December, 2003

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Century of flight

Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

Noted the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first successful powered flight today.

While it’s certainly a cause for celebration, it seems to me that advances in aviation tapered off in the second half of the twentieth century, or at least in terms of the usual metrics: speed, altitude, range, etc. Case and point: by 1953, we had jet-powered aircraft, had achieved supersonic flight, and jet aircraft that could cross the oceans non-stop. Fifty years later we’ve not pushed those boundaries much further, something evident when you consider that some planes built around 1953 are still in service today. Comparing 1953 to 1903 the advances made during that period seem much greater.

I suppose there’s something to be said for other metrics: for example, over the past fifty years air transport has become much more available to the public, as would be shown by statistics (if I could only find them) on the number of people traveling by air, number of airports, miles flown, etc. Still, such advances aren’t anywhere as glamorous… I feel we’re overdue to take the “next big step up” in aviation. What form will it take? Inexpensive space planes? Hypersonic air travel? Time will tell.

At last, victory!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2003

I was delighted to see from last Sunday’s autocross results that I placed first in my class (A-Stock Novice). Now this isn’t technically the first time this has happened, but last time it was because I happened to be the only entrant in my class. This time I went against two other competitors, one driving the same kind of car as mine.

Granted, another driver driving a stock Evo managed a time over five seconds better than mine—so clearly I still have much to learn…

An army of one…

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

… untrained soldier.

Someone pointed me to a silly little online “strategy” game called Kings of Chaos today. I signed up and immediately launched an attack, the results of which were fairly amusing:

Your soldiers march onto the battlefield

Your generals report on your army’s status:

0 of your soldiers are trained attack specialists
1 of your army consists of untrained soldiers

None of your 0 trained soldiers have weapons

None of your 1 untrained soldiers have weapons

Your field scouts report on the status of the enemy:

The enemy has 2,630 trained soldiers with weapons and 1,120 with no weapons

None of the enemy’s 273 untrained soldiers have weapons

Both sides charge!
Your army strikes!

Your troops inflict 4 damage on the enemy!
The enemy sustains 0 casualties!

Everous’s forces counter-attack and inflict 69,914,433 damage on your army!
Your army sustains 0 casualties!

Your generals report on your weapon damage:

Everous’s forces expelled your army!

As your soldiers flee the battlefield you try to figure out what happened.
Were you overwhelmed by superior force? Were your soldiers tired?
Were your weapons in poor condition? Perhaps your soldiers were cowardly?
If you continue to fight and lose word will spread throughout the land about
your army’s incompetence!

Results that would qualify me as a general in the Iraqi army, I think…

Apparently I can gain more soldiers by having people click on a link to the Kings of Chaos website. Please, help me out and click on this link!

Don’t count your fry…

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

41 of the 44 corydoras eggs that I moved to the isolation tank hatched last night and this morning. I was able to witness about a half dozen of them hatch in front of my eyes: first, I could see the fry wriggling around inside the egg, and a few minutes later the egg would burst open rather suddenly and the fry would dart out, and upon gaining its bearings a second or so later it would immediately swim down to the safety of the gravel. In the gravel the fry are completely invisible except occasionally when they move about. When I got back home tonight I could still see that at least a few were still alive, though it’s impossible to know how many until they grow large enough to be more easily visible.