Hidden Nook

"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Was Jesus Christ Born On Halloween?

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(PR Web) Through a study of various passages in the Bible, a timeline can be calculated, which begins with the date of priestly service of Zacharias during the Jewish two-week "course of Abia." The timeline continues through the conception of Zacharias' son, John the Baptist, on July 31st, and on to the birth of Jesus Christ, indicating October 31st as the birthday of Christ.

Although it probably nearly impossible to find the exact date of his birth, Bible Instructor Dr. Hank Lindstrom thinks that Christ may have been born around Halloween if not on the day. If correct, this would make Halloween (an already popular festival in the United States) a confusing celebration as one would probably see both witches and Christians fighting for superiority in celebrating a "holiday." But if Halloween was the day Christ was born, what would happen to Christmas? (audio file below)

You can download file by clicking the image below

Editor's note: Although one is welcome to listen to the entire audio, it may be preferable to start at 20:00 in order to get to the heart of the debate. One thing to note about this discussion is that the month's July and August were inserted during the respective reigns of Julius and Augustus Caesar so that may skew things slightly with this analysis by Dr. Lindstrom.

Although this blogger could care less about what date Christ was born historically (as it is what an individual does during their life time that makes them significant, and not their birth) the audio does make for a good listen, if not a good laugh.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:43 AM • Email Post • •


Solar Opinions

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Posted below are a few articles that may interest some readers along with commentary from this author. Today's top story deals with what (in this editor's opinion) is the beginning of the Russian domination of the space race.

(Space.com) The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to let NASA continue buying Russian spaceships to deliver astronauts and supplies to the space station until 2012. The Senate already adopted a similar measure, though some minor details need to be worked out before the legislation is finalized. (Media Source*)

Editor's note: This does not make this blogger particularly happy, although it is understandable why this law was passed (as NASA's shuttles are not exactly the ride of choice lately). The good news about this law is that it is temporarily, although it will give Russian technology an endorsement internationally, which will probably encourage other nations to lease their equipment in the future instead of the United States.


(Red Nova) The newly expanded NASA 'World Wind' computer program can 'transport' Web users to almost anyplace on the moon, when they zoom in from a global view to closer pictures of our natural satellite taken by the Clementine spacecraft in the 1990s. Computer programmers at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley originally designed the World Wind program to deliver satellite images and data of Earth to the Internet. Users can see detailed 3-D pictures of the Earth's land surface, including its elevation and climate. (Media Source*)

Editor's note: It is surprising that Google did not come out with this program first (although their Google Moon was a nice way of honoring NASA). Although very large and bloated, this program is well worth the download (unless you have dial-up) and would be recommended for any astronomer who enjoys viewing the lunar surface. You can download a version by clicking here.


(MSNBC) Small robots designed by University of Nebraska researchers may allow doctors on Earth to help perform surgery on patients in space.

The tiny, wheeled robots, which are about 3 inches tall and as wide as a lipstick case, can be slipped into small incisions and computer-controlled by surgeons in different locations.

Editor's note: Probably a good thing to have on board the space station, as well as a future launch towards Mars as the nearest medical facility might be millions of miles away. Now all they need is a holographic doctor. Yes, I am a trekky. ;)

By Darnell Clayton • 12:12 AM • Email Post • •


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Should The ACLU Be A Google News Source?

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Google News is probably one of the best locations for a user to retrieve news information from a variety of sources. What makes them unique compared to Yahoo News is that computer algorithms instead human editors decide which item is on the front page, resolving any (or at least most) issues of editorial bias.

Apparently though, the ACLU's Press Release is now one of the media sources that Google News has added to it's vast yet secretive collection. Although Google News does add sources from conservative, liberal and international sites, does the ACLU deserve the same media respect as per say as Fox News or Iraq the Model?

Image of the ACLU as a Google News Source.

Photo Credit: Darnell Clayton, via Hello

Although the ACLU is often viewed as "morally evil" for actions such as attempting to legalize child pornography (hat tip: Cao's blog) and holding the opinion that sex offenders should be allowed to participate in Halloween activities, they do participate in some good as In The Agora notes.
Anyway, a couple months ago I posted an item about the ACLU defending street preachers around the country I got a comment from the wife of Shawn Miller, a preacher in New Mexico who had been arrested and was being defended by the ACLU. He had spent 109 days in jail after being arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The sum total of that resisting amounted to him informing the officer that he had a constitutional right to preach. [...]

