Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Saturday, October 08, 2005  


Richard III Society-15thCentury Life: Codpiece

At least two explanations are possible; one is physical and the other psychological. Henry VIII, like many men of his time, was afflicted with syphilis, and according to a Cambridge, Massachusetts anthropologist, Grace W. Vicary, the exaggerated codpeices contained medication for the relief from the symptoms. They enclosed a specialized bandage and protected outer clothing from being stained by the medicine.(10) Considering the widespread occurrence of venereal diseases during the Renaissance, the greatly enlarged codpiece as a huge protective device is not too far-fetched. A second possible explanation for the growing proportions of the codpiece is particular to Henry VIII himself. Although Henry lived long before insight into genetics brought to light the knowledge that males determined the sex of unborn children, he was very likely concerned with the image he was presenting to the other rulers of Europe. So much did his inability to beget a healthy male heir (his son, later Edward VI, was always sickly) weigh on his mind, that Henry VIII changed the entire religion of England. He could then divorce his wife and try again with a new wife. Henry VIII understood succession problems, having only come to the throne because his older brother, Arthur, died young. Ever conscious of his image, the exaggerated codpiece told England, and the rest of Europe as well, that his equipment could not be at fault. His syphilis, however, likely affected his fertility. Henry VIII will always be known more for his six wives than for his codpiece (which often entered the room before he did), but such is the fickleness of fashion.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:30 PM | link |

via The Register

Cryosat crashes into the sea

€135m firework
By Team Register
Published Saturday 8th October 2005 20:42 GMT

The European Space Agency’s latest satellite has broken up and crashed into the sea.

The €135m satellite, called Cryosat, blasted off this evening from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, aboard a modified intercontinental ballistic missile, called Rockot. But it went missing a couple of hours later, around the time it should have shot into final orbit.

Cryosat was supposed to examine the effects of global warming on the polar ice caps. Instead it did its own little bit for global warming as it plunged into the icy Arctic Sea.

In a statement this evening, The European Space Agency said that Russian authorities blamed the crash on 'an anomaly in the launch sequence'.

The second stage performed nominally until main engine cut-off was to occur. Due to a missing command from the onboard flight control system the main engine continued to operate until depletion of the remaining fuel. As a consequence, the separation of the second stage from upper stage did not occur. Thus, the combined stack of the two stages and the CryoSat satellite fell into the nominal drop zone north of Greenland close to the North Pole into high seas with no consequences to populated areas.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:45 PM | link |

via Sky News


An Australian Christian group has created a version of the Bible in text-speak so church-goers can spread The Word via mobile phone.

The SMS Bible changes the holy book's famous first line to 'In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth.'

posted by Gary Williams at 1:14 AM | link |

Wednesday, October 05, 2005  


Japan's Asteroid Sample-Return Mission Has Problems

By Peter B. de Selding
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 05 October 2005
10:11 am ET

PARIS — Japan’s Hayabusa asteroid sample-return spacecraft has lost the use of a second reaction wheel, forcing increased reliance on its chemical-propellant thrusters for attitude control and raising questions about whether it can make its planned asteroid touchdown in November, Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) announced Oct. 4.

Hayabusa, known as MUSES-C before its May 2003 launch, remains in a stable position 6.8 kilometers from its target, the Itokawa asteroid, now 305.9 million kilometers from Earth. Using two reaction control systems with the remaining reaction wheel, the probe is scheduled to continue scouting possible landing sites on Itokawa in the coming weeks.

ISAS said part of the mission — to take high-resolution pictures of the asteroid — almost is completed. The mission also has validated the performance of the on-board optical navigation camera, according to ISAS.

Hayabusa ground controllers must now alter their mission profile to conserve fuel burned by the unanticipated use of the reaction control system. The first reaction wheel failed in July. The most recent failure occurred late Oct. 2 Japan Standard Time.

If the original mission scenario is maintained, Hayabusa in November will perform what ISAS calls “touch and go” maneuvers — briefly landing on the asteroid, scooping up small samples and then taking off — before beginning its return voyage to Earth, with the samples, in December. Its arrival is scheduled for June 2007.

posted by Gary Williams at 4:12 PM | link |

via New York Times (registration required)

My Deep Sea Dreams

Published: October 5, 2005

Auckland, New Zealand

THE news last week that two Japanese scientists, Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori, had made the world's first observation of a giant squid in the wild was truly sensational. Working near the Bonin Islands, about 600 miles south of Tokyo, the two men photographed the creature, known in scientific literature as Architeuthis. For over four hours, with a camera suspended in the deep sea, they obtained more than 550 images of this 26-foot-long beast. Unbelievable!

