Friday, December 12, 2008

Were You On Any of These Flights?

The Zurich School of Applied Sciences has been playing with airplane flights and mapping them. The resulting animation below shows every flight in the world over 24 hours...condensed to 72 seconds.

The patterns are interesting. You can see flight frequency decrease at night...the eastbound red eye flights. Many of the international routes are also clearly visible.

Not very practical, but pretty cool I thought.

Do You Enjoy The Holidays?

I run hot and cold on this. There are aspects that I like. And there are aspects that I dread. I more or less walked away from religion as a young man. My family was small, but I married into a larger one that had strong Christmas traditions concerning family gatherings. I’m not very social, but they drank pretty heavily, so I didn’t mind as long as I could get drunk. After my marriage was kaput and I finally sobered up, the holidays were a kind of hollow time. At some point, I made a decision to “take back” Christmas and get into the spirit of it. Admittedly, it appears to be only the secular spirit, but I may be a little more spiritual than you think.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Magazine Ads from the 30's thru the 60"s

I'm sure the medical profession agrees with most of these today....ya right!

I'm falling apart!! Can I hibernate now??? Please???

Gee, it just keeps getting better!
1st the eyes went thanks to many years on high dose prednisone.
Double cataract surgery by age 36.
Eyes go bonkers again, under care of Froedtert and
wear a contact besides my glasses...
OK, I can see, this isn't so bad.

Then I got the boot. Remember the boot?
Heel spur surgery in October. That's all better now :)
Today, I got a new foot brace, for the OTHER foot...
I am part of a 10% 'elite' group of oddballs that have
a spare, small bone in the side of my foot.
I made mine mad and it's causing the tendon to be really ticked off.
I'm hobbling again. My asthma, thanks to the cold, is bad again...
and my mind is turning to mush with the early hours I get up...

Calgon take me away!!

(or at least somebody shoot me with a strong
tranquilizer dart and wake me in the spring!!)

Here is a new kind of open blog,
vent, whine, do whatever it takes
to make yourself feel better to end the week well!!

(I know, unconventional way to get ready for the weekend -
quite IRREGULAR I do believe!!)

Prop 8: The Musical

Can't resist posting this one...

My, What a Big Moon We Have

Friday the 12th not only marks the last full Moon of 2008, but also the largest and brightest. The Moon's orbit around the Earth isn't a perfect circle, but rather an ellipse. It's distance from the Earth varies by about 30,000 miles from its closest approach to farthest point in its orbit. That's about 14%, so the Moon does look a little bit larger when it is closer to the Earth. The image below from the NASA press release illustrates this nicely.
The two images were taken with the same camera and same magnification. Therefore, the difference in sizes is due to the Moon's distance!

In reality, it is kind of hard to see the difference without a camera. The problem is that there just isn't much in the sky to compare the size of the Moon to. And even though the Moon appears larger in the sky than almost any other object, it still is only about half the size of your pinky at arms length (try it if you don't believe me!) Seeing a 14% change in an object that size is not easy to do with the naked eye.

However, you can do it with many off the shelf digital cameras. Take a picture of the full Moon tomorrow night. Take another picture in a few months and compare them (be sure to use the same zoom setting!) and you should be able to see the difference.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Obama Nominates a NOBEL PRIZE WINNING SCIENTIST for the Secreatry of Energy

Reports are the Obama will nominate Nobel Prize Winning physicist Steven Chu to be Secretary of Energy. Chu is currently the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, a large Department of Energy lab that is a leader in alternative energy.

I mean, wow! What a change from the indifference (at best) to the hostility (at worst) toward sciecne we have had for the last 8 years. His scientific creds are impeccable...he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 which is about as high of a science award as they get. He also knows his energy from solar to wind to clean coal to nuclear and yes, even oil, and has written about the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Some are criticizing his lack of political experience. Running a huge lab with thousands of international collaborators definitely involves managing politics! In his position, he works with national governments around the world coordinating research projects. It may not be the traditional Washington experience, but he definitely knows something about politics (and I find it odd that the same people who criticized Obama for naming too many people who served with Clinton also criticize the first time he names a true Washington outsider, but that's another story!)

