Thursday, December 2, 2010

Qatar? Really?

Today, in a stunning announcement, we learned that Qatar would be hosting the World Cup in 2022. The USA was the favorite heading into the announcement, and we came out with only disappointment.

I know the committee is probably just trying to build diversity, but this year was in South Africa, and 2014 will be in Brazil, and 2018 in Russia. Plenty of diversity going around already. Momentum for soccer is building in the USA, and we've only ever hosted one World Cup in 1994. The marketability would be much higher in the US and the World Cup would certainly make much more money than in Qatar. It's also disappointing that a craptastic team like Qatar (and Russia in 2018, for that matter) will have an automatic bid into the tournament.

I know it's still 12 years away, which is a long time, but I really want to see the World Cup come to America. I'd really like to experience it once. Maybe in 2014 I'll be making enough money to go to Brazil. Maybe Russia in 2018. Don't think I want to travel to Qatar, though.

We'd better get it in 2026...

SOAD Reunites

A few days ago, it was announced the System of a Down would be reuniting for some European tour dates. This has been rumored for months to be happening, but it was still nice to see an official announcement. Now if only we can get some North American dates and a new album...

Story on Blabbermouth

Ahh, It's Finally Over

Certainly random and off-topic, but No-Shave November is finally over! I was in the bathroom as soon as the clock struck midnight on what was Wednesday morning to shave off my horrendous beard.



Really wanted to shave like that guy, but can't go that crazy while living in the res halls. I certainly shared the ire for my beard that he had for his, though.

Figures, though, that it's 25 degrees outside my first two days without a beard...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Disappointing End to a Disappointing Season

On Saturday, I attended my final home football game as a student (in the pressbox thanks to Scott and Peggy Ksander!), and was dismayed when Purdue lost to IU in overtime. I could deal with the loss itself. Purdue's all-time record against IU in football is 70-37-6 (62% winning), and the record is 56-27-3 (65% winning) since the Old Oaken Bucket was introduced in 1925, so IU has to get its wins in sometime. It was the lack of class that IU brought to MY stadium that really made me mad.

I can't find any footage or photos or any additional information about it, but at one point, our quarterback Rob Henry was tackled after making a pass. I looked back down to find the defender mercilessly beating Henry for absolutely no reason. Needless to say, the player was ejected (for the life of me, I can't remember his name).

Then, once overtime was complete, IU charged to OUR sideline and took the bucket from its case rather than waiting for the official presentation. This was quite possibly the most classless act in college football I have ever seen.

Sure, IU may have all the parties, hot girls, and a prettier campus, but I'll take my class, cradle of astronauts, cradle of quarterbacks, and enjoy finding a job after graduation with a degree that is fifth-most recruited in the nation. (That's a general Purdue degree. A Purdue aero degree fluctuates between being first and second-most recruited.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BREAKING: Lotus to Supply IndyCar Engines in 2012

On Facebook, I saw an announcement from IndyCar's page that said that there would be an announcement regarding a THIRD engine manufacturer for 2012. I was completely shocked and excited by this. After perusing TrackSide Online and SpeedTV, I learned that Lotus would be coming along in addition to Honda and Chevrolet with the backing of Cosworth, and an official announcement is being made tomorrow at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Group Lotus is making a return to auto racing, perhaps prompted by their name being used in Formula One this year, though they aren't actually affiliated with the F1 team. They had an IndyCar run by KV Racing Technology branded, and had recently announced that they were looking to expand that partnership to two or three cars for 2011, and would develop aero kits in 2012. It's great to see such manufacturer involvement after having no competition (Honda engines, Dallara chassis) since 2006.

The deadline for entering competition in 2012 has passed (certainly for engine competitors, not sure about aero kits), so Honda, Chevrolet, and Lotus will be the three engine manufacturers for 2012. There are also rumors that Fiat wants to join IndyCar as well with their Alfa-Romeo brand, but they'd have to come in 2013 at the earliest. There was also a recent quote from IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard that he was hopeful for another competitor for 2013. Was he referring to Alfa-Romeo? Or Lotus? Or another manufacturer all together?

Whatever the case may be, we have Honda, Chevy, and Lotus committed to making engines for 2012. In addition, Dallara will be designing an aero kit to go with their Safety Cell (all cars will be using the Dallara Safety Cell), Lotus was already committed to designing an aero kit, and GM hinted that they may be doing so as well during their press conference last week announcing the Chevrolet commitment. With Lotus and GM making aero kits, I wouldn't be surprised to see Honda make one as well. I've also heard rumors that Lockheed Martin is potentially interested in supplying an aero kit. Long story short, there will be three engines and at least two, probably three, maybe four or more aero kits in 2012, with the potential for more engine and aero kit manufacturers in later seasons. That gives at least six different configurations possible for 2012, which is way more than the one we will have had for six seasons prior.

Is it bad that I am looking way more forward to the 2012 season, and don't really care what happens in 2011?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chevy Returns!

Today, it was announced that Chevrolet would return to competition in the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in the 2012 season with a V6 turbocharged direct-injection engine. They will be partnering with Ilmor Engineering in Plymouth, MI, a racing engine supplier, to design their engine.

