Monday, September 29, 2008

WR 104: 8000 light years way and waiting to pounce...

So, this is the deal. Shamelessly quoting Wikipedia:

WR 104 is a Wolf-Rayet star located 8000 light years from Earth at RA 18h02m04s.07 Dec -23d37'41.2" (ICRS). It is a binary star with a class OB companion. The stars have an orbital period of 220 days and the interaction between their stellar winds produce a spiral "pinwheel" outflow pattern over 200 AU long. The spiral is composed of dust that would normally be prevented from forming by WR 104's intense radiation were it not for the star's companion. The region where the stellar wind from the two massive stars interacts compresses the material enough for the dust to form, and the rotation of the system causes the spiral-shaped pattern.

WR 104's rotational axis is aligned within 16° of Earth. This could have potential implications to the effects of WR 104's eventual supernova, since these explosions often produce jets from their rotational poles. It is possible that WR 104 may even produce a gamma ray burst, though it is not possible to predict with certainty at this time.

Talk about being potentially shit out of luck! Like is there someone up there who really doesn't like us? What kind of a sick deity set us up at the end of what may well be an very precisely aimed X-ray rifle that could fry us to a crisp one of these days. And we're not talking a million years or some nicely removed disaster point like that. Could be in a week. Could be that it's already happened and the bullets haven't reached us yet. After all, they have to travel for something like 8000 years before they fry us. It might be that they just fry our atmosphere, so that we're going to have more than just an Ozone Hole, namely no Ozone to protect us against the Sun's UV rays at all.

Tomahto, tomaito.

People look at me strangely when I occasionally say something about the importance of getting our asses off this planet, and on a major scale. Space travel and, shock-and-laughter!, space migration is generally considered to be too expensive to even consider seriously. Only science fiction geeks would consider this seriously–surely! As far as 'reality' is concerned, let's do some scratching of the outer limits of the atmosphere and watch smiley Chinese astronauts wave to us from our TV screens. All the while very few even blink at the ridiculous amounts spent on inanities like the Olympic Games.

Denial, denial, denial. People really are stupid, according to Einstein infinitely so. They'd rather devise strategies to 'combat Global Warming' and expend huge intellectual and financial efforts on this completely futile enterprise. But tell them there's a massive galactic gun pointed at all of us, and they 'ho' and 'hum' and look at you funny.

I usually try very hard to keep a studiously indifferent expression. Sometime it's hard.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Reason To Get Our Eggs Out Of The One Basket

I'll tell you what it all means in the the next blog.

Criminal Farts (or: "I'll batter you to death with my wind")

I simply could not withhold this from my esteemed readers. And, no, it's not from Pravda, as odd as that may sound.

Man Passes Gas, Charged with Battery on Officer

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As if getting a DUI wasn’t enough, a man arrested for driving under the influence got in a lot more trouble at the police station.

Police stopped Jose Cruz on Route 60 in South Charleston Monday night for driving with his headlights off.

Then, he failed sobriety tests and was arrested.

When police were trying to get fingerprints, police say Cruz moved closer to the officer and passed gas on him. The investigating officer remarked in the criminal complaint that the odor was very strong.

Cruz is now charged with battery on a police officer, as well as DUI and obstruction.

Battery? What? I know that legalese is a language for specialized retards, but the notion of being 'battered' by a whiff of foul-smelling air...

The mind does boggle.

There are troubling questions here, make no mistake. Miscarriage of justice is a distinct possibility. The judge hearing this farcical charge will have to battle his or her desire to crack toilet jokes. The offended policeperson will require counselling for nasal trauma, and who will pay for that? And one wonders how traumatized said policeperson is every time they sit on a toilet engaged in producing all kinds of smells?

The list of questions is endless. Truly, this is a timeless story, because people always have and presumably always will pass wind at some time or another; most of it smelling vile. This particular instant, however, is almost worthy of making it into one of those anal-juvie-toilet-joke US movies that keep on finding backers to produce and morons to go and watch them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why the US Election is Getting Funnier by the Day

We could start with this image from an article on salon.com, which is just the tip of the iceberg of anti-Sarah-Palin sentiment. The whole issue of the weird reaction of left wing feminists, whose screeds seem to echo among the loudest, is well analyzed by one Cathy Young, a contributing editor to Reason magazine, the flagship of Libertarian publications, which has no great affection for McCain or anybody smacking of religiousness.

