January 31, 2005


Library of the Sits online. Fun to be had by all!

Posted by duver001 at 10:46 PM

Happy birthday Johnny!

Was thinking of something equally random was thumbing through England's Dreaming when I came across the following wonderful hommage:

Following are the birthdates of the Sex Pistols. Keep them on file somewhere as people are starting to ask us strange questions.
Johnny Rotten: Jan. 31, 1956
Steve Jones: Sept. 3, 1955
Paul Cook: July 20, 1956
Sid Viscious [sic]: May 19, 1957
I hope none of you [try] to figure out what signs these geezers were born under because, take it from me, they wuz all born under a bad sign.
Bob Merlis: Inter-office memo, Warner Brothers Records (28 October 1977)

Posted by duver001 at 10:17 PM

300 articles!

Anyway, the oddest thing is that there have been about 250 links to Mila from my blog's pair of mentions of them. How many people are out there reading this? Judging from the hits on linked pages, quite a few, from comments, relatively few.

Anyway...back to writing an exam for my Physics 3071W students. Should I include a hint here on the blog for them?

Hint: The area under the speed vs. time graph is a measure of distance travelled. The integral of v(t) dt is s(t) in other words.

Posted by duver001 at 8:34 PM

From New Scientist...

CREAM flight getting some international coverage...

Posted by duver001 at 8:26 PM

Photoshopping away the war...

The propaganda poster used widely came from a decidedly less optimistic and euphemistic event. (Read all about its photoshopping.) US troops shot this boy's mother, father, and sister. The mother fatally. You can see the sister being worked on in the actual picture on the right. The caption with the original picture reads:

Photo by Hayne Palmour/North County Times
Navy Corpsman Richard Barnett of Camarilo, Calif. checks the heart of a young Iraqi boy as other Navy medics treat the boy's older sister, right, after the two children and their family were caught in a crossfire between US Marines and Iraqi soldiers just outside of a Marine encampment in central Iraq on Saturday, March 29, 2003. The boy was not injured. His sister, who received gunshot wounds, was expected to survive. The father was wounded and the mother was killed in the gun battle. "If anything good comes from this nonsense, I haven't seen it yet" said Barnett after the two children and their father were taken away for a medivac helicopter.

Posted by duver001 at 6:10 PM

High-school students and the first ammendment

Surprising or not. High school students know little of the erroding freedom of speech, and many do not support the underlying ideas. A scary survey.

Posted by duver001 at 4:56 PM

Joke de jour

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Posted by duver001 at 4:49 PM

Neocons and greens together at last?

Agreeing to try to cut gasoline usage, to save the environment or to not support terrorism. Your choice.

Posted by duver001 at 1:07 PM

January 30, 2005

And what was your high school experience like?

There are some interesting stories buried in the topology.

Posted by duver001 at 11:30 PM

Congressional Budget Office deficit predictions

Makes it clear where the social security money is headed. To rich folks with the permanent tax cut on the richest Americans. Another good article on the taxes business. "Everything you know about taxes is wrong." I learned quite a bit in fact. Maybe it's the clearest statement of what the Bush supporters are doing with the economy, your money, and their wealth.

Posted by duver001 at 1:06 PM

January 29, 2005

Piss your way out of an avalache?

With sixty beers??? No photos available.

Posted by duver001 at 11:31 PM

RIP Roe v Wade

The Bushites are sure it's finished.

Posted by duver001 at 1:08 PM

The cost of war

The astonishing figure is that the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict has now cost one-half what we (the US) spent in World War 2, after adjusting for inflation!!! Now, how could we defeat Japan and Germany in a four-year war which had 10 million men in uniform for only twice what this latest conflict has cost? Especially considering how poorly we're doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Halliburton profit? Cruise missiles?

Posted by duver001 at 1:04 PM

January 28, 2005

The last jew in Afghanistan

After his neighbor passed away.

Posted by duver001 at 3:01 PM

Proposed sticker for bibles in Cobb County, GA

This book contains religious stories regarding the origin of living things. The stories are theories, not facts. They are unproven, unprovable and in some cases totally impossible. This material should be approached with an open mind, and a critical eye towards logic and believability.

