Thursday, October 04, 2018

Curiosity's two brains

Tired? Sluggish? Wouldn't it be great if you could just switch your brain to a better functioning version? Well, that's a privilege you can enjoy if you're the Mars Curiosity rover. NASA's intrepid explorer has been subject to a few technical problems over the last two weeks, which means it's been struggling to send its data back to Earth, so engineers have decided to activate Curiosity's second brain.
That’s Rachel England (ENDGADGET) and, yes, that would be great.

Like many NASA spacecraft, Curiosity was designed with two, redundant computers—in this case, referred to as a Side-A and a Side-B computer—so that it can continue operations if one experiences a glitch. After reviewing several options, JPL engineers recommended that the rover switch from Side B to Side A, the computer the rover used initially after landing.
The rover continues to send limited engineering data stored in short-term memory when it connects to a relay orbiter. It is otherwise healthy and receiving commands. But whatever is preventing Curiosity from storing science data in long-term memory is also preventing the storage of the rover's event records, a journal of all its actions that engineers need in order to make a diagnosis. The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer.


NASA’s next Mars rover will be named by a schoolkid, just like the agency’s previous wheeled Red Planet explorers. 
The agency plans to run a naming competition for the vehicle, which is currently known as the Mars 2020 rover, during the 2019 scholl year, NASA officials announced today (Sept. 24).  The contest will be open to U.S. students from kindergarten to 12th grade,, who will be asked to write an essay explaining their choice.
That is so great.  I didn’t know it existed or was already in play.  This needs to be heavily promoted because we need, as a country, to be more focused on science.  I am grossly offended that a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, is yet again all over TV – I think it was Kimmel this week – and yet we can’t talk science.  We can have gossip – especially tawdry gossip – but we can’t have science.  It’s ridiculous.

Instructional videos for building the rover, as well as other “missions” or educational activities, are available using the free Android or iOS littleBits Invent app.  Also online video tutorials and educational courses are available on
The littleBits Inventor Kits redesigned to inspire kids’ own passions for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), littleBits said in a statement.
That is great and another way to instill a love of learning in our kids.   P.S. I’ve forgotten the name of the other Rover on Mars, just remembered.  I’ll look it up and blog about it next time.  (It was lost in the dust storm last month.)

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, October 4, 2018.  Let's look at Iraq's new prime minister today.

Iraq finally has a president and an prime minister-designate.  Possibly the long delay (elections were held May 12th, Tuesday they finally named a president) has left some confused?  Martin Chulov, for example, wrote at THE GUARDIAN:

Under Iraq’s postwar constitution, the president must be a Kurd, the prime minister a Shia, and the speaker of parliament a Sunni. The divisions of authority give the three dominant sects a stake in the country’s affairs. However, power is often bitterly contested along sectarian lines leading to regular governance breakdowns and a long list of grievances – including complaints of rampant corruption, sclerotic services and a bloated, inefficient public sector.

That's wrong.  That's just flat out wrong.

When I saw it yesterday afternoon, I almost posted about it but thought, "Oh, they'll correct it in an hour or two."  They still haven't.  That doesn't speak well for THE GUARDIAN.

The Constitution of Iraq calls for the president to be an Iraqi by birth.

That's it.

There is nothing in the Constitution saying they must be a Kurd.

The president a Kurd, the Speaker of Parliament a Sunni and the prime minister a Shi'ite is something that has been worked out from outside of the Constitution.  It can be argued it is now custom; however, it can not be argued that it is law and you certainly cannot state that it is written into the Constitution when it is not.

Chulov notes that Adel Abdul-Mahdi has been named prime minister-designate and that "Abdul Mahdi, 76, a former oil minister, has been given 30 days to assemble a cabinet to be approved by Iraq’s parliament."

