Ignatieff Vs Rae - SMACKDOWN!

Or at least that's the way the press is making it out to be. Somewhere
along the line of crapola spewing from the Star we can see some frank

Conservative Strategist Doug Finney's memo for one. Haven't heard?
It's the biggest whopper of a memo to leak to the press. My guess is
heads are rolling over it. Basically it favours Rae over Ignatieff as a
preferred candidate.

In short, Ignatieff is more of threat. And that shouldn't be suprising.
Ignatieff is the only one not well known by the Canadian populace as a
raging lefty or a liar in this bunch of hapless clowns we call a
"Liberal Leadership race."

He's more of a threat. But not necessary much of a threat. He's a
Harvard brat Egghead. How enchanting is that for a Prime Minister? A
man who's spent most of the past years in the US expousing the benefits
of the War in Iraq. So many beating sticks the Liberals had over the
Tories are withering away at the very prospect.

What's interesting the positively positive press Ignatieff is getting
from the Star of all papers in the lead up to the vote... Can I smell a
bias in all of this from the Commies at the star?

Over and out.

Belindaisms #1,526,325

Belinda Stronach says that if she was a man, no one would be making as big of a deal over recent allegations that she had an affair with Leafs enforcer Domy and possibly broke up his marriage. Sexism she screams in her silent way.

I disagree.

If a MALE blonde auto parts magnate heir was alleged to have had an illicit affair with Leafs tough guy Domy, then I'm thinking the press would be making even a BIGGER deal.

Climate Change Blues...

Apparenlty the world is ending:
"The globe is at its warmest in the past 12,000 years, triggering environmental changes that could become 'dangerous' if it continues, said the new study published Tuesday."

"Researchers led by NASA scientist James Hansen found that the earth has heated up by 0.2 degrees Celsius each decade in the past 30 years. This is consistent with predictions made in 1980s global warming simulations based on greenhouse gas increases."

Really? That would mean that since 1980 the earth's temperature has risen 0.6 degrees celcius. And this is the warmest point in 12,000 years?

Let's see what Sargasso has to say:

Let's take a looksee at temp fluxuations over the last 1000 years while we're at it:

Ya, I'm thinking I'm going to a) question that it's the end of the world, and b) will question that it's the warmest point in 12,000 years...

The Clown Show Files XV

The rancid smell of death is spewing from Dath Volpe's campaign:
"...the Canadian Press reported yesterday there is speculation Volpe will withdraw from the nine-member leadership race, some Liberals say privately he won't do so."

I find it so hard to believe that the man who's known to scare more than one child into donating tens of thousands of dollars to his campaign would all of sudden get jittery over some Quebec membership list problemos.

It's not like other leadership candidates in the past haven't weathered that storm. You might as well call Quebec membership irregularities pulling a "Stronach" for all her ill fated woes. This amazing ability of Quebec turning out to be a mess of a problem for leadership campaigns affects Tories just as it does Liberals... Well let's say particular Tories and particular Liberals.

I wouldn't doubt that these scandals were the by-product of some excellent oppo research on the behalf of his fellow Liberal leadership contenders. Which ones doesn't really matter. The fact is that Volpe's campaign at the very least is guilty of some shady "Chretien-era" like dealings.

I'd hope that all of this might humble the man we know and try to love in Joe Volpe. But like I've said on numerous occasion before: he ispires more fear than love.

He behaves and acts like a bully trying to hide himself. He may not see it that way, but it certainly is the way it does come across. He's ill tempered from what I've seen, and generally a hard hard man.

Of course that's all based on superficial judgements of the man on TV. Those that have met him in person can better testisfy to his character than me. But I find it hard to believe otherwise...

PM Rae?
Oh, how those words strike fear in the hearts of little babies, old ladies, and widows and generally anyone with a heartbeat all over Ontario.

More focus is being launched on him now that it looks like Ignatieff and Rae are the front runners in this clown show. Now I don't know the mind of a Liberal, but based on their decision of front runners I'd say they are thinking go with the new. They want a break with the past. So onward Harvard Egghead Brat and NDP turncoat!

Dion's a strong third by the looks of things. The only man that could have made a dent in the Stephen Harper coalition looks set to loose. Anything can happen still. Though if these numbers hold up much longer I'm willing to predict a Stephen Harper Majority government in the next election.

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Volpe's to good to be true membership drive seems to be turning out to be just that:
'Using membership lists from the Quebec wing of the federal Liberal party, the Star talked to more than 70 families who reported significant problems in their own case, or in that of other family members. Most often, they hadn't paid the membership fee which party rules stipulate must be paid by the actual member.'

