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Kepler-186f

The discovery of exoplanets is happening at a pace similar to popcorn popping, and they are finding them closer and closer to Earth size and the level of detail they can figure out about them is amazing.  Then again, they could be completely wrong about any given place, we’ll never know till we get there.  Which will be a long damned time from now. kepler

The newest flavor of the month, Kepler-186f, in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)  is only about 10 percent bigger than Earth.  It’s sun is smaller than our own, by quite a bit, but it’s in the habitable zone of proximity.  So, a little bit heavier gravity, dark and damp, and (don’t ask me how they know this), everything there looks kind of orange.  So, a bit like Detroit.

But, it’s 500 light years away.  So, traveling at the top speed we can reach today, it would take about 5,000 years to get there, and we still don’t have the kind of ships which can sustain generations of Earth colonists..  Or immortality, or cryogenics.  I suspect that computers with human personality implants will be running the first ships out, but then the ships will have to contain carefully stored, grade A sperm and eggs, in order to populate the alien planet, which will be a relly weird life for them.

Even if we fire a message off into that direction in space, it will take 500 years to get here, and the same amount of time for them to send a message back, unless they have progressed farther than we now think physically possible, and only if they think we’re worth talking to, and they don’t just send a ship to blast us out of space, like Vogons.

Nonetheless, I think we ought to be getting ready to go.  It’s our best bet so far.

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From Wu-Tang to No-Wang

From Wu-Tang Clan* to No-Wang Clan for rapper Andre Johnson, who performs under the ridiculously pretentious name “Christ Bearer.”  Apparently, dude was just chilling with his friends when he suddenly jumped up and bobbitized himself, I don’t know if he  got the knife from the kitchen or if he always carries a meat slicer with him.  Then he jumped off the balcony, seemingly trying to kill himself.

This man no longer has a penis.

This man no longer has a penis.

I’m not sure about that last.  Maybe he just freaked out at the realization that an important piece of himself was gone and jumped off the balcony in a fit of grief and hysteria.

Which raises the question, what the hell prompted him to do that, anyway?  Maybe he’d already decided to commit suicide, but if he did it was a stupid plan, they were only on the 2nd floor.  Having decided to commit suicide, maybe he figured he’d go out in a blaze of glory.  Sure makes Van Gogh look like a B-lister in the artists who’ve sliced off body parts Hall of Fame.  Maybe he figured he’d become really famous after his death.  Maybe.  Actually, he’s still alive, so he might speak more about it in a day or two.

His friends say no hard drugs were involved, but of course they would.  I know I would.  Still, the vast majority of cocaine users, even those who consume in copious quantities, almost never suddenly decide to slice their sausage clean off. There’s no motive.  And opium or heroin users wouldn’t be able to pick up the knife.

Now, I know that somewhere in a hospital in Los Angeles there is a man who is going through a hell of a shit time right now, and it’s probably not nice to speculate and make jokes about his situation, and I hope he gets better and all, but damn, this is a weird situation and somebody needs to make a movie about it.

I watched one of his videos.  I won’t say he’s devoid of talent.  It is, though, just a long string of  offensive language, glorification of violence, and bragging.   He will never be as important as Van Gogh, no matter what he cuts off.

 

*Although his association  with the Wu-Tang Clan widely reported in the media, the Wu-Tang Clan music collective issued a statement saying “We don’t have anything to do with this guy,” although instead of ‘guy’ they employed a common pejorative with clear Oedipal implications.

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Our View of the Universe Just Changed – Again

It’s not exactly great journalism on my  part to link to something like this, which I haven’t read myself because it’s too sciencey with lots of words like quarks and bosons that sound like they should be evil species in a fantasy universe, but I just loved the opening line: The existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that doesn’t fit within the traditional model of particle physics — has now been confirmed, scientists say.

Exotic Hadron

Exotic Hadron

It seems that every couple of days, scientists are confirming some completely new type of matter, totally rearranging the way we see the universe.  You don’t get that with religion.  Each religion has it’s explanation of the universe- be it God, Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – and they’re not changing, no matter what.  That gets boring.

If you join a religion, you sign on to accept their version of life, death and the universe, and it never, ever changes.

Some of them are harmless enough – the ones that don’t take themselves too literally, the ones who don’t go door to door threatening people with eternal damnation, the ones that don’t forbid you to use modern technology, the ones who don’t put more importance on a silly costume than on common sense, adaptation to local climate, and a reasonable sense of aesthetics, the ones who don’t want to force science teachers to teach things which are clearly, demonstrably false, and the ones who don’t object to people having a bit of a good time.

It’s the absolutism of belief that bothers me.  They’ve got no room to grow, nowhere to expand to.  They cannot raise their consciousness, or even expand their view of the universe, without betraying their belief systems.

