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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

A Sad Day for Private Sector Manned Spaceflight

by Ken Newquist / July 27, 2007

Three people were killed after an explosion during an oxidizer test at Scaled Composites this week, two yesterday when the explosion happened, one today from complications afterwards. Scaled Composites is the company that won the X-Prize for the successful sub-orbital flight of its spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. The crew had been testing engine components for SpaceShipTwo, the private craft being built for Virgin Galactic, the suborbital spaceflight arm of Virgin Atlantic.

WSJ: Robert A. Heinlein's Legacy

by Ken Newquist / July 26, 2007

This month is the centennial celebration of Robert Heinlein's birthday. In honor of it, the Wall Street Journal has this opinion piece by Taylor Dinerman celebrating the author's legacy. It provides a good overview of Heinlein's career, though it ignores the sexual weirdness that factored into much of Heinlein's later work (e.g. his obsession with incest in Time Enough for Love).

Radio Active #53: Computer Repair Frustrations, Boot and Nuke, ChoreWars, Rainbows End

by Ken Newquist / July 25, 2007
Book Cover: Rainbows End

Where do Rainbows End? Find out in Episode #53 as I review Vernor Vinge's near-future science fiction thriller in which a 75-year-old man awakens to find his Alzhiemer's cured, his body rejuvenated to that of a teenager ... and the world transformed almost beyond belief.

I also talk about what I'm reading (Pushing Ice, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and watching (The 4400, Doctor Who, Season 2, vent about some gadget repairs that aren't going well, and obliterate two Windows hard drives with secure deletion tool DBAN.

Reason: Bucks for Brains

by Ken Newquist / July 24, 2007

Reason has posted a good article discussing the merits of New York City Department of Education Ronald G. Fryer's plan to give kids monetary bonuses for both taking and scoring well on academic tests. Some have praised the plan as providing much needed incentives to poor students; others slam it as corrupting the noble nature of learning for the sake of learning.

I'll leave aside the debate over the merits of the program; what bothers me is that we don't do enough to foster this kind of creativity, and that the knee-jerk reaction isn't "let's see what happens!" but rather "this is wrong, let's kill it!".

When "Addiction" is just another word for "Dumbass"

by Ken Newquist / July 16, 2007

Hell, that's not even the word. I can't use the word I really want to use to describe the incident in which two brainless twits reproduced and then left their helpless children to fend for themselves while they got lost in in an online fantasy game for a few hundred hours. Because you see, this is generally a work-safe site ... and the thoughts this bring to mind are definitely not work safe.

Free wifi across the Lehigh Valley

by Ken Newquist / July 16, 2007

I don't blog about my adopted hometown all that much, aside from the occasional flood, but here's something worth noting: a list of free wifi access points across the Lehigh Valley. It's part of the The After Work Chronicles, the official blog of "Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals" and it's got posts going back to 2005, which is pretty good for a blog.

Game Day: The Campaign Wiki

by Ken Newquist / July 14, 2007
Game Day Graphic: GriffWiki Home Page

Game Day was pretty much a wash yesterday, with everyone except for Evil Genius and I unable to attend. That made for a downer of a game day, but we pressed on, deciding to work on our campaign's ongoing project: the GriffWiki.

Our gaming group's been campaigning in the World of Greyhawk since 1996, and we've had a web site , The Griffin's Crier, chronicling our game since 1998. The site's gone through two major incarnations, one as a simple HTML web site, and its current database-driven version. While the site served as a useful archive and touchstone for the campaign (and managed to recruit us more than a few players), it was never as easy to use as I would have liked.