Scientists Found a Way to Save a Long-Lost Spacecraft—Now It's Facing Its Biggest Test Yet

Scientists Found a Way to Save a Long-Lost Spacecraft—Now It's Facing Its Biggest Test Yet - On April 7, 1986, NASA scientist Bob Farquhar sent final instructions to the International Comet Explorer (ICE), a half-ton probe that had made its way 54 million miles from Earth. It had passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet only a few days before, and now the mission’s flight director told the satellite to go on a long journey. ICE would fall into an Earth-like orbit around the sun, tour empty space, and eventually catch up to Earth in 2014.

Launched in 1978 as a solar observatory, the probe had already spent years in space, hopping from one mission to another. Farquhar imagined future astronauts picking up the satellite as it re-approached its home world. NASA even preemptively donated the craft to the Smithsonian.

“We are now targeted for the moon, but it’s a long time away,” Farquhar told a newswire reporter in 1986. “I’m not going to be able to wait around.” The reporter added that the probe should go “whipping around the moon” on August 10, 2014. 

The years have passed, the day is almost here, and only one of Farquhar’s predictions came true: He did wait around, and now he is helping to revive ISEE-3.

He’s doing it in lieu of NASA, which ended transmissions with the craft in 1998 and threw out its documentation. A group of unaffiliated scientists, engineers, and fans have revived the satellite themselves, relying on donated radio-telescopes and their own archival work to figure out how the probe works.

Days ago, in a move that many people doubted was even possible, they made two-way contact with the almost-36-year-old spacecraft, and they’ve declared themselves “in control” of it as it rapidly approaches its home. The moment is undeniably cool: Using old-fashioned archival sleuth work, citizen scientists hack their way into an abandoned space object. The team, led by journalist Keith Cowing and space engineer Dennis Wingo, hope to make almost all the data from the ISEE-3 public, and to create a scientific community around the decades-old probe.

But the latest chapter in the life of the probe—usually referred to by its original name, the International Sun/Earth Explorer-3 (or ISEE-3)—is just beginning. Now that the reboot mission is in control, they must successfully navigate the craft around space hazards before they can normalize its operation. Once they figure out how to stabilize the probe, they'll focus on what they want to do with it.

Now that the reboot mission is in control of the ISEE-3, here’s what they must do to keep it alive.

A Fast-Rising Graph

By June 17, the reboot team needs to fire the probe’s rockets.

Engineers talk about the fuel available to spacecraft in terms of “delta-v,” or the amount of energy that needs to be expended for a spacecraft to change velocity. The team believes that ISEE-3 has about 150 meters per second of delta-v remaining: The probe can change its velocity a net 150 meters per second before it runs out of hydrazine to shoot out of its small jets.

Scientists Found a Way to Save a Long-Lost Spacecraft—Now It's Facing Its Biggest Test Yet
The ISEE-3 made many adjustments before it began its long journey home. (NASA)As the ISEE-3 gets closer to the Earth and moon—and the two orbs’ gravitational pull strengthens—it will need more and more energy to change its orbital trajectory. The same amount of delta-v lets the spacecraft change its orbit less and less.

When I talked to Cowing, one of the directors of the reboot mission, he said that the graph that describes how much fuel the ISEE-3 would need to change direction resembles a world-population graph. There’s a long, slow upward increase followed by a huge up-swing (which, for world population, comes after the Industrial Revolution).

That inflection point—the moment when it takes huge amounts of fuel to make any tiny movement at all—arrives on June 17. After June 17, in other words, it will be hard to adjust the probe’s trajectory at all. And the ISEE-3 scientists still need to figure out how to tell the probe what to do, a task that—if possible—will require lots of tedious work. You can’t program a flight path into the ISEE-3 because it has no computer.

“Someone literally has to sit there and hit return for a period of time,” Cowing said, and tell the craft to have its tiny rockets fire “itty-bitty pulses.”

A Moonshot

August 10 might be the last day of the ISEE-3’s life. That’s the day it will make its lunar pass, and the ISEE-3 reboot team will gather at McMoons, an abandoned McDonald’s on the grounds of NASA’s Ames Research Center, to watch. (Many of the members of the ISEE-3 reboot team first worked together as part of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which digitized the film of five lunar orbiters from 1966 and 1967.)

