Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Jam Wow" featuring Vince Offer (Steve Porter's Sham Wow remix)

OK, tell the truth, who owns a ShamWow, and can you live without it?

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast #2

Yep, I am on there again today. Today I play second banana to my friend Connie Walker chatting about dark skies. She was head honcho on this one, but you can probably blame me for a couple of cornball jokes in there.

365 Days of Astronomy has a new podcast each day on a different topic. Typical podcasts last around 10 minutes and are free to download and subscribe to with iTunes or whatever your favorite podcast catcher might be. If you haven't subscribed, you should. It's a pretty amazing project when you look at all the people that are volunteering their time and talents to this project.

I don't have any more solo shows (all dates are filled for this year) but might end up collaborating with a couple of other groups on future podcasts. I almost wish I had signed up for another date since I have a few more ideas now!

"Weakland says he didn't know priests' abuse was crime"

“In the early years of the sex abuse scandal in Milwaukee, retired Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland says in his soon-to-be released memoir, he did not comprehend the potential harm to victims or understand that what the priests had done constituted a crime.”

Confronted by a pedo-priest, I was fourteen years old in 1966 and I knew that child molestation was a crime, but an Archbishop of the Catholic Church in the 1990’s did not, right? And he didn’t think it would do any damage to the victims, right? So he reassigned pedo-priests over and over again to prey on the children of the Diocese.

And today he is a free man, publishing his memoirs, honored by the religious community.

This is the type of thing that causes revulsion to well up within me to the point of explosion. It is so sick, so twisted, such an insult to decency and morality, and yet this bag of pus is considered by many to be a “man of God.”

Party on!

Little Boy and a Priest

A little boy got on the bus, sat next to a man reading a book, and noticed he had his collar on backwards.

The little boy asked why he wore his collar backwards.

The man, who was a priest, said, 'I am a Father.'

The little boy replied, 'My Daddy doesn't wear his collar like that.'

The priest looked up from his book and answered, ''I am the Father of many.'

The boy said, ''My Dad has 4 boys, 4 girls and two grandchildren and he doesn't wear his collar that way!'

The priest, getting impatient, said 'I am the Father of hundreds', and went back to reading his book.

The little boy sat quietly thinking for a while, then leaned over and said, 'Maybe you should wear a condom and put your pants on backwards instead of your collar.'

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Racine is Wisconsin's prom capital"

I knew that prom is a big deal in Racine, but I didn't know that others consider us the "prom capital" of Wiscnsin. Today's Journal Sentinel has a story about going to the prom in these tough economic times:

I was a social outcast in high school and didn't go to the prom. I probably consoled myself with a pint of Southern Comfort, sweet elixir of my youth. How about you? What are your memories of the prom?


I'm so glad Danny won. He was my favorite from the beginning. He never seemed to get to mad or fly off the handel like the others. He never really back stabbed any one either. Paula was great too and I think she'll be fine.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Old and brothel, just don't mix










Need a New Contractor?

'Nuff said....

Rock and Roll Revival

Hey everybody, I'm back! I got another memory for you! I remember going Up North listening to my usual classic rock on the radio. My "daughter" , then 15 years old, would complain to me for not keeping up with the times. The truth to the matter is...I am keeping up.

The internet is an amazing place to find new music. Many though the blogs. KK introduced me to My Morning Jacket and Barbara(aka Layla) introduced me to Back Door Slam on her website. So is there any new music, my friends, that you would like to share? And where do you look to find them?

Here's the band I'm raving about, Back Door Slam!


Do Not Abuse Your Computer!


Mr Methane

Mr Methane Britain's Got Talent Show 5 - The funniest bloopers are right here

The worst part is when he clears his "throat."

". . . and everything else is lies.”

