Monday, September 29, 2008

Big Step for Space Industry

The Space industry took a large step forward yesterday with the first ever successful commercial launch to reach orbit with a liquid powered rocket. Elon Musk's company SpaceX launched their Falcon I rocket at 4:15 PDT and made orbit roughly nine minutes later.

This was the fourth attempt of to prove their Falcon I rocket. SpaceX is one of the competitors in the COTS (commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program that could be used to resupply the International Space Station after the retirement of the space shuttle.

In Early August SpaceX had a successful test of their Falcon 9 engines. These two tests are a big step forward for the company as it develops its Dragon launch vehicle. The fact that commercial industry has finally make orbit is a major step in the forward progression of space exploration.

It will be companies that are attempting to make a profit that will starting cutting back the massive infrastructure that currently surrounds all the government funded space programs. The Falcon 1 rocket costs 7.9 million a piece. This price is minuscule compared the vehicles we are using now If we are ever to truly be a space faring people we need to cut the cost drastically and we cannot have thousands of people observing every single flight.

Of course in the long run this means putting myself out of a job, but that is the cost of progress.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Tragedy of Remakes

I was driving to the book store today and it struck me that there is something wrong with the movie and music industry.  Every year we are constantly dealing with remakes of older movies and older songs (yeah, yeah this isn't really a stroke of genius on my part, I'll get to my point shortly).  People seem to have lost there ability to think of an original idea to make into a movie.  Or they just try to make a spoof of good movies that have been made.  How many stupid spoofs can you make?

Really?  Aside from Disaster movie even the covers are identical.  

I guess they have figured out a formula that is guaranteed to make them money, but it is seriously getting lame. 

Now I know people have been saying this for years, but the one thing that struck me as I drove to the bookstore is that people don't make remakes of books.  If they do I haven't heard about it.  I haven't seen a Lord of the Rings Trilogy by John Doe.  

Is it because it is unacceptable to rewrite someone's exact story with your words?  If this is the case, why is it such a great idea with movies and music?  Maybe I can start making money by taking other peoples genius and rewriting great books.  Something I'll have to look into.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wings Exhibition Loss

The Red Wings lost the exhibition opener tonight to the Montreal Canadians, 3-2 in a shootout.  The loss of the game is not really as worrying as the opening events of the third period.  Three minutes and five seconds into the period the Red Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom had a shot deflect off his stick and into his face.  He fell to the ice and a pool of blood was seen quickly forming.  The puck hit just above his eye and he had to receive stitches.  He did not return to the game but was taken to the hospital for precautionary x-rays.  

Lidstrom has been the Captain of the team since Steve Yzerman retired after the 2005-2006 season.  In 2004 Steve Yzerman was similarly hit in the eye by a deflected shot.  It required surgery to fix due to the multiple broken bones in his face.  While this shot to Lidstrom does not appear to be as serious, it is always scary to see this kind of thing happen to anyone.  Particularly to such a leader, and such an outstanding player.  Nicklas Lidstrom has lead the Wings for two years now and including to a Stanley Cup Championship last year.  Lidstrom has also won the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in six out of seven of the last active NHL seasons.  

His loss for any extended period of time would be a major hit to the Red Wings.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hockey is back!

With the preseason starting up, I am pumped about the upcoming season. It was a long three months without hockey. Things slow down way too much in the hockey world after the draft. All in all it was a good summer being able to bask in the glory of another Detroit Red Wings Stanley cup. However, it just makes me more anxious to see them start the defense of the their title. Especially after making the brilliant signing of Marian Hossa during the off-season.

The other great part about the new season is another season of fantasy hockey. I have been
playing for three years now, just using the free Yahoo Fantasy Sports website. It was great when I started off with a win my first year, but I have steadily declined over the past few years taking second and third this past season. However, Team Grrrrr! will rise again.

Fantasy sports are fun because it is a way to stay in touch with the game. If you are interested in a sport, it is one of the easiest ways I know to learn the ins and outs of the game, the teams, and the players (that is if you are actually trying to be competitive).
The first Red Wings preseason game is tonight. It will good to see Hossa and Datsyuk together on the ice, and whether or not they work well together. I unfortunately am not able to actually watch or listen to preseason games. The live scoreboard will have to do (if I have Internet back after the hurricane).
Red Wings season opens officially October 9, 2008.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricanes and Evacuation

So I am starting to understand why people refuse to leave their homes during times of catastrophes such as hurricanes and what not. I have been in away from Houston as hurricane Ike rolled through. Not because I evacuated, but because I was already on vacation. Let me tell you, it is no fun to have no insight into what is going on at my home.

All I can do is sit around and look at news reports trying to figure out what it is I have to go back to. Will my apartment be damaged? Will my things be destroyed? Will insurance cover any of it? I can't tell because my electronic documents don't have the correct information and my paper document is at my home. Or is it? For me I have no idea. All I know is that buildings around my home have suffered severe wind damage. Windows broken, flooding in neighboring areas. I don't really fear the flooding, due to my apartment being on the third floor of its building. Did the windows survive the storm? The ones at the nearby Hilton didn't.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Meaningful Sci-fi - Gattaca and Genetic Engineering

I recently caught the end of a show on the History Channel called Evolve. The episode that was on was talking about the evolution of sex through the ages. The part I saw was discussing how humans are now to a point where we are taking our evolution into our own hands. We no longer require sex to procreate. We can start life in a lab. On top of that, we are getting close to a time where we could even engineer the genes of our children so as to have them exemplify only the traits we want.

In 1997 a movie was made called Gattaca. The movie is a very fitting analysis of this very scenario. It follows the story of a man, Vincent Freeman, who was born by normal means. Following his birth his parents caved to the ways of the time and had a second child, Anton, genetically engineered to be as "perfect" as their genes could make him.

A doctor on the show Evolve said how important this is because who would want to have a child that was created through such a random occurrence as sperm and egg fusing in the natural process. A random occurrence? He seems to be missing out on a huge part of what it is to be human. We just don't go out and have kids with random people (when that happens it is usually accidental, and a child was not the intended purpose of the activity).

People typically spend quite a fair amount of time finding the person they want to settle down with to have family. When they do find this person it is because they have found someone they are attracted to. They like the character, looks, and various other traits that make up that other person. On a very basic level the whole concept of attraction is seeing traits in another person we want to pass on to our children. So having kids is not just a random occurrence. It is usually a pretty well thought activity. We shouldn't have to engineer our children to be happy with them.

The movie Gattaca tries to demonstrate that people should not be valued for how genetically perfect or imperfect they are. Vincent, who was born by normal means was genetically diagnosed that he was going to die before he was thirty due to a heart condition. He was looked down on in society because of how he was born. Vincent from the time he was young wanted to be able to travel into space. His only chance to do that was to work for Gattaca, a future aerospace company. However, this was a job limited to only the genetic elite. Since he was unhealthy he was allowed to take part.

However, he presses on. With the aid of one of the genetic elite, Jerome Eugene Morrow who was crippled in an accident, he strives towards his goal anyway. He takes over Jeromes identity, and uses it in an attempt to fulfill his dreams. 

This movie gives a pretty clear example of how unfair and unjust this kind of society would be. This will just create a new level of prejudice in a world that has far to much already. We should already preaching that the worth a person is not in their gender, the color of their skin, or where they are from and how they were raised. But now there are people out there preaching its important that we be able design our children to look the way we want?

I believe we already had one leader in this world who wanted to make a genetically perfect society. Did the Holocaust not make it clear how big a mistake this is?

People are different.  We have a mixture of qualities and characteristics that make up society.  That is what it is to be human.  That is not something we should try to control or mandate.