First Test of Orion Escape Vehicle Goes off 'Like Clockwork'

By Clay Dillow Posted 05.06.2010 at 10:35 am 6 Comments

Orion's Successful Escape NASA

With a budget battle looming and its Ares I rocket program all but dead, today NASA test-fired its $220 million Orion crew capsule, which it is currently repurposing into an escape vehicle, per President Obama's new vision for NASA. Conducted at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the launch came off without a hitch, launching Orion more than a mile skyward before deploying parachutes and drifting back to the desert floor a mile from the launch site.

"Wow, that went like clockwork from what I can see," said Jay Estes, NASA's deputy manager of the Orion project office. "That's an amazing test."


"[...] The system is designed to initiate crew abort in a split second should the crew be in danger on the launch pad or during early stages of ascent. But NASA also thinks the data gathered from the Orion tests will inform the design of future manned spacecraft."

This sounds like something you might watch on a Star Trek episode :) .

Mid-Spring Winter the pico-season, sesquivernal greens sodden upon sunrise

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I'm always tickled by the near-May-Day snows we get here in the Boulder area, and in 2005 I even wrote a poem (a bagatelle, really) "May Day Flakes" when we got a good 8 inches at the end of April. This morning we got a dusting, making it the latest in the year I've seen snow in the backyard. Early last week we got a few inches.

Our winters are generally so mild (though this past one was rougher than most) that my Nigerian blood doesn't curdle over at such oddities. In fact, we always get so much sun that all the snow is usually gone by afternoon of the day. Pico-season. Peek-a-boo season.

I'd meant to post this entry here on Copia.


To belong? What's it mean? Is it creature of tense? Is it active or passive?
Is it cold set in bone, magma oozing to plate ocean floor, or explosive
Crackling reaction, plume clearing to flesh jacked into the massive?


Hussein's family had fled Iran in retreat from the Ayatollah muhajideen
But became the yard's only-good-one-is-a-dead-one once the hostage crisis went down.
Hussein had seen worse than punk clique kids.  He was like: "Bring that shit on!"


When your eyes learn to look beyond state, to peers beyond infinity,
Okigbo, Villon, Pound, Plath, sometimes you forget that misfit can grow to vanity.
I've come to grow into readiness for company, the scent and crinkled space of shared humanity.

My recital of my poem, "Growing up Misfit", from the Spring, 2010 TNB Literary Experience in New York, is the lead piece in this week's TNB Podcast Feature on The Nervous breakdown.

"TNBLE - Episode 7, Part I.  The Nervous Breakdown's Literary Experience, recorded live in New York City at Happy Ending Lounge on 26 March 2010. Featuring Uche Ogbuji, Daniel Roberts, Tod Goldberg and Kristen Elde. Produced by Aaron M. Snyder and Megan DiLullo. Music by Goodbye Champion."

I've revised the poem a bit since that recording, but it's nice to hear the audio so crisp.  Major props to Kimberly and her peeps at the event, and Megan and her peeps for the post-event production.  I don't think I've ever heard myself so clearly.

Indivo X - A Promising Framework for Personal Healthcare Records

Indivo X Alpha 1 released

A few days ago, we released the source code for the first public alpha of Indivo X, our latest vision for personally controlled health records. This is a release focused on the Indivo X API, targeted first at developers. Jump right into the installation instructions. (We don't recommend you use this version in a production environment just yet.)

Fred Trotter wrote up his first impressions, and ZDnet picked up the story on open-source and health-reform. We look forward to feedback from the community, and we're already hard at work on Alpha 2, which we expect to deliver in early Spring.

I recently came across the publicly available codebase for Indivo. I've read quite a bit about Indivo during my research regarding Personal Healthcare Records (PHRs). Indivo seems like the most promising for several reasons. First, it is being released to the public (at least a version of it). One of the reasons I have been really driven to learn more about the PHR market is my belief that the combination of social web, the emerging interests of patients to have more direct access to their healthcare data, and the significant stunting of adoption of contemporary web technologies for medical record systems will be a major catalyst to a new generation of health applications. There is alot of data that supports this trend. Second, the seminal paper by the authors of Indivo captures their vision of how PHRs will change the healthcare data landscape. It is a good read for anyone interested this phenomenon. Their vision appeals to me on a visceral level. There is something about the idea of a healthcare data revolution being sparked by patients themselves and their willingness to adopt value-adding technologies that otherwise their caretakers are perhaps too risk averse to consider that appeals to me.

Looking closely at the code base, I discovered that it is comprised of Python, Django, and Postgres. The SemanticDB patient registry is currently based on 4Suite, Python, a significant amount of XML processing and MySQL. I'm keen on building a simple hello-world PHR for managing my blood pressure readings and medications as a first iteration to see how far I can go with my current toolset: Akara (for the web infrastructure), Amara (for the XML processing), rdflib (for the RDF processing), FuXi (for any logical entailment and query re-writing), and CPR for the medical record ontology.

