Saturday, May 9, 2009
Dang, dang, dang.
May 7, 2009 | Issue 45•19
TUCSON, AZ—Officials at the Kitt Peak National Observatory are saying that, while the short period of utter darkness and intense cold was distressing, there is "no immediate cause for alarm" over the sun's six-second outage Monday. "We're not sure what caused our sun, which is in essence a self-sustaining fusion reaction, to defy science and just go out for a moment like that, but I wouldn't worry too much," astronomer Stephen Pompea said. "There is a slight chance it could repeat, like sunspot activity, a more common—whup! There it goes again. You seeing this? Kind of weird how it—okay, back on." Observatory personnel said they would give their full attention to investigating the phenomenon as soon as they figure out why last night's moon was blood red and took up half the sky.
For the record, Stephen Pompea is a real person who works in my department...someone at the Onion must know him!
Friday, May 8, 2009
h/t Racine Post
So it was with great interest that I saw the Wall Street Journal challenged 10 College Presidents to write an admissions essay that met the guidelines for their colleges. You can read all their essays (look for the links on the left side of the page). Looking at the list of colleges (one of which I attended...bonus points if you can guess which one...I may have mentioned it on the blog before...two others were on my short list) is a who's who of small liberal arts colleges around the country. These colleges tend to place a heavier emphasis on the essays as they get a smaller number of applicants than the larger universities.
I remember applying to college and writing a couple of essays. I put them off until the last minute of course. I only applied to two colleges (the thought I should apply to safety schools in case I didn't get admitted never occurred to me...I just assumed I would be admitted wherever I applied...you can call it egotistical, naieve, or both). I had just done an illusion called Metamorphosis at our school's Swing Show so I tossed off a couple of pages on illusions (without revealing secrets, of course!)
So what's your experience with college essays...either yours or, if you have been through it with your children?
I see yesterday the thieving bastards raise gas 10 cent per gallon again. I think in the past week it has gone up over 20 cents.
I’m guessing it is going to hit $3.50 by Memorial Day.
Racine Gas Prices
Note: At the top of the page, type in Racine, WI to get the local prices.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I'm a strong space exploration advocate, but I have real problems with using NASA as an excuse to continue building our weapons grade stockpiles.
So my friends, what memory of music you have? Was it the song that you heard on the radio at a special moment? Please tell.
This is one of my favorite tunes that I rocked out to back then...
Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.
The above map comes from The Pop vs. Soda Page at http://popvssoda.com:2998/. On their site, the map is interactive.
I was reminded of this "controversy" recently when a woman on another site said she could tell I was from the north because I called pop soda. If you look at the map above, though, you can see that just south of the Illinois border they call it pop. It's pop in Chicago, hardly a southern city. Anyway, in the real south, they call it coke. So go figure.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
With the changes taking place in the US and world economy, having a scientifically and technically literate workforce is growing in importance all the time. It seems we get a lot of studies coming out showing how low US students score in math and science which begs the question, what price do we pay for our low achievement?
Although it has been out a while, I just had someone forward to me a link to a report by McKinsey & Compay on the cost to the US economy of our failure to educate students in science and math. You can download the report as well as lots of supporting graphs and charts. They explore lots of different topics, but the big, bottom line stat is
"If the United States had in recent years closed the gap between its educational achievement levels and those of better-performing nations such as Finland and Korea, GDP in 2008 could have been $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion higher. This represents 9 to 16 percent of GDP."
Even the lower end of that estimate is a LOT of economic activity we are missing out on and drives home the importance of math and science education.
The problems with our education system are many and varied and don't have a single silver bullet solution. Other sections of the report look at differences in achievments in different ethnic groups and students of different income levels in the US illustrating the scope of the problem.
I haven't been able to find a lot of info on McKinsey & Company outside of their Wikipedia page...if anyone knows more about them, please feel free to post a comment.Even if their estimates are off a factor of 10, we are still talking about hundreds of billions of dollars per year. As the old saying goes, You think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.
No, the children were not misbehaving. The guards even got permission from the parents for the demonstrations! Are the parents either that sadistic or that clueless about what these stun guns do? They are designed to bring down large unruly prisoners. At least one parent who was not present is suing (they parents are separated and the parent who was not present filed the lawsuit).
Stories like this make me wonder what hookers, drug dealers, and mafia bosses do on Take Out Sons and Daughters to Work Day.
The Racine Post's brief coverage of the story is here: http://news.racinepost.com/2009/05/racine-police-officer-arrested.html
I hope this story isn't true, but I doubt that Mr. Dooley would post it if it wasn't. The Post confirms that an officer has been arrested.
Congratulations to Racine Mayor-elect John Dickert. Good luck, Mr. Dickert. I predict big things for you. Very big things.
