More Junkmail from Bob!Monday, May 9, 2005
Saturn MoonsSaturn now has 49 known moons. Three were discovered by the Cassini spacecraft, and 12 more were discovered by David, Jan, and Scott from the University of Hawaii and the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The 12 moons were discovered last September at Mauna Kea, Hawaii through an 8.2 meter telescope. The observations were verified and in January, February, and March, and the discoveries were announced last week.
Here is a list of Saturn's moons. Some of them orbit Saturn in .6 days, and some take more than 1000 days. 24 of Saturn's 49 moons are less than 10 km in diameter. Five have diameters more than 1000 km.
Here's a picture by Cassini of 3 of Saturn's "old" moons, Mimas (397 km diameter), Dione (1,118 km diameter), and Rhea (1,528 km diameter). Horizontal line in this photo is Saturn's rings on edge.
The image was taken in visible blue light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 15, 2005, at a distance of approximately 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Saturn.
Indecent TVCongress is planning to make stricter rules against indecency on television. This will apparently put an end to campaign ads.
Video CamerasThere are more and more video cameras all over. Some people worry that their civil rights are being violated, or that pieces of their soul are stolen when their image appears on the screen, or that "big brother" is taking over our lives. Some people like the cameras and the way they catch drug dealers, vandals, and tennis players.
Life on Europa?There may be life on Europa. Scientists are urging NASA to explore the moon of Jupiter, because it has water and heat, and especially because of 2001 Space Odyssey.
Giant GoddessWhat do you do with surplus mine tailings? Make a giant sculpture of a goddess, of course!
Careers at HPA guy named Mark went to Hewlett Packard and got a job. It seems like a pretty good job. Just for accepting the job, he got $2 million cash, plus $2.75 million "relocation allowance," plus a mortgage interest subsidy for four years, plus temporary housing for one year, plus stock options valued at $6.9 million, plus 400,000 share of HP worth about $8 million. That's in addition to his regular annual salary of $4.2 million to $9.8 million cash, plus $4.2 million to $12.6 million in "long term incentive payments" per year. HP also agreed to reimburse Mark for money he loses if his share in is former employer go down.
If I had any stock in HP, I'd sell it now. It seems to me that they've got some priorities mixed up.
But HP couldn't beat the deal David got at Honeywell in 2002 -- $60 million for signing up!
April FoolThis is a little old, but I'll mention it anyway. Iraqi intelligence was "dead wrong," according to a presidential commission. Yeah, yeah, that's not news. The funny thing is, this news report came out on April Fools Day. Now that's classy!
In other April Fools Day news, the Hubble Space Telescope will officially be "deorbited." I think that's a nice way of saying it's going to crash into the ocean, since it would be a little scary for the 24,500 lb satellite to crash into Bozeman, Montana or Locust Grove, Oklahoma. I guess they could deorbit the Hubble Space Telescope outward instead of inward, but that might cost too much.
IDNot long ago someone asked me, "Do you have any identification?" I answered, "Yes, my name is Bob Webster." This particular authority figure did not appreciate my answer. I thought it odd. I am normally identified by my name, so I answered his question correctly. Maybe it's because my real name is Robert. Anyway, he seemed a little (but only a little) pacified when I showed him my driver license.
I bought something at Best Buy the other day, and was asked for identification. I showed the lady my Sam's Card. She didn't like it, so I had to show her my driver's license. Last time I flew commercial, they accepted my Sam's Card two out of three places I was asked for identification. Next time maybe I'll just tell them my name.
Before long, my driver's license won't be good enough when I drive to Alaska, Canada, or Mexico. U.S. Customs is going to start requiring U.S. Passports for people to get back into the U.S. What if you don't have one? Will you be allowed back home? Yes, of course. But only after paying a fine of (I think) around $5000. I think the Customs officer can "mitigate" the fine down to about $500 if you have a good attitude, which naturally leaves me out.
In December of this year, you'll have to have a U.S. Passport (if you're a U.S. citizen) to travel to the Caribbean and back. A year later, you'll have to have a passport to cross the Canadian or Mexican border.
Just to keep everybody in line, the U.S. Government is adding RFID chips to passports. This will allow 64K or so data to be read from your passport by people with RFID readers. That's bigger than is this Junkmail (without photos). Some privacy fans don't like this.
Before long, I predict that your driver's license will have an RFID chip embedded with standard federal information that can be read by state and federal governments and non-governments.
Some privacy fans don't like this, either. This will be a way to effectively get federal IDs without having federal IDs. I'm not sure what people who don't drive will do.
It could make it easier when you buy stuff, though, because they'll be able to read all your information without even taking your license out of your billfold. It would be funny to put some fake RFIDs in there just for fun -- then they'd get some conflicting information.
Incidentally, RFID is a naughty word in government circles. The socially and politically correct term is "contactless chip." No self-respecting politician wants to be caught pushing for any kind of an ID. Since federal ID cards are bad news for politicians, they'll take passports and driver's licenses, make them bigger and better, and require them more and more places.