This is great news for IndyCar racing. Competition generally attracts more sponsors, which is something IndyCar is desperate for. It also attracts more fans, because, let's face is, most Americans are going to be more impressed to hear that Chevrolet won the Indianapolis 500 rather than Honda (or any other foreign manufacturer, for that matter).

It was also announced that Team Penske would be running Chevrolet engines beginning with the 2012 season. Penske and Chevrolet was already a great pairing, as the pair had won 31 races, including 4 Indy 500s before Chevrolet left the sport in the middle of the decade.

The one downside is that this will bring costs up slightly. If Honda were to remain the sole supplier, an engine lease was expected to come in at less than $600k for the season, but with competition, the series has an engine lease capped at $690k. However, costs will still be around half of what they presently are, and there will be far more benefits with the addition of engine competition.

There are also rumors floating around that GM may want to supply aero kits as well, and Lotus may also supply aero kits. I look forward to the 2012 season more and more each day when the new spec is debuted? Have a likely lackluster 2011 season to get through first, though.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Most Metal Thing EVER

I already knew The Dillinger Escape Plan were awesome. I saw them live in April at Reggie's Rock House in Chicago, and it was the most insane concert I had ever been to. A small club that held maybe 500 people had their singer Greg in your face screaming, their guitarists stagediving with guitars in hand not missing a note, one of which had it down to such an art he could walk on top of the crowd. Ben, their lead guitarist, capped the set by climbing into the rafters and falling onto the crowd.

At some point in their set, Greg sometimes enjoys spitting fire into the crowd, but he made it the most metal thing ever at a show in New York a couple years ago, as an interview with Ben recently uncovered. Fights in the pit happen, it's unavoidable. Sometimes they spiral out of control, though. Greg's solution? He jumped down into the pit and spat fire at the combatants to split up the fight. He then had to do it AGAIN as it still didn't break up the fight the first time.

This story is so metal, it could sink to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I just HAD to share.

Story on Metal Injection

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Giants Win the World Series?!?

Baseball season has come to an end, and the Giants have won the World Series. When the season started, the Giants were the last team I saw seeing the World Series. I knew they were good, I just didn't think they had the swagger to win a World Series, but they proved me wrong.

Baseball season is over, racing season is over (because NASCAR isn't racing), and football is pretty much already dead to me, as both Purdue and the Bears totally suck. Purdue's basketball team will be disappointing after Robbie Hummel tore his ACL AGAIN, and NBA basketball is too flashy to feel too strongly for the Bulls. The Blackhawks will have another decent season, but I don't see them winning the Stanley Cup again.

145 more days until IndyCar opens the season on March 27 in St. Petersburg, FL, and 150 days until the Cubs open their season at home on April 1 against the Pirates!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One of the Many Reasons I Hate NASCAR

I don't think it's much of a secret that I hate NASCAR with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. It isn't auto racing; it is an overpriced demolition derby. One incident from this past weekend exemplified that. Before I get into details, here's the video.

So, basically, Kyle Bush in the 18 car had a run on Reutimann in the 00. Instead of actually trying to make a pass, he just punted Reutimann out of the way. Reutimann was understandably pissed, and tried to get back at him. Reutimann would later go on to say he "had no choice in wrecking Busch." False. Totally and completely false. If you're that upset with him, beat him by actually passing him, and not wrecking him. That hurts so much more.

Two "race cars" were needlessly destroyed because these drivers don't have any respect for each other on the race track. The old NASCAR phrase is "rubbin' is racin'." Well, no, it's not. Rubbin' is going to get someone killed unless drivers learn to respect each other on the track rather than just wrecking them out of their way. It's also a reason I don't see Dale Earnhardt as a racing legend. He never cleanly passed anyone, he just took them out.

Drivers of most other racing disciplines understand safety on the track and respect each other on the track. No one needs to be killed over someone's lack of driving skill, and that's exactly what's going to happen someday in NASCAR. Well, maybe not since they don't use any technology that gets their cars to dangerous speeds. Seriously, their engines are still carbureted, and no telemetry is run on the cars to know what they can be doing to be faster, and it still costs four times as much to have a competitive NASCAR season as it does an IndyCar season.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. Long story short, NASCAR drivers need to shape up before someone gets killed.

Story on

Monday, October 4, 2010

Two 2010 Seasons Conclude

This weekend saw the conclusion of both the regular season in MLB, as well as the final race of the year for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Seeing as these are two of my favorite sports EVER, naturally, I'm going to talk about it.

First, the MLB. My Cubs finished in 5th place in the NL Central. I was impressed, however. They only finished 12 games below .500, and had been as low as 22 games under. The youth of the team put together a really good streak toward the end, and I'm excited to see what they can do next year. I think that it was obvious the players had given up on Lou Piniella, as the team really excelled after Lou's departure. I hope that Ryne Sandberg is hired as the manager starting next year. He is a great baseball personality and a true student of the game. If the Cubs don't pick him up, someone else will, and it would be terrible for the Cubs to lose Ryno.

I'm thinking it's gonna be a Rays/Phillies World Series. After coming so close last year to winning, and due to the relative inexperience of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Phillies will come in and take the series in 6. That's about a month away though.

