (They’ll probably hate this “neverending review” as well.) There seems to be an inexplicable disconnect between some people and Tolkien’s style of tale-weaving. (One woman complained that she still couldn’t tell the difference between “Merry and Trippy.” Go figure.) I have no explanation, just sadness that their skepticism stands between them and so many rewarding metaphors and characters. Did they at some point outgrow fairy tales, deciding that they are valuable only as charming flights of fancy for the naïve?Off on a tangent, I suppose that what makes blogs so interesting is that they generally are written about subjects that the bloggers appreciate. No blogger feels as though he or she was dragged off to a "neverending story".
Overstreet gives ROTK an A+. He too laments the loss of such story elements as The Scouring of The Shire, but he also points out that much of the Lord of The Rings doesn't translate well to film. In addition, Overstreet notes that Tolkien had his doubts about the success of a screenplay adaptation of LOTR.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Is there more than one George W. Bush?
Bush Says He Could Support Ban On Gay Marriage
Posted by 11th Earl of Mar to Akira
On 12/16/2003 5:26:11 PM PST #10 of 10
Bush Appears to Open Door to Same - Sex Unions
Posted by KantianBurke to goldstategop
On 12/16/2003 5:26:08 PM PST #5 of 5
Jay Wrolstad at Newsfactor.com writes that Microsoft is reorganizing key Windows groups. Specifically, various engineering groups are being united under a single VP to advance the next version of Windows, codenamed "Longhorn". Longhorn is scheduled for release in late '05 or early '06. Analyst Laura DiDio of the Yankee Group is quoted as saying "The message from Microsoft is, 'We will do what we have to do to blunt the spread of Linux' ". However, one cannot help but wonder if MSFT will actually try to engineer a solution to the Linux problem (i.e. build a better product), or if they'll simply try to engineer better FUD.
Friday, December 12, 2003
This blog by Jeff Dillon is on the San Diego Tribune's website and it cover sci-fi topics. Dillon is obviously a sci-fi fan, not just a reporter assigned to the subject. And unlike a lot of reviewers I've seen in the past, Dillon enjoys what he sees. His reviews and other blog entries aren't the usual non-stop carping one can see elsewhere. His review of Return of The King contains what look like valid criticisms, but overall avoids the kind of tone you can find from other writers. No off-topic rants about how much money the films have made, for example. There is criticism of Jackson for cutting the "Scouring of The Shire" that is quite legitimate. It's also tempered with the admission that there are parts of Tolkien's novels that don't lend themselves to a movie script.
If you're a fan of sci-fi, I recommend a visit to this blog.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Briton Tony Martin, who was convicted in a UK court of defending himself against a criminal, has been given a new self defense tool: An air raid siren.
I'm not making this up.
OK... I can tell from that look on your face that you don't believe me; but it's true... all of it. Yes, a man was convicted for what would be a perfectly lawful activity in the US. He defended himself against two teenage burglars who broke into his home. One goblin got his ticket punched, while the other was merely wounded. In the US, this is called a "good shoot". A 16-year old and a 29-year old constitute a grave threat to a 54-year old man. But not only was Tony Martin arrested, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 5 years in prison. And on top of that, the wounded burglar is suing him!
Tony Martin is finally getting out of prison, after previously being denied parole. (Friends mocked the parole board saying that Martin was being kept behind bars because he poses a threat to Britain's burglars.) He's been threatened by local thugs and a wealthy neighbor purchased the siren as some sort of self defense device. I'm sure that the man meant well. After years of being told that defending your own life or property is somehow anti-social behavior, he probably didn't see how silly the gesture really is.
Of course, the siren will merely signal to all within earshot that Mr. Martin has been killed.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Saturday, August 02, 2003
The Northrup-Grumman Global Hawk spy plane is going into production. The Global Hawks that provided so much valuable intel in Iraq and Afghanistan were merely prototypes. These impressive spy planes can loiter for nearly a over a target at an altitude that makes them nearly impossible to target and hit with a SAM.
Some bad days lie ahead for the "evil doers".
