Friday, January 1, 2010
The problem with suicide bombers is that they're never experienced. We
endure the minor indignity of removing our shoes when passing through
airport security ever since a young Al Qaeda recruit named Richard Reid
attempted to detonate an explosive substance in his shoes on a flight from
Paris to Miami on 22 Dec 2001 without having first tried it. Either the
flight was sold out on Christmas or Richard had it confused with the winter
solstice. Removing your shoes is no big deal, but about 2 million people
pass through airport security in the US every day; over eight years that's
something in the neighborhood of 1 billion pairs of shoes being taken off
and put back on, not to mention the number of lost shoes. Think of it as a
sort of tax on staying alive. The guy that invented the shoe bomb that
failed to go off for Richard Reid on Winter Solstice 2001 must have
invented the underwear bomb that did'nt go off for Umar Abdulmutallab on
Christmas 2009. Let's hope they keep this guy. But what are we supposed
to do now? We can't parade our private stuff in public. Or can we? Air
travel could be limited to those willing to go naked through terminals. If
you have it, you should flaunt it.
It's a common experience: your doctor is treating you for some chronic
condition and suggests you try cutting back on coffee. This is based on an
ancient medical principle that the things we enjoy most must be bad for us.
The Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday gives
the other side in a striking visual: 6 cups per day lowered the risk of
advanced prostate cancer in a 20 year study of 50,000 men, 5 cups per day
lowered their risk of Alzheimer's by 65%, 4 cups per day cut the risk of
stroke by 43% in a study of 83,000 nurses, and so on. This, of course,
represents blatant cherry picking from a number of studies. Nevertheless,
the Wall Street Journal article relieves some of the guilt feelings of
confirmed caffeine addicts.
According to an article by Andrew Lawler in today's Science, president
Obama plans to ask Congress to cancel work on the Ares 1 rocket and replace
it with a heavy-lift vehicle to take humans to the Moon, asteroids, and the
moons of Mars. To prepare for human visits to Phobos and Deimos may order
additional robotic missions, which leads one to wonder why they are
planning for a human presence at all. The international space Station
meanwhile seems to have dropped off the radar. What is critically important
at this time is to replace Earth observing satellites that are a part of
climate change studies.
We are aware of the problems and hope to have it solved soon. There are
unexpected problems in going back some 28 years. We continue to hope the
switch to a new server will be completed soon.