July 9th, 2008

Minotaur

They pursued it with forks and hope

1. You might have heard about a federal appeals court quoting The Hunting of the Snark, which is pretty cool. In my college Creative Writing class, we were encouraged to recite poetry from memory, and I once recited the part of that poem that introduces the crew. I still remember most of it, aside from a few lines. Unfortunately, one of them happens to be the second line of the poem. Oh, well. My current screen saver also quotes Snark.

2. I read the first two books of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy when I was in junior high, but for some reason never got around to finishing the third, even though I owned a copy. I finally finished it yesterday, and found it to be a pretty good read, although I'm not sure there's anything that makes the series particularly distinctive among fantasy books. The main recurring theme is that knowing the true name of a person or thing allows a wizard to control it. The trilogy was the first place I came across this idea, but it's apparently an old one.

3. The most recent Bullshit! episode was about NASA, which Penn and Teller admitted did some really cool things, but they also thought the agency was inefficient and didn't learn from mistakes. I'd heard from bethje about how the Challenger and Columbia disasters could possibly have been prevented if the scientists involved hadn't been so reluctant to go against the group mentality. One major idea that Penn and Teller promoted was that space exploration should be put in the hands of private industry. It's no secret that they don't trust the government in general, and while I do think the government screws up pretty often, I don't think they can hold a candle in that respect to the corporate world. (And really, in today's society, is there much of a difference anyway?) That said, I'm not opposed to the idea of private and corporate space flight. And using federal funding to send people to Mars probably isn't such a great idea at this point. But what's REALLY bullshit about NASA, which wasn't covered in the show, is how they used that logo with the lines missing from the middles of the A's. Remember that? Yeah, I'm glad they gave that up.

4. Probably because of the show, I had a dream last night that involved discussing space stuff, like dark matter and the possibility of life on other planets. I also remember part of the dream where I was on a plane and my seatbelt wouldn't fasten. That was around when I woke up.