The other day, some Australian friends of mine let fly with similar invectives. All of which makes me smile, because I think it's really funny, as the whole affair once again proves—as if proof were needed!—that there is no 'rational' discourse in the area of politics. It's all emotions, emotions, emotions, and the greatest fools are those taken in by the notion that reason comes into this anywhere. Which makes it the ideal playground for charlatans, hucksters and general fraudsters, who end up running the country on our behalf—as they have done for as long as there has been 'politics'.

I know, I know, I'm ranting, but so let me.

Galactic? Not. Pretty cool? Definitely. Expensive? No shit! Would I do it if I had the cash? What kind of a dumb question is that??

Erotic Electronics

All right, so you've all been waiting for this, but beware!

Erotic Sensation Self-Stimulation Via Brain Implants

But if you're willing to be truly disturbed, have a look at this as well.

Atheon Temple To Science Open For Worship Soon

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why I Suddenly LOVE the US Presidential Campaign

Two pictures, is all it takes. Two Americas. Two visions. Fairly clear choices for the voters, and I really wonder which way it'll go this time.

In terms of contextually-related cultural contrasts, Australia comes close with the 'interest' factor, because there's a lot here like that as well. But I can't think of any other 'western' nations that does.

Gotta love the Americans and Aussies!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image

A part of the sky the size of the intersection of crossed sewing needles held at arm's length.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cookie Monster Capers

My daughter Aynia, still resident in the UK, has a penchant for coming up with a whole bunch of weird things, which I'm sure she must have at least partially 'stumbled' upon. The latest collection is a cornucopia of the weird, the funny and the bizarre.

I, on the other hand, am much more stolid and go with 'news' from other sources. When I want 'weird' I tend to go Pravda, because that's an endless source of Russian bizarro-ness. However, thanks to my NZ friend Carys, I've now found another source of wonderment, viz:

5 Mental Disorders That Can Totally Get You Laid

or

Third Reich to Fortune 500: Five Popular Brands the Nazis Gave Us

or my fav

The 7 Most Retarded Ways Celebrities Have Tried to Go Green

Thing is, of course, that apart from the first one, these aren't actually funny; the content, I mean. This is serious humor, if you'll forgive the turn of phrase.

More humor, you might have noticed, is coming from the US Presidential campaign, mainly through the addition of one Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket as prospective VP. Treat yourself to some of the journalistic and partisan gibberish that nomination has created, and do remember to stop laughing when you're done.

Since this campaign is predominantly over the definition of the word 'change', and over whether Obama's plastic stardom can survive the campaign for long enough to put this hollow Dr. Modesto type creature into the White House—instead of the authoritarian and utterly dull John McCain—you have probably figured by now that it is really about nothing at all, despite the rantings of the fervents on either side. If that isn't funny, what is?

Meanwhile here's more Greenie-related humor:

Experts offer scaled-back sea level rise forecast

Don't blame the cities

And, just to bring that smile back to your face, here's this:

The Gruesome Origins of 5 Popular Fairy Tales

and

The Terrifying (Inevitable) Future of Advertising

Monday, September 08, 2008

Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars

Well, after a long time I've finally managed to wrap up Farscape, watching the final 3 hour miniseries/movie on DVD and a decent-size LCD TV. Long time in coming, but I finally got there.

It was fitting end, and I'm glad I was able to watch it on the same day as the final episode of Season 4, which ended on the ultimate to-be-continued cliff-hanger, that only pretentious retard commentators could possibly have regarded as a form of 'completion'—unless it was the 'completion' one would also find in death, but which I, as everybody should know by now, consider futile and stupid. And, yes, there were those. There always are.

In the event, the actual 'final scene' was just the opposite and just as slightly crazy and dizzy as much of the series had been, if only because it was to unabashedly open and hopeful. And, for those in the know, the 'internal' farewell between John Crichton and Scorpius's neural implant—nicknamed 'Harvey' by John Crichton, in allusion to the 1950 James Stewart movie—was both, homage to and piss-take of, the final moments of 2001: A Space Odyssey, done with a very firm but reverent tongue-in-cheek.