Monday, July 28, 2003
Friday, July 25, 2003
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
"Hurricane" Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) and ten of her Democrat cohorts were caught on an open mic in Sacramento plotting to extend the State's budget crisis for political gain. Their conversation was picked up by a "squawk box" and broadcast throughout the capitol building.
Kinda reminds ya of Frank and Hotlips, don't it?!
Monday, July 21, 2003
James Swan documents some of our local stupidity in Bowless in Burbank. The Burbank city council has voted to ban bow hunting in the city. "So what" you ask? Perhaps you think that there's no where to hunt in the city. There is just such an area. The Verdugo Hills stretch from the Foothill Freeway south towards the intersection of the Ventura and Golden State freeways. This is the line of hills you see to the east of Burbank Airport. There are roughly 500 deer in those hills; more than enough to support bowhunting of the herd. There are also small game animals and coyotes to hunt.
The yuppies jogging on the trails (Appearently unaware that the mountain lions who moved into the area attracted by the deer like to chase things that run. They are cats, after all.) didn't like seeing bow hunters hiking into the hills. They whined to the city council, and the city council, in its wisdom, voted to remove the herd's top predator from the ecosystem. Not smart. Without their top predator, the deer will over-graze. When they start to run out of natural food, they'll move into people's gardens. More than a few will wind up bouncing off the hoods of the yuppies' Volvos and Lexuses. (Or would that be "Lexi"?) Of course, the lions will also move into the neighborhoods looking for the deer. But once they get into town, they'll realize that there are plenty of tasty dogs and cats. They may be small , but they're easier to catch than deer. Small children are even easier for lions to catch, by the way.
But none of that mattered to the city council. Deer are cute and fluffy and hunters are Neanderthals in the council's tidy, little world. Let's hope that the DFG or the courts straightens this out before too much harm has been done.
Friday, July 18, 2003
Here's the sit: Bush, in his last State of the Union address, mentions a British report. That report claims that Iraq tried to buy uranium from an African nation. At about the same time, the CIA had a letter, supposedly bogus, that mentions an attempted purchase of uranium from Niger. This letter and the British report are two different things. The Brits still stand behind their story. (The CIA's letter, BTW, has been tied to France.) In other words, there is no there there. Bush didn't lie, he didn't deceive, he did nothing wrong. The sequence of events is easily explainable.
So why isn't the Bush Administration making that easy explaination?
Enter the tarbaby. The Bushies are, if nothing else, slick politicians. Nothing happens in Dubya's White House by accident. I doubt that the clumsy handling of this controversy is purely accidental. Rove and company may be waiting for that last foot to get lodged in the tarbaby. He and Dubya have left a lot of hoof prints on people who "misunderestimated" Bush. This may be another example of them setting up his adversaries.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
But here's the most revealing quote:
Matt Nosanchuk, litigation director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control advocacy group, said there is no evidence that greater access to guns reduces crime.
Remember how anti-gun folks used to say that reducing gun controls would lead to "blood in the streets?" Now the best they can claim is that it probably won't reduce crime.
I guess that Sarah's minions realize that the "blood in the streets" thing needs actual blood in an actual street at least once to be effective.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Clinton's land grab attempt out here in the West was overturned. This was a sleazy attempt to use the Wilderness Act to seal off millions upon millions of arces of public land. The harm it did to logging is obvious. Loggers need to cut roads to get to their timber leases. But other suffered as well. There are pockets of private land surrounded by these wilderness areas. Owners were unable to build or, as I understand it, maintain roads to their property. Also, hunters and others use the roads to get into the back country. Letting the roads go to pot prevents people from getting at land that they pay taxes to maintain. What good is Public land if the Public isn't allowed in?!?
Monday, July 14, 2003
Friday, July 11, 2003
I've been trying to figure out the intricacies of Samba. We have two machines: This dual boot box and a Win2k only box. I could see that other box from Linux, but not the other way around. After a good deal of searching, I found
this page on a FreeBSD site. The suggestions here did the trick as did another page's suggestion that the Win2k box be set (in local security policies: to allow sending unecrypted passwords to a 3rd party SMB server. (We're behind a firewall, so security is less of a concern.)
...Oh yeah. I also added the Win2k box to my /etc/hosts file.