I had a talk with Bill, one of my best friends, yesterday. He’s the only practicing Christian that I know. I mean, I’ve met thousands of people who claim to be “Christian,” but Bill is the only person I know who actually lives his life the way that Jesus Christ spoke of in the New Testament. Years ago, a Racine man was dying of cancer. He was in a rehabilitation hospital in Kenosha, but his funding snafu-ed and they tossed him out. Trust me, despite what you may believe or have heard about “safety nets” in our society, this is not uncommon. The man was literally living on the streets while his jaw rotted away. Bill took the guy into his home and gave him his living room and couch to live on. Bill paid for the man’s prescriptions and ran errands for him regularly. He cared for the man for months, until Medicaid or Medicare or whoever finally straightened out their act and put the man in a hospital, where he died within a couple of weeks. I never heard Bill say much about what he had done for the man other than “this is what Jesus would do.” To my mind, that simple act shames all the glory-glory-hallelujahs sung on any Sunday morning or all the filthy money scammed by snake oil salesmen of “faith.”

Bill is 61 and I’m almost 58. I believe that he has suffered more physical problems than I have, or at least more serious ones, but we’re both caring for our mothers and I have the more demanding situation in that regard. We were reminiscing yesterday about the 16 years that we’ve known each other and where we have come in that time. We met in Alcoholics Anonymous, when we were both struggling to stay sober. Like me, Bill has become disillusioned with the practice of AA in the Racine area, though not with basic AA principles themselves. It mirrors our experience with Christianity: wonderful, glorious, even perfect principles; but the people “practicing” it lie and lie, and then they lie some more.

In the time that I’ve known Bill, I’ve envied him his faith. I’ve always thought how reassuring it must be to be so certain about the big questions, to be so sure that a loving presence is behind all of this insanity. As we reflected yesterday on family and friends and life and faith, Bill said something that deeply disturbed me. He said, “In the end, all you have is family, maybe one or two trusted friends, and everything else is lies.” ‘And everything else is lies’ – that is sooo OrbsCorbsian, so me, so sad . . . It upset me to think that the man I most admire for his faith and living his faith would come to the same conclusion that I have.

I come on this site and post all sorts of crazy stuff because I’m a crazy guy. I use satire and sarcasm extensively because it is so easy to hoist liars by their own petards, and occasionally it is funny, too. But the fact of the matter is that I am deeply offended by liars, especially by those in power (government, religion, etc.) who lie to those they lord over. I believe that the offense registers within me on the most basic level of my being. My transformation as a human in Alcoholics Anonymous was forged on the anvil of honesty - brutal, frank, searing honesty. Ever been on the “hot seat” in a group therapy session? That’s what it’s like, only 24 hours a day, every day. That’s how you stay sober, that’s how you face up to what you are and what you’ve done, that’s how you put yourself in a position to be changed. Nothing, but nothing happens with lies, except more lies. Yet lies is all that we are offered over and over again, whether it is the lies of advertising or the lies of the media or the lies of our politicians or the lies of the pulpit. They’re all cowards, every last one of them, without the intestinal fortitude to admit to who and what they are, and why they do what they do. I call them pigs because they have traded in their essential humanity for lies. Hogs. Swine. Oink-oink.

I was so hoping for something reassuring from Bill yesterday. It was not to be. I guess that means my exhortation of “Party on!” is still the only alternative to real change around here. Enjoy your lies and your liars, Racine. You’ve paid dearly for them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why there are no italian Muslims

This pretty much sums it up........

Two Satellites, One Rocket

Update: They launched this morning and are safely on their way...all looks good.

Tomorrow is a big day for the European Space Agency as they launch two big missions on one Ariane 5 rocket. These are both important missions so there is a lot riding on a successful launch tomorrow.

The first mission is the Hershel Space Observatory. Herschel is a 3.5 meter space telescope, the largest ever launched (Hubble is a 2.4 meter telescope for reference). Herschel is not a competitor to the more famous Hubble...Herschel will observe in the far infrared (Hubble does some near infared observations). The universe looks very different in the infared. Many cool objects give off most of their light in the infrared. Distant objects. Herschel will probe the earlierst star forming regions and be able to detect where planets may currently be forming with unprecedented resolution.

