It was 36 years ago today that a certain radio program(me) made its debut on BBC Radio 4.
And if you’re in London and get very lucky, you should know that I can make myself available on the morning of March 29.
You can pretty smoothly sing the Mystery Science Theatre theme to I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miz.
Or maybe that should be Les MST now… :D
They want to capture a small asteroid and put it into lunar orbit so it can be studied at our leisure.
THAT is the sort of balls-out mission NASA hasn’t had in a very long time. They’re targeting a 20′-40′ asteroid, or a comparable sized chunk of a larger asteroid. That’s planetary system engineering. And it arguably moves us, for the first time, up a notch on the Kardashev scale — if not all the way to Type I, then at least Type Nought-Point-V or so.
And it gives the moon a moon of its own.
It’s hard to say that someone’s passing at the age of 94 is unexpected, but it was starting to look like Pete Seeger was indestructible.
I had the great good fortune to hear (and from where we were, only barely see) him perform at the 1981 March on the Pentagon; hard to believe that was more than thirty years ago, but time does move on.
Go raise some hell with the powers-that-be in his memory.
I looked at Google Chrome when it first came out, during a period that I was unhappy with Mozilla for one thing or another (needless to say, aIEeee was never an option), and ended up never installing it because of a clause in the user agreement where Google retained the right to reach out over the net and turn off any plugins they chose, ostensibly for ‘security’ and ‘stability’ reasons. That was a book-slammer, so I never even began the install.
Looks like it was the right thing to do for even more reasons than I thought. Apparently there’s a bug in Chrome — one that they’ve known about since last year, have known how to fix since last October, and still haven’t updated the Chrome code with — that allows Chrome to access a microphone attached to your computer and listen in on… well, on whatever you might be chatting about within its range.
Now, there are always bugs. The only code that’s bug-free is very tiny code. Large programming projects — like, say, an internet browser — always have bugs in them, and all you can do is hope you’ve got the vast majority of them before going gold. Inevitably, something that no one even considered possible slips through.
That’s fine. That happens. You fix the bug, patch the software, and hope that was the last of them.
But Google has fixed the bug… and sat on it. Their explanation? They say they’re waiting for direction from the W3C on what to do next, and that the current iteration of Chrome is fine because it’s still “W3C compliant”.
Yeah, right. It also remains vulnerable to allowing what I can only describe as a pretty chilling invasion of personal privacy. We have — or we should have — realistic expectations of our online privacy, and we can take steps to protect ourselves, but this is not something that falls under that. If you haven’t started any voice-recognition software, you have a fair and reasonable expectation that your computer is not listening to your voice, or recording it, or transmitting it elsewhere.
Google evidently doesn’t care about that. One wonders how long they would have sat on this if someone else hadn’t blown the whistle on them.
It really is hardly worth asking, “Whatever happened to “Don’t be evil”?” anymore, is it? The only shocking thing left from their behavior is that they have the unmitigated gall to try to blame the World Wide Web consortium for their failure to patch their own software.
And for your searching needs, may I recommend Duck Duck Go instead?
(note: this is essentially a re-post of something I wrote on Flickr this morning, but hey, my blog, I get to do that once in a while)
Every one of the green spots in this most-of-the-sky view is an exoplanet, as downloaded by a plugin for Stellarium this morning; I don’t know how complete it is, but two things are crystal clear: everywhere we look, we find planets, and everywhere we look closely we find lots of planets — the two clusters are the Kepler and OGLE projects.
I take away two lessons from this.
One: we, humanity, are not the point of creation. We are incidental to it. We are not the center of the universe. The universe doesn’t care about us. So we need to grow the hell up as a species and start taking care of ourselves, because ain’t nothing out there going to do it for us. We are insignificant; the universe will not notice if we wipe ourselves out by war, disease, or environmental stupidity, and it will not step in to make sure we don’t. It has plenty of other planetary experiments going on, and it won’t notice if our little test tube flames out. That’s the bad news.
Now the good news.
Lesson Two: if we’ve found this much in less than two decades of looking, think how rich the diversity of planets must really be out there. As sure as I can be without any data to back it up, I am convinced that there’s other intelligent life out there. I don’t know where. I don’t know when or whether we’ll ever contact them. But just on the basis of statistics (and modesty), one almost has to assume there are other inhabited planets with intelligent beings on them.
I mean, there are estimated to be anywhere from eleven to forty billion potential habitable planets–planets in their star’s habitable zone–just in our own galaxy… and there are an estimated half a trillion galaxies in the universe.
Using the Milky Way and the lower estimate of eleven billion Earth-like planets, just taking the odds of hitting the MegaMillions jackpot (1:2.59×108) as the chance of intelligent life would mean somewhere around 40-44 inhabited planets. Powerball odds are even better–1:1.75×108 or around 60-65 inhabited planets. If the odds are like winning my local state lottery, about 1:1.4×107, it’s the jackpot all right — over 780 inhabited worlds. And everyone’s favorite guess for long odds (“Oh, that’s gotta be one in a million!”) gives eleven thousand inhabited worlds.
Just in our own galaxy.
Now multiply any of those by five hundred billion.
If that doesn’t make you go ‘wow’, do the math again until it does.
A wind chill of -23°F should be read as “Minus 23? Fuck!”, not “Minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit”. On my way to the bus stop. Wish me luck.
I am… underwhelmed. Since it’s still close to air time, spoilers after the link.
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I haven’t seen ‘The Name of the Doctor’ yet, so I don’t know exactly what mechanics Moff used to get around the 12 regenerations/13 Doctors limit he claims he’s adhering to. Especially since he’s now claiming Smith is the 13th Doctor, not the 11th or 12th, because Tennant regenerated twice — once from Tennant to himself, and then into Smith.
Which renumbers everything again — Hurt is the Ninth, Eccleston the Tenth, Tennant the Eleventh and Twelfth, Smith the Thirteenth, and Capaldi the… Fourteenth?
Which kinda flies in the face of Moff’s statements about the twelve regeneration/thirteen Doctor rule.
So clearly, he’s going to have to pull something out of his ass, whether it’s a new round of regenerations granted by the no-longer-destroyed Time Lords, or some kind of “magic” reset button, probably from the TARDIS itself.
If it’s the Time Lords, that suggests the new direction hinted at by the end of the 50th anniversary special, the Doctor questing for home, is going to be over with a lot faster than expected. I don’t like it, but it does simplify future story lines: if the Doctor is spending all his looking for lost Gallifrey, he’s not going to have a lot of time to spend hanging out on Earth, and it’s at least in line with established canon from ‘The Five Doctors’: we know they offered the Master a fresh round of regenerations, so it can be done.
If it’s a magic reset button jumping out of nowhere at the last second, I will be pissed off.
It’ll probably be a combination of the two, the Time Lords surfacing at the last minute in an intergalactic deus ex machina, and be both canonical and dissatisfying.
But, we’ll see. While I liked the anniversary and I’m willing to give Moff a chance again, I haven’t set the bar very high.
I got carded again, just last week. The look on the cashier’s face was priceless when she read the date on my ID. And when she wished me a good day at the end of the transaction, I of course told her she’d already given me one. Fifty isn’t the new 30, it’s the new 21! :D