More Engine Trouble

SS2_firing

Just hours after I wrote of Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket explosion, Virgin Galactica has suffered a similar fate. But this one has claimed at least one human life so far — the pilot — and the co-pilot is in bad shape. SpaceShipTwo apparently suffered an engine explosion moments after ignition, and after it was dropped from the WhiteKnightTwo mothership. This was the first in-flight explosion for the system, but there is a history here. [...]

Rocket Science

Antares_OS02

(In a conversation elsewhere, I responded to complaints about the “NASA rocket” exploding — and to suggestions that this stuff was not new technology and should be easy by now.) It was not, exactly, a NASA rocket. And it was indeed new technology. This was a launch contracted from NASA by Orbital Sciences, who have been having some trouble with their systems. Enough trouble to cause them to change the name of the rocket (from Taurus to Antares, kind of “anti-Taurus”) to avoid bad vibes/publicity/luck. SpaceX is doing rather better, so far. [...]

Old hands

450px-Judy_Garland_John_Hodiak_The_Harvey_Girls

I am older than most folks. I got into computers relatively early, and was making my living from computers full-time by the mid-1970s. While I am not big on social media per se, I did get involved with LiveJournal early on, and was one of its first lifetime paid users as it was rocketing into popularity (before MySpace and FaceBook and Twitter). So this recent XKCD strip was a bit poignant: [...]

Now Scoping Americans

YesWeScan

We are relaxing to the idea of every communication between us being monitored by a government that considers the other political party to be “enemies.” (Isn’t it odd that President Obama will talk about compromises with Iranian jihadists, but not with Republicans?) As has been revealed recently, NSA has off-shore sites making their gathering of email lists from Americans technically legal. So, despite recent court activity and supposed “executive actions,” this would not be affected: [...]

Bad Outlook on Privacy

To avoid government snooping into the contents of emails, many people use encryption. But if you use Microsoft Outlook, there’s a problem with this: Microsoft helpfully saves the unencrypted version of the email for the NSA before doing the encryption for you, according to this UK article: [...]

Soft storage

dna-double-helix-marc-phares

This article caught my attention, and combines my interests in bioscience, computer science, and Shakespeare: [...]

The Future of Torture

A thoughtful post from a friend of a friend has me thinking about the issue of torture. Is it permissable? Is it moral? Is it right? Not quite the same questions, and I wrote a sort of a rambling reply to her about a framework for considering this unpleasant topic: [...]

The Death of Music

Or at least, the death of the music industry is fort0ld in this article. While the author perhaps overstates the case in some respects, the concerns certainly seem valid to me. And it doesn’t take the usual angle of “the kids’ music is terrible” — he comes at this from a different direction.

A good [...]

High Voice

I was asked yesterday about the “surly bonds of Earth” reference in the post about Neil Armstrong’s death. There is indeed a story behind that and a very unusual young man.

John Gillespie McGee Jr. was born in Shanghai to a US ambassador, thus was American. His initial school was in Shanghai, “The American School” [...]

Neil Armstrong once again slips the surly bonds of Earth

Neil Armstrong, first human to set foot on another world, passed away today.

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