First-hand accounts of how the President’s team responded to 9/11

I read a remarkable article comprising first-hand accounts by a number of people who surrounded President George W Bush on the morning of 9/11. I remember when the tragedy struck, and read reports about how the President’s team responded to the emerging crisis in the hours that followed.

The story of those remarkable hours—and the thoughts and emotions of those aboard—isolated eight miles above America, escorted by three F-16 fighters, flying just below the speed of sound, has never been comprehensively told.

This oral history, based on more than 40 hours of original interviews with more than two dozen of the passengers, crew and press aboard—including many who have never spoken publicly about what they witnessed that day—traces the story of how an untested president, a sidearm-carrying general, top aides, the Secret Service and the Cipro-wielding White House physician, as well as five reporters, four radio operators, three pilots, two congressmen and a stenographer responded to 9/11.

Garrett M. Graff

One thing this article made clear is how inaccurate some of that initial reporting was. If anything, I have a new-found respect for the former President, and the people who protected, and assisted him on that day. It’s well worth reading this article: ‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’ – POLITICO Magazine

Featured image credit: Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. (P7070-13)

The original WorldWideWeb browser has been revived … in your modern browser

This is an awesome project:

In December 1990, an application called WorldWideWeb was developed on a NeXT machine at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (known as CERN) just outside of Geneva. This program – WorldWideWeb — is the antecedent of most of what we consider or know of as “the web” today.

In February 2019, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the development of WorldWideWeb, a group of developers and designers convened at CERN to rebuild the original browser within a contemporary browser, allowing users around the world to experience the origins of this transformative technology.

CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild

My first browser was probably one of the early Netscape browsers (I loved those browsers), although it’s possible I may have started off with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer given how prevalent it was in those early days.

You can read more about the project that led to this browser’s recreation, here: Developers revive first Web browser at week-long hackathon | CERN

The WorldWideWeb browser
The WorldWideWeb browser

The WorldWideWeb browser has a certain appeal to it, although I’m not rushing to replace Firefox with this browser just yet. 😜

Via Jeremy Keith over at Adactio

A musical journey over the Moon with Clair de Lune

This visualization uses a digital 3D model of the Moon built from global elevation maps and image mosaics by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. It was created to accompany a performance of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune by the National Symphony Orchestra Pops, led by conductor Emil de Cou, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, on June 1 and 2, 2018, as part of a celebration of NASA’s 60th anniversary.

Clair de Lune (moonlight in French) was published in 1905, as the third of four movements in the composer’s Suite Bergamasque, and unlike the other parts of this work, Clair is quiet, contemplative, and slightly melancholy, evoking the feeling of a solitary walk through a moonlit garden.

The visuals were composed like a nature documentary, with clean cuts and a mostly stationary virtual camera. The viewer follows the Sun throughout a lunar day, seeing sunrises and then sunsets over prominent features on the Moon. The sprawling ray system surrounding Copernicus crater, for example, is revealed beneath receding shadows at sunrise and later slips back into darkness as night encroaches.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4655

Clair de Lune 4K Version – Moon Images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter – YouTube

Thank you for the wonderful Opportunity to visit Mars

This last week saw the official end of the Opportunity rover’s mission on Mars. NASA was unable to coax it back to life after signalling it for about eight months. This remarkable rover continued exploring Mars long after it’s original 90 day mission.

Drive along with the NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover and hear the voices of scientists and engineers behind the mission. Designed to run for 90 days, the exploration spanned more than 15 years from 2004 to 2019. Along the way, it discovered definitive proof of liquid water on ancient Mars and set the off-world driving record. For more information on the Mars Exploration Rovers and all of NASA’s Mars missions, visit mars.nasa.gov.

There is a wealth of imagery, and other information available on the mission site that document Opportunity’s journey across part of Mars’ surface. I love this image of Opportunity’s tracks in the Martian sand:

Here’s a terrific video that provides context for the featured image I’ve added to this post:

Overhead and on-the-ground views of the 25-mile journey NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has made since landing in 2004 – Courtesy of NASA

Another terrific resource (there’s so much available, I’m just picking items at random at this point), is this overview of the Opportunity and Spirit missions (Opportunity’s sibling, Spirit, went dormant several years ago):

This infographic highlights NASA’s twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Spirit and Opportunity. The rovers landed on the Red Planet in 2004, in search of answers about the history of water on Mars. Spirit concluded its mission in 2010. Opportunity last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location on Mars.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

The wonderful xkcd published a tribute to Opportunity that really captures the impact Opportunity, Spirit, and the other rovers have on Humanity – they take us on voyages of discovery on other worlds!

These rovers take us along for the ride. All we need to do, is look out the window now and then.

Teaching kids fractions

Our son is learning fractions at school. He’s finding them a little challenging, so I’ve been trying to help him. On one hand, my math knowledge still seems to be sufficient at his level. On the other, I don’t remember doing this stuff like he does it at school.

I found a couple links that will hopefully be helpful to him (well, aside from the examples I worked through with him, some artful diagrams with blocks, and loads of patience), so I thought I’d share them –

I also found the Khan Academy videos on YouTube (also worthwhile if you just want the videos):

Kids these days have such awesome resources available … (and, thankfully, so do we parents!)

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Dawid Małecki

When the sound of chewing drives you crazy

I’m definitely one of those people who find the sound of chewing infuriating. I have moments when it’s tolerable but, for the most part, it drives me crazy. Irrationally so. It turns out, this may be as much of a biological thing, as it is a psychological thing (and yet another thing to add to my list of Things). According to Mike McCrae’s article titled “If You Can’t Stand The Sound of People Chewing, Blame Your Brain”

The sound of people chewing, slurping, tapping, or humming can drive some people into a rage, and scientists have actually discovered the neurological wiring responsible for this strange condition.

Called misophonia, it describes the unreasonable emotions that well up inside some of us when we hear certain repetitive noises being produced by those around us. People with this condition experience annoyance or even anger at the clacking of a keyboard, the rustling of a chip packet, or the smacking of lips.

Mike McCrae

It doesn’t seem like there’s a cure. Well, there is. People can chew with their mouths closed. Just a thought.

Sadly for those with misophonia, the discovery doesn’t come with an easy fix. It might help the rest of us sympathise, however, and consider chewing with our mouths closed.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Khamkhor

Twitter’s conversational problem is that it’s not suited to have one

Recode’s article titled “How hard is it to have a conversation on Twitter? So hard even the CEO can’t do it.” highlights a perennial challenge on Twitter: having a coherent conversation about pretty much anything –

There simply wasn’t enough room to have the kind of nuanced conversation the subject requires. It was symbolic of Twitter’s broader problem: It’s almost impossible to have a smart, healthy argument on Twitter because no one has the space needed to share their thoughts.

Anyone remember Friendfeed? Actually, perhaps a more interesting solution could have been Google Wave.

Neither of these options are around any longer, and their successors don’t have the traction or appeal for this sort of use case.

Nice, sunny day to be outdoors

I’ve taken a couple days off this week to decompress after what feels like a pretty intense six months or so at work. Today turned out to be a really nice, warm day (we have rain and cold weather forecast for the rest of the week), so I went for a walk this morning.

This is also great weather to go for a run, so I’m going to resist the urge to sit in front of the TV for the rest of the afternoon, and spend a little more time outdoors instead.

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