Although taking a shower is almost always better than a bath in terms of environmental impact, baths appear to be the winner in terms of individual mental and physical health. So maybe it’s time to tell the roommate to scrub out the tub so you can let yourself soak— for your health, of course.
The greatest Czech citizen is a man who doesn’t exist. Jára Cimrman was dreamed up as a modest caricature of the Czech people for a 1966 radio program, but he’s been adopted as a sort of fictive national hero. By general agreement he’s an accomplished author, detective, poet, inventor, mathematician, playwright, sportsman, philosopher, traveler, teacher, and composer; in a 2005 television competition he would have been voted “The Greatest Czech” but was disqualified for not existing. No one quite knows what he looks like, but his accomplishments are listed on an immortal Wikipedia page:
He proposed the Panama Canal to the U.S. government while composing a libretto for an opera about it.
Fleeing arctic cannibals, he came within 7 meters of reaching the North Pole.
He invented yogurt.
He created the first puppet show in Paraguay.
He corresponded with George Bernard Shaw for many years, without receiving a response.
He constructed the first rigid airship using Swedish steel and Czech wicker.
He reworked the electrical contact on Edison’s first light bulb and found a sublet for Gustave Eiffel.
He suggested that Mendeleev rotate his first draft of the Periodic Table.
He devised the philosophy of externism, the opposite of solipsism. In solipsism, the observer exists and the outside world does not. In externism, the outside word exists but the philosopher does not.
When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he found three missed calls from Cimrman.
Badges, buttons, and links to RSS feeds used to be all over the web; now, they’re almost like a nerd calling card — it’s an indication that a website is cool with an audience reading new material on their terms. I’d like to think there’s a certain confidence in a website indicating to its readers that it doesn’t need a precise count of how many people visited the website, nor does it need all the tracking and surveillance nonsense that comes with that.
President Trump offered his support last month for the creation of a Space Force within the U.S. military. In a paper released last week, my Harvard colleague Greg Falco argues that one of the first missions for this new force should be to improve the cybersecurity of space assets. This proposal is worthy of deep consideration as the cybersecurity of space assets remains a top, if underexamined, priority for national security, and the opportunity to shape the roles and missions of a new Space Force will soon pass.
Falco does not hype the threat, but his assessment of the risks are sobering: The consequences of disrupting or degrading connectivity are striking when one considers how much of U.S. critical infrastructure relies on connectivity in or through space. His recommendations take a similarly balanced approach and offer interested policymakers a few potential steps to get started, such as modifying pertinent sections of the Code of Federal Regulations.
One area that could benefit from future research is how to deconflict roles and missions between a Space Force (or the military in general), the Department of Homeland Security, NASA and other parts of the federal government. This specific issue is a bit beyond the scope of Falco’s paper, but it reflects a challenge that still seems to bedevil federal cybersecurity policy: Who exactly is in charge of what? Space assets and affiliated organizations span the military, civilian government and multiple private-sector spheres. Perhaps more than any other sector of the U.S. economy and society, improving the cybersecurity of space assets really will require a whole-of-nation approach.