To observe in the infared, you need to cool the detectors down to near absolute zero. Herschel will carry a couple thousand liters of liquid helium to coolits instruments. Herschel has a large sunshade (as you can see in the diagram) and will obrit the Sun, away from the heat of the Earth (at a point called L2 for those into orbits). Unfortunately, this limits its lifetime. It should last at least three years, but then it will warm up. We cannot service a satellite orbiting at L2, so the mission will be over. There is a nice mission overview brochure on their website.

The second mission is the Planck satellite. Planck will make the most detailed observations ever of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The CMB is left over from the big bang. A previous satellite called WMAP put a lot of of constraints on the age and makeup of the universe by measuring the CMB, but left some major questions unanswered. Placnk could shed more light on the nature of dark matter, dark energy, and the early history of the universe.

Planck has a couple of things in common with Herschel. First, it will orbit at L2 (don't worry, there's a lot of room out there so they won't collide!) Second, it will carry liquid helium to cool its instruments close to absolute zero to make its observations. Planck is scheduled for 15 months of observationsl, but you can bet they will run it until the last drop of coolant runs out.

This is a big launch with much higher stakes than usual. You can watch the streaming video here. Laucnh is scheduled for 9:12am EDT if I am subtracting correctly...good luck Planck and Herschel!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Nifty solution to old problem.

This is one of those tips you wish you had known about before you took the sink apart

Drop Something

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my prized petunias! How are you? Isn’t this a glorious time of the year? Have you stopped to listen to the songs of the birds lately? And there is so much color bursting out everywhere! The beauty of nature surrounds us.

I received an email from the mesmerizing Ms. Mary, entitled “Weather:”

Dearest Madame Zoltar,

In Oklahoma City, it has rained 18 out of 19 days (today included). Every weekend we've had rain and temperatures in the 50's - 60's even though this time of year we should be in the 80's. We have not seen the sun for more than a few seconds in the past week, and then it was only for an hour or two and in a flash it was gone again. Rumor has it that it might come out tomorrow but there is an 80% chance of thunderstorms. Of course, they said it would be out today and they lied. Could you please use your powers to try to get the sun back down here? I for one would be in your debt and I would reckon a lot of other people would be too, if you can.


Oh my, dearest Ms. Mary, I had no idea that the situation was so damp and dreary in Oklahoma. After my weather fiasco at the last Irregular get-together, I more or less decided to avoid meteorological spell casting. A problem I always have with it are the repercussions: if I make it dry in one place, it seems that it must get wet elsewhere; if I warm it up here, it gets cold there; and someone is always complaining. However, Ms. Mary, your situation is desperate enough for desperate measures. I’ve already cast a mini-spell over your area to give you at least 24 hour’s respite from the rain today. After that, though, it’s anybody’s guess. Mother Nature apparently resents my intrusions into her realm and I don’t need to make any more enemies.

I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate that I am in no way related to the redoubtable Mr. OrbsCorbs. In a Mother’s Day posting here, Mr. Corbs claimed that I was his mother. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, he is older than me, so it would be impossible for me to be his mother. Second, I never even heard of him until he started channeling through me while he was banned from the Journal Times site. Finally, to be blunt, if I were responsible for bringing the likes of Mr. Corbs into this world, I would have veered off of the information superhighway and slammed myself into a retaining wall a long time ago.

Racine has some very interesting trials coming up in the future and I want the readers of the JTI to know that I will be watching those proceedings carefully. Both the retrial of Mr. Adrial White and the trial of Mr. Gary Beckerphile will be taking place in our fair city. One man had to be persecuted in order to save the professional reputation of the other, but the other’s own sleaziness brought him down anyway. It will be a delight to see what flights of fancy the lawyers, judges, and other assorted legal slime balls come up with during these historic courtroom extravaganzas. I am sure that the city of Racine can do much more to embarrass itself and its citizens than it already has, and these proceedings will provide the perfect backdrop.

And while we’re on the subject, here is a confidential message to Mr. TF: No, you don’t get to grant pardons when you step down from office next week, so stop thinking about saving your pedo friend’s ass. Believe it or not, some people in Racine actually look down on the filth that you smear yourself with. If enough of us get fed up, we may even start taking the child molesters off of the judicial benches in our town. Party on, you sots and swine.