Scientists Found a Way to Save a Long-Lost Spacecraft—Now It's Facing Its Biggest Test Yet
The ISEE-3 before it left home, still being constructed in a laboratory on Earth (NASA)According to Farquhar’s original programmed orbit, ISEE-3 will pass about 50 miles over the surface of the moon on August 10. The probe’s not quite where it was programmed to be, though, and—without changes to its trajectory—it might crash into the moon.

“The odds of it hitting the moon are not that great, but they’re not zero,” said Cowling. There’s also a possibility that the half-ton craft could veer toward Earth. Only fine adjustments to ISEE-3’s orbit in the next few weeks will make those two unlikely scenarios impossible.

But that pass doesn’t end the craft’s day. After it flies above the lunar surface, the ISEE-3 will swing behind the moon. That will lead to something of a problem. The probe’s battery expired decades ago, so it can now only run on solar power. For the half-hour it spends on the moon’s dark side, the ISEE-3 will be beyond the reach of solar rays. It will lose power.

The ISEE-3 has lost power like this before, but it was years ago. Now with a couple extra decades of possibly frayed or fried circuitry, it’s less clear that the probe will survive the sudden darkness. (Cowler noted that the probe won’t “turn off.” It will instead lose power at once, like a lightbulb in a power outage.)

If the craft neither crashes into the moon nor expires on its dark side, it will have endured August 10 and the most dire threats to its existence.

And Then Where Does It Live?

After this celestial gauntlet, the ISEE-3 will have a calmer couple of months.

“Once you come out from behind the moon, depending on where we are, we’re going to fire the engines a last few times,” said Cowler. The reboot team still hasn’t decided which direction they’ll fire them in. They could possibly pilot ISEE-3 back to where it began its mission in the 1970s: the first Lagrange point, a stable oasis between the Earth and the sun. But two more spacecraft, with more advanced sensors than ISEE-3, already inhabit that point, so it wouldn’t be of enormous scientific utility.

“The problem [with a Lagrange point] is stopping once you get there,” added Dr. David Chenette, director of NASA’s heliophysics divisions. Maintaing a stable orbit in a Lagrange point requires extra fuel to both stop a craft and tailor its location. 

“We want to put it somewhere where we don’t have to spend as long tweaking it as we do running it,” Cowler said. The team is considering “a variety” of easy orbits between the Earth and the moon that would require less fuel but still provide interesting, useful data.

He also raised another possibility: “We could also throw it at another comet in 2018.”

This article originally appeared in : Scientists Found a Way to Save a Long-Lost Spacecraft—Now It's Facing Its Biggest Test Yet | | By Robinson Meyer | June 3, 2014 | 7:06 AM

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Pangeran Charles dan Radikalisme Islam dan Hancurnya Budaya Barat

Ketakutan Pangeran Charles Atas Radikalisme Islam dan Hancurnya Budaya Barat - Islam menakutkan panggung kehidupan Uni Eropa. Sekarang Islam semakin menakutkan kalangan liberal dan sekuler. Mereka sangat terganggu. Tidak merasa nyaman dengan kehidupan mereka.

Mereka tidak bisa hidup dengan terus bertumpu kepada sekulerisme dan liberalisme.

Sekulerisme dan liberalisme seperti penyakit kanker yang sangat akut, dan sudah mencapai stadium empat. Tidak ada lagi obat mujarab yang dapat menyelamatkan kehidupan mereka.

Perlahan-lahan mereka menuju kematian dan kehancuran secara sistemik. Eropa benar-benar mendekati sekarat. Tidak ada lagi harapan masa depan mereka.

Budaya sekulerisme dan liberalisme hanya melahirkan berbagai kehidupan yang sangat paradok. Paradok keidupan diantara penduduk Eropa sudah sangat jelas.

Ketakutan Pangeran Charles Atas Radikalisme Islam dan Hancurnya Budaya Barat

Sekulerisme dan liberalisme yang hanya melahirkan kehidupan yang berorientasi kepada materialisme sudah mencapai puncaknya. Tidak akan lagi dapat naik dalam mencapai kemajuan.

Uni Eropa sudah stagnan. Sudah mandeg. Tidak ada lagi pencapaian yang mereka temukan. Kehidupan mereka hanyalah sebuah rutinitas belaka. Seperti binatang ternak.

