Category: Daily News

For a couple of years now, there has been a lot of talk about the super rich funding their own space programs in order to boldly go where only those with years of training, teams of scientists backing them, and a nationally sponsored program have been able to go before; space.  Sadly with N.A.S.A. losing a lot of its funding, the best alternative is for our space program to fall into the hands of a few extremely rich geeks and thrill seekers who want to ride their money all the way out into space.

Well, it seems the time is fast approaching where the rich and powerful will soon be able to see what it is like to break away from the earth’s gravitational pull and experience the majesty and awe inspiring infinity that is space…. and then  market it to the rest of us. Last Thursday the V.S.S. Enterprise, yes, it is named after that particular Enterprise, completed its’ maiden test flight with crew. For the complete story look here.

In reality I am of two minds on this particular story, on one hand I’m worried that the future of space exploration and possibly colonization will eventually be in the hands of private companies or worse, private individuals. Maybe it’s the years of repeatedly being told that private companies in space only lead to really really bad decisions; AlienAliensAvatar. Yes, they are only movies, but movies are generally based on repeated archetypes throughout history. So, the concept of large corporations sacrificing anything and anyone to get what they think is theirs is common enough. Add to this the difficult nature of governing and regulating something out in space, could also add to my discomfort. Or maybe it is the sense of elitism that seems to go along with any venture where only the extremely rich are allowed to enjoy the fruits of this particular tree. In any event my concerns are mostly based on a far-reaching future that more than likely I will not be around to see. Still, my concern is valid in my opinion.

Now, as I said, I’m of two minds on this matter, so on the flip side of the situation I’m very excited. Truthfully I was born when the zeal of space exploration was beginning to wane, even with the added boost of our finally reaching Mars with out rovers, space exploration has begun to drop off of the national agenda. The problem I think is that because N.A.S.A. has been doing more of the same for the most part and not getting the funding that might allow them to accelerate their progress, the national populace has grown disenchanted with the Space program as it is. In a very simple, but I feel accurate, assessment of people today, we’ve seen too many advances in Terran technology that we used to think only possible in movies, that we are beginning to demand the same progress in our extra terrestrial endeavours, and with out some real financing, this is not going to happen. This is why I am for these Rich entrepeneurs stepping forward to help the waning drive for space.

True, at first only the super rich will be able to enjoy this particular luxury, at 200,000 a pop these rides will either be for the financial élite, or for someone’s last hurrah before they leave this world… in a permanent sense. However, in time the technology they are developing to ferry the rich to the stars, will be improved and expanded upon and the drive for space will be revitalized. And instead of  our youth of today fighting to get a job at one space program, N.A.S.A., they can apply to different companies and get more chances to help create that next step that will take us out into the next generation of space exploration.

I can only hope that the machinations of the rich and powerful will not get in the way, because as worried as I am about the control of humanities space program falling into a few rich individuals hands, I’m even more worried that this new program will fall before it can truly fly, because of investors, Ceo’s, or politicos trying to stop it in order to get their hands on the reigns of what could be the next big industry.

Yes, I missed the real space race, I was not alive to see man’s first steps on the moon, but I have been alive to see humanities imaginations go wild and weave countless stories of exploration and colonization of space. Mine is a generation of dreamers who want to see the stories of our youths made real around us. Why else do you think the ship in this story is named after the star ship U.S.S. Enterprise from the Star Trek franchise? We want to boldly go where no one has gone before. We want to travel space where we can finally be truly free like Malcolm Reynolds in his Serenity. We want to see new words and new civilizations at the side of an excellent guide like The Doctor. True, while all of these characters and worlds are fictional, they still inspire us, and that is what we need; inspiration, real hope that our dreams shaped by our fiction could be achieved in some form or fashion. So that is why I am glad that the V.S.S. Enterprise had a succesful test flight and I wish it many many more, and that’s how I see it.

© David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


You are what you… smell?

The battle of the bulge is more than a famous war campaign in WWII, it is also the ongoing fight against over eating, and weight gain. A battle that, according to the National Center for Health Statistics in January 2009, has left 34 percent of Americans obese, compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight and 6 percent that are “extremely” obese. We have more diet plans than healthcare plans in America, and as with both none of them seem to work for everyone. Exercise has always been the great stand-by for weight loss and with television shows such as “The Biggest Loser” and“Losing It with Jillian” coming to us in high quality HD it would seem that more people should be motivated to take control of their life and follow the examples shown them on the TV. Then again, it still comes down to will power and sadly with most Americans the flesh is capable, but the will is weak.

And so the battle continues, yo-yo dieting, inconsistent work out routines, fasting followed by bingeing followed by fasting again. Is it any wonder why we as a nation are viewed as having the most unhealthy life style of any modern nation? We do whatever we can to excess, except the things that we should do. We drive to excess when we could just as easily walk that 200 yards from one store in a shopping center to the one across the parking lot. We eat to excess because that all you can eat buffet is only 4.99, and we want to make sure we get out money’s worth, when instead we should actually learn up on portioning our meals as well as spacing them out, and not starve our selves most of the day and have that big fast food feast at the end of the work day. We also lounge to excess, we give up on any out doors plans we had in order to stay in and watch the pretty pictures on the big screen. When in reality, most daily activities that could have a huge impact on your health take no more than an hour to do. Is it convenient, generally not, but it is important.

Meanwhile, while all this debate over what is the proper way to live a healthy life style, and how much is too much exercise, eating, fast food, carbs, proteins, ect. The business world is out there coming up with flash in the pan ideas to try to get your money by praying on the hopes and insecurities of a worried and over weight populace. They throw out everything from magic pills that are supposed to burn off fat calories, to mystical never before seen training tools that will firm and build your muscle tone with the minimalist effort on your part, only 4 easy payments of 19.99 and not available in stores… well not for at least 8 months then you will find them all over the place at your local Wal-Mart, Walgreens, or CVS. It is rare that anything comes out that will actually help you and is not a temporary fix.

Which brings us to todays new brand of weight loss magic. Is it real, does it work? Well, as it says in the bottom of the article, the only way to know is for you to try it and decide.  The Sprinkles Diet. We all know the adage “you are what you eat” but are we now looking at “you are what you smell?” I can really believe some the reasoning behind this article. Smell is one of the most powerful and often underrated sense that we posses. Smell triggers memory stronger than sight, and it really does cause stronger cravings as well as turns us off our hunger faster than visual stimuli. I know if I walk past a restaurant and the favorable smell of some delicious meal comes wafting my way, I am quickly put in the mood for that meal and grow very hungry for it, and the longer I wait, the hungrier I get and the more and more I visualize I am going to want to eat. At the same time, take me in the same situation, walking down the street, I smell the wonderful smell outside the restaurant, I’m craving, I’m hungry, and then as I keep walking I pass by the alley  and the most horrid stench of three-week old rotten garbage hits me like a punch to the hypothalamus. My cravings are killed and I’m hoofing it to get away from the stench. So yes, I can really see the reasoning behind the science of this product. The problem is…. where is the science?

After reading this I thought is very interesting idea, but as I looked it over again I could not see exactly where it describes what the heck those little crystals are doing. “Sensa acts imperceptibly to speed up the natural satiety process, which prevents overeating,” Ok… but how? This article throws out nice sounding words and phrases  like successful studies, and double-blind, placebo-controlled study. These make us feel the product is very official and incredibly proven, but those very same terms can be found on just about any diet pill on the market, and we know how successful all of those must be. I still say the scientific information in this products pitch is lacking. The most scientific that the articles goes is talking about the hypothalamus and it’s control over your hunger. That is not the science of this product, that is a biology lesson. What the heck are these little crystals made of? They claim Sensa is made from absolutely no drugs but that is as far as they go with that route of information. The truth is they don’t give us one ounce of useful information that does not revolve around their sales pitch, or their “impressive” study reports. They even state that with the double-blind placebo controlled study they found that the “results very similar to Hirsch’s, with an average weight loss of more than 27 pounds.” They then quickly follow that up with the whole, to know for sure if it works, you need to try it. So in essence they did not tell us how much of that average of weight loss came from the control placebo group, and how much came from the folks on the donut sprinkles. That’s not the kind of vagueness I like to see in my information.

Now, I’m not saying this stuff does not work, who knows, I mean I have not tried it myself to see, as they so strongly encourage,  but I do know that the brain is a very powerful and often unexpected organ and that it is capable of more than we sometimes give it credit for. That is why placebos work in the first place, we believe something so strongly that our brain makes it so. This is why when dealing with something in the brain that is supposed to be, according to this product, as responsible for our over eating as the hypothalamus is proposed to be; I feel hesitant about anything that does not explain it self fully and inform the buyer just why it is the product and not the brain on its own that is responsible for this incredible weight loss.