It makes me feel safe when politicians protect me.
Google supports idle time page prefetch for Mozilla or Firefox browsers. This means it automatically starts retrieving likely links in the background, as long as you're not already loading a page.
There were a couple of security holes recently found in Firefox. And update should be available soon.
The world went without Google for 15 minutes last Saturday, due to some DNS problems. Astronomers are still calculating the effects after the Earth stopped rotating while Google was offline.
The Ultimate RC HelicopterThe Boeing A160 is an unmanned helicopter. It has a range of 2,500 nautical miles, an endurance of more than 24 hours, top speed of 140 knots, and a ceiling of 30,000 feet. It's 35 feet long and has a max payload of 1000 lbs. I think that includes fuel. Its engine is a modified automobile gasoline engine. I'm not sure which one or how big.
Another UAV is the Wasp. It has a 13" wingspan.
PhishingA few weeks ago, Microsoft filed 117 lawsuits against anonymous phishing email authors. Phishing email is the spam that tries to trick you into giving up your passwords and secret code numbers.
I haven't heard anything since this announcement, and I got a few emails today like this asking me to update my account records at some banks I never heard of, so maybe their lawsuits haven't done much good.
"Dear LaSalle Bank Customer,
This email is to inform you, that we had to block your LaSalle Bank account access because we have been notified that your account may have been compromised by outside parties..."
Here are a couple of articles about Phishing:
Dayton is WirelessYou can have free wireless internet now in beautiful downtown Dayton.
Blue Light SpecialA 21-year-old guy named Eduardo got mad and quit his job at Kmart. Then he got some corporate forms on the internet and issued himself $145,000,000 in Kmart stock.
He deposited two shipments of shares (I'm not sure how many that is) in his eTrade account. Unfortunately for Eduardo, the FBI arrested him last September before he could sell any of his stock. Last month, Eduardo received a six-year prison sentence instead of $145,000,000.
Truth?Here's an article from the Russian newspaper Pravda about the U.S. "Pravda" is Russian for "truth." It may not be too accurate, but it does show the Russian government's official position.
No Fly ZoneA few weeks ago, a KLM flight took off from Amsterdam to Mexico City. The route took them to across the Atlantic, to Canada, across the U.S., into Mexico.
When the plane got to the Canada/U.S. border, they were ordered back into Canada. Why? Because the names of two passengers were on the U.S. "no-fly list."
So what is the No Fly list? It's a list of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. Ted Kennedy was on that list, which is understandable, but so are about 70,000 other people. I heard that number on the radio, anyway, but I'm not sure if it's correct.
The names and the number of names on the no-fly list are secret. In fact, the requirements to be placed on the no-fly list are secret too. There's way too much secret stuff going on there to suit me. Besides, if you're a terrorist, or a shoplifter, or a Democrat, why not just travel under a false name?
The War on LuggageA few Junkmails ago I mentioned that a lady named Esha had her bags blown up after being "mouthy and snippy" at the Phoenix airport.
The war on luggage made significant progress last month when a man with two suitcases standing near the Capitol was tackled and dragged away by police. His suitcases were destroyed by water cannon, although a three-hour investigation into the suitcases revealed nothing threatening. Capitol Police spokesman Michael said the man had not said anything to police beforehand.
The police defended their action, saying, "This guy was dressed in black!"
Spectators applauded as police dragged the man away. Senate Minority Leader Harry praised the police performance, stating "What they did to get ready to take that man down was extraordinary. We have the finest- trained police force of any place in the country."
I thought this was particularly funny because Nathan, one of Harry's aides, was arrested by Capitol Police during President Bush's inaugural address last January. Why? Nathan held up a sign that said, "No War."
Free Florida FuneralsIt's the job of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to manage emergencies. This includes paying money to victims of natural catastrophes that don't qualify for multimillion dollar civil suits.
Apparently FEMA is not very particular about who they give money to. Last year, Miami, FL was 100 miles from the nearest of the four hurricanes (Frances). The weather there was like "a bad thunderstorm." However, FEMA gave Miami people $21,000,000, $28,000,000, or $31,000,000 (depending on who and when you ask) for things like "new furniture and clothes and thousands of new televisions microwaves, refrigerators and other appliances."
Among other things, FEMA funded 315 funerals ($1,270,000) for people who died in the hurricanes in Florida. However, only 123 Floridians died in hurricane-related deaths last year.
FEMA has also been getting flack for hiring convicted felons, criminals, and other politicians.
Speaking of felons and politicians, it seems that after politicians are convicted of felonies, they become lobbyists. The Florida Legislature introduced a law to ban lobbying by convicted felons. Then a flood of notes and phone calls started pouring into the Senate chamber, lobbying against the law. That's funny!
Terrorist RobotTrinity College in Hartford Connecticut held the 12th annual Firefighting Home Robot Contest last month.
