Victory Dance

I was reminded last night with in conversation at a restaurant about my Victory Dance. Not that I ever forgot about it, but I was reminded that not many people know about it. I want to work in the Space Sector in some capacity, that’s my dream. For a dream to become a reality, it needs a plan, goals and rewards. A year ago, I bought a bottle of scotch as my victory dance. It’s a bottle of Blue Label.

Blue Lable

The plan is, once I feel that I’m where I want to be, I open this puppy up and share it with those around me. Victory doesn’t happen solo, it takes support from those around you to get where you want to go. It’s a constant reminder that I am not an island, I am capable of great things and my friends and family can help me do great things.

The inscription says “MOVE ZIG!” a reference to the video below. Watch it, FOR GREAT JUSTICE!

Doughnut Rock

No, it’s not a new type of fast food, it’s a rock that mysteriously appeared on the Martian surface right in front of Opportunity. Lucky for me, I have a team of people looking our for me. The folks on the X92.9 morning show left me this voice mail.


This is what the rock looks like.

Mystery Rock

 

No one knows what it is, or what’s it’s doing there. The current theory is that it was kicked up, and we are seeing the side that’s not been exposed to the Martian atmosphere. That tells me that Mars it much more interesting that what the pictures show us. We won’t know for sure unless we go there and check. Even if it is deadly alien bacteria, it’s still really cool.

Mars Interviews Part 2

The interviews keep coming, and I’m more then happy to keep answering questions. I think I’m getting better. Hopefully there are people out there that hear what I have to say and become interested in science, engineering and planetary exploration.

Here’s a link to my x92.9 interview. It was recorded at 6AM and played back during people’s normal commute time.

Here’s the CBC interview I did in the studio! It was the first time I went somewhere to do the interview. I was in the booth, with the microphones and traffic lady and program directors and all sorts of things. It was a lot of fun, but very nerve racking. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it by the time I make it to Mars.

After the interview, Doug gave away two copies of Mission:Mars that I brought in; hopefully two future Mars colonists are reading up on it now.

Baby it’s cold outside

About once a week, I like to have lunch at the sandwich shop by my work. They make fantastic potato soup and their sandwiches always hit the spot. They have a few newspapers around the shop that I’ll flip though while I wait for my food to be prepared. That’s how I found the editorial article in the Calgary Sun. The Edmonton Sun also ran a similar editorial. This level of scientific literacy published in the Sun is a public health risk.

Here are some examples of what I mean by science illiteracy being a public health risk

  • I know a guy who lived to be 80 and smoked his whole life. Cigarettes are harmless.
  • I heard a story where someone was uninjured in a car crash and wasn’t wearing their seat belt. No one should wear them.
  • There was a study that said my kid could get autism from vaccines. It’s not safe to vaccinate.
  • It’s cold outside today, global warming isn’t real.

These blanket statements use point data and extraordinary circumstances to describe an average. Climate change is an average. That doesn’t mean that every day will be hotter than the next. In fact, some places may get colder. It’s a global average. Mixing opinion and fact is dangerous and irresponsible.

So we hear from the environmentalists (loudly and frequently) when a hurricane blows across the Jersey shore or a typhoon roars through the Philippines, but not when thousands of communities across North America, Asia and Europe set record cold temperatures. How come one sort of weather is an indicator of impending climate disaster while mentioning the other is a sign of simple-mindedness?

That’s the sort of intellectual hypocrisy and arrogance Chu is up against

The problem here, is that science can explain the current weather. No simple-mindedness, no hypocrisy. Here’s a video from last year, explaining what’s going on.

From this source, we find out that some places will be warmer, and others colder. Climate Change. (Imagine me doing jazz hands)

NOAA scientist James Overland explains: “When the Polar Vortex — a ring of winds circling the Arctic — breaks down, this allows cold air to spill south, affecting the eastern United States and other regions.”

“This can result in a warmer-than-average Arctic region and colder temperatures that may include severe winter weather events on the North American and European continents.”

The Sun editorial continues it’s opinionated rampage.

There is no evidence severe weather is increasing in frequency. Indeed that past eight years since Hurricane Katrina has seen the lowest level of tropical storms in 70 years. But, as Chu correctly pointed out, you don’t hear much of that; just as there was very little reporting on the fact that this summer Arctic sea ice melted less than at any time in the past decade – perhaps the past five decades.

No evidence? This year Alberta saw the worse flooding in memory. That’s after we set new records in 2005. Do you have a short memory, or are you willfully ignorant? As for sea ice, your comment is misleading and outright false. You can do that, because it’s written in an editorial column. You endanger the public with popular lies.

