Source: Sherman Publications

Don't Rush Me
With an eye to the news around and around
Lonely astronauts, 1.2 GPAs and more

by Don Rush

February 23, 2011

Just a heads up . . . in case you hadn’t noticed, it snowed.

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So, did anybody else think there are other reasons why the Tampa, FL kid isn’t doing good in school, other than his own academic proficiency? If you haven’t heard, a Florida couple had their son walk around in public with a sign stating his rather low grade point average. His gpa is 1.22.

And, while that isn’t wonderful, something is keeping the lad from achieving even academic averageness and it might be his parents. According to the news report, the parents have tried, “everything to get their 15-year-old to shape up academically. They’ve offered help, asked to see homework, grounded, lectured him and confiscated his cell phone.”

And, now they have added humiliation to their regiment. I think ye-old pointy dunce hat should be given to the parents, so they can walk with their son. Maybe we can send him a t-shirt with arrows pointing left and right and under that, “I’m with dumb and dumber.”

I don’t know, maybe I am acting like the parents, and rushing to an opinion without knowing all the facts.

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Technology is both cool and scary. Just read this weekend about the Japanese’s plan to send a “humanoid” robot to the International Space Station. I know, robotics in space is not a new endeavor, but wow, the practice is really picking up.

Get this: “Researchers behind the project say the ‘bot would have a number of attributes to make it a valuable crew member. For example, they say, it would never have to sleep–so it could keep watch when the flesh and blood astronauts are in dreamland.”

That sounds good, but wait, it goes way, beyond that.

“And then there are its conversational skills, which would make it a lively companion for those lonely spacefarers. ‘We are thinking in terms of a very humanlike robot that would have facial expressions and be able to converse with the astronauts,’” JAXA’s Satoshi Sano told the Associated Press.”

JAXA is Japan’s equivalent of the United States’ space agency, NASA. JAXA stands for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. JAXA plans to have these humanoid robots up there in space by 2013.

What grabbed my attention was the stated benefit of space-bots, “lively companions” for those lonely astronauts. These things will have facial expressions and be able to “converse” with astronauts?

By the way, NASA plans on sending up its own robot helpers this week. Robonaut 2 is a “humanoid” maintenance bot. What is interesting about Robonaut 2, is not that it has facial expressions nor can make lonely astronauts, well, not lonely -- what is interesting is that General Motors is involved with the program.

I think it is cool that GM is involved with cutting edge robotics and space, cause that means we all have neighbors who are involved with cutting edge robotics and space.

Robonaut 2, also goes by the name R2 -- paying homage to George Lucas’ Star Wars series.

Here’s some verbiage from the official Robonaut webpage (http://robonaut.jsc.nasa.gov):

“(Robonaut is the) first dexterous humanoid robot in space, and the first US-built robot at the space station. But that will be just one small step for a robot and one giant leap for robot-kind.

“Initially R2 will be deployed on a fixed pedestal inside the ISS. Next steps include a leg for climbing through the corridors of the Space Station, upgrades for R2 to go outside into the vacuum of space, and then future lower bodies like legs and wheels to propel the R2 across Lunar and Martian terrain.”

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Oh, and in case you didn’t know . . . it’s less than a month to the official start of spring -- not that it does us any good right now.

Comments for Mr. Donald Rush can be e-mailed to: don@shermanpublications.org