Couple of morning thoughts…

I owe my wife a belated Happy Birthday as I forgot to put up a note about it yesterday. Anne turned 32 yesterday and we went out for an inexpensive brunch and then a matinee showing of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which ended up being much better than I had anticipated. I didn’t have the funds to get her a gift other than to treat her to the lunch and movie, but she was happy regardless. Of course the real gift is mine in having such a wonderful woman to share my life with. Feel free to drop by her blog and wish her a belated birthday as well if you’re so inclined.

On the job search front I managed to get between 10 and 15 resumes off last week to various opportunities around the area via Monster.com. I’ve had one or two nibbles from some earlier submissions through friends, but nothing that looks to be headed anywhere just yet. I’ll be spending most of my time this week looking for even more opportunities to apply for. I’m curious what kind of impact my blog will have on my job search or even if I’ll be able to tell. I had been working for my contract house for a year already when I launched SEB and word has it that many prospective employers do Google searches on new applicants to see if anything comes up. I know a number of bloggers who have post only under their pseudonym and have removed any references from their sites that might identify who they are as a result, but the damage has been done for me by now. Typing in “Les Jenkins” brings up SEB as the number one result and even if I tried to change it now Google would have it cached anyway. One thing that might offset this for me is that I use my full first name my resume and if they use that for the Google search then SEB doesn’t show up until link number 35. Of course, I also use my middle name and if you include that then SEB shows up as the number one link again. Oh well, I’m not too worried about it. Anyone who bothers to look me up and doesn’t take the time to really look into what the site says about me (which I’d like to believe is mostly positive) before deciding whether or not to interview me is probably not someone I’d want to work for anyway. With any luck perhaps it’ll actually convince someone I’d be a good match.

Congratulations are in order for the Iraqi people for surviving their first election with less trouble and a greater turnout than was anticipated. Despite my misgivings over the hows and whys of our invasion of that country and my dislike of the Bush Administration’s policies, I was still hoping that the elections would be successful for their sake at least. Whether this means that democracy is going to take hold and flourish or if the Iraqi’s will be better off in the long run still remains to be seen, but it’s a good first step none the less and I’m hopeful that the Iraqi people have a better future ahead of them.

Another random thought that’s been kicking around in my head recently, but that I haven’t been able to formulate into a decent entry, involves all the space probes we’ve been sending to other planets in a search for signs of life. I wonder if it occurs to anyone that we may be spreading life in the process of trying to find it? The conventional wisdom is that any bacteria or other simple life forms would be killed off during the travel, but we’re finding life in places on Earth where we never thought it could survive previously so we know that extremes of temperature, toxicity, and radiation aren’t necessarily a guarantee that life can’t flourish, at least in its simplest forms. Granted the bacteria that are likely to be on any probe sent to another world aren’t going to come from one of the strains in the extreme environments we’ve encountered, but the possibility of some bacteria surviving the travel in a dormant state isn’t entirely out of the question. Even then the odds of life taking hold are stacked against anything that did survive the trip in most situations, but with missions to places like Titan where conditions are thought to be similar to the early stages of Earth’s development there remains that possibility that a probe could plop down in a spot that’s quite comfy for simple life forms to take root. It’s purely speculative on my part and a ridiculous long shot at best, but an intriguing thought exercise just the same. I wonder what PZ Myers thinks about it.

9 thoughts on “Couple of morning thoughts…

  1. Congratulations, Anne!

    I know they work pretty hard on sterilizing space probes ‘fore they send ‘em off, for just the reason you mention.

    Arthur C. Clarke wrote a haunting story about that where a bunch of explorers on Venus found life, but microbes in their lunch wrappers destroyed it all. The story probably influenced space probe design and procedures.

  2. Hmm, if I recall the space agencies are aware of the possibility of contamination and have taken steps to prevent such contamination. Although at this moment I cannot remember what the steps taken are.

  3. Hmm, if I recall the space agencies are aware of the possibility of contamination and have taken steps to prevent such contamination. Although at this moment I cannot remember what the steps taken are.

    Sterilizing the parts before launch. Though they’d have to sterilize before and after assembly, so it will be difficult to be sure.

    Not that I would mind much. I think life would not either evolve or spread fast enough for us not to notice indigenous life if there was any. Such a process would likely take hundreds or thounsands of years.

    Kim Stanley Robinson wrote an epic series about Mars terraforming in which there was a heated discussion (and later war) between the ‘terraformers’ and the ‘Reds’ (because Mars isn’t green in the natural state, you know) who wanted to keep Mars pristine.

    As for the Iraq election, your thoughts echo mine, Les. Cautious hope and a nagging frustration that Bush will gather up any good news and tell us all that it happened ‘because’ not ‘even though’.

  4. I dunno Les, my little brother read the Lemony Snicket Books (the only books he’s ever read for enjoyment besides Harry Potter) and he said the movie was ‘HORRIBLY INACCURATE” in the sort of trivial righteous indignation that only a child can pull off.  wink

  5. Nasa has had a strict sterilization policy in place since its first days. Do a search on Nasa’s site for “sterilization”, I found reference to the policy in the historical section covering the Ranger missions (Nasa’s first probes sent to the moon), though I could find no direct link to current policy on proceedure and such.

    It seems the Army was already looking into sterilizing as a defense and had experimented with a variety objects from trucks to lab scales. So they worked with NASA in forming intitial policy and proceedure (not too sure how invloved they are now).

    Contmination is a valid and ongoing debate and, to my understanding, the safety of not only probes going to other worlds but bringing samples back is continually questioned.

    My take:

    1)As long as there is open, honest, and informed debate about the topic, then the probes will continue to be monitored, checked and rechecked for safety. Will this prevent accidents? No, but as our understanding and tech progresses then the likelihood of contamination will reamain small.

    2)This is another reason to NOT send humans to Mars or other planets yet. The human body is nothing but a stewpot for bacterium and virii. If you want to minimize our impact on other solar bodies then sterilized robots are the way to go. Perhaps in decades to come we’ll have figured out the ethical and logistical issues surrounding humans colonizing/exploring other planets, but right now we’re just to stupid to be trusted with such issues.

    My devalued $.02.

  6. Excellent point, Jonesey!  Ethically I find it pretty hard to worry about contaminating a barren planet but in the early stages of exploration it would screw up our data!!! big surprise  We wanna know if there’s life on these rocks, and being careful to sterilize our probes (ouch!) is the right way to go there.

    Les said: “I know a number of bloggers who have post only under their pseudonym and have removed any references from their sites that might identify who they are as a result, but the damage has been done for me by now. Typing in “Les Jenkins

  7. Slick- my daughter Rosalind, who got hooked on reading in English by Harry Potter and the Lemony Snicket books, says she doesn’t want to see the movie at all; she wants to keep her own images pristine.  For some reason this doesn’t apply to Rowling’s books.

  8. 1. Cannot comment directly on the LS books, but was told by readers I respect that the movie wasn’t bad, but did indeed juggle stuff around (moreso than, say, the LotR flicks).

    2.  I’m fortunately possessed of a fairly common name, and I’ve been diligent about scrubbing my employer’s name out of any posts I make (and never say anything about the job that could be actionable anyway), so I don’t worry *too* much about that sort of thing.  Too much.

  9. Besides the content on the site, it should knock any potential employer’s socks off that you maintain such an awesome site anyway. 
    Happy Birthday, Anne!

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