August 28, 2005

Oops. Forgot what I was going to say...

I wanted to mention this in my preceding post, but it slipped my feathered mind. I actually was going to watch today's ChampCar race, as it was coming from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, home of the Canadian Grand Prix and I wanted to do a comparison between the two styles of racing. Also, ChampCar seems to be a closer analogue than F1 for the new A1 Grand Prix series, so watching them go at it on a course I'm familiar with might give me some insight on that, as well.

Except it didn't happen. Or, actually, it did, kinda. Everything was conspiring against it, really, including Duck Apathy... I just don't LIKE ChampCar or the IRL very much since The Great Split (and, to be honest, there's a lack of 'star power' out there, too. I mean, c'mon! Timo Glock is a star in ChampCar, for cryin' out loud!).

Plus, it was was Ryne Sandberg Day at Wrigley Field. The closest thing I ever had to a 'Hero' was Ryno, so I needed to catch at least part of that. And then Momduck & Philipduck wanted to take me out to lunch (Red Lobster! MMM-mmm!)!

In all the hubbub and stuff, I forgot about the race.

I listened to the pre-game ceremonies for Ryno on the drive to RedLob and sat down for lunch with the folks. Whilst dining on the National Meal for Flotsky's homeland, Fish 'n' Chips, I happened to glance up... and there, from across the entire place, was a TV... and what was on that screen at the exact moment I looked up?

"Bienvienu du Quebec."

The Wall of Champions.

Okay, sure... it was all the way across two crowded rooms, but I was still able to see it, at least. Not well enough to make any judgements on the racing, mind, but it was still there.

So I did all three things! Ryno, Lunch, and Racing. Sometimes, life is good.

(thanks to the Cyberpeasant, by the way, for showing that picture... he has an interesting photo-essay of the Canadian GP up, right here. How interesting? His sister dates one of the Ferrari pit crew. Yeah, that's pretty interesting... go take a look!)

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Duck Quacks.

Okay, so that didn't work out exactly as planned. I was going to have a big writeup on the anime Noir and do a couple of other things I've wanted to do on here. Instead, I done did bupkis.

I'm going to throw myself on the mercy of the court. I'm guilty as sin, but with a good reason: it's Christmas.

"Right," I hear you say, "the Duck's gone completely mad. It's August, not December; ain't no fat man sliding down the chimney tonight."

(how does Santa get into homes with no chimney and central air?)

I agree; it's not December. Remember, I work at Duck U.'s bookstore... and classes started last Wednesday. We did aboot $125,000 in sales the last five days, roughly. Keep in mind that Duck U. is a small school; the bookstore will only do around $500,000 in sales the entire year.

Yes, we did about a quarter of our annual sales in one week. And you wonder why I say it's Christmas?

So, thats why the Duck hasn't gotten done what he's wanted to do. I've been resting this weekend. Tomorrow should be busy, as the MBA classes meet nights MWTh and didn't meet at all last week, but then we'll be through the roughest patch.

...until spring semester starts, but that's next year (literally; spring semester begins in January).

So. This week, I'll hit the Pond hard. I promise new posts every day, culminating, of course, in the F1 Update! for Monza on Sunday. Mmmm... Monza.

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August 24, 2005

*Loud Cheering*

Three cheers for the all-powerful Pixy Misa for fighting off the gremlins and bringing MuNuvia back online after they crashed the server.

We MuNuvians should scatter rose petals before his feet, and praise his name to all corners of the world! New wristband: WWPMD?

Can you tell, I'm honored to have been invited to reside here by good ol' Pixy, and at such a low, low rate, too! I'll be honest, I wonder just what he gets out of this, other than ducks quacking his praises. It can't be inexpensive to run a honkin' server and cover bandwidth.

So the fact that he got things back up and running so fast after a hard drive decided to spit itself out of its rack just AMAZES me... FOR FREE, for duck's sake! Pixy, I hope you're getting college credit or something for doing all this.

Because otherwise, I can't see how it's worth it to you. I'm glad it IS, but...

Oh, and thoughts and musings on the anime series NOIR and a repost of my comments on Azumanga Daioh later.

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August 20, 2005

All Skate, everybody... All Skate.

While I'm at work, I'll leave you this thread so you can talk amongst yourselves.

F1 coverage will resume this evening!

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August 16, 2005

I WAS going to post today...

Y'know what? I was going to expand on Flotsky's idea of Bernie Ecclestone as a pusher of the F1 drug tonight (I see him as being more of a Lieutenant of a kingpin), but the Wonderduck has had a nip of the ol' grape tonight. Okay, more than a nip.