And our consciousnesses are being raised every day.  Our collective consciousness, anyway.

 

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Enjoy Your Flight!

Most of us who travel, have ever traveled, or know anybody who travels, has some familiarity with the concept of air travel.  We all know to complain about the food (really, it isn’t all that bad), the lack of leg room (it’s the only time in my life that I’m glad I’m not tall), the rudeness of the crew (Hey, they bring food and  drinks right to your seat.  What the hell do you want?), and the frequent delays, cancellations, missed connections, etc…(Yeah, that stuff actually happens.  Not much  you can do, but I’m not surprised people bitch about that).  These are the standards of the airline comedy stand-up routine.

Some of them are tweeting

Some of them are tweeting

So, there are three airline stories in the  news today,  and that warrants a blog.

First, of course, is the tragic and mysterious tale of Malaysian Air 370, which is still missing.  This will still be a news story 75 years from now, at least.  Amelia Earhart still makes the news occasional, and she disappeared that  long ago.  I don’t know any more about the case than anybody, but I think the people who act all mystified that “they” can just lose an airliner in this age of infallible technology are overestimating the infallibility of current technology.  Because there is, for sure, one lost airliner.

Another story that’s making the rounds is about a 14 year old Dutch girl who tweeted a really stupid tweet while she was on a flight, saying she was with Al Qaeda and she was planning something big.  She was arrested when they landed at Rotterdam.  Now, I’m not saying the police were wrong to arrest her, they need to investigate all leads, of course, but in the end, she is just a 14 year old girl who was making a stupid joke.  I teach 14 year olds.  They aren’t, as a general rule, the world’s greatest geniuses.  The airline should just let this one go and the newspapers should let the story die.

The 3rd story also involves social media ham handedness, but this time by an adult, who has been sacked.  He was working in US Airs customer relations department, so when somebody tweets a complaint to him, he is supposed to reply politely and diplomatically.  Instead, when someone named Alex wrote in and said “You ruined my spring break.  I want some free stuff,” he responded with a photograph of a naked woman putting a model 777 up her hoo-ha,  captioned “@AmericanAir WTF, ONE OF YOUR PLAINES (their spelling, not mine) JUST CRASHED INTO MY PUSSY!”  He’d probably just meant to send that one out to his friends, but, as they say in the IT industry, “whoops.”  I’m not  going to post the picture here but you can see it here.

Anyway, I wish you all happy travels and just don’t tweet anything stupid.

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Laughing at Crazy People

I really don’t care if somebody wants to throw their grubby old sneakers at Hillary Clinton.  Nobody got hurt and it probably actually improved Hillary’s chances.  But now that they’ve identified the shoe-ter, so to speak, the story has taken a turn for the hilarious.

Alison Ernst

Alison Ernst

Alison Ernst, the crazy teabagger lady who threw the famous shoe, had kind of a weird love/hate/obsession thing going on vis a vis James Holmes, the crazy eyed weird dude who shot up a cinema in Aurora, Colorado a couple years back, killing 12 people, injuring 58, and causing 0 changes in gun laws.  She stood up at his trial and started screaming about how she could prove he was innocent and was just ‘mind controlled by a ring of world wide crooks.’  In a more highly evolved society, she may have at that point got the help she needs, or at least been fitted with an ankle bracelet, but things being what they are, the judge was just happy to evict her from the courtroom and move on, because there’s no shortage of crazy people in the world.  What the hell can you do?

(I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but – the guy who just killed 3 people at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City is from Aurora, Missouri.)

James Holmes

James Holmes

After that, she soured on Holmes, maybe he wasn’t answering her letters, I don’t know.  She applied for a restraining order against him, which may seem superfluous, being as how he’s in prison and all, but that’s the old-fashioned, narrow way of looking at things.  “James enters my head like Dennis Quaid in ‘Inner Space’ and he zooms to my heart and plays with it and forces me to care for him,” she wrote in the application.

So, obviously nuts. I’m sure my right wing friends will say “Why do you say she’s a teabagger, though?  What evidence do you have?”  It’s simple, really.  If she were, like most people, apolitical, she wouldn’t have been at a Hillary Clinton speech in the first place.  She’d have wound up throwing that shoe at the girl behind the counter at McDonald’s.  If she were a political liberal, she would have picked a different target.

Dennis Quaid in 'Inner Space'

Dennis Quaid in ‘Inner Space’

The fact that she was at that speech, prepared to toss a shoe to prove her point, indicates a deep  and passionate hatred for Hillary Clinton, a trait which, admittedly, is not unknown among Democrats but it’s pretty much universal among Republicans teabaggers.

She was charged with disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor.

 

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