Saturday night saw the final race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. First off, it was immediately clear why the series will not be returning to Homestead next year, as there couldn't have been any more than 5000 people in the stands, and that is a VERY liberal estimate. You're only as strong as your weakest link, and Homestead has definitely been one of the weakest links for awhile.

I was disappointed with the way the season ended. Will Power entered the race with an 11 point lead over Dario Franchitti for the championship, and just had to finish ahead of him to ensure a championship, but could have been within a couple spots of Dario, depending on where he finished. Dario dominated the race, and wrapped up the two bonus points fairly early in the race for leading the most laps. Will, as he is seemingly prone to do, choked under pressure, got the car in the marbles, and hit the wall about two-thirds through the race. From there it was Dario's championship to lose, but he finished the race and brought home the championship.

First off, this is a great string for Dario. He has won the 2007, 2009, and now 2010 titles. These are the last three seasons he participated in, as he took a year off in 2008 to try his hand in NASCAR. When you consider the fact he's won the championship each of the last three years he's tried, it's quite an impressive feat.

I am also starting to fear for Will's racing career. He had a seemingly insurmountable points lead just one month ago, and Dario was able to topple it relatively easily. A couple years ago, Will was running away with the race at Surfers' Paradise, his home race in Australia, when he stuffed his car in the tire barrier. He really needs to gain composure under high-stress situations in the car. He has amazing talent and is quite possibly the best IndyCar racer since Rick Mears, but he doesn't have anything to show for it.

This leaves one year left with the current spec until the new car comes in 2012. While next season will surely be much of the same Penske and Ganassi domination, I am hopeful other teams could be more competitive. At the very least, there will hopefully be some new(ish) names up front. Graham Rahal has secured funding for a full season next year, and should be near the top, no matter which team he runs for. Justin Wilson also did a fantastic job making something of nearly nothing in his drive with Dreyer & Reinbold this season. No matter where he winds up next season, it should be a step up from where he currently is, and I look forward to seeing what he is capable with better equipment under him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thrash is NOT Dead

One of my friends recently introduced me to a relatively new band, Bonded by Blood, and my ears nearly exploded! It has been a very long time since a new thrash metal band has come around, and I have never heard such a PURE thrash band! They have the cutting guitar riffs of Exodus, the attitude of Anthrax, and the raw speed of Slayer. I'm really excited to learn more about these guys, and hopefully see them live, it looks like they are touring nonstop until March!

Crossing Guards? REALLY?

Today, I had my first encounter with crossing guards on Purdue's campus. Five students were hit by a car the first four days of class this semester, and the university responded by training and hiring crossing guards. When using the "services" of the crossing guard today at 1st & Russel, instead of feeling safe, I felt ashamed. The university responded to five students' inability to cross the street into making anyone that crosses a street with a crossing guard feel totally alienated and incapable of doing something as mindless as crossing the street.

This is going to sound horrible, but, really, isn't it just natural selection if someone can't take their nose out of their phone for ten seconds to safely cross the street and gets hit? We're supposed to be one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. Purdue is considered an Ivy League school by many (and its reputation grows the further away you get), yet we can't assume that the students that were smart enough to get into this school are intelligent enough to cross a street?

I'm not discounting the fact that some of the intersections on campus are very dangerous, because they are. However, I feel it would have been a better investment on the part of the university to redesign these intersections with the help of West Lafayette, among many other options than the empty and non-permanent expenditures on crossing guards.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Real World is Calling!

This week saw Industrial Roundtable come to campus here at Purdue. IR is a two-day career fair that sees nearly 300 companies, 11,000 company representatives, and 10,000 students. I'm graduating in May, so I had to go find a job!

This was the first year that IR actually went well for me. The fact that I am a graduating senior meant that companies had more interest in me, it seemed. Aerospace has also been real down the last few years, and it is finally picking back up, and most companies had the general consensus that they'd be able to hire more people this year than in years past.

I don't want to reveal any information specifically, but I feel confident I should be able to find a job by the time I graduate! I'm excited to see what the "real world" has in store for me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Laying the Foundation

I know I have had a lot of IndyCar related posts lately, but lots of news has been spewing from the world of IndyCar.

Randy Bernard, IndyCar CEO, spent the first week and a half of September in Europe, talking to potential engine manufacturers and F1 teams trying to garner interest in the series, inviting any and all manufacturers to supply engines and/or aero kits for the new spec coming in 2012, as well as introducing himself. From the sounds of things, people were very receptive and welcoming of him and his vision for the new IndyCar. Hopefully good things come from this, and we will again have several engine suppliers and several aero kit providers! Brief article about his trip can be found here.

Also, Tony Cotman, the man who is in charge for writing the technical details for the 2012 car, has also been working very hard. He started a blog on Racer which will encapsulate his work and give details as they are announced. His first blog states that they need to get the size of the engine compartment specified in the next 30-45 days, that way, potential engine suppliers will have plenty of time for development. Cotman is hopeful they can begin on-track testing in September 2011, which means Cotman will have his work cut out for him.

