Is Private Space Exploration the Next Big Thing?
I try not to get too political on this blog, mostly because I think politics is simply a way to divide and conquer the American public as the elected criminals slowly steal away our rights while we bicker about garbage issues. But one thing that really upset me about the current guy in charge was eliminating America's ability to compete in space. He killed the ability for our best and brightest to keep sending men and women into space. After the successes of NASA over the decades it is a national embarrassment that we have to hitch a ride with the Russians if we want to send someone into space.
I learned that there are eight companies lined up to offer services such as space delivery and taking astronauts into space, hired by NASA, or course. There are more space exploration companies operating than American airline companies. That begs the question: Are we ready for a private sector space race? And who will win? U.S. companies (if not taxed to the point they locate outside of the U.S.), Chinese companies or another player yet to emerge?
How far will your imagination take you in pondering what the future will look like?
Two Great Talents Gone (May 4, 2012)
Yesterday we were all shocked to hear about the apparent suicide of long time Chargers great Junior Seau. The guy was a beast on the field, and according to those who knew him he was a class act and great guy off the field. Seau was also a part of the Patriots team that went 16-0 in the regular season in 2008.
Today we all find out that one of our 80's musical talents, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, has died. I hate to hear about this. The guy was a talent and will be missed. The Beasties just kept on rocking past the 80's and churned out hit after hit. Good memories. Good memories from both of these guys. Let's keep on remembering...
Why Can't We All Have Free Cell Phones? (Feb. 9, 2012)
TIME has a great headline out there that grabbed my attention today. "Washington Footing the Cell Phone Bill for Millions of Low Income Americans." So I check this article out to get some details and I must say that I am a bit shocked at yet another thing that politicians spend money on. I still have no idea why government waste even shocks me at all anymore.
Last year a federal program paid out about $1.6 BILLION in taxpayer money to pay for free cell phone and free service for over 12.5 million cell phone accounts. This "program" came into existence in 1996, but many are just now learning about it because of a push by the FCC. And if you read the article, you'll find that it has been discovered that many households have several accounts instead of just one and that there is an escalation of abuse in the program.
This prompts me to wonder why, when our own government is nearly $16 TRILLION in debt, we are still giving away freebies at the expense of others. After all, if you have a landline in your home then you are paying an extra tax on each bill to pay for this service that is being abused (like most programs with good intentions).
After all, it's not like the super rich are paying for this. Think of how many families have both parents working (if they still have a job in this economy) and are barely getting by that are paying extra for phone service. Maybe families like that could use a bit more of a break? Just assuming. The first thing I learned in college economics 101 was that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone is paying for it.
This program sounds more like a charity. Perhaps it should be turned into a charity and allow people to write that off on their taxes. I bet if the government did that instead, then a whole lot more low income Americans would have cell phones.
The TIME article can be found here. The comments are interesting, too: http://news.yahoo.com/washington-footing-cell-phone-bill-millions-low-income-202500656.html
Solar Power Company Partners with University (Feb. 1, 2012)
Joule Solar Energy has partnered with the University of Mississippi to complete a roof-mounted solar installation on the college's Center for Manufacturing Excellence. So far this is the biggest solar panal installation in the state and was done for the purpose of maximizing solar energy output and to showcase the various techniques involved with solar energy production as a tool for educating the students in a hand-on manner about energy production and efficiency.
This was a pleasant article to find. After the scandal of Solyndra broke last year where half a billion dollars in taxpayer money was pissed away, it is encouraging to see that there are companies in the private sector that make green energy technologies (especially wind and solar) efficient. Leave it to politicians and buaruacrats to make bad business decisions like Solyndra, but companies like Joule can actually make money, produce energy cheaply and efficiently, and teach the leaders of tomorrow at the same time.
The only disappointing thing was that the money for the program, because it was through a public university, came from a federal grant given to the University of Mississippi. I would much rather have seen the money come from an investment from the university's endowment or from private sector investment. Just another example of how the federal government crowded out a possibly prosperous private sector investment.
Kudos to Joule and the University for the job well done.
Snowy Owls Strange Migration (January 30, 2012)
According to an article on Yahoo News, a growing number of snowy owls are migrating from the Artic to the lower 48 states, which many bird enthusiasts and experts find puzzling. Snowy owls, which habitate in the Arctic, have been seen from coast to coast in U.S. feeding in farmlands in places like Idaho and Montana. They have also been spotted flying above golf courses in Missouri and as far south as Oklahoma.
"What we're seeing now -- it's unbelievable," said Denver Holt, head of the Owl Research Institute in Montana. "This is the most significant wildlife event in decades," added Holt, who has studied snowy owls in their Arctic tundra ecosystem for two decades. (Direct quote from the article.)
This certainly makes the average person wonder just why this majestic bird feels the need to travel so far south. It's very odd. Maybe they know something that we don't.
The full article can be found at: http://news.yahoo.com/snowy-owls-soar-south-arctic-rare-mass-migration-175336821.html
Kepler Mission Lands New Discoveries
"Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. "Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates. This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."
The article on DiscoveryNews.com was certainly interesting and I'm sure will raise all kinds of questions and possibilities from geeks like me across the planet. For example, how long will it be before we find a planet similar to ours that could sustain humanoid life forms? How long will it take us to contact them?
The full article can be found here: http://news.discovery.com/space/11-new-alien-solar-systems-crammed-with-exoplanets-120126.html