What did the Volpe campaign have to say about this little nugget of Stronach like brilliance?
'Asked if there was a single case in which a membership was bought by the campaign, he said: "Absolutely not." '

Hmmm.... Do I trust the Commie ridden Star, or Darth Volpe? I guess it's one of those "Cath 22's".

How are other leadership candidates responding to this juicy piece of negative advertising for the Fiberal Party of Canada?

Stephane Dion: "I'm aware of the concerns. I don't have the answers. It will be for the camp of Mr. Volpe to answer. I have confidence in Joe's honesty..."

Quite frankly I have more trust for the Commies at the Star.

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Axioms of Engineering #002.0

"The health of a engineering environment is directly proportional to the number of times you hear the words 'I don't know.' "

Reasoning: If you never hear those words, as I haven't, then it means people are BSing up the wazoo. No one knows everything.

I've lived by the belief that to really know something at work you have to ask about a thousand stupid questions. The less stupid questions you ask the less you know.

It's better to ask the stupid questions up front when you first start and the embarassement level at not knowing is lower than to wait 8 months...

The most frustrating thing I've experienced far too often is being in meetings or conversing with people that never ask those questions. And in response to your questions they have this ability to befuddle and amaze you with verbage. At the end of the conversation you still don't understand what the awnser to your question was and is.

At a certain point you realise they don't have a clue what they are talking about. People who really know everything they are supposed to know will freely admit what they do and do not know.

Axioms of Engineering #001.0

Axioms of Engineering #001.0

"Never ask a good question, unless you're ready for a stupid awnser."

Reasoning: Chances are it's probably been asked twenty million times before giving a stupid awnser more than enough time to formulate.

This realisation came from sort of trial by fire experience. I guess that may be the wrong way to put it. It was more a lesson derived from repetitive concussions experienced from beating my head against management walls.

After asking the same question myself and getting shot down by the powers that be, I got asked the very same question from someone working with me.

My response was "Good question. Don't ask it." Hence the axiom "Never ask a good question."

Ansari At Her Best...

Ansari's blog post from orbit brings hope to rest the rest of us stuck on Terra Firma:
...Finally the moment arrived and the countdown started. LA, Misha and I put our hands together and said “Ready… here we go.” I thanked God for helping me realize my dream and for everything it has given me. I asked it to fill the heart of all its beings with its love and to bring peace to this beautiful creation we call Earth.


I could not stop giggling the whole time… I was finally able to take a look outside and saw the Earth for the first time… Tears started rolling down my face. I could not catch my breath… Even thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes. Here it was this beautiful planet turning graciously about itself, under the warm rays of the Sun… so peaceful…so full of life… no signs of war, no signs of borders, no signs of trouble, just pure beauty…

How I wished everyone could experience this feeling in their heart, specially those who are at the head of the governments in the world. may be this experience would give them a new perspective and help bring peace to the world.

Ansari's space ride may do little in her native homeland of Iran despite those that have hoped otherwise.

The real good Ansari may do may not be in the political realm, but in the realm of the human spirit.

We are a very anxious race. We can't wait to leave this place. Ansari's run gives everyone hope that the experience she's been blessed with may one day be possible for everyone.

In a world where NASA has done everything it could do to eliminate that hope, Ansari re-ignites it in the same way that Burt Rutan did with the X-prize winning flight of the SS1. In a world in the grips of a global conflict over terror that quickly turning into one centered around religion hope for something better is always a welcome sign.

Dito on Robot Guy's sentiments.

The Trouble With Sensors VIII

Shuttle Atlantis has launched, but no word as of yet exactly how.

Either they kicked the side of the external tank and ECO sensors 3 and 4 started to work, or they admended the flight rule to allow for a launch of the shuttle with only some ECO sensors working and not all 4.

Reading this clears up some issues:

It is not yet clear whether the problem seen today, when hydrogen ECO sensor No. 3 "failed wet," involved the sensor, its wiring or an avionics box aboard the shuttle that reformats and routes the data to flight computers. But the timing of the failure indicates it more likely involves the sensor itself and not electronics aboard the shuttle.

How would they know for sure that it is the sensor itself? After all one of the possible causes identified was interference from newly installed heaters. I've been asking for a while whether this issue existed before the installation, thinking that would be the first place to start when trying to eliminate a possible cause of the ECO sensor failure.

This awnsers the question of whether the issue existed previously:
NASA's original launch commit criteria required three operational ECO sensors for a countdown to proceed. But in the wake of the 1986 Challenger disaster, the LCC was amended to four-of-four because of concerns two sensors could be knocked out by a single failure in an upstream electronic black box known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer. The single-point failure later was corrected, but the four-of-four launch rule remained on the books.

