What age is old?

When does a person become old? Funny how the age shifts over time. When you are young, thirty seems ancient. When you hit fifty, thirty seems young. Back when life was tough, people didn’t see much past fifty but now sixty is still relatively young. People often get close to eighty and beyond. If that is the case 60 is the new forty.

What is old? Is it so many years from birth or is it becoming frail in body and mind? Or is it a type of thinking that thinks more of the past than the future.

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Old Cigarette Commercials

I was listening to an old radio show and I heard one of their commercials. It is hard to believe that at one time doctors were used to sell cigarettes. In the commercial they polled doctors and the cigarette doctors smoked the most was Camels. This gave the impression that Camels were the healthiest. In fact they were so healthy they challenged people to smoke them for thirty days. After those thirty days they would find out that Camels didn’t irritate the throat.

It seems like a hundred years since cigarettes were everywhere. Ashtrays and smoking lamps were common place.

Recently I was at a convenience store and saw a pack was going for around $5. This made me laugh because even though I don’t smoke I used to sell cartons at a store for around $7.50. (It was less than a hundred years ago.)

Any strange cigarette memories out there?

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Laughter is Good Medicine

It is great when you can see the funny side of things. I was an the late call last night and I had a good time laughing. I also got to pick on Bryan. It was good-natured joshing.

I am a firm believer in taken life seriously but not myself or my friends too seriously. I guess this is why I could not be on the other side. They have no sense of humor. They have no ability to see jokes for what they are. Just jokes.

We also talked about how it is great how one can have a robust conversation and walk away friends. I know some of the heated discussions I have had turned out to my benefit. (It took a day or two but I learned or they learned.)

One of the goals of this site is to make the Internet fun again. People should enjoy the exchange even when it gets a little spicy. Also I hope we have a place whore the Refs get to be booed. What’s a game without saying, “The Ref is blind.”

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Chang’e 4 (嫦娥四号) Lands on the Far Side of the Moon

Chang'e 4 landing site on the far side of the MoonAt 02:26 UTC on 2019-01-03, the Chinese Chang’e 4 (嫦娥四号) soft lander and rover touched down in the Von Kármán crater on the far side of the Moon.  This is the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon, which is never visible from the Earth.  Here is a video including animation of the landing and actual images captured during the descent and of the surface after landing.

The lander carries a rover and a number of experiments.  It was originally built as a back-up to the Chang’e 3 lander and rover which landed on the near side of the Moon on December 14th, 2013, becoming the first spacecraft to soft land on the Moon since the Soviet Luna 24 in 1976.

The major challenge in exploring the far side of the Moon is communicating with Earth.  You can’t transmit radio signals through the Moon, so the only way to provide a direct communications link is to place a relay satellite in a “halo orbit” around the Earth-Moon Lagrangian point 2 (L2).  On 2018-05-20, the Queqiao (鹊桥) satellite was launched into such an orbit (the first such relay established at the Moon).  It was only after this relay was checked out that Chang’e 4 was launched on 2018-12-07.

The landing site at 177.6° E, 45.5° S on the floor of Von Kármán crater, is a relatively flat and uncratered area, relatively easy to get into compared to the rugged highlands of much of the Moon’s far side.  Here is a synthetic image of the landing site from Earth and Moon Viewer, seen from 500 km above the Moon, with an “x” indicating the reported touchdown point.

Chang'e landing site

Here is an image of the Moon’s far side returned by the lander.

Image of the Moon's far side from Chang'e 4

Colour in this image should be taken cum grano salis.  The Moon is a pretty uniform dark grey colour, although the shade may appear different depending upon the Sun angle.  This picture was taken right after landing, and the camera’s white balance may not have yet been calibrated.

In addition to cameras on the lander and rover (which has not yet been deployed), there are instruments to study the solar wind and its interaction with the lunar surface, the composition of the surface, and a ground penetrating radar to explore the sub-surface.  The lander carries a sealed “biosphere” with seeds of potatoes, Arabidopsis, and silkworm eggs, with a camera to monitor growth.  One hopes that the silkworm experiment will end better than the introduction of the gypsy moth into North America in 1868.

You may hear reports in the legacy media that Chang’e 4 landed “near the Moon’s south pole”—this is nonsense. Von Kármán crater is at latitude 45.5° S, half way between the equator and south pole; it is no closer to the lunar south pole than Portland, Oregon is to Earth’s north pole.  The confusion is due to the landing site being within the South Pole-Aitken basin, an enormous (2500 km diameter) impact crater on the lunar far side.  Because the basin is so huge, it extends from the south pole to half way to the equator.

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Lunar Lander


How many of you remember the old Lunar Lander video game? For those who don’t it is a simple game that challenges you to land a LEM on the lunar surface. You have to slow down the horizontal speed; slow down the vertical speed; and find a flat place to land. Well, it is simple til you crash a bunch of times because you are going too fast or at the wrong angle. Oh, you also have to watch your fuel. No fuel and you “die’>

You are probably wondering why I am bringing this up. Well, I am on an exercise bike every day and find a game helps me to enjoy the ride. It distracts my mind and gets the kilometers in. Also I met with my Japanese side of my family and played the game with my nephew. He grew up on Play Station 2 so I was wondering how he would like old school video. He liked it and wanted to keep trying till he got the landings right. He is a quiet person so sharing a game worked out better than trying to get him to talk.

I figure some of you are Lunar Lander Pros so you can give me some good advice to not crash so much. So far the moon surface is so full of holes from my failed attempts the “cheese” is not green but Swiss.

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Reality Leaker

The name of Reality Leaker crossed my computer screen today.   The Intercept ran a long column by Reality Leaker’s mother, in which she was whining about how short the sentences handed to Team Trump are, in comparison to Reality Leaker’s 63-month sentence.

I thought it was laughable, but I saw that Salon also had an article about mother Billie Winner-Davis’s whining, and the New York Times has an article about a stage play to tell Ms. Reality Leaker’s story.   Treason should make a great subject for a drama, but we all know that the convicted heroine of the story will be portrayed as a brave whistleblower rather than the treasonous felon she is.

Just to bring this back, so we can dismiss it again.   Reality Winner served in the U.S. Air Force, then took a job with a company that was working for NSA.  She leaked a document about Russian election systems hacking in 2016 to her friends at The Intercept.  They ran with the leak, portraying it as proof that the 2016 election was stolen from Hillary through Russian interference in collusion with Team Trump.

Leaking the document damaged the ability of NSA to investigate several leads that they had unearthed in their Russian hacking investigation.   The extent of the damage she did is not known; prosecutors allowed her to plead guilty in return for a sentence of only five years because they did not want to have to produce additional sensitive information in court.

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Books of the Year: 2018

Gnome carrying pile of booksHere are my picks for the best books of 2018, fiction and nonfiction. These aren’t the best books published this year, but rather the best I’ve read in the last twelve months. The winner in both categories is barely distinguished from the pack, and the runners up are all worthy of reading. Runners up appear in alphabetical order by their author’s surname. Each title is linked to my review of the book.

Fiction:

Winner:

Runners up:

Nonfiction:

Winner:

Runners up:

What were your books of the year for 2018?

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