Makan, intertaimen, dan sek. Tidak ada lagi yang lebih dari itu. Agama sudah mereka tinggalkan. Mereka menjadi sangat atheis.

Mereka sudah mulai menampakan penyimpangan perilaku. Akibat kegagalan mereka menemukan kehidupan yang mereka inginkan, kebahagiaan. Sekulerisme dan liberalisme, hanya melahirkan kekosongan jiwa.

Mereka lari kepada alkohol, narkotik, marijuana, dan berbagai perilaku menyimpang lainnya.

Bingkai kehancuran yang sekarang ini menyeruak seantero Eropa, yaitu perkawinan antara jenis. Gay dan lesbi menjadi tren baru di Uni Eropa. Keluarga ‘single parent’, sudah menjadi pilihan rata-rata dikalangan masyarakat Uni Eropa.

Orang-orang di Uni Eropa lebih suka hidup bersama dengan anjing, dibanding harus menikah dan memiliki anak-anak. Anak bagi mereka sebuah beban, dan tidak berguna.

Tak aneh kalangan liberal dan konservatif di seluruh Uni Eropa, sekarang mereka sama-sama memperjuangkan perkawinan antara jenis. Hampir semua parlemen Uni Eropa, sudah meratifikasi tentang perkawinan antara jenis.

Jenis ML (making love), bukan lagi antara laki-perempuan. Tapi, antara pasangan laki-laki (gay), atau pasangan perempuan (lesbi).

Demokrasi tak pernah memberi alternatife bagi kehidupan mereka. Berapa kali pemilu? Berapa kali partai saling memperebutkan kekuasaan melalui pemilihan parlemen dan presiden. Tetap tidak bisa mengobati yang sekarang di derita oleh masyarakat Uni Eropa.

Malah demokrasi yang anak kandungnya pemilihan itu, melahirkan anak kandung kekacauan politik. Melahirkan kelompok-kelompok sosial dan politik yang saling konflik.

Panggung politik di Eropa sekarang di uji dengan krisis yang terjadi di negara Yunani. Di mana krisis ekonoomi yang terjadi di Yunani, menjalar ke seluruh daratan Eropa. Uni Eropa sudah menggelontorkan triliun euro guna menyelamatkan Yunani. Tetap tidak berubah.

Separtuh penduduk Yunani menjadi pengganggur. Tanpa masa depan. Inflasi,utang luar negeri, sudah tidak lagi dapat dibayangkan. Yunani menjadi taruhan bagi Uni Eropa.

Sekarang ditambah dengan ancaman Rusia ke seluruh daratan Uni Eropa, dan dimulai dengan serbuan militer ke Ukraina. Ribuan sudah tewas. Perang tidak akan pernah berhenti.

Karena Rusia dibawah Presiden Vladimir Putin, masih hidup dengan mimpi, dan meninginkan kejayaan, dan Rusia ingin menjadi imperium.

Seluruh kekuatan militer sampai ke rudal balistik antara benua, semua sudah disiapkan. Tinggal menekan tombol dan pelatuk, dan ‘efect damage’ (efek kehancurannya), sudah sulit dibayangkan.

Di tengah kondisi Uni Eropa seperti ini, Pangeran Charles memberikan peringatan tentang ancaman radikalisme Islam yang tumbuh dikalangan anak muda Eropa. Radikalisme dikalangan anak muda Uni Eropa itu, sebuah antitesa dari budaya Eropa sudah menjelang kehancuran.

Anak-anak muda Muslim mereka dengan budaya Islamnya, tetap eksis dan berpegang dengan teguh, melawan sekulerisme dan liberalisme yang sanga destruktif. Ini yang digambarkan sebagai ancaman baru bagi kehidupan masyarakat Uni Eropa.

Peristiwa penembakan terhadap Charlie Hebdo yang menewaskan 12 orang membuat panik kalangan Uni Eropa dan Barat. Mereka semua terkejut, dan berbicara tentang radikalisme.

Bahkan, Pangeran Charles menggambarkan semakin banyaknya anak-anak muda yang radikal, dan "menakutkan" dan menjadi salah satu "kekhawatiran yang terbesar Eropa”, ujar Charles.

Dalam sebuah wawancara dalam program Sunday Hour di Radio 2, Pangeran Charles mengatakan tentang harapannya untuk "membangun jembatan" antara keyakinan yang berbeda.

