Thursday, August 31, 2006

Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?

You live in Wisconsin you just miss out on some things. Like Femtroopers.

Ya, the armor isn't practical and it won't stop a blaster to the midsection. Like the male armour does ...

Update: Changed the title. That's what I meant it to be in the first place ...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Lesson to be learned

Who wrote this?

"Today we must strive for free immigration, liberty of commerce, railroads, the navigation of our rivers, the tilling of our soil, free enterprise, not instead of our initial principles of independence and democracy, but as essential means of assuring ourselves that these will cease being mere words and will become realities. . . . Our revolutionary wars sought to establish liberty from outside oppression . . . what we now need is liberty within. . . . Our leaders want both glory and liberty, and the two are contradictory. . . . As South America has contributed nothing to world civilization except its wars and the victory in its struggle for independence, the only glory which exists among us is martial glory, and our great men are all military heroes. Not a single invention like that of Franklin, like that of Fulton, like the telegraph, and many others which the civilized world owes to North America, has been contributed by our America of the south."

Juan Bautista Alberdi
- father of the Argentine constitution of 1853. Which document - according to this article, quoting from 'Argentina: 1516-1987' - was responsible for a liberal and economic bonanza in that country.

"By 1890 the British had inundated Argentina with an estimated £157 million of investment capital. The great symbol of the new British connection was a burgeoning railroad system . . . most of it in the hands of private British companies — over which were transported 10 million passengers and 5 million tons of cargo. Foreign trade similarly expanded: in 1861 total foreign trade, both imports and exports, was valued at 37 million gold pesos; by 1880 at 104 million, and at more than 250 million by 1889."

"Meanwhile, the nation's population increased from an estimated 1.1 million in 1857 to approximately 3.3 million by 1890. . . . Immigrants arrived in enormous droves: between 1871 and 1914 some 5.9 million newcomers, of whom 3.1 million stayed and settled. Altogether between 1830 and 1950 Argentina absorbed some 10 percent of the total number of immigrants from Europe to the Americas."

"By the outbreak of World War I Argentina had experienced almost twenty years of prodigal expansion. Per capita income equaled that in Germany and the Low Countries, and was higher than in Spain, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland. Having grown at an average annual rate of 6.5 percent since 1869, Buenos Aires had become the second city of the Atlantic seaboard, after New York, and by far the largest city in Latin America. . . . Except entrepôts like Holland and Belgium, no country in the world imported more goods per capita than Argentina. By 1911, Argentina's foreign trade was larger than Canada's and a quarter of that of the United States."

The Argentineans had proven Adam Smith correct. By using their constitution to strictly limit the power of their government to interfere with their economic activities, the result was one of the most prosperous periods people had ever experienced.

There was a coup, the economic good times came to an end. Nothing lasts, it seems. Why are people so damned determined to take a working process and scrap it in return for moonbeams?

Anti-Mopery for August 30, 2006

Anousheh Ansari

Iranian by birth, American by the Grace of Diety and soon to be the first Iranian woman in space.

All that and she's easy on the eyes. If you still feel down in the dumps after contemplating all of this there is just no talking with you.

Update: After some minor nitpicking by Mr. Simberg the world 'muslim' has been replaced with Iranian. He's got a point - ain't no evidence she is a Muslim. Which is sad considering how fitting it would have been but so it goes

First Iranian Woman to Orbit

It's fitting that the first Iranian woman to orbit - and the first woman to make a commerical space flight - will be Anousheh Ansari.

Immigrate, graduate with honors in a tough discipline, make your fortune and fly to space. If that ain't the American Dream for the 21st century I don't know what is.

Update: After some minor nitpicking by Mr. Simberg the world 'muslim' has been replaced with Iranian. He's got a point - ain't no evidence she is a Muslim. Which is sad considering how fitting it would have been but so it goes.

Ya, it's like that

It's like finding a twenty-dollar bill under a couch cushion.
A study by the economic-consulting firm Global Insight found that from 1985 to 2004, Wal-Mart's expansion lowered the consumer price index by a cumulative 3.1 percent from what it would have been. That produced savings of $263 billion in 2004, equal to $2,329 for each U.S. household.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina. Everything you know might be wrong.

I am not qualified to judge the facts in this post.

New Orleans was doomed with or without Katrina, we just didn't know it. A good high tide puts more water in the canal than this. As the video shows, the water was barely higher than normal levels. The walls could have failed on a decent high tide.

