Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Phoenix

Built from the remains of 2 missions gone bad. The Phoenix will make an attempt to land inthe Northern region of Mars. The BBC has a great animation on the complex landing sequence with a nice summation of the mission

Update: 19:00
A successful landing!

The Mars Phoenix lander touched down late on Sunday GMT in the far north of the Red Planet, after a 680-million-km (423-million-mile) journey from Earth.

The probe is equipped with a robotic arm to dig for water ice thought to be buried beneath the surface.

Scientists say the mission should give the clearest indication yet of whether the planet could once have harboured primitive life.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Charging for First Checked bag.

American airlines is is tacking on a $15.00 surcharge for every checked bag. Giving flyers another reason not to use them. I guess they are just trying to rncourage more users to drive. This move is announced along with intended layoffs.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines will start charging $15 for the first checked bag, cut domestic flights and lay off workers -- probably in the thousands -- as the nation's largest carrier grapples with record-high fuel prices.

American plans to cut domestic flight capacity by 11 percent to 12 percent in the fourth quarter, after the peak summer season is over. The carrier was previously planning a 4.6 percent cut.

Shares of American parent AMR Corp. tumbled 24 percent, down $1.98 to $6.22, as oil prices shot past $130 per barrel for the first time, signaling even more trouble for the nation's airlines.

Canceling flights laying off more people will surely endear them to the flying public. Perhaps they should just turn in their paperwork for chapter 7 , go belly-up and get it over with.

Ruok recently flew to Oregon. On the way back Continental changed their policy and started chaging $25.00 for the second bag. Shafted!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to be a Winner

John the farmer was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called "pullets", and ten roosters, whose job it was to fertilize the eggs.

The farmer kept records and any rooster that didn't perform went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of his time, so he bought a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so John could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.

The farmer's favorite rooster was old Butch, a very fine specimen he was, too. But on this particular morning John noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all! John went to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

But to Farmer John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one. John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Renfrew County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result. The judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making: who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.

Vote carefully this year... The bells are not always audible.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They used To be a Free Nation

The most basic of freedoms we have is the ability to speak freely. The English now feel that that using the word 'cult' to describe a cult such as the Church of Scientology is illegal, and a 15 year old boy is in trouble for stating the simple fact.

A teenager is facing prosecution for using the word "cult" to describe the Church of Scientology.

The unnamed 15-year-old was served the summons by City of London police when he took part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.

Officers confiscated a placard with the word "cult" on it from the youth, who is under 18, and a case file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

A date has not yet been set for him to appear in court.

The decision to issue the summons has angered human rights activists and support groups for the victims of cults.

The incident happened during a protest against the Church of Scientology on May 10. Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous, who were outside the church's £23m headquarters near St Paul's cathedral, were banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult by police because it was "abusive and insulting".

Sheesh, I can think of all kinds of abusive insulting and accurate things to call them the CoS, but the abusive language probably should be saved for those that issued to the summons to this poor kid.

Monday, May 19, 2008

An Obama Warning

Barak Obama warns us;

Pitching his message to Oregon's environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to "lead by example" on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

Are we really supposed to care what other nations think about our SUVs? Would he be happier if some can't afford to buy the food they want? Meanwhile he is eating his catered meals in his charter Jet that is set at a proper 72 degrees.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

OpenOffice.org 3.0 Beta

OpenOffice 3.0 is on its 2nd Beta release, and folks seem to like it. Beta Release m2 is reported to be pretty stable Those who are running Macs on the Intel platform can now run it without having to run the x10 compatibility mode.
So far Write Calc and impress are are getting bulk of the enhancements. Unfortunately I haven't noticed any reports that Base will get a facelift, although Reporting is expected to be enhanced. It seems that the long awaited PDF import ability might be a included as an add-on although there are conflicting reports. So far there are no PDF import abilities.

Another disapointment is that 3.0 will uses version 1.2 of the Open Document Format, which existing versions cannot read. I suppose it is to be expected, and We can expect that 3.0 will be able to ouput to the 2.x standard just as well as it does to the multitude of other standards. I don't expect to download the Beta. I will wait until the real release, unless the PDF import feature is enabled in a stable release.

It seems that Glenn Reynolds tried it out 2.4 and so far he likes it. Approval from Glenn will convince many more to check it out.

Although I have Office in all my computers I am am almost exclusively using OOo2.4. It isn't that it is as good as Office. I think its better.

Holding Us Back.

The oil producing nations are causing our high gasoline prices. The third largest producer of crude has put millions of oil reserves off limits to drilling. because of leftist interest.

It may surprise Americans to discover that the United States is the third-largest oil producer, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. We could be producing more, but Congress has put large areas of potential supply off-limits. These include the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. By government estimates, these areas may contain 25 billion to 30 billion barrels of oil (against about 30 billion barrels of proven U.S. reserves today) and 80 trillion cubic feet or more of natural gas (compared with about 200 tcf of proven reserves).

What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity. Americans favor both "energy independence" and cheap fuel. They deplore imports -- who wants to pay foreigners? -- but oppose more production in the United States. Got it? The result is a "no-pain energy agenda that sounds appealing but has no basis in reality," writes Robert Bryce in "Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of 'Energy Independence.' "

Then there is the ethanol crises which we heavily subsidise farmers and manufactures, while we throw a $0.58 a gallon tarrif on on top of the state and Federal taxes of $2.00 a gallon Brazillian Ethanol .

But major obstacles remain. Unlike Brazil, U.S. producers make ethanol from corn, which is a far less efficient source, yielding four times less energy than sugar. Ethanol prices in the U.S. are less competitive than in Brazil. U.S. producers are protected by a 54 cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kennedy Hospitalized

Well, you won't find me mourning for him.
I will credit him and Michael Dukakis for my moving out and into the great state of Texas.