Pangeran Charles mengatakan, "Tentu saja, saya rasa ini merupakan suatu kekhawatiran terbesar, dan makin meluasnya (radikalisme) ini menjadi bagian yang menakutkan.

Sejatinya kalangan muda Muslim sedang tumbuh di daratan Eropa, dan mereka sudah mulai memenuhi ruang-ruang kehidupan. Kehadiran mereka menjadi ‘anti tesa’ terhadap budaya sekuler dan liberal yang sudah mapan.

Lahiran budaya baru, budaya ‘tauhid’ perlahan-lahan akan menggantikan budaya ‘syirik’ yang bersumber dari paganisme Yahudi dan Nasrani.

Ibaratnya seperti seorang ibu yang melahirkan, penuh dengan darah, dan rasa sakit. Sebuah fenomena baru di daratan Eropa, lahirnya generasi baru Muslim, yang akan menyambut datangnya cahaya ‘al-Islam’, dan akan memberikan kebahagian kepada seluruh manusia. Tidak ada yang perlu dikawatirkan.

Seperti seorang ibu yang melahirkan, penuh dengan darah, dan rasa sakit. Sesudah melahirkan semua rasa sakit dan darah itu hilang, dan digantikan oleh kebahagiaan. "Telah datang kebenaran, dan kebathilan akan sirna".

Budaya syirik itu secara inherent (melekat) akan menghancurkan dirinya sendiri. Seperti kanker yang menggerogoti tubuh Uni Eropa. Kecuali mereka mau menerima cahaya baru 'al-Islam', dan hanya itu yang dapat menyelamatkan hari depan mereka. Wallahu’alam.

This article originally appeared in : Ketakutan Pangeran Charles Atas Radikalisme Islam dan Hancurnya Budaya Barat | | Senin, 19 Rabiul Akhir 1436 H / 9 Februari 2015 09:39 wib

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Is the Tea Party's Dream an Illusion?

Is the Tea Party's Dream an Illusion? - With some such thought in mind, Speaker John Boehner strode to the floor of the House to offer a "clean" debt ceiling bill and relied on Nancy Pelosi's Democrats to pass it. They did.

"Surrender" and "betrayal," are among the epithets coming the Speaker's way. 

Is the Tea Party's Dream an Illusion?

Yet Boehner was holding a losing hand. Had he added a GOP wish-list bill to the debt ceiling, Harry Reid's Senate would have rejected it. President Obama would have denounced it as putting at risk the full faith and credit of the United States. 

Big Media would have piled on. The markets would have been rattled. The Dow would have begun to swoon. Corporate America, cash cow of the Republican Party, would have begun to howl.

A clamor to pass a clean debt ceiling bill or risk a new recession would have arisen. And the House Republicans would have caved, as they finally had to cave on the budget bill last fall. 

Rather than play Lord Raglan and lead his cavalry in another Charge of the Light Brigade, Boehner chose to withdraw to fight another day on another field. 

Yet, the Tea Party has a right to feel cheated.

When does the Republican Party, put in power by the Tea Party, plan to honor its commitment to halt the growth of the Federal monolith and bring the budget back into balance? Is there is any hope things will be different, should the Tea Party help produce a GOP Senate in 2014?

If the Tea Party is in some despair, is it not understandable?

For while there are countless proposals and plans to cut back on federal spending, from Simpson-Bowles on, it is impossible today to see in either party the political will to do the surgery.

Consider what would be needed to roll back Big Government.

First, the major entitlement programs Medicare and Social Security would have to be peeled back. But any effort to raise the age of eligibility, or reduce the benefits, or trim cost-of-living adjustments, would meet with ferocious resistance, led by the AARP.

Indeed, many Tea Party members are themselves among those enjoying, or about to enjoy, the benefits of these programs. Would they back cuts in either one? Democrats say these programs must be expanded, and they will resist any cuts as fiercely as the Republicans would resist any increase in payroll or income taxes. 

Social Security and Medicare recipients number in the scores of millions. Four million Baby Boomers reach eligibility every year now. That is more then 10,000 every day. Is any party, even a GOP that controls the White House and Congress, going to take on this army? 

Consider that other entitlement, Medicaid. 

