More Junkmail from Bob!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Important Stuff.

Name that Fish

The Minnow won the ARC 2005! In the multihull division, after the motoring penalties were assessed, we came in first place. Well, I left a little early, but the boat won first place.

On the way we caught this fish. None of us know what kind it is. We're pretty sure it's not a tuna. Can anybody tell me what it is?

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Office 97

There is one very good reason to use Office 97 instead of later versions. No copy protection, activation, authentication, etc.

A few years ago I installed a copy of Microsoft Frontpage from a legitimate Office CD I own. Yesterday I installed some more memory in my computer. Today, Frontpage doesn't work. It wants to be activated. That would be fine, but it wants me to find my original installation CD.

I have several, don't know which one it wants, and it's a safe bet that it would quit working even if I hunted up my original CDs. I'll use Mozilla Composer for the web version of this Junkmail.

And I'm not likely to upgrade my Word 97, Excel 97, or Outlook 98 to a newer version of Office. I do not like for my programs to stop working just because Microsoft directs them to. I don't like having to pass an "honesty test" every time I upgrade my hardware.


Sony joined the ranks of spyware and trojan writers with its new copy protection scheme that violates Windows and privacy standards, caused some technical problems, and generated huge uproar in the computing community.

Sony initially said, "Oops, won't happen again. Here's a fix." But the fix was just as bad. Eventually they 'fessed up and trashed their copy protection. Naturally, this fiasco has attracted lawyers like a dead cow attracts flies.

Then Symantec got caught using rootkit technology. They just used a hidden recycle bin for their files. It's pretty benign, except that someone could write a virus to occupy that area and hide from virus scanners. This hidden folder was used in Symantec SystemWorks, NOT Norton Antivirus, and Symantec has stopped using it.

Imperial Dunes

Last October I flew over the Imperial Sand Dunes (Algodones Dunefield) in California. I took these pictures:

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They look a little better when I enhanced the color, because it was a little hazy that day.

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One month and eight days earlier, the Space Station flew over the same place and took this picture:


They adjusted the color too, even more than I did:


Greenwich Mean Times

In Greenwich Connecticut last June, some people decided to get some exercise on then beach. They even hired an exercise group leader. On June 7th, Brian's 23rd birthday, Millie and Sheila, wives of former Mets baseball players, were among those headed to the beach for some group exercise. But Millie and Sheila weren't allowed on the beach.

Millie said it was because she is Puerto Rican. Sheila said it was because she is black. Kelly, the town's affirmative action officer, said they didn't have the proper beach identification cards. Sheila might be right. Three weeks earlier, affirmative action officer Kelly had sent an email to the exercise leader asking him not to bring too many black people to the beach.,0,1249123.story

Last time I was on the beach in Connecticut there wasn't even a dress code. But it was pretty cold.




Cathy and Melinda went to Antarctica last month, on the Endeavor. They took a few pictures:

Here are some more of Melinda's pictures. They're pretty good (from my unbiased point of view).


In March 2000, some people noticed an iceberg breaking away from the Ross Ice Shelf. This iceberg was notable because it was pretty big. In fact, it was 170 miles long, 25 miles wide, and almost as big as Connecticut. It was one of the biggest icebergs ever observed, maybe the biggest. It was 200 to 350 meters thick, with 20 to 60 meters above the water. The iceberg was named B-15.


Here are some 2001 photos of B-15a, after it had split once.

      b-15a iceberg       b-15a iceberg

      b-15a iceberg       b-15a iceberg

Two years ago B-15 blocked part of McMurdo Sound, confusing penguins and icebreaker drivers.

By last November, B15 was down to about 70 by 13 miles in size. It seems like it should be a little thinner now, but I'm not sure. Now the iceberg is breaking up in to smaller (but still huge) pieces.

Here's a satellite view of the retreat of Helheim Glacier, on the other end of the icy planet in Greenland.