I had an unpleasant start to this week, and have been recuperating after a brief illness. No, it wasn’t the swine flu, or H1N1, or whatever that horrid bug is. Unfortunately, I’ve been too ill to prepare much of a blog. There were no urgent emails this week. The rest is a blur of toilet paper and yucking it up with Uncle Orky. In any case, I’m cutting short my usual prognostications and banter in order to further rest my ravaged body and soul. Even a psychic can get sick when she doesn’t take care of herself. Sometimes, you know, that’s the hardest thing to do: taking care of yourself. Somehow, I’m going to find the time to take care of me, even if I have to give up some of those $400 an hour sessions with members of the local judiciary. There’s no way, though, I’m cutting into the $650 an hour I get from the feds.
Don’t forget to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please make sure to get out and enjoy the season. This is my favorite time of year. My blessings are upon you until next week, my dears.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
When people come into your life, it is for a reason. I know that to be a fact. Thanks for being my friends and thanks for letting me disagree with your opinions, but still respecting my opinion. This what friendship is about.
Yeah, I know I am a sentimental sap...what you see is what you get. Will I ever change? Nah, you guys are stuck with me the way I am. And, I know the same way you will always be there for me, I will be there for you.
As some of you may be aware, Astronomy Day was last Saturday. After reading Hale's blog, my son and I decided to take advantage of this event and go to the Modine-Benstead Observatory in Yorkville. We had a great time. My son was AMAZED! We saw up close view of the moon on the telescope in the main building. (see top pic) In the other dome, we saw Saturn and it's glorious rings, through the telescope in the second pic. There were many amateur astronomers outside with telescopes of many different sizes and shapes! All open for viewing.
SNOHOMISH, Wash. – The Snohomish City Council may decide Tuesday night to trim the budget by laying off a member of the police force — Dixie the drug-sniffing dog. Dixie finds drugs and money for the reward of playing with a chew toy, but the 7-year-old shepherd-collie mix costs about $16,000 a year in vet care, food, grooming, kennel and training costs.
The Everett Herald reported Snohomish plans to keep its other police dog, Kizar. The German shepherd is needed to track criminals and is a younger dog.
Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com
I live in District 1, Ward 1. I voted at 11:30 this morning and I was only the 22nd voter. A poll worker assured me that was a good showing thus far for our district and ward. I know that more people vote during lunch and especially after work, but I'm still smarting from the poor turnout for the primary and I suspect we won't beat 20% participation this time.
Just so you all know, if this kind of crappy showing at the polls is going to be how it is in Racine, then I'm going to continue with my crappy carping, complaining, and criticizing of everything and anything. Not only is that a threat, it's a promise. If you don't care enough to vote for whomever is supposed to lead us for the next two years, then you'll just have to tolerate the usual onslaught of gibberish from me, too.
Ha! Party on.
Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'
You just can't please some people!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Why is this such a smokers paradise? The provincial government, in an effort to buck up its economy, has ordered its local officials to smoke more (including teachers) and even imposed quotas on how much they have to smoke! The bad news is you have to smoke the prescribed brand of cigarettes so you might not be happy if you can't get your usual Marlboros.
And, in a turnabout of the dreaded PC police in this country, they have established a special taskforce to enforce their new cigarette quotas. The bad influence state (as opposed to the nanny state) is on the rise!
On March 20th, a young man named Victor (a friend of mine's son) wife (Carolyn) felt a little dizzy during an anniversary dinner with friends. She deteriorated rapidly and was taken to a hospital. She was diagnosed with a stroke. Over the next few weeks, her status roller coastered between critical and improving. She passed away on April 29th.
So, in a month's time, they went from celebrating their third wedding anniversary to this.
Each of us are a breath away. I try to live EVERY day to its fullest. My prayers are with my friends, and I pray that Victor finds comfort in the knowing his friends and family are with him in his time of need.
From The Times of London
Oops! Pirates Captured After Threatening Wrong Ship
Monday, May 04, 2009
From a distance the large ship on the horizon looked like the perfect target, ripe for a successful spot of piracy.
But as Somali pirates sped toward the vessel sailing near the Seychelles Islands on Sunday, they were horrified to see two boats and a helicopter set off from their target and launch their own counter-attack.
They had failed to spot iin the dazzling sun, that the "merchant ship" they thought they were intercepting was actually a French naval ship bristling with cannons, radar technology and armed commandos.
When the three pirate boats were spotted heading toward them the frigate Nivose, one of the ships patrolling the region as part of the European Union anti-piracy mission Atalanta, headed into the sun to camouflage its true identity before turning to confront its attackers.
When the boats were close enough, Lt. Commander Jean-Marc le Quilliec sent his commandos out on outboards, with a helicopter to provide air support.