I am sure he has to learn a little about Washington politics and hope he gets a couple of seaoned assistants to help him out. At least no one will need to talk down to him when explaining the science!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst Blog.

Bailout of Detroit

While congress is debating the bailout of Detroit, consider this video!

I couldn't resist adding this "Ad".................

It's hard to read, this is what the caption on the bottom says........

You probably thought it was smart to buy a foreign import of superior quality, with better mileage and resale value. Maybe you even thought that years of market share loss might prod us into rethinking our process and redesigning our products with better quality in mind. But you forgot one thing; We spend a shitload of money on lobbyist. So now you’re out $25 billion, plus the cost of your Subaru. Maybe nest time you’ll buy American like a real man. Either way, we’re cool.

We're the Big Three. We don't need to compete.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

For Cyndi

For Cyndi, my in-kind deadhead sister (you and I most likely passed each other at AV in the 80's and at the reunion in 2003): Fire on the Mountain, Radio City, 10/31/80. My 2nd favorite Fire after Dick Picks 18, disk three. Have you ever checked out the GD archive? Tons of uploaded taped shows, some you can even download, all free and legal and stuff.

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my turtle doves! Sneezin’s Greetings. May the spirit of Christmas warm the cockles of your hearts.

This week’s column starts with an email from the splendiferous kkdither, who writes:

Best wishes Mme...

I have recently run into some slimy charlatans with highly questionable (criminal) business practices. Do you ever dabble on the dark side? Can you share some incantations or recipes for a brew to counter or retaliate their evil assaults?

Your humble follower,

Dear Ms. kk, it would be indelicate of me to admit publicly to such shenanigans, but I can assure you that I am not completely unfamiliar with the less savory aspects of my calling. I am emailing you a current price list of the curses, hexes, and jinxes that I offer. Please note my holiday special: buy 2 curses, or 2 hexes, or one of each, and receive a free jinx. Limit one free jinx per customer, please.

For those of you more inclined toward traditional methods of retaliation, I can suggest a few websites. Try for all sorts of ideas. There is a and a, too. And for the absolute bottom of the barrel, there is Ewww!

Our second message today comes from Avenging Angel, who writes:

Dear Madame,

What's on your Christmas wish list this season?


Dear Mr. AA, thank you so much for inquiring. How thoughtful of you. Just for that, I’m going to have a little chat with my friend Mr. Claus about you.

Like everyone else, I can think of more than a few things that I would like to have, but the fact is that I lack none of the necessities of life. With the hard economic times that have befallen us, though, there are others who can no longer make that claim. My Christmas wish this year is for blessings upon all those who have lost their livelihoods through no fault of their own. May the spirit of the season carry them into a new year filled with opportunity and hope.

Finally, my ex landed a spot in a commercial. Of course, he gives the wrong advice, just like in real life...

Don't forget to keep those cards and letters coming to:

See you next week, sweethearts. Esperanto!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Im in a jam band kind of mood

One thing I am looking forward to in 2009 is the reunion of Phish. Us dead heads think of Phish as the little brother to the Grateful Dead, and I for one will be heading to "the Valley" to see this show. If only I could go back to the 82-89 Dead shows at Alpine and do them again... Less beer and mother nature and more surroundings and people watching. Ahhh to be young again...

Anyway, please enjoy for your mellowing, jamming, spin dancing late night pleasure: Slave To the Traffic Light, by Phish.

Friday Nights Lost Video - Tuesday Christmas Song Edition

IF you guys dont mind, I would like to pull out some "different" Christmas songs in the veins of the Friday Video segment, starting with this one.

The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

The song is as much about a harried lifestyle and trying to make connections as it is about Christmas.

As talk-sung - almost rapped - by late lead singer Patty Donahue, this song depicts a hard-working single girl who resolves to sit Christmas out one year. This, as she laments her repeated and unsuccessful attempts to reconnect with a guy she met by chance the previous winter. But just as in A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life, a twist of fate and a little magical intervention restore our heroine's belief in the Christmas spirit, after all.

There is not an official video for this 1981 classic, but someone more savy than me pieced this together with some anime, and made it pretty cool. Enjoy!

Blago's song

I just thought of this, sung to the tune of that old song "King of the Road":

Senate seat: Sale or Rent
How about you, Fifty Cent?
No, it goes to Jackson Jr.
Gimme the dough!

Got to get my monee
It is worth it, Don't you see?
Don't you want to be in Congress?
Gimme the dough!

I'm the Gov of Illinois
Let me tell ya what's in store
I'll be gone for quite a long time
I took the dough!

I know I've been absent, but I have a real good reason

Even though Im not posting as much (And yes, the Friday video's are coming back this week!) There is a good reason:
Press Release

Sturtevant resident Chris Larsen, is running to be your voice on the Sturtevant village board.

Sturtevant is a growing and vibrant community that is trying to maintain it’s small town feel while competing in the 21st century. My goal is to make sure that happens. We need to ensure that Sturtevant will remain a destination for business and job growth while preserving the neighborhood feel one gets walking the village, or attending a festival.

People here have strong feelings and long planted roots. In talking to people around the village, they expressed that the village needs to keep taxes as low as possible while providing the services they have come to expect. They also expressed that Sturtevant needs to remain an independent village. They don’t want us to become Racine west, or an extension of Mt. Pleasant.

While I have only been a village resident since 2005, I have fully immersed myself in the history of our village, and will use that history to shape the future of Sturtevant.

There are challenges forthcoming in the next two years and I pledge to listen to the people of Sturtevant and make decisions based on what is best for the future of the village. I want to offer new ideas for addressing the issues Sturtevant faces. My vision for Sturtevant is to be a place where you would want to raise a family and a place that is attractive to new business of all sizes. I am very excited about the opportunity to serve the citizens, residents, taxpayers, businesses, and employees of our community. I would appreciate your support on April 7, 2009 and am asking for your vote.

Please stay tuned to for campaign updates.

So I figured it's time to be part of the solution (or is it part of the problem?!?) and serve. This should be interesting! Im open to any ideas (or donations!) you guys have.

It's About Time!

From Chicago today:

All I can say is, "About damn time!" It's too bad businesses in Illinois have had to put up with this weasel at all. As someone close to me said today, "Dude is more corrupt than Tom Delay, Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, and Michael Mcgee combined." I don't know that anyone could be MORE corrupt than McGee alone, but I do know that what Blago has done with his "powers" are sickening. It's a real shame when an elected official represents his people in this manner.

I can hardly wait until the day that the headlines in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel read, "Doyle Dumped".

*This just in, looks like Mrs. Blago may not be too far behind her hubby.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remembering John Lennon

Twenty-Eight years ago today passed away one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known,John Lennon. We all know John for being an accomplished singer,songwriter,and musician. He also tried to bring peace into this world. I loved his music with the Beatles as well as his solo career. He may be gone,but his words and music are not forgotten. Here's one of my favorites...Imagine. Enjoy!

This is Your Brain...The is Your Brain on "Brain Steroids"

We all know about well know sports figures being busted for taking performance enhancing drugs. But what about the college kid who scores some Ritalin to help him do better on a big test?

Right now it is illegal, of course. You are not (legally) allowed to take these drugs without a doctor's prescription. Some substances, such as caffeine are legal and we know that students routinely have very high blood caffeine content!

Yesterday in the journal Nature, a team led by Henry Greely of the Stanford Law School published a piece titled, "Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy". Their thesis is that we can and should responsibly use drugs with low risks to side effects to improve our mental abilities.

The drugs just reviewed, along with newer technologies such as brain stimulation and prosthetic brain chips, should be viewed in the same general category as education, good health habits, and information technology — ways that our uniquely innovative species tries to improve itself."

You can read all their arguments. They reject arguments against congnitive enhancement as long as the drugs pass muster on the safety side.

I have mixed feelings on this one. We are looking at using drugs in normal healthy people. Frequently drugs can obtain FDA approval and end up having undesirable long term side effects that don't show up in the approval process. If the drugs are used to treat a debilitating disease, the risk of the side effects may justify the use of the drugs. Can the same be said in healthy individuals looking for a little extra advantage?