Sunglint and Atmospheric Gravity Waves

Just like ocean waves, the air moves in waves occasionally. Flying downwind from mountains you can sometimes experience mountain waves, where the air moves alternately up and down as you pass from crest to trough. The plane seems to climb and descend by itself, or speed up and slow down if the autopilot is on altitude-hold.

Sometimes you can see the effects of waves in the air looking at satellite photos of calm ocean water. These air waves are called atmospheric gravity waves. When the air moves down, it makes ripples on the water. If the camera is pointed close to the direction of the sun, it looks like giant waves, miles wide, in the ocean. But it's really waves of tiny ripples that aren't even noticeable on the surface.

      Alaska.A2004013.2255.250m.jpg       Australia.A2005327.0230.1km.jpg

      ArabianSea.A2005143.0625.250m.jpg       Libya.A2004194.1000.1km.jpg

Pirate Stories

The USS Churchill caught some pirates off the coast of Somolia last Saturday.


Here's the pirate ship:

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The boarding party:



The island of Mengkudu is back under Indonesian sovereignty, after an amphibious invasion by a 54-year-old Australian surfer named David.,10117,17575448-13762,00.html

High Altitude Airship

Need a gift for that special someone who likes flying above 60,000 feet? Why not get the Lockheed-Martin High Altitude Airship? Available at an airship dealer near you, sometime after 2009.


The Navy is looking for one of its submarines. They lost The Alligator in 1863. Actually, the Office of Naval Research, the Navy Marine Living History Assoc., and the NOAA are working together in the search.

They got one good day of searching day in last September, before Hurricane Ophelia stirred up the waves and finished it for the year.

They used the navy's "Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit," or REMUS, remote controlled mini-sub. That would be fun to play with.

Moon Storms

It looks like there are dust storms on the moon. That's surprising without air.

Chinese News

Toxic spills are not so unusual in China, but now they are reported publicly. That was unheard of not too many years ago.,,25689-1952530,00.html

Minnesota News

A truck full of hazardous material spilled its contents in Winona, Minnesota. No terrorists were apprehended. The hazardous contents? Milk.

Martian Water

A couple of people at the University of Colorado named Thomas and Brian have come up with "dry" theories on the formation of layered rocks on Mars. Paul and some other people from Arizona State came up with another dry theory. But NASA's principle Rover Investigator (RI) Steven has the edge with the water theory, including some new data discovered since the other two papers were written.


Uranus has new rings and moons!

Actually the rings and moons have been there for quite some time. It's just that they had never been seen by people before.

Fining Microsoft

The EU gave Microsoft five weeks to clean up their act and comply with European Commission's ruling last march requiring changes in marketing, Windows, and Bill Gates's underwear. If they are unwilling or unable, it will cost Microsoft two million Euros per day in fines. Bill Gates said of the fines, "So what? We made $3,190,000,000 last quarter."

When asked what his reaction to the fines would be, Microsoft diplomat Steve Balmer said, "I'm gonna kill Google," and continued on with a colorful tirade for some minutes.


Boeing will complete new X-45C this year and fly it next year. It will be 39 feet long with a 49-foot wingspan, cruise at 0.80 Mach at 40,000 feet, carry a 4,500 pound weapon payload, and will have a combat radius of over 1,200 nautical miles. And, it will not carry any people. It's a UCAV, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle.


There is a 350-mile long 17-mile wide strip of airspace along the Mexican/U.S. border that is closed from 12,000 to 14,000 feet, from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. This is so the unmanned aerial vehicles can fly around and observe the border without running into manned aerial vehicles. This "Temporary Restricted Area" looks pretty permanent. It is in effect until December 31 of this year, and will likely be renewed after that.


25 interesting web cams:


In August 2001, NASA launched the spacecraft Genesis.


Genesis flew to near the Lagrangian point L1, the place between the earth and sun where the sun's gravitational pull equals the earth's. Genesis flew around there from December 2001 to April 2004, collecting solar wind samples. Then it headed back to earth.