I hope all of the rest you have a great week. Spring is the time of rebirth and the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate your life with love. Go out and hug a tree. Sniff a flower. Pet a squirrel. Smoke an herb. Roll down a hill. Jump in the lake. Commune with Mama Nature, and she will get you naturally high.

Send your comments and questions to me at: Ta-ta, dearies, and don’t take any wooden stimulus dollars.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Sound of Swine Flu

Swine flu has been in the news a lot. As you can imagine, one of the big things in fighthing the outbreak is to get the genetic sequence. San Francisco blogger Stephan Zielinski decided to see what it sounds like. He wrote an algorith to translate the genetic sequence of H1N1 to sound so we can all listen to the Sound of Swine Flu.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Wiki-Hoaxing and the Reliability of Online Information

I have more than once questioned the validity of sources people site online and even found a few egregious cases of people having no clue what they were reading (my favorite of all time was person who linked to a site to prove his point that turned out to be a computer science teacher's homework assignment for students to evaluate the reliability of the information on that page. If he had dug deeper, he would have found the teacher's answer key saying what a load of BS that page was.)

The most recent little piece of viral misinformation that spread (which has no political context I can tell) is Irish student Shane Fitzgerald placing a fake quote on French composer Maurice Jarre's Wikipedia page shortly after Jarre's death. It was a juicy little quote that, as you can expect, got picked up by newspapers and bloggers around the world and added to his obituary. Wikipedia editors caught it and deleted it fairly quickly. After a month of no one catching it, Fitzgerald revealed the hoax. So far, only one newspaper, the Guardian, has 'fessed up.

I know there are people almost gleeful at the prospect of the demise of newspapers. As newspapers decline, cut their reporting staff and more people rely on the internet and wire services, this will happen more often. Investigative reporting is an endangered art. If we lose the power of investigative reporting, we are going to descend into a Golden Age of political corruption as no one is there to dig it up and find it.

Think about many bloggers really do original reporiting and break news stories? Heck, I would love to travel to Goddard and KSC and Houston to report on the current shuttle mission if someone would pay me to do it! The best I can do is watch mission briefings on NASA TV and red the press releases and try to put them in context. Most bloggers are in the same boat.

The Racine News and Racine Post are giving it a go but have a ways to go to become the real public watchdog that is needed. And they are just in one community and, if they succeed, would need to be duplicated hundreds of times around the country. We cannot let our current media watchdogs die before others are ready to take their place. Unwatched politicians are the most dangerous politicicans.

Who's the Online Boss at the Journal Times?

Does anyone know? I checked their "Contact Us" list and no one is listed as online editor or whatever. I guess we don't have BO'B to kick around anymore. I'm just curious because they seem to be doing an exceptionally crappy job in recent days, like the Adrial White story that was supposed to open to comments two hours ago, but still hasn't. And if someone dies in Racine, you can't post any comments, but if they die one inch outside of our borders, you can trash them all you want at the Journal Times' expense.

The Adrial White story should be a journalist's dream. It is a microcosm of the dynamics that are tearing this city apart, and the city's attempt to deny that struggle by persecuting a victim of the city's failure to protect its citizens and its catch and release policy towards criminals.

When I think Journal Times, I think complete and utter failure of talent, training, and opportunity.

Party on!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just an observation

Our last Mayor was Becker. The current Mayor is Dickert. Who's Next? Hugh Johnson? Wa Ping Wang? Larg Hearton? Just wondering.....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A dilema

Hey, I thought I would use my first post to ask for some advice. Now bare with me I'm quite tired as it is almost midnight when I start this and I've been working my ass off all day (even though it's mothers day.. or maybe because it's mothers day) so dont mind the misspelled words and poor grammar.

