Maurizio – Omnologos

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Archive for August 2006

What Trouble with Pluto?

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There is one thing I can’t understand in the ongoing “what’s a planet” saga (now set to demote Pluto, Ceres and anything else apart from the 8 pre-1930 classical planets)

Say, if the previous proposal had been accepted and we were presented with 12 planets: what was wrong with that?

The New York Times went as far as to define it an “abomination

Let me rephrase that: in-between bombings, volcanic eruptions and Dick Cheney’s declarations about anti-Iraq-war campaigners being al-Qaeda complicits, the NYT editors have found the space&time to say that to expand the definition of “planet” is an “abomination culturally

Edwin Hubble discovered in 1923-24 that unfathomable numbers of Galaxies populate the Universe. Did he ever have to think that having more than a handful of Galaxies would have been any kind of “abomination“?

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On the other hand there is something we are going to miss if there are only 8 planets in our System. Simply, there will be fewer targets to reach.

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As for the current proposal, it is way too elaborate and so it defeats itself.

For example if a planet is “by far the largest body in its local population“, and “the local population is the collection of the objects that cross or close approach the orbit of the body in consideration“, I can imagine plenty of objects beyond Neptune whose orbit does not cross or close approach much of anything else (what is in fact the meaning of “close“?)

Also, what is wrong with Ceres, that is way larger than any other asteroid, and moves in an orbit with little inclination and eccentricity?

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Finally, that proposal depends on the current theories on the formation of the Solar System. Do we really have to change the definition of “planet” every time we improve our science?

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/22 at 01:24:32

Pixar’s Cars – a movie for automotive buffs (no spoiler)

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Whatever certain engine-challenged critics have decided to report, the latest Pixar feature, Cars is no “dud”.

It is an engaging cartoon full of hidden jokes and with a storyline and complex meanings way beyond any Toy Story or Monsters Inc. divertissement

Cartoonist extraordinaire John Lasseter and friends have made a movie that does exactly what it says on the tin: everything in it is about cars, down to the buzzing flies (miniature trucks). The only biology appears to be in the form of plants, especially saguaros

It may therefore become a little boring if you happen…to hate cars and trucks.

Perhaps not “one for the missus”?

And how many children will understand half of the jokes, or even recognize an old-style Fiat Cinquecento?

Cars is a movie that deserves to be seen several times. It will surely be declared a masterpiece in the decades to come, perhaps the herald of a new era of feature-long cartoons mostly aimed at an older segment of the audience than usual

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/20 at 23:15:00

Posted in Innovation

Climate Change Propaganda? No thank you

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Today’s TCS Daily (Europe) sported my article on the sinister side of Climate Change propaganda, a commentary on the recently-published report ““Warm Words: How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better?”

global-warming pessimists […] are now being encouraged to make-believe their own reality, building for all of us an almost certainly gloomy future. Armed with propaganda rather than rational persuasion, they are advocating an orthodoxy reminiscent of some past Communist States. […]

[The authors of the report] go as far as to implicitly recognize that possibly climate change catastrophism is “another apocalyptic construction […] perhaps a figment of our cultural imaginations”. […]

Is the terrain being prepared for zealot eco-revolutionaries soon to remove most freedoms and a wide range of technological achievements, imposing us a future “eco-friendly” life of pain, illness, manual labour and struggle, with the belief that human ingenuity is an evil that will destroy the planet instead than improve our lives? […]

I am still waiting for a single weather pattern to change due to Global Warming. Feel free to point that out when (and if) it happens

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/17 at 00:45:19

The Nightmare of the Terror Suppository

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Just received from the future

London, 14 Aug 2011 (MNN) – British Police has today foiled a major terrorist plot involving a novel usage of bodily orifices. A group of men, women, children and dogs were arrested in various parts of the UK after an inside source aired their plans to board a series of planes, trains and automobiles after inserting exploding suppositories in their, well, you all know where suppositories are meant to be inserted

Whilst security forces have been removing potentially triggering beans from kitchens and refrigerators, thousands of previously neglected doctors are being given the limelight (and some searchlights) in all major international airports

They are instructed to proceed with proctological examinations of all passengers. People are reacting surprisingly calmly to the new in-depth safety procedures. Are they used to the feeling already, one wonders

In other news, reports indicate that new proposals for air travel safety against terrorism will involve the prohibition to carry humans on board. According to a spokesperson, “It is a well-known fact that all terrorists are humans, so it is in the interest of travelers that we make sure none of that species travel on passengers planes”

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/13 at 22:32:03

Idiotic, Suicidal Terrorism Is Bound To Destroy Itself

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News come and go. What if Scotland Yard comes back in a few weeks’ time apologizing to everybody and anybody ever accused of masterminding a bogus terror plot

Much more important for most of us, what is the long-term perspective of present-day suicidal terrorism?