Last week she told us that his trial date had been set for this week. And yesterday she stopped by to tell us that the prosecutor had issued a "nolle prosequi" in the case and dropped the charges. She posted an email from the ACLU attorney working on the case. He is now going to try and get the arrest expunged from Mr. Miller's records so it doesn't haunt him in the future.

Although such actions demonstrate that the ACLU is not entirely anti-religious, it may not be enough to justify it being considered a defender of justice according to critics. The ACLU holds tremendous influence within the American judicial system, but should they be given that same influence within Google News? It will be up to the critics to decide.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:38 PM • Email Post • •


Off-World-Sex May Endanger Martian Trips

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(Hat Tip: In The Agora)

(New Scientist Space) Sex and romantic entanglements among astronauts could derail missions to Mars and should therefore be studied by NASA, warns a top-level panel of US researchers. [...]

"With the prospect of a very long-term mission, it's hard to ignore the question of sexuality," says Lawrence Palinkas, a medical anthropologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, an author of the report. It reviewed NASA's plans for research to keep astronauts safe and healthy in space--but the plans make no mention of sexual issues in spaceflight.

This may be a major problem for NASA and any other country planning long term trips towards Mars and other worlds. Sending cross gender crews throughout the cosmos who are confined to small quarters could result in unforeseen circumstances that may complicate measures beyond what the mission originally called for (as to how would you treat a pregnant woman in space and who would deliver a baby once the crew lands?).

Although this may sound a bit premature to be worrying about such issues, sex can make crew members uncomfortable and could potentially lead towards violence.

(New Scientist Space) Sexual harassment may also endanger a mission. In an 8-month space station simulation on Earth in 2000, a Russian man twice tried to kiss a Canadian woman researcher just after two other Russians had gotten into a bloody brawl. As a result, locks were installed between the Russian and international crews' compartments.

Carol Rinkleib Ellison, a psychologist who specializes in sexuality and intimacy (from Oakland, California) has suggested that NASA evaluate taking couples into outer space which may help reduce the tension and help crew mates reduce the stress of "cabin fever." Although it may sound reasonable to evaluate astronauts in this fashion, this may be uncomfortable for couples as they are constantly being monitored by instruments attached to their body (not to mention protection as well from radiation).

Although overlooked NASA will probably will examine a test scenario on the lunar surface, and see how people interact in close quarters. Hopefully this issue can be resolved, as it would be a shame that humanity could not explore the cosmos because of a "few bad relationships."

Image Credit: Photo from Red Nova.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:57 PM • Email Post • •


US Passports Now Have Chips

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(Earth Times) Starting next October, those applying for US passports will be surprised to find their identities carefully enshrined in radio frequency ID chips implanted in their "new" passports. The announcement that came on Tuesday, hoped to make US standards as close to the "globally interoperable" standards devised by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization.

Although these RFID chips bear resemblance to the Verichip, their is no indication that their company is involved with this measure (although it would not be a complete surprise if they were). Although there are fears that the new technology would be used to track individuals during this "terror age," the State Department has assured US citizens that they will not be tracked and the purpose of the RFID chips is to prevent fraud.

(Earth Times) The administration is also trying to quell fears of ID theft in assuring that the passports equipped with "anti-skimming material" will mitigate any such threats of surreptitious scanning. But then the technology that is currently in use in retail stores to tag clothes and prevent their pilferage has been demonstrated to work upto 160 feet away, using high powered readers.

While the State Department suggests that the shielding works well "when the passport cover is closed", there are many who wonder what will happen if the cover is left open briefly.

Although this may calm some fears about ID theft, critics argue that such measures are still insecure as passports tend to become bent out-of-shape over time possibly enabling a hi-tech thief to steal information as long as the passport is partially cracked open. One way around this would be for the State Department to have a simple lock on the passport (similar to a journal lock for diaries) which would close the passport regardless of what "shape" it was in.

Either way, if people are concerned about these chips, they have until next October to apply for the "paperback version."

Photo Credit: Image from Earth Times.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:27 PM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fifty Christians Freed In China

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(Christian Post) "According to a reliable source from a high level government agency, the release was ordered from the Chinese central government because of increasing international pressure on this case," a statement from the China Aid Association (CAA) on Friday read. The arrest of the 50 Protestant leaders was first reported by the CAA on Oct. 20.