Makes sense to me since they wanted the "only a theory" stickers on biology textbooks. I suppose we could go further and put "contains lies" stickers on American History books. Put a second sticker on the bible "contains extreme violence and sexual degeneracy, mature audiences only." And a "this machine kills fascists" sticker (sorry Woody!) on poetry collections

Posted by duver001 at 2:20 PM

Children arrested for a drawing made in school

Believe it or not. Really serious criminals, aged 9 and 10. Look at that scary drawing! I know I won't let the police see Sylvia's vampire drawing...

Posted by duver001 at 12:26 AM

January 27, 2005

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.

Untangling the mercenary, private army, soldier-of-fortune, businessman, or international terrorist identification. English public school boys aren't terrorists, naturally.

Posted by duver001 at 12:48 PM

Do the bush folks know what their own EPA is saying?

The few folks in the Federal Government willing to say that global climate change is real. And really serious.

Posted by duver001 at 12:45 PM

January 26, 2005

Geeky machines

Arthur Ganson's kinetic sculptures. With names like machine with artichoke petal, how could you go wrong?

There just are not enough good kinetic scupltures out there. Have I mentioned yet how disappointed I am that the one in the Children's Museum in St. Paul is out of action at the moment?

Posted by duver001 at 12:57 PM

Jesus is accepting of Spongebob!

Well, the United Church of Christ is accepting of the Spongebob anyway. News story at the UCC website. You know, sarcasm does have its limits I'm afraid. Will accepting Spongebob, Clifford the Red Dog, Tinky-Winky, Barney, and Big Bird help the United Church of Chirst? Help them recruit kindergarteners? Gay people? People sick and tired of the fascist loons who normally "represent" Christianity?

Posted by duver001 at 12:50 PM

George Bush flags in dog piles?

Police hunt poo protestors. But they aren't sure what law, if any, is being broken. 2-3 thousand dog piles have already been defiled!

Posted by duver001 at 12:41 PM

Fifty most loathsome people

From the Buffalo Beast! Over the top? Why certainly!

Posted by duver001 at 12:37 PM

A new day in America

Supporting torture will make you the Attorney General. Lying to Congress and the American people and creating a fiasco will get you Secretary of State. So, now does the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture need to import additional mad cows? Education Department head needs to be illiterate? The President a bumbling idiot? Guess so.

Posted by duver001 at 12:35 PM

January 25, 2005

Since human troops haven't been doing too well in Iraq...

Robots! I'll pass on making any Kraftwerks jokes. Feel free to use to comments to make them...

On the radio this morning, some random MN Republican, pro-war, gets the following question "Since the invasion was illegal, the occupation is illegal, and the resistance is justified, why do you not support negotiating with the Iraqi people?" Parked the car so I didn't get to hear the answer. Oh well...

And the Bushites want another $80B for the war. That'll bring it up to about $300B so far. A bit higher than the "Iraqi oil will pay for nearly all of the costs" estimate. Another estimate which seems a bit far off, the claim that there are about 120k Iraqi troops trained and equiped. It appears that the actual number is somewhat less than 10K. Ooops!

Posted by duver001 at 12:45 PM

An interesting twenty questions implementation online

It got post-it notes and the periodic table, albeit it in about 28 questions each.

Posted by duver001 at 12:41 PM

January 24, 2005

Chains of affection

Interesting article on high-school sex linkages (small town version). This has gotten a lot of press today. Odd topology problems.

Posted by duver001 at 5:50 PM

In a further loss of rights...

The SCOTUS claims that drug dogs sniffing your car, without any probable cause at random checkpoints, once again with no need for probable cause, is "constitutional." Fun, fun, fun!

Posted by duver001 at 5:29 PM

January 22, 2005

Another reason I don't have a TV...

Sci-Fi channel...Stargate and a remake of Battlestar Galactic? With former Playboy bunnies as Cylons? VH1...reviewing the nineties, including David Duke and Public Enemy. Nostalgia already? "Turn it up. Bring the noise."

Posted by duver001 at 9:10 PM

Riu riu chiu

Done by the Monkees?

