re: What's in a Name?

From: Walter Nissen (
Date: Sun Jan 16 2000 - 18:33:43 PST

  • Next message: ejsmss: "woman sruck by satellite" ("John W. Gardner, Jr.") writes:
    > Walter Nissen <> writes:
    Ignoring the weird addresses generated by FreeNets, my e-mail address is
    > I like the term "applied name".
    Thank you for this suggestion.  But I strongly doubt you can convince me
    that this term contains a sufficient WARNING for newbies.
    > I view the COSPAR as the definitive identification of an object.  In
    > 99/00, received several updated elsets where the NORAD number and
    > applied name were the same but the COSPARs were different.
    But weren't those mistakes which, eventually, disappeared from the
    continuing stream of elsets?  A mistake can be made in any of the vulgar
    name, the catalog number, or the COSPAR ID.
    Isn't a (at least temporary) fatal problem with the COSPAR ID the fact
    that no standard format exists for writing it?  Certainly almost no one
    here on SeeSat-L uses it.  It's as if some used decimal, some
    hexadecimal, some binary, some ternary, some base-12, some epprep (see
    my paper in sci.math in 1995(?) on "Exponential Prime Power
    Representation") to express the catalog number.
    > In most cases the data lines (inclination, mean motion, ect...) were
    > clearly _not_ of the same object.
    I don't understand your statement.
     (Sue Worden) writes:
    > Everyone on this list knows that Walter likes "vulgar name".
    Hmmm, if I liked "vulgar name", why would I repeatedly interrupt the
    lives of hundreds of people on SeeSat-L to ask for suggestions of
    something better?  It is not necessary to personalize this issue, and,
    ultimately, my preferences are not important compared to effective
    communication.  Given that ambiguous names cause so much trouble, is it
    responsible to use "excessively friendly" terms like "name", "common
    name" and "real name"?
    > "vulgar name", with its ugly connotations
    Well, maybe ugly enough to give fair WARNING.  Generally, I think "ugly"
    is overstated.  Those with slight classical training will recognize that
    "vulgar" has numerous usages as a simple synonym of "common" lacking the
    unfavorable connotations.
    Some of the more troubling, more interesting, ambiguous references on
    SeeSat-L have been made by experienced observers.
    This subject is important because ambiguity kills data and because
    newbies should not be hung out to twist in the wind.
    I'd like to see more suggestions which respect data and newbies.
    Does anyone like "goofy name", "uncertain name", "possible name", "name
    athwart", "name guess", "fuzzy name", "wiggly name", or "ambiguous
    name".  Or more importantly is there a consensus for any of these?
    Again, for those of you not booked on the issues, my WARNING message was  There is
    also a relevant paragraph in
    From the above correspondents:
    > where the NORAD number
    > several personalities (NORAD);
    > please also always include NORAD and COSPAR identifiers along with the
    > name.
    NORAD left the cataloguing business some years back and is now busy with
    other aspects of the effort.  There used to be a somewhat informative
    explanation of the transfer to US SPACECOM on the Web, but I couldn't
    find it just now.  Perhaps it is already now considered ancient history.
    I did find this:
    > On Sept. 23, 1985, the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the
    > ever-increasing value of military space systems by creating a new
    > unified command _ U.S. Space Command _ to help institutionalize the
    > use of space in U.S. deterrence efforts.
    [emphasis original]
    If I am interpreting my records correctly, Max White pointed out to me
    that US SPACECOM is a unified command, not an Air Force command, but
    because of a composition of errors (one by him, one by me), may never
    have received proper credit for that pointer.  Don't look too hard at
    the domain name in the URL, which can be misleading.
    > U.S. Space Command's Space Surveillance Network detects, tracks,
    > identifies and catalogs all space objects larger than about four
    > inches in size.
    [emphasis supplied by WINJr]
    > Orbital Space Debris
    > USSPACECOM tracks about 8,000 man-made space objects, baseball-size
    > and larger, orbiting Earth. The space objects consist of
    > active/inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, or fragmentation.
    > About seven percent are operational satellites, 15 percent are rocket
    > bodies, and about 78 percent are fragmentation and inactive
    > satellites.
    I think the proper term is "US SPACECOM catalog number".  There is
    substantial usage of the term "catalog number".  When you head an output
    column with "cat #" you are using a widely-understood, concise term.
    On an administrative note:
    In newsgroups, which have an underlying distribution mechanism which is
    uncertain, it is considered helpful to quote large portions of a message
    in a reply.  On mailing lists, such as SeeSat-L, which have a solid
    distribution mechanism, anything more than minimal quoting is annoying
    to a substantial proportion of readers.  Except in extreme
    circumstantces, please don't quote entire messages here on SeeSat-L.
    Walter Nissen         
    -81.8637, 41.3735, 256m elevation
    If the people and the law respected America's children by respecting the
    institution of marriage:
    Phil Hartman would be alive today
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