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I read in Drudge today a link to an interesting article.

Smart PJs are storytelling pajamas, that use mobile technology, similar to a QR code, to display bedtime favorites on a smartphone or tablet.

Now, read the next section carefully.

The bedtime stories are contained in the polka dots on the child’s pajamas, which are available in pink or blue.

“You scan one of those dot patterns on the kid’s pajamas – there are 47 different ones – and each one of those dot patterns is a bedtime story,” says Murdoch.

To choose a story, parent or child launches the Smart PJs Stories app (free, in Apple Store for iOS, or Google Play for Android), and holds the device’s camera over the dot patterns.

“You take the picture, and it automatically launches the story,” Murdoch says.

Murdoch says most of the stories contained in the app are in the public domain.

“It’s all the classics,” Murdoch says. “Cinderella, The Gingerbread Man, Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty.”

Murdoch hired voice actors and artists to record the stories and illustrate the slides that correspond with the story.

Catch that? Go read Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age.

Ractors!

The story by Stephenson is about nanotechnology, where actors (re-actors) are hired to interact with people by acting out roles, and they have nanites embedded in their skin so their real faces can be captured digitally, and the customer can have whatever they want, provided the ractor is paid enough to do it. Actual live meatspace interaction need never happen.

A nano-designer is asked to create a bespoke device called “The Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” and then destroy the design. It was to be made for a rich man’s grand-daughter or niece as one of a kind but is stolen and ends up with a poor neglected girl named Nell, who is essentially raised by a ractor who begins to care for her as if Nell were her own daughter.

But the overarching story is that with nanologic or a sufficiently advanced Turing machine, one could raise a child using one of these devices whether or not there was a ractor. Maybe. The question the book leaves is: Is it good enough or is it better than nothing if it is not as good as the real thing?

It is at once a heartwarming story, a breathtakingly sad story, and a cautionary story. And worth every penny.

The second and third possibilities (sad and cautionary) are totally do-able, and the first can only come from someone who loves the kid.

How can one do that, make a connection, by letting a device read a story to one’s kid?

Note: Full and honest disclosure requires me to state that I am a total fanboy of Stephenson’s, so my bias should be noted. “The Diamond Age” is a must-read, regardless. Then go read “Snow Crash”, “Zodiac”, and “Cryptonomicon”.

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Well, since it is a serious post anyway, I would bring this up – who knew that Hitchcock would have done a documentary on the Holocaust?

I will probably see it since I have made it a point to witness many of the real evil things that men do, not Hollywood (but not all, there are some lines I draw, where I am incapable of seeing, especially when it comes to children). I don’t do this out of morbid curiosity or fascination, but I feel that someone has to witness these horrible things. Someone has to be able to say “Yes, I have seen it, it is horrible, and even if you cannot bring yourself to see it, know that these things exist, they are real, and should never be buried or forgotten.”

Too many people have forgotten, I think.

Sorry for the serious turn tonight.

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Well, maybe something to take your mind off the other stuff…

Man takes dive in snow challenge.

Heard about this today from The Butcher of Lansing.

I may have done a global warming dance in the snow barefoot but the skin of my feet is a lot tougher than my mini-me’s skin.

Talk about a life-changing lapse of common sense.

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Correlation can imply causation now and then.

It should be noted that if one does a linear regression on a graph of frequency of divorce vs. frequency of graphing things in marriage, the correlation coefficient is r = 0.87, where 5 graphs per day in a relationship leads, ultimately, to a messy divorce involving multiple lawyers, blunt character assassinations, and the sacrificing of many small animals.  I am declining to post the graph in order to maximize my odds of that never happening.

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We just got back from seeing a matinee showing of The Hobbit, Lemurita and I.  It was fun.  She only jumped and said “Ew” twice, once when she spilled Orange Crush on herself.

Lemurita and I both felt that the giant eagles totally Roc’ed.

Hackerboy and Cruel Wife stayed at home and played Lego Harry Potter.

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h/t to The Dude for passing on this pic of the day.

forever

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Warning:  RANT AHEAD

This has been in my “to-do” box for some time.  It’s a mention of how life has been… unfair… to Gen Y’ers.  See, apparently someone along the way promised them puppies, unicorns, moonbeams, Hope and Charge, and all of the perks to be found at Big Rock Candy Mountain.

American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals

Eighteen months and two busted jobs later, the daughter of a retired physician and a former editor at Vogue circled back to upstate New York and hunkered down at a small legal office that pays about one-quarter of her former $165,000 salary.

Hey, life is hard.  I was laid off a day after our honeymoon ended, eight months later moved across country away from family and friends, and found/took a job making peanuts after losing most everything we had.  If she was making $165,ooo a year, why the hell doesn’t she have a huge savings account stuffed with dough?

Generation Y professionals entering the workforce are finding careers that once were gateways to high pay and upwardly mobile lives turning into detours and dead ends. Average incomes for individuals ages 25 to 34 have fallen 8 percent, double the adult population’s total drop, since the recession began in December 2007. Their unemployment rate remains stuck one-half to 1 percentage point above the national figure.

So, life gives you some hard knocks and just years later the conclusion is that the American Dream has faded?

Geez, grow some… brains.  Wherever did the American Dream promise success?