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

"Train death triggered insensitive comments"

From the Journal Times:

"Earlier this week The Journal Times covered the tragic suicide death of Benjamin Scharding, a Prairie School sophomore who was hit by a train near his home. The story was posted to our web site and over the next three days drew several dozen comments. Some of the comments offered condolences to the family and friends and had kind words to say about Ben and his talents. But many comments were insensitive to Ben’s memory, his family and his classmates. Our editors deleted several comments from the web site, but comments in that vein continued and we began reviewing whether the story and comments should remain up on our web site.

"On Friday morning We removed the comments from our web site and we are sorry that we did not do it sooner. We apologize to Ben’s family and classmates for allowing some of the coarse and insensitive comments."

The above was in yesterday's print edition of the Journal Times, but I didn't see it until this morning. I saw the story on the suicide last week and read it, but didn't read the comments. I mean, what's there to say?

After reading the above, I checked the Journal Times blog section (it has changed) to see if anything was posted on the subject. I found the following, apparently posted by another reader/commenter: What I still don't see, though, is any attempt by the Journal Times to communicate with its bloggers. Why don't they just ask people why they leave rude and insensitive comments? They just might learn something. Instead, they continue with the wizard-behind-the-curtain act, issuing proclamations and denunciations like they exist in some sort of bubble above the fray of day-to-day life in Racine. Indeed, that's been their problem all along.

I'm not making excuses for cowardly comments left on a story about a tragedy. But if the Journal Times is going to continue to allow comments on their website, they are going to have to deal with the web's fundamental and fierce democracy - some might even call it anarchy. I know it's not pretty; reality often isn't. However, I'd much rather deal with reality than fog my brain with a dream world of the Journal Times' making. I live and breathe in the real Racine, Wisconsin, not Lee Enterprises' version of it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are Your Kids "Hacking" Google?

If you have a child under 18, the answer almost certainly is yes from a legal standpoint.

Okay, let me back up for a minute. Longtime readers know that I am an NPR junkie. I was listening to the NPR show On the Media today. They covered the recent Lori Drew trial. Lori Drew is better known at the Myspace Mom who created a fake profile, communicated with a 13 year old girl, sent a nasty break up message leading the girl to commit suicide. Drew was recently convicted of three counts...of illegally accessing a computer...i.e. hacking. The prosecution's case rested on the fact that she violated Myspace's terms of service, therefore, she "hacked" the system.

How many people read terms of service? Google's terms of service state that you may not use the service if you are not of legal age to enter into a contract (18 in most states....see section 2.3). So if you want to play it safe, better keep your kids from using Google and we had better block it from schools since almost all students (save some seniors) are under 18.

Just for giggles, I decided to check out the JT's terms of service. Go ahead and read them to see how well they are enforced. Oh, and did you know that they claim intellectual property rights over everything posted there? They also prohibit reposting of copyrighted works (also known as the great cut and paste of articles) and you also may not "Use the Site to upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available content that is harmful to minors in any way, or that is harassing, harmful , threatening, abusive, vulgar, obscene, defamatory, libelous, hateful , or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable. "

In other words, a zealous prosecutor could have a field day going into those forums and charging people left and right with hacking! This strategy is becoming more common and could very easily be abused. I could put all kinds of ridiculous items in terms of service and then go after anyone I didn't like who violated them!

This is not a defense of Lori Drew at all...but I bet the legal theory she was convicted with could be used against virtually ANY internet user on the planet.

Rockin' Christmas Song

Who wouldv'e thunk Lynyrd Skynyrd made Christmas music? This song rocks! Enjoy!

Dizz Knee Land

This song has been in my head for last few days. The song,it seems,the sign of the times. Big companys getting bailed out by the goverment,people who are not taking responsibility for their actions, and then putting the blame on others.
This song is done by the band called da da. It can be found on their 1992 release,Puzzle. This is their website.
"I'm getting bailed out again,I'm going to Dizz Knee Land" Enjoy!