Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Tennessee Designers Make Mars Rover Move

It's deeply gratifying to learn that some very smart folks in Ooltewah, Tennessee are responsible for making the massive, newly-landed mobile laboratory on the surface of Mars actually move around.

The American Bicycle Group in Ooltewah (population: 687)  designed the legs to withstand to the landing and be able to move around the surface for the next several years, according to the story in today's TimesFreePress:

"The Chattanooga team left its mark on Mars, too. Each one of their names is etched inside the legs they helped create that have now found a permanent home among the stars."

As this new hallmark in robotic space exploration made it's landing, some thousands of folks gathered to watch it all live on the giant screen in Times Square. (click to enlarge)

The rover has a nuclear battery which could power the robot for some 14 years - the graphic below, via Space.com, reveals how it is loaded with cameras and equipment. (click to enlarge)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Mark Clayton: Triple Tennessee Facepalm

Our humble state of TN made national political news - once again - for achieving a new level of Dangerously Stupid Acts. The cause this time was the election victory last week for a full-blown toon named Mark Clayton as a Democrat U.S. Senate candidate.

Seems the voters just plunked down their votes for Clayton because his name was first on the ballot - and when you add in the idiocy with which the state Dem party operates, as discussed by Southern Beale on her blog - well, it becomes clear that it was just about inevitable that Dangerously Stupid would win the day.

For many months, I was fairly certain that actress and activist Park Overall was going to win that primary - she campaigned with much energy and speaks so plainly, it seemed a no-brainer that she would make a very fierce competitor for the incumbent millionaire Senator Bob Corker. Never underestimate the power of ignorant voters is the lesson we are left with I suppose.

Add in the fact that it was not until after the election of Clayton that the state Dem party disavowed Clayton. I know of many smart Democrats in Tennessee and read some fine writing from many of them online. But the state party is as deaf as a post apparently. You folks might want to start crafting some standards and hiring some people who are competent.

It's bad enough folks would vote for someone they knew zip about. And it's mighty clear that for the last few years the state Dem party has zero ability to operate with any significance. (And for the record I have never been a member of any political party.) The official state Dem response to Clayton's win simply "urges Democrats to write-in a candidate of their choice in November.”

Like that's a good idea. They need to throw 100% of their effort into backing Park Overall, who would at the very least make mincemeat of Corker during a debate. 

But here's my real concern -  our state has loads of Conservative voters and party leaders, I get that. But I also know there are many, many of us non-Conservative, non-Republicans who live and work in our humble state and we get zero representation in government, from the city level to the state level and the federal level. Like many of us in this minority group, I still write and call my elected representatives to express my views on many topics - and at best, all we get back is a "thank you for writing" and "your views are important" replies. And that's a lie.

These folks will not ever stand up for us, will not ever even consider the merits of the issues we raise, and that dismissal is final and permanent. And electing a full-blown toon like Clayton will just make it worse.