Balsam Mustafa has some issued with Mina Aldroubi's latest for THE NATIONAL:

Balsam Mustafa Retweeted Mina Aldroubi
Some issues in this article: 1st: He was not elected but tapped Second:why there isn't any reference to his previous political alignments as a communist, and most importantly, as a member in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq? (1)
Balsam Mustafa added,

Third: there is no reference to claims of his association with a bank robbery a few years ago. Fourth: I don't think, and this is just my opinion, that Kurds from KDP will be satisfied w 'leftover scraps' from ministries distribution as notes

I can only think of the word 'hypocrisy' to describe someone who spent plenty of time over the past few months criticising the whole political system in to then become key part of it through a deal brokered by many actors

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, since 2006, CIA analysts have argued that Mahdi was the best equipped Iraqi to be prime minister.  It's taken a long time for him to get there.  A long time.  76 years old right now.  A long time.  The Bully Boy Bush White House saw the analysis but they preferred Nouri al-Maliki in 2006 because the CIA write up on him argued that his immense paranoia would make him easy to handle and manipulate.

76 years old.

What lesson do learn of political events yesterday? When things get complicated, don’t be part of it, leave politics for a while, don’t run for election, take off formal suits, enjoy with tourism tour, write morning articles with a cup of coffee, then you will get PM post

Ages of Iraq's post-2003 prime minister when they assumed their functions: Ayad Allawi: 60 Ibrahim Jaafari: 58 Nouri al-Maliki: 56 Haider al-Abadi: 62 Adel Abdel Mehdi: 76 AAM is the oldest by 14 years.

Like the previous prime minister Hayder al-Abadi, Mahdi is a very short man.  Like all the previous prime ministers post-invasion, Mahdi is a flee-er.  He fled Iraq and only returned years later after the US-led invasion.

Mustafa Habib reflects on Hayder in two Tweets:

Which disappointed PM , not political class, Iran, US, or bad luck, but his party "Dawa" which gave up him over 4 hard years, the man forced to based on support of other parties, while he keep loyal to his party even when asked him to leave it to become their hero

When Maliki (leader of the party) lost PM post in 2014 he insisted on take that in personally against Abadi over 4 years!, while Dawa leaders ignored Abadi's achievements & the nice impress of people for him, which could have bring good popularity for Dawa in the future

At NIQASH, Mustafa Habib shares:

There are many challenges in Iraq: a stagnating economy, recovery and reconstruction after the security crisis caused by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, drought, corruption and mismanagement. But to the optimists among Iraqis, all these challenges could also be a historic opportunity to improve the situation, especially as Turkey and Iran, the two neighbours of Iraq, are busy with their own internal problems.

For the first time in years, there is a rare state of national unity brought about because locals had to unite during the security crisis. The sectarian discourse and the exchange of insults between Sunnis and Shiites are not as common any more and it is not strange these days to read friendly and respectful comments, exchanged by residents of Anbar, Basra, Mosul, Dhi Qar, Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan. The ongoing demonstrations have revealed the growing awareness of Iraqis, who now know that the country’s problem is not its people, but its politicians.

Iraqi politicians must respond to these developments before it is too late. There are more protests on the way. And they will be bigger and lead to more chaos, Iraq’s highest Shiite Muslim religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, warned Iraqi politicians last week.

Since the federal elections held in May this year, Iraqi parties have been living in a state of anxiety. Negotiations to form a government are happening under pressure as demonstrators seem to be watching closely. Politicians appear to be afraid of going with Iraq’s long-used quota system to form the government, as it would go against the reform the protestors are calling for.

THE NEW ARAB offers:

Mahdi becomes the first elected prime minister in post-Saddam Iraq not to hail from the Shia Islamist Dawa party.
With a burly physique and a face framed by spectacles and a thin moustache, Abdul Mahdi is an economist by training who has served as oil minister.
He will be able to call on years of experience as a regular on Iraq's diplomatic scene for the balancing acts he is expected for perform.
Abdul Mahdi has the blessing of both Iran and the United States, a required consensus in the country caught between its two major allies who are foes.

Per the Constitution, Mahdi has 30 days to form a government (Cabinet) but this provision has never been enforced.  For all intents and purposes (unless the Parliament suddenly decides the Constitution must be followed), Mahdi is now prime minister of Iraq.

The United Nations Special Representative for , Ján Kubiš, on Wednesday, welcomed the designation of a new Prime Minister, Adel Abdel-Mahdi, and urged political leaders to promote women’s meaningful representation in politics.

In Iraq, UN welcomes new President, and Prime Minister-designate, calls for ‘truly representative’ new cabinet

Here's Cat Power's "Woman" with Lana del Rey.

Cat's album WANDERER is released tomorrow.

The following community sites updated: