Wednesday, January 21, 2004  [!]
NASA's (At Ames Research Center) has been involved in data mining to create an anti-terror aviation database.

NASA researchers are using data gleaned from flight-safety records, including reports of sick passengers, bad weather and sleepy pilots, to build an antiterror database.
This is shocking to me. Baffling. The article states that NASA's expertise at data mining (to, you know, understand the universe) is being called upon for national security. They're combining flight incident reports with presumably inviolable U.S. Census data. Is this supposed to fit the first part of the NASA Mission Statement? ("To improve life here. To extend life to there. To find life beyond.")

1/21/04; 2:51:25 PM | Current Events | Discuss | # | |

Spalding Gray has been missing since January 11th. John Perry Barlow believes he committed suicide and writes three funereal posts about the man who was his close friend.

What is grief without finality? A terrible confusion and an opportunity to celebrate what one might still have.

It's a moving tribute, and, in response to some criticial comments (name-dropper; take this down for the sake of his family), Barlow reflects on a fundamental dishonesty about death.

Among the beliefs that he and I shared was a conviction that making public the intimately personal is a revolutionary act in an atomized society where many feel compelled to play so close to the chest that they can't read their own cards. Being emotionally naked before strangers extends to them a permission for self-revelation they badly need if they are to loosen the shackles of their own quiet desperations. It is a blow against the pursuit of loneliness.

Had I been the one who leapt and were Spalding still as he was before his breakdown, he would be incorporating my disappearance into a monologue at this very moment.

But death has become wild and obscene in this country. Its power threatens our national religion of control. To die in America is to fail. It is an act of weakness. The dead could have beaten it had they been tough enough. And suicide, of course, is even worse, whatever the unendurable torments or neurological malfunctions that might drive one to it. Believe me, he tried some truly medieval procedures to penetrate his horror. [Read More]

1/21/04; 2:37:10 PM | Life | Discuss | # | |

USA Today editorial about dropping Hubble.

Two days after President Bush announced a push to send a man to Mars, NASA doomed the Hubble Space Telescope by scrubbing a shuttle mission to upgrade the venerable instrument.

The result is an inadvertent irony. In the name of sending more humans into space, NASA has pulled the plug on its strongest real-world argument for doing so. Though Hubble is Earth's most powerful eye in space, it might shut down within a few years.

1/21/04; 1:56:13 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |