Friday, April 28, 2006

They Have Such Things?

Ok, Ok, I promised I wouldn't get political but I read this and was quite floored.

newly released portions of White House prayer logs show that Bush's praying has actually gone up in recent months

White House Prayer Logs!


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The world's first, certifiable, medical aphrodisiac:

“A dose of PT-141 results, in most cases, in a stirring in the loins in as little as 15 minutes,” reports Julian Dibbell, “Women, according to one set of results, feel ‘genital warmth, tingling and throbbing’, not to mention ‘a strong desire to have sex’.”
So, what is PT-141?
It’s an odourless and colourless synthetic chemical that you inhale deeply through a small, white plastic inhaler. The compound, produced by Palatin Technologies and currently undergoing regulatory assessment, is a melanocortin-based therapy that seems to work directly on the brain rather than simply stimulating the loins as is the case with Viagra.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jay Pinkerton Doesn't Care Much for Narnia

I saw Narnia on a flight from Atlanta to Seattle a couple of weeks ago. I was in the fron row and had some work to do, so I watched it with the sound off, peeking up occasionally to see what was going on.

I'm utterly positive that the dialog I made up in my own mind was a great deal more entertaining that whatever was actually said. OTOH, Jay Pinkerton actually watched the whole thing with sound and had this to say:

Narnia, on the other hand, is like the K-Mart discount bin of mythology. Every monster or creature you've ever heard of is incoherently tossed in with the animal kingdom, and now they all talk. I like fantasy as much as the next sixth level cleric, but the bare minimum for me is knowing the author gave his ridiculous shit more thought than I'll have to. Narnia comes off like a shitty Trapper-Keeper drawing by a twelve-year-old who plays Dungeons & Dragons and really likes the zoo. In one scene a pair of badgers have a conversation with Santa Claus, and in another a human on a talking horse does battle with the White Witch of the North while griffins divebomb centaurs, and your head’s just spinning from the random senselessness of it.

Yup, that was my sense of it. I also don't understand the giant ice dam which was causing it to be winter, but fell easily to a group of plucky teenagers. Some kinda metaphor or something...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Next Stop: Interstellar Space

This is an excellent article. Not much to add.

In a paper to be published as a chapter in a book on NASA ‘Vision’ missions this summer, Thomas Zurbuchen (University of Michigan) and a team of researchers discuss the specifics of powering such a probe by nuclear methods and find them wanting. The paper is so rich that I want to discuss several issues from it in coming weeks. For now, though, let’s consider the propulsion dilemma as seen by scientists running the numbers using existing technologies.
A solar sail gets you to the interstellar medium more quickly than the kind of chemical propulsion with gravity assists used by Voyager, but even so the task is daunting, requiring the probe’s escape velocity to be a factor of 3 greater than Voyager 1’s. And existing sail designs deliver speed but at a cost in payload weight.

NASA’s now defunct Prometheus project would have created a spacecraft too heavy and slow for a mission to the nearby interstellar medium — the Zurbuchen paper centers around a nuclear power source in conjunction with electric propulsion fine-tuned for the mission. For a variety of reasons, the best compromise between the various proposals seems to be the radioisotope electric propulsion advocated by Ralph McNutt and the IIE team.