“This generation will be permanently depressed and will be on a lower path of income for probably all of their life — and at least the next 10 years,” says Rutgers professor Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow at the university’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Professionals who start out in jobs other than their first choice tend to stay on the alternative path, earning less than they would have otherwise while becoming less likely to start over again later in preferred fields, Zukin says.

Guess what?  The world is populated by people who to a huge extent have lives that weren’t their first choice.

“I had a lot of faith in the system, the mythology that if you work really hard you can achieve anything, and the stock market always goes up,” says 2009 law school graduate Elizabeth Hallock, 33. “It was pretty naïve on my part.”

Yes, yes it was.

“It’s a generation that had really high expectations, in some part driven by the way they were raised by their boomer parents,” she says. “Yet in the past five years they have had reality slammed in their face by the employment situation.”

The legacy given by boomer parents has been comprised mostly of piss-poor assessment of reality.

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Bear with this posting  there’s some good nuggets of gold in it.

First, enjoy a kitten.  Sure she’s not quantum tunneling at the moment but she just had her shots.  I walked by her three times w/o noticing her because she blends into my jacket.  She was not phasing in and out but she was running about 3 degrees above normal.

urbancatcamo

Next, the remodel.  It is coming along.  Spaced Diode helped me rewire the upstairs with grounded circuits after Cruel Wife nagged and nagged and nagged.  “I don’t want anyone dying because there wasn’t a grounded circuit.”

Sheesh.  Like electricity is that dangerous.  It’s not like it has ever killed anyone or set fires or anything.

remodel-121112-2 remodel-121112

Next, enjoy some redneck wallpapering.  In the oldest part I cut out plaster and lath so we could get insulation in the walls.  Notice the wallpaper on the inside face of the outside wall, including the joists.  This sucker was an open wall and left long enough that wallpaper was deemed a good thing.  It’s like a bad episode of Redneck Rampage™.   It truly is as if a layer of purty paper protected these folks from whistling cold Michigan winters.RedneckWallpaper

 

None of this is designed to gain back readers such as Mitchell and veeshir, who are at this moment boycotting this blog because my retrieval of their remarks from Spam Hell is not quite fast enough.

Ask Cruel Wife if I am busy enough lately.

For grins, look at a mirror that I showed Cruel Wife at my company.  I simply call it “My Precious”.  Won’t tell you who made it, who they made it for, it’s exact specs, etc.   I will say it is 24″ x 18″ x 3″ thick, flat, honeycomb inner construction, and coated for multiple wavelengths.   All pictures were taken using while light back illumination but at different angles to the surface.  Same piece but a dielectric Reflectivity enhancement coating looks very different from all angles.  It’s complicated.

IMG_4506_small IMG_4514_small IMG_4503_small

So a co-worker gets ahold of the pics I took, fires up his copy of PhotoShop (Gimp, truth be told) and tweaks it… now My Precious is truly one mirror to rule them all.

Mounting to rule them all

Lemurita just watched LotR with me Sunday night, saw that last image and laughed and laughed and laughed.  That’s my girl.

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Walls have been torn down, electrification has been improved, half-walls of sheetrock has gone up, and we merely wait to fill the walls this weekend with light and fluffy gossamer down, mixed with goose feathers from foie gras geese and leftover fur from clubbed harp seals.

In the meantime, the kitten is growing, and she is a delightful little lady.

Kids are good and my daughter is displaying a wicked sense of sarcasm – AND – she watched LOtTR with me.   Pics tomorrownig of the remodel, of the kitten, and of a giant mirror (my precious).

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Election year 2012 is past it’s due date.  It’s like contemplating eating c-rations from WWII.

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Speaking of past it’s shelf life – here’s an older story but can you really put a expiration date on “weird”?

From the endless Coffers of Trivia belonging to Black Lab on Methamphetamines I give you… goldfish with tattoos.  Yes.  Goldfish with tattoos.

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This one will never get old unless you live in India and have to put up with puppies inside your body.  Thank you, FARK.

And it persists even though it’s likely that not one person has seen another give birth to a litter of puppies.  Maybe it’s a social taboo to witness your neighbor’s puppy-squeezings.

And again, courtesy of FARK…

Among the people who have worn hoodies and, therefore, according to Geraldo Rivera, are asking to be shot include Justin Bieber, Mark Zuckerberg, Rachel Maddow, Ellen Page, E.T. and Geraldo Rivera. Gentlemen, let’s lock and load.   -  http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/03/some-other-people-who-geraldos-standards-are-asking-be-shot/50261/

Ever since Al Capone’s Vaults, Geraldo Rivera has an approval rating from me that ranges well south of zero.

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Dated but not expired at all…

Well, a small instrument I had a hand in has gotten a new lease on life due to an extension of it’s parent craft’s mission – MESSENGER has been so frugal and reliable that they’re going beyond the original mission duration.  It’s not going to be crashed on Mercury just yet.  But that day will come (thought to be next year).  This is a spacecraft that has been in-transit from Earth since 2004, has orbited Mercury while being baked from the sun-side (big heat shield) and from the backside (Mercury is hot, damn hot).  In fact, the spacecraft is exposed to enough heat that the nice highly-elliptical orbit allows it to cool a bit.  Radiation, thermal cycling, deep space, launch (they are very violent)… and it is still working.  Kudos to the mission scientists and systems engineers.

MESSENGER completed its one-year primary mission on March 17. Since moving into orbit about Mercury a little over one year ago, the spacecraft has captured nearly 100,000 images and returned data that have revealed new information about the planet, including its topography, the structure of its core, and areas of permanent shadow at the poles that host the mysterious polar deposits.

The latest findings are presented in two papers published online in Science Express today, and in 57 papers presented this week at the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. Team members at the meeting will also preview MESSENGER’s extended mission, set to run to March 2013. The event, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CDT (1:30 p.m. EDT), will be streamed live on the Web at http://www.livestream.com/lpsc2012. Presentation materials are available online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/news_room/presscon11.html.

“The first year of MESSENGER orbital observations has revealed many surprises,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “From Mercury’s extraordinarily dynamic magnetosphere and exosphere to the unexpectedly volatile-rich composition of its surface and interior, our inner planetary neighbor is now seen to be very different from what we imagined just a few years ago. The number and diversity of new findings being presented this week to the scientific community in papers and presentations provide a striking measure of how much we have learned to date.”    JHU APL  (jhuapl.edu)

Ice on a 800 degree planet?  Heck yeah.  In a vacuum, too.  Next we’ll find that they’ve spotted sharks with lasers on their heads.  Equally fantastic.

The MESSENGER team has launched a free app that brings you inside NASA’s history-making study of Mercury – the first images of the entire planet, along with the detailed data on Mercury’s surface, geologic history, thin atmosphere, and active magnetosphere that MESSENGER sends back every day.

Now available in the iTunes App Store, “MESSENGER: NASA’s Mission to Mercury” brings users the latest news and pictures from the mission, as well as details on the spacecraft and science instruments, and offers access to educational programs and activities.

Circle the innermost planet aboard MESSENGER, the first mission to orbit Mercury. Examine a detailed view of the MESSENGER spacecraft and its science instruments, browse the latest news and images, or trace the spacecraft’s path over Mercury as it scans the scorched surface of the Sun’s closest planetary neighbor. Can you take the heat?   – JHU APL  (jhuapl.edu)

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I was going to do a rant on racism – and how those who cry against it suffer from it as well – but I don’t have the energy to entertain the blatant hypocrisy of the last week at this time.  Maybe later.

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Drudge obviously gets it….

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Note:  I apologize for putting this in such close proximity to the Furrier Transform  (Fourier Transform of a Cat) posting from yesterday, but I’ve actually been studying this thing for a week, and having massive geekgasm after massive geekgasm. 

A plan?  A Planimeter, that is.

While doing research for another Dr. Lemur graphic I was poring over photo after photo of old steam locomotive drive linkages.   It was then that I stumbled upon an instrument that (honestly) I had never heard of but the old Slide Rule crowd all seem to know quite well, the Planimeter.

Three moving parts.  The first pivot which can pretty much go wherever you want it is linked to an elbow of sorts, and connects to a second arm that has two things attached to it – a tracing stylus and a wheel that has graduations on it.  That’s it.  Simple.  You can make one out of Tinkertoys™.

What does it do?  If you are sitting, stand up.  If you are standing, sit down.  This is so freaking whackjob cool…

Why, it pretty much directly reads out the area within any arbitrary shape you can draw.  And here I thought that there used to be some crazy fellas in a basement calculating areas within a bound shape via brute force Riemann Sum methods (in 2-D, of course).  But one does not have to do that.

Think about that… two moving arms, a sharp stylus to travel around the outside of the shape you want to integrate in 2-D, and a wheel that tells you directly what said area is when you’ve traversed one circuit – but part of the time going along the curve C, the wheel turns, and part of the time it does not, but it still works.

The math is really… mathy.  The polar planimeter as shown above is easier to follow (if not easier to derive) but the linear planimeter math is cooler because it does a line integral thing.

I asked the resident mathy-guy, who I shall call DocJ, ran me through Green’s Theorem when I showed this to him and he walked me through why this thing works and if anything it was even cooler.

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I’ve cruised FARK tonight and my life is forever enriched by this:

On a flight she took from College Station to Houston in October of 2009, Colleen O’Neal says the turbulence was so bad as a result of the weather the plane banked from side to side and made dead drops in the sky as though it were losing power.

[snip]

O’Neal is now suing United/Continental and few other airlines in charge of the flight because  she can no longer fly as part of her job, as the trip gave her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“This does not just affect my ability to get on an airplane, there have been times when I’ve been driving down the road and I hit a pot hole and I have to pull over because I’m having a flash back,” she says.

Lady, you’ve got more problems than PTSD.

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It’s been a while since I read so much utter whinging as here at the Business Insider.

And, by the way, few people would have a problem with inequality if the American Dream were still fully intact—if it were easy to work your way into that top 1%. But, unfortunately, social mobility in this country is also near an all-time low.

If it was easy to work your way into the top 1%, everyone would be there, you schmucks.  (ok think about that for a minute)

So what does all this mean in terms of net worth? Well, for starters, it means that the top 1% of Americans own 42% of the financial wealth in this country. The top 5%, meanwhile, own nearly 70%.

Ok, stay with me on this one.  I have just one question:  So what?

This is really a lot like screaming “There are DUCKS in the POND!!!” hysterically.  Is anyone surprised?  Is it a crime against nature or just something you’d naturally expect could happen?  Is there some rule regarding this that is writ in stone?

That’s about 60% of the net worth of the country held by the top 5%.

Good God, you utter bastards.  How dare you own more than others?  Have you no shame?

And remember that huge debt problem we have—with hundreds of millions of Americans indebted up to their eyeballs? Well, the top 1% doesn’t have that problem. They only own 5% of the country’s debt.

Let us take a moment from the madness to breathe into the paper bag of rationality.  The average savings rate of Americans has been something around 1%.  I’m not claiming causation or correlation here, but are the two somehow linked possibly because of the soundness of judgment of the average individual?  Just sayin’.

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Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies say a 22-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the head while showing his girlfriend a handgun.

Deputies say Chaz Ursomanno was taken to Bay Front Medical Center early Thursday with life-threatening injuries.

According to an incident report, 24-year-old Naomi Ensell told her boyfriend to put the gun away about 2 a.m. Thursday. But he told her it was safe and put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire.

Deputies say he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger again. This time, it went off.

The man was unconscious when deputies arrived.

This is going to sound stone cold, but please tell me he didn’t reproduce.  In AP-speak apparently, “unconscious” really means “dead”.

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This is a fantastic idea, because if anything shouts “do me”, it’s a 300m deep structure built into what is basically a city build on a lakebed in a highly volcanically seismic area.  It’s like watching a redneck doing a Fourth of July celebration at a refinery.

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Yes, organic bloated roadkill is much healthier than dirty animals at a farm.  Man avoids supermarket meat for 30 years by eating roadkill.

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Mathy type things.

Well, not having ever taken the time to compute ƒ(meow) I couldn’t tell you how close the approximation in the graphic really is, but it’s plausible.  (Damn WordPress doesn’t have a decent Fourier transform operator symbol…)

Believe me when I say that the Fourier transform of my morbidly obese cat Jilly is the kindest and thinnest way I think we’ll ever witness her.

Below is the continuous Fourier transform in the general Euler form rather than the cosine/sine variation for even/odd functions that are initially easier to look at when trying to make sense of the whole thing.  If you took the transform of Jilly in the very most flattering light (basically a roundish DC signal) you’ll get a delta at zero frequency – razor thin.  She’s actually more of a long-ish single rectangular pulse so her transform will be sort of a central peak – but kind of spread out and lumpy, so I guess you could say she’s already been transformed.

Note: Euler knew what he was doing even if that e to the imaginary phase thing looks weird as all get out.

Note #2:  But by gum it works and it holds water after all this time.  Euler is one of my heroes, right behind Feynman.  Ask Cruel Wife, she’ll tell you.  Granddad was #1.

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The spacecraft is feeding back all kinds of great data and the instruments are working nicely.

I didn’t see Cruel Wife very much that year of working at the UofM so it is a very pleasant payoff to see the instrument working so darned well… You. Have. No.  Idea. … how tickled I am that the UofM’s instrument is performing so fantastically well.  It was a tense and cranky year when I was there but this made it worthwhile…

This, from JHU-APL…  read the lava part, which is cool, but the really cool part is the exosphere part.

 

Orbital Observations of Mercury Reveal Flood Lavas, Hollows, and Unprecedented Surface Details

 After only six months in orbit around Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft is sending back information that has revolutionized the way scientists think about the innermost planet. Analyses of new data from the spacecraft show, among other things, new evidence that flood volcanism has been widespread on Mercury, the first close-up views of Mercury’s “hollows,” the first direct measurements of the chemical composition of Mercury’s surface, and the first global inventory of plasma ions within Mercury’s space environment.

The results are reported in a set of seven papers published in a special section of Science magazine on September 30, 2011.

“MESSENGER’s instruments are capturing data that can be obtained only from orbit,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “We have imaged many areas of the surface at unprecedented resolution, we have viewed the polar regions clearly for the first time, we have built up global coverage with our images and other data sets, we are mapping the elemental composition of Mercury’s surface, we are conducting a continuous inventory of the planet’s neutral and ionized exosphere, and we are sorting out the geometry of Mercury’s magnetic field and magnetosphere. And we’ve only just begun. Mercury has many more surprises in store for us as our mission progresses.”

MESSENGER Reveals Flood Volcanism

For decades scientists had puzzled over whether Mercury had volcanic deposits on its surface. MESSENGER’s three flybys answered that question in the affirmative, but the global distribution of volcanic materials was not well constrained. New data from orbit show a huge expanse of volcanic plains surrounding the north polar region of Mercury. These continuous smooth plains cover more than 6% of the total surface of Mercury.

The volcanic deposits are thick. “Analysis of the size of buried ‘ghost’ craters in these deposits shows that the lavas are locally as thick as 2 kilometers” (or 1.2 miles), explains James Head of Brown University, the lead author of one of the Science reports. “If you imagine standing at the base of the Washington Monument, the top of the lavas would be something like 12 Washington Monuments above you.”

According to Head, the deposits appear typical of flood lavas, huge volumes of solidified molten rock similar to those found in the few-million-year-old Columbia River Basalt Group, which at one point covered 150,000 square kilometers (60,000 square miles) in the northwest United States. “Those on Mercury appear to have poured out from long, linear vents and covered the surrounding areas, flooding them to great depths and burying their source vents,” Head says.