Another thing I found interesting about his first post is that he has his mind on driver comfort. The current cars are fine for the short drivers such as Danica Patrick (5'2") and E.J. Viso (5'5"), but the tall drivers like Justin Wilson (6'3") and Graham Rahal (6'2") really have to fold themselves up and pack themselves into the current cars. Justin often reports bruised elbows and knees from being packed into the current car and being subjected to 3+ G's for a substantial period of time. Cotman notes that next month, they will fly drivers out to Italy (Dallara, the company manufacturing the standard IndyCar safety cell, is based in Italy) to ensure that all drivers will be able to fit into the new car. That's a true engineering mindset, thinking about more than the obvious! Cotman's first post can be found here.

Just two months ago, the 2012 IndyCar was nothing more than a few computer models. I am very excited to see the project actually gaining momentum with some actual facts, figures, and photos arriving in the coming months!

Halo Over Our Demise

As 9/11 approached this year, there seemed to be more prick-waving than usual between Muslims and Christians. This happens every year around 9/11, but everything seemed greatly exacerbated this year. On Sunday night, I had my iTunes on shuffle, and the song Halo by Machine Head came on. The chorus of this song is as follows:

Halo over our demise
Following a god so blind
Sallow in their sickening
Swallow not, the shit they feed

Basically, the message here is that we're driving ourselves into oblivion with a halo above (Halo over our demise). Religious leaders do nothing but entice war by spreading their propaganda, saying their religion is the only true religion, and that all other religions should be destroyed, because that is what the book of their faith says (Following a god so blind). Of course, many other people blindly follow these messages relentlessly, so the hate further spreads (Sallow in their sickening). Generally speaking, the world would probably be a better place if we learned to accept other people's ideals and treat each other with respect, instead of immediately dismissing them based on their religion (Swallow not, the shit they feed).

This song is one of the many great examples where some of the stereotypical metal themes (murder, rape, etc) are thrown aside to convey a great message. It also goes to show that not all metal musicians are stoned alcoholics with guitars!

The song and music video can be found here: Machine Head - Halo

IndyCar Rebranded

In the same announcement that saw the 2011 IndyCar schedule revealed, another change was revealed.

In 1994, Tony George split from CART, forming the Indy Racing League. Before the start of the 2008 season, the remnants of both series merged back together under the IRL banner. During "The Split" as it's affectionately been named, IndyCar racing fell from a state of being nearly the most popular form of motorsport in the world, second only to Formula 1 on a global scale, and actually attracting Formula 1 drivers to it, to confused fans not knowing which side to follow, and generally following NASCAR instead.

The terms Indy Racing League and IRL has beleaguered many fans who stayed on the CART (which eventually became Champ Car) side, and Randy Bernard, IndyCar CEO, has acknowledged this. Starting with the 2011 season, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Firestone Indy Lights will be known as IndyCar. Fans world over know the style of racing as IndyCar, and hopefully, this will bring many of them back.

Also, based on the press conference, I have to infer that more of the sport's history will be included. The IRL always treated their races as the only IndyCar races ever, and doesn't account for previous decades of history. For instance, Scott Dixon is listed as the winningest IndyCar driver with 23 wins, when the actual record belongs to Mario Andretti with 52. I can only hope this inference is correct, because I cringe during race broadcasts when it is claimed that Scott Dixon has won the most IndyCar races and that Sam Hornish Jr. has led the most laps in IndyCar competition. There's a good 80 years of history they've been neglecting.

Bernard hasn't been in charge for 12 months yet, and he's already making fantastic changes. He is the former CEO of Professional Bull Riding, and brought it from the little mom & pop run event to the media conglomerate it is now. Hopefully he continues to listen to fans and make the proper decisions in growing IndyCar back to its original status and hopefully toppling NASCAR. (Side note - did you know we are the only nation that takes stock car racing seriously? Because we are. It's a joke everywhere else. It's a sign of a BAD DRIVER to race stock cars.)

2011 IndyCar Schedule Revealed

On Friday, the schedule for the 2011 IndyCar season was announced. Before I give my opinion, the schedule is as follows:

MARCH 27 – St. Pete (street circuit)
APRIL 10 – Birmingham, Ala. (road course)
APRIL 17 – Long Beach (street)
MAY 1 – Brazil (street)
MAY 29 – Indianapolis 500
JUNE 12 – Texas doubleheader (oval)
JUNE 19 – Milwaukee (oval)
JUNE 26 – Iowa (oval) 
JULY 10 – Toronto (street)
JULY 24 – Edmonton (road course)
AUG. 7 – Mid-Ohio (road course)
AUG. 14 – Loudon (oval)
AUG. 28 – Sonoma (road course)
SEPT. 4 – Baltimore (street)
SEPT. 18 – Motegi, Japan (oval)
OCT. 2 – Kentucky (oval)

What do I like about this schedule? First off, the season starts on US soil. This year, the first race was in Brazil, and it seemed like a hassle to get all the equipment down there for the first race and back. I also like that the race in Brazil is a couple months later than it was, hopefully the weather proves to be more cooperative (there was damn near a tsunami on race day this year). I also do like that the race following Brazil is Indy with a few weeks off before Brazil, as teams can have the chance to get their car for Indy done in that time as well, and shouldn't be too rushed to get back to the shop, prepare their car, and get to Indy.