Riu riu chiu, la guarda ribera;
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera,
Dios guardo el lobo de neustra cordera.

El lobo rabioso la quiso morder,
Mas Dios poderoso la supo defender;
Quisola hazer que no pudiese pecar,
Ni aun original esta Virgen no tuviera.

Riu, riu chiu...

Este qu'es nacido es el gran monarca,
Christo patriarca de carne vestido;
Hemos redemido con se hazer chiquito,
Aunqu'era infinito, finito se hiziera.

Riu, riu chiu...


River, roaring river, guard our homes in safety,
God has kept the black wolf from our lamb, our Lady.
God has kept the black wolf from our lamb, our Lady.

Raging mad to bite her, there the wolf did steal,
But our God Almighty defended her with zeal.
Pure He wished to keep Her so She could never sin,
That first sin of man never touched the Virgin sainted.

River, roaring river...

He who's now begotten is our mighty Monarch,
Christ, our Holy Father, in human flesh embodied.
He has brough atonement by being born so humble,
Though He is immortal, as mortal was created.

River, roaring river...

Posted by duver001 at 9:02 PM

January 21, 2005

Weird sect campaigned for Bush

No, not Republicans in general, but the Exclusive Brethern. They might be banned from reading the paper, voting, or having political opinions, but they can spend $1/2M on TV ads. Tres strange.

Posted by duver001 at 3:25 PM

Eighteen years of science work, and they forgot to turn it on

An experiment of Huygens...not turned properly on... I can feel the pain.

Posted by duver001 at 11:00 AM

January 20, 2005

Math riots (an older article by Eric Zorn)

by Eric Zorn

News Item (June 23) -- Mathematicians worldwide were excited and pleased today by the announcement that Princeton University professor Andrew Wiles had finally proved Fermat's Last Theorem, a 365-year-old problem said to be the most famous in the field.

Yes, admittedly, there was rioting and vandalism last week during the celebration. A few bookstores had windows smashed and shelves stripped, and vacant lots glowed with burning piles of old dissertations. But overall we can feel relief that it was nothing -- nothing -- compared to the outbreak of exuberant thuggery that occurred in 1984 after Louis DeBranges finally proved the Bieberbach Conjecture.

"Math hooligans are the worst," said a Chicago Police Department spokesman. "But the city learned from the Bieberbach riots. We were ready for them this time."

When word hit Wednesday that Fermat's Last Theorem had fallen, a massive show of force from law enforcement at universities all around the country headed off a repeat of the festive looting sprees that have become the traditional accompaniment to triumphant breakthroughs in higher mathematics.

Mounted police throughout Hyde Park kept crowds of delirious wizards at the University of Chicago from tipping over cars on the midway as they first did in 1976 when Wolfgang Haken and Kenneth Appel cracked the long-vexing Four-Color Problem. Incidents of textbook-throwing and citizens being pulled from their cars and humiliated with difficult story problems last week were described by the university's math department chairman Bob Zimmer as "isolated."

Zimmer said, "Most of the celebrations were orderly and peaceful. But there will always be a few -- usually graduate students -- who use any excuse to cause trouble and steal. These are not true fans of Andrew Wiles."

Wiles himself pleaded for calm even as he offered up the proof that there is no solution to the equation x^n + y^n = z^n when n is a whole number greater than two, as Pierre de Fermat first proposed in the 17th Century. "Party hard but party safe," he said, echoing the phrase he had repeated often in interviews with scholarly journals as he came closer and closer to completing his proof.

Some authorities tried to blame the disorder on the provocative taunting of Japanese mathematician Yoichi Miyaoka. Miyaoka thought he had proved Fermat's Last Theorem in 1988, but his claims did not bear up under the scrutiny of professional referees, leading some to suspect that the fix was in. And ever since, as Wiles chipped away steadily at the Fermat problem, Miyaoka scoffed that there would be no reason to board up windows near universities any time soon; that God wanted Miyaoka to prove it.

In a peculiar sidelight, Miyaoka recently took the trouble to secure a U.S. trademark on the equation "x^n + y^n = z^n " as well as the now-ubiquitous expression "Take that, Fermat!" Ironically, in defeat, he stands to make a good deal of money on cap and T-shirt sales.