Here's what it looked like when it was collecting solar wind:


Here is one of the collector arrays. The individual collectors are made of weird stuff such as CZ and FZ silicon, diamond-on-silicon, germanium, sapphire, aluminum-on-sapphire, gold-on-sapphire, and silicon-on-sapphire.


The plan was for a helicopter to snatch the Genesis return capsule out of the sky when it arrived back to earth, floating down serenely underneath a parachute canopy. Here's one practicing:


The Genesis return capsule returned on September 8, 2004. Unfortunately, the parachute didn't open.


Since computers were involved, the hardware people blamed the software people and vice versa. The problem turned out to be an acceleration sensor, or g-switch, that was mounted upside down in 1998. It didn't detect the deceleration as the return capsule entered the atmosphere. Or rather, it probably detected a positive acceleration instead of a negative acceleration.

Despite the "hard landing," the collector arrays were in good condition and NASA found some solar oxygen ions and a couple of humanoid alien life forms now running for Congress. I'm not sure how much contamination there was or whether that was important.

It landed at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range, west of the Great Salt Lake, restricted area 6404 on this map:



NASA launched the spacecraft Stardust in February1999, two and a half years before Genesis.


It made a couple of long laps around the earth, and flew by the comet Wild 2 on January 2, 2004.

Stardust collected some material from the comet tail, took some photos, and headed home. On the way out and back, it collected some dust thought to come from outside the solar system.

Stardust flew into the earth's atmosphere at 28,900 mph. Here's a picture of it taken from NASA's DC-8:


It had a little softer landing than Genesis.

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On January 17, they opened the Stardust sample capsule in Houston, and were happy to find thousands of impacts on the "aerogel."

New Horizons

On January 19, two days after NASA opened the Stardust capsule, the New Horizons spacecraft launched toward Jupiter and Pluto.

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47 minutes after launch, New Horizons was going 10 miles per second, or 36,000 mph, faster than any other spacecraft. In 13 months it should fly by Jupiter and send back a lot of good photos and data. It's got a more efficient transmitter than other spacecraft.

It seems in my mind that Jupiter would be about half way to Pluto, but it will take an additional 8 years before New Horizons makes it to Pluto, about July 2015 if it manages a good "slingshot" at Jupiter.

At Pluto, New Horizons will have 190 watts of power available for cameras, radio, web browsing, etc. It will transmit data and images to earth at the blinding speed of 768 bits per second. It IS pretty amazing if you're a dinosaur like me and have spent many hours at 300 bits per second.

From Pluto, New Horizons will head out into the Kuiper belt for more fun and exploration from 2017 to 2020.

There has been some controversy over the plutonium power supply on New Horizons. Some people make it sound like this is something new and ominous. Actually, the power supply is not a nuclear reactor in the traditional sense. It's a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG).

There is some plutonium oxide that gives off heat as it decays, generating electricity in thermocouples. It's not new, and not even new in space. Six Apollo flights to the moon, two Pioneer spacecraft to Jupiter and Saturn, two Mars Viking landers, two Voyager missions to the outer planets, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Ulysses mission to the Sun's poles, and the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn have all used RTG power supplies.


New Horizons was developed at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab instead of NASA's JPL. I don't know the reasons for this or whether it's good, bad, or indifferent.

St. Helens and Augustine

If you get the urge to look at Mount St. Helens occasionally to see whether it is currently blowing its top, here's the site for you:

Here's a site for Augustine, off the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. It has been erupting over the past few days.

Here are a few pictures of Augustine I took in 2002:

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Remains from a 1998 eruption, I think.


Here is another photo of St. Augustine in 2004. It's the small island near the southwest side of the mouth of Cook Inlet. This photo looks amazingly like the one above with the atmospheric gravity waves.

      Alaska.A2004013.2255.250m.jpg       (hi-resolution)


The most popular name for baby boys in England and Wales is now Mohammed.


Now that the hurricane hoopla is mostly over, I've managed to find some interesting photos of the hurricane damage to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Dauphin Island, before and after:

Chandeleur Islands (east of the Mississippi Delta), before and after:

Mississippi Mainland, before and after:

Here is a good site. You can view an aerial photo from anywhere along the shoreline, or pick it on the map.