The helicopter fired two warning shots to stop the three boats from fleeing and within minutes the 11 pirates had surrendered.
Two of the attack boats were small skiffs which the pirates used as attack vessels and the third was a 30-foot mothership, used to transport supplies such as petrol, water and food.
Only one pirate was left on board the mother ship which had nothing on board except fuel and potates, according to Lt. Commander le Quilliec.
"He apparently thought the pirates had hijacked us," he said.
Of course they had to interview one of the "We are going to be destroyed by black hole" whack jobs who claims there is a 50% chance it will create a black hole that destroys the Earth.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Large Hadron Collider|
By his logic, there is a 50% chance I will die from the swine flu...after all, I will either live or die. That's a 50% chance, right?
There's a car being towed from the parking lot,' he shouted.'
An ambulance just drove by!
''Looks like the Andersons have company,' he called out.
'Matt's riding a new bike!'
'Looks like the Sanders are moving!'
'Jason is on his skate board!'
After a few moments he announced,
'The Coopers are having sex!!'
Startled, his mother and dad shot up in bed! Dad cautiously called out, 'How do you know they are having sex?''
Jimmy Cooper is standing on his balcony with aPopsicle.'
Star Wars is one of my guilty pleasures. For a long time I was reading the pulp paperbacks...I want to get back into them and catch up if I can find some free time. The Timothy Zhan books and the Kevin Anderson ones were my favorites.
One thing that bugged me was how they always seemed to be fighting such superior well organized and armed foes that you wonder how the rebels (and later the Republic) always won. I really like the book Darksaber (a Kevin Anderson book) where they finally got to fight a totally incompetent enemy who pretty much blew himself up...it was a fun change from the usual narrative (and a cautionary tale about outsourcing your weapons production!)
To celebrate Star Wars Day, I am going to give you two of the best Star Wars parodies. First, the classic Hardware Wars from the 1970s.
Next, the first episode of Chad Vader, which follows the adventures of Darth Vader's younger, less fearsome brother, Chad, who is a manager at a supermarket.
Abby, We know Beejay can relate to this one!!!!!
This is how it works:
You go to the pub, buy a beer and attach the receipt on the pin
To check the time simply read it from the receipt
To adjust the watch, buy a new beer and it will be showing the correct time again.
I've stated elsewhere that I believe that the residents of Racine have already lost this election. The two official choices are liar/thief Number 1 and liar/thief Number 2. Both of their current positions call for quick-witted lying on the spot, so I'm sure that either one will fit in comfortably with Racine's current crew of alderliars and thieves.
What has been bugging the hell out of me recently is the above still of Mayor Mini Me and Governor Doofuss stuck on the main page of http://www.journaltimes.com/. Their smug faces remind me of the Beckerphile whenever I click on that page; that taunting stare that says, "We screwed you, we are screwing you, and we will continue to screw you."
After tomorrow, Mayor Mini Me will be no more and he can go back to facilitating the public rehabilitation of the Beckerphile. I'm sure that before this saga is over, we will have a statue of the Beckerphile atop the monument in Monument Square, perhaps with the likeness of Mayor Mini Me below standing guard before his trusted friend and confidant.
X-MEN ORIGINS/WOLVERINE...........with HUGH JACKMAN.
What A stud this guy is, This movie had scenes of him naked and all I can say is WOW.
The movie and the plot left me thinking WHY THE HELL DID I WATCH THIS AGAIN?
The movie started off slow but found it's way into a lot of action. Most of it predictable. Even my 7 year old was saying what he thought would happen next, and it did! Over all this was and action packed film and I think you action junkies will love this one. Unfortunately the ending left me thinking they may want to do ANOTHER MOVIE (I hope not). MY favorite line from the movie was "They finally figured out how to shut you up huh"
I'll give this film 1 and 1/2 glasses of wine.
TAKEN.............with LIAM NEESON
This movie had us all on the edge of our seats. We where all saying "what the hell was that"......"why did he do that"........"who was that"......the movie all just happened to fast, I was looking for the rewind A LOT. Liam was a die hard in this movie. I didn't care much for the end. This movie just left me tired and with too many unanswered questions. I'll definitely buy the DVD so I can play back some of it. I know it sounds like I didn't like this one but I did. When you wake up the next day still thinking about it you know it was good. It proved to me how sheltered and blind some of us are to the real world around us. I'm glad to be an American. My favorite line from the movie was" Read this card for me......."Good luck"..........
I'd give this one 4 glasses of wine!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
It sat there largely unnoticed until last week when it was pulled after complaints about the content including images of the planes flying into the WTC. Sometimes I wonder if these things disturb the kids or the adults.
Fortunately, other web sites have copied and made available the pdf of A Scary Thing Happened so it will live on.