Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

the irony of Benedict Arnold

One of the most surprising books I’ve read so far in 2008 has been Benedict Arnold’s Navy, by James L. Nelson.  General Arnold’s stellar performance in the northern campaign was critical in turning the tide of the war in the Americans’ favor, even at international game-changing levels.  His tireless service to country reached a peak at Saratoga, where he fought most honorably:

It has been pointed out often enough that if Arnold had died at the Battle of Saratoga – as, perhaps, he hoped – he would have joined that pantheon of Revolutionary War heroes […]

It seems a tragic irony that the man whose name is now synonymous with the word “traitor” in America was a first rate soldier for America, yet a two-bit bungler for the British.  Read Nelson’s outstanding history to know a much fuller Arnold story – his enormously positive contributions to our Founding deserve our attention alongside his misdeeds.

Apple taking business for granted?

I recently completed an 8 part series on how I buy music and audiobooks on iTunes Store (~95%) and amazonmp3 (~5%).  Using a common sense, fair use approach, I access and grow that collection on both my work WinXP and my home Kubuntu machines, using a Windows-formatted iPod as the sneakernet between the two.

The iPod I use to accomplish this is a 60GB iPod Photo, which (according to a wikipedia timeline) I must’ve purchased in late ’04 or early ’05.  I chanced upon this article yesterday which makes me question whether my approach will continue to work if I choose to buy a newer iPod.  If this is an intentional move by Apple, it certainly is a curious one.

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a one way ticket to Mars

Buzz Aldrin thinks the first human visitors to Mars should go there to stay.  Affirmative.  Yes.  Absolutely.  This is a very reasonable option that we should seriously consider.

I challenge anyone to name a single benefit of an ongoing risk-averse, toe-in-the-water approach to manned spaceflight.

Mimas the giant, Prometheus the Titan

Saturn continues to dazzle, and Cassini has the best seat in the house.

amazonmp3 usability feature needed by iTunes Store

To preview an album in the iTunes Store can take twice as many mouse clicks as the album has songs (1 play per song, 1 skip after each song).  amazonmp3 bests Apple on this one.

amazonmp3 Preview all feature

amazonmp3 Preview all feature

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

[…] The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

[…]For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

[…]And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
July 4, 1776

The American Founders unanimously pledged (in solemn prayer) their lives, fortunes, and honor to one another in this treasonous act against the British monarchy, a system in which liberties were awarded according to the will of a king.  The core foundation of the American way (unanimously deemed incompatible with the British way) was that rights were endowed by mens’ Creator (no middle man or men), and that among these rights was the pursuit of happiness.

Senators Biden and Obama subscribe to the philosophy that paying higher taxes is patriotic – that it’s the Federal Government’s job to “spread the wealth around.”

Senators Obama and Biden, your policies would most certainly represent Change, but not new change.  And I suppose you could call your tax policies patriotic.  But I’m an American patriot, not an 18th century British patriot.

I’m sorry, Warren Buffett…

…you didn’t get the job.  We decided to appoint Joe the Plumber as Secretary of the Treasury, instead.

new images of Phobos released

The European Space Agency (ESA) just released some great pictures of Mars’ larger moon Phobos taken by Mars Express over the last few months.  From the image linked at the bottom of this post, the snaking line of “dents” from the large crater in the upper center down to the dark crater in the lower left is most intriguing.  Surely the curving of this line can’t be an optical illusion caused by the hills and valleys on the moon?  Because I would think that secondary ejecta resulting from the larger Stickney crater (not seen in this new image) would radiate linearly outward from the larger crater?  Or perhaps these are sinkholes exposing a huge crack in the moon itself, possibly caused by the Stickney impact?  I’m no expert on the subject, but wow, what a visually fascinating moon!

north pole of Phobos from Mars Express

north pole of Phobos from Mars Express

better spent here on Earth?

Here’s another perspective on the bailout:  according to this table which currently shows budgetary numbers in 2007 inflation-adjusted dollars, it took NASA 45 years (1958-2002) to spend $700bn!  I’d defend NASA’s enormous accomplishments against that colossal display of Federally-driven fiscal incompetence any day of the week.

If there was any doubt before – no, your tax dollars most certainly wouldn’t have been spent better here on Earth.

Australia In Earthrise

Thanks to Bill over at Riding with Robots for linking up this breathtaking Earthrise, captured on September 30, 2008 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) and Japan Broadcasting Corporation’s (NHK) “KAGUYA” lunar orbiter.

Australia rising over the north pole of the Moon

Australia rising over the north pole of the Moon

This serene movie of the Earthrise is also certainly worth a watch.

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