Links for Friday, 24 February 2012

NASA thinking about an Earth-Moon-Libration Point 2
Well it’s not quite Space 1999, but pretty cool nonetheless,

NASA is pressing forward on assessing the value of a “human-tended waypoint” near the far side of the moon — one that would embrace international partnerships as well as commercial and academic participation, has learned.

According to a Feb. 3 memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, a team is being formed to develop a cohesive plan for exploring a spot in space known as the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2).


Do you know what a Mainframe is? Well, NASA just shut down their last one


Even more Geek News:  Photos of Mars Landers from Mars orbit


Abe Lincoln (on a penny) to be used as a quick size comparison indicator on the next Mars Rover


NASA taking stock of Eart’s melting land ice
From the 2003-2010 observations,

The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep.

Yikes! That’s very unsettling news.

Yet, another report headlines us to the news that Earth’s Polar Ice Melting Less Than Thought. An excerpt (emphasis added),

Nearly 230 billion tons of ice is melting into the ocean from glaciers, ice caps, and mountaintops annually—which is actually less than previous estimates, according to new research by scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Further in the US News report researcher John Wahr states (wisely, in my opinion),

“Even with an eight-year estimate, it’s not clear how far into the future you can project,” he says. “A lot of people want to predict into the end of the century, but I think it’s too dangerous to do that … We don’t have enough info to know what’ll happen. There’s some ebb and flow to these things.”

Indeed, if anyone ever wants to sell you something now based on a prediction of what will happen 100 years from now, you’d better grab hold of your wallet (I think Michael Crichton said that). From the NASA news release, after they’ve admitted the same as the US News report, it reads,

One unexpected study result from GRACE was that the estimated ice loss from high Asian mountain ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually. Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in these high Asian mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually.


Imagine if you had some remodeling work done on your home and the contractor estimated it would cost $50,000 but the final bill came in at only $4,000? Well, of course you’d be ecstatic, but wouldn’t you also be wondering why the contractor was so inept? Or what if a stockbroker claimed an investment would return $50,000 but it only came back with $4,000?

Yet we’re supposed to based governmental subsidies, regulations, etc., all on long-range “scientific” esitmates that, quite frankly, are “dangerous” to do.

Space Shuttles, Manned Space Flight, and Concrete Boats

The Space Shuttle ended a 30 year run of launches, today, with its final launch at Cape Canaveral. Is this the effective end of government sponsored manned space exploration? Despite the euphoria of the 1960s, what with the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions geared to get us to the Moon before the Soviet Union, and along with it an implausibly fictional dream of exploring the universe, we are left with the potential prospect of sending robotic rovers to boldly go where no man has gone before. In 1967 we were dreamers: dreaming of Pan Am passenger shuttles, transporting people to operational Lunar Bases by 2001, or of moving past the speed of light to meet up with Vulcans in the 23rd century. Yet the laws of physics (and economics) are unmoving reality checks, and it appears that where no man will ever get to where no man has gone before.

Yet, despite the silliness of some of our predictions, hopes, and dreams over the past 50 years of manned space travel, I think it’s interesting to note the changes that have occurred between the first and last Shuttle launches. Consider that at the first launch of the Shuttle, in 1981, there were no laptops carried by the astronauts, indeed, there were no laptops at all! The digital cameras they now use to record images and video were also nonexistent. If an astronaut desired to carry a portable music device onboard in 1981, it would have been a Sony Walkman and it would have played cassette tapes. Of course, now an astronaut can slip an iPod in his pocket and carry thousands upon thousands of songs. Or consider the changes in video conferencing, e-mail, cell technology, as well as the computer processing power needed for virtually all of these advancements.

Still, there is a sense of loss as we bid farewell to this part of our history – a decidedly 20th century aspect of history. Will the future of manned space travel move from government funding to that of private enterprise? If so, what are we to make of such a transition? It might end up that such a venture will be an example of how, save for political or national security issues, government is best left out of areas which private enterprise is fully capable of handling.

