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Saturday, December 1, 2007

What Will The Neighbors Think?

Astronomers have found evidence of a fifth planet orbiting the binary system CNC 55 a little over 45 light years from Earth. With a system so rich in planets and of the right age its entirely possible there is a rocky world in the "Goldylocks Zone" that could support a technically sophisticated race. The are getting our broadcasts from 1964, and a taste of our culture, or at least the culture of the television and radio emitting nations. Our stellar neighbors should begin to wonder why, for a period of approximately ninety day cycles every year our microwave broadcasts are dominated by short repeated programs that seem to tout the desirability of crystalized carbon trinkets, personal transport with comically large bows tied to their roofs and small containers of liquid that emit exotic chemicals that seem to be desired by one of the reproductive groups. Of course in 1964 the most powerful microwaves came from Moscow but had no short programs and were filled with lengthy head-shots of pasty aging males droning on and on interspersed with grainy film of combines and tractors at work.

Of course these aliens may just be at the stage of the pharonic Egyptians or be so far advanced as to see us as sort of like Aztecs with cellphones. They may have as much in common with us as we have with ants. What will they think of us when the last five years of signals get there. Yikes!

Flakes!

It's snowing! Yea! On Puget Sound and environs snow is a rare enough occurrence, and fluffy snow even more so. While we are at the latitude of Minot North Dakota the Pacific Ocean's huge mass of warm wetness mitigates the chill, and heat in the Summer.

You would think with all the four wheel drive vehicles on the road we would see fewer folk in the ditch than back in the pre-SUV dark ages, but no. Four wheel drive allows you to get going, but is worthless for stopping. Anti lock brakes help, but with a coefficient of friction close to zero, the ditch awaits you. It will be a very jolly Christmas for the kiddies of tow truck drivers.

On other matters: The University of Tennessee and the University of Texas should flip a coin and decide who gets orange and white for school colors. The orange serif capital "T" is just confusing. As I type this Tennessee is ahead of LSU, but the snow is screwing the satellite signal up. What the hell was I thinking when I changed from Dish Network to Direct TV? Not only does the evil Rupert Murdoch profit, but anytime there is a single snow flake in the Northern hemisphere the thing craps out. When digital signal goes bad, you don't get a poor picture like on the old antenna, you get no picture at all. Now they want me to buy Satellite digital radio.

Send up a flair if LSU scores again.

Obit.

Last Wednesday the creator of Gatorade, Dr. William Cade, died. At the service the attendees dumped a forty gallon cooler filled with the iced beverage Cade created over the coffin, and the pallbearers ran out of the church with his remains shouting "We're Number One!"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can Obama Do The Job?

President? Of course. If W. Bush can be president then anyone meeting the constitutional requirements can hold the office. My little dog could do a better job than W, but she's not old enough, unless dog years count.

My problem with Obama is that he just won't annoy the people I want to annoy anywhere nearly enough. This may seem petty, but I'm a petty guy. Sure the swift-boaters will try to paint him as a dope fiend or closeted Moslem, but they have all their resources loaded to hit Hillary, and a change of target would throw them off their game for a while. The SB gang will adapt. After all, if they can portray Max Cleland as a peacenik commie traitor, nothing is beneath them. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Cleland . I just think Obama would be such a breath of fresh air that it would blow the Rethuglican hit squad's foul stench out to sea.

A Hillary Clinton administration would be a boon to Limbaugh and Focus on the Family. Oh the cash would flow.

On another count, Has anyone else noticed that if an organization has the word "Family" in its title it will be a bunch of jerks?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Like Mormons.

Yup. To a man or woman I've liked the Mormons I've known. My experience was much like Kyle's on South Park. Yes the religion is insanely evil, but its followers are good citizens, send their kids to public school and can be counted on to do their civic duty. There is a certain clubbiness air about Mormons, and they will, once installed in an office or job will recruit fellow followers of Joseph Smith.

Silly underwear? Yes! Insane history? Yes Bogus archaeology? Absolutely. Theology as malevolent as the Church of Rome? Si Si! Is Utah insufferably cloying? Oy!