These leaders were arrested while meeting to discuss how they might aid the poor and orphaned in China, a major problem in Communistic China if you are a girl or a sick baby boy. If it were not for action taken by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, those believers may have remained in custody to this day.

(Christian Post) "The relatively quick release of these church leaders is certainly a welcomed step in the right direction," said CAA President Bob Fu said in the released statement. "The arbitrarily arrest of innocent citizens and illegal detention are contradictory to international human rights norms. Those officials who abuse its power by beating innocent people should be held accountable."

China is becoming increasingly hostile towards believers, something that Voice of the Martyr's has documented well via email subscriptions. President Bush is reportably scheduled to visit Beijing on November 19th, and hopefully his visit as well as the future 2008 Olympics will pacify China's wrath against harmless believers.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:39 PM • Email Post • •


Is North Korea Jealous Of Israel?

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(Watching America) The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea will neither accept nor allow Washington's unjust double standards in regard to the nuclear issue to linger on into the future. There will only be the prospect of settling the nuclear issue when the United States abandons its unfair and prejudiced double standards, as North Korea demands.

The "double standard" that North Korea is referring to is about why the United States grants Israel and India the right to bear nuclear arms but not this tiny Asian nation. Although one could site the reason being political (as Israel and India are both allies of the US) the reason may have to with commitments as both India and Israel (not to mention Pakistan) have refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while North Korea has in the past endorsed it.

Soldier Fills His Mind With Goodness at the Grand People's Study House. Photo from Watching America

(Watching America) Washington has connived at and even cooperated with Israel in its development and production of nuclear weapons, and kept mum about Japan, which has stepped up its program to emerge as a nuclear power by stockpiling plutonium beyond what it actually needs. [...]

North Korea demands that the United States take measures to treat it as it does other countries outside the NPT that possess nuclear weapons. America's statement that it respects North Korea’s sovereignty as a member of the United Nations will be proven only when it acts as such.

What North Korea really needs to do is learn how to honor its words, as it has broken them in the past under President Clinton's term. If North Korea wants to be taken seriously then they need to stick with their commitments and stick with the treaty they originally signed with over 170 other nations. After all, how can we trust that they will not detonate a nuke against Japan (or US targets) when they have broken their word in the past?

By Darnell Clayton • 10:17 PM • Email Post • •


Inside Orkut (Politics And Religion)

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For those unfamiliar with one of Google's hottest communities (outside of Blogger that is), Orkut is a forum where users from virtually every nation (except North Korea of coarse) can interact with one another.

Upon visiting the site, a user may notice the many communities that exist, with many of them focusing on politics and religion (and those opposed to the latter). Here is a quick glance at some of the conversations that go on in one of Google's hidden communities.

Apparently Tim has had his fill with the left party and has left the left (Editor's note: rhymes, doesn't it?) and is probably wondering why anyone would stay within that party. Perhaps he should visit Alpha Patriot for some affirmation.


"N," as the user goes by, expresses their viewpoint that Allah is a sadist God. Apparently N has started a frenzy in the Why Theist community.


In the Atheist vs. Theist forum, Adolf Krebs proposes some evidence that apparently leaves no doubt for evolution while mocking Intelligent Designers. Ironically he is rebuttled by an atheist.


Jeff in the American Politics forum seems to be angry about American soldiers killing journalists, although other people within the community are revealing what are trying to enlighten him by showing that he is indeed a moonbat.


Last but not least, it seems that Americans have their own forum now, which is a good thing considering that Brazilians practically own most of Orkut (especially since Orkut seems to be catered towards the US).

Orkut is a community of trusted friends (often mixed with strangers) and like Gmail an invite is required in order to become a member.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:38 PM • Email Post • •


IDF Declares War On Potbellies?

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(Hat Tip: Israelity)

(Ynet News) Anti-paunch war gets underway: IDF fitness officials have decided to disable the elevator service at army headquarters in Tel Aviv for a week in a bid to fight the growing paunchiness of officers serving there, newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.

Apparently Israel does not enjoy her soldiers "living large," so the fitness officials are taking extreme measures to help trim down the force, especially amongst former officers who were promoted to administrative positions. One way they are encouraging soldiers to lose the pounds is by shutting off all of the elevators for a week, although it will probably take more than that to start a habit of fitness with these soldiers.

(Ynet News) "We want to get them used to using the stairs. God gave us legs so we use them," [Lt. Col. Avi] Benita said. "Sometimes I see phenomena at the Kirya (army headquarters) that drives me crazy. Officers take the elevator down to the parking garage, where the driver is waiting in the car and drives them to a nearby building."