Scientists have also discovered vents, measuring up to 25 kilometers (16 miles) in length, that appear to be the source of some of the tremendous volumes of very hot lava that have rushed out over the surface of Mercury and eroded the substrate, carving valleys and creating teardrop-shaped ridges in the underlying terrain. “These amazing landforms and deposits may be related to the types of unusual compositions, similar to terrestrial rocks called komatiites, being seen by other instruments and reported in this same issue of Science,” Head says. “What’s more, such lavas may have been typical of an early period in Earth’s history, one for which only spotty evidence remains today.”

As MESSENGER continues to orbit Mercury, the imaging team is building up a global catalog of these volcanic deposits and is working with other instrument teams to construct a comprehensive view of the history of volcanism on Mercury.

[snip]

Mercury’s Surface and Exospheric Composition, Up Close and Personal

[Other things were said here]

MESSENGER has also collected the first global observations of plasma ions in Mercury’s magnetosphere. Over 65 days covering more than 120 orbits, MESSENGER’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) made the first long-term measurements of Mercury’s ionized exosphere.

The team found that sodium is the most important ion contributed by the planet. “We had previously observed neutral sodium from ground observations, but up close we’ve discovered that charged sodium particles are concentrated near Mercury’s polar regions where they are likely liberated by solar wind ion sputtering, effectively knocking sodium atoms off Mercury’s surface” notes the University of Michigan’s Thomas Zurbuchen, author of one of the Science reports. “We were able to observe the formation process of these ions, one that is comparable to the manner by which auroras are generated in the Earth atmosphere near polar regions.”

The FIPS sensor detected helium ions throughout the entire volume of Mercury’s magnetosphere. “Helium must be generated through surface interactions with the solar wind,” says Zurbuchen. “We surmise that the helium was delivered from the Sun by the solar wind, implanted on the surface of Mercury, and then fanned out in all directions.

“Our results tell us is that Mercury’s weak magnetosphere provides the planet very little protection from the solar wind,” he continued. “Extreme space weather must be a continuing activity at the surface of the planet closest to the Sun.”

“These revelations emphasize that Mercury is a fascinating world that is unmatched in the solar system,” says Blewett. “We have barely begun to understand what Mercury is really like and are eager to discover what Mercury can tell us about the processes that led to formation of the planets as we see them today.”

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Universe Today has some neat stuff on MESSENGER/Mercury as well.  (h/t to Black Lab on Meth)

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And then one of my bosses sent me this article, too… Mercury is hot as hell and appears to match it pretty closely in the description, but it’s not quite as bad as Hell because Mercury doesn’t play Barry Manilow music.

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UARS Update

Update:

Oh for God’s sake will you pansies grow up already?

Young adults are the recession’s lost generation.

In record numbers, they’re struggling to find work, shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad, delaying marriage and raising kids out of wedlock, if they’re becoming parents at all. The unemployment rate for them is the highest since World War II, and they risk living in poverty more than others – nearly 1 in 5.

You know, my grandparents, my dad, and yes, even I – made long distance moves to get work.  Yes, I had to live with my family – as did Cruel Wife with hers after we were married – while I worked a state away and she finished up her degree.  But when there was work, we damn well moved to get it.

Seriously?  Shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad?  My granddad moved from Arizona to Oregon for work.  My dad was set to move from Oregon to California before he got called up to go to Germany for a tour.  Jesus, you simpering wimps, grow some.

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From a higher-up on the UARS foodchain came a link to UARS recently shot with a 14-inch telescope.

I’m kind of enjoying this stuff – knowing people who actually know people who know.  One of the bosses’ babies is on UARS, the HRDI instrument.  (pronounced “Hardey”)

And the NASA guys are saying that we won’t get the fireworks here in the US.  Damn.

I was listening to NPR (know thine enemy) a day or so ago when I recognized a voice of someone I knew.  I said “Holy shit-sucking leeches!” and cranked the knob as high as it would go.  It was Wib Skinner up at Space Physics Research Laboratory (UofM) talking about UARS.  They asked him where it would come down and he said (rightfully so), “It can come down anywhere between plus or minus 57 degrees”.   Yeps, that’s right.  Moderate inclination orbit – meaning the angle relative to the equator and it is one of six orbital parameters that describe the motion of an object orbiting another body – means that as it moves relative to earth it goes up and down across the equator in a sine wave motion.  They do that for coverage of more or less parts of the earth or body they orbit.

Messenger about Mercury is a high inclination orbit – 80 degrees.  They want to cover as much as possible and yet focus on certain parts in certain ways.

So, bummer, eh?  No chance to personally see UARS end in a blaze of glory while munching on a Taco Bell burrito or a bag of Doritos.  Or Cheez-its™ and braunschweiger (my favorite snack that I only allow myself to have once a year, on Christmas Eve).

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(h/t to Cruel Wife…)  Not that GM wouldn’t sell the data any way it could get away with on it’s own, but just think how Government Motors can use this data to track your every move.  Stop buying GM, folks.  They should have let them die in a free-market economy.  Would have strengthened the others and avoided still more intrusion into our lives.

Here’s GM’s new press release based on the scary situation – spin it, guys… spin it for all you are worth.

New Terms & Conditions

The following statement can be attributed to Joanne Finnorn, Vice President, Subscriber Services

“OnStar has and always will give our customers the choice in how we use their data. We’ve also been very open with our customers about changes in services and privacy terms.

