Earth-like Planets

I tend to get excited  when I  read the phrase ‘earth-like planet’ because I visualize one of the earth-like planets from Star Trek (because most were) where they had trees, and quaint, little villages, and lots of people walking around wearing togas or some damned thing.

Yet all scientists mean by  earth-like is  approximate size (which means  it’s probably  a rocky planet) and within its star’s Goldilocks  zone.  Proxima B (we’ve got to find a better  name than that -if it’s an earth-like planet,it deserves an earth-like name.  I suggest Audrey.) is indeed earth-like in size, just a wee bit bigger, and it is in its planets goldilocks zone although it is much, much closer to its sun than we are.  A year on Audrey is only 11 days.  But, it’s planet is a red dwarf, so it’s not as hot as ours, and it’s red, not yellow.

In summary, it’s years are only 11 days long, which is less earth-like than  Westeros, and everybody has a birthday every couple of weeks, and its sky is probably a different color (we’ve got a yellow  sun and a blue  sky, if they’ve got  a red sun, they must have a ____ sky, I’m  sure there’s a way  of mathematically working that out and you’d probably have to factor  in  the various elements in their atmosphere, if they have one, so  it could be any  color really, and they  might or  might not have water, but other than that, it’s very  earth-like.

I suppose it’s worth looking into  deeper,  in any event.


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I was  called a  ‘court monkey’ today for supporting Jill Stein, which  is an analogy I don’t quite understand.  It’s more the adjective than the noun that I object to.
Monkeys are awesome.  They are clever, they are communal, they are very  human like.  I know we are actually  apes, not  monkeys, but we’re all simians, so what the heck.

I remember in Malaysia I went  to a park  which  was famous for it’s monkeys.  First, I was having lunch at the cafe across from the park, and I was looking to not be sitting nearer to the outdoors.  A man was having a sandwich, put it down for a second, and a monkey swooped in and got it.  That’s pretty good thieving skills, but it’s nothing a gull can’t do, so doesn’t  actually imply intelligence.
Then, as I was going into the park, I noticed a sign: It is strictly forbidden to feed the monkeys inside the park,’ and right below the sign (still just outside the  park, mind you), there was a monkey with a begging look on his face that would make a hound dog proud.  I’m certain he knew what it said on the sign, but I don’t know how.

Then, inside the park, there was a pack of monkeys and an old man, seemingly a  local, who was yelling at them and waving his stick at them.  They retreated, back up a hillside, and  waited for him to leave, I swear I saw them laughing behind his back.

So, I like monkeys.  But  court monkey?  Piss off, dude.


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The Book of the Unknown

This is not a big news story, it will not change the world in any significant way, it won’t personally affect me, or probably anybody, very much, and yet it’s the kind of story which is of great interest to those who are interested in this kind of thing, which I am.

A Spanish publishing company is going to print an edition of the Vojnich Manuscript.  Up till now, there was exactly one copy of the Vojnich Manuscript in existence, and that is the Vojnich Manuscript; it’s like the Dead Sea Scrolls or the original copy of the Declaration of Independence or something.  It’s called the Vojnich Manuscript after the Polish bookseller who discovered it in 1912 in an old trunk in a Jesuit library near Rome.  It dates from some time before 1450, probably, and (get this, this is the important part) nobody knows what it says.  It’s not in any language known to mankind.  It’s something about plants, though, from the pictures.

It might be an apothecary’s guide, written in a secret code, or maybe written by somebody who wasn’t actually literate, but had seen people mucking about with these ‘letters’, and  just put  down some jund randomly, or maybe it  was aliens (aliens  are a possibility which can never be disproven.)

Anyway, I was getting excited, thinking how much I’d like to own a copy of this book I can’t read, until I saw that they’re just going to print about 900 copies, and tghey will cost  about 8,000 euros  each.

I think I’ll wait for  the movie.

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The Alternatives

Most people agree this election year offers a particularly hideous choice of candidates. Although Hillary’s supporters scoff at the idea that she’s guilty of murder because her finger prints were not actually found on John Ashe’s barbells and Seth Rich just might have been shot in the back by a random mugger who then decided not to steal anything, they can’t deny that she rigged the election or that she’s crooked as hell.  They just keep repeating that she’s better than Trump, which would also be a reason to vote for Ronald McDonald, if he were in the race.  Trump’s supporters basically want to shake things up, which is a worthy goal, but even some of them are starting to realize that he has no idea what he is talking about.
So, what can we do about it?  Are we, the people, truly doomed to just these two choices?  All of the newspapers and TV networks tell us they are, but we know what liars they are.  History tells us that 3rd parties never win, but history keeps changing.

Here is the solution I propose.  If this sounds like a good idea to you, please feel free to share this: If you’re voting for Donald Trump just to stop Hillary Clinton, vote for Gary Johnson instead. If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton just to stop Donald Trump, vote for Jill Stein instead. (added bonus – she’s a woman)
The U.S. will get a president who is neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump and the two parties will get a wake up and shake up.

Everybody wins.

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Road Trip

Sorry for the 3  day blog absence, but that was  a bit  of an epic road trip and I  enjoyed the disconnectedness, had  some true back to nature moments, and  widened my experience of the world a bit, so it’s all good, and I come back to realize that nothing much has  changed in the world of the news, so  my commentary on  it was pretty unnecessary anyway.
Isabel  was staying at her friend’s family’s  cottage, and we were scheduled  to go pick her up 4 or 5 days from now, but she got sick so we went early. (she’s fine)


The cottage is in a small village in the Carpathian mountains, in the southwestern corner of Ukraine, near the Romanian and Hungarian borders.  It  is a region of bad roads and beautiful scenery.  It is a town  with a stream running through  it that they call a river, a church with a  blinding  gold  dome, and homes which not all of them are even accessible  by  road – we arrived at 3  o’clock in the morning, and J–‘s grandmother and uncle were waiting for us at the last point we could get the car to, and from there we walked across a bridge which  was some planks laid across a well rusted  framework, and up a path from there.
The  next day we took a brief tour  of the town and then in the  afternoon walked up the mountain for a picnic.  If I took a walk like that everyday, I’d be fit in no time.
We picked up some friends of theirs along the way, who had pigs and chickens and a shed for smoking meat, it looked like an old outhouse, not a complicated process at  all, actually, and proceeded upwards.

After a couple of hours, we reached the picnic spot, made a fire, roasted some sausages, and enjoyed the view, mountains with forests running down the sides like dripping paint, and J’s mother pointed out to me which mountains were actually in Romania.
Yesterday was an epic drive home.  We waited at the  border 4 hours, it’s been a long  time since I’ve had that  experience, spoiled by living in the E.U., and then stopped in Budapest, walked down to the river and we were there for a fireworks show, feast of St. Stephen or something like that, massive crowds, annoying traffic, I was actually kind of relieved  when we got out of there, had to stop and sleep at a rest stop in Slovakia at  about 3 in the morning because even Helena, who has an  amazing talent for long distance  driving, had reached her limit, and  got  back home at about 9 this morning.

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Lighten Up on Ellen, Folks

I might be offline for a couple of days.  If so, I’ll write another blog before we leave tomorrow morning and then resume when I get back.  Isabel, who is at her friend’s grandmother’s cottage, has an upset stomach and can’t eat – to the point where she was vomiting and they called a doctor.  I suspect it’s nothing (touch wood).  She’s a finicky eater and a bit spoiled in that department, but we’re going to go pick her up.  At least, unless we get a phone call in the morning that she’s feeling fine and not to bother.

Ellen Degeneres sparked a bit of controversy with an Olympics joke that some people said was racist.  She showed an obviously photoshopped photo of her being carried piggy back by Usain Bolt and said “This is how I plan to get around from now on” and some people said that was racist and culturally insensitive.  Usain Bolt wasn’t one of them.  He retweeted the picture, so obviously he thought it was funny.  If he’d been white, the joke would have been the same.  It was a joke about him being FAST.
So, yeah, I think people get bent out of shape over inconsequential thing and it lessens the impact when things happen which are worth getting bent out of shape over.

Like the police continuing to kill black people.

All for tonight.  Keep healthy.

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Olympic Observations

Observation from this morning:  the ferry across the Vltava, which is such a lovely addition to our neighborhood, is a lovely thing to do if you’re doing it for itself, as a way to relax on the river, cool down on a hot day, get a beautiful view of the city, show some out of town visitors, or something like that.  If you’re actually using it for transportation, and need to be across the river for a meeting, it can be frustrating.  I should have just taken the Metro.


Simone Biles, Superwoman

Main topic:  I am not a big sports fan, but I do enjoy the Olympics.  For one thing I live in a small but sports mad country and the Czechs are way over-represented in international competitions.  So far, we’ve got a gold in Judo, a Silver in kayaking, and five bronzes, 3 of which are in tennis.  Not bad at all for a country of only 10 million people.
But what I like most is that there are always some special characters, some interesting individual stories, some actual historical moments in  sport.  For me, the star of the show this year is Simone Biles.  If you haven’t seen her, google her.  It’s not just that she’s the best at her sport, it’s that she’s doing things in that sport that nobody else has ever done before.  She is a freak of nature, a super human.  I love watching things like that.  It makes you proud to be a human being.

I’d like to weigh in on the Shaunae Miller controversy, which strikes me as no controversy at all.  The Bahamian sprinter won the 400m race by diving across the finish line.  She was the first across the line – by a fraction of a second – even though she was on the ground, and pretty cut up, to tell the truth.
A lot of people are saying it wasn’t fair, that runners are supposed to cross the line standing up, but there’s nothing in the rules that says so.

I remember a scene from a film about ancient Greek heroes, Clash of the Titans, maybe, where the hero bet that he could throw a rock across the lake and everybody laughed because it was a really long way, and then he threw it sidearm and skipped it across and won the bet.  It’s like the Fosbury Flop or that Scottish bicyclist who rode horizontally.

If people object to the style, they can change the rules but as far as this race is concerned, Shaunae Miller won it, and nobody should disparage her accomplishment.

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