That launch rule wouldn't have existed unless this had previously been a problem I would think. That effectively rules out the new heaters as being a cause of the problem since they are only a new addition, and this issue outdates them.

The article goes on to explain that 4 of 4 rule was later admended to allow for an exeption. If the sensor "failed wet" (ie showed fuel in the ET when there was none), and they could prove the issue was not related to the multiplexer-demultiplexer, they were a go.

This rule makes complete sense. But at the same time it seems like a cop-out. We are dealing with people lives here. You would think that in between launches they would want to investigate this issue further. Just why are there sensor failures on the shuttle? Just what is different between ECO sensors 3 and 4 then 1 and 2 that never fail? All ECO sensors seem to be designed exactly the same, so why the location specific nature of the problem?

To me it still indicates that the ECO sensor failure cause must be tied to something inherent in the the shuttle. If the ECO sensors are all identical, it makes only sense that something on the shuttle, or shuttle assembly is interfering with normal operation at those zones. It could also be a software glitch, but I'm assuming they would have looked at that potential cause first.

And you would figure that NASA would be particularly interested in resolving this issue since it has caused the delay of so many launches since 1986.

It's really suprising to see this from an organization like NASA really when you think about it. What are they making? Cars? If your tailight fails on your car, who notices the shotty engineering? On the Shuttle, unresolved faults are a whole other ball game.

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The ECO sensors on the shuttle are causing problems once again. This old song doesn't say the half of it.

The issue:

Engine Cut-off (ECO) Sensors 3 and 4 on the shuttle external tank intermittedly fail. ECO sensors are used to determine whether the external tank still has fuel or not. They read as dry or wet. If the ECO sensors fail during launch, there is the possibily they could misread whether the tank has fuel if back up systems fail. The consequences of the shuttle main engines running without external tank liquid hydrogen fuel are disastrous.

When I first started blogging about the ECO sensors on the Shuttle, I never figured it would become a never ending saga. I have no real experience with ECO sensors, NASA, or extensive engineering experience really.

What I have is an engineering degree, some small engineering experience and an opinion - that's it. Given some time I guess I'll be able to call myself a wise old moron, but for the time being I'm nothing but a young engineer still wet behind the ears.

But even with the rudimentary experience I have, I could tell you when this problem first popped up last year that the ECO sensors problem was never resolved no matter how much NASA said it was.

It's a reccuring problem I see in engineering. The first step in solving a problem is understanding the problem.

It sounds so simple, but it so often overlooked. The common engineering problem solving methodology is to throw whatever you have at the problem and see if it works at solving the problem. That can no doubt work. I've seen it work. But you can never say for sure that you solved the problem - only that you think you did, or at worst you patched up the problem for the time being.

NASA never understood the ECO sensors issue. They didn't get why ECO sensor 3 and 4 seemed to fail at seemingly randomn times.

For those uniniated here's a brief history of the ECO sensor issue:

June 2005: New External Tank fitted with new heaters meant to prevent ice build ups. After subsequent fueling tests ECO sensors were found to be misreading. Engineers came up with two possible failure causes. The first was that the new heaters were interfering with the ECO sensors somehow. The second was that it was the tank itself that just had faulty sensors. They swapped tanks. Engineers requested that a new fueling test be done to confirm or deny that it indeed was the tank. NASA managers rejected the request.

July 2005: ECO sensor issues still present. Another fueling test may have been requested and denied. Problem now believed to be electromagnetic interference in the tank, possibly from newly installed heaters. Grounding of ECO sensors also identified. Testing was done to confirm or deny grounding being an issue. It was determined that it was not the cause of the problem. Strangely the launch proceeded anyways, in spite of their not being a resolution to this issue.

March 2006: Another launcha attempt, another ECO sensor problem. Again the same sensors are showing failure, and again they are ignored, and the launch happens as soon as they can get the sensors to not fail.

Present: Another launch attempt. ECO sensors are showing failure. No one knows what to do. The launch is stalled.

So just precisely what have we learned?

The problem is not grounding. The problem isn't tank specific. The problem is inherent in the Shuttle design.

Did this problem exist before the installation of the new heaters? If it didn't, it's a good bet they are the cause of this problem. They are the one issue never tested for as far as I can see.

But what do I know? I'm a young engineer still wet behind the ears.

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Ed is renewing his call for NASA to be disbanded over the Shuttle's latest delay.

a REAL leader

Harper's announced plans to introduce a bill to elect senators.

Finally, a Prime Minister who LEADS.
"The government isn't looking for another report. We are seeking action..."

No doubt the NDP will try to abolish the senate as is stated in their electoral platform. That has shown that they recognize the need for some sort of senate reform. Having an unelected body of representatives is as archane and antiquated as the head tax.