From the looks of the video the fact the wall failed when Katrina was approaching was really coincidence. Yes, Katrina was the "final straw" but so could any winds from the southeast. Or any given winter storm. (we often get winds out the south that "stack" the lake far higher than this.) Indeed these same walls held much higher surges in the past; that is, before they were undermined by seeping water for a year.

Ironically the same flawed walls are incrementally safer now. We'll never have water seeping under them for a year and nobody doing anything. The flaw(s) is still there but now we can compensate for it more effectively. The right answer, of course, is to replace them.

What I will say next will probably completely throw you. Katrina saved probably over 50,000 lives.

I just don't know. It's damned troubling.  Thanks for the link, Travis.

I have had enough of YOU!

File this under "Dubious But In A Better World It Would Be True"
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is being made to watch his appearance in cult cartoon South Park while he is behind bars.

Monday, August 28, 2006



You either get this or you don't. If you don't, no amount of explaining is going to make it funny.

Which is sad because this is pretty damn funny.


DriveTime: RoadTrip - Pacific Northwest

Ravi and Sonia from DriveTime came out to the Pacific Northwest for a wedding and spent a few minutes driving around Bremerton with Michael.

Ravi and Sonia continue their summer vacation and take a spin around the Bremerton, WA area with the creator of the LiftPort Group, Michael Laine, who gives an update on the development of the space elevator.

Yes -- space elevator.

The post-interview reaction is common. Before: You guys are nuts. After: Hey that is a cool idea.

Drink the Kool-Aid, Ravi and Sonia. Drink of it deeply.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

JVL-CON Report

Spent the weekend at JVL-Con, a smaller con held annually in Janesville, Wisconsin. Good times were had by the family - it's nice being at one of these smaller events where you can get to know everyone; indeed many of the guests were people we'd met at a previous con in Madison.

Guy had his briefcase ripped off Saturday. Found it hours later in the dumpster.
- Comic books
- Some really keen 20-sided dice
- Props for a live-reading of  Knights of the Dinner Table
Were found next to the briefcase. That eliminated the con attendees because we would have known better than to leave the dice or the comics.

Although the con had a small attendence, it had a big feel. Lots of people playing new games and sharing great conversations and ideas. One of the highlights included a stag version of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" to a karaoke machine. The studly dude sporting a nifty black kilt made it clear to his "bitch" that he would be happier without her. His version would have rivaled any competition. Later he even shared what little men wear under the kilt. Thanks, David, but that was just a little too much 'sharing'. Really.

Even though the attendence was less than expected, the art show and auction were quite successful. Over fifty SF books from the 50's went for a pretty penny. The Liftport panel was very low key and interesting. Several people showed interest and had lots of questions about the project. It was well received and generated a sense of excitement to those attending.

Like all cons, this one was full of colorful people, pretty ladies, and macho geeks. With the lower attendence it is safe to say that may of us left with new friends and look forward to the next time we can meet, bond, and conquer the universe.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Union of Plutonic States Contests Earthlings' Demotion of its Status

Union of Plutonic States Contests Earthlings' Demotion of its Status
No Retaliation Planned, But Planned Aid May Be Delayed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - FRIGEON, August 24, 2006/Plutonic News via Deep Space Net/ -- /The High Council of the Union of Plutonic States notes with the greatest disappointment that the inhabitants of the third rock from the Sun, otherwise known as Earth, have unilaterally declared that Pluto is no longer a planet.

"It is very odd that a group of university professors a billion klurchniks from here would presume to change the status of our home planet" said High Council General Convener Blanpik Vogonj. "Nothing is any different here, in spite of their unfortunate action."

Click here for full press release


This blog sits at the is a readable blog that covers the intersection of anthropology and economics. Yes, it sounds odd but it works.

I don't usually comment on or link to it - whatever I could add would be like a chicken making note of the production network she's in. Sure, she's involved and in the loop but her comprehension of how it all ties together - eggs, farmer, market - is limited by the fact that chickens are the dumbest damn creatures God put on this earth.

Maybe that's not the best metaphor.

At any rate he snarked on the French (specifically French culture) and snark I dig the way a chicken gets scratching in the dirt; it aint' much but it's part of my repertoire.
. . . let's face it, without the intervention of studio bosses, marketers, and investors, Hollywood would not be the cultural force that it is. More particularly, most films would look like Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, by Edelstein's account an act of self indulgence the first studio wisely abandoned by Disney.

. . . with the intervention of business, the world of movie making might be a lot more like film making in Paris, and for that matter, American culture a lot more like French culture. (And one shudders, absolutely shudders, to imagine this. We would all eat, dress, and vacation much better than we do...and American culture would be a pale shadow of its present self.)
We loose Rambo and Arnold but gain Girard Depardieu and Jerry Lewis. Sacre Bleu, non!