Indivo also includes a Python implementation of OAuth. I've been doing alot of research regarding how OAuth can be adopted as a cryptographically safe mechanism to delegate (subscribed) access to PHR content (similarly to facebook content subscription).

I will have alot more to say on this general topic.  Stay tuned!



I say people, people come on and check it now
You see the mic in my hand now watch me wreck it now
What is a party if the crew ain't there?
(What's your name, kid?) Call me Guru; that's my man Premier
Now many attempts have been made to hold us back,
Slander the name and withhold facts.
But I'm the type of brother with much more game
I got a sure aim and if I find you're to blame,
You can bet you'll be exterminated, taken out, done.
It doesn't matter how many they'll go as easy as just one.
Bust one round in the air for this here
'Cause this year suckers are going nowhere,
'Cause my street style and intelligence level
Makes me much more than just an angry rebel.
I'm Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal
MCs that ain't equipped get flipped in my circle.
I'm aiming on raining on the bitch ass chumps
Cuz their rhymes don't flow and their beats don't pump;
And niggaz better know I've paid my dues and shit.
I'm 'bout to blow the fuck up because I refuse to quit.
I'm out to get the props that are rightfullly mine,
Yeah me and the crew think its about that time.
But on the DL you know that Gangstarr will conquer.
That's why you stare and point, and others cling on to
My Nautica, asking for a hook-up;
Well sorry but my schedule is all booked up.
Nobody put me on; I made it up the hard way;
Look out for my people but the suckers should parlay.
'Cause it's business kid, this ain't no free for all
You have to wait your turn, you must await your call.
So now, now it is my duty to
Eliminate and subtract all of the booty crews,
And suckers should vacate, before I get irate
And I'll kick your can from here to Japan
With force you can't withstand
'Cause I'm the motherfucking man.

—Guru's verse, Gang Starr - "I'm the Man"


When I heard yesterday morning that Guru had died, a sequence ran through my mind of classics rendered in that inimitable monotone.  "Just to get a Rep" and "Words I Manifest" were my introduction to Gang Starr and the group's charismatic MC.  I'm not one to dwell much on celebrity life milestones (though I do remark the excellent NY Times obit), not even in the tragic case of a quietus descended at young age. But it is certainly occasion to remember the music that kept me, my brothers, and my peers well entertained for a good while.  As you can see from the above verse, Guru never pushed the bounds of complexity too far.  His rap was mostly classic B-Boy swagger.  But classic B-Boy swagger is what drew so many of us to Hip-Hop in the first place, the rump-of-cold-war kids born of the first generation able to take full advantage of the global village, finding our way as far-flung misfits.  We didn't really know of any advantage to our polycultural dexterity, but we definitely understood the message of uncompromising personal expression, no matter how awful your personal ghetto.  The braggadocio was the gateway to something that became richer and more abstract as we brought that polycultural dexterity to bear, and one of the last pushers of that pure, gateway drug hit was the Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal.


"Dwyck" was the anthem around when I arrived in the US as my family immigrated.  Daily Operation is probably my favorite album, with killer tracks such as "Take it Personal" and "Ex to the Next."  I also enjoyed a lot of Guru's creative collabos in the Jazzmatazz series, and being a Soul junkie, I definitely dug the likes of "Keep your Worries" with Angie Stone and "Plenty" with Erykah Badu.

Guru always surrounded himself with talent that complemented his skill and curiosity, and in a later verse to this Quotīdiē's track, for a cameo that straight flipped my wig (and those of many others), Guru introduced a young bridge from that B-Boy classic style to the emerging abstract/black-power style, Jeru the Damaja.

I'll tap your...jaw; you probably heard it before
step to the Bedlamite I'll prove my word is law
Drugstore worth more, dope rhyme vendor,
Not partial to beef, the chief ambassador
Niggaz get mad 'cause they can't score
Like a wild west flick they wish to shoot up my door
But I incite to riot, don't even try it
Bust up chumps so crab kids keep quiet
Like I said before, I tap jaws, snatch whores
Kill suckers in wars, vic a style you said was yours.
Money grip want to flip, but you're fish;
House the mic like your hooker and did tricks on the bitch
Dirty Rotten Scoundrel and my name is Jeru
Utilizing my tools in '92
MCs step up in mobs to defeat us
When we rock knots and got props like Norm Peterson;
Lot's of friends, lot's of fun, lots of beers
Got the skills, kreeno, so I always get cheers.
Troop on like a trooper, no tears for fears.
I'm a get mines 'cause the crew will get theirs.
Cut you up like Edward Scissorhands
you know the program I'm the motherfucking man.

