Week of 1 November 2010
Update: Saturday, 6 November 2010 09:58 -0400
- Barbara is due back this afternoon. Malcolm and I can't wait.
Paul Jones called last night, just as I was almost finished watching the final episode of series 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
He'd set up his 8" SCT in the front yard to image Jupiter, and invited
me over to watch. He was using an adapted webcam, which he tells me is
the equivalent of about a 5mm eyepiece in terms of magnification. With
the SCT's 2030mm focal length, that amounts to about 400X magnification
with just the webcam. He was also using his 1.8X Barlow, for about
730X, or my 3X Barlow, for about 1,200X.
400X is pushing it for 8" of aperture, or about 50X per inch. That's on
the edge of what astronomers call empty magnification, which is the
point where additional magnification makes the image scale larger but
does not reveal any additional detail. In this case, though, empty
magnification is acceptable, because Paul was trying to get image scale
large enough to cover as much of the sensor as possible. The downside
of that is that it makes it very difficult to get the object into the
field of view. With my 3X Barlow in place, the true field of view was
less than 2 arcminutes. Jupiter, at about 1 arcminute (1/60th of a
degree) in apparent angular size, filled much of the frame. (For
comparison, the full Moon has an apparent angular size of about 30
arcminutes, so the true field of view was about 1/15 of the Moon's
diameter or roughly 0.4% of the Moon's surface area. Try finding
anything with a field that narrow.)
Focusing was also a problem.
It's very difficult to focus on Jupiter itself, because it's very
low-contrast. There aren't any sharp edges or lines to focus on. So
Paul was focusing on one of Jupiter's moons, which provides what
amounts to nearly a point source to focus on. The problem is, even
though Jupiter's moons are relatively close to Jupiter, they're still
far outside a 2-arcminute field of view. So, if Paul got a moon in the
field to focus the scope, he then had to find Jupiter again, which is
much harder than it sounds.
I'm still working on the microchemistry kits.
I'm dithering about whether or not to vote. Pournelle says this is the
most important election in living memory, and he may be right. The
problem is that there's no "none of the above" option on the ballot.
I'd like to drive stakes through the hearts of the Democrats, but
at the same time I don't want the Republicans to think they're any
better. Neither party is fit to serve. I suppose the best we can hope
for is gridlock.
I don't doubt that the Republicans will make
massive gains today, but we really need some way to send them a
message: "We hate you, but we hate you just a tiny smidgen less than we
hate the Democrats. We wish all of you would eat shit and die."
Otherwise, the Republicans are likely to believe their gains are some
sort of mandate.
I suppose I will go and vote.
I just got back from voting. If our precinct is any indication at all,
this election will be a bloodbath for the Democrats. I always head over
to vote around 10:00 a.m., because it's generally least busy around
then. In prior off-year elections, I might have been voter number 65 or
70. This time, I was number 190.
a high turnout is generally good for the Democrats. This time, I think
it means disaster for them. All that extra turnout is pissed-off
voters. They'd like to hand Obama his head, but since that's not an
option they'll take out their rage on any Democrat whose name appears
on the ballot. My guess is that the House will be Republican after this
election. It's even possible the Senate will change hands. I hope so.
Anything we can do to handcuff Obama is a very good thing. I hope Obama
has a heart attack when he sees the election returns. Biden would be a
shitty president, but he couldn't possibly be as bad as Obama.
hope the Republicans take this election for what it really means.
They're being elected to repeal ObamaCare and stop the bailouts and
other corporate welfare dead. If the Republicans do take control,
they'll have some pretty high expectations to meet. Obama's veto looms,
of course, but we can hope that Democrats who want to remain in office
will realize that they'd better vote to override any Obama vetoes. We
can at least hope that this is the Left's last gasp.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Well, that was certainly a bloodbath by anyone's definition. The
electorate has definitively told Obama and his party to eat shit and
die. Much is being made of Republican gains in the US House and
Senate, but the state level gains may be just as important. As one
example, North Carolina now has Republicans in control of both the
State House and Senate. The last time that happened was in 1870, AKA
Reconstruction. Those newly Republican state congresses will be the
ones defining new US Congressional districts after the census, so you
can bet most of those new Congressional districts will elect
Republicans and most of the districts being eliminated will be those
held by Democrats.
What's not being mentioned much in the news
reports is the shift to the right among newly elected Democrats. For
example, West Virginia elected a Democrat, the former governor, to
their vacant Senate seat, but that new Senator is by no means friendly
to Obama and his agenda. In short, I think a lot of Democrats are
likely to be voting with the Republicans against Obama's programs.
Frankly, I was hoping although not really expecting the Republicans to
take control of the Senate as well as the House. But the actual results
may be nearly as good. It's pretty clear that not only will Obama not
be able to force through any more of his far-left programs, but that
those programs that he has already forced through will now be facing a
If these newly-elected Republicans--as well as
those Democrats that managed to hang on--know what's good for them,
they'll go to work immediately on taking a meat axe to taxes and
spending, chopping regulations wholesale, and repealing ObamaCare. If
they don't make dramatic progress on all these things by 2012, they'll
be unemployed. And they know it.
The parting on the right is now a parting on the left.
Thursday, 4 November 2010
- Some editors are more clueless than others. The victim, Monica Gaudio, wrote an article and posted it on her web site. Cooks Source
(sic) magazine, a for-profit publication, used the article without
permission or payment. The author contacted the magazine to demand an
apology and a small donation to a non-profit as compensation for their
use of the article. Here, in part, is the reply that Ms. Gaudio
received from Judith Griggs, the editor of Cooks Source.
Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at
The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know
about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is
put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget
to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered
"public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your
whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot,
clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and
the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you
as a professional should know that the article we used written by you
was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was
originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason,
I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain,
albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some
time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young
writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many
who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"
I sincerely hope that Ms. Gaudio sues Cooks Source
for copyright infringement and is awarded statutory damages. Just the
editor's email response should make the case a slam dunk. If Jammie
Thomas can have a $1.5 million judgment entered against her for
non-commercial copyright infringement of a few audio tracks, it's only
reasonable that Cooks Source pay a heavy price for its actions and attitude.
course, that's not going to happen. The copyright system is designed
for the benefit of corporations, not to protect the actual authors.
That's only to be expected, since corporations can pay the lawyers
and have bought and paid for most of the politicians and judges.
- O'Reilly just emailed me to say that the third edition of Building the Perfect PC
is off to the printers and due in bookstores on 1 December. As usual,
Amazon has Barbara as the sole author. Their rule appears to be that if
Barbara and I write a book, Barbara is the author. If I write a book,
I'm the author. Barbara is horrified. I think it's funny. To be fair,
Barnes & Noble has me as the sole author. The difference is, B&N will notice the problem and fix it eventually. Amazon won't.
a very unusual author. Most authors treat their books like children.
They cheer them on and follow their Amazon sales rank. They're elated
if the book does well and depressed by every dip in sales from day to
day. I, on the other hand, am more like a salmon. When I finish a book,
that's it. I've done my job as well as I can do it, and whether the
book succeeds or fails is out of my control. Once the book goes to the
printer, I pretty much forget about it. I concentrate on the next
Which is what I'm concentrating on now. The microchemistry kit manual has my attention now and will until it's finished.
Saturday, 8 November 2010
- Interesting article
in this morning's paper, listing the top zip codes in North Carolina
for contributions to federal-level election campaigns. With a
population close to a quarter million, Winston-Salem is the fourth or
fifth largest city in North Carolina, but we're apparently quite
generous in funding election campaigns for federal office.
Winston-Salem zipcode 27104 was the number one zipcode in North
Carolina for campaign contributions. Our own zipcode, 27106, which
adjoins 27104, was number four statewide, and was only $5,000
short of being number three.
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