July 28th, 2005


Random Snippets

Random fact of the day: Warren G. Harding's middle name was Gamaliel. This leads me inevitably to the fight between Warren G. Harding and EVA-00. Which in turn leads to the fight between William Henry Harrison and EVA-02.

I'm starting over on the dragons; I've been doing some reading on taxonomy and cladistics lately, and I've realized that my approach was *all wrong*. So now I'm starting by describing dragons alive in historical times, and extrapolating from that their relations to one another, to construct the genealogical tree from the bottom up. Then I'll group them accordingly, *then* I'll start describing fossil dragons -- extinct clades, missing links, etc.

NASA is grounding the shuttle. Again. Because, just as with Challenger, they have yet to actually *fix* the problems that caused the Discovery explosion, and it almost happened again when Columbia launched. It's a tough problem -- on the one hand, Space Shuttles are complete deathtraps that never should have been built in the first place. On the other, repair missions pretty much require manned flights, so there's a lot of stuff not getting appropriate maintenance up there. My solution: give NASA's budget to the ESA in return for getting to assign, say, 10 percent of their mission goals. After all, the ESA is smarter, more efficient, and doing *much* cooler things than NASA. Look up solar sails and ion drives if you don't believe me; I'm too lazy to hunt up links.

The goal of the Shuttle program was to create a reliable, reuseable, affordable ground-to-orbit craft, which would serve as one of three craft involved in space operations -- the Shuttle (named that because it shuttled things into orbit -- get it?), the space station, and an orbital craft designed for space operations that never touched the ground. By the time the design committee was done, however, the Shuttle combined ground-to-orbit and orbital operations, vitiating the need for a space station. This through affordability out the window; in an attempt to bring it back, the design committee sacrificed reliability (meaning that the Shuttle is unsafe and needs a complete overhaul every time it's used, completely destroying whatever savings they achieved). The result is an unreliable, expensive, barely reusable jack-of-all-trades craft, and if NASA had been sane, they would have taken one look at the design and said "No freakin' way." Of course, hindsight is 20-20; I suspect nobody realized just how much jury-rigging and repair the Shuttle would need after EVERY MISSION, and how much it would therefore cost, until after the first few missions, by which time an enormous amount of money had been spent on the project, and admitting it was a bad idea would have meant NASA's death sentence.

About 1/6 of the time I go to OCRemix, this popup ad tries to install a program, which triggers the virus protection, which in turn causes someone from IT to come yell at me. It's *not* actually a virus, just badly written spyware (which I promptly remove) triggering a false positive, but they don't care. They have this really annoying "No-one outside of IT could possibly know what they're doing with their computers" attitude that drives me nuts. For example, we're not supposed to have Ad-Aware because they're afraid we're going to accidentally delete something important and wreck our computers (so I hid it); they won't let me download WinAmp until they've done a thorough study of it to make sure it's safe (read: they won't let me download WinAmp).... Jerks.