I leave you with a song, penned by Kate Campbell, comparing the building of a concrete canoe with the first end of the space program…

Bud’s Sea-Mint Boat
by Kate Campbell

He lived his life
A civil service man
Designing toilets
For the space program
He believed
If we could go to the moon
There’s nothing on Earth
A man can’t do

So he ordered a ton
Of sand and clay
In his front yard
He built a frame
Most folks said
It’ll never float
Still they came to see
Bud’s cement boat

A dream is anything
That you want it to be
For some it’s fame and fortune
But for others concrete
Sometimes you just
Gotta follow your heart
No matter where it leads

He gave up fishing
And most of his friends
Worked all night
And every weekend
But he didn’t mind
The sacrifice
Cause he’d build a boat
That’s one of a kind

Well the neighbors thought
It was a real eyesore
They’d say hey Bud
What are ya building that for
And knowing they would
Never understand
He’d just smile and say
Because I can

Well he got laid off
In seventy-four
And they don’t go
To the moon anymore
But down around
The Alabama coast
She still floats
Bud’s Sea-Mint boat

Rusty Nails (SCO v. 34)

NASA’s Spirit has completed its mission
After operating for over 6 years, for what was supposed to be a 3 month mission, NASA has ceased attempting to communicate with the Mars Rover Spirit. Quite an accomplishment for the space agency.


Billboard of a man holding a cut-out of a baby deemed “controversial”
Heaven forbid we should actually imply that an unborn child is, in fact, a human being.


Yet, is the pro-abortion crowd on the run?

The abortion debate will not go away. The fundamental issue at stake is not reproductive freedom but the desire to extend human rights to all — even the smallest and most vulnerable human beings among us. Those who continue to ignore or deny the humanity of the unborn are increasingly on the defensive because new technologies are opening the window into the womb. What we find there are not tissues to be discarded, but human lives worth protecting.


A good deed, punished


Words, and their meaning(s)
While the title of the article states, Immigrant drivers licenses will be on table for special session, the body clarifies,

The battle to stop illegal immigrants from receiving drivers licenses will continue this year.

Sleight of hand, or editor’s oversight?


Do we have the Facebook revolution to thank for this?


Little girls, playgrounds, and thongs… yes, those kind of thongs.

Rusty Nails (SCO v. 20)

Look at them yo-yos, that’s the way you do it
It would seem that Canada is, indeed, in dire straits.

I recall watching a movie, during the late ’70s, broadcast from a television station in San Francisco, California. Being from southern California, it was notable to me to see the difference in what the station owners allowed to be broadcast vs. what I was accustomed to at home (e.g., partial nudity, vulgar language, etc.). What was striking, however, was one instance where the use of “jeezus” as a curse word was left audible, while a derogatory term for a homosexual was bleeped out.


If we should ban 30 round magazines, because someone used one while killing six people
Then we should ban scissors, because someone used one to kill seven newborns.


The Glock ~ AIDS connection?
And, yes, the Glock cannot teach children (but, then, the public school system doesn’t seem to do that very well either).


Hey. What could go wrong with this sales promotion on January 17th?


Geek News: NASA Telescopes Help Identify Most Distant Galaxy Cluster

Global Climate Warming Change: it’s for the children

Despite the dire predictions of Global Warming proponents, the general public doesn’t seem to be quite so concerned. Rather, the economy, jobs, and terrorism top their list of priorities. Global warming brings up the rear, ranking 21st out of 21.

Even so, the folks at NASA have launched a special website dedicated to educating our children as to the issues pertaining to number 21 (perhaps with the hopes of raising it up a few notches).

Not to worry, though, if you have to put on an extra overcoat this winter. From the Washington Post, “This winter’s extreme weather — with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures — is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.”

We choose the moon

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, mankind’s first trip to the moon.

At, you can follow a virtual recreation of the entire mission, beginning at approximately 6 a.m. Eastern, 16 July.

Also, check NASA’s web page dedicated to the anniversary.