This was no walk-in-the-park proof for Wiles. He was dogged, in the early going, by sniping publicity that claimed he was seen puttering late one night doing set theory in a New Jersey library when he either should have been sleeping, critics said, or focusing on arithmetic algebraic geometry for the proving work ahead.

"Set theory is my hobby, it helps me relax," was his angry explanation. The next night, he channeled his fury and came up with five critical steps in his proof. Not a record, but close.

There was talk that he thought he could do it all by himself, especially when he candidly referred to University of California mathematician Kenneth Ribet as part of his "supporting cast," when most people in the field knew that without Ribet's 1986 proof definitively linking the Taniyama Conjecture to Fermat's Last Theorem, Wiles would be just another frustrated guy in a tweed jacket teaching calculus to freshmen.

His travails made the ultimate victory that much more explosive for math buffs. When the news arrived, many were already wired from caffeine consumed at daily colloquial teas, and the took to the streets en masse shouting, "Obvious! Yessss! It was obvious!"

The law cannot hope to stop such enthusiasm, only to control it. Still, one has to wonder what the connection is between wanton pillaging and a mathematical proof, no matter how long-awaited and subtle.

The Victory Over Fermat rally, held on a cloudless day in front of a crowd of 30,000 (police estimate: 150,000) was pleasantly peaceful. Signs unfurled in the audience proclaimed Wiles the greatest mathematician of all time, though partisans of Euclid, Descartes, Newton, and C.F. Gauss and others argued the point vehemently.

A warmup act, The Supertheorists, delighted the crowd with a ragged song, "It Was Never Less Than Probable, My Friend," which included such gloating, barbed verses as --- "I had a proof all ready / But then I did a choke-a / Made liberal assumptions / Hi! I'm Yoichi Miyaoka."

In the speeches from the stage, there was talk of a dynasty, specifically that next year Wiles will crack the great unproven Riemann Hypothesis ("Rie-peat! Rie-peat!" the crowd cried), and that after the Prime-Pair Problem, the Goldbach Conjecture ("Minimum Goldbach," said one T-shirt) and so on.

They couldn't just let him enjoy his proof. Not even for one day. Math people. Go figure 'em.

Posted by duver001 at 2:14 PM

1974 Weight Watchers' recipes

Yowza! What grim pictures! Did people actually eat this stuff? And what's up with the Mackerel in these recipes?

Posted by duver001 at 2:04 PM

Something (nasty) to do with a rental Neon

I am definitely not endorsing doing bad things with rental cars.

Posted by duver001 at 1:51 PM

Spud on the dark side?

Darth Tater?

Posted by duver001 at 12:46 PM

Engrish of the day

Every day, another featured Engrish sign or shirt. Good archive as well. But ouch! The for sale items!

Posted by duver001 at 12:40 PM

January 18, 2005

DuPont and Teflon, maybe worse than we thought

The really serious problems seem to be with drinking water and DuPont & 3M employees (and their kids). But ScotchGuard, plus microwave popcorn bags, my lightweight raincoat, and french fry boxes?

Posted by duver001 at 12:48 PM

January 17, 2005

The "free" and "democratic" elections in Iraq

The number of problems is just stunning. Over half of the population is in areas definited as probably too dangerous to vote. Free elections? Like in South Vietnam? And my favorite, most of the candidate names are not on the ballot. It's a form of secret balloting to try to keep more of the candidates alive. But how do you vote for a slot without a name? Maybe just let Diebold do the election counting.

Posted by duver001 at 4:05 PM

January 16, 2005

Quantegy Inc., RIP

Why should I care you ask? They were the last maker of 2 inch magnetic tape. The news coverage includes, oddly enough, the Wall Street Journal. Steve Albini, naturally enough, has squirreled away a few hundred reels of the tape. NASA is still looking for some... Wilco got two of them from Steve. And no one gets to look in my basement.