So why blog this? Blogger is owned by Google now. The more places this info is, the easier it is to search it out.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
One would think that a local story warrants greater coverage than an out-of-state story; however, one lunatic used a gun while the other used a sword. Will the Times hype the gun story? Or will they give it less coverage than the local story they relegated to the B section? We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see.
Ostensibly, Mulholland was there to tell why Wile E. "Gray" Davis shouldn't be recalled. With friends like Bob...
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Monday, June 30, 2003
Saturday, June 28, 2003
A professor at Oxford sent this missive off to a PhD candidate:
From: "Andrew Wilkie" email@example.com
To: "Amit Duvshani"
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: PhD application
Dear Amit Duvshani,
you for contacting me, but I don't think this would work. I have a huge
problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from
their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross
human rights abuses on the Palestinians because they (the Palestinians)
wish to live in their own country.
I am sure that you are
perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody
who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the
only UK scientist with these views but I'm sure you will find another
suitable lab if you look around.
It took chutzpah to write this and then complete stupidity to hit the send button!
Thursday, June 26, 2003
In another significant legal victory for the firearms industry, a New York appellate court on June 24 upheld a trial court's August, 2001 order dismissing a lawsuit brought by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer against gun makers. The appellate court said manufacturers of lawful and non-defective products cannot be sued for allegedly creating a 'public nuisance' when criminals misuse firearms.
From The NRA-ILA News Center
Another nuisance suit quietly bites the dust.
There's a lot of talk about the... um... mechanics of the acts involved. As a libertarian, I respect the right of people to do dangerous, immoral, and destructive things to themselves. It's your life; who am I to tell you not to ruin it? And since I don't want you poking your nose into my affairs, I ought to afford you the same courtesy.
However, I'm torn on the larger issue at hand: Should the US Supreme Court be telling the states how to run their affairs? On the one hand, I like the reservation of powers and rights embodied in the 9th and 10th Amendments. Governance in the US was intended to be from the bottom up; not the top down. On the other hand, I don't want things like gun laws written by the loons in Sacramento. In that case, I'd like nothing more than to see SCOTUS use the 14th Amendment to ram the 2nd down their throats.
The garmongous FreeRepublic thread on this is here.
Monday, June 23, 2003
I've been playing with Linux this past week. I loaded Slackware 9.0 onto a "new" harddrive. (It came with what was then a new machine; however, it was pre-loaded with WinXP so I stuck to my old drive with Win2k and all my stuff rather than messing with XtraProblems.)
Thus far, I'm impressed. It fired right up, and saw our home network. It's so much easier to monkey with things when the Google is available. LILO isn't happy with how I have the old Win2k drive installed. (Or perhaps Windows is broken.) But I can still see the drive so all my stuff's safely copied to the new drive. (I'll see if Grub can get the old drive to boot later.) For now, I'm having fun tinkering.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
The question of an illegal straw purchase was broached with a different, much smaller sample:
The researchers also made 20 follow-up calls to randomly chosen dealers and said they needed to buy guns for girlfriends or boyfriends because they were not "allowed to."
In 16 of those cases, or 80 percent, the dealers responded with unequivocal "nos," indicating that the purchases would clearly be illegal. In the remaining four cases, the dealers agreed to sell the guns, even though they indicated that they knew that would be illegal, the researchers said.
In other words, the percentage in the headline for "Dealers Willing to Sell Handguns Illegally" was off by a factor of two and a half, and that's assuming the sample of 20 dealers adequately represented gun retailers nationwide.
The original study from UCLA doesn't make the headline's claim, but the abstract can easily leave one with that impression. It does make the statement "Most dealers were willing to sell a handgun regardless of the end user", but one has to go digging to find out that in most cases, the dealer was being asked if they'd make a legal sale. Only a small percentage were asked about blatantly illegal sales. And of those, most in the small sample said "no".
