Friday, September 29, 2006

Preparing for the St. Gemini Day holiday

Actually, that title doesn't make much sense, even if you know what I'm talking about. I was thinking of writing, "Happy St. Gemini Day!," but that isn't 'til Monday. And it would still be silly.

Anyway, my little quirks aside, I'm still here at the office today, preparing a Gemini Observatory proposal, which is due Monday. A right early start, eh? There's a nice, peaceful feeling to the office at 8:17 on a Friday night. The kind of peace you really only get to experience much if you're an astronomer...or a night watchman, or something.

The great thing is, since most of the proposal's already been written, I can spend the time fairly mindlessly cutting and pasting my target list from some old files into the new one, an activity that lends itself nicely to listening to podcasts and having a cup of coffee. I mean, it's not especially creative work, where I need to be thinking hard and can't afford to be distracted. So I put on Lileks' "Diner" and Derbyshire's "Derb Radio" and settle in for a pleasant evening.

Those fellows make me think I'd like to start up an astronomy podcast. I could imbed images of the latest discoveries in the field, comment on them, and maybe do some interviews. Hmmm...I'll have to think about it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Ideal Ages for Marriage

Over at the Corner, Derb quotes a formula I've seen before, for the ideal ages of a man and his wife. If the man's age is x, his wife's should be (x/2) + 7 years.

The funny thing is, I'd heard that formula for a few years, which first came up in a conversation with some grad-school friends. In that conversation, it was presented as the minimum age you can date, rather than an ideal age for marriage. But the really surprising thing is that Derb cites Aristotle for this! Huh!

As far as the different usage from Aristotle's intention to my friends' discussion, well, how times have changed since the fourth century, B.C.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cheap, Commercial Spaceflight Begins

Cheap commercial cargo spaceflights (I'd have tried to come up with another "c" word, if only for the alliterative value, but alas) have begun flying out of a launch site a few miles from Truth of Consequences, New Mexico. There's been a good amount of commercial spaceflight for years, but the significant word here is "cheap." I didn't catch a price quote in this article, but they're not running regular flights just yet--still pending some FAA approval. And these are sub-orbital, so I really wonder just how useful they'll be. But if you have people willing to pay to get something into sub-orbital space, all the better!

"Bin Laden has been held responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks..."

No, really! That's what it says near the end of that AFP article I linked to above. You see, AFP doesn't want to jump to conclusions or anything hasty like that. Always leave yourself some wiggle room.

The Rumors of His Death...

Drudge has three headlines up right now, concerning a report that a French newspaper reports that bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan, but
the US hasn't confirmed this.

Not anything solid to get excited about just yet, but let's cross our fingers.

UPDATE: Of course you realize, he's been dead for years, but the Bush administration is only leaking this now, to help the Republicans in November. Just like with Khalid Sheik Mohammed. And the oil prices.

No, I actually had a friend tell me last week that the reason gas prices are falling is because Bush and his minions are doing it for the election in November. This is the same dear friend (I say that without sarcasm, actually) who once told me that KSM wasn't captured alive--that he'd actually been killed some year or more before we'd claimed to take him, and we were just using the fake capture for some nefarious purposes as yet unexplained.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shuttle Atlantis Apparently OK

Via Fox News, it looks like NASA is telling Atlantis they're physically OK. The "mysterious objects" (yeesh--I'm just waiting for that to show up on the web as a UFO sighting) seen floating past the shuttle are tentatively identified as a plastic bag and some items used in the installation of the thermal tiles on the shuttle. The latter are supposed to be removed after the tiles are applied, so they're not items that need to be there in the first place.

UPDATE: As I was writing this, Fox announced that NASA will have a public announcement at about 12:15 or 12:30 PM today--the tentative identification was, I think, from the first two pieces seen yesterday. There are new pieces seen today. I'll stay up on this.

I'm back...

Sorry for the long silence. It's been a busy summer, so thank goodness the school year has started, and I finally have all this free time again! Heh, heh... Really, I was joking a few months ago that during summer vacation I felt like I could at last get more work done. The research is going well, and I'm in the midst of replying to a referee's report on my current paper; it's just a matter of fitting it in amongst the rest of my work.

There's been so much going on in the world lately, and I ought to comment on such things, but honestly, when it's something really big, what can I add that hasn't already been written? Nevertheless, I'm back in and blogging now.