Posted by duver001 at 7:13 PM

January 15, 2005

The city of tomorrow

Available today. Reminds me of the Gernsbach Continuum, the great short story of William Gibson. Some info here. And Miami Beach's Gernsback Continuum here. See also this old slashdot discussion and its links.

Posted by duver001 at 12:49 AM

January 14, 2005

Tsunami comments from "What's New"

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 14 Dec 05 Washington, DC

Religions are busy explaining how we should view a disaster that claimed more than 150,000 innocent lives. "Innocent"? Buddhists explained that seemingly innocent victims could be paying for some really bad stuff they did in previous lives. A leading Moslem cleric in Southern California says it was, "a test from God to see how human beings respond." Columnist and pretentious theologian
William Safire also saw the tsunami as a test, and compared it to God's test of Job. Sure Job is faithful, Satan had scoffed, God made him rich and powerful. Wagering that Job would remain faithful, God lets Satan take it all away: Job's sheep are stolen, his servants slain and a great wind kills his children. Whereupon Job falls to the ground and worships God, "the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away." So Job passes the test. Never mind his sons and daughters who died, or his servants who were murdered, it's all about Job. Well, thank God for physics. The tsunami was caused by the release of elastic energy in a tectonic earthquake.


Posted by duver001 at 1:45 PM

Anarchism Triumphant

Subtitled: Free software and the death of copyright.

Posted by duver001 at 10:39 AM

NYC, Olympics, and the World Fair of 1964

It didn't get a lot of press for the 40th anniversary, did it? The future didn't turn out quite the way it was planned.

Posted by duver001 at 10:36 AM

January 13, 2005

James Forman Obit

I thinks it's fitting that his obit that I'll link is an active blog. James Forman and James Farmer always seemed to be forgotten alongside MLK, Roy Wilkins, Malcolm X, and the later generation of Jesse Jackson and company. Farmer's autobiography (Farmer, James. Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Arbor House, 1985) helped frame the post-war socialist/Jewish/antifascist/antiracist movement as a whole, rather than merely "the civil rights movement."

Posted by duver001 at 9:51 PM

Since I've been thinking about neutrinos today...

"The chances of a neutrino actually hitting something as it travels through all this howling emptiness are roughly comparable to that of dropping a ball bearing at random from a cruising 747 and hitting, say, an egg sandwich." -- Douglas Adams

Posted by duver001 at 10:12 AM

January 12, 2005

Iceland headed towards a zero-oil economy

One step at a time...

Posted by duver001 at 10:36 PM

Courts claim that the police can put a GPS tracking device on your vehicle without a court order

Who would have guessed that our rights are being erroded?

Posted by duver001 at 7:17 PM

Other links that are unexpected

I guess to continue the theme for today of linking to things that I wouldn't normally link to, here goes:

  • A NY Post link?!? These raving lunies remind me most of a rabid doberman, but this editorial (is there non-editorial content in the NY Post?) goes directly to the matter of who is not sending money to help the tsunami victims. Something I had not seen other, more reasonable, publications highlight.

  • Where to start? This bothers me on multiple levels. Yet my sick fascination has me clicking through. Seeing that many of these folks have checked their score within the last 12 hours!

  • This site is defunct. The Dubya Scorecard of Evil must have just been too much effort to keep up to date. Someone out there should take up the banner and go with it.

  • Grating cards? Can't think of who I'd send any of these to, but they are funny.

Posted by duver001 at 10:48 AM


It feels weird linking to someone else's amazon.com list, but what the heck. And I probably would have chosen a different John Fahey album from City of Refuge, but the list does start with Derek Bailey.

Posted by duver001 at 10:33 AM

January 11, 2005

The coalition of the "willing" loses Ukraine

And the other Iraq news is so thrilling to the Bushites as well.

Posted by duver001 at 5:27 PM


"So huge benefit cuts...I don't think that's where we want to go." - President Bush, 12/16/04

"The White House, in a private memo to conservative allies, strongly argues that Social Security benefits paid to future retirees must be significantly reduced." - Wall Street Journal, 1/6/05

Canadian health officials are drawing up plans to prohibit prescription drug sales to Americans, apparently the result of private discussions between President George Bush, who opposes legalized reimportation of drugs, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. The Los Angeles Times reports that during the president's November visit to Ottawa, Bush encouraged Martin to prohibit drug sales in exchange for potential trade concessions between the two countries.