But that in turn reminded me a paragraph from Ralph Peters I have on my desk. Way back in 1997 - and it does seem like a longer time than a mere nine years would indicate - he wrote;

American culture is criticized for its impermanence, its "disposable" products. But therein lies its strength. All previous cultures sought ideal achievement which, once reached, might endure in static perfection. American culture is not about the end, but the means, the dynamic process that creates, destroys, and creates anew. If our works are transient, then so are life's greatest gifts--passion, beauty, the quality of light on a winter afternoon, even life itself. American culture is alive.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bellevue High School Robotics team needs your help

Kaiwen Gu from Bellevue High School recently wrote to Liftport
My name is Kaiwen Gu, I am a member of the Bellevue High School robotics club (In Bellevue, Washington). We are a group of diverse high school students who meet multiple times a week to learn about engineering and to work on problems involving technology. One of our biggest endeavors is the FIRST Robotics Competition, at which we have six weeks to build a fully functional robot to compete against other teams in complex challenges. Last year, we were ranked 5th out of 46 teams, and received the coveted General Motors Industrial Design Award.

Currently, we are running purely on donations to support the club. We need your support to keep this club running for this year and to be able to attend the FIRST robotics competition. Without your help, we will be unable to attend this event and this would be horribly disappointing to the many students who put their hearts and souls into this organization.
They're looking for corporate donations and machine shop space (what, high schools don't have shop space?). We're not able to provide a donation, but we're spreading the good word about a good cause in our neighborhood.

Because FIRST is important. You've got to get at kids at a young age to show them that science and technology are cool and nifty. Plus it's about robots and robots are cool.

BHS Robotics Team 949

I note that Team 949's web page lacks (to date) their contact information. I've got Kaiwen's email address if anyone wants. Or, you know, call BHS and ask for G. Kirkpatrick or J. Singh, Team 949 Advisors.

Good Heavens, Miss Sakamoto - you're beautiful!

From the Home Office at explosionland: Signs that the United States has given up on science
  • Space elevator loses research funding in favor of the much less complicated space staircase.
  • The particle accelerator at Brookhaven National Lab is being converted to a totally bitchin’ roller derby rink.
  • Prayer-based WiFi.
  • FDA approves cancer-curing mittens.
  • 78% of Americans amazed to learn that there is no Nobel Prize for Wheelies.
  • Tostitos Restaruant Style with a Hint of Lime presents: NASA.
  • President Bush repeatedly mispronounces “scientists” as “scientits.” Nobody corrects him.
  • Cancer-curing mittens recalled after people start eating them.


Propaganda in the modern age: what with 'many eyeballs' and experts everywhere .. it just doesn't work as well as it used to.

On the night of July 23, 2006, an Israeli aircraft intentionally fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. Or so says the global media, including Time magazine, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and thousands of other outlets around the world. If true, the incident would have been an egregious and indefensible violation of the Geneva Convention, and would constitute a war crime committed by the state of Israel.

But there's one problem: It never happened.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Penn and Teller: Bullshit! Gun Control

Bullshit! Gun Control.

It's pretty good - but I'm biased. I've always liked their schtick.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Anti-Mopery for August 22, 2006

Ya, it's too soon for another Anti-Mopery.

She's worth it.


9/11 Commission Report - in comic book form

One of the oddest, yet oddly compelling, things I've seen all damned day.

The 9/11 ReportA graphic adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón.

Start at page one.


Update: Perhaps it's a generational thing; comics are just another way to transmit information. They can be for kids, or very adult. Scrooge McDuck or Miller's 'Dark Knight'.

I've read the first chapter and damned if it doesn't pack a punch in a way that mere words on paper cannot. It is not something I was, frankly, prepared for.

American Soldier - 2006

Rocking with an IPod.

He gets points for looking cool but I'd tear him a new one for driving around with his ears filled with music.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island

The story of Easter Island makes a really good parable for our times. Hapless natives became so busy erecting mucking big statues that they ignored the fact they were chopping down their trees will-they nill-they. The last one came down and (holy crap) they'd run out of firewood. And boat material so they were stuck there. What followed wasn't pretty.

That story might be all wrong.

When I first went to Rapa Nui to conduct archaeological research, I expected to help confirm this story. Instead, I found evidence that just didn't fit the underlying timeline. As I looked more closely at data from earlier archaeological excavations and at some similar work on other Pacific islands, I realized that much of what was claimed about Rapa Nui's prehistory was speculation. I am now convinced that self-induced environmental collapse simply does not explain the fall of the Rapanui.

Good read.

Evolution Taught Humans To Cheat

Schlock Mercenary has taken an interesting turn starting with Book VI. We don't know, yet, how our Heros have come to be armed with only spears and wearing skins, but we do know that Howard Taylor is still pretty darn good with a punch line.

"Evolution taught humans to cheat"

I like that.

Anti-Mopery for August 21, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Popeye the Sailorman

I had no idea there were actual verses to the song ...

"Popeye the Sailor Man"

Copyright 1933, by Sammy Lerner

I'm Popeye the sailorman,
I'm Popeye the sailorman,
I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats my spinach,
I'm Popeye the sailorman.

I'm one tough Gazookas which hates all palookas
Who ain't on the ups and square
I biffs and I bops 'em, and always outroughs 'em
But none of them gets nowhere

If anyone dasses to risk me fisks
It's bops and its wham... understand
So keep good behav'our, that's your one life-saver
With Popeye the Sailor Man

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats my spinach,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sir Richard Branson's advice to entrepreneurs

The best business ideas in the world - August 1, 2006
I made and learned from lots of mistakes. In the end, the key is willpower. It's just really hard work to make sure you can keep paying the bills. But I do think one can have too much respect for bank managers.

When we entered the airline business, the very first plane Boeing sent over to us ran into a bunch of birds and lost an engine. Because it hadn't been delivered yet, the insurance didn't cover that, so we were $1.5 million down before we flew our first flight, which took the whole Virgin Group beyond its overdraft facility.

Two days later, as I returned from the inaugural flight, our bank manager was sitting on my doorstep and telling me that he's going to foreclose on the whole business if we don't get the money in by Monday - and that was a Friday.

So I had to scurry around like mad over the weekend to try to get enough money to cover what I owed, which I just managed to do. For most people, bank managers are a bit like doctors - they never leave them because they have too much respect for them.

By daring to be disrespectful, we went from having a $5 million overdraft facility to having a $40 million overdraft facility with a different bank by the end of that week. Where one bank was willing to ruin us based on the assets we had, another bank was willing to give us more credit.

There is a very, very thin dividing line between survival and failure. You've just got to fight and fight and fight and fight to survive.
Amen. I don't think this means you have to be deadly-dull serious (clearly Sir Richard is not) 24x7. Is it possible to have fun _and_ fight fight fight to survive? We'll find out.

Well of Knowledge

Arstechnica: AT&T Labs vs. Google Labs: not your grandfather's R&D

While AT&T may have shown some Business Week author a IPTV demo to pitch him on what the company is doing in the consumer services market, the company has by no means abandoned R&D. AT&T Labs is still open, and it still has multiple active research programs. In particular, AT&T researchers are working in the areas of voice recognition, network traffic analysis and shaping, the use of graphics processing units for nongraphics DSP algorithms, data mining, information security, wireless networking, and the list goes on (and on and on). The lab remains one of the largest and most productive in the country, in spite of numerous high-profile splits over the years and quite a bit of downsizing.

The real problem is that what AT&T is doing today is not your grandfather's R&D, and neither is the work coming out of Google's labs, or Microsoft's, or the labs of any of the other information economy wunderkinds.

As the author goes on to point out, this is a huge problem. We're drawing down a well of knowledge that we're simply not replenishing. I like to think - and perhaps it is a foolish idea - that a Microsoft or a Google* would fund a 'Bell Labs' because it's a benefit to the culture that enables them to be the success they are. Something like a small-business owner particpating in a neighborhood business action committe - the hours he spends making the area a better place to shop indirectly benefits him with - among other things - more foot traffic. Yes, that is simplistic and perhaps that's expecting too much.

*or, you know, Liftport circa 2020.  If we're going to go down that road - and committing to an idea like that might gain us some needed support - then we might be making a good start with the papers Tom Nugent (Director of Research) has written. Hey Tom - want to be running Lifttport Labs in twenty years?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Provider. The attitude is part of the package

Dreamhost. Sure you get hosting, but you can get that anywhere. Like your hosting served up with attitude?
On rare days we’ll receive messages that roundhouse kick us right in the moneymaker with their awesomeness. Today is one of those days.

These voicemails contain pretty tough language and are definitely not work-or-child-safe.

We’ve bleeped out phone numbers and email addresses to protect the enraged…(I didn’t have a microphone handy so I did my bleeping through the business end of a pair of cheap headphones.)