Of course, one can brush off the Times as being only a little more reliable than the World Weekly News. When they start reporting on Bat Boy, let me know. I am, however, disappointed with the study's primary author, Susan Sorenson. I know Dr. Sorenson. And while we may not agree on firearms policy, I would have hoped for better. The study is sloppy and the results misleading. The study compared dealer behavior across jurisdictions. What's shady for one dealer may be perfectly legal for another. And in most cases, the dealers were asked if they would be willing to make legal transactions. (What a shocker; they were willing to do so!) Larger samples chosen on a per jurisdiction basis would have been revealing. Also, though I don't know what difference this would make, the study limited calls to dealers in large cities with more than 10 dealers. Los Angeles is mentioned as just such a large city, but there aren't 10 dealers in the city limits. Thus L.A. dealers should have been excluded. Should the handful of dealers in the nation's 2nd largest city have been included? Perhaps so, but the paper doesn't make it clear if they were or weren't.
All in all, the study confirms that gun dealers are willing to sell guns. Some, though we cannot say with any confidence how many, will sell guns illegally. In the same fashion, we can also guess that tobacco dealers will sell cigarettes; and that some small percentage will sell to minors. In short, some part of any population, like the population of gun dealers or tobacco dealers, will break the law. Most, however, do not. The study's claim that a Federal gun registry would solve the problem is unwarranted. Tracking transactions between law-abiding parties will not do anything to affect the behavior of those who break the law.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Monday, June 16, 2003
Out in the Mojave Desert, on what's now public land, is a cross. The cross was erected in the 1930's by a group of WWI veterans. They built it as a memorial to their fallen comrades. Back then, the rocky outcrop was in the middle of nowhere. Decades later, it's now part of the Mojave National Preserve. According to the ACLU, that makes it a Federal establishment of religion in violation of the 1st Amendment.
Why did this story catch my eye? Because I know the area where the cross is located. I had never seen it so I did a little research to find out where it is. It turns out that it's on a stretch of road that I've travelled before, though I never noticed it. There is, however, an individual who did, somehow, spot it from this obscure road. And this individual was "deeply offended" by the sight of it.
At this point, you might think that the "deeply offended" party is a local resident. That would explain how they noticed something that I so easily missed. That's not the case, however. The guy who filed suit to have the cross torn down lives about 3 hours away. He reportedly saw it while driving from Rialto, CA to Las Vegas, NV. But as I said, I know the area. He would have driven miles and miles out of his way on a dirt road to see the 6' tall cross in the Mojave.
For the moment, the cross is covered with a tarp. There was a Federal judge who ordered it torn down, but that order has been stayed pending appeal.
This morning, Dennis Prager had an interesting thing to say about Mr. Deeply Offended and his allies at the ACLU. He compared them to the Taliban. And he compared their wish to destroy this cross to the Taliban's destruction of the Buddhas at Bamiyan in Afhganistan. He said that both the Taliban and the ACLU were motivated by the same thing: Religious radicalism. And he's correct. Both are radical adherents to their respective religions; The Taliban to Islam and the ACLU to Secularism. Both seek to destroy anything that offends their religion. (And neither shrinks from vandalism, which is why I haven't said exactly where the cross is!)
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
I noticed something odd when I read this AP story
about Kentucky Governor Paul Patton. The Guv may have had his hand in
the cookie jar, and a few other places as well. But as I said, there
was something odd about the story; something missing.
There was no party affiliation mentioned.
I did a little more digging and finally turned up this UPI story.
UPI begins their piece with the words "Democratic Kentucky Gov. Paul
Patton has formally denied..."; nothing left to guess here! But this
UPI piece seems to be a rarity. Several local news outlets (WTVQ Lexington, Courier-Journal, Louisville, WAVE, Louisville) also fail to mention the Governor's party; something that would be automatic were he a Republican.
Using Google's news search, I looked up the terms "Republican governor"
and "Democratic governor". The former turned up 504 stories while the
latter only turned up 362 uses of the phrase. While this isn't as
dramatic a difference as searches of the terms "Arch-conservative"
versus "Arch-liberal" would be, it is still interesting. Reporters are
more inclined to identify GOP politicians by their party than they are
Democrats. Also, a quick glance at those stories that use the phrase
"Democratic governor" shows that in most cases the story was about
politics or elections; cases where one would expect to see party
(I've started this thread on FreeRepublic for discussion.)