I’ve met Sean Chu, he’s a nice guy. I’m glad he’s on the City Council and I think he’s got some really good ideas. Sean, please look at the science before you speak. You have an important position; pandering to the scientific illiterate is dangerous and does not serve the public. Please stop.

 

 

Mars Interviews Part 1

I spent a lovely weekend in Banff to celebrate my good friend Meghan‘s birthday. We had some laughs, some drinks and some skull pancakes. Everything you would want in a birthday. I was pretty tired on the drive home, and I had to work on Monday. I was looking forward to some serious downtime before I buttoned up my shirt for work. While I was bringing bags into my place, I got a call from CBC. They wanted to talk about Mars.

I love talking about Mars! Perfect! We had a chat, and he said he would call me back. I jumped in the shower because I was ski bum dirty. We spoke some more, and he said he was going to send a TV crew over to do an interview. I told him that I would put some pants on and clean my dished. My place really was a disaster; Christmas presents, dirty dishes, chocolates and laundry were everywhere. They gave in 30 mins to tidy up.

They were of course professionals. My mess was politely ignored and they cut the footage to make my stammering and wandering conversation less noticeable.

The news report went on TV well after my bed time. The website was up in the AM, and my office was quite excited find out they worked with a celebrity. Well, I emailed them all telling them how lucky they were to work with a celebrity. Same thing. Then I got a tweet from Global News, and they wanted to get some footage as well. The more coverage Mars gets, the better!

The really fun part was bringing the film crew into my office. Had to play it cool, of course. As if I get film crews all the time.

The crazy part, is that I’m news. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s not to me. I mean, I’m aware of all of this, it’s not news to me. I know what’s going on with Mars. When my name came up on my Google news feed, that was a strange feeling. I’m even a searchable tag on the Huffington Post now… all very surreal.

Little Brother

I’ve had Little Brother by Cory Doctorow on my shelf for quite some time. I’ve shied away from it because it was written for younger audiences and I’m a big strong literary genius. I’m obviously not a literary genius and Little Brother is an amazing novel. It’s 1984 light, set in a parallel, almost present day San Francisco. The Amazon description is as follows:

Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

The terrorist attack is there only to set the stage and isn’t really talked about. It’s for the best really, as the attack isn’t the scary part, it’s our reaction. I say “our” reaction because the real world has followed many of the steps that takes place in the book. The goal of terrorism is to push an agenda with the use of terror. In Little Brother, fear come from Homeland Security, not foreign attacks. Those who where sent to protect San Francisco cause more terror than the initial attack. So it is in real life; there is so much security in today’s world, yet you only have a 1.28% chance of dying in violence and war. Diarrhea is at 3.15. The worlds population is twice as likely to die shitting themselves than being killed in violence. It’s not about what’s dangerous, but what’s perceived to be dangerous. We focus on the wrong things.

Little Brother is a world where we see what happens when the protection of people is the most important thing. More important than privacy, due process, the law and common sense. The argument used in the book is, if you are innocent, you have nothing to hide. Of course, that’s the same argument governments are making right now.

Maybe we don’t have anything to hide, but there are things we wish people didn’t know. Losing privacy means losing the ability to make a mistake and move on. If everything is on record there are no second chances. If every step is watched, no one will ever step out of line again. That’s a world in fear.

Little Brother was published in 2008. Before anyone heard of Bradly Manning or Edward Snowden and where people who claimed the government was listening to your phones were called crazy. That is no longer the case. Our lives are already no longer our own. It’s easy to find examples where unrelated events are dug up and used against us. (onetwothreefourfive) The government knows where you are, who your friends with, what you buy and what you are going to buy in the future. Little Brother is a quick look into what our world looks like when it’s used against you.

 

Mars One: Round Two

On December 30th, 2013 Mars One announced they had sent letters to the 1058 candidates that had moved on to Round 2 of their selection process. Since it was the holidays I had been ignoring my email to a large extent and learned the letters had been sent from the news. I have been chosen to move on to Round 2. I keep checking the email everytime I tell someone to make sure I read it correctly. I’ve made the shortlist of Martian Candidates.

I’ve been following Martian missions for years. I’ve been watching the aerospace industry with eager eyes and bookmarking US company job boards. Now, I feel like I have my foot in the door. I’ve got some momentum. It’s a good feeling. December 30th also happens to be my birthday; probably the best present I’ve ever gotten. 2014 is off to a great start.

In Red Mars, a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, the first person on Mars and main character in the novel is born in 1982. While reading the novel, I remember tripping over that year, since that’s the year I was born. Human innovation is in the process of continually changing science fiction into science fact. The first person on Mars may well have been born in 1982.

Mars One Application: Zac Trolley from Meghan Westelmajer on Vimeo.