Angry Voicemail Part 1 - 144k .wav file

Wow! That guy’s really really mad! He gets as angry about spam as I did in oh, say, 1996.
Maybe all that threatening and yelling weighed heavily on his soul. It must have, because he called us back half an hour later, making sure to stress that he’s going to take us on LEGALLY. He’s going to kick our a$$ LEGALLY:

Angry Voicemail Part 2 - 478k, .wav
Lesson (re)learned. Don't say anything on a recorded message you'd feel foolish over if it were published in the New York Times. Or across the internets.

And the 'spammer'?
Hissy-fit notwithstanding, if there are spammers on our network we want to know about them! We did check out the email address he mentioned and it didn’t appear to be running afoul of our tough anti-spam policy. We’re pretty sure he was just on the receiving end of a few bounced messages with forged headers. And no, we didn’t call him back. As a general rule we don’t return abusive emails or phone messages.

Nifty people at Rivet

Kay Sterner, Web Editor at Rivet wrote to me - a long time ago - to tell me that a comment made on a post by Frank Chiachiere was being held until the site was redesigned.

I didn't expect much - redesigns sometimes mean the datbase is cratered in the process and it's just one comment - who would miss it?

She just wrote to say the redesign is done and the comment is now with the original article. Pretty nifty of them.


Why not?
Jefferson never wore a uniform in his life; Jackson was an excellent general who achieved national fame for his smashing victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. (It was, however, a militarily inconsequential victory, as the peace treaty had already been signed.) Most of all, Jefferson had been born rich and was cavailier, at best, about money. Jackson had been born very poor.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of it and the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag three people

I tag the disenfranchised, all you as yet untagged! And add this twist:

7. If not clearly stated, name the book chosen by the person who tagged you.

It's Dune by Frank Herbert.

And yes, 'Empire of Wealth was the first book my hand found, reaching down.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Futurismic: Questions, Always More Questions
It is in the nature of science that every new discovery or piece of data leaves you with yet more mysteries to solve, and cosmology is no exception to the rule.

Diety's way of making sure the species keeps leaving our old and tired habitats and seeking new ones. There is always more mystery over the horizon, and some of us will want to go and find out for ourselves.

Or a quirk of evolution. Darn useful either way.

Good read - Our new Magickal Generation

A worthwhile post

A Crafty Madness » Too good to be true
The thing is, too many of my fellow Americans aren’t willing to do this anymore — they don’t want any blood on their hands, messing up their fine opinion of themselves. They’d rather let the country slide into the darkness of decadence and slow disintegration than do anything that even threatens to give them bad feelings about themselves. The fact that they don’t believe that we can ever slide into the darkness of decadence and slow disintegration is part of their disease. It’s become all about the self-regard now. I’ll illustrate this with something that will at first seem rather unrelated. Weeks or months ago on some blog somewhere there was a discussion of tattoos, and an argument ensued between the people who were into tattoos and the people who were of the opinion that tattooing was a dubious if not immoral activity. The usual accusations of “lowlife!” and “puritan!” got bandied about, but what struck me was the comment of one woman who, concerning her own attitude towards tattoos (she liked them, and had some), stated “I’m a good person.” It occurred to me that this simple sentence was the perfect illustration of what has gone wrong in Western culture over the decades.

More at the link. Via

Monday, August 14, 2006


Monica likes Thomas Dolby.

Today's Comic

If only she were real .. and I weren't happily married. Hey wait - did I just confess a crush on a cartoon character?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Charles Shults and Robert Bigelow on 'Coast to Coast'.

Robert "Bigelow Aerospace" Bigelow and Sir Charles Shultz will be on 'Coast to Coast' with Art Bell tonight, August 13, 2006.
First Hour: Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow will discuss space exploration.

Aerospace and defense systems developer Sir Charles Shults will reveal the latest advancements in AI, virtual reality, and the dark side of nanotechnology.

Yes, Coast to the Coast - famous for shows on Area 51 and so on. And so? Art Bell is not dumb - he's in show biz. He found a shtick that works and he's entertaining.

A little bird told me that Sir Charles would probably have some words about Liftport. The last time I listened to Sir Charles on 'Coast to Coast' he was very knowledgable and clued in about space elevators so this should be listenable.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Liftport Concert Ticket

This is not a mock-up of a Liftport Tickets - they look better. This is just for fun.

Ticket courtesy Concert Ticket Generator.


