Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pavement Picasso

Julian Beever is an English artist who's famous for his anamorphic art on the pavements of England, France, Germany, USA, Australia and Belgium. Beever gives an amazing illusion to his drawings, so that the objects appear to be three dimensional rather than flat as they actually are.
"My art is for anybody, it's for people who wouldn't go into an art gallery. It's art for the people."

"Art shouldn't be locked away in galleries and libraries and books. Art should be for everybody and not just art buffs, historians and so-called experts."

More photos at Side walk Art

Porn in the U.S.A.

I think it's time to spice things up here...a new study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives shows that states that are more conservative and religious also have higher rates of consumption of internet pornography (or at least are more likely to pay for it since the study is based on anonymous credit card receipts...guess liberals use Youporn or Xtube). Eight of the top 10 states for internet porn cast their lot with McCain in the 2008 election in terms of most subscriptions to porn sites among broadband internet users. Utah, Alaska and Missisippi come in as the top three (Hawaii is #4, so Obama girl must be active as well).

I will give a little creidt where it is due...they study also found that less online porn was consumed on Sundays, but people made up for it the rest of the week.

As for Wisconsin, they only listed the top 10 and bottom 10 and the Badger State made neither.

Guess it's true that The Internet is for Porn.

Just Another Beautiful Evening

Just a nice evening was too cloudy to see Venus during the day, but was clearing around sunset.

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Old One Returns

Remember this one...move the red square without getting hit?

Another of the great time wasters........

“Red Square Game”

Another Good Chance to See Venus During the Day

I blogged this last month and the Moon is back serving as a useful pointer to find Venus during the day. You will need to wait until the Sun is high in the sky (Venus doens't rise until well after the Sun). The Moon is a thin three day old crescent which can be challenging to find in the day, but be patient. The Moon will be west of the Sun. Once you find the crescent Moon look slightly above and to the left of the Moon (for northern hemisphere observers) to find Venus. The chart below (click to embiggen) was made for Tucson, Arizon at 1:00pm local time.


Venus will be slightly to the west of the Moon at 1:00pm, but the Moon moves about one Moon diameter per hour, so their relaive position may change depending on your time zone and what time you look (you can use Stellarium to make your own chart for your specific time and location).

Now a few tips. It is helpful if you can stand in a place where a building blocks the Sun from your view. Venus is best viewed when it hits the fovea, the most sensitive part in the center of your retina where we have the sharpest vision. Slowly scan around the Moon and have patience. Once you find it, you will be surprised you have never noticed it before.

With a little persistence, you can even photograph Venus during the day as Obrs showed us last month. I am at a meeting in Phoenix tomorrow, but am taking my camera and hope to give it a shot over lunch!

The Moon will be moving well to the west of Venus tomorrow. However, it is still possible to find Venus using the Moon as a guide...I will leave this challenge to you!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst Blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rock and Roll Revival

Welcome back,everybody! This week's blog features The Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, a boogie jam band hailed from Nashville, Tennesse. They came into the music scene in 1994 with their self titled debut and released three more albums before going on haitus in 2002. To me what so usual about the band is it's name. I know, a name is a name,but can anybody come up with an irregular name for a rock band? It can be real or imaginary.

Comet Lulin Observing Report and Update

Well, it was finally nice and clear here in Tucson. I drove out to Saguaro National Park east (at the end of Speedway for those of you who know Tucson). Comet Lulin was visible naked eye as a small splotch. And here is a photo with Lulin outlined (click to ebmiggen).


That is a reasonable approximation of how easy it is to see from a reasonable dark site. You can see it, but it doesn't jump out at you. I caught a plane as you can see (the streak toward the bottom of the picture).

Through my 20x80 binoculars on the other hand, WOW! The tail was very prominent and covered just under half the field of view (probably about 1.6 degrees roughly or a little over three times the size of the full Moon). Very nice view from a dark site.

There are still a few good chances to see it. You can find a finder chart at Sky and Telescope. Lulin is heading toward a close conjunction with Regulus on Friday night (the bright star almost directly above it in my picture). By Sunday night, the Moon starts to brighten the sky and will make observing difficult, so take advantage of the next few days.

Binoculars are enough to pick out the comet, but be sure to get as far away from bright lights as you can for the best view. It was definitely worth it tonight!

And one other thing I should point out is that Lulin is on a hyperbolic orbit. If you remember your high school math, hyperbolas never return to the same point twice...Lulin is making its one and only trip through the inner solar system. I am happy I was able to spend a little quality time with Lulin tonight.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drunk Guy Confuses Pants With His Shirt

Ever have one of those days?

The Galileoscope is Coming!

The Galileoscope is coming! This is a cornerstone project for the International Year of Astronomy (and, in the interest of disclosure, one I work on). The Galileoscope is a small, low cost, high optical quality telescope that anyone can build and recreate many of Galileo's famous observations. You can see craters on the Moon, the phases of Venus, the Galilean Moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.

The telescope has a 50mm achromat lens with a 20mm eyepiece yielding a magnification of 25x and a nice big 1.5 degree field of view. A supplied 2x barlow lens can bump the magnification fo 50x. As an added bonus, you can use the Barlow lens as an eyepiece to construct a true Galilean telescope and see what Galileo had to work with (Galileo used a diverging lens for his eyepiece which is not the ideal configuration...and you can see why!) Or you can insert your own eyepiece as the holder accepts any standard 1.25" eyepeice. The included nut allows you to mount the telescope on any standard camera tripod. I posted a previous blog entry on my attempts at imaging with a Galileoscope.

The assembly is simple and requires no tools. The telescope can be put together and taken apart easily multiple times.

There are free educational materials available on the web site covering how telescopes work as well as how to osberve with the Galileoscope.

The Galileoscopes cost $15 plus shipping ($12.50 each if you order 100 or more, say for a school, astronomy club, or just get everyone on the block together to order them). I have been talking to a lot of people at meetings and there are some college professors who are making this a madatory item for their students in the fall.

When you order a Galileoscope, you have the option to donate one or more to underserved students around the world.

And there are a couple of Racine connections. Professor Doug Arion of Carthage College has been heavily involved in the design and the manufacturing partner is Merit Models of Racine.

Sorry if this sounds like a commercial. A lot of people have worked hard and put a lot of time into its development and I want to see a LOT of Galieoscopes out there!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

From the "Just When You Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Weirder" Dept...

Octuplets mother offered $1M porn contract

"The Southern California mother of octuplets is being offered $1 million to star in hardcore porn.

"Vivid Entertainment spokeswoman Jackie Martin says the offer also promises a year of health insurance for Nadya Suleman and her 14 children."

Sometimes I'm ashamed of just being a member of the human race....

Australia's Gary Becker

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my cherry blossoms! How are you? Less than a week and March is already here. Can spring be far behind? Like many of you, I like to dig in the soil, too. It’s just that I prefer to do it at night.

Another candidate has thrown her hat into the ring for Racine’s mayor. And quite a circus ring it has become. In light of this information, and the barrage of misinformation that the other candidates will unleash on the unsuspecting public, I have decided to devote more of my blogging to my campaign for mayor.

First, to answer the obvious question, no, I do not believe that voting rights should be denied to those receiving public assistance. I am a strong believer in one man or woman, one vote. I also believe in one animal, one vote. They have to live here, too. And maybe one child, one half vote, but I’m not sure yet. I could work on that during my first term in office.

Second, I’d like to address the question of development in Racine, and whether I am for or against more development locally, and what kind of development I am for or against. To which my resounding response is: of course!

Third: crime. Fourth: against it.

Fifth, taxes, taxes, taxes. Whenever anyone raises the topic of taxes, I say, “No thanks, I’ve had enough.” I strongly believe that the city should use whatever resources it has at its disposal to generate revenue. Why haven’t we been selling bottled Racine Purified Water® all these years? ("Straight from the 'bubbler!'") Why doesn’t the city have its own lottery? Why don’t we have a floating casino in the harbor? That would get the marina and downtown hopping. Why aren’t there video poker machines in City Hall? Why doesn’t the city open its own payday loan stores, muscling the undesirables out of business? Why? Why? Why?

Sixth, education. No thanks, I’ve had enough.

Seventh, jobs, jobs, jobs. Please see my answer to Fifth, taxes, taxes, taxes.

Eighth, moral fortitude. I am Madame Zoltar, the blood that runs in my veins is semi-royal, and thus my character is almost above reproach.

Ninth, vision. Yes, daily, many.

Finally, tenth, where do I see myself 5 years from now? Ha, wouldn’t you like to know? I’ll tell you for 5 bucks.

Don’t forget to email your thoughts on the issues of the day as well as your personal quagmires to:

It is so wonderful to blog with you all again. I do love being a member of this site. Thank you for making me feel at home. I have made my personal blessing an extra added benefit of membership in the JT Irregulars. This is a limited time offer. Void where prohibited.

See you later, alligators.

Feel pretty bad about this

I had the audacity to hope an intelligent president would lead with some sort of... well... intelligence. I'm losing hope that the change I hoped for is going to happen. I don't want a liberal president. I don't want a conservative president. I want a fucking intelligent president that doesn't walk into a asshat machine sometime after he is elected and before he is inaugurated. McCain was supposed to have been Bush with a twist, but I'm thinking that's what we got in the end anyway. The audacity of hope is becoming just that. Something too audacious to believe in.

What kind of asshat puts us a trillion deeper in debt (and no matter which one had won, this would have happened) goes on and says he's going to halve our dependence on others? I think I'm going t0o drop out of reading what's happening. Nothing I say or do or think is going to change a speck of where we are headed.

Well, time for my own little head juke box.

Stuck in the past, but it was a good past.

and I always though it segued well into this song...

Well stop holding that thing and either light up or leave me alone....

And I was looking for Marshall Tucker Band's "Silver Dollar" but settled on just this without that one as an intro.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"World Record" . . . Yeah, World Record for Insanity

I Googled "George Novak," but it's an extremely common name.

Pimp my Computer

If I had to pimp my computer,I'd want it to look something like this-

16 Year-Old "Madames" in Phoenix High School

"Marissa Wingate reports two 16-year-olds are accused of being teenaged madams and luring local high school students into becoming their prostitutes."

Maybe it was a project for Junior Achievement.

Becker Going to Diz Nee Land

"Gary Becker's defense attorney, Pat Cafferty, carried the day Tuesday morning, as Racine's former mayor was given permission to leave the state to attend a six-week residential treatment program for sexual compulsivity."

Celebrity rehab for the perv. Thus, the public reconstruction of Gary Becker begins. If he takes the fast track, he could be re-elected in May.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Have you checked out the chat feature at Racine news?

Joe is there now.. come on in if you are on!

That Special Day in February

If you cook like me, this is good to remember

been tagged?

I got two emails saying some gal has tagged me and I'm supposed to respond. Problem is, I'm bad with names and can't remember ever hearing of tbhis girl. What is tagged, and how did whomever get my good never give it to ANYONE email address?

How to Make Popcorn with Your Computer

I still want a toaster oven in my computer's tower for late night snacking.

Comet Lulin Tonight

Tonight is the best time to see Comet Lulin. It is bright enough to see naked eye from dark sites, but probably not from most suburban backyards. However, even a small pair of binoculars should make it visible from most sites. I have a pair of 8x42 binoculars and have picked it up with them.

Comet Lulin is farther from the Sun than the Earth right fact, its almost opposite in the sky from the Sun. It rises shortly after sunset and is visible most of the night until sunrise. The best time to look is around midnight to 1am local time when it is highest in the sky. As an added bonus, Comet Lulin is near Saturn tonight and visible in the same binocular field! That makes it nice and easy to find...find Saturn (which is bright and you don't need a telsescope to see) and you find Comet Lulin. A finding chart is below.

Start by finding the backwards question mark of Leo. You should then be able to pick out the bright Saturn. Center your binoculars on Saturn, scan slowly southeast if needed, and you should run across the comet!

You can see the comet for the next few days pretty well, but by early next week the Moon will be getting brighter and interfering. The comet is moving rapidly across the sky, so look for upated charts at sites such as Spaceweather. Comet Lulin rapidly moves away from Earth and will dim quickly in early March.

Happy hunting!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Greetings from Spacefest...

I just got back...the hotel internet died Friday night and never worked again. I bring you greetings from a national hero.

High Five Escalator

I love the smiles on peoples' faces.

When I lived in Chicago, I never worked in the Loop but had a few occasions to be present during rush hours. Wow.

And From the "WTF" Dept....

Racine News 2.0

The people at Racine News have revamped their site.

Give them a look:

"$50,000 claim filed over girl's time-out in school"

"A $50,000 legal claim alleges that Greenfield Middle School teachers falsely imprisoned a student when they put her in a time-out room, and that the experience caused the girl to hyperventilate and feel nauseous."

You can buy a lot of Pepto-Bismol for $50K.