Friday, August 24, 2007

Bruce Schneier on the politics of fear

Bruce Schneier should be on your list of regular reading--he's not voluminous, and when he says something, people should listen, and again he's done it: The Director of National Intelligence claims discourse about how our government functions will kill people!:

Q. So you're saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

A. That's what I mean. Because we have made it so public. We used to do these things very differently, but for whatever reason, you know, it's a democratic process and sunshine's a good thing. We need to have the debate.

As Schneier says, refuse to be terrorized! Don't let America turn into a Police State with State Secrets and Secret Courts. Don't let "exceptions" to the Bill of Rights destroy our freedoms.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Air Force discovers pulsars before Bell

You've probably already seen this, but it's interesting:

The Air Force early warning radars for the Arctic inadvertently discovered the pulsar before Jocelyn Bell Burnell did in 1967. This joins gamma-ray bursts and adaptive optics as another "thing invented or discovered by the military" before astronomers re-invented or discovered them.

True Patriotism and the REAL ID act

After hearing claims that the REAL ID act wasn't about a national ID system, it wouldn't affect much, just standardizing the states' method of issuing driver's licenses, now we hear the truth from Michael Chertoff: They have created a domestic passport--you won't be able to travel without it. Some freedom of travel, eh?

The real patriots are the legislatures and governors of the free states, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire (Live Free or Die), Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington, who stood up against the threats and FUD attacks of the neo-fascists.

Chertoff said there would be repercussions for states choosing not to comply.

Such as? Entering a national park? What fascist state is this? It is time everyone--all Americans, our elected representatives, and true patriots in the executive branch (wherever they might be hiding) to stand up and say NO! to this.

Many states have revolted. The governors of Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington have signed bills refusing to comply with the act. Six others have passed bills and/or resolutions expressing opposition, and 15 have similar legislation pending.


New Hampshire passed a House bill opposing the program and calling Real ID "contrary and repugnant" to the state and federal constitutions. A Colorado House resolution dismissed Real ID by expressing support for the war on terror but "not at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of citizens of this country."

I honestly hope the conservatives that are reasserting the states' rights which have been eviscerated in the past fifty years regain them at the Supreme Court, if only to remove the ironic ability of their sponsors' attempt to destroy what's left of our rights.

The ACLU has it right, too:
The databases will provide a one-stop shop for identity thieves, adds the ACLU on its Web site, and the U.S. "surveillance society" and private sector will have access to the system "for the routine tracking, monitoring and regulation of individuals' movements and activities."

The civil liberties watchdog dubs the IDs "internal passports" and claims it wouldn't be long before office buildings, gas stations, toll booths, subways and buses begin accessing the system.

Chertoff is, essentially, failing to uphold the United States Constitution, which he is bound to uphold. He is not a patriot, he is a fear-mongering statist, moving this country to the Police State which we used to fight against for so long.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Just saw the Space Station and the Shuttle

I just ran out and saw the Space Station and the ISS passing to the north, a touch dimmer than Jupiter. If I were inclined, I could see them in the west on their next orbit, but it's quite low. Tomorrow's pass in Chicago is perfect--let's hope the weather cooperates.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Yorker article on light pollution

Here's a reason to go out and buy the August 20th issue of the New Yorker: An article on light pollution!

I sincerely hope you've seen the Milky Way lately. I fear for you if you've never ever seen it.

I can count the few times I've been awed in my life on my fingers -- and several of those were seeing the Milky Way in a dark sky.

Planetary Society Blog article #1

Planetary Society Blog article #2

Monday, August 13, 2007

Good passes of the space station over Chicago for the next few days

Wednesday the 15th, starting at 9:43:32PM, reaches 10 degrees above the NW horizon, maximum altitude of 33 degrees at 9:46:11 in the NNE and fades into shadow then.

Thursday the 16th, two good passes:
8:31:17PM, reaches 10 degrees elevation in the NNW,
8:33:23 maximum elevation of 18 degrees in the NNE,
lowers to 10 degree elevation at 8:35:29 in the ENE

The very next orbit (i.e., you could record the time it takes the space station to completely orbit the earth!):
10:05:53PM, reaches 10 degrees elevation in the NW,
10:07:36 maximum elevation of 32 degrees in the NW and fades into shadow then.

Friday the 17th,
8:53:27PM, reaches 10 degrees elevation in the NW,
8:56:08 maximum elevation of 32 degrees in the NNE;
fades into shadow at 8:57:41 at 19 degrees above eastern horizon.

On Saturday the 18th, a fantastic pass, right overhead!
It reaches 10 degrees elevation at 9:15:45PM in the NW, passes overhead at 9:18:38, and passes into shadow at 9:19:09PM 57 degrees above the ESE horizon.

All predictions are from Heavens-Above.

Again, what you'll see is a moving, steady point of light that may be one of the brighter objects in the evening sky, possibly brighter than Jupiter, which is shining in the south. If the object has more than one light, or blinks, you are seeing an aircraft. The color can range from pure white to orange; it's orange when the solar panels on the station are facing the right way; it also fades into an orange when the sun is setting at the space station.

I have some images from last month's Space Shuttle mission to the ISS here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pretty picture of the day

A dye laser points the way for the VLT towards the center of the galaxy.

Grab the huge versions of these at the ESO press page.
Seen via Astronomy Blog

Friday, August 03, 2007

Biometric veins in the near infrared

Another company claims to have created an unbeatable biometric authentication.

I have an image of my hand in the near-infrared, care to look?

heavy use of unsharp mask brings out the veins

I am sure it would only take an image like this and a master mold-maker to bypass such security.

Search this blog for posts containing "infrared".