Anti-Mopery - August 12, 2006

Anti-Mopery - August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006


How old is Michael Moore?
They sided with Bush, and for that, they may never enter the promised land.
P.S. Republicans -- sorry to leave you out of this letter. It's just that our side has a little housecleaning to do. We'll take care of you this November.
He sounds like a college freshman, high on winning some intramural spat at the school senate over a position that people will neither care, nor know anything about in ten years. "Ya, BITE ME you loosers - we WILL have organic coffee in the union. Nyahhhh."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ferengi Invasion

From MemeTherapy - why some alien invasions are not so bad.

Science Fiction and Fantasy author John C. Wright went to town with our last Brain Parade question. We hope this vision of the future doesn’t come to pass as it would pretty much wreck the planet but at least it’ll get wrecked in an amusing way.

Just in case you missed it here’s the question we put to John:

We apologize for the inconvenience, but the planet Earth is scheduled for alien invasion. Your species’ custom is important to us. Please leave a message at the tone indicating your preferred choice of alien invader and why.
Invasion by the Ferengi of STAR TREK NEXT GEN is next on my request list of wimpy, dorky invaders. The super evil evilness of the Ferengi consists of the fact that they are (gasp of horror, please) Yankee Traders. (This phrase is used twice by Lt. Data when they are first introduced). Getting Ferengied by the Ferengi is about like being robbed by a Robber Baron: in other words, a guy comes up to you and sells you something you want, like oil, steel, or computer software. He does it again and again until your economy is humming and you are rich. Then you complain about what a bum he is. It is true that they might try to sell you shabby goods. Caveat emptor.

Invaded by capitalists who make you rich. The horror ...

Nothing to do with Ferengi - this is one of the girls runing the Moonbase on UFO. Dig that hair.

By-Standing: The Beginning of an American Lifetime

Kelly Tsai sends out a poem a month in her newsletter. She is quite good.

By-Standing: The Beginning of an American Lifetime
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

I am no flower child
I do not brag my unshaven hair
or hold illusions about the wisdom of the East

I do not wave my fingers in a V to bid peace upon greetings
nor do I think the revolution alone would be enough to save us

My family would be more likely mistaken for boat people

I do not know how
the texture
of bobby socks
and poodle skirts
for eyes learning to refocus
on the blood of
Viet Nam Kent State
Malcolm X JFK

I’ve only read about these things.

I remember a third grade classmate
talking about the commies
And how blowing them up was a good idea

Crayola tanks Rambo-ing over stick figure carnage
Proud to grow up one day just like his father
A drill sergeant with a habit of hitting his mother

All I knew
was that none of this
seemed like a good idea

7th grade was
the first peace protest
I ever saw

Girls wrote,
“Make love not war”
in bubble letters
on poster board

The conflict
- we were told -
hardly outlasted our demonstration

I tied a yellow ribbon
to a safety pin on my backpack
to remember the soldiers
who went off to war

I didn’t know any soldiers then

In college, I joined the Army ROTC,
Learned to tie knots and assemble semi-automatic rifles,
Eat MRE’s and stop someone’s lips from turning blue

In class, a sergeant savored the memory of the food
And Cuban cigars during the invasion of Panama
And everybody laughed

That was the day I stopped ignoring
That our targets were shaped like humans
The words: chest, head, heart, brain, or life, were never used

Only the crackpots talked about killing openly
It was a grave thing, an unspoken thing

They taught us
Military history
Field exercises

They never taught us how to live with killing a man
How to erase the memory of his blood starburst on his body
Or the gun’s kickback in your hands

I was braiding my hair
In a hotel room in Lower Manhattan

When two planes exploded into the sides of two skyscrapers

We didn’t know what was happening

We called downtown and they told us to still be there by 10:00

We didn’t know what was happening

We slid through subway doors and
The metro lady said that there were fires
in the White House and the Pentagon

We didn’t know what was happening

The train stopped below downtown
And smoke started seeping in

We didn’t know what was happening

Every jerk forward and backward
Was hope and terror at the same time

We didn’t know what was happening

When the train pulled up to the platform,
We didn’t know what was happening

Walking up the staircase --
I had never been so happy to see sunshine in my life

In the sunshine…
We thought a bomb had dropped
Everything covered in ash
The masks over workers’ faces

Go north, they said

Keep walking

Go north

Keep walking

We didn’t know what was happening

I am annoyed at Americans all of the time
White activists begging us to come together
who forget why we are so often apart,
Starbucks addicts,
People who like khaki and sensible haircuts
Shorties who keep enlisting to earn discipline or money,
Political cowboys riding out anger and entitlement
People who think it’s hip to be radical
and don’t strategize, vote or do shit beyond talk,
My friends, my family, my lovers, myself
We who slip back into what our lives were like before
Making our convictions seem trendy