Under our new Terms and Conditions, when a customer cancels service, we have informed customers that OnStar will maintain a two-way connection to their vehicle unless they ask us not to do so. In the future, this connection may provide us with the capability to alert vehicle occupants about severe weather conditions such as tornado warnings or mandatory evacuations. Another benefit for keeping this connection “open” could be to provide vehicle owners with any updated warranty data or recall issues.

[Or, it could be used TO TRACK YOU.  - LK]

“Of course, if the customer requests us to turn off the two-way connection, we will do as we have always done, and that is honor customers’ requests.

[Unless we decide we want TO TRACK YOU.  -LK]

“Our guiding practices regarding sharing our subscribers’ personal information have not changed. We are always very specific about with whom we share customers’ personal information, and how they will use it. We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party.

[But giving it away is possible because someone will always want TO TRACK YOU.  -LK]

Keeping the two-way connection open will also allow OnStar to capture general vehicle information that could be used in future product development.

[Or, it could be used TO TRACK YOU.  - LK]

“We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions. We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it’s apparent that we have failed to do this. As always, we are listening to our subscribers’ feedback and we will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns.”

[Like, perhaps suggestions that PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO BE TRACKED?  -LK]

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Good riddance to trash like this.  Dragging someone to death for skin color is unconscionable. The guy is a monster.

Dragging to death child abusers and predators?  Well, ok then… I’d like to see a judge hand down a sentence:  “Death by Dragging Until You Are Pronounced Dead, You Sick Bastard (or Bitch)”

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Odds are…

A guy I’ve worked with for more than a decade had a huge hand in one of the instruments on UARS – well, pretty much it is his baby.  What is amazing is that the instrument worked for something like 14 years.

So, 20 years after going up, it’s being borne out (once again) that what comes up pretty much must come down.  Assuming it doesn’t leave orbit, that is.  UARS never left orbit and now is going to leave orbit in the “down” sense of the word.  Towards Earth.

It’s a 6-1/2 ton ex-weather-satellite – the size of a bus – and it is coming down.

The scientist guys who are knowledgeable about this sort of thing got it wrong though.  They were off by A WHOLE DAY.  Everybody panic!  Damn you, rocket scientists, damn you to HECK!

Next Stop: Earth, roughly 10 feet deep. (Photo: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)

They say it has a 1 in 3200 chance of hitting someone.  Before you freak, it is a 1 in 3200 chance of hitting one of the 7,000,000,000 people on the planet (1 in 16 trillion).  So your odds are slimmer than getting struck by lightning at the exact same moment you win the lottery while having sex on the back of a rabid elephant with three legs.

I confess, the odds on the satellite are better.  Lifetime odds are 1 in 10,000 with lightning.  Rabid elephant over roughly that interval is 1 in 400,000.  Odds of winning the lottery (Powerball) are 1 in 80,000,000.  If you are married and have kids the odds of having sex anywhere… why it makes the whole thing vanishingly small.  Put your money on being hit with burning chunks of satellite, people.

The spacecraft will break into pieces as it plummets through the atmosphere, but not all of it will burn up in the heat of re-entry. One analysis of the spacecraft suggests that of its total 6 1/2-ton bulk, only 1,170 pounds (532 kilograms) will survive when it reaches the ground.  – Space.com

Read about UARS here…

One little dig I want to make here:

NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey confirmed with SPACE.com earlier today that the reason UARS is expected to fall early in its re-entry window is because of the sharp uptick in solar activity. Solar effects from the sun can create an extra drag on satellites in space because they can heat the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to expand, agency officials have said.   – Space.com

You mean, the sun can affect the atmosphere?  Like, global warming and cooling?  No… seriously?

Oh, for a good laugh, here was a person complaining about the very real space junk problem…

Child of Light (2 days ago)

Now if I was a man that lived in outer space; I would confiscate this satellite;from the earths governments; Like taking a Know it all, arrogant, Child’s toy preventing Him from hurting others with it. Thus preventing grave amounts of potential deaths and injuries; telling these world Governments they are irresponsible; risking many lives.
I would also act like the arrogant USA GOVERNMENT STATING: We find Its not necessary for you the peoples of this Nation; to know what is going on; Who we are; where we are from; what we have; you are not professional; or Knowledgeable at these matters; As Obvious by this situation; you are Lieing to your self’s about your abilities at this time ; and you do not have the resources as we do to handle situations of such; nor are you spiritually mature concerning these matters; and all you Government people of this world combined are not strong enough; or advanced enough to address the situation properly; showing to have the ability to prevent peoples from dieing from these type of unforseen events that will continue to happen. I know this Might sound imposing but Believe me its for your own protection; we see things that ye need not see; and we be places ye need not be; so go on with your Fuzzy little soft life’s; We are the Galaxy defenders; We are the men in Black ! GALAXY defenders ! OH YA GIVE ME YOUR MONEY FOR DOING THIS STUFF FOR YOUR BEST INTEREST !

Someone is due to have their dosages adjusted, I see.

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Lux sux.

Update:  More night photography.  Obviously I need a filter (an expensive one with lots of features, maybe two or three really nice top-notch jobbies just to be safe) for that lens flare but I liked the clouds.

To crop or not to crop...