I will give you a little background information here to set up my dilema.. I have 2 very close friends, although I'm closer to the female friend more than the male, that are married. They now have 2 girls (the youngest is almost 2 months as she as born late October) and the oldest is 4 years old. I have known these 2 for about 12 years and I have always known them as a couple. They were married in 2003.

Well quite a few years ago he was caught writting emails to a female "friend", but the content of these emails I guess were a little on the racey side. I dont know what they entailed but she was quite upset with them. She asked him to stop having contact with her as this "friendship" was making her uncomfortable. Mind you He and I can have a little flirtaeous (sp?) banter and that has never made her uncomfortable as we always did it out in the open and it was very apparent that we are just kidding around. So she is not an overly jealous person. He has been caught a couple more times contacting her and she (my friend) has always confronted him about it and he swears that he wont contact her again. The lastest time was just a few weeks ago, he was caught texting her and she confronted him about it and he wound up in tears saying he didnt start the contacting that he just responded and he actually stopped responding to her days before he was found out.

Well I found out today that my sister has seen him together with another woman at the movie theaters here in Racine about 5-6 weeks ago. She stopped to talk to him and he seemed a little surprised and on edge ( according to my sister). According to my sister my sister in law has also seen him together with this same woman at the theaters 2 other times (mind you I havent spoken to my sister in law so this is just hear say, but I do believe my sister)

So now I sit here at 10 past midnight not knowing what to do with this information. I dont know if this woman they saw him with was this woman that he was asked not to contact anymore or someone completely different or maybe a relative (but that seems doubtful as we have met most of his family and I would think if it were someone that he was close enough to go to the theaters with I would have probably met them) Why would he go to the theaters without his wife and with another woman? but then again if he was screwing around why would he go to the theaters in Racine where there are a lot of people that know him?? I'm all for men and women having platonic relationships but I also think that the spouse should be well aware of everything they are doing together. I dont know if my friend is or not... I do feel it's my friends right to know if there is something going on. These days you really need to know where your significant other is as it could cost you your life if they were to bring something back to you.

So I guess I'm just looking for a little advice on how to handle this situation. I really dont think I can just sit back and act like I know nothing.. I really wish I did know nothing, but know I know what I know and I have to do something.. but what... so please, any perspective you can give me.. thanks.. and I apologze that my first post is something like this.. not as interesting as other posts, I just dont know what to do with this. and I'm not going to proof read this as I must go and take my booty to bed as I have 2 daughters that will be waking me in just a few short hours.. I await your responses.

Star Trekkin'

I saw the new Star Trek movie this morning (9:15am showing to avoid the crowds as much as I could...earliest screening I have ever been to!) Short review: it's a good, fun summer action movie. Well produced, cast and the effects look great. The young actors take inspiration from the original cast without doing impressions. I did smirk at Spock's raised eyebrow in one scene (I have always wanted to be able to raise one eyebrow like that and have tried for hours in front of a mirror without success).

But this movie has a lot of science in it...or not quite. I don't want to post spoilers here, so I will keep remarks as general as possible. Still if you want absolutely no clue as to anything that happens in the movie, you might want to stop reading now.

First, I am not going to complain about basics like warp kind of have to give them a couple of conceipts (like a way to get between the stars and artificial gravity are a couple I usually don't nitpick as long as they are used consistently and not Get Out of Jail Free cards whenever the plot requires it).

Briefly, one of the plot points is there is a supernova that threatened the galaxy and they were trying to stop it Supernova are big explosions that happen at the end of the life of a massive star, but they are hardly able to threaten a galaxy. Planets around the star are toast and maybe a few tens of light years away. In a galaxy 100,000 light years across, that is hardly a threat to 99.99999(keep adding a few more 9s)% of the planets.

There is a lot about black holes in the movie that doesn't sit well. The villian, Nero, is attempting to turn a planet into a black hole. If you turned your typical M-class planet into a black hole, its diameter would be a centimeter or so across...they get that one off just a wee bit. With such small black hole, gravity drops off very quickly as you move away from it so a starship in orbit around the original planet would not be sucked fact, it would pretty much star in exactly the same orbit since the mass didn't change and its position didn't change, gravity wouldn't change!