Monday, April 14, 2003
style="font-weight: bold;">nervous feeling about Dubuya that I do.
Why the nerves? Because someone in the White House is href="http://www.charleston.net/stories/041203/wor_12bushguns.shtml"
style="font-weight: bold;">toying with gun owners by suggesting that the President would support the continuation of Bill Clinton's soon-to-sunset Assault Weapon ban. (I just can't
bring myself to believe that this come from the top. It just style="font-style: italic;">has to be someone else's idea of
"strategery".) Will we be seeing another one-termer named "Bush"?
This "strategery" is a horrible idea. Gun owners put Bush over the top
in 2000. That's not my opinion, nor does it come from the NRA, nor from
any other group seeking to make some political hay. style="font-weight: bold;">Bill Clinton gives gun owners the
credit for Gore's defeat. And he's right. Gore lost his home state and
West Virginia largely because gun owners feared his anti-gun policies. style="font-style: italic;">Had he won either of those normally
Democrat states, "chads" would not be a part of the American political
lexicon. Hillary(!), the presumed '04 Democrat candidate, will
need to pick up only one of these states to win. If Bush pisses off
enough gun owners, they simply won't vote. If they stay home,
especially in states like Tennessee and West Virginia, he's toast.
He'll go from conquering hero to one-term loser as quickly as his
Dubya, it's time to dance with the one what brung ya.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Helloooooo... IT'S A WAR!
People get killed in war. Some get taken prisoner by the enemy. The enemy doesn't necessarily play by our rules or follow our game plan. "Stuff" happens. It's to be expected.
Some of the Chicken-littles were, for some reason, expecting a cake walk. If things were going to be that easy, Bush would have sent Rumsfeld by himself armed with a baseball bat. No one expected this to be easy. Fast, perhaps, but not easy. Why? Because a considerable chunk of the Iraqi population have hitched their fortunes to Saddam's. If he goes, they're ruined. They've made their way in the world by torturing and oppressing their countrymen. They could find their necks stretched when this is over and thus have nothing to lose by fighting.
However, they will be overcome.
The stiff resistance in places like Basra and Umm Qasr are being led by Iraq's societal elites. They are, ironically, the most westernized group in Iraq. This is why they're able to function without command and control from Baghdad. But the troops fighting under them are not so westernized. They don't do well on their own; they need to be told what to do and when. When the Special Republican Guard and other Baathist elements in these pockets of resistance are taken out or their communications disrupted, the resistance will falter. The troops under them cannot function independently at those moments and are vulnerable.
These stories of Iraqi resistance aren't worth all the running around and screaming that some are doing.
Friday, March 21, 2003
Another reason why the cam may not be visible is that it could be damaged. Some stray Iraqi AAA almost hit it! The crew picked up the camera for a bit a moved it out of harm's way.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
MSNBC has been streaming that night-vision equipped camera in Baghdad. When I catch it running, I'll embed the player. Otherwise, I'll have the SkyNews feed running...
Update: I had just proofed the HTML code for this when the AAA started during this last raid. It's being reported that this was another "target of opportunity".
Update: I've switched over to SkyNews from the UK. When MSNBC re-establishes the link to the live cam, I'll put it back on.
Update: OK... so two players at once might be risky. Stop one if you have to!
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
It's official: The UN is an irrelevant "talk shop". (To borrow Tony Blair's words.) The UN has refused to live up to its obligations and the US must do the job of disarming Iraq "alone". (Just us and our 45 friends!)
This leaves me with a question that was at the back of my mind as I wrote last Tuesday's post. Perhaps Bush was doing a Br'ar Rabbit all along with the UN. Perhaps the purpose of the negotiations wasn't to give the UN one last chance to redeem itself. Perhaps the aim was to give it one last chance to hang itself. In any event, that's precisely what it did. The UN has proved what many of us have been saying for years. It's a paper tiger with lots of fierce words but no resolve. It's good at producing anti-Israeli or anti-American bluster, but little else. In short, it's a waste of US tax dollars.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
spitting-mad at George W. Bush about Iraq and the UN
"They should be mad?" you're asking. Yup. And not for a
reason you'd expect. There are plenty of 'em who are mad; mostly mad
that the war hasn't already started. They're mad because the Bush
administration keeps trying to get the UN to give Saddam his actual
"last" chance. (i.e. one where "last" really does mean "last"!) But in
actuality, Bush isn't trying to give Saddam one last chance. He's
giving the UN one last chance.