Update 2:  Cropped, per Nicole’s suggestion.

 

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I have been hunting high and low for some alternative to the hated CFL’s.

Hey!  I know… there’s this thing called an incandescent ****ing bulb you congress-cretin misanthropes.  Oh, we’re not allowed to use those by fiat, huh?   So much for fiat lux.

So I’ve been hunting high and low and reading so many specs that are outright lies.   Outright lies.  My background is optics.  I know a thing or two about photons.  And I can say without a trace of arrogance (here, anyway) that if I am having a hell of a time deciphering whether the manufacturer means lumens, luminous efficacy, watts (for real), or apparent wattage replacement – and – whether they just made a boo-boo when their numbers don’t work out or if they told an outright lie, then… how the hell can the average person, without a great deal of hassle, tell what the frig they are looking at?

Prices are all over the map, too.  If you want a dimmable LED light you can pay $45 or you can pay $13.  You get what you pay for on the low end, I’m sure, but do you really get $45 worth of light bulb on the higher end?  I dunno.  Doubt it.

But I do know my cat’s butt is hanging 75% or better off the edge of his perch and I’m convinced that he can defy gravity;  At least my cat’s ass end appears to be lighter than air.

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Picture my upcoming Halloween project:  To make a pumpkin glow like the noonday sun.  While stuck on a pole.  While splashed with fake blood.  With lightly carved lines of agony on it’s face.

Last year I stuck a halogen worklight up a pumpkin’s butt and had a blast with the neighborhood oooh’ing and ahhhh’ing over it.  Problem was that the holes for the eyes and mouth were awfully bright and kids looking the pumpkin in the face were temporarily blinded.  But the yard glowed orange.

This year?  I want it to brilliantly flame orange.

I figure, and while a certain distinguished gentleman might have observed that my 2KW internal lighting scheme for the pumpkin might be a bit much, I have to forge ahead with the idea because if we screw this up, kittens could die.   It may scar some tender young psyches to see such a sight but if we save just one kitten, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.  I notice he didn’t argue very hard and kind of said “no” when he meant “yes, yes, yes, for the love of dog, yes” regarding the excessive-force approach.

As he noted, there might be… heat issues.  Cruel Wife thought so, too.

So I have pondered on the notion that forced air might mitigate heat-driven agricultural product failure (the squash FMEA chart is all angry-red looking and no green squares in sight).  I refuse to water cool or heat-pipe the sucker, though.

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A blogger I have come to respect, The Curtal Friar, got us into a pickle by coming up with a pretty darned good composite offensive name for a video game that should be made (and would be if I were king) along the lines of Tea Party Zombies Must Die (but in stark contrast to the philosophy implied by TPZMD).

You want to hear what he helped spawn?  Of course you do!  And if you can come up with something – some niggling little tweak- that makes the title of the fictitious game sizzle more than it already does then you will be a winner and your name will be read by literal tens of people.

Twilight Of The Undocumented Cheesing Gay Afro-Chinese Chainsaw-Wielding Diaper-Wearing Midget-Mafia-Zombie-Mime Stuttering Tea Party Apocalypse Priests From Tijuana

That gives me shivers right up to the point where my brain swells and shuts down.  No, I’m sure the title doesn’t make complete sense, but I’m not one to judge after looking at it and having so many brain-swellings today.

Update:  Speaking of “Twilight” – the source of the inspiration for the beginning of the above title – there really is too much importance put on that shite.  How does nature say “Lock her up forever and lose the damn keyThis is how.

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In the “We’ve Got New Stoopid Technology” category…

The fuel cell inside PowerTrekk is a completely passive system. Without fans or pumps, the fuel cell silently converts hydrogen into electricity via its Proton Exchange Membrane.

The chemistry process is safe, controllable and eco-friendly, and the only bi-product from the fuel cell is a little water vapor. To operate, hydrogen must be supplied to the fuel cell, and the fuel cell must be exposed to the open air.

The fuel cell charger is electronic waste and will be part of an industry program for recycling. The fuel pack is part of an industry program for reusing its materials and is made of coated can materials which prevent corrosion and leakage of chemicals.

Oooh, only a little water vapor!  Wow!  And, uh… where are you getting the hydrogen?  Oh, only a little water vapor and coal-originated carbon dioxide from the process to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen.  Oh, and only a little water vapor, carbon dioxide, and mercury from the coal burning process.

Wait.  You say there are multiple sources of hydrogen?  Really?

Since the hydrogen fuel can be supplied from several alternative sources, the system is “flexifuel”.

Ok.  Name them.  Tell me what they are.

Still waiting.

Ok, I read through their site to the point where I got really bored and I still get hung up on this part:

The chemistry process is safe and eco-friendly, and the only by-product from the fuel cell is a little water vapor.

I’m sure that hydrogen-to-electrons is safe and friendly.  I totally buy that.  Really, I do.   But I don’t believe that you’re getting a free lunch in getting that hydrogen, and I don’t believe that if you close the loop and account for where all that golden-chewy-nougaty-goodness absolutely pure energy came from, that all you spin off is a little water vapor.

But fine… if what we’re really talking about is a cool portable power source, like batteries, then that is totally cool, and in fact they are mega-super-cool.  I even think they’re pretty damned neat.  But please don’t spin it to make it sound like you are cheap-and-clean zero-point-energy-mavericks and the eco-paladins of the world.