Some engineering students at the University of Evansville, Indiana built a robot for the competition. With all the hoopla and hysteria at airports lately, one of the team wisely called Northwest Airlines to make sure they could bring their robot. Northwest said, "No problem."
However, when Bruce, Chris, and James got to the airport with their robot, Northwest Airlines wouldn't let them on the plane. They were unable to compete in the contest. Contest director Juliet said no other teams had trouble traveling with their robots, including those from Singapore, South Korea, and Israel. I guess the Indiana Robots are particularly dangerous.
Laser TagThe North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has built seven laser turrets designed to shine light beams into small airplanes that fly around Washington DC without prior permission. Each laser is 1500 milliwatts, with a diffusing lens. They are safe at 10 or 20 nautical miles. I suspect they could do some damage up close, but NORAD doesn't say what the minimum safe distance is. Unlike bare lasers, one with a diffusing lens gets a lot less bright the farther it travels. NORAD says that its lasers are not as powerful as the ones you read about shining at airliners.
I think the terrorist danger from light planes is pretty minimal to begin with, and that this system creates more danger than it prevents. A pilot who doesn't know where he is in the first place is likely to get pretty flustered when laser beams start shining in his (or her) eyes. This in itself could contribute to a plane crash.
If a plane ignores the laser beams due to pilot ignorance, it is likely to get shot down. If this happens, it will most likely happen to a non-terrorist pilot guilty of little more than being stupid, along with some innocent passengers. Despite the paranoia around airports today, there are just not many terrorist pilots flying around the U.S.
Maybe it will keep Bush from having to take cover every time an errant plane or flock of birds flies by. I assume it must have been birds on April 27 that send Bush underground, because the Secret Service took shotguns to positions around the White House.
PoliticsIf you don't like the facts, either change them or hide them. That's a standard propaganda mode of operation. For the past several years, the State Department has published a report called "Patterns of Global Terrorism." This report shows terrorism statistics, such as the number of significant international terrorist attacks.
Last year, the State Department got into trouble because they cheated on the numbers. They had to rewrite the report and adjust the numbers -- they had to double the 2003 casualties for terrorism.
This year the numbers were so bad that the State Department changed the name of the report and took out the statistics altogether. Or maybe they thought the report would be more informative without statistics. The report is required by Congress, or they'd probably skip it altogether.
Here's the actual report:
Time TravelersThe Time Traveler Convention was held May 7th. If you intended to go and missed it, no problem -- just travel back in time a few days.
SpywareWant to know more about spyware? Read everything on this site:
ExcommunicationThe East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina has instituted excommunication for those who won't adhere to "Christian politics." After successfully giving nine people the boot, they're implementing the Inquisition to find and punish other political heretics.
Terrorist are Everywhere!The Department of Homeland Security spent around $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor the nation's ports, borders, airports, and mail service, they decided all that stuff doesn't really work. Homeland Security Boss Michael said, "It's no big deal. Just give us a few billion dollars more and we'll try some different stuff."
New ShuttleThe new NASA boss says he wants a new space shuttle by 2010 instead of 2014. They plan to retire the current shuttles in 2010. This is causing some dissension inside NASA. I think they shouldn't cut funding to other NASA programs and research, but they should get a new shuttle out soon. Maybe they can make one or two from the leftover Homeland Security screening hardware.
Project WedgetailBoeing is now using the 737-700 for radar platforms. Here is Australia's first:
The antenna is 35 feet long and weighs more than three tons.
Toledo 2005The Toledo Model Show was last month, and was in Toledo, of all places. I was really impressed with the electric-powered planes. The batteries and motors have improved a lot in the past few years. There are several electric planes that can even hover, pointed straight up.
Here are a bunch of model pictures from the show.
Air and Space, DullesThe Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is a really great museum. It's on the Washington mall. They made a new air and space museum near Dulles International Airport, called the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It's not quite as impressive, but it has some really interesting airplanes. Here are some pictures I took a few weeks ago:
BabelfishI sailed the Babelfish, a 46-foot catamaran, from Hilton Head, SC to Norfolk, VA. Here are some pictures:
If everything works out, My brother Mike, his middle kid Ken, Serge Bigotto, my baby daughter Melinda, and I will sail from Norfolk to La Rochelle, France in about a week. Well, we'll start in about a week. It will take a while to get there. My eldest toddler Brian and Katie Castoe are getting married on July 9. I hope we run into some land by then, or I'll be in big trouble!
For possibly-daily updates and contact information, go to http://xpda.com/babelfish. The site's not done yet, but it should be within a few days.
Pictures of Today!A wild animal at Huntington Beach, South Carolina:
An old cotton farm, North Carolina:
Trees, South Carolina
Trees, Pryor, Oklahoma
Hiking Cat (Sparky)
Three Pretty Leaves
The General Store in Birdseye, Indiana:
There was a lot of snow in Colorado last week!
(@) 2005, no rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of this fine tripe without prior written permission is fine with me. Copy the heck out of it!
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