The science advisor for the movie was Carolyn Porco (with whom I have shared a couple of drinks) the lead of the Cassini Imaging team. She is listed in the credits right below the Vulan and Romulan language consultant. Anyway, she was very proud of a quick shot involving her favorite planet. Even though the geometry wasn't quite right, it was a cool shot!

Now one more general comment that is a bit of a pet peeve of mine in a lot of moives and television shows: the dpecition of hand to hand combat. The physical punishment dished out in some of the fights sure wouldn't let the people get up to fight again 30 seconds later! If you have ever been in a fight, you would know how much a couple of good punches take out of you. One show that does a decent job with this is Breaking Bad, a fanstastic show on AMC. When someone gets punched out in that show, the person is out of it for a while.

So a really fun time overall. I hope they come up with a worthy sequel to this one.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Is that that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are?

The previous line was uttered by Summer on The O.C. in reference to the radio show This American Life. Last night I went to see the host, Ira Glass, give a talk at the U of Arizona. It was great...I am a long time fan of the show and have a long time what we now call a man-crush on Ira Glass.

I wish I were taking notes so I could give a more coherent picture of the ideas he expressed. One of the major themes was the difference between mainstream news vs shows such as The Daily Show, Colbert Report, O'Reilly Factor, etc. and how there is no chance of the personal and emotional side of the story coming through in mainstream news. They talk to you, give you some opinion and a more personal context for the story. An example he gave of the difference was a show they did on the USS Stennis, an aircraft carrier launching missions over Afghanistan. They interview the person who refills vending machines, pilots, and the on-ship bands. An aircraft carrier is frequently described as a city, but, with a median age of 21, he describes it as a nuclear powered dorm that can destroy a city. I remember listening to that episode when it first aired...a great show and you can listen to it streaming.

Another major theme was the writing style. At one point he said, "We must destroy the topic sentence". The way we are taught to write in middle school and must follow if we want to get a good score on the new PSA writing section, inhibits storytelling and aspiring journalists should forget all they learned. Well, okay, not quite to that extreme, but you get the picture.

Some of their better recent shows have focused on the economic crisis. They interviewed people in the financial sector who made loans, who are in the commercial paper business, and others closely involved. To the surprise of conservatives and the whining of liberals, they don't blame it all on George Bush (and to the relief of liberals and the spittle inducing rage of conservatives, they don't blame it all on the Democrats in Congress or Bill Clinton). The shows were really an amazing look at parts of the picture you never heard from the MSM.

They are doing a version of This American Life on Showtime (which I don't get) but now have to go out and get season one on DVD.

Check it out if you haven't...all the shows are available streaming. Current shows are released as podcasts (but only for one week after they air). It's a unique voice that tells compelling stories in a unique format.

HELP!! I'm procrastinating again!!

I just LOVE Maxine!!
I have a terrible time fighting off the urge to procrastinate!

I have 2 projects I want to accomplish this week -

The living-room and my desk.
Sounds easy, right??


Well, my desk just needs my undivided attention for
about an hour or so, but sitting still that long
without finding something more fun to do is another thing.
That is one I will put as the easier of the 2.

The living-room, that's another story.

Hubby was laid off for 3 months, and just before
going back to work (for now), started these projects...

The project that affected me and my living-room
is that he took EVERYTHING out of the attic and it is(was)
piled all in the living-room so we could go thru it all.
Great in theory... maybe even practical, work, either way...

We did get about 1/2 of it sorted and shrunk down,
the other 1/2 is piled in the corner by the front door,
most of it needing ME to go thru it all. yeah, me...

I knew that if I didn't do something drastic,
these would never get done.

I am putting this out there as pressure for me to
actually get to it and have to come back and report
to you if nothing else.

I also put this out there because maybe, just maybe,
I'm not alone in the procrastination dept.
and some of you guys need that little push to do something
you've been putting off.

Anybody up to a challenge?
I work alot better under pressure. :)

Happy Mother's Day

To All the Mommys out There