Links for 8/20/08 AM

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

“If I don’t want to pray, I don’t go to church,” Ellison said. “If you don’t want to smoke, don’t come in here.” West Virginia bar owners defy county smoking ban

Rocket scientists say interstellar travel is impractical. I’m not going to put my lot in with rocket scientists

Bumbling TSA inspector grounds nine jets

Member of Denver mayor’s Marijuana Policy Review Panel advises no busts during DNC convention (when, coincidentally, I’ll be in the city)

Jackson and Del Toro will collaborate on Hobbit scripts

Domenico DeMarco on the art of making pizza

Jacob Grier

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28 Responses to “Links for 8/20/08 AM”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    I feel so fortunate that the smoking nannies and TSA are out there fighting the good fight for lil ol’ ME! This isn’t going to cost me anything is it?

  2. #2 |  Scared Stiff | 

    Am I the only one who can’t get the TSA story link to open the actual TSA story?

  3. #3 |  MacK | 

    It opened for me.

    I like how the TSA hassling the commuters is “annoying”, because taking your laptop with all your business secrets is a no harm foul to the airlines, but if they touch the aircraft then thats just to much for we airlines to live with.

    I agree no one but a qualified person should touch the aircraft, but the TSA should have been reigned in long before it got to this point, so they would not be putting thousands of peoples lives in danger.

    I’ll bet nothing happens to the “inspector” over his damaging what he is supposed to be protecting.

    All I can say is, “Welcome to the real (nanny state) world American Eagle Airlines”.

  4. #4 |  Lior | 

    1. That Interstellar travel is beyond our current technology follows from elementary physics. Why is that surprising?

    2. After the violence Jackson did to the script of LoTR I’d be very concerned with any involvement in the Hobbit script on his part.

  5. #5 |  Ben | 

    Rocket scientists say interstellar travel is impractical. I’m not going to put my lot in with rocket scientists

    Ya, but if you’d asked a scientest in 1880 if they felt a flying machine would be the best way to travel in the near future, they probably would have laughed you out of their offices.

  6. #6 |  Bar owners defy smoking ban « Muse Free | 

    [...] (Hat Tip: The Agitator) [...]

  7. #7 |  Elliot | 

    Rocket scientists say interstellar travel is impractical. I’m not going to put my lot in with rocket scientists.

    Isn’t it pretty to think so?

    Put your lot where you like. Reality will have it’s way. Always.

  8. #8 |  Michael Pack | 

    Hey,I’m still hoping for the Stargate.I wonder if you can smoke Chulak?

  9. #9 |  Alex | 

    Ever notice how a couple times in modern history the consesus of the engineering community has been wrong and the flat earthers use it as a cudgel every year when some new idiot is selling stock in a perpetual motion machine company?

    As to Ben’s comment, “scientists” have known that winged flight was theoretically possible since Bernoulli published Hyrdodynamique (at the very latest) in the mid 1700’s. By the 1880’s there had already been semisuccessful powered flights. It was only a matter of trial and error to come up with more advanced material for more advanced engines, etc.

    These scientists are saying that we need a breakthrough in physics that violates the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. As my professor used to say, “If you find it, let me know. We’ll get rich.” I’m not saying it isn’t possible because the quantum world is a weird place. Just that it would require a breakthrough that, unlike technological advances, may not even exist.

  10. #10 |  Danno49 | 

    RE: Bumbling TSA inspector

    I don’t know what’s more disturbing . . . the fact it was possible that the planes could have flown before the damage to the TATs was discovered or the fact that our government employs folks who inspect fucking airplanes that don’t know NOT to climb on sensitive, critical equipment on the machines they are inspecting. I feel far less safe flying than I did before I read that article and I wasn’t feeling so hot about the TSA before I did.

  11. #11 |  Danno49 | 

    Rat farts.

  12. #12 |  Les | 

    After the violence Jackson did to the script of LoTR I’d be very concerned with any involvement in the Hobbit script on his part.

    I assume you mean “story” when you said “script.” Personally, I thought he (and his wife and their writing partner) met the challenge admirably. The first film made me want to read the books (which I’ve done twice now) and I suspect I’m not alone in that respect.

