Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marge Simpson In Playboy

For those who think Marge is a hot babe, Playboy have decided to put her on the cover of the new November issue to celebrate 20 years of the show. The BBC reports on how Hugh Hefner himself likes the show and has already appeared on it. The move is intended to attract a younger audience to the magazine.

McDonalds: Not Undermining French Culture

A funny article from the BBC about the announcement that McDonald's will be opening a fast food outlet in the Louvre. Apparently people outside of France made a big fuss about this being an attack on traditional French culture, whereas the natives themselves were apparently unmoved. A lot of work has been done to improve the image of the chain in France to the extent that it is now accepted.

LCROSS: Moon Gets Bombed But No Smoke Plume

NASA's LCROSS mission to fire a rocket at the moon and measure the contents of the dust cloud was successfully executed yesterday. Although the shepherd craft successfully took spectrographic readings and the Hubble space telescope got pictures, it was not as visually spectacular as people had hoped. Initial reports from various observatories such as the Hale telescope in Palomar and the Keck observatory in Hawaii say they didn't see a dust cloud. I can imagine many amateur astronomers and those attending parties would have been disappointed too. But scientists are happy with the amount of data they have received and are in the process of analysing it, though they can't say for definite what they have seen just yet. have an LCROSS update diary here.

Miniature Nuclear Batteries

The University of Missouri have managed to squeeze technology normally used for spacecraft into something the size of a penny. The BBC's article describes how liquid semiconductors were used inside nuclear batteries instead of solid ones, making them less prone to damage over time from the discharged particles produced as the radioactive isotopes decay. This means that the devices can be made smaller and since the energy produced can last hundreds of years, the potential a alternative energy source is obvious.

Oops: Pirates Attack Navy Ship

Not a clever bunch obviously. The BBC reports on a group of pirates in the infamous waters of Somalia who attacked a navy vessel by mistake, thinking it was a cargo ship. Naturally the French vessel responded by chasing the pirates and capturing the occupants of one of the boats. Nice one, but with 2 million square miles to patrol it's no easy task to find the bad guys.

Luddites: A Lesson From The Past?

Nice article here from Ars about the origin of the word luddite. Although used often today to descri9be people who are not gadget savvy or generally anti-technology, the original name comes from Ned Ludd who destroyed his weaving machine after being threatened with punishment from his boss for not working hard enough. Stockings as a mode of fashion among men was going out, so weavers took Ned's example by attacking weaving factories in protest of the fact that factory bosses were moving to more efficient automated machinery, putting traditional stocking weavers out of work. The problem wasn't the technology itself but that capital industrialists were taking their jobs and leaving workers in poverty. There were no rules in place to protect the workers from the capitalist elite.

I can draw parallels with todays climate. After all the work that has been put into the rights of labourers and protections in the work place, we are seeing an increased amount of power in corporations and rich individuals who are somehow above the law. How can it be that the handful of bankers and law makers who triggered the current economic mess out of pure greed have got away with it, while the repercussions the world over mean people are out of work and long standing financial institutions are threatened. Sometimes it is good to remember our history, what our forefathers fought for and why.