I can't even begin to summarize what I want to say about Farscape, because there's just so much, and I just don't have the time. Besides, it would just be 'commentary', and why should I deprive you of the fun of watching it yourself? It's still available on your friendly bittorrent p2p network, so if you have the bandwidth, by all means go for it. Why deprive yourself of a memorable 63 hours of great story telling, that you might otherwise spend watching dumb-ass news, reality shows, soapies, sports or other, often ad-laced, trash?

Even better, consider buying the series (1 2 3 4 5) on DVD. If only it weren't so damn expensive!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Abortion And Animal Experimentation

One comes across these articles—well, I do anyway—and they trigger stuff. So, first, here are the articles, or at least two of them. You can use the links in the last one to follow through the discussion threads that join up with it.

A Stark Choice on Abortion

Humans are more important than animals

So, what was triggered here is this question:

WTF is actually going on in the heads of people—some of whom may have well children, who may or may not survive their parents' apparent incapacity to emote coherently—who on one hand advocate abortion and on the other protest against animal experimentation, or the eating of animals for that matter?

I am at a loss for an answer, because I find myself unable to replicate anything resembling what their 'thought'-processes might be, and if you can't do that, then 'understanding' is impossible.

I'm wondering if anybody has any suggesting going beyond "Well, people just think silly things", or something along those lines.

Maybe I should add that once upon a time, when they weren't stark-raving lunatics, was I a member of PETA (watch the manipulative video on their site!), and from around that time also dates my ethical objection to eating meat—though I bow to nutritional realism and eat animal products, such as free-range eggs, vegetarian-rennet cheese and fish; and I also have no issue with wearing leather shoes. And if there's nothing else around to eat, I will eat meat. But as long as there's a reasonable choice I won't.

It's all about 'choices' of course, and taking responsibility for them. Goes without saying, even though I'm saying it again, and will do so for a long time to come. But I also have decided that 'speciesism' is not a derogatory term, and that these kinds of choices are 'value'-dependent, and not what you might call 'rational'. Just depends on the values then.

The matter is, of course, never entirely clear, because nothing in life ever is. The question of whether to save the faithful family dog or the childmolester will have a different answer than whether to save the faithful family dog or the 70-year old man (who, if a 'stranger', might be out of luck if the 'savior' having to make the choice is one of the PETA crowd). It may be safer to put in his place a more abstract and general 'person' like: a human belonging to the set of those humans considered, by the savior(s), to be worthy of being 'saved'over and above faithful doggie.

And, no, I haven't even touched on 'abortion' and won't either. But Creepy O, who, apparently considers that a baby might reasonably be considered 'punishment' for the unprepared (see A Stark Choice on Abortion), definitely hasn't done anything to endear himself to anyone with even a smidgen of basic humanity.

More Journalistic Detritus

Here's more from that organ of organs, Pravda:

Rabid badger attacks Russian woman

I wonder of they'd have mentioned it if it had been a Georgian woman.

Bush, Cheney and Rice; Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels

Ahh... Well, I was wondering if that 'opinion' piece was maybe written by the Russian woman above, who refused anti-rabies shots and subsequently went on to write this. But then I found out that it was signed by one 'Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY'. I wonder if he worked for the NYT or WP at some stage; whose op-eds more-than-just-occasionally exhibit similarly intemperate extremes of vitriol—or, some might argue, support for the proposition that, contrary to medical belief and universal assumption, not everybody does have a brain. Or maybe Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY is a pseudonym for Michael MOORE? But then again, that feeds into the no-brainer theory. The world might be making sense after all.

Meanwhile, on the Western front you'll find this:

Study Finds Flies Can Anticipate, Elude Swats

Ha!

Ancient Amazon Actually Highly Urbanized

Another antideluvian myth bites the dust. Suburbia in the Amazon. What else will they find out?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Obama Revelation

It looks innocuous enough, I suppose, but the expression and the eyes are like something creepy out of an Angel episode—especially in their contrast with the jovial love-of-the-masses-and-the-media look that we have fed into our living rooms, even in Australia, on a daily basis.

Associated Press