Learn to differentiate between foolish – and stupid!

Who’s that knocking at my door? I’ll open it and look.

An Alberta man who stabbed a friend in the chest as a test for what turned out to be an ineffective stab-proof vest was sentenced to six months in jail.

Calvin Clackson, 21, of Edmonton, pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the Oct. 15, 2012, incident that required friend Justin Harder, 18, to undergo emergency surgery for a bleeding chest wound…

The court heard Harder had been wearing a purportedly stab-proof vest and invited Clackson to test it out with a folding knife.

“Unfortunately, the vest didn’t work and the knife went through the vest and into the chest cavity and Mr. Harder was seriously injured,” prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said.

Provincial Court Judge Michael Allen said the stabbing was a serious incident that could have been worse.

It was foolish for the friend to offer the invitation,” Allen said. “It was criminally negligent for the accused to take up the invitation.


Origami-inspired solar array for space deployment

One big problem when sending things into space is, well, space. Rockets have limited payload capacity and given the costs involved, every inch counts. That’s why Brigham Young University researchers have turned to origami as their inspiration. Their folding solar array is designed to be compact at launch and expand to around 10 times its size once it’s deployed in outer space.

Sporting 1-cm thick solar panels on a thin flexible membrane, the array will fold down to a diameter of 2.7-m and unfold to about 25-m across…

The absence of sliding parts in the solar array also decreases the likelihood of anything failing during deployment. With an array designed this way, scientists would only need to launch, deploy and monitor a single system…

Getting a solar array to fold up isn’t as easy as creating an origami boat or frog. Aside from coming up with a proper fold design, the team also had to find a flexible material of sufficient thickness that could support solar panels, wiring and more. While they still haven’t settled on a final material, their current 1/20th-scale prototype makes use of a fiberglass composite called Garolite. The final design will not only have to withstand the harsh conditions of space but also squeeze into a rocket…

“We see opportunities ranging from medical products, such as devices for minimally invasive surgery that are small at the incision and expand at the surgery site, space applications (such as the deployable solar array), and consumer products (devices that are compact for shipping or storage but expand for use),” adds Larry Howell. They’ve also started applying the origami-based solar array design to more down-to-earth applications, and have begun looking into backpackable arrays…

“It is stunning to consider the possibilities offered by origami-based engineering,” Howell tells us. “It has the potential to change how we engineer products on earth, and beyond.”

Human beings pretty much always benefit from having open-minded curiosity. It’s how unintended consequences often occur – regardless of the strictures imposed by a problem. There’s no corollary requirement for solutions to be bound.

Arizona Forestry Division cared more for property values than safety of firefighters who died


A state safety agency recommended fines totaling $559,000 against the state’s Forestry Division on Wednesday, saying the agency wrongly put the protection of “structures and pastureland” ahead of the safety of firefighters battling a wildfire in Central Arizona last summer, including 19 who died while trapped by the flames on a mountain.

The report said the forestry division kept the firefighters on the mountains even after commanders realized they could not control the flames burning through parched, thick chaparral along the western edge of the old gold-mining village of Yarnell, 80 miles northwest of Phoenix

In a report, inspectors for the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health said the actions resulted in “multiple instances of firefighters being unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed to the deadly hazards of wildland firefighting.”

The report…also faulted the team running firefighting operations on June 30, when the 19 firefighters died, for being understaffed…

…The report cited several additional problems. Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots — the 19 who died and their lookout, Brendan McDonough, who escaped — were tired, having just returned from fighting two fires. The report indicated that exhaustion could have affected their judgment.

Brave, brave firefighters, well remembered in New Mexico. The fires they had just returned from fighting – before this tragedy – were here. They did themselves proud.

No, you can’t say the same about Arizona bureaucrats who considered them expendable.

USDA drops Tylenol-spiked mice on Guam to kill invasive tree snakes


The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 2,000 mice spiked with acetaminophen were dropped over the territory of Guam to poison invasive brown tree snakes.

Tino Aguon, acting chief of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s wildlife resources office for Guam, said the 2,000 dead mice were each spiked with 80 milligrams of Tylenol — far less than the 500 milligrams found in a standard pill — and parachuted from a helicopter in the area around Anderson Air Force Base to poison the brown tree snakes…

Aguon said poisoned mice have been dropped over Guam three times before as part of an $8 million program aimed at culling the snakes, which first arrived in Guam during the 1950s, and protecting the exotic native bird populations harmed by the invasive predators…

Some of the mice were outfitted with small data-transmitting radios to help officials gauge the effectiveness of the scheme, officials said.

Why fit the little dead mice with individual parachutes – if they’re already dead? My guess is they don’t want them to splatter when they land because that might not seem attractive and tasty to the brown tree snakes.

Still, I wonder.