And that 's what should be putting a
twist in any conservative's knickers!
George W. Bush is making a heroic effort to save the UN from itself.
He's trying to make it relevant. Most conservatives think, correctly I
should add, that the UN has been the "Unimportant Nations" for quite
some time. It has been America's liberals that have been keeping the
life support plugged in for all of these years. Now, when a
conservative has a chance to kick the plug out of the wall, he's
greasing up the paddles to give the ol' gal another shock or two.
Here's the way things stand in the UN. We're going to kick the snot
outta Iraq whether the UN's bureacrats like it or not. This is an issue
of America's national security. UN votes don't matter here. We cannot
allow the Baathists to provide weapons of mass destruction to our
enemies. Period. UNproductive babbling not withstanding, America will
attack Iraq. It's just the right thing to do. The UN style="font-style: italic;">should be standing by a member
nation who's under attack, namely us. They're not. They're standing
with Saddam, Osamma, and the other aggressors. They're on the wrong
Bush is trying to lead the UN back to the right path. He's giving them
a chance to do what's right. If they can be led back, then the UN will
have been brought back from the grave, something that most
conservatives agree is not a desirable outcome. style="font-weight: bold;">
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Thursday, February 27, 2003
(Yes, FreeRepublic is really sloooooow today. John says that he's looking into it.)
Long story short, these 9 people made hundreds of phone calls to Washington (~1200!), sent hundreds of FAXes and sent thousands of emails... all on company time! (And before you ask, SirFishalot is an independent contractor using his own laptop and a cellular modem. As he puts it, he's stealing from himself when he's online; not the company.) This company has a very plain, easily understood policy on the use of computers and phones for personal business: DON'T! They also make it clear to their employees that they monitor the usage of these systems.
Now these 9 have plenty of free time to participate in the pro-Saddam demonstrations!
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Monday, February 03, 2003
in the comments about the loss of the Columbia:
What if... If you go to target="_blank">FreeRepublic.com, you'll find dozens of posts that
involve brainstorming about possible was the tragedy could have been
avoided. This is, I think, human nature. We want to fix things. The idea
that this was simply an unavoidable accident is unpaletable to many
people. No one likes that helpless feeling.
Granted, it's only been about 48 hours since the accident, but it's
looking more and more like damage to the left wing's thermal tiles was
to blame. About 24 hours after the launch, reviews of the launch films
showed a piece of debris striking the left wing. Worse still, it looks
like the exact point of impact may have been the gear well door. This is
a weak point in the wing; the worst spot to have a burn-through. href="http://qs240.pair.com/sfnvideo/sts107/030203e212_qt.html"
target="_blank" title="QuickTime needed to view clip">A clip of the
impact is here. This was about 80 seconds into the flight. If I
remember correctly, the shuttle is supersonic at that point. Even a
light object will hit with considerable force. The clip shows just such
a violent impact.
Back to "what if...". Some people have wondered why they just didn't
abort the flight. NASA maintains landing sites in Africa and Spain for
just such a contingency. The problem, as stated above, is that they
didn't spot the problem until the next day. They have a ~4 minute window
to bail out of a launch and land at a "TAL" site. "Couldn't they have
used the arm to look under the wing?" This mission didn't require the
arm. It was removed to save weight. "Couldn't they have spacewalked
under the wing?" This brings us to the $64,000 question: Even if they
could, what would they have done next? Assuming that they could reach
the underside of the wing without causing more damage, the shuttle crew
isn't equipped to repair the orbiter's tiles. (Though this leads me to
my own personal "What if": What if they had a thermally resistant
version of Bondo to trowel into a damaged tile.) Confirming the damage
wouldn't have saved the crew. There's currently no way to repair damaged
tiles in situ and no way to
protect the damaged area during reentry. Rather than surprise at the
unexpected loss of the orbiter and crew, we'd have all been treated to
the horror of knowing that a
crew was about to be lost.