I am also very excited about the return to the Milwaukee Mile, a track bestowed with more history than Indy. Races there are always a test of skill and endurance with really long corners with little banking, and is a place where a driver who doesn't have a high quality ride can see themselves high in the standings. I have high hopes for the street race in Baltimore as well. The city has been trying to make this happen for a couple years, and seem to be real excited about it finally happening, so, hopefully, the event will be a success!

Gone next year are all tracks run by International Speedway Corp, which is run by the France family, which owns NASCAR. They never care about anything but NASCAR on their tracks, and will only run other series if it's not an inconvenience to NASCAR. The series has worked very closely with Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports Inc. to get races on their tracks. The good news is that this sees the return of New Hampshire Speedway, a one-mile oval, and the TBA event is more than likely Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The bad news is that this gets rid of Watkins Glen, Chicagoland, and Homestead-Miami. The Glen is one of the nation's best natural terrain road courses, Chicagoland is my home track and has seen five of the ten closest finishes in IndyCar history, and Homestead was capable of producing decent races as well. However, ISC was terrible at promoting races at these venues, and there was hardly any fan turnout. ISC is used to not having to advertise, as they have the "bring them, and they will come" NASCAR mindset. I'm sad to see these tracks go, but it was necessary.

One thing that leaves me scratching my head is that New Hampshire is right in the middle of a string of road courses. Generally, they try to keep the season segmented to prevent teams from having to change the cars from road course to oval packages quickly (this is one of the things they are hoping to remedy with the 2012 car). Thankfully, they have two weeks off before the following race in Sonoma, CA.

All in all, I like the direction the series is headed in. Randy Bernard, the new CEO, really listens to the fans concerns, and is righting the ship. As far as further things I'd like to see, Road America, Phoenix, and Richmond need to be on the schedule, and Chief of Competition Brian Barnhart needs to go! Maybe go the 2011 season with him, but Tony Cotman is writing the rules on the 2012 car, so I suggest that Cotman entirely re-writes Barnhart's rulebook and takes over in 2012!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I just read an article that about gave me a heart attack. Mike Portnoy has left Dream Theater. The band he created 25 years ago and has nurtured ever since.

He goes on to say that after participating in all the bands he did this year, he was having more fun with them than with Dream Theater. He also said he asked Dream Theater to take a brief hiatus, as they've been on a never-ending write/record/tour cycle for the better part of the last 20 years, but the band didn't want to do that. Portnoy said his heart wouldn't be in the band, and if he continued with them, he'd just be going through the motions. He didn't want to hold the band back, so he decided to leave.

I am still so shocked this happened. I cannot appropriately put into words how much this shakes the band up. They definitely will be nowhere near the same.

Article here

One Small Step for a Man

(This was originally posted on on 7/20/10)

On this day 41 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, an engineering feat that has yet to be topped. A giant leap for mankind at the time, indeed, but I'm really disappointed we haven't gone back.
However, it really upsets me that a large portion of this planet truly believes that mankind has never been to the moon. As an aerospace engineer, frankly, this really pisses me off. I know the science behind it. Is it difficult? Of course it is. But we have definitely done it, in 1969 with the computing power of a modern microwave, if that.
I'd like to take this time to try and debunk the conspiracy theory, explain why space exploration is a good thing, and link the conspiracy theories to an interesting conclusion I made.
First, on debunking the conspiracy theory, I have three main arguments. First, the Russians' hubris is ridiculous, i.e., they strapped TWELVE engines to the main stage of a rocket fueled by inferior kerosene as compared to liquid hydrogen, and wonder why they couldn't get all that weight off the ground. This hubris SURELY led the Russians to be tracking the mission the ENTIRE time, and if there was any indication whatsoever that the mission was faked, the Russians would have come forward with that data.
Next, Armstrong and Aldrin placed a laser reflector on the moon in the Apollo 11 mission. Observatories all over the world (particularly American observatories in the mountains in California) frequently fire lasers at this reflector to measure the distance between the moon and the earth (speed of light x time taken for signal to return/2 gives this distance). Just go to one of those observatories, I'm sure they'd love to demonstrate for you.
Finally, with all the work that would have gone into faking the mission and making it look real, it would have been easier to send three men to the moon. And if you STILL don't believe it, well, then I triple-dog-dare you to walk up into Armstrong's or Aldrin's face (probably Aldrin, he's feisty, Armstrong is too calm to care) and tell them they didn't walk on the moon.
We haven't been back since the Apollo missions because the general public feels its a waste of money, so the government obliges and spends less money on the space program. Many great technologies were developed for space use, and then were given back to us on the surface. One such example: the ball point pen. There already were ball-point pens, but they were greatly improved after research for space missions so astronauts could write in zero-g. Ingenious, yes, but possibly unnecessary (the Russians used a pencil). Tons of fuel-saving measures on engines wind up coming back to automobiles. Rocket engines see temperatures of greater than 5000 K and all kinds of innovative technologies are implemented to keep them cool, and that technology comes back to the surface as well. The possibilities are limitless.
Alas, the government has all but quit funding NASA. Obama's new NASA budget was a huge slap in the face. However, the private space sector is booming, and I suspect we'll be back on the moon no later than 2030, and I doubt it will be government funded.
Finally, a lot of the reasons I get from people for not believing we went to the moon spark an interesting comparison in religion. People don't think we've been to the moon because there isn't enough proof or that there are tons of scenarios in which the moon landings could have been staged. I'll preface this by saying that I am NOT an atheist, but many atheists don't believe in God for exactly the same reasons. And the percentage of people on this planet who don't believe we've been to the moon is far greater than the percentage of people on this planet who are atheist (at least it seems that way to me. I don't have any exact stats). The comparison is staggering, and frankly, a little shocking.