Thanks to Obamacare, the number of beneficiaries of Medicaid is soaring. And even should the GOP capture the Senate in 2016, a Democratic minority would filibuster to death any bill to cut Medicaid.

As for interest on the debt, another major element in the budget, it has only one way to go, up. For the Fed freeze that has held interest rates near zero for five years must some day end.

Defense is the other big item in the budget. But while the wind-down of our trillion-dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has made cuts possible here, most of these have already been made.

And this week the House voted 326-90 to repeal the small cut in the COLA in pensions for working-age military retirees under 62, which was part of the bipartisan budget deal last fall. Members of Congress panic at any suggestion they are shortchanging the troops. 

Yet, since Y2K, the cost of military personnel has doubled, while the number of those on active duty has fallen by 10 percent. 

Last December, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, in their budget deal, raised discretionary spending in 2014 from the $967 billion it would have been under the sequester to $1.012 trillion. 

Invariably, bipartisan budget deals between Capitol Hill liberals and conservatives move the ball further toward the liberals' goal line.

The farm bill just signed by President Obama contains a tiny cut in a food stamp budget that has exploded during his days in office. But nice new subsidies are in there for peanut and corn growers and producers of maple syrup. Embarrassed at what the House went along with, not one Republican Congressman showed up at the signing ceremony.

Can it be that the Tea Party's dream of a balanced budget, and of a government that ceases to eat up ever more of the GDP, is simply an act of self-delusion?

Have the beneficiaries of Big Government become so powerful that any champion of the national interest who challenges them in fixed battle invites almost certain defeat?

For today, America appears to be maintaining speed, or even accelerating, toward that cliff that they all warn us is out there.

This article originally appeared in : Is the Tea Party's Dream an Illusion? | | By Pat Buchanan | February 14, 2014 | 3:00 AM

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What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship

What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship -Are you a creative person stuck in an unhappy relationship? Or an extrovert who gets along well with your partner? Your preferred sleeping position may reveal the answers to these questions, and other secrets about your personality and relationship.

In a survey, 1,000 people reported their preferred sleeping positions, and also gave information about their personalities and relationship quality. It turned out that the farther apart people in relationships slept from their partners, the worse they rated their relationships. 

What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship

What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship

A full 94 percent of couples who touched each other while sleeping said they were happy in their relationships, whereas 68 percent of couples who didn't touch each other during sleep rated their relationships as happy. The research also found that extroverts tended to sleep closer to their partners, and creative people usually slept on their left side.

"I think it just underlines the point that the night is not downtime," said study researcher Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England. Instead, this missing third of our life provides important clues about our waking lives."

"This work suggests that if you have noticed that you are drifting apart from your partner during the night, you might want to take a look at the quality of your relationship," Wiseman told Live Science.

Wiseman also found that 42 percent of the couples in the survey slept back-to-back, 31 percent slept facing in the same direction and 4 percent slept facing each other. Moreover, 12 percent of the couples slept less than an inch apart, and just 2 percent slept more than 30 inches apart.

The experiment's findings about the link between sleeping positions and relationship quality may change researchers' perception of what really happens in people's consciousness when they sleep, Wiseman said.

"It is great that scientists are starting to explore the night, and realizing that we are just in a different form of consciousness, rather than it being a time when nothing much happens," he said.

Wiseman is discussing the survey's findings today (April 17) at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland. The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This article originally appeared in : What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship | | By By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, Staff Writer | April 21, 2014 10:50 AM

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When Good Actor Meets Bad Movie

When Good Actor Meets Bad Movie - Late winter is traditionally a time to celebrate great acting, as the most distinguished performances of the previous year parade before us on their long march to the Oscars. At the moment, accordingly, those of us with deadlines and airtime to fill are busy trumpeting the artistry of Colin Firth and Annette Bening, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale. But meanwhile, in the real world of day-to-day moviegoing, there are screens and seats to be filled, and genre movies — horror, action, romantic comedy, kiddie adventure — flood the multiplexes, forgoing the Academy’s consideration and hoping for a bit of yours. Many of these movies take part in another, less-heralded seasonal ritual: the spectacle of great actors appearing in bad movies.