The fitness officials are also planning on creating walk ways throughout the building, as well as encouraging officers to walk at least 3 miles a day. Benita, the one who formulated this plan, should probably consider banning elevators altogether, or at least suspending them for a month (not to mention cut out any snack foods that he may come across via vending machines).

By Darnell Clayton • 9:15 PM • Email Post • •


Alternative Forms Of Church

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(The Christian Post) For a growing number of Americans, especially Boomers, the local church is no longer the place to go for worship, according to research by the group whose published polls are most quoted within Evangelical circles.

New forms of doing "Church," such as house churches, marketplace ministries, and cyber churches have now drawn 50 million Americans, bringing them closer to God, but farther from a local church, reports The Barna Group.

Although this report may "freak out" pastors, this should not be met with alarm as the article is revealing that people are seeking other ways to be satisfied spiritually, perhaps in ways that some churches are lacking or unable to fulfill. The purpose of church is to help an individual become closer to God (not to mention the "inner peace" thing) and if someone is receiving that elsewhere, then the faith has not suffered loss.

(The Christian Post) Now, 50 million Americans have revealed their participation in new forms--which, in the last 2-3 years, has seen "significant growth," [The Barna Group] indicated. [...]

"It is not uncommon to find people who attend an alternative church gathering regularly but maintain some loose connection with a congregational church," Barna said. "Often, that connection is retained to satisfy the expectations of a family member. In their minds, though, it is the alternative church that emerges as their dominant form of church."

While some may view cyber churches as the fellowship of slackers, these areas of worship may be more convenient for people as either work, gas prices or other reasons may prevent them from darkening the doorway of a church building. Although most cyber churches are simply basic websites, (with chat rooms, forums, etc.) it appears that one congregation, entitled Church Of Fools has gone 3-Dimensional.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:46 PM • Email Post • •


Space Elevator Competition Results In

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(Hat Tip: The Space Elevator)

(Spaceref.com) NASA and the Spaceward Foundation announced the results of the 2005 Beam Power Challenge and Tether Challenge. Eleven teams competed in the two competitions over the weekend at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. Although no team claimed this year's prizes, historic firsts were achieved.

Teams here were competing for $50,000 from NASA although it seems the competition was more about bragging rights than winning the prize money (as historical note is worth far more than financial independence). Although no team was able to reach to the top of the 200 foot cable, the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team was able to climb 40 feet, the farthest out of all of the teams present.

(Spaceref.com) In the Tether Challenge, teams had to create high-strength, low-weight tethers, which were stretched to their limits in a head-to-head, single-elimination competition.

The Centaurus Aerospace Team produced the strongest tether. But to claim the $50,000 prize, the strongest team tether had to beat the house tether, constructed from the best commercially-available material, by a margin of 50 percent. Centaurus fell just short.

Despite the remarkable results, no team was able to claim top spot for this years competition. However, NASA is raising the prize money to $200,000 for next years competition, which will probably be more difficult and demanding of these teams. Regardless of this years result, history is being made. Someday mankind may never have to launch off of Earth's surface and instead ride in an elevator heading for the stars.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:33 PM • Email Post • •


Bill Gates Visits Israel

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(Ynet News) Gates, who is visiting the country for the first time, met with research and development heads of a number of Israeli high-tech companies, including Checkpoint, Nice, Amdocs and Verint.

Later he spoke with some 400 hundred employees of Microsoft Israel, including MSN Israel employees and those working at the company’s research and development center in Haifa.

Although not as glamerous as Madonna's future visit to Israel, (Editor's note: loathing the pictures) Gates arrival will help combat the fear mongers who see the Holy Land as nothing but a place riddled by bullets, blood and beliefs. Bill Gates is visiting not only to encourage employees throughout Israel but also students as well.

(Ynet News) During his visit Gates is also scheduled to meet with teens excelling in technological studies. Education Minister Limor Livnat is also expected to take part in the event, which is titled, "Israel’s students advise Bill Gates."

The Microsoft chairman is also set to take part in a conference of leading Israeli information technology managers and in additional conferences attended by representatives of Microsoft’s Israel’s business partners.

Bill Gates seems to be courting the Israeli market, although it is doubtful that he will make the same efforts towards Palestine. After all, who would want to visit a region that might consider inviting terrorist organizations as part of a democratic government?

By Darnell Clayton • 8:14 PM • Email Post • •


Behold The Google Base

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(Hat Tip: Google Blogscoped)

(Google Base) You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base. In fact, based on the relevance of your items, they may also be included in the main Google search index and other Google products like Froogle and Google Local.

Although the site is apparently down and redirecting back towards the main page, some users were able to take screen shots displaying the inside features of this new Google phenomenon. Google has not officially released any information regarding Google Base, although rumors of what it is are spreading throughout the net.

Here are some screen shots courtesy of Caleb from the Gmail Lounge:

So far only a few lucky users are able to access the site (at times). Can anyone else view it?

By Darnell Clayton • 7:54 PM • Email Post • •


Friday, October 21, 2005

Israeli Death Shark (Terrorists Beware)

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(Israel News Agency) In the most recent unveiling the Israel Navy has now deployed a speedboat drone capable of reaching enemy targets hundreds of miles from Israel shores.

The unmanned speedboat is equipped with a remote-controlled machine gun capable of being operated with laser accuracy up to a range of 50 kilometers, reportedly the first of its kind in the world.

Israel is deploying these "Death Sharks" in order to counter suicide bombers (in boats) that have been a plague to the Israeli navy. Israel has deployed hundreds of these mini navel drones throughout the Mediterranean sea as well as the Middle East and the commanders have even admitted that these battle drones have even "tasted blood."

(Israel News Agency) The "Death Shark" will most definitely be used to protect and escort Israel's merchant marine fleet and civilian vessels in both the Middle East and throughout the world, say analysts. It was most probably used during Israel disengagement from Gaza, where it quietly neutralized terrorists both on land and in the water attempting to disrupt Israel's unilateral peace move.

The machine gun is a mini-Typhoon type, also developed by Rafael. The Typhoon system allows the gun to stay on target as the unmanned surface vehicle (USV) bounces across the waves. Developers said the pilot of the vessel would be an Israel Defense Forces officer. This officer would most likely be a trained field intelligence professional cooperating with Israel military, Shabak (domestic security) and the Mossad.

The Death Shark should prove to be a valuable resource against a navel invasion and help compensate the tiny nation for the lack of submarines within its fleet (currently Israel has three subs although they are requesting two additional ones from either Germany or the US). Not only can these drones read a license plate ten miles away but can be easily deployed alongside the coasts of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria without being detected.

Although the Death Shark's original intent is to defend Israeli waters, they may prove as a useful deterrence against Iran and Syria just in case they do not take America's threat seriously.

Image Credit: Israel News Agency.

By Darnell Clayton • 1:20 PM • Email Post • •


Israel And Turkey, Oil And Water?

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency) A recent visit to Turkey by Israel’s infrastructure minister has given a renewed push to several projects that Israeli officials believe could have an important regional impact. [...]

One proposed plan is the construction of a pipeline to bring water from Turkey to Israel. Israel last year signed a 20-year deal to import drinking water from a plant on Turkey’s Manavgat River.

This project would not only benefit Israel, but surrounding nations (such as Jordan and the Palestinian Territories) as well. Turkey is also negotiating building a power plant within the region (a $360 million deal) but it seems that Turkey is interested in building another pipeline that may not only benefit the region, but perhaps Asia as well.

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency) Another idea that was discussed, according to Israeli officials, is a proposal to use Israel as a transit point for oil arriving in Turkey via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or BTC, pipeline. That’s a $4 billion, 1,093-mile project that will bring Caspian Sea oil and natural gas to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast from Azerbaijan via Georgia. [...]

Israel’s location and small size may turn out to be a strategic advantage. Since the largest oil tankers can’t sail through the Suez Canal, oil pumped at Ceyhan and headed to Asia would have to make a lengthy trip around Africa. Pumping is expected to begin later this year.

If this deal becomes successful, this could help improve the Israeli economy and give this tiny nation more influence in a region known to reject its existence. If successfully built, this pipeline could provide much needed fuel to not only India (who is expressing interest in the deal) but also as far away as Japan. Such a structure may not bode well with the Egyptians however, as it would take away revenue from their Suez Canal.

By Darnell Clayton • 1:00 PM • Email Post • •


Blogger Gets Book Deal

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(Hat Tip: Blogger Buzz)

Congratulations Chocolate And Zucchini!

Life changes? Yes, indeed: today seems like the perfect day to announce that I have just signed a book deal with a NYC publisher, that I have quit my dayjob and that I now live the happy life of a full-time writer, working on the book and a miscellany of other projects. Excited, thrilled, gleeful and proud is how I feel -- but most delightful of all, free. There is no price tag on that.

Editor's note: Probably one of the best things to happen to a novel blogger (this author's favorite is The Darth Side). Although this author lacks the time to create a blog novel, any readers would be encouraged to by signing up with the National Novel Writing Month contest next month.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:30 PM • Email Post • •


Hubble Searches For Oxygen On Moon

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(Earth Times) NASA's Hubble Telescope, which has so far beamed a number of spectacular images from the universe to Earth, has provided scientists with the tool to study the moon to prepare for the manned lunar mission of 2018. In August, the telescope snapped photographs that will help astronomers search for minerals containing oxygen on the moon.

It seems that Hubble has perhaps found its place in the space colonization race. Finding oxygen minerals upon the lunar world will enable future colonies to become more independent of Earthen assistance and allow colonists to concentrate on other tasks such as growing plants on the lunar surface or even melting moon dust into solar panels.

(Earth Times) Oxygen obtained from these will be mined by astronauts and used for breathing and for powering rockets. "These observations of the moon have been a challenging and highly successful technological achievement for NASA and the Hubble team, since the telescope was not originally designed for lunar observations. The images will inform both scientific studies of lunar geology and future decisions on further lunar exploration," said Jennifer Wiseman, program scientist for Hubble Telescope at NASA.

Scientists are looking for an element called ilmenite which is composed of iron oxide and titanium (another useful resource). Astronomers have found ilmenite in abundance in the Aristarchus crater which is approximately 26 miles wide and two miles deep.

As Hubble discovers more locations, establishing a colony on the moon will become more attractive not only as a scientific research outpost, but hopefully as a tourist destination as well (that is if prices become more reasonable).

Image Credit: Aristarchus Crater, image from Wikipedia.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:59 AM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Female Firefighters In Iran?

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(CS Monitor) [A]t Station No. 9 in Karaj, west of Tehran, a small unit prides itself on being like few others: the only squad of women firefighters in the Middle East.

Not every rescue requires a feminine touch. But in the Islamic Republic, which tolerates little public mixing of the genders, the 11 women here are breaking new ground and creating a model for cities across the country.

In a nation known for enforcing religious law down to the letter this comes as a surprise as firefighting is generally left towards men, especially in places like Saudi Arabia and even in small communities of the United States. Although these woman have to wear the head scarf underneath, they are tough and go through exactly the same training as their male counterparts.

(CS Monitor) "Physically we can manage it, we don't think we are anything less [than the men]," says Zeinab Karimi. Her father's tales of his work as a firefighter shaped her as a girl. When ads for the positions appeared, he mentioned them to Karimi, who had never thought she'd fight fires herself. "We believe in our abilities."

Those abilities are honed by training the same way as the men's, rappelling down a multistory training wall, jumping from heights, carrying the injured, and finding escape routes. Members of the unit have long experience with competitive sports, and their daily routine includes 30 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Iran exposes these women to the same emergencies as it does the men, and in some cases they have provided aid where a man might have caused some "uncomfort" in the Shia society. Hopefully these women will continue to not only inspire but influence change within Iran, and encourage equality in a state that only recognizes women as semi-human.

Image Credit: Scott Peterson/Getty Images, photo from CS Monitor

By Darnell Clayton • 9:48 PM • Email Post • •


Evangelicals Investing In Israel

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(Ynet News) JERUSALEM - A Christian evangelical group based in Jerusalem is planning to launch a drive to invest in Israel in response to mainline church calls to withdraw investments from large corporations with business ties to Israel. [...]

In August 2004, the Presbyterian Church investment committee publicized a list of four international corporations which, according to the statement, support "the Israeli occupation" and threatened to sell the shares it holds in those companies valued at USD 60 million.

The Presbyterian Church apparently is the only denomination calling for divestment against Israel, which probably is an indicator as to how much the leadership (whoever they are) really understands their own religious text. Although other denominations who are upset with the Jewish state have steered away from the divestment idea, the rising hostility towards Israel by some churches should be confronted as anti-semitism is something that Christ himself would not tolerate.

(Ynet News) The ICEJ said it would announce active measures to counter the situation at a press conference later this week. [...]

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was founded in 1980 as a global Christian initiative to comfort the state and people of Israel "as mandated by Scripture," according to a group statement.