The Next Generation IndyCar

(This was originally posted on on 7/15/10)

Yesterday, the next generation IndyCar to begin competition in 2012 was unveiled at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Watching the announcement streaming live from, I felt like a kid at Christmas once again, as everything I was hearing was music to my ears.
Dallara, the current (and only) car manufacturer, will provide what is being called the "IndyCar Safety Cell," which comprises of the driver's tub, nose, engine compartment, undertray. wing mounts, and suspension pieces among other things. Any company that so wishes can also provide the aero kit for the car. The aero kits can take on any size and shape as long as they fit within the certain size parameters and comes in at less than $70K. The safety cell from Dallara will come in at $345K, with a full car from Dallara and $385K, approximately a 45% drop in current price.
I really like this idea, and was implemented to satisfy the best of three worlds. First, Dallara has provided IndyCars for nearly a decade, and have been the sole chassis supplier for much of that time, so IndyCar wanted to give them as much business as possible. Second, most fans (myself included) wanted to see more than just one car configuration running around the track, and this formula makes is possible for cars run by each team to look completely different. Third, with the current rules package, any trick parts added by teams were their own property and would not be shared with other teams. The new formula mandates that all aero kits must be approved by the league for certain safety and cost parameters, and once it is approved, it will be made available to all the teams. That means that if Penske or Ganassi, the two powerhouses in IndyCar today, discover something groundbreaking for their cars, it must be shared with everyone else.
The new spec coming in for 2012 will be remarkable on all counts. It will be lighter, faster, racier, and come in at around half the cost of an IndyCar today. Engines are going to be turbocharged, which will allow the league to tune the cars to their whim to keep lap times safe depending on the track, and also to provide enough horsepower to make road racing interesting (the current combination of low power and heavy cars makes road racing BORING!).
Randy Bernard, the new CEO of IndyCar, has done a fantastic job since coming in at the beginning of the year at listening to everyone's request and putting together a new formula that will please everyone.
One thing that remains to be seen is whether these safety cells can be run in the Indy Lights series as well. The Lola car proposal kept a common tub between IndyCars and Indy Lights, to reduce costs for each series, and to allow IndyCar teams to easily run a Lights team to take advantage of the testing bonus offered for doing so, so that Indy Lights teams can run a few IndyCar races throughout the year relatively easily, and so that Indy Lights drivers are better prepared for the jump to IndyCar. I hope so, because it is painful to watch Indy Lights drivers dominate the field, then be completely lost behind the wheel of an IndyCar.
In all, the 2012 car announcement created as many questions as were answered, but IndyCar fans world over are surely looking forward to the 2012 season.

A Brief History of Metal

(This was originally posted on on 6/8/10. There's a month gap here, most of my posts in May were about auto racing news past.)
The other day, I was driving around with my good friend and former staff resident Matt Jackson (his blog can be found here), and we were having a discussion about metal as he went through the mix CD I have in my car. He is borrowing my guitar for the summer and making a valiant effort to learn how to play, and is seeing what I see in metal - the musicianship. Eventually the conversation shifted to the history of metal, of which I actually made a Word document and emailed it to him. The following is that same document. Bear with it, it is somewhat long (I struggled keeping it to two pages!), but very informative if you have a genuine interest on the subject.
Many metal fans have the debate as to who was the original metal band: Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. For me, there is no debate, as they both put the first pieces in place to create metal as we know it today (see my blog for my rule of thumb definition of metal)
I start with Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath was responsible for the sound of metal, that gloomy, dark, heavy sound we know. Tony Iommi, guitarist of the band, was once a metal worker. An accident caused him to lose the fingertips of his fret hand, and wore rubber caps on them when he played, which added to the dark sound. In a review for one of their first shows, their sound was described as being "heavy metal-laden." The moniker of heavy metal stuck.
Here is their song Paranoid -
Led Zeppelin was responsible for bringing the musicianship, flair, and poetic lyrics to metal. Most bands today have a very good mix of the musicianship and poetry Led Zeppelin was famous for, along with the dark, heavy sound Black Sabbath pioneered.
AC/DC kept metal alive and popularized during the late 70s and early 80s
Two more classic bands from the 70s and 80s metalheads have great dispute over as to who was better are Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. To me, there is no dispute, as the bands are two completely different bands and are impossible to compare.
Judas Priest: Breaking the Law -
Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills -
Judas Priest were, eccentric, to say the least, and it opened the floodgates to hair metal in the early 80s. I will skip over the hair metal craze, I like to pretend it never happened. A band came around in the early to mid 80s by the name of Metallica to break the hair metal craze, and are the most influential metal band of all time.
After the release of their demo No Life 'Til Leather, guitarist Dave Mustaine was kicked out of the band after a fight with frontman James Hetfield. Mustaine went on to form Megadeth, another one of the most influential metal bands of all time. In my opinion, Megadeth is a better band than Metallica is, but they never met the fame Metallica gained.
Pantera, Anthrax, and Slayer round out the Big Five of 80s thrash metal. Unfortunately, Pantera is not around anymore. Their guitarist Dimebag Darrel was killed onstage in 2004 while playing for Damageplan, a band he started with his brother and former drummer of Pantera Vinnie Paul. Members of Pantera had serious issues with each other, and were never likely to come together again, anyway. The Big Five is now reduced to the Big Four. While Metallica and Megadeth inspired musicianship, Pantera created the "chainsaw" kind of sound most bands have today (mids scooped out), Anthrax brought a punk attitude to metal, and Slayer brought the brutality and disturbing images, all of which still run rampant in metal today.
Pantera: Cowboys from Hell -
This rounds out the history of metal and brings us to current bands, of which I will mention some of my favorites (in no particular order):
Trivium is a group from Orlando, a four-piece with members who aren't much older than us. Their front man, Matthew Kiichi Heafy, is half Japanese, and a lot of their newer material is based in Japanese culture and mythology. They also have a lot of material based on Greek mythology.
Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr -
Shattering the Skies Above - (Newest single!)
Protest the Hero is a group from Canada. Words cannot describe them. I just love them to death. Haha
The Black Dahlia Murder are a bunch or nerdy dudes from Michigan. Songs ranging from Castlevania themed to necrophilia. Very poetic though.
What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse -
This is me keeping it really short, but certainly the highlights!