Is that Nicole Kidman, of “The Hours” and “Rabbit Hole,” towering over Jennifer Aniston and facing off against her in a high-stakes hula-dancing contest in “Just Go With It”? Why yes it is. And yes, that is Ms. Portman cozying up to Ashton Kutcher in “No Strings Attached.” Perhaps those movies gain a little cachet from the presence of such stars, though the opposite might well be true.

In any case, it can be kind of fun to spot eminent stars in unlikely places. But there also seems to be a special class of actors — mostly men, at or beyond middle age — who specialize in such incongruity, and maybe also a particular type of movie that accommodates their willingness to shine in shabby settings.

Chief among the pleasures to be found in movies like “The Rite,” “The Eagle”and “Unknown” — to pluck examples from the current listings — is surely the chance to see the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Donald Sutherland and Liam Neeson at work. Mr. Hopkins mutters, bellows and glowers his way through a kind-of-scary tale of supernatural mumbo jumbo. Not to be outdone, Mr. Neeson does some glowering of his own and strains the tendons of his neck almost to the breaking point in a story of rage and vengeance. Mr. Sutherland, in a handful of scenes early in “The Eagle,” saunters through this would-be epic of ancient martial derring-do as a laid-back imperial Roman, a kind of mellow ancestor to the hip and horny college professor he played in “Animal House.” But this time, he gets to wear the toga.

When Good Actor Meets Bad Movie
Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger in “Unknown.”

Mr. Sutherland is one of those actors whose eagerness for work has often walked the fine line between the eclectic and the indiscriminate. He can also be seen currently in “The Mechanic,” starring Jason Statham. Among his peers, Michael Caine has slowed down a bit, and Gene Hackman has retired, but each of them, starting out in the late 1960s, enjoyed periods of near-ubiquity, fertile decades when it was hard to imagine what kind of offer they would refuse.

They had their share of leading roles, but in their fruitful maturity Mr. Hackman, Mr. Caine and Mr. Sutherland have been primarily character actors, called in to bring color and authenticity to movies that might have otherwise lacked those qualities. In “The Eagle,” for instance, Mr. Sutherland serves as a temporary foil and mentor for Channing Tatum, the blunt and brooding star, whose dour quest to restore his family honor drives the narrative. Mr. Sutherland lightens the proceedings considerably by playing someone who has already seen enough violence and glory for one lifetime — an ironist and an epicurean in a world dominated by literal-minded stoicism. His presence is a nifty little dividend, as it was in “Cold Mountain,” “Space Cowboys,” “Pride and Prejudice” and scores of other films.

Richard Foreman Jr/Summit Entertainment - Nicolas Cage in “Drive Angry 3D.”

Matt Nettheim/Focus Features - Donald Sutherland in “The Eagle.”

Egon Endrenyi/Warner Brothers Pictures - Anthony Hopkins in “The Rite.”

Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures - Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in “No Strings Attached.”

In the case of “The Rite” and “Unknown,” Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Neeson are the protagonists, and their unapologetic star turns are likely to provoke, if not controversy exactly, then at least a measure of skepticism. Mr. Hopkins, after all, was an axiom of the Merchant-Ivory glory days, in addition to embodying Hannibal Lecter and Richard Nixon. Mr. Neeson, for his part, having played the American sexologist Alfred Kinsey and the Irish revolutionary Michael Collins and given voice to Aslan, the Messianic lion of Narnia, sits squarely at the top of his profession. What are actors of such prestige and pedigree doing in pictures like these? This is not the first time the question has come up. Mr. Neeson did the angry avenger thing two winters ago in “Taken” — quite successfully, it must be said — and Mr. Hopkins muttered and howled his way through the misbegotten “Wolfman” last year.

The suspicion is always that actors take such projects for mercenary reasons. The habit of sentimentalizing art leads us to distinguish between work undertaken for love or glory, and jobs whose prime motivation is a paycheck.

But is this really a meaningful distinction, or just an example of the cynicism that is often the flip side of our worship of movie stars? After all, while they will sometimes accept lower fees for “passion projects,” they do not make a habit, any more than the rest of us do, of working for free. “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money,” Samuel Johnson declared back in the 18th-century heyday of print, and while an army of blogheads has recently refuted this claim, at least partly, the principle of defiant professionalism, however embattled, is still sound. Acting has rarely been a reputable profession, but it is a very old one, and though its adherents may be lured by love, they — and we — measure their worth in baser currency. The world is full of amateur players, but ones we will pay to see are those for whom the play is work.

The present-day vogue for cultural nonprofessionalism has its benefits, and not only in the hothouses of do-it-yourself viral video and reality television. Independent cinema — American and foreign, mumblecore and neo-neo-realist — has been refreshed by the awkwardness and honesty that often characterize unschooled performances. The stripping away of practiced inflections and mannerisms can offer a bracing corrective to the familiar artifices of the actor’s craft. But that craft has hardly lost its appeal.

And it is what good actors bring to movies, even bad ones: discipline, conviction, the ability to help us suspend our disbelief by persuading us that they believe in what they are doing. The more preposterous the situation, the more impressive the feat of seeming to take it utterly seriously. There are other measures of excellence of course — emotional subtlety, psychological acuity, wit — but this kind of unwavering, fanatical commitment is surely a sign of greatness. You might almost say that greatness shows itself precisely in the discrepancy between the performance and the material. If that is true, then it is something like a mathematical certainty that the greatest actor in the world today is Nicolas Cage.

This hypothesis will be tested next Friday, when “Drive Angry 3D” opens in theaters, just two days ahead of the Academy Awards broadcast. Mr. Cage is no stranger to the Oscar — he was a best actor winner for “Leaving Las Vegas” and a nominee for “Adaptation” — but he has also been an action star, a comic player and, in recent years, the American cinema’s most popular and prolific purveyor of craziness.

With a handful of exceptions (Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” and Gore Verbinski’s “Weather Man” among them) critics have not smiled on Mr. Cage’s films of the past decade, which include a grab bag of hits and flops in various genres. He has anchored the juvenile action “National Treasure” franchise, and also science fiction and fantasy like “Ghost Rider,” “Knowing” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Mention must be made of “The Wicker Man,” Neil LaBute’s transcendentally awful remake of a 1970s horror movie, which has enjoyed a rich afterlife as a YouTube laughingstock.

Mr. Cage may have been driven to some of this by well-publicized financial difficulty, and some of his admirers have surely been puzzled by his choices. But it can never be said that he phones in a performance. He is more likely to scream into the telephone, or smash it to pieces, or some other sublime and unpredictable piece of business. Just doing his job, in other words. ( )

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Do SEO Tactics Have a Shelf Life

Do SEO Tactics Have a Shelf Life - SEO changes at a fairly rapid pace and the challenge for most businesses is to keep up with the latest developments in order to ensure a steady stream of traffic to a website. In order to make this task easier and to help increase competitiveness, SEO tactics that offer businesses the chance to get ahead of the competition have become fairly common. 

In general, these tactics are essentially taking the principles that underpin search engine algorithms and trying to use them to produce better ranking results. Some are more effective than others and some more acceptable. The pool is now so wide that there has been a division between ‘black hat’ (bad) SEO tactics and ‘white hat’ (good) SEO tactics.


Not all black hat SEO tactics start out that way, but once a tactic is disapproved of by a search engine there can be penalties for using it. The reason for this is usually that this kind of SEO tactic involves some measure of deception. Some common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing (where context is nonsensical keyword filled text), doorway pages (fake pages that trick search engine spiders into indexing a site higher) and invisible text (white text keywords on a white background to attract search engine spiders). It’s clear that black hat techniques are much faster in terms of yielding results and white hat techniques take a lot longer, however, it can be a short sighted step to opt for the black hat as this may result in a website being banned from the SERPs altogether. If you’re planning on having a business that survives long term then the more patient, white hat technique is by far the more preferable.

So, clearly, those SEO tactics that fall into the ‘black hat’ category have a very definite shelf life – one that lasts as long as they are tolerated by search engines. But how do you improve search engine rankings without falling foul of the rules? The answer is the white hat SEO techniques, those that essentially focus on delivering something genuine and useful, rather than trying to game the algorithms. Well structured, properly written content that is relevant and readable is the most powerful white hat SEO tactic of the moment. Building relevant inbound links (not using link farms) and cross-linking pages internally on a website also fall into this category.