It’s that there isn’t much to fear about, because suicide-based terrorism is peculiarly idiotic, bound to destroy itself (unless we do anything egregiously wrong)

  • For the law of diminishing returns, either attacks get bigger and bigger, or the targeted population will feel habituation rather than increased fear. It’s like opening (the proverbial bonfire) with the stakes too high, and having to destroy one’s forest simply to keep up
  • There’s millions of potential victims, and one day they will surely come up with novel solutions to prevent the killings, making further attacks quite hard to organize: think the Israeli wall, think the changed tactics of the US Navy after the first round of Japanese Kamikaze pilots
  • Just like then, “the best and the brightest” in the terror organization are bound to blow themselves up. They can be substituted, but it does take around two decades to make another terrorist. In the meanwhile, ranks will be increasingly fuller of coward weasels that couldn’t stomach the suicide they themselves require of the others
  • Those people want to die whilst the rest of the world wants to live. Guess who’ll be sticking around the longest? On average, both aspirations are bound to be fulfilled
  • In the fight against relatively well-organized societies, for the terrorists the only way to victory is to get hold of weapons of mass destruction.  But even in that case, the only thing a suicidal terror organization will succeed in doing, is to eliminate itself

Instead of making the life of the many increasingly more difficult, the best thing we can do is first and foremost to get on with our lives (unless of course one is professionally involved in the prevention of terror attacks and other criminality)

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/10 at 23:38:58

The Future of Radio Broadcasting

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Three non-mutually-exclusive directions for the future of radio broadcasting:

(1) So-called High Definition Radio (HD Radio), using existing frequencies for high-quality sound, simultaneous multi-programme broadcasting, digital services, etc

(2) Continent-wide Satellite Radio, like Italy’s WorldSpace, widening the number of potential listeners to anyone that understands the language, and allowing transmissions in zones where the signal is weak or intermittent

(3) Obviously, a widespread use of podcasts, and their transformation in commercial vehicles with the introduction of very short advertising (and therefore not easy to fast-forward on an iPod or equivalent)

In theory one would also be speaking about DAB, the “digital radio” fanfared in the UK, but despite years going by and an unremitting passion as radio listener, I do not see any future in an expensive technology that basically promises only a cleaner sound (and is still battling with its own million different “standards”)

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/10 at 23:09:45

Posted in Radio, Technology

Oil Prices are bound to fall soon

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Oil Prices are bound to fall soon…and for reasons that will appear obvious in hindsight (so why not spell them out now?):

  • Behind the recent price hikes for crude oil there is a combination of transient causes such as the Iraq fiasco, and the herd mentality that has brought many people into the Commodities markets and convinced them to buy oil alongside everybody else. When those causes will deflate, so will the oil price
  • Higher prices stimulate more research into how to extract more oil. When the market will find again its sanity, higher supply will mean lower prices.
  • Higher prices stimulate also the construction of additional refineries. These take several years to come online, and will crash the price of oil when they’ll all do at the same time: just as those miles and miles of communications cable laid down during the Internet boom of the 1990’s are behind today’s cheap cybersurfing and free worldwide calls,
  • The possibility that oil is costlier because we have just reached a peak in production capabilities is remote. Why now? Why not 10 years ago, or 20 years in the future? Why would it happen so suspiciously close to 9/11 and the crises that have followed?

The real difference this time around is that all those predictions of future doom-and-gloom will be forever available on the Internet, perhaps for a good laugh when “experts” will try to recycle themselves in the future into the “oil is a practically inexhaustible resource” camp

Written by omnologos

2006/Aug/07 at 00:03:59