Monthly Archives: July 2004

Rockets into space

I've got to admit that I'm pretty happy that the first X-Prize attempt is scheduled for my birthday. That said, in some ways I'm more excited about the progress that the folks over at the Toronto-based daVinci Project have made. Rutan and his crew at Scaled Composites were given $25 million by Paul Allen. Now, $25 million isn't a lot of money in aerospace terms, but it's still a lot of money. They had tons of cash and a large team of industry professionals. No one is surprised they could do it.

The daVinci Project on the other hand, which is just up the street at Downsview airport, has built their spaceship for something like $350,000 Canadian (about a quarter million dollars USD) and almost exclusively volunteers. They're rolling it out next Thursday and are planning for a launch later this fall. If they pull it off, the money they spent to do so is a fraction of what Scaled has put into their ship.

I'm a big fan of these low-budget projects — my other favorite (although they're not Ansari competitors) is JP Aerospace who have been launching more and more impressive versions of their “inflatable” station (“Dark Sky Station”) which sits at about 120,000 feet up (and an airship takes you to it, and then you transfer to a second airship takes you into orbit itself). What's really cool about this company is that they've been giving away space for microsatellite-type experiments to local schools and so on.

Sceneskrekk Guerrilla Suspension

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Problems with food…

I've been reading a lot of books about canning, salting, pickling, root cellars, and preservation of food in general. One thing I find fascinating and disturbing is that the methods described do not work any more. Methods of preservation that worked fifty years ago are no longer viable — procedures that would in the past keep something fresh for the winter now sees the food rotten within the week. The old timers interviewed wrote it off as the weather, but I think it's more than that.

As you know, food these days, meats especially, are injected with an incredible amount of antibiotics because the conditions we create food in are so terrible these days. The end result of that is that food pathogens are incredibly strong and can resist almost everything nature can throw at it (since they've had to adapt to our high-power drugs)… so these days everything rots faster than fifty years ago.

Along those same lines, every once in a while people lecture me about how I can't be healthy as a vegan because I'm not getting B12 or Omega-3 fatty acids and so on, telling me that I have to eat animals to get that since humans can't “create” them… The punch line to that is that animals can't create them either. For example, fish get the Omega-3 fatty acids by eating algae. The reason I mention this is that on factory farms (and fish farms), the animals don't eat the source plants any more than meat-eater humans do, and thus don't have those vitamins and acids in their flesh, making them useless to humans.

Ah, the modern world. We're so proud of this luxurious monstrosity we've created, but it will eventually kill most of the life on this planet. Hopefully the next species to achieve market dominance manages their assets a little better than we did.

Speaking of things that are gross…

Q: What's that?
A: It's my foot.
Q: No, what's that?
A: I got frostbite.
Q: I know Canada's cold, but how did you catch
    frostbite in the summer?

First person to guess wins nothing but street cred. Well, not street cred, but some kind of cred.

Update: PistPunk got it right (first) when he guessed canned air.


As a point of trivia, you may find it interesting to know that the “suicide bomber” has a longer history in Jewish attacks on Muslims than the other way around, even though Islamic bombers is what we hear about most these days. Christians also used suicide bombs against Muslims (the Knights Templar loaded their own ships with bombs and crashed into Muslim enemies during the Crusades). The Japanese did it during WWII, and the Tamil Tigers, the Viet Minh, the Kurds, as well as other groups in Russia, India, all over Africa, Argentina, Columbia, and Panama have all used suicide bombers. Most of the “martyrs” have been well off and educated, a majority holding university degrees.

Anyway, I was reading this article about right-wing Jewish extremists planning to fly a plane filled with explosives into Temple Mount and destroying the Al-Aqsa mosque or the Golden Dome shrine and killing many in the process. Ignoring the part about “what a fucked up world we live in”, I thought though that the advertisements on the article were somewhat ironic:

Don't like the idea of suicide bombing? Well, Americans for Peace Now — End This Game Now! On the other hand, maybe you do like the idea. In that case, you can fly with the good folks at the Tehilim Hotline. Someone needs to write a better contextual ad placement engine I think, that determines not only subject matter, but positive/negative context.

PS. If you want real news, the 9/11 report is BS.