Yesterday, I went to go study “happy” people at Navy Pier
They don’t go to rallies or conferences
They don’t talk about war
They wait for a sunny day and go to Navy Pier
They smile beneath their sunglasses
They hold each other close
They eat ice cream that they paid too much money for
They take advantage of the opportunity to love
They are lucky and everyone in this world should be as lucky

Never, nowhere, anywhere: this is why no war.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Weapon of Choice

Walk without rhythm and it won't attrack the worm
If you walk without rhythm ah, you never learn

I wasn't impressed with the video when I saw it years ago. After reading this Day by Day Cartoon I dug up the video.   It's aged well.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I don't know if I 'get' it but I think I understand why Zed is grooving to it. No doubt age has something to do with it.

Weep for thy children believe nonsense

From the FPSpace list comes a link to a UFO spotted by an alert viewer of NASA-TV during STS-121 . . .
The following event was broadcast "live" to the public on NASA Select TV channel, available to many cable and dish TV customers in North America. On Flight Day 5, at 8:43 PM CDT the evening of 8 July (1:43 9 July GMT ) 2006, Discovery and ISSy were cruising high above Brazil. The INCO had the low-light black & white camera in Discovery's payload bay pointing to the west. In view were the western Amazon basin, as well as the Andes Mountains of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The crew were in their sleep period when all of this took place.

Several hundred miles/kilometers below, active thunder storms could be seen, and lightning was flashing randomly. It was then that SOMETHING very weird was seen moving under the cloud deck below. Subsequently, this object emerged from the clouds at very high speed, and appeared to shoot off into space to the east!

Due to the fact that the Shuttle/Station Complex was orbiting in excess of 220 miles (350km) above the Earth, this object MUST have been MANY MILES/KILOMETERS in diameter! This is one of the rare cases in which we DO have a frame of reference to judge the actual distance of the anomaly. This because the object rose FROM the clouds far beneath Discovery's camera.
Now we know why NASA-TV is so boring. So when those shockingly inept aliens screw the pooch and show themselves on TV - no one will be watching.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mars Rover - now with BLAM

Aidan got this for Christmas. A few weeks ago he and his little brother were assembling it - Aidan assembling, Cian playing with the bits as they came off the assembly line.

Cian picks up the Rover. First thing he had it do? The probe on the front was trans morgified into a laser gun and started blasting aliens.

We come in peace, for all mankind. But don't mess with Homo Sap; even our exploration robots are packing heat.

Why are the dinosaurs extinct?

They didn't have a space program. Nifty Japanese video of a largeish rock doing an extinction event on our home.

Extinction event with a large order of BLAM.

Via Horvath.

Adnan Hajj - speculation

Jeff has been blogging on Adnan Hajj's photoshopped imagery from Lebenon - very good posts Jeff -

He (Ace) goes a little farther than I’m willing to right now. [Oops. No he doesn’t. He goes further. Sorry, folks.] He says that this is an example of “willful blindness approaching connivance with co-conspirators.” If this were a competent forgery, one that would pass even the most cursory of sniff tests, I might agree with him. But it’s so obviously doctored, even to an inexperienced eye, that anybody who thought this photo would slip through unnoticed would have to be both malicious and incompetent. Malicious to want to participate in a fraud, incompetent to think that this scheme could ever work.

Speculation follows. Hajj has been doctoring photos for a little while now (indeed, Jeff blogged about a doctored photo of an F-16 after the block-quoted post above). He's been doing it, and doing and no one has caught him out. So he's in a hurry one day - deadlines you know - so he rushes the job. Why not? It's not like anyone at Reuters has noticed the good editing he's done so far so if you let the quality slip once or twice, what's the big deal?

It looks incompetent. It's down to sloppy work under pressure.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Anti Mopery for August 5, 2006

Good looking women, guns.

It is not the weapons they're carrying. A gun is a tool, nothing more. What grabbed my attention was the competance displayed. I adore competant women, so much so that I married one the second time around. Yes, I was too dumb the first time to realize what I really liked.

Image from here.
Via dff from Archenemy Blog.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I was nice to you in the comments.

Now will you please fix the *^%&*** error that has my databases down? I only really care about the ones running the Liftport Blog and Forums.

I admit that they are bugging me in different ways. The blog because it's important. The Forum, well it's important but there is another reason. It's configured so that everytime there is a DB error it sends email to me. Such errors occur everytime someone hits the Forum link and it's floding my inbox.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Wal-Mart employs what?
Maverick, K9, Global Security, Bentonville, Ark.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Explosive-sniffing dog. Pretty sweet deal, huh? Sniff a little this-and-that in the morning, then pass a lazy afternoon chasing tennis balls and napping in the sun. Well, it's not as easy as you think. It's hard work, man. It's tough being me.