accident caused by insulation breaking off of the External Tank, what
next? After the Challenger was
lost, NASA shut down the shuttle program for over two years. I don't
think that such a shut down is necessary this time. When the style="font-style: italic;">Challenger was lost, a "cultural"
flaw at NASA was to blame; they were grandstanding. They launched when
it was far too cold. NASA's "can-do" attitude had morphed into a
"must-do" attitude. That doesn't seem to be the case here. No one could
have known that the insulation would break off. And even if we all
wince at their estimate of the size of the gash in the tiles, there
wasn't anything that could have been done. There wasn't a cultural
failure as happened with the Challenger.
Thus there isn't a need for a protracted shut down. The bonding method
for insulation on the ET needs to be improved. Perhaps a
"better-than-nothing" tile repair technique should be designed. But
that's about all that needs to be done. NASA could be safely flying by
the time the ISS crew needs a ride home.
the time that the Challenger
was lost, my wife was working with the same material that went into the
boosters' O-rings. She and her co-workers all assumed that the launch
would be scrubbed because of the cold. They all knew that the rubber
became brittle at cold temperatures. They were shocked to hear that the
launch was going ahead.
Saturday, February 01, 2003
I remember Columbia's first flight. I was a senior in high school. The day that it returned to Earth, a friend and I ditched school to watch it land at Edwards AFB. That was back in the days before everyone started to think that shuttle flights and landings were mere routine. I still remember the way she looked high overhead when we all heard the twin sonic booms with two chase planes in tow.
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Monday, January 27, 2003
...From the SF Chronicle, of all places.
In the 1990s, the UN convinced the Bosnia Muslims that they didn't really need arms of their own; UN forces would be there to protect them. This is in keeping with the UN's view that "The spread of illicit arms and light weapons is a global threat to human security and human rights". By this, Koffi Annon means the types of arms we Americans recognize as protected by the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution. These are small arms that one can use to protect home and hearth. The type that the Bosnian Muslims surrendered to the UN.
The kind they could have used when the Bosnian Serbs rolled into Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.
Over 7500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys died there. They died waiting for the UN to come and rescue them. The Dutch troops assigned to protect the Srebrenica area never showed.
Now fast forward a few years. It's Fall of 2001. Four aircraft take off from East Coast airports. Their passengers are mostly Americans who've also been told that their Government will protect them in times of danger. They've been conditioned to think that active resistance to violence on their part is inappropriate. "Just dial 911." They've been told that fighting back against criminals will make things worse. They are all sure of this. And the 19 foreigners on board were all well aware of how the others on the planes were indoctrinated into this thinking.
The rest of that history we all know. We also know how one plane's American passengers realized, unfortunately too late, that they were responsible for their own safety. They realized that Government could not protect them and that action on their part would be their only hope. The passengers of Flight 93 fought back. They lost their lives in the fight, but in doing so, they saved an untold number of lives in Washington D.C.; including, perhaps, many in Congress who would have the rest of us disarm in the belief that Government will always be there to protect us.
Friday, January 24, 2003
Instapundit has a running catalog of "Axis of Weasels" comments. The phrase is growing in popularity. (Perhaps because it fits!)
BTW: The Scrappleface piece is hysterical!
Rumsfeld Sorry for 'Axis of Weasels' Remark
(2003-01-22) -- U.S. Secretary Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized today for referring to France and Germany as an "Axis of Weasels."
"I'm sorry about that Axis of Weasels remark," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "I
didn't mean to dredge up the history France and Germany share of
pathetic compliance with ruthless dictators."
The Defense Secretary said he was "way out of bounds" with the comments.
"I should have known better than to remind people that these two
nations--which live in freedom thanks only to the righteous might of
America, Britain and their allies--that these nations are morally and
politically bankrupt, and have failed to learn the lessons of history,"
he said. "It really was an inappropriate thing to say--you know, the
Axis of Weasels thing. I really should not have called them the Axis of
Weasels. I think it's the 'Weasels' part that was most offensive...you
know, when I said that France and Germany form an Axis of Weasels. Of
course, I'm so sorry."