Bottom line, people with weight issues want to believe in and want to grasp so strongly to a quick and easy fix to their problems that they see these kind of products as the miracles they have been waiting for and they buy into it with out a second thought or glance, not really wanting to know the science or the full disclosure of the findings around these products, because if they know that they might learn that the promoted results are skewed, or that the successful results were lost mere months after the subjects stopped using the product or diet, sometimes gaining more weight than they initially had. The truth is, there are only a few truly successful weight loss plans, and not one of them is a quick fix. Most require discipline, self-control, and above all an ability to mentally drop the habits that brought them to the unhealthy place they are in now. Until they come out with a miracle pill that does all that, I’m going to take the longer road towards my health goals. It may be longer, but I know that in the end I will enjoy the results all the more and for a long time to come, and that’s how I see it.

© David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

So, I came upon this story today as I was clicking through the news stories, and being the geek that I am I was of course drawn to this particular article.

First, I should say that I have a strong beef with George Lucas, I think he could not direct his way out of a paper bag, and that if he ever had any skill when it came to writing scripts, it has long since left him upon completing the first three Star Wars movies.

Be that as it may, I find his actions here particularly pathetic. Here he is taking the weight of his multi million dollar company with all its assets and support and laying into a 7-year-old laser business for producing a hand-held laser that by his estimation, and that of the tech blogosphere, appears to bear a close resemblance to a lightsaber. Really George? Really? You are going to raise a stink over this?

I can understand, as Steve Liu, CEO of Wicked Lasers, suggested, that a large corporation such as Lucasfilm needs to protect its interests because it has a lot of stock holders, and that if they let this slide they will have allowed grounds for another company, later down the line, to attempt to cash in from the cache that the all too famous laser swords would bring in. The problem is, that this is a company that makes hand-held lasers; not designed for the average consumer but for certain and specific fields of work. Personally, I don’t see a Christmas time commercial in the works featuring two kids in their Christmas best sitting on Santa’s lap in the mall asking for the new and totally awesome Spyder III laser. Cut frame and there they are Christmas morning each holding their brand new Spyder III swinging it around, pretending they are Darth Vader or Luke  Skywalker, all the while  setting fire to the house and sending the blazing white-hot light of the strongest hand held laser Wicked Lasers has produced in recent years through the Christmas tree and carving out lines in the dry wall. This image, while comical, does not appear plausible. So why then is it that Lucas is so determined to squash this laser. Can he really be that afraid that those specific consumers in the fields of work where this particular style of laser would be necessary, are going to buy it solely on the fact that some consider it to bear a resemblance to a lightsaber? If that is the case, what about flashlights? Who has not seen, or been, a child holding a flash light in both hands waving it about and pretending it was a lightsaber. Some flashlights even bearing a very strong and specific resemblance to the franchise’s prized weapon of choice. Yet, these items, which are readily available, and like the Spyder III laser, not being advertised as bearing any connection to the lightsaber, are left alone in this blood thirsty hunt?  Is it because it is actually a laser and can burn through items much like the lightsaber? Is it because it has features on the item itself that make it easier to grip like many pictures of a lightsaber depict, even tho it would only seem wise to place such safety precautions on such a high-powered laser? Where is the line drawn, at what point do you allow technology to be technology and progress as it needs to, and at what point do you continue to harass its creators because what they are making seems, in a small percentage of people’s minds, to bear a slight resemblance to your “creation.”

The truth as I see it is that Lucas has had only a few properties that can guarantee to continue making money. Star Wars is chief among them. One might suspect that his goal is to prevent any type of competition between his licensed and controlled fiction, and the real world. Why else would anyone make a stink over this when A: no one at Wicked Lasers was trying to draw a parallel in their advertising. B: The only folks who were creating a parallel were the tech bloggers and reviewers, but guess what, tech geeks are almost 99% guaranteed to have seen Star Wars and treasure those movies as a high point in their childhood, it is only natural that they try to compare modern-day advances with the much-loved images of their youth. This is going to continue to happen as we move forward with technology. C: This issue would have gone right under the radar of most of the nations populace if Lucas and his company had not created the big issue over it in the first place.

So What am I saying? Simply this, George Lucas needs to get a little dose of reality and try to actually think before he sets these kind of actions into motion. If he really wanted to make some money he could have sent in some feelers to see if he could get in on the revenue of the product by actually sponsoring it as opposed to trying to kill something that in reality was never a threat to his licensed  material anyway. Perhaps he could take the money he saves from these ill-conceived notions and put them towards more productive and profitable ventures…. like hiring a  real writer and director to handle any movies he plans to put out in the future and keep his jar jar binks loving, crystal alien skull flaunting, actually thought having a young Anakin Skywalker be portrayed as a whinny little emo brat and thus destroying for many one of the most awesome and well-loved movie villans ever.. hands out of the movie making business forever.

At least, that’s how I see it.

Thanks to Doug Gross of CNN for the well written article.

© David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.