Daily Archives: March 22, 2012

NASA technology (4)


Dusty Mars Rover‘s Self Portrait
NASA – This self portrait from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows dust accumulation on the rover’s solar panels as the mission approached its fifth Martian winter. The dust reduces the rover’s power supply, and the rover’s mobility is limited until the winter is over or wind cleans the panels.

This is a mosaic of images taken by Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam) during the 2,111th to 2,814th Martian days, or sols, of the rover’s mission (Dec. 21 to Dec. 24, 2011). The downward-looking view omits the mast on which the camera is mounted.

The portrait is presented in approximate true color, the camera team’s best estimate of what the scene would look like if humans were there and able to see it with their own eyes.

Opportunity has worked through four Martian southern hemisphere winters since it landed in in January 2004 about 14 miles (23 kilometers) northwest of its current location. Closer to the equator than its twin rover, Spirit, Opportunity has not needed to stay on a sun-facing slope during the previous winters. Now, however, Opportunity’s solar panels carry a thicker coating of dust, and the team is using a strategy employed for three winters with Spirit: staying on a sun-facing slope. The sun will pass relatively low in the northern sky from the rover’s perspective for several months of shortened daylight before and after the southern Mars winter solstice on March 30, 2012. Opportunity is conducting research while located on the north-facing slope of a site called “Greeley Haven.” Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.


Kill the American Primary to Save American Politics

Barack Obama

Barack Obama (Photo credit: kellydelay)

By Ezra Klein – By now, you’ve probably heard of Americans Elect, the political-reform group funded by a collection of Wall Street executives (some of whom remain anonymous) who hope to field a bipartisan presidential ticket in 2012.

It’s seductive to believe that all Washington needs to thrive is an independent-minded presidential candidate who will expose the folly of partisanship and remind Americans of our shared values and the common good. But it’s not true. Just ask Barack Obama, who ran on hope, change and post-partisanship. Ask George W. Bush, who promised to be “a uniter, not a divider.”

“The problem we have is members of a political party can’t defect,” Elliot Ackerman,, the chief operating officer of Americans Elect, says. “The real reason defections are so difficult is people go home and they’re faced by a primary challenger. There’s a huge amount of leverage right now on people who fear being primaried.”

To put that slightly differently, primaries are one of the tools used to enforce polarization. more> http://tinyurl.com/6uzhpph

Dangerously Vague Cybersecurity Legislation Threatens Civil Liberties


EFF_logo_notype_black (Photo credit: ElectronicFrontierFoundation)

EFF – There is a spate of proposed cybersecurity legislation working its way through the House and Senate. The bills are aimed primarily at facilitating cooperation regarding so-called “cybersecurity” issues among different branches of government as well as between government and the private sector.

The bills range from being downright terrible to appropriately intentioned, yet they all suffer from the fundamental inability to clearly define the threats which are being defended against and the countermeasures that can be taken against those threats.

Without good definitions and an emphasis on transparency, we cannot be certain that government entities and corporations will refrain from abusing their power, interpreting the definitions in the statute expansively, and infringing on civil liberties. more> http://tinyurl.com/7y683po

Verizon: You Totally Need This Unnecessary FiOS Upgrade

By Laura Northrup – Verizon really wants Sean to sign up for FiOS. Really, really wants him to sign up. He’s happy kicking it old-school with a regular old copper landline, and dumping the barrage of FiOS ads in the trash. So it was interesting when he got a letter apologizing for nonexistent “service issues” in his area and urging him to upgrade to the newer, shinier fiber optic network.

I’ve seen Verizon do quite a few dishonest things, but this is one of the worst. Especially permanently locking you into them as your sole provider for phone and internet service. more> http://tinyurl.com/7jht2t3

Origins and Mission of the Federal Reserve

Chairman Bernanke’s College Lecture Series

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Federal Reserve – In the first lecture, the Chairman explains what central banks do, the origin of central banking in the United States, and the early experience of the Federal Reserve in dealing with a serious financial crisis: the Great Depression. [VIDEO 1:12:42] more> http://tinyurl.com/7qdwe59


CONGRESS WATCH Secretary LaHood, New Jersey Senators, Rep. Sires Highlight Benefits of Senate Surface Transportation Bill for NJ, US Senate


CONGRESS WATCH Grassley-Johnson payment limits bill (pdf), US Senate Related articles Grassley says cyber-security bill is a step backwards (theneteconomy.wordpress.com)