Montgomery Scott: (drunkenly)"I've got somethin' better. I've got THIS."
Drinking Partner: (also drunkenly)"What is it?"
Scott: "It's... it's... uhm... (pause)... It's green!"

That's me right now. Typing is an adventure full of pitfalls and excitement.

More tomorrow. Wednesday. Whatever.

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August 14, 2005

F1... er... NASCAR Update!

Watkins Glen. THE American road course. What Indianapolis is to oval racing, Watkins Glen is to road courses. Way back when, I had a game called "Speed Circuit." An F1 board-game, simple yet complex at the same time, it came with three tracks: Monza (the blue track) and Monaco (the orange track) on the inside of the fold-out... and Watkins Glen on the back. I actually remember WATCHING a F1 race from Watkins Glen in the '70s, I think. I've always remembered the track as being a delicate, elegant course.

That being said, watching NASCAR racers whip around the course puts me in mind of NFL linemen performing rhythmic gymnastic routines: completely out of place. Behemoths jumping on a balsa-wood bridge. Elephants wearing tutus. Using sledgehammers to perform brain surgery.

It just ain't natural! Darn it, this course DEMANDS carbon-fibre and 19000rpm engine screams, not sheet steel and bellowing engines.

At least they showed my favorite AFLAC commercial, where the duck chases the Chinese Food Delivery Guy back into his car. That always makes me laugh.

We here at F1 Update are going through Formula 1 Withdrawl.

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August 12, 2005

*clap* *clap* *clap*

Take the quiz: "Which Holy Grail Character Are You?"

The Dungeon Prisoner of Camelot
:clap: :clap: :clap:

...of course I am.
Go to Ambient Irony to see who Pixy wound up being (lucky dog).

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A Duck's Life.

For some reason, THIS just makes me laugh.

Yeah, it's dumb. That's what's so good about it.

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August 10, 2005

Why Didn't Anybody TELL Me?

I graduated high school in 1986; my musical tastes stem from that time period... the song 1985 by Bowling For Soup strikes a chord with me, I'm afraid (on an anime tangent, there's a great AMV for the song by Suberunker Studeosh. You can find it here, but you have to be an AMV.org member to d/l it... maybe High Lord Pixy Misa can do another Bandwidth Sucking AMV List...)

It seems that, particularly recently, a few of my favorite musicians are bubbling THIS FAR (holds wingtips reeeeal close together) under the surface.

First, it was Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music headlining the Berlin stage of Live 8... and the crowd diggin' it with a big ol' spoon (even if I thought it was a lackluster set).

Now it's my dream teamup of Todd Rundgren and Joe Jackson. Why didn't anybody TELL me they'd been touring together? And they were even on Conan O'Brien, too. Run, don't walk, to Joe's website for a few videos.

Joe Jackson is still my favorite musician, Todd Rundgren is in my top five, so something like this is close to an eargasm... and hearing them do my favorite 'Beatles-related' (i.e., by the Beatles, or one of the four's solo careers, including Wings and The Travelling Wilburys) songs caused me to geek like I hadn't done in an awful long time...

...how long? Would you believe alllll the way back to 1994 or so, when I heard Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor cover "Dead Souls" on the soundtrack of The Crow?

Now if only Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson would do something together...

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August 09, 2005

Crescent Fresh!

I've rediscovered Sifl & Olly.

Who would have thought that a sock puppet could have a greater range of emotions than Katie Holmes?

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"Welcome Home, Friends!"

The Shuttle made a smooth landing at Edwards AFB this morning. I have to admit to a sigh of relief when I read that (I taped the landing to watch when I get home from work).

Now comes NASA's "Night of the Long Knives."

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August 08, 2005

A Space Story.

http://denbeste.nu/Chizumatic/, both 20050731 and 20050805

Steven DenBeste is one of the best writers out there. His USS Clueless was one of the few multiple-times-daily reads I had, until he stopped blogging (Fortunately, he's shifted to writing about Anime, with the occasional foray into other topics). Agree with him or not, he always made you think on USS Clueless, and his eye for anime is excellent (even despite disliking Azumanga Daioh).

Recently, though, he's had two posts taking swipes at the Space Shuttle. While I agree that the Shuttle's sun is setting, he believes that the program should have been shut down right after the Columbia Disaster, noting that there have been two fatal flights out of 113: "A 2% failure rate is unacceptably high. It's time to end it."

A 2% failure rate is unacceptably high for airliners. A 2% failure rate is unacceptably high for ships. A 2% failure rate is unacceptably high for cars, plates, rubber ducks, and washing machines.

For manned space missions though, 2 in 113 is actually a little better than the past track records, believe it or not.

Consider: Mercury had 6 manned flights. Gemini had 10, and Apollo had 11. No fatalities, right? A perfect record.

Except for what was retroactively called Apollo 1, the Apollo systems test that resulted in the deaths of three astronauts, caused by an atmosphere of (amazingly) pure oxygen in the capsule, and a spark. It's fair to include this in the Apollo record, I suggest.

Adding one to Apollo's record gives it 12, Gemini 10, Mercury 6, for a total of 27. One fatal mission of 27 gives a rough percentage of 4%, twice as bad as the Shuttle. Throw in the Apollo 13 miracle, where a lot of sweat and luck got the crew back alive, and the number jumps to nigh on 8%.

Yet nobody called for an end to the missions on grounds of safety... Apollo was killed for bugetary reasons. I suggest that two fatal shuttle accidents in four times as many missions is, historically, a good rate. Only that they have been spectacular disasters and widely televised is different.

If you throw in Soviet manned space flight, the Space Shuttle's numbers get even better. I'll refer the reader to this Wikipedia article for details.

In his second post, he criticises NASA for sending 7 astronauts on what he calls a "garbage flight.": "Why risk that many people to operate a space-going garbage truck? If the damned thing had to fly at all, prudence would dictate that it carry the minimum crew capable of performing the mission."

To quote NASA's website, the mission objectives for this flight were to: "test and evaluate new safety procedures and conduct assembly and maintenance tasks on the (International Space) Station. A late addition to the timeline tasked the crew with first ever on-orbit repair of the Shuttle heat shield."

The Shuttle is vital to the continued existence of the ISS, as only it can carry the parts and such to perform maintainance to the station, as well as being able to carry broken parts back to be repaired and reused. If the Shuttle program was killed, the ISS would be written off. This would result in future exploration of space being limited to unmanned missions until the distant future, since the ISS will be used to stage manned flights out of (eventually).

Lets look at the crew assignment for this flight. You have the mission commander, a pilot, and two spacewalkers (for repairs to the ISS. They were also there for repairs to the shuttle, if needed). That's four of the seven right there. Throw in a Manipulator Arm Operator, an expert in that task, to support the spacewalks, and you're up to five crew as your minimum. The other two are expert extras, master redundancies (though, obviously, they're sharing duties with the others). Considering what was being done on this mission, seven crew doesn't seem excessive at all.

As far as DenBeste's gripe that the Shuttle is 'only' returning with 5000 pounds of trash, it's a little more complicated than that. I suggest James Oberg's views on the matter, found here.

But if you're looking for reasons to trash the Shuttle program, there are plenty of better ones than these listed above.

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"No Shuttle Today..."

...I have a headache.

Clouds over the landing site in Florida, they'll give it another go on Tuesday.

I'll be venting spleen at Stephen Den Beste's criticism of this mission (at Chizumatic, look for 20050805) later tonight.

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August 05, 2005

Russian Sub Down! (updated news!)

A Russian mini-submarine has sunk in roughly 600 feet of water, apparantly after tangling it's propeller in some cables and netting. The Indepundit has full coverage.

The Russian Navy (and before them, the Soviet Navy) has had a long and exciting history with their sub force, with a relatively large number of sunken submarines. You may remember a movie that came out a few years back called "K-19: The Widowmaker" starring Harrison Ford. That was based on the real-life Soviet K-19, which had an astonishing THREE incidents that involved loss of life amongst her crew, two of which involving her nuclear reactor.

I don't remember the movie mentioning the K-19's real nickname amongst the Soviet submarine community: HIROSHIMA. That'll give you some idea of what that sub's luck was like.

There were many others as well; the Yankee-class SSBN that sank in the Pacific Ocean (that the CIA eventually recovered part of using Howard Hughes' Glomar Explorer), another sub grounding on the rocks off the coast of Norway, and the infamous Kursk tragedy of a few years ago.

US, British, Japanese, and Russian rescue equipment are on the way to the scene. Hopefully, one of them'll get to the sub before air runs out for the seven souls on board.

The ocean is a dangerous place, at least as dangerous as outer space, yet tragedies such as this aren't as "exciting" as a Shuttle disaster. More commonplace, I suppose; more sailors, more submarines, fewer cameras. Yet the pressure of 600 feet of water will kill you just as dead (possibly deader, if possible) as vacuum will.

Good luck, guys.

Updated 8/7/05
Russian Sub Back Up Again!

The Brits were first on the scene with a Remotely Operated Vehicle, and they managed to use it to cut the cables the minisub was caught on. All seven crew were fine, if probably a little creeped out.

Bravo and well done!

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