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Wojtek Isanski
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Mostly just a person
Mostly just a person

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Big day tomorrow.  Orion EFT-1 launch windows opens at 0705 EST (1205 UTC).  There is a nice video attached to the article that explains the main points.

http://www.wired.com/2014/12/nasa-orion-spacecraft-test-flight/

And does the rocket inside the service structure in that picture not look like a JD bottle?  How is "Jack Delta Heavy No. 4" not a thing?

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Midterm elections tomorrow.  Exciting.

We will find out whether the Senate will continue sinking into Democratic inefficacy, or whether it will change course and veer off into Republican obstinacy. Yeah, I’m optimistic.

If you do get out to vote, remember that you do not have to choose (R) or (D). Reality is not binary.  Sure, you might be throwing your vote away, but what do you really get out of picking a winner?

Maybe if elections regularly ended with 20 percent of the vote going to someone who spent no money, or maybe even to nobody, then there would be opportunity for candidates who don’t need to be subservient to the machines that get them elected.

If you do end up voting for whom the parties demand, you essentially get a helper monkey trained to pull the right lever.  This would make CSPAN awesome if literally true, but it’s not and we just end up with this:

http://media.cq.com/votestudies/

90 percent agreement with one’s caucus is Stepfordian.

Gov. Christie appealed to common sense as justification for quarantining Ebola suspects.

“This is common sense. The American public believe it is common sense and we’re not moving an inch.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/10/28/chris-christie-accuses-hyperbolic-cdc-of-falling-behind/

Regardless of whether he’s ultimately right or wrong, justifying anything with common sense is either lazy or pandering. Here’s a short list of things that were probably considered “common sense” at one time or another.
1. Sun moves around the Earth, which is the center of the Universe.
2. Witches float.
3. Bloodletting cures everything.

That last one we should be especially glad to be rid of in this time of Ebola.

If you are a “leader” and have a staff and have access to extensive resources then you should be able to give a better justification for your actions than essentially saying “I did that because that’s what an average person would do.” 

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This is not a happy post except for the very end.

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/obama-praises-congress-isis-vote-n206631

All of a sudden we’re putting aside our partisanship for the greater cause of killing people.  Hooray! I guess I should just enjoy the momentary fundage and bondage, sorry, funding and bonding.  I am not enjoying any of it though. First of all, I think I agree a little bit with Rand Paul which makes me a feel a bit queasy.
Then, I hear that we are going to degrade and destroy ISIS. Really? I confess that I did not listen to the President’s speech last week. His rhetoric numbs me. Remember when people thought he was a gifted orator? Whatever happened to that guy? 
Anyway, the President’s justification for applying AUMF feels specious. Apparently, he can go after ISIS because they are an Iraqi affiliate of Al-Qaeda. I sort of recall that the reason Iraq ever had an Al-Qaeda affiliate is because we went in there, guns blazing, to get rid of WMDs that did not exist and disbanded their army and generally effed the place up. Now, we are going to go in there, drones blazing, to get rid of ISIS. Is this a self-fulfilling war prophecy? What could go wrong?
Today, Congress agreed to provide support to “moderate” Syrian rebels. I’m not sure what “moderate” means, but I recall that one of the reasons that there is an Al-Qaeda is that we supported Afghan rebels in the 80s. I can only imagine what these Syrian rebels will turn into in a couple of decades. “Syrian” sounds awful close to “Cylon.” A simple test should be that if your actions are governed by a centuries old book that supports an Earth-centric cosmology then you don’t get support, regardless of whom you are fighting (apologies to the Texas Board of Education et. al.).
The whole thing is depressing. Here we are, fully cognizant of history, and yet repeating the same blunders. Perhaps the corollary to the old saying about learning history is that those who do study it are doomed to think that they know better.
I am not suggesting that we do nothing, but we do yield significant power. This makes it very important to use that power judiciously and I can not think of anyone in our government that I trust to make those judgments. Their primary concern seems to be their party’s hegemony rather than rationality or humanity.
On a bright side, people who have embraced reason are about to attempt a landing on a freaking comet! http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/

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The biggest space news today is about Mars2020, but I ran into this today and I can't get it out my head... "Asteroooooooid, coming in from the void."
KILLING JOKE - Asteroid

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In CIA's defense, and I can't believe that they haven't pointed this out yet, since this surveillance of the Senate Intelligence Committee began there have been no successful terrorist attacks on the American soil that could be linked to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The program has been 100% successful.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-director-john-brennan-apologizes-for-search-of-senate-computers/2014/07/31/28004b18-18c6-11e4-9349-84d4a85be981_story.html

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Blackburn Works to Prevent FCC from Trampling on States' Rights to Trample Competition to ISPs.

I had my ragedar running when this gem appeared.

http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/07/congresswoman-defends-states-rights-to-protect-isps-from-muni-competition/

Weird, right? Did not think ISPs needed protection. Why would any of her voters actually want this? It turns out that it doesn't matter. She’s partially funded by telecoms, and this has to give them a special thrill. And that outfit (in the video) had to come from T-Mobile, though this shouldn't affect them. Ultimately, the voters won’t care. All she has to do is chant the “states’ rights” mantra and her voters will just nod along whether it makes sense or not.

All this put me in a cynical mood which can only end in satire. So here it is, the set of 10 commandments that the typical American politician seems to actually follow.

We are the Donors, thy prime constituents.
1. Thou shalt have no other constituents before us
2. Thou shalt not expose thy craven image
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Donors, thy prime constituents in vain
4. Remember the fundraiser, to keep it profitable
5. Honor thy PACs and Party 
6. Thou shalt not jeopardize thy political career 
7. Thou shalt not commit critical thinking
8. Thou shalt not steal away from thy talking points
9. Thou shalt not bear witnesses against thy Donors
10. Thou shalt not covet rational opinions

 I think I see #1, #8, #9, and #10 in what Blackburn did.

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This is a really good idea.

It might be even better to have software generate and translate into enemy languages "The Funniest Joke In the World."

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This highlights why I think autonomous vehicles are a great idea; experienced drivers apparently don't know the difference between a brake and brake pedal.  I've seen at least five headlines today claiming that Google has a car with no brakes.  

If you actually believe that the thing on the floor is what stops your car, then you really shouldn't be given the responsibility for  that much kinetic energy.
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