They have them for Gautier, Belle Fontaine, Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Pascagoula, and Bay St. Louis.

A Rock

I'm so confused!

"Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own."
Bush, February 26, 2003

"The U.S. never intended to completely rebuild Iraq. This was just supposed to be a jump-start."
Brig. Gen. William McCoy, Army Corps of Engineers commander overseeing the work in Iraq.

"The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein."
Washington Post.

Google Video

Now you can watch videos on Google. You can pay for some, such as Star Trek Voyager.

But the good ones are free. Here is Duck and Cover, the U.S. government film on how to survive a nuclear attack.

And the video that was almost nominated for thirteen Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Motion Picture, and Best Best Boy, the reward winning film, "Bob Says Don't" (starring... me!):

Jail Time for Annoying

A couple of weeks ago, President Bush (at my annoyance) signed a law making it a crime to be annoying on the internet without disclosing your identity. I guess that makes most anonymous blog writers criminals. Spammers too, but they were already criminals after the Can-Spam act of 2004 that the government refuses to enforce.

Some people don't like the prosecutorial discretion that this law creates, worried that too many laws like this will allow prosecutors to prosecute anybody they don't like.

But they don't understand. Things are different now. It is vital to the ongoing war on terrorism to jail annoying people and keep them off the internet. It's a matter of national security.

A Million Little Pieces

The author of "A Million Little Pieces" appears to be a liar. Maybe the book should be in the fiction section, rather than nonfiction. My sister Tricia said the book was lousy anyway.

Land Seizure

A guy named Scott was building furniture in Los Angeles. Then Los Angeles seized three acres and forced him to move, so they could build an animal shelter. But they paid Scott $5.8 million for his trouble.

Then another furniture manufacturer paid $17,600 to "key city leaders" in campaign contributions. Now Los Angeles is planning to sell the property to Scott's competitor. After the second deal is done, the city of Los Angeles will have lost millions. Those guys should run for Congress!,0,4383540.story


In concert with the population control program of north Wales, the city of Cardiff has installed signs that say in English "Pedestrians Look Right," and in Welsh "Pedestrians Look Left."  I'm not sure whether they intend to kill off the English or the Welsh.

Truth in News

A few days ago CNN reported that the Iranian President claimed to have the right to nuclear weapons. The Iranian President actually claimed to have the right to nuclear energy. So Iran banned CNN from reporting in Iran. CNN blamed the software, or maybe the interpreter.

Iran just doesn't understand U.S. reporting. Truth is not relevant in determining the news. Nuclear is evil, whether energy, weapons, fuel, or medicine. In the eyes of CNN, nuclear weapons are the same as nuclear energy, which in turn is equivalent to weapons of mass destruction.

But Maybe Iran figured out that CNN is dumber than sneaky. They're easing up on their reporting ban.

Unfortunately, the U.S. News companies are not getting any more accurate.

A student in Boston was accosted by Homeland Security agents (or some sort of secret police, depending on where you read it) after requesting a copy of Mao's Little Red Book. Or he wasn't.

A dozen people survived a mining accident. Or they didn't.

50,000 people died in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Or 799.

The second in command of Al Kider ( was killed. Or he wasn't.

I could go on and on. News organizations no longer seem even a little embarrassed when they report something wrong, so long as it gets viewership or readership.

In Security

Things are different now! Terrorists are everywhere.

Undercover Air Marshals are riding busses, trains, subways, and ferries looking for terrorists.

The U.K. banned protesting within a half mile of the House of Commons, "for security reasons." A guy named Mark thought it was a stupid law, so he protested by walking around wearing a shirt saying "this is not a protest."

Here is Bush's recent speech on Iraq.

The U.S. government is giving $11,000,000 in grants for states to figure out how to add GPS tracking devices to cars so they can implement "mileage-based road user fees." Some people don't like the idea of the government tracking their cars. Some people think you shouldn't worry about it unless you're breaking the law. Some people want to get their hands on those things to track their kids.