I'm Maverick. And I work for Wal-Mart.
Explosive-sniffing dogs. Who knew?  Handsome dog.

Hey look - what's that?

Customers.  Well a customer.
In the shorter term, LiftPort has been casting around for ways to apply the technological building blocks of the space elevator scheme to more grounded pursuits. Laine said his company already has a client for the technology: Lightspeed Broadband, a wireless Internet access provider based in Port Angeles, Wash.

"These guys are actually going to pay for this system now, under development," Laine said.

Lightspeed's president, Jamie Aggen, told that his fledgling company hoped to use balloon-lofted signal relays to weave meshes of wireless Internet and voice-over-Internet services — initially across the Kitsap Peninsula, and eventually in other areas as well. Aggen said the system also could be used to facilitate "quick, early response to disaster areas," with last year's Hurricane Katrina devastation serving as a prime example.

Aggen said that Lightspeed currently has fewer than 200 subscribers in western Washington for its antenna-based wireless broadband services. But he shared Laine's hope that the technology currently being tested would set the stage for the company's expansion.

"He has a vision of going to space, and now we have a vision of deploying telecom," Aggen said. "We think it's totally achievable."

To harken to another pop reference . ..
So he picks up the boy and carries him through the compound, down semicollapsed hallways and over settling rubble-heaps and between dead Nipponese boys to that big staircase, and shows him the giant slabs of granite, tells how they were laid, one on top of the next, year by year, as the galleons full of silver came from Acapulco. Doug M. Shaftoe has been playing with blocks, so he zeroes in on the basic concept right away. Dad carries son up and down the stairway a few times. They stand at the bottom and look up at it. The block analogy has struck deep. Without any prompting, Doug M. raises both arms over his head and hollers "Soooo big" and the sound echoes up and down the stairs. Bobby wants to explain to the boy that this is how it’s done, you pile one thing on top of the next and you keep it up and keep it up—sometimes the galleon sinks in a typhoon, you don’t get your slab of granite that year—but you stick with it and eventually you end up with something sooo big.
It might end in tears or it might end with a something sooo big - but this is the way you do it.

Hooray for Drudge Work

Huzzah for documentation!
"Big Dig firm calls warning a fake"

…A Big Dig construction company denied yesterday receiving a memorandum that a safety officer said he wrote in 1999 warning that the Interstate 90 connector ceiling could collapse and said the document appeared to be fabricated.

The statement issued by Modern Continental Construction Co. is the company’s first public comment since a story appeared in The Boston Globe last Wednesday describing the document and the account of safety officer John J. Keaveney, who said he expressed grave concern about the epoxy-and-bolt ceiling system in May 1999…

documents indicate, for example, that workers did not begin drilling holes into the roof of the connector tunnel until June 10, 1999, so Keaveney could not have observed, as the memo states, that there was water dripping from the drilled holes in May. In addition, according to company documents, invoices for building materials mentioned in the memo indicate the materials were not delivered until July.

Modern Continental also provided the investigators from the state attorney general’s office with samples of the company’s letterheads, which differ slightly from the letterhead on the memo Keaveney asserts he wrote…

Nothing is more deadly damned dull than maintaining documentation and nothing will save your keister better than .. good documentation.

The doc department at Modern Continental deserves a raise and a few high-fives for being able to produce the documenation and (I assume) being able to demonstrate it was correctly read into the system and tracked so no one can plausibly say they made it all up.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006


If you are clicking here from 'The Shape of Days', welcome.  There isn't much to see here - I don't blog because I have a flair for writing - clearly I don't. I don't have an agenda, and I don't post funny krep.

Space4Commerce exists so I can post amusing (or not so amusing) things I run across.  Years ago this might have gone to a mail list of associates and friends - but I hate bugging people and fillng up their inbox so .. I blog.

But .. while you're here, head over to Liftport and see check out the latest doings in the niftiest little company in the space launch industry. Or as we might say "See Liftport for all your space luanch needs in 2018".

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

You Think Your Day Was Bad

I'm not sure where Harrell is going with this. Not long enough for a chapter in a paperback, just right for the internet. Compelling? It is that. Something like the old serials were like back in my father's day. Ten minutes of movie, then bang tune in next time for the latest exciting chapter of 'Untitled' or 'You Think Your Day Was Bad'.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five