—Jeru the Damaja's verse, Gang Starr - "I'm the Man"

By the way, when a friend confirmed for me that Jeru had thrown in a word of New Testament Greek ("κρίνω" or "krino"), I thought it helped confirm him as the motherfucking man, but if so, that became the case under the mentoring of Guru, and the same can be said of a fair number who now make up hip-hop royalty.

Unfortunately, mad drama has started immediately in the wake of Guru's death.  All the reports are dominated by an unseemly spat between different factions from the man's life.  Despite that ugliness and indignity, no drama can take away the essence of Guru's legacy, which lives its part in my collection of three Gang Starr CDs and all four Jazzmataz joints.  The hard monotone in which the Words Manifest.

Notes on my Sappho translation

Last week I suggested to my fellow TNB poetry editors a lark: I would post a Sappho poem for the week's feature, and a faux-self-interview as the poetess.  April Fool's week might have been best for that, but I figured, what the heck, and my other editors liked the idea, so I set to work.

I had decided from the start that I would work on my own translation, and I thought it would be best to take on the Tithonus lyric, woefully incomplete until archaeologists found that famous strip from an Egyptian mummy wrapping in 2004.  Based on the translations I'd seen so far, I thought it was perhaps worth it to go for a fresh take.

I spent some time feverishly revising my Homeric Greek, knowing full well that even brushed-up Homeric or Attic comprehension would struggle with Sappho's Aeolic, but I had the Perseus on-line word study tool to get me further, and Google when I really needed a sniper shot.  The result is "Sappho and Old Age".

The meter gave me a good bit of pause.  The poem is not in her eponymous sapphics, but a hexameter with some Aeolic flourishes, including usually a couple of choriambs per line, and her typical art of teasing us with shifting caesura.  It's a very lively music, and very difficult to get into English, of course.  Considering my own love of form, I wanted to try rendering it into a variation of metrical feet, but that tended to wash out the tautness of Sapphos expressions, so I let it flow, and ended up with what's been coming most naturally to me lately: an accentual line influenced by sprung rhythm, but relaxing the requirement to spring from stress.  I suppose I'd call it a sequence of hendeca-accentual stanzas, but such supposed freedom left me with a lot of work in fine-tuning natural speech quantity and other metrical cues.

Of course the work of translation and my research took me into fairly deep classicist territory, and sometimes perhaps rather too deep for safety.  Prof. West reconstructed the bit about Eos's capture of Tithonus as "ερωι  φ..αθεισαν", an elaboration of what I rendered as "love-struck." I've seen at least one commentator who suggests this might be better reconstructed as "ἔρῳ δέπα θεῖσαν", or in his words, "placing / dedicating cups to Eros."  I'm hardly qualified to wade into such an arch-classicist conundrum, so I instead claimed exigency of the poetry of the translation.  The "cups to Eros" metaphor would have been clumsy in my treatment.
On another, more well-known dispute, I claimed a bit more poetic authority.  I went with the "ο κόλπον" of Prof. West's own reconstruction, rather than the "ο πλόκων" or "violet-wreathed" that West swapped in for his translation.  The latter is a more conventional epithet, but as others have pointed out with the famous modulation of the Homeric "Ἠὼς ῥοδοδάκτυλος" ("rosy-fingered Eos/dawn") to the Sapphic "βροδοδάκτυλος σελάννα", ("rosy-fingered Selene/moon",) Sappho has always infused such allusions with her own originality.

Like everyone, I've heard before that Plato lauded Sappho the tenth Muse, but I went looking for the citation, and all I could find was the mention I already knew, put by Plato into Socrates mouth in Phaedrus 235c.

νῦν μὲν οὕτως οὐκ ἔχω εἰπεῖν: δῆλον δὲ ὅτι τινῶν ἀκήκοα, ἤ που Σαπφοῦς τῆς καλῆς ἢ Ἀνακρέοντος τοῦ σοφοῦ...

I cannot say, just at this moment; but I certainly must have heard something, either from the lovely Sappho or the wise Anacreon... (Fowler translation)

It was fun revising that bit, though, as it led me to Prof. Pender's Sappho and Anacreon in Plato’s Phaedrus, but that can't be it.  Can anyone shed better light on the "tenth Muse" laud?

I also put together a faux-self-Interview with Sappho to meet TNB feature convention.  The second and third question (on general preference for women), and the last two (on "lyric" versus "poetry") were contributed, with answers by Milo Martin, which I edited for flow, and to match the voice I'd established for Sappho.  The question "So which contemporary woman best embodies the idea of love, and why?" and the two following that were contributed by Rich Ferguson, to which I wrote the answers.