Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How Seinfeld Constructs a Joke

A few months ago a YouTube video explained how the comic Louie CK tells a joke. I was surprised by the precision and discipline. I guess it's because he makes it look so natural and easy.

Now Netflix is getting into act with its Jerry Before Seinfeld special.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Seinfeld has been writing his jokes with a pen on a yellow legal pad for decades. He saves them all, in alphabetical order.

Seinfeld said, "I don't want people to know how much work I put into it. I just think it's more fun when it seems off the cuff."

Silly me, I thought it was about nothing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We're Having a Baby!

Well, that's what Amazon said yesterday.

And then we received this email apology. Is confusion the right word here? Of course, Amazon's "technical glitch" went viral.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sky is Falling

Or maybe it's not.

The Wall Street Journal reports there are millions of pieces of space junk from past space missions and satellites orbiting the earth. The Air Force tracks more than 23,000 of them, many traveling at speeds up to 17,000 miles per hour, where an "aluminum pellet 1-centimeter wide packs the the kinetic equivalent of a 400-pound safe moving at 60 miles per hour."

In the movie Gravity, space debris sets in motion catastrophic mission failure. No surprise, Hollywood blamed the Russians.

Today, with advances in rocket delivery the physical and financial hurdles to launch things into orbit are lower than ever. More than 35 companies are now launching hundreds of small CubeSats into low earth orbits every year.

How serious a problem is this? According to The Wall Street Journal:
"No company has more direct experience with the hazards of space junk than Iridium Communications Inc., which operates a network of 66 large communications satellites in an orbit about 480 miles above Earth to link up satellite phones and data systems. When launched in 1997, the network was the world's biggest deployment of low-earth-orbit satellites.
In 2009, an abandoned Russian military communications satellite slammed into an Iridium satellite, with a closing speed of about 26,000 miles per hour.
The satellites broke into 2,300 pieces of high-speed shrapnel large enough to track. Some burned up in the atmosphere, but most are expected to orbit Earth for decades to come. It was the first time an active satellite was destroyed by an accidental impact with another satellite.
All told, Iridium has lost nine satellites in orbit over the years. The company declines to say how." 
As the old pilot maxim goes, "Altitude is your friend." Most manned missions, including the International Space Station, travel in low-earth-orbits below altitudes of 1,200 miles where it takes between 84 and 127 minutes to orbit the Earth. Most large LEO satellites are expected to de-orbit over time due to the Earth's gravity and orbital decay.  There is another band of satellites that are in stationary, geosynchronous equatorial orbits (GEO) of altitudes of 22,236 miles. The smaller stuff, especially debris, seem to stay in orbit.

And you thought man-made climate change was a problem.

It's just one more reason intelligent life from other galaxies take detours past Earth.