This article originally appeared in : Do SEO Tactics Have a Shelf Life | |APRIL 27, 2014

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Fourteen years after 9/11, a slow rise from the ashes

Fourteen years after 9/11, a slow rise from the ashes - The view is among the most breathtaking in the world — floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a panorama of Manhattan and its surroundings 50 miles in every direction. The Empire State Building glistens to the north, the Statue of Liberty shimmers to the south. And on clear days, you can see as far as Princeton, N.J., to the west and Greenwich, Conn., to the east, from a vantage point so high that the cars below look like tiny ants.

But when One World Trade Center finally opens later this year, many of the floors with the best views will be empty. Formerly known as the Freedom Tower, the 1,776-foot building, the tallest in the United States and third tallest in the world, has struggled to attract tenants. Just 58 percent of the nearly $4 billion office building has been leased so far — a smaller percentage than its developers had hoped ahead of November, when the building is set to formally open its doors.

One World Trade Center stands out on the New York City skyline on Sept. 10, 2014 (Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

The Durst Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, co-owners of the building, have blamed a sluggish economy — even though real estate is so hot in parts of New York City that the air above existing buildings has sold for millions of dollars in recent months. But the developers also acknowledge security concerns have made their sell tougher. Thirteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks leveled the original World Trade Center towers, there’s an inevitable fear the new building could become a target for terrorists looking to strike again.

To that end, the developers have made a push to sell potential tenants on the security of the building. Though they’ve declined to say much publicly on the subject, some of the precautions are physically obvious — including the reinforced concrete base the building sits upon that was designed to resist a bomb blast. Windows on the lower floors have been covered in sheets of plastic, similar to shatterproof automotive glass. And One World Trade Center, like other buildings around the redeveloped complex, is set farther back from the street.

The building’s owners are also banking on a change in perception about the area long known as Ground Zero once the structure formally opens. Over the last 13 years, the 16-acre complex where the Twin Towers once stood has been largely fenced off — first for the removal of debris and then as a construction site as the area was rebuilt.

Fourteen years after 9/11, a slow rise from the ashes
The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn behind the Empire State Building in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. In a horrific sequence of destruction, terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center causing the twin 110-story towers to collapse. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)

But after long delays, access to parts of the space has slowly been restored in recent months. When the 9/11 museum opened in May, fences came down around pedestrian walkways adjacent to the memorial pools that mark where the downed buildings once stood. Until then, the park had been restricted through advanced tickets and layers of security. And in coming months, other areas of the site are set to reopen, as One World Trade Center and adjacent buildings near completion. The hope is that a place that for so long evoked the memories of a horrific American tragedy is transformed to a symbol of recovery, resilience — and normalcy.

“For 13 years, we’ve been behind a fence, but as we are actively starting to peel away some of that fortress, it will be a really pivotal moment where this area will begin to reintegrate itself back into the neighborhood,” the Durst Corporation’s Jordan Barowitz said. “Once that happens, I think people will be able to feel what it would be like to work in the building, to work in the neighborhood. Right now, a lot of people have just been operating on faith, but soon, they will be able to really feel the energy of it.”

In the meantime, the developers have tried to make the building more financially appealing to potential tenants. In May, One World Trade Center dropped its rents nearly 10 percent on some floors — hoping to lure more tenants. But as of this week, roughly 1.3 million of the building’s 3 million square feet are still open — mostly on the 104-story building’s highest floors. Just two tenants have reserved space above the 77th floor: the advertising firm Kids Creative, which signed a lease for the 87th Floor this spring, and Servcorp, an Australian company that offers co-working and virtual office space to clients, which will open offices on the 85th floor next March.

China Center, a business and cultural group that helps Chinese businesses work in the U.S. market, has leased floors 64 to 69. The General Services Administration is leasing floors 50 through 55, where it will open its regional offices as well as New York outposts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. BMB Group, a London-based financial services company, has rented space on the 46th floor. Cushman and Wakefield, the real estate firm that has been handling the leases for One World Trade Center, announced last week it had leased part of the 45th floor, where Legends Hospitality, the group operating the observation deck on the 101st and 102nd floors, will also have offices.

The building’s anchor tenant is publishing giant Condé Nast, which signed a deal in May 2011 to lease 1.2 million square feet — nearly a third of the building. The company will move into floors 20 through 44 in November — the lowest floors available for office space. 

This article originally appeared in : Fourteen years after 9/11, a slow rise from the ashes  | By Holly Bailey | Yahoo News  | September 11, 2014 | 11:48 AM  

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