An Imp called Pyewacket

Pye Wacket was the code name for a flying saucer-shaped air-to-air missile being developed by the US Air Force 1957-1961. A study of newly declassified sources reveals a more complex history – and the ultimate intention to develop Pye Wacket into a manned antisatellite spacecraft design – before it probably ‘went black’.

It was 1957 and Eglin Air Force base, the US Air Force’s center for development of airborne weaponry, was at work developing a Defensive Anti-Missile System for bombers faced with penetrating future Soviet air defenses. The United States felt surrounded by threats and saucers were literally “in the air”. The area around Eglin experienced a rash of UFO sightings.

In October the launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite of the earth, shook the American defense establishment to its core. Classified assessments of the time indicated that the B-52 bomber just shipping would only be able to penetrate the Soviet air defenses for a few years, and even the follow-on B-70 Mach 3 bomber might need some kind of active defense. The requirement was for an ‘omnidirectional’ device that after release from a bomber could fly in any direction to take out air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles and manned interceptors. It was in this milieu that the Eglin researchers conceived of a radical flying vehicle based on the classic flying saucer: a lens-shaped or ‘lenticular’ configuration.


Encyclopedia Astronautica: Pye Wacket – The Full Story


First evidence of farming in Mideast 23,000 years ago

Until now, researchers believed farming was “invented” some 12,000 years ago in the Cradle of Civilization – Iraq, the Levant, parts of Turkey and Iran – an area that was home to some of the earliest known human civilizations.

A new discovery by an international collaboration of researchers from Tel Aviv University, Harvard University, Bar-Ilan University, and the University of Haifa offers the first evidence that trial plant cultivation began far earlier – some 23,000 years ago. The study focuses on the discovery of the first weed species at the site of a sedentary human camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Upon retrieving and examining approximately 150,000 plant specimens, the researchers determined that early humans there had gathered over 140 species of plants. The new study offers evidence that early humans clearly functioned with a basic knowledge of agriculture and, perhaps more importantly, exhibited foresight and extensive agricultural planning far earlier than previously believed.


Science Daily: First evidence of farming in Mideast 23,000 years ago


Wikipedia: Eskimo or Inuit?

The two main peoples known as “Eskimo” are: the Inuit of Canada, Northern Alaska (sub-group “Inupiat”), and Greenland, and the Yupik of Alaska and eastern Siberia. A third group, the Aleut, is closely related to the Eskimo and shares a recent, common (“Paleo-Eskimo”) ancestor, and a language group (Eskimo-Aleut). The Aleut are also recognized as belonging to the greater Eskimo race.

While the term “Eskimo” is sometimes considered offensive, in its linguistic origins it is not a fundamentally offensive word. Alternative terms such as Inuit-Yupik have been proposed, but none have come into widespread acceptance.

Two principal competing etymologies have been proposed for the name “Eskimo”. The most commonly accepted today appears to be the proposal of Ives Goddard at the Smithsonian Institution, who derives it from the Montagnais word meaning “snowshoe-netter” or “to net snowshoes.” The primary reason some people consider Eskimo derogatory is the questionable but widespread perception that in Algonkian languages it means “eaters of raw meat.”

The Inuit Circumpolar Council, as it is known today, uses both “Inuit” and “Eskimo” in its official documents. Because of the linguistic, ethnic, and cultural differences between Yupik and Inuit peoples, it seems questionable that any umbrella term to encompass all Yupik and Inuit people will be acceptable.


Simplicity and software

computerI’m trying to make the things I program simpler. This is true for the graphics stuff I’ve been doing but even more so for UI applications.

Not too long ago, I firmly believed in the mantra: the more settings, the more ways to tweak something, the better. This was important in a world of slow computers, crappy operating systems and overall shittyness. Everything is broken anyway, so if all of the internal workings are exposed, we can at least try and work around it.

I also remember reinstalling my operating system at least once every three months, with ISOs generated with a special tool that allowed me to strip out some of the garbage that came with the vanilla install. Getting a computer to run properly was mostly an exercise of fighting everything from the hardware layer up to the software itself. Hence, the “more settings are better” thing. Continue reading Continue reading