Organizations such as the ICEJ, Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International Christian Chamber of Commerce are encouraging people to invest within Israel although the best way to aid the economy would be to visit the nation (something Madonna is planning on doing).

By Darnell Clayton • 9:08 PM • Email Post • •


Livedoor Entering Space Tourism Business

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(MSN-Mainichi Daily News) FUKUOKA -- Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie has announced he wants to create a space tourism business, sending people into the celestial beyond by 2008.

Horie plans to use old Cold War-era Soviet spacecraft and said he wants to significantly cut the cost of space tourism from the multi-million dollar fees that have been paid up until now.

Livedoor's President Hori is attempting to reduce the cost of travel from 2.2 billion yen to something more "affordable" to the upper class. Although using cold war space craft could help reduce the cost of travel, investing in such a program seems rather foolish as such equipment has probably deteriorated over the years.

If Japan is serious about the upcoming space race then they probably should purchase newer shuttles as "hand-me-downs" may not cut it a hundred thousand feet up into space.

(MSN-Mainichi Daily News) Horie, who will carry out the plan with a special project team called Japan Space Dream, has already signed a deal with a Russian company and they displayed an actual space module at the fair.

JSD and Horie plan to send tourists into space in an Almaz capsule and have them stay in a Solyut space "hotel." The Soviets developed the 8-meter-long, 2.5-meter-diameter Almaz for military and espionage use in the '70s. The re-usable module is placed atop a rocket and fits three.

Hopefully these "space hotels" are spacious although a visitor may not care as they would be undertaking an event few people on the planet get to experience. Although many are probably concerned about the use of ancient Russian technology, Horie seems confident and even claims that, "This old stuff is far more reliable than the latest technology." Lets all pray that he is right because if not, we may have another Columbia on our hands.

Image Credit: MSN-Mainichi Daily News, Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie inside an Almaz module at a space fair in Fukuoka.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:28 PM • Email Post • •


A Baby Boy Named Google?

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(Google Blog) About this choice, Dr. Kai writes, "When we first knew that my wife Carol is pregnant, I said, 'we will name our child Google.' Everyone laughed and did not take me seriously. My brother said, 'Yeah, name the next one yahoo fuji nikon." And then, says Dr. Kai, the day came to make the baby official in the Swedish Registry. "I was with my friend Magnus Foss and my wife Carol, and I said yes, GOOGLE KAI. Carol knew how serious I am – she knows how much I adore Google services."

Although there are many fans of the search engine king, most of them pale in comparison to this father. Naming a child after a company is probably considered an honor in Lebanon, (where the father is from) although if the boy lived in America his parents would be considered an oddity in the public arena. As long as nobody names a child after Microsoft or Yahoo, then the world will still retain its sanity.

(Google Kai Blog) GOOGLE KAI is a Fruit of a Lebanese Father : Walid Elias KAI Google Pro Fan since 1998, Who is Developing a New Google Service from Home. PhD candidate in Search Marketing at www.altus.se/en and Lebanese - Swedish Lovely Mother: Carol KAI. (Source)

Editor's note: Best wishes to the family. This author wonders if they have considered the name Orkut for the next child?

By Darnell Clayton • 8:09 PM • Email Post • •


Friday, October 07, 2005

Busy Busy Busy

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Editor's note: Can life and blogging mix? This author is hoping that is the case, as blogging has become more than a simple outlet or a hobby--it's practically a way of life! (okay, it doesn't pay the bills so that last part might have been an exaggeration)

With a federal exam to study for and an upcoming business trip out of state (these are becoming way too frequent--but the hotels are nice) this blogger will be taking a break from posting for about a week and a half (will be returning on the 18th of October. In the mean time, here are some recommended sites that may interest a reader.

These are just a few of the sites that this author reads daily, and would recommend them to others (it may be wise to acquire an online feed reader in order to stay "up to date" with these blogs, such as Bloxor.com). which this author uses).

If anyone needs to contact this author, the best way to communicate would be through Gmail, Gtalk or Orkut (via the scrap book of coarse) and if you need a clue on the screen name, email name, etc., it should be listed on the sidebar (note: die spam bots, die!). Shalom! Be back in ten days!

By Darnell Clayton • 1:18 PM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Tenth Planet Has A Lunar Companion

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(Earth Times) The California Institute of Technology team that had discovered the presence of a tenth planet, which was subsequently named Xena, has now found a moon around the planet. [...]