Italy issued arrest warrants for 22 CIA agents involved in seizing Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan, flying him to Egypt, and using torture as part of an interrogation there. The CIA responded to the warrants saying, "What did you expect? The guy's name is Osama!"

A high school kid sent some prank emails, making them look like they came from a teacher. The Secret Service responded. Warning: these emails have naughty words.

A 36-year-old guy on an airplane was writing in a notebook that had the words "suicide bomber" on it. A fellow passenger turned him in, and the guy was questioned for several hours and released. Of course, this all took place after the plane had completed its flight and landed. It was a close call in the war on terror!

A 4-year-old suspected terrorist appeared on the Department of Homeland Security's no-fly list. The crazy part is that they actually delayed letting him on the plane!  I mean, I can understand not wanting Teddy Kennedy or a crazy old woman on a plane, but a 4-year-old? That kid must have been really loud.


Here's a really interesting F-16 -- with delta wings:


Underwater Hotel

In Dubai they're building an underwater hotel, 65 feet below the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf). The Hydropolis should open in 2007.

Digital Law

There's a new law in the making that puts a lot of restrictions on developing any new digital device that can handle digital data, music, video, and etc. I think we'll have to have written permission from the Recording Industry before we can use any zeros and ones. We'll have to change to octal for arithmetic, using digits 2 through 9 only.

The RIAA claims they have to do that because teenagers are making them go broke by sharing files. I think they're making plenty of money, but they'd make more if they recorded better music.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), is going to have to sue itself after it illegally copied a movie. When accosted over the movie piracy, the MPAA said they did make a copy of the movie. And the MPAA said it was nothing.,0,2188275.story

Kazaa, Winmx, and several other P2P file sharing systems have essentially been killed and buried by the RIAA. P2P is similar to B2B or B2C except it doesn't lose as much money. Actually, P2P stands for peer-to-peer networks, in which users trade files with each other without going through a central server. Sometimes a central server is used to put peers in touch with one another, but the server does not contain file content.

Some file sharing systems are alive and well. Bittorrent is a popular one in which people check each other for content. I tried it out, and noticed that I was getting a lot of net traffic even after I shut it down. It seems Bittorrent systems were hitting my IP address looking for content locations. So I changed IP addresses and the traffic went into never-never land.

Then I tried Shareaza and it works pretty well. Of course, it would be unethical, illegitimate, illicit, and fattening were I to download copyrighted files over a P2P file sharing system. But it is possible to find public domain content on P2P systems.

Fuss Budget

Bush has been saying in recent speeches, "We've now cut the rate of growth in nonsecurity discretionary spending each year since I've been in office."

First of all, the nonsecurity discretionary spending only accounts for 1/6 of the federal budget. Second, the amount of spending is not being cut, only the rate of growth. I assume the other 5/6 of the budget is increasing at an increasing rate.

Annual federal spending has gone from $1.8 trillion to $2.7 trillion since Bush took office.

Which political party is it that's fiscally conservative? I can't find one!
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Pictures of Today -- Mostly Ice

Maroon Bells, Colorado
Disco Bay, Greenland
Disco Bay, Greenland
Disco Bay, Greenland
Disco Bay, Greenland
Peak 7, Breckenridge, Colorado
Ruth Glacier, Alaska
Eccles Pass, Colorado
Tricia, East of Hoosier Pass, Colorado
East of Hoosier Pass, Colorado
Quandary Peak, from East of Hoosier Pass
A Lake in Northern Minnesota
Crevasse, Mount Rainier, Washington
Mount Rainier, Washington
Exit Glacier, Alaska
Storms, Eastern Colorado
A Bug
This space would be intentionally left blank if I had not put this sentence in here.

(c) 2047, all rights undeserved. Any unauthorized duplication or distribution of this splendid collection of zeros and ones, whether by the MPAA, the RIAA, or other humanoid or organization thereof, is OK with me. Copy the heck out of it!

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