Posted by duver001 at 5:12 PM

January 10, 2005

An interesting little bit on the economics of art

University of Chicago professor, perhaps naturally. Warhol's famous example of the quarters used in the photobooth to make a multimillion dollar piece of art is a cornerstone of the article.

Posted by duver001 at 6:26 PM

Tsunami relief efforts: Where are the people?

A very profound question that ties into what the final death toll will be. Not that we'll likely get an even vaguely correct answer, but it does appear that there are whole vanished towns which do not appear in the correct figures.

Posted by duver001 at 12:14 PM

British postal service glitch

Ascention Island mail being sent to Ascunsion, Paraguay and to Guyana? Though objectively, how many people can point to all three locations on a map? Okay, maybe everyone reading this can.

Posted by duver001 at 11:29 AM

January 9, 2005

Religion from South Park

Stan : "Why would God let Kenny die, Chef? Why? Kenny's my friend. Why can't God take someone else's friend?"

Chef : "Stan, sometimes God takes those closest to us, because it makes him feel better about himself. He is a very vengeful God, Stan. He's all pissed off about something we did thousands of years ago. He just can't get over it, so he doesn't care who he takes. Children, puppies, it don't matter to him, so long as it makes us sad. Do you understand?"

Stan : "But then, why does God give us anything to start with?"

Chef : "Well, look at it this way: if you want to make a baby cry, first you give it a lollipop. Then you take it away. If you never give it a lollipop to begin with, then you would have nothin' to cry about. That's like God, who gives us life and love and help just so that he can tear it all away and make us cry, so he can drink the sweet milk of our tears. You see, it's our tears, Stan, that give God his great power."

Stan : "I think I understand."

Posted by duver001 at 4:27 PM

North Korean fashion police

Better cut your hair short! Men need to cut their hair every fifteen days. The state is looking out for you. And looking into your actions!

Posted by duver001 at 4:24 PM

Success in Iraq!

Good news on all fronts in the Iraq war. Victory is certain! Bad news? Nonsense, there's no such thing. Fair, democratic elections in almost half of Iraq will show the world. Elections! Guess we'll get a second Shiite fundamentalist state in the region. But without Judeo-Christian values? Will it matter?

At least the US is planning on using death squads in Iraq. Oh! Oops, guess they are. Negroponte is on the job!

Furthermore, there is justice now in Iraq. Murder an Iraqi civilian and get six months in prison. Plus a pay cut!

Posted by duver001 at 4:11 PM

Old twin picture

Twins at the Minnesota Folk Festival a few years back. Added to be blog by their request.

Posted by duver001 at 12:39 PM

I Zimbra

David Byrne / Brian Eno / Hugo Ball





For some reason, tonight after waking up, tossing and turning, with bad dreams and with general unhappiness at myself, I sat at this computer sending email (in an apology of sorts) and thinking about the Talking Heads song I Zimbra. From Fear of Music. Always liked it and Life During Wartime off of that album. Life During Wartime is also a fantastically good novel by Lucius Shepard. Sort of science fiction, sort of an attempt to exorcise the ghosts of Vietnam with a magical realist Central America and the next war of "liberation." Seems all the stronger with the current events. (Oddly enough, there's a Life During Wartime blog which seems to be mostly bitching about the economy, the election, and bad jobs.) Anyway, back to I Zimbra. Hugo Ball doesn't get many liner note references. Now, during the 1980s, or even back in the day of the Cabaret Voltaire and Dada over Zurich.

Glossolalia of a sort, wasn't it? The Dadaists certainly made that connection to the Pentecost but I'm not too sure that David Byrne intended anything along those lines. Nor is it Sumerian eliminating a non-casual link to Stephenson. African rhythms and the "nonsense" words of Hugo Ball. (You didn't expect this posting to lead anywhere, did you?) The first time I heard the song I assumed that the words were in a language, prolly some African language. Glancing at the liner notes, I caught the vaguely familiar H. Ball and had to look it up. Was England's Dreaming already written at that point? No, it couldn't be, Jon Savage was still working on the official biography of the Kinks at that point. (Look it up!)