  13. #13 |  Matt Moore | 

    After the violence Jackson did to the script of LoTR I’d be very concerned with any involvement in the Hobbit script on his part.

    I assume you mean his excising of the scouring of the Shire from the last movie. While this was a mistake, I think one misstep in that many hours of story is excusable.

  14. #14 |  Sam | 

    Praying effects no one but yourself, smoking effects everyone in the near vicinity. Inaccurate analogy…

  15. #15 |  chance | 

    If you read the article on space travel closely, you see that none of the objections have anything to do with actual physical limitations. They are engineering, lifespan, and resource objections.

    I find the pessimists opinions unpersuasive. Laser-propelled “solar” sails could potentially reach another star system within a human lifetime. There is no fuel carried on board, and you could theoretically reach at least one-half lightspeed, meaning about an 12 year trip (probably longer, maybe 24 years) because you have to start to decelerate halfway there.

    But let’s say that approach wouldn’t work either. It may not be necessary to make a trip in a single human lifetime. Suspended animation is still pretty sci fi, but it has never been proven to be impossible either. As medical science progresses, it may just be easier to extend human lifespans to a length long enough to reach another star.

    Now, I doubt humans will ever start instersteller travel in my lifetime, but my point is to say it will never happen because our current technology can’t do it is ridiculous.

  16. #16 |  Danno49 | 

    Oh, whatever the fuck.

  17. #17 |  Danno49 | 

    So sorry if you think that was directed at you, chance. In fact, i plussed ya . . . I have read and seen about the solar sales and find it pretty viable . . . but then I am not a rocket scientist. ;)

    The last post was for whomever gave me thumbs down on my post. So sorry again. :D

  18. #18 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

    Is the T.A.T. probe the one that you see when boarding a small airplane, and says “Danger, Heated Probe” and “No Step” right next to it?

  19. #19 |  the friendly grizzly | 

    You are assuming that these warnings include TSA people too, not mere mortals.

  20. #20 |  Alex | 

    “Now, I doubt humans will ever start instersteller travel in my lifetime, but my point is to say it will never happen because our current technology can’t do it is ridiculous.”

    From the article: “It would take at least the current energy output of the entire world to send a probe to the nearest star, according to Brice N. Cassenti, an associate professor with the Department of Engineering and Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. That’s a generous figure: More likely, Cassenti says, it would be as much as 100 times that.” That sounds like a 1st Law violation to me.

    Also, I found this line from the story funny, “A large radiator would be placed next in line to dissipate all the heat produced by the engine, followed by the storage compartments for the hydrogen and antihydrogen. ” Really, radiators need a cold reservoir. That’s going to be difficult in outer space.

  21. #21 |  Matt Moore | 

    Praying effects no one but yourself, smoking effects everyone in the near vicinity. Inaccurate analogy…

    The scientific evidence for the effectiveness of prayer is at least as strong as the evidence of a link between secondhand smoke and health issues in adults.

    Now I’m off to pray that those who disrespect property rights get killed by bears. Enjoy your mauling!

  22. #22 |  Elliot | 

    chance: If you read the article on space travel closely, you see that none of the objections have anything to do with actual physical limitations. They are engineering, lifespan, and resource objections.

    The resource objections are the show stopper. Billions of individuals aren’t going to willingly sacrifice a lifetime of effort to send a handful of astronauts on a one-way sightseeing tour that will not be of any benefit to even their tenth generation descendants. To force them to do so would be monstrously unethical. Dreamers too often brush aside such dilemmas, or worse, decide that their personal dreams are more important than those of the masses.

    The flying machine analogy only applies when their exists a more advanced solution exists than we currently imagine. Sometimes, that just doesn’t exist.

  23. #23 |  Nick | 

    re: Space travel.

    Charles Stross has words of wisdom:
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/06/the_high_frontier_redux.html

  24. #24 |  Frank | 

    Here are a few TSA story links:

    http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=857098

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5613502&page=1

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/chi-tsa-20-aug20,0,6269325.story

    http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=340a79d6-839a-470d-b662-944325cea23d

    http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=ae0f320a-39c0-4684-99d4-503a300a5a00&

    http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=12faebda-6c53-40a5-87fe-fb98fa5effaa&

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2336044328955501444&postID=3404513007317401533

    It is clear to me that TSA has become the second largest terrorist organization in North America. TSA delenda est.