The team, led by Michael Brown, said it observed a faint object around Xena. By observing the moon's distance and orbit around Xena, scientists will now be able to calculate the mass of the new planet.

Although this new planet does not have an official name yet, Xena's little companion is being named Gabrielle after the warrior princesses sidekick from the series. Gabrielle is estimated to be only 155 miles wide and its presence will help scientists and astronomers determine the mass of Xena, which lies almost nine billion miles away from the sun.

(Earth Times) "A combination of the distance of the moon from the planet and the speed it goes around the planet tells you very precisely what the mass of the planet is. If the planet is very massive, the moon will go around very fast; if it is less massive, the moon will travel more slowly. It is the only way we could ever measure the mass of Xena – because it has a moon," [Brown] added.

Having an official moon will probably help confirm Xena as a planet, as there are some who are arguing for its status to be downgraded (along with Pluto's). Although the International Astronomical Union has yet to decide upon a name for the new planet as well as its moon, Xena and Gabrielle would compliment the two greatly, although it would be a major departure from the traditional naming of greek gods.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:10 PM • Email Post • •


NASA Downsizing Plans For Space Station

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(Red Nova) A centrifuge laboratory to study the effects of gravity on animals won't be added, NASA Assistant Associate Administrator Mark Uhran said Monday. Another laboratory and a compartment that would have held life-support equipment are also "at higher risk" of being left on the ground, he said.

This is perhaps a wise move by NASA, as they are reorganizing themselves in order to be more equipped the next lunar landing. Cutting these future projects had more to do with the retirement of the Space Shuttles than expenses, as they are the only craft large enough to transport these labs into space, as Russia's craft are only large enough to transport food.

(Red Nova) NASA wants to retire the shuttle to save money to help pay for the plan to send humans to the moon in 2018.

Uhran said the shuttle will make no more than 19 flights between now and its retirement: 18 to the station and one to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Earlier this year, NASA said it needed 28 shuttle missions to build and stock the station.

Apparently NASA has done the math and it looks as if the Space Station will be taking a back seat towards lunar colonization. Although more trips are scheduled towards the station, with the fleet retiring in five years it seems as if Russia will probably be playing a more active role in the future as they have a greater vested interest than their American comrades.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:44 PM • Email Post • •


Email Your Friend After The Rapture?

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(Hat Tip: Blogs 4 God)

(Rapture Letters.com) After the rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people have just disappeared. Unfortunately, after the rapture, only non believers will be left to come up with answers. You probably have family and friends that you have witnessed to and they just won't listen. After the rapture they probably will, but who will tell them?

Apparently some believers have written a program that will email all of your family members and friends in the event that millions disappear from the globe. This tool is similar to the email from the grave idea, in which you "contact" a loved one once you are gone from this world.

If you wish to do something now that will help your unbelieving friends and family after the rapture, you need to add those persons email address to our database. Their names will be stored indefinitely and a letter will be sent out to each of them on the first Friday after the rapture. Then they will receive another letter every Friday after that.

Although this is a noble idea, one wonders how long the servers will remain online if the owners are raptured as well. After all, the owners of this site probably do not expect to be "left behind" (as the phrase goes). If the servers are able to function after several years of use, (avoiding viruses, hackers, etc.), how long would it take for a "one world government" to shut such a site down?

By Darnell Clayton • 8:21 PM • Email Post • •


What Is All The Fuss About Miers?

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(Hat Tip: Stop the ACLU)

Editor's note: It seems like the blogosphere is "a buzz" over the Supreme court nomination of Harriet Miers, with attacks ironically coming from some of the major conservative bloggers, with some pretty much over reacting to the issue.

Update: See below for details...

There are rumors that Miers may be Pro-life, which probably would explain why the ACLJ is officially supporting her. What conservatives need to do is calm down and listen to President Bush instead of whining as well as complain on how she is not like Roberts or Thomas (although in an ironic twist it seems that she getting support from Senator Reid.

President Bush has lead this country through think and thin, and conservatives should give him the benefit of the doubt. As far as this blogger can tell, there is nothing wrong with the President's pick, and if anyone out there has any reason to doubt that she would make a great Supreme Court justice, then this author is open ears.


Updated: Apparently a new Coalition of the Chillin' is starting up. It looks like reason is returning to the blogosphere . And it looks like this blogger won't have to switch parties after all in order to support Miers.

By Darnell Clayton • 5:59 PM • Email Post • •


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