Any group as large as Mormons will have its gang of con men and thugs, but the church itself isn't as entrepreneurial as protestant christianity, more like the Catholics they have a hierarchy that suffers no questions.

I won't go over the madcap theology of the LDS, there's plenty of Christians doing that. Oddly Romney is painting the LDS into a cultish corner that will do great harm to the elders of Salt Lake. He looks like the one Mormon I don't care for, but I think that's a function of his pandering to the snake handling wing of the Rethuglican party.

Science Gone Horribly Wrong

In this week's "New Scientist" magazine there is a little two page piece about work at Case Western Reserve U. by Kraus and Dent that postulates that observing the universe destroys it, or at least resets its quantum state so that it goes through a dangerous period of non zero vacuum in which the possibility that all of existence will go "poof" and wink out or become devoured at the speed of light by high energy vacuum. I know quantum theory is stranger than we can wrap our little heads around, but this concept of vacuum destruction by Schrodinger cat effect goes too far. The immediate question is "Why doesn't a sheep looking up and observing the stars also reset the quantum state?"

I've known about the idea that the idea that what we think of ground state vacuum could well be just a stopping point where, given enough time, the entirety of existence could tunnel through to a lower state, and no longer be the cozy little universe where we live. What a wimpy, and I might add insecure cosmos we have that can't take a few glimpses?

In the same NS issue the String boys are flogging the vast void in the universe that is nearly a billion light years long as proof of other universes, perhaps made of exotic materials and rules of physics. I should note that the "void" is not empty, and contains billions of stars, just not as many as we should expect. The string theorists predict in excess of ten to the five hundredth power universes were and are being created. Cool! You couldn't cram that many grains of sand in our universe if you had the power.

Most of this stuff is mathematical postulation. Predicting and explaining is what science is all about, and most of this stuff will eventually be exist only as a funny mistake some folk made way back when. They'll eventually get it right but it takes time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Unthinkable?

I was listening to NPR this morning to Michael Levy' thoughts on the chances of a terrorist getting their hands on a real nuke. When he was listing the sorts of terrorist movement that would have any interest in using a nuclear weapon on their enemies, concluding that the vast majority of traditional terrorist groups from the IRA to Hesbollah would find nukes counterproductive. The only players on the scene that would use nuclear devices if they had them are nihilist religious fanatics. We think of al Qaeda, and they sure have the history, but they don't have easy access to finished weapons or the ability to make them from fissile materials should they obtain them. Al Qaeda is sort of a franchiser of their name that gives smaller batches of Islamic fundamentalists the color of a much larger group, but each sub unit has its own enemy. The Chechnians would use a nuke on Moscow. Pakistanis would use theirs on India. Saudis would use theirs on the USA. To each their own great satan.

We ignore the most obvious, present and capable group on our shores. The militarist, christian identity follower. We have tens of thousands of these folk within our borders who dream of being Timothy McVeigh and revenging their failed lives. They have small churches with dedicated followers, and many of them work on military bases as civilian employees. The military has preferential hiring policies toward honorable dischargees, and they have no problem getting the jobs available. Some of them are on facilities that store nuclear weapons. Here on the Puget Sound we have a Trident sub base with thousands of active warheads in storage. A majority of the people working at such facilities are civilian employees with experience in handling warheads that they gained during a stint in the Navy. Remember the misplaced nuclear tipped cruse missiles that were left to hang under a B 52 last Fall. If two can be misplaced, they can be stolen by inside men. I recently sat in a local teriyaki shop and overheard two men who I believe worked at the local naval shipyard or sub base argue with each other about how it was their duty as christians to bring about god's prophesy of the end times. Apparently they each had their own church that each had a preacher more insanely hard line than the other. These two gents argued over which preacher was more hard line and what sort of horror would prove their love for christ and purity of god's word.

These guys are here, look as American as Kansas farm boys, have spoken American English since birth and have access to the goods. Anyone with an internet connection can see that they have the will to hit us, but because they hold some ideas in common with other conservative groups are treated with deference.

If that dreaded mushroom cloud ever rises over New York or The District of Columbia I believe we won't have to look far for the villains.