Spirituality and Religion in Metal

(This was originally posted on on 4/28/10)
One counterargument I frequently get against metal music is that it is all "devil music." I would hope that by now we had learned to not generalize things into one statement, but alas, here is my rebuttal.
With anything, there are going to be statistical outliers. Are there some metal bands exclusively about Satan or devil worshiping? Yes, there are, I don't deny that. I think you'd also be surprised to find that for every Satanic band out there, you would find a band that worships whichever God they choose to worship. One such band is The Devil Wears Prada. The song linked there is called "Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over" (they are a band whose song titles have nothing to do with the material of the song), and, believe it or not, there are a couple of particular lines in there I'd like to point out:
Don't be ashamed of your faith
Dear Lord - deliver me from hypocrisy and surcease
But, both Satanic bands and deity-worshiping bands (I don't want to use the term Christian, because that would exclude other religions) are special cases. They are a very small sliver of metal. I'd say they only make up 5% of the metal scene.
More often, you will find that bands that do address religion and spirituality promote self-thinking, rather than blindly accepting what is written in various books of faith. I am not here to preach religion or anything like that, but I feel the world would be a better place if people thought for themselves rather than accepting what the Bible, Old Testament, Qur'an, or any other religious text has to say without thinking about the message that is being conveyed and making a decision for themselves.

The Future of Space Exploration, An Engineer's Perspective

(This was originally posted on on 4/21/10)

This is certainly a departure from what I normally write about, but as a future aeronautics and astronautics engineer, this topic hits home for me. I also wrote this as a guest blog on Mike Brownstein's blog, Politics and Pucks.
The space industry has been a huge talking point lately. The space shuttle is at the end of its life cycle, and NASA is exploring new options to send satellites to low-Earth orbit and supplies to the International Space Station. The particular option that NASA has been exploring since day one is over-budget and behind schedule. This is mostly due to creating entirely new parts rather than salvaging parts from the space shuttles, as NASA engineers have been very keen to suggest.

So what's going to happen in the next decade? Long story short, NASA will be paying 
SpaceX, a private company, to send supplies to the Space Station and any satellites into low earth orbit that can be done so in an unmanned mission, and will be paying the Russians to send astronauts into orbit. NASA will continue to work on its manned space program, but based on the past five years, my guess is that it's doomed eternally. So, what should happen in the future? In my humble opinion, shut NASA down.

That's right. You heard me. Shut NASA down.

Well, maybe shut down isn't the right phrase. How about reorganize? Yeah. That's better. NASA can still be around, but they will have no part in actually conducting missions. I'd like to think of it more as NASATA - National Aeronautics and Space Advisory and Training Administration.

The current NASA yearly budget is nearly $19 BILLION. There is no way that the government needs to be spending this much money for as feeble a job they are doing. They should just keep a skeleton crew around. Every recognized private space corporation will have NASATA representatives working for them but paid for by the government, some scientists, some with mission control, some with training of crews, et cetera. My best estimate (which is entirely a guess) is around twenty current, functioning private space agencies. If each of these companies gets ten NASATA reps, that's only 200 employees. Throw each of these people $150k per year (which seems reasonable in my book), that's $30 million for payroll.