I've dreamed of the moment when this elusive beast would be found. I promised myself that when someone achieved this seemingly impossible feat, that I'd sit down, uncork a bottle of wine and draw deeply on a cigarette, relaxing as Neil Diamond's 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' album played in the background.

And so last week, I got the opportunity to play out my dream. I sat there, quietly, calmly, hand alternating between cigarette and elixir, and let a decade of tension melt away.

You see, the giant squid has been my obsession for more than 10 years - ever since a fisherman phoned me up and asked if I wanted a dead one he had found. I often wonder where I would be today if I had said no. When he rather indignantly deposited the monster on the wharf in front of me, I was in shock. This was the biggest thing I'd ever seen. I knew it wouldn't quite fit on, in or around my car, so I borrowed a trailer, strapped it down, tentacles trailing over the trunk and roof of the car and proceeded to drive through town back to the lab, much to the amusement of passing motorists.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:47 AM | link |

Tuesday, October 04, 2005  

Comics Day

And Godzilla Takes To The Sky

posted by Gary Williams at 5:17 PM | link |

via ABC News

Trio win physics Nobel for shedding light on optics


Oct 4, 2005 — By Niklas Pollard

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Two Americans and a German won the Nobel Physics Prize on Tuesday for optical research giving extremely accurate measurements that could one day be used in deep space travel or three-dimensional holographic television.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prize to Roy Glauber and John Hall and Germany's Theodor Haensch for studying light and harnessing lasers to create a 'measuring stick' to gauge frequencies with extreme precision.

Such precision will one day be needed for 'navigation on long space journeys and for space-based telescope arrays,' the Academy said, while Haensch, the youngest of the winners at 63, said it could even lead to '3D holographic television.'

posted by Gary Williams at 10:32 AM | link |

via New York Times (registration required)9 Planets, or 12 Planets?The controversy became more desperate this summer when astronomers discovered a new object larger than Pluto orbiting in the Kuiper Belt at a distance of nine billion miles from the Sun. Michael E. Brown of the California Institute of Technology, its discoverer, has said it will be fine with him if Pluto is demoted to a minor planet, but, he argues, if Pluto is a planet, so is the new object, which he nicknamed Xena, making it the 10th planet. Last Friday Dr. Brown announced that Xena has a tiny moon, making it seem even more planetlike.

Brian Marsden, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, directs the astronomical union's Minor Planet Center, a clearinghouse for solar system discoveries, thinks that both Pluto and Dr. Brown's Xena should be called minor planets. He is one of those who support the idea of categorizing planets into groups. But according to Dr. Williams, other members of the panel have championed other ideas, for example, that planets should be larger than 2,000 kilometers (or about 1,250 miles) in diameter (Pluto is about 1,500 miles)

Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, of the Rose Center, who is not a member of the astronomical union committee, said the proposed naming scheme sounded a lot like the museum's system. He said, however, that the need to assign adjectives to the word 'planet' might mean it was time to retire the term altogether.

Asked what he would replace it with, Dr. Tyson said he hoped the geologists could come up with something and offered up words like 'terrestrials,' for balls of dirt and rock like Earth; 'Jovians,' for giant gaseous planets like Jupiter and Saturn; comets; and so forth.

Not only did the panel members disagree on the definition of a planet, at last report they could not even agree, it seemed, on whether they were making progress. Within the space of a few minutes the other week, I received one e-mail message from Dr. Marsden saying he was optimistic and another from Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington complaining that his morning e-mail gave him no sense that they were close to bringing the issue to a close.

In another e-mail message, Dr. Boss described the process as 'like trying to shovel frogs into a wheelbarrow - they keep jumping out again.'

posted by Gary Williams at 10:03 AM
| link |

via I Need Hits mailing list

Google And NASA Cooperating

October 4, 2005. Google and NASA have announced plans to cooperate on R&D activities in the fields of large-scale data management, supercomputing and the “encouragement of entrepreneurial space industry”. The cooperation plans also involve Google occupying up to 1 million square feet of office and lab space at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley.

