17 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Watching the mars mission online now…man, are we in a great age, or what?

    Available from many sites, but here is National Geographic’s coverage.

    PS: Sure hope it doesn’t crash ‘n’ burn…

  2. It’s one heck of a sporty mission. If they pull it off, it’ll be one heck of an accomplishment for NASA!

  3. It’s a pity that Curiosity wasn’t around during the Apollo missions. It could have pointed out to the test pilots which were the best rock samples to take.

  4. WAHOO! Some people complain that we haven’t sent people to mars yet, but I don’t feel bad about it. Thanks to the rovers and other probes I feel just as close to being on mars as I would have if they had they sent people.

  5. Huge logistical success considering it takes 7 minutes for radio signals to return from Mars to mission control. But I’m intrigued by one heard expert belief that Mars could once have had ‘oceans’ w.r.t. the search for water by this probe. Could oceans just disappear?

  6. @pablo
    I think it’s possible – some speculate that Venus once had oceans similar to Earth too. Earth is very fortunate it has lots of protection eg. significant magnetic fields and ozone layer etc to stop significant radiation (eg high UV) from dissociating water molecules and whatnot. Once you separate hydrogen from a heavy molecule, it will drift upwards and can eventually be lost from the planet’s atmosphere. I could be wrong though.

  7. Yeah, oceans can disappear. In the past mars would have had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water on the surface. But because it has only has 11% the mass of earth it has much less gravity and so couldn’t hold onto a thick atmosphere (earth is losing atmosphere too, it just happens very slowly and usually only the lightest gases can escape). Also mars lost its magnetic field 4 billion years ago which means the solar wind could directly hit mars’s atmosphere and slowly strip it away. Minimal atmosphere means minimal air pressure which means no liquid water. Just as the boiling point of water is lower at the top of a mountain due to reduced air pressure, if the air pressure is low enough water will go straight from ice to vapour with no liquid stage. Some of the water from mars’s oceans would have been lost to space, while the rest appears to be trapped within the crust as ice.

  8. Troy, yep, hydrogen is light enough to escape from earth. It takes a higher gravity planet like jupiter or saturn to hang onto it. It just currently happens very slowly as there’s not much free hydrogen in the upper atmosphere, but earth lost its original hydrogen/helium atmosphere long ago.

  9. Tingle shoots blanks despite Great Expectations – review of Quarterly Essay

    In her Quarterly Essay piece, “Great Expectations,” Laura Tingle loads a gun with a big bullet that she never shoots – which I thought any writer knew was a no-no. She says that “constant mass migration” ” more than anything else” pushed the Australian economy and the population through waves of rapid change. The whole time I was reading her essay I was waiting for the gun to go off and for Detective Tingle to say two obvious things …

    This is a review of Australian Financial Review’s Chief Economics editor, Laura Tingle’s sweeping condemnation but interesting analysis of Australians’ perceived expectations of democracy, which should not go unanswered. Having googled and found no critical responses, I wrote my own.

  10. @malthusista

    Tingle makes a poor effort at historical synthesis. She is an exponent of the One Damned Thing After Another school of historical narrative.

    I like your characterisation of Tingle’s interpretation of Australia’s “original sin” here:

    Tingle often uses the word ‘paternalistic’ to describe Australian government from the earliest days of settlement, but a better word would be authoritarian. By using the word ‘paternalistic’ however, which has a somewhat benevolent undertone, she also manages to characterise Australians as childlike and passive. With Hirst’s help, convicts emerge as wimps who tugged at Daddy Governor’s apron strings, thus copping a few well-deserved slaps. This caricature sets the tone for this digest of Australian government powers and citizens’ rights.

    I should also observe that this description of conditions in Port Phillip District/Victoria is completely incorrect. Granted that Victoria was only one of several colonies, but nevertheless after the Gold Rush Victoria became the population and financial centre of the continent at the time of the evolution of many of Australia’s economic, political and social institutions. At the very least, Tingle should be aware of not applying the NSW cookie cutter to the history of the entire continent.

    Some inconvenient facts about PPD/Victoria:

    1. It was founded in defiance of government.

    2. Few British-convicted felons lived in PPD/Victoria.

    3. The Eureka Stockade was in its economic aspects a revolt of entrepreneurs against government power.

    4. After Eureka, Whitehall was genuinely alarmed at a repeat of the American Revolution and made significant concessions to democratic sentiment.

    5. The Masters and Servants Act was a source of considerable class antagonism. Victorian workers fought successfully against this class-based regime, establishing a powerful trades union organisation.

    6. Victoria pioneered the secret ballot to minimise the possibility of employers’ intimidating voters.

    These attitudes and practices spread to a greater or lesser degree to all other Australian colonies. Tingle ignores them.

  11. Hi Katz,

    Thanks for looking at my article about Tingle’s “Great Expectations” and thanks to Malthusista for posting a link to it. Katz, I loved your idea of the ‘one thing after another school of history’ and the term ‘original sin’ to describe Tingle’s sense of sequence and cause and effect.

    Your list of inconvenient facts, is very well chosen and it is good to be reminded of how Victoria fought the Masters and Servants Act so successfully, plus pioneered the secret ballot. (Note that the Masters and Servants Act is virtually back in practice in Victoria these days.)

    Have you written more on Australian history? I would be interested to read some of your stuff.

    Hope you don’t mind that I am going to take the liberty of reposting your comment to below my article on Tingle, because readers will benefit from what you have to add here.

  12. @malthusista
    Hi Malthusista,

    Many thanks for citing from my article, “Tingle shoots blanks despite great expectations – review of Quarterly Essay.” I say this because I think it is really important for people to look very critically at what Tingle has written, so that it doesn’t become some kind of political gospel with Tingle being named a national treasure or some such, like Brennan, who did such a job on Australia and Human Rights (IMHO).

    By the way, I have re-edited the article to include the minute of Whitlam’s meeting to secure a loan of $4b for a national gas pipeline, which I had previously consigned to a footnote, but it deserves to be better known.

  13. Electricity distribution and privatization is costly

    by Bandicoot, 9 Aug 2012

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard was playing politics when she used a speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia on Tuesday to blame state governments for soaring power prices.

    Queensland has had a 80 per cent hike in household electricity prices in the past five years. Mr Newman and every other Premier will seize every opportunity he can to blame his predecessors for financial and policy mismanagement. Victoria is a good example of soaring electricity prices due to privatisation.

  14. Insurgents’ cold-blooded murder of Syrian postal workers captured on video

    The cold-blooded murder of Syrian postal workers, hurled to their deaths from the top of a three story building, has been captured on a YouTube video broadcast by the Syrian Girl embedded within this article. Any possible doubt about the criminality and savagery of the Syrian ‘rebels’ and their US, NATO, Israeli and Arab sponsors will surely be dispelled by this chilling video. A more uplifting video of an interview of the Syrian Girl by Alex Jones is also included.

    YouTube warnings

    1. This YouTube video may contain inappropriate content for some users. Please sign in to confirm your age.
    2. The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being potentially offensive or inappropriate. Viewer discretion is advised.

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