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Archive for July 2009

The Secret Of Berlusconi’s Success

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The Secret Of Berlusconi’s Success

Silvio Berlusconi’s opponents cannot admit that his success may be due not to sinister trickery, but to his greater popularity – an article by Filippo Facci available on The Guardian’s website.

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2009/Jul/30 at 23:29:43

Posted in Democracy, Italy, Politics

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Feeling Sorry For Douglas Bailey…

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It is with deeply-held feeling of sorry for its author that I am going to comment on Douglas Bailey’s “Do not comment on this article” (IHT, 25 July 2009; as one should expect, still not available on the NYT website…).

Mr Bailey wishes publishers would abandon “comment forums at the end of articles on newspaper Web sites“, because those are “insidiously contributing to the devaluation of journalism, blurring the truth, confusing the issues and diminishing serious discourse beyond even talk radio’s worst examples“. Can’t Mr Bailey simply avoid reading comment forums, one wonders? Or has he been ordered to do so by the doctor? (if that’s the case, it’s time for a second opinion!)

How thin can the skin of journalists be, and how soft-bodied their stories if all it takes to “tear down” one of their articles is for “some agenda-driven bonehead” to publish a comment? And what should worry us most…allowing people to freely express and exchange their ideas, or the unremitting deluge of scaried-up, sexed-up, hyped-up invariably “breaking” news pieces that has been befalling upon us since the invention of news business and especially after the advent of 24/7 news?

All in all, what I am really, really sorry about is to see a person like Mr Bailey approach the internet by renouncing critical thinking, and believing instead that writing a note in a web site grants “an aura of legitimacy from the association with the host’s brand“. Yeah, right…with such an attitude, I wish good luck to Mr Bailey’s business.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jul/27 at 00:57:05

Going Back To the Moon: The Simplest Argument

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It’s going to be far simpler to explore the Solar System with humans (and with robots) by starting from the Moon.

What is in fact at present the minimum requirement to reach orbit?

On Earth: Atlas LV-3B / Mercury (the one used in the John Glenn’s launch below)
Total Mass: 116,100 kg (255,900 lb)
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft)
Length: 25.00 m (82.00 ft)

On the Moon: Apollo Lunar Module Ascent Stage
Mass: 4,670 kg (10,300 lb)
Diameter: 4.2 m (13.78 ft)
Length: 3.76 m (12.34 ft)

Case closed.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jul/25 at 14:58:59

Four (New) Faces Of Buzz Aldrin

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from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung's weekly magazine. Picture quality deliberately reduced.

Here’s four sides of Buzz Aldrin one seldom sees in the news:

Written by omnologos

2009/Jul/21 at 23:33:00

Posted in Astronautics, Moon

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The Tragedy Of The Anti-Space Travel Space Scientist

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One can only feel sad upon reading Giovanni F Bignami’s op-ed piece about the race to the Moon and what choices to take for the future (“Once in a Blue Moon “, IHT, 18-19 July 2009). Prof Bignami’s argument appears to be about treating space-faring as a purely novelty product, like a fairly curious but ultimately useless item on a late-night TV shopping channel. Something you may be convinced to buy, but just the once.

And even if we have spent less than a week in total time exploring a few square miles of a place as big as the former Soviet Union, Prof Bignami tries to seriously argue that there is no “compelling reason” to go back to the Moon. And that we should embark on the enormous effort to reach Mars instead, presumably for a couple of trips before getting bored with travelling millions of kilometers too.

Here’s a “compelling reason” then: as it is well known, one needs a lot less fuel to travel to Mars from the Moon, than from Earth. Most of the launch cost lies in getting from our planet to low Earth orbit: beyond that, the whole planetary system is within relatively easy reach.

Prof Bignami remarks also that “the notion of mining on the moon would also [be] environmentally offensive“. I for one do not understand how will humans ever be able to “environmentally offend” a surface pummeled for billions of years by asteroids of all sizes, by a perfectly unhindered solar wind, and by cosmic radiations of all sorts. That is the Lunar surface, made of a type that likely covers several billion square kilometers on hundreds of natural satellites in our Solar System alone.

Paradoxically, the astronomical/astronautical community has been unable to support its own cause since the launch of the Sputnik. Nobody has gone anywhere because of effective lobbying by planetary geologists or solar scientists.

Bignami’s op-ed appears to be yet another example of how bizarrely brainy arguments about going to Mars vs returning to the Moon have succeeded so far only in keeping the human race in low Earth orbit, literally going around in circles instead of literally reaching for the stars.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jul/19 at 20:01:58

The Great Haddock Revival…

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Too much of a good news, one imagines, so it won’t make mainstream headlines any time soon: “The Great Haddock Revival – In the near-empty seas, one species has surged back to life. Can the others follow?

today, despite the odds, haddock stocks are soaring

Alas, nobody has got much clue about why haddocks are back, or more precisely, why there are even more of them than ever recorded.

The Great Haddock Revival

The Great Haddock Revival

Suggestions on the reasons abound, let’s see what researchers will come up with and more importantly, if any other previously-overfished species becomes a success story as well.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jul/16 at 05:23:50

Isaiah: 11, 6

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Written by omnologos

2009/Jul/09 at 23:28:43

Posted in America, Antiterrorism, Politics, USA

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