Simultaneously, there'll be a committee composed of five experts in the aerospace industry as "higher ups." These people will be in charge of biennial competitions. These competitions will offer a prize of $5 billion for whatever the current competition is. Send a crew to the moon for a week and return them safely, send a crew to orbit Mars and return safely, send a capsule to the moon in and back with a total trip time of X hours, et cetera. Give these five bigwigs $300k per year, and add another $1.5 million to the payroll.

This gives the new NASATA a BIENNIAL budget of $5.063 billion, a whopping 87% drop compared to the current NASA budget. Not only will this reduce government spending, but I feel that it will boost the technology level rapidly in terms of space exploration, and it will reduce the cost of space travel. The jobs that are cut by NASA will most certainly be picked up by the private space sector.

We may even have even broken light speed by 2050.

So What Makes Metal, Metal?

(This was originally posted on on 4/16/10)

Looking at the "big picture," metal is a special case of rock music. I think we all know what rock is. Aggressive vocals, electric guitar(s), electric bass guitar, drums, occasionally a synthesizer, basic minor scales, et cetera. Then of course the next progression is hard rock, where the volume, distortion, and overdrive on all parameters are increased. So where do you go from hard rock to metal?
In my mind, there are four parameters that are added to make the transition. Intensified vocals (near screaming/screaming), instrument solos, music complexity (time signaturestemposcales varying throughout the song), and a heavy sound to the guitars.
In my own personal research, a band's guitars must be heavy to be metal. But what is heavy? Easy. As much distortion as possible, with bass EQ high and mids scooped out. Treble on the EQ can vary, but it must be at least mid-range. The more treble the guitar has, the "crunchier" it sounds. If you don't understand what I'm talking about with equalizer stuff, just open iTunes/Zune/whatever and start messing with your equalizer. Put the sliders on the left toward the top, the sliders in the middle toward the bottom, and the sliders on the right at mid-range or higher.
Of the three parameters left, it is also my opinion that a band must exhibit two of those parameters. For example, a band that is heavy cannot just have intensified vocals and be considered metal. But add music complexity to the mix, and now you have a metal band. A great example of this is the band Deftones. They are certainly heavy, and the vocals are intense, but the music is bland (4/4 time signature, tempos of around 150), and there are no solos. Thus, to me, Deftones are a hard rock band, not a metal band.
Unfortunately, classifying a band as metal versus hard rock is generally a personal opinion. These parameters are just a rule of thumb, but they have never deterred me from appropriately labeling a band.

Defying Convention

(This post was originally posted on on 4/9/10)

Something I've been noticing a lot these days is that a lot of the newer metal bands can't be categorized. In some music circles, it's a big deal to try and categorize bands - death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, metalcore, grindcore, screamcore, mathcore, et cetera et cetera. I wind up using most of these words to describe most of these newer bands.

One such band that defies convention is one that I saw in April, iwrestledabearonce. Certainly, the first word that comes to me is experimental. Followed by screamcore. But they definitely have some thrash to them. A little grindcore, too. In fact, the more I listen to them, the MORE influences I hear.

I think it's come to the point where the only way to categorize a metal band is simply by its name.
Then another question comes up, what categorizes a band as metal? That is a great question, and is the topic of a future blog. (You like that teaser? :-P)

Lame Introduction Post

So, this blog originally started on I was getting paid to do it, but as such, I felt like I was pressured into posting about specific topics, and couldn't really let myself flow. Now I do it on my own time and my own terms.

So, this is that lame introduction post where I say a few things about myself. I'm 22 and a fifth-year senior in aeronautics and astronautics engineering (aka rocket science) at Purdue University, with a minor in mathematics. I only needed one more class for it, so why not? My specialization is aerodynamics. I love aerodynamics. I don't care where my career takes me, so long as it involves aerodynamics. My dream job, however, is to design Formula 1 race cars. I finally graduate in May, and then the real world awaits!

I am from a small town called Hobart, Indiana, which is in northwest Indiana, or "The Region." It is about 90 miles north of campus, a straight shot up I-65. I also (somehow) find the time to be a resident assistant at McCutcheon Hall on campus.

So what will this blog entail? First off, I LOVE music. Mostly metal. But I'm fairly open-minded and can listen to just about anything but country, because I don't want to listen to some redneck poorly play three chords on his acoustic guitar and talk about how sad he is.

So how did I become a metalhead? The journey begins around a decade ago when I began my quest to become a musician. My dad had gotten a guitar a few years prior, and I decided to pick it up when I was 13. The better I got, the more complex the music I was listening to became. I started with Blink-182, by 15 I was listening to Disturbed, at 16 I was listening to Megadeth and Metallica, at 17 I was listening to Slayer, and the list grows exponentially from there when I began my college career. In March, I started playing bass as well, and I'm finding I'm actually better at both guitar and bass since I started playing bass.

Aside from music, I am also very passionate about auto racing (particularly IndyCar and Formula 1, and I hate NASCAR with a fiery passion) and baseball. It saddens me that baseball season is about over, even more that my Cubs have been a non-contender all season. Bears season is also right around the corner, and we're looking pretty pathetic this year again. I keep telling myself that they went 0-4 in the preseason before the Super Bowl season in 2006, so I can only hope.

Well, that pretty much ends the lame introductory post. Over the next few days, I'll be reposting some of my favorite posts from here!