This cooperation could make huge amounts of previously inaccessible information available to Internet users. Imagine being able to search and view data from the Apollo space mission via Google, or being able to view crop patterns or local temperatures via Google Earth. While Google engineers won’t get access to the NASA supercomputer named “Project Columbia”, they will be able to discuss supercomputing problems with the NASA engineers to assist their search engine and other technologies.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:59 AM | link |

Monday, October 03, 2005  

via Open Content Alliance (OCA) - Participate

A Call To Participate in the Open Content Alliance

Please join an Open Content Alliance (OCA) made up of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world, which will offer broad, public access to a rich panorama of world culture by building a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. By creating a growing archive of digital materials, the OCA will serve the combined interests of its contributors and the global community of Internet users. Contributors will donate collections, services, facilities, tools and/or funding to the OCA.

The contributing organizations support the following principles:

1. The OCA will encourage the greatest possible degree of access to and reuse of collections in the archive, while respecting the rights of content owners and contributors.
2. Contributors will determine the terms and conditions under which their collections are distributed and how attribution should be made.
3. The OCA need not be obligated to accept all content that is offered to it and may give preference to that which can be made widely accessible.
4. The OCA will offer collection and item-level metadata of its hosted collections in a variety of formats.
5. The OCA welcomes efforts to create and offer tools (including finding aids, catalogs, and indexes) that will enhance the usability of the materials in the archive.
6. Copies of the OCA collections will reside in multiple archives internationally to ensure their long-term preservation and accessibility to all.

The OCA will be administered by the nonprofit Internet Archive and governed by representatives of contributing organizations.

If you are interested in participating please write to oca at archive dot org.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:33 PM | link |

via New York Times (registration required)

Locked Away Forever After Crimes as Teenagers

Published: October 3, 2005

OCALA, Fla. - About 9,700 American prisoners are serving life sentences for crimes they committed before they could vote, serve on a jury or gamble in a casino - in short, before they turned 18. More than a fifth have no chance for parole.

Juvenile criminals are serving life terms in at least 48 states, according to a survey by The New York Times, and their numbers have increased sharply over the past decade.

Rebecca Falcon is one of them.

Ms. Falcon, now 23, is living out her days at the Lowell Correctional Institution here. But eight years ago, she was a reckless teenager and running with a thuggish crowd when one night she got drunk on bourbon and ruined her life.

Ms. Falcon faults her choice of friends. 'I tried cheerleaders, heavy metal people, a little bit of country and, you know, it never felt right,' Ms. Falcon said. 'I started listening to rap music and wearing my pants baggy. I was like a magnet for the wrong crowd.'

In November 1997 she hailed a cab with an 18-year-old friend named Clifton Gilchrist. He had a gun, and within minutes, the cab driver was shot in the head. The driver, Richard Todd Phillips, 25, took several days to die. Each of the teenagers later said the other had done the shooting.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:41 AM | link |

Sunday, October 02, 2005  

via Webcomics Examiner

The Artistic History of Webcomics

    A Webcomics Examiner Roundtable

With T Campbell, Eric Millikin, Shaenon Garrity, William G., Mike Meginnis, Bob Stevenson, Eric Burns, Wednesday White, A. G. Hopkins and Rob Balder; moderated by Joe Zabel.

Introduction by Joe Zabel

Even as we continue to look forward, we now have good reason to look back. This past summer, the first web-only comic, Argon Zark, celebrated it's 10th anniversary. And coming this winter, Antarctic Press will publish a 192-page history of online comics by webcomics wunderkin T Campbell.

T joins fellow commentators Shaenon Garrity, Eric Millikin, Wednesday White, Eric Burns, William G., Mike Meginnis, A. G. Hopkins, and myself to explore the artistic history of the form, by way of discussing a number of key figures in webcomics history.

The key figures are not necessarily the best cartoonists, the most popular (though some of them are), or the most influential. But they serve as 'keys' to unlocking the recent past and understanding it better. Their work helps to form a narrative of the past ten years. One of many possible narratives, to be sure, but a narrative we hope is revealing.

For Part One, our key figures are:

Charley Parker (Argon Zark)

Scott Adams (Dilbert)

J. D. Frazer (User Friendly)

Pete Abrams (Sluggy Freelance)

Brian Clevinger (8-Bit Theater)

Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston (Megatokyo)

Tatsuya Ishida (Sinfest)

Scott Kurtz (PVP)

Tycho and Gabe (Penny Arcade)

Scott McCloud (I Can't Stop Thinking)

posted by Gary Williams at 9:19 AM | link |

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