They may very well block any attempts at all to reform the senate motivated primarily by stubborness over the issue. Instead of compromising, they may just block because Harper wants to have senators elected. It's abolishion or nothing.

I think most Dippers see the need for senate reform, though they may disagree with Conservatives on just what senate reform is needed. They may very well act with Conservatives to achieve some of that reform. Harper has shown he's willing to compromise in areas where there is wiggle room. But only time will tell what the Dippers will do.

As for the Grits, I think this disturbs their hegemony over the country. They will fight this with everything they have - or at least should. With their control of the senate, they have the unelected unlimited authority to slow down and block anything the Conservatives do.

And the block, well they won't be much happy with this either. Their stance is the same as the NDP.

Harper's chances to push this through are low. That being said, his image in the public eye will just get better and better the longer this drags on. Who wants to stand against the argument that the people that represent us should be elected?

They're all wrong...

Clark Lindsey's latest has caused a blog tiff between Tranterrestrial and Curmudgeons:

Frankly, it all seems a bit boring. Maybe this program will successfully return the US to the Moon by 2020. There are lots of great engineers working in it and they are quite capable of making it a success. However, the price tag is far too high for far too little. I want spaceflight to become practical, useful and broadly available. That's when it gets exciting. NASA will achieve none of these with the Constellation program. They are not even goals the agency recognizes.

This caused this response from Curmudgeons:

The truth of the matter is that both the private and public sectors have their place in the scheme of things. The prospect of private flights to low Earth orbit would be a distant dream if it were not for (a) hefty amounts of funding from NASA under the COTS program and (b) the existence of the International Space Station, as misbegotton and dysfunctional as that project has been, as a core market.

And that belief in the neccessity of government in producing a viable commercial private space industry produced this response from Transterrestrial:
Mark Whittington continues his delusion that private industry cannot get to LEO without NASA money. Elon has been planning to get to orbit all along, and funding the development of vehicles to do so. People would be planning and funding private orbital trips in the absence of ISS. COTS has the potential to accelerate the schedule, but it's not necessary. It will happen with or without it.

Here's their compressed two cents... Clark Lindsey believes that Orion will not make space travel practical and widely available. Mark Whittington of Curmudgeons believes that for space to become practical and widely available it needs both NASA and so-called "alt.spacers." Rand Simberg disagrees with Clark, and Mark saying that all we need is alt spacers, and all that COTS and Orion does is speed the process up to getting practical widely available space travel.

If I've misinterpreted, misread, or generally didn't get it, please shoot me with a Canadian registered long arm rifle... Good luck with that.

Let me be the quintessential annoying Canuck, and disagree with them all.

It's not that NASA's involvement in space exploration is necessary or speeds up anything - - It's that isn't ideal.

Ideally, private, cheap spaceflight would come from private means, that is not controlled by a single monopolistic company. Ideally, there would be many companies each competing.

Mark Whittington would no doubt bring up examples of the East India Trading Company, the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada as examples of how government involvement can help spur the development of private involvement in a new frontier.

However, I live in a country build by private monopolies in partnership with the government. Canada, was built on the Crown giving companies decades old monopolies on land and even on services. It took us years to get rid of phone monopolies all across the country. I can tell you now - none of those ventures were the ideal way of expanding a country.

Still do this day, some provinces have barely more than one TV cable company, we once had a nationalised petrol company, some provinces have liquor companies, and we have one national airline! Prices go up, services flounder. The idea is almost ingrained in the Canadian spyche we can't seem to get it out when it no longer becomes practical or reasonable.

NASA's involvement may lead to practical and widely available spaceflight. COTS was a brilliant idea. But given NASA's track record, doubt is more than in order in terms of ability to achieve success.

That and not to mention more doubt should be heaped on the idea of letting the state be in leage with one or multiple companies in space exploration. It may very well work at creating cheaper viable and widely accessible access to space as Mark Whittington suggests. But it could lead to artificially high prices, ineffeciency and poor service.

Farewell Klein

I have to admit that part of me wants to say 'good riddens.' Or maybe 'finally?'

Klein's loyalty to the Conservative brand is a little testy in my opinion... Or at least he's made it seem that way with some of his actions of his later years.

But in the end, I'm a nice guy. So, thank you Premier Klein.

Thank you for manning the Alberta machine for all those years. Thank you for being sometimes the only voice to stand up to King Jean back in the 90s. Thank you for leading the fight against the ridiculous waste of time and money that we call the gun registry. Thank you for balancing budgets and making the tough decisions when you needed to.

Thank you, and best wishes with your retirement.