    And look for my “Inspector Clousseau, TSA” article in this coming Sunday’s Libertarian Enterprise.

  25. #25 |  chance | 

    “It would take at least the current energy output of the entire world to send a probe to the nearest star, according to Brice N. Cassenti, an associate professor with the Department of Engineering and Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. That’s a generous figure: More likely, Cassenti says, it would be as much as 100 times that.” That sounds like a 1st Law violation to me.”

    The figures I’ve read are actually much, much higher than that. But even so, if you were to set up a large series of space based solar collectors in orbit around the sun, (and the mass neccesary for building these would be a tiny, tiny fraction of the total solar system mass availible) you could power several such trips. All without any truly exotic physics needed. I’m not denying the intimidating scale of such a project, but there aren’t any violations of physical laws involved.

    “The resource objections are the show stopper.”

    See my comments above. I do not believe they actually are.

    “Billions of individuals aren’t going to willingly sacrifice a lifetime of effort to send a handful of astronauts on a one-way sightseeing tour that will not be of any benefit to even their tenth generation descendants. ”

    History would suggest otherwise. What use were the pyramids to the thousands of individuals who toiled for a lifetime to send a pharoh on a one way trip to the after life? People will often support things that have no short term benefit, if they believe there is a long term benefit. I disagree with you that there would be no benefit.

    “To force them to do so would be monstrously unethical. Dreamers too often brush aside such dilemmas, or worse, decide that their personal dreams are more important than those of the masses.”

    Despite my pharoh comment above, nobody is actually considering using slave labor to build an intersteller program. I agree that The resource question is open for honest disagreement, but I’m not sure I see what the ethical conflict is besides that.

  26. #26 |  Les | 

    The scientific evidence for the effectiveness of prayer is at least as strong as the evidence of a link between secondhand smoke and health issues in adults.

    Well, no. I don’t support smoking bans on private property, but long-term exposure to secondhand smoke does affect some people. Not a lot of people (certainly not as many as anti-smoking advocates claim) and very few people who aren’t capable of not exposing themselves to secondhand smoke. There is zero evidence to suggest that prayer affects anyone but the person praying.

    And I have to add that the very notion that a bunch of people praying can make an all-powerful, all-knowing supernatural being suddenly pay attention to a child dying of cancer is not only scientifically baseless, but philosophically repugnant.

  27. #27 |  Steve Finlay | 

    Sorry; the rocket scientists are right. Reality bites. People who think that human inventiveness can solve the problem do not understand the sheer magnitude of the relevant numbers.

    Consider just one factor: speed. For thousands of years, the fastest that a human being could travel was the speed of a fast horse: somewhere around 40 km/h. In the 19th century, trains roughly tripled this maximum speed. In the late 20th century, the fastest fighter aircraft reached Mach 3, or almost 4,000 km/h. The fastest speed EVER achieved by human beings was 40,000 km/h, in the Apollo missions to the moon.

    The entire history of human inventiveness and technology, then, has increased the maximum speed of travel by three orders of magnitude.

    Now let’s consider what would be needed to achieve the very small journey (in interstellar terms) to Barnard’s star. Even if we allow 50 years to make a one-way trip (something I’m not signing up for), this requires an average speed equal to 12% of the speed of light. That is about 130 million km/h, which is an ADDITIONAL 3 1/2 orders of magnitude faster than we have achieved in all of history.

    In other words, we would need to travel 10 TIMES faster than the Apollo spacecraft, then 10 TIMES faster than THAT, then 10 TIMES faster than THAT, and then about 3 times faster than THAT. There is no conceivable scenario by which we could assemble enough energy and material resources to do this, even if a theoretically sound method of doing it could be found. It is important to note that since Apollo ended, no human has come close to 40,000 km/h again: Doing this simply is not worth the cost.

  28. #28 |  Lena | 

    “If I don’t want to pray, I don’t go to church,” Ellison said. “If you don’t want to smoke, don’t come in here.”
    that, my friends, is logic.

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