I’m not saying the power packs are comparable to the CFL in any way/shape/form.  But the simple “don’t think so hard, trust us, apples and chihuahuas can be compared one-to-one” kind of ridiculousness is similar.  You don’t get to say “Hey, CFL’s are great because they use less wattage” when the total KWH from cradle to grave is much worse.  How we all got screwed by CFL’s.

Lighting expert Lucy Martin told the Daily Express, which is crusading for a referendum to pull Britain out of the EU: “The carbon footprint of manufacturing, distribution and disposal of a compact fluorescent bulb is far greater than the energy usage of a standard bulb.”

Really?  You don’t say…

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Keeping in mind that every technology is spun and nothing is free, this is kind of cool – transparent solar panels.

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If we’re going to keep coming back to energy, let’s go over to SOYLENT GREEN’s and look at the state of retrograde warming, shall we?   (pretty sure it was safe for work as of ten minutes ago)

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Deus Ex update:  If it were not for the boss fights it would be the best FPS, finally knocking the original Deus Ex out of the #1 spot after more than a decade.  But it has them so it didn’t.  Bummage.

Guns don't kill people. Compromised robots with guns kill people.

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taobmaetS ooGcM rightly guessed that not all has been well recently.

I’ve been working like a horse to make a project work for months and finally two scientists I work with flew out to make it work – plus a third scientist who we are collaborating with.  I felt some relief that surely with their help we would lick this problem, but at the same time it was with a different small amount of relief that after three days three absolutely brilliant scientists found nothing flawed with my work.  But, that also means that we still didn’t make it work.

I told one of them that I thought that what we have been thinking our diagnostics have been telling us about our laser is incorrect and that meant that no matter what we did we would not get the wee beastie working.  She agreed.  I said I needed to go home because I physically couldn’t do any more.

That (Friday) evening, just two hours later, I got a phone call from one of the other scientists telling me that I could opt to say no, but “Would you go down to Texas to build the instrument that you designed at a different facility?”

What the hell are you supposed to do, say no?

Without missing a beat I said “Yup, I will go.”  When I got surprise on the other end I said “Look, I’ve been killing myself over this and I damn well want to see it work.  I’m not giving up.  If it doesn’t work it won’t be because I didn’t give it everything I’ve got.”

So this week I fly down to Texas to try another group’s laser and equipment – let’s hope it works.

Yes, that has been A problem but not THE problem.  I’ve been over-exerting myself physically and for long enough that my neck has been telling me things were seriously wrong.  Friday last, it really told me.  I was in a vicious pain cycle to the point where I nearly had a co-worker take me to the hospital but managed to get it under control with painkillers before that became necessary.

Saturday was the real problem.  I woke up in the morning pretty bad off and took pretty much everything I could, but after an hour I was even worse.  I asked Cruel Wife to call the pain doc and have him call the ER ahead of us so they knew to not let me sit in agony in the waiting room for three hours like last time (that was a few years back).  Problems with going to the ER are (1) acute embarrassment even though you just want them to make it stop, and (2) there is nothing you can say that will convince them that you truly aren’t a drug-seeker, unless you have a decent doc like I have finally found who managed to pin down three discs that other docs missed.

I was lying there, pretty much writhing on the bed, when Cruel Wife came in and said “here, take these… the doc called in another Rx”.  Time ceases to have any meaning when you feel like that so it had felt like both years and moments since I’d asked her to call the doc.   I took them and within 15-20 minutes I was wrung-out but the pain was receding rapidly, and I was drowsy enough to fall asleep.  I stayed drugged up all weekend, knowing that I had to pack up and fly to Texas for three days and hoping that the rest and meds would allow my body to heal a bit.

I still feel kind of cruddy but better than I have been.

My apologies for not posting – it will be spotty this week, too, but I will be taking all of next week off.

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Well, damn.  Can’t say as how I blame him.  Makes you wish you could take the load off his shoulders though.  Through no fault of his own…

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People assume weather science can predict anything?  Well, isn’t that true if climate scientists can project global warming and climate change out to 100 years from now?

“People see that and assume we can predict everything,” National Hurricane Center senior forecaster Richard Pasch said.

But when Irene struck, the storm did not stick with the forecast’s predicted major hurricane strength winds.

“It’s frustrating when people take our forecasts verbatim and say, ‘This is where it’s going to be at this time and this is how strong it’s going to be,’” Pasch said. “Because even though the track is good it’s not certain.”

In other news, global warming is causing a rise in mental illness.  Hmmm.   I thought the latter led to the former.

RATES of mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress will increase as a result of climate change, a report to be released today says.

The paper, prepared for the Climate Institute, says loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

As many as one in five people reported ”emotional injury, stress and despair” in the wake of these events.

Damn, that is choice.

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In my school days, getting good or perfect attendance was expected and if you were skipping a lot of days it mean an ass-kicking at home.  Now, apparently, you get an iPod for doing what you should have been doing anyway.

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And here I thought Spice was a geriatric drug that gave you blue eyes and allowed you to fold space.  Well, it must do something if so many folks in the military (and elsewhere) are testing positive for it.  People don’t generally test positive for massive ingestion of talcum powder or carnuba wax because they don’t get you high.

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Okay.  That’s all I’ve got for now.

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