So, I Zimbra got me to look up who the heck these dadaist were. A few years later, in my college library I discovered a copy of the Futurist Cookbook by Marinetti and that led to a whole 'nother world of weird books for me. The line from the Talking Heads to the Situationist Internation to the Temporary Autonomous Zone is far from straight (perhaps like the roads in Boston, paving over old cow paths) but the connections are there. Which brings us to Fight Club (see A., I'd have to bring it up in the blog eventually) where the connections between fascism (a la Marinetti and, well, a bunch of blue collar folks unifying with two shirts, black, one pair boots, black...) and the Temporary Autonomous Zone (if a fight club isn't one, then the Code Duello meant nothing).

So, is that in some way a positive fascism? A friendly fascism? Certainly George Bush and company are more sinister than any Project Mayhem. Where we were supposed to be revolted, we cheered for the waiters and projectionists and testicular cancer survivors. And we hated ourselves for it. The Futurists wanted impressive architecture, and we got ovens, we wanted Pax Americana and got Iraqis in black hoods, like Hugo reciting his poem Karavane in the photo to the left.

"Our cabaret is a gesture. Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect. What could be respectable and impressive about it? Its cannons? Our big Drum drowns them. Its idealism?That has long been a laughingstock, in its popular and its academic edition. The grandiose slaughters and cannibalistic exploits? Our spontaneous foolishness and our enthusiasm for illusion will destroy them.” - Hugo Ball

Posted by duver001 at 2:01 AM

January 8, 2005

120 year old tortoise adopts stray hippo

Okay, it's overly sweet, so sue me...

Posted by duver001 at 9:50 PM

How the education department wants to educate

By making up the news. Not helping schools or anything like that. That would be namby-pamby liberal stuff. Seriously, spending a million dollars on illegal astroturfed news in favor of No Child Left Behind has got to be more useful that say, spending it on the schools that are "failing."

Posted by duver001 at 8:14 PM

Film culture, 2005-style

Grim? Yes it is. But you don't know grim unless you know Grimm and Beowulf. And Beowulf (and Grendel too) are coming to the big screen this year as well!
Posted by duver001 at 8:12 PM

January 7, 2005

And what does a gift to Clarence Thomas get you?

Some people have theories on that front. Or what does buying new car tires for Clarence earn you?

Posted by duver001 at 12:50 PM

January 6, 2005

Could this be the way to reducing anti-American feelings in the Islamic world?

Could US aid to survivors alter anti-Americanism among Muslims? That's what the story asks. Well...let's see, what's better received, blowing people up, shooting them in the streets, imprisoning them without trial, and torturing them, or helping people in need? Darned if I can figure it out.

Posted by duver001 at 2:28 PM

The victums of economic and technological progress?

One of the scarier answer's the Edge.org's question of what do you believe to be true, but can not prove, posed to scientists. All of the text here.

Psychologist; Author, Emotional Intelligence

I believe, but cannot prove, that today's children are unintended victims of economic and technological progress.

To be sure, greater wealth and advanced technology offers all of us better lives in many ways. Yet these unstoppable forces seem to have had some disastrous results in how they have been transforming childhood. Even as children's IQs are on a steady march upward over the last century, the last three decades have
seen a major drop in children's most basic social and emotional skills — the very abilities that would make them effective workers and leaders, parents and
spouses, and members of the community.

Of course there are always individual exceptions — children who grow up to be outstanding human beings. But the Bell Curve for social and emotional abilities seems to be sliding in the wrong direction. The most compelling data comes from a random national sample of more than 3,000 American children ages seven to sixteen — chosen to represent the entire nation — rated by their parents and teachers, adults who know the well. First done in the early 1970s, and then roughly fifteen years later, in the mid-80s, and again in the late 1990s, the results showed a startling decline.

The most precipitous drop occurred between the first and second cohorts: American children were more withdrawn, sulky and unhappy, anxious and depressed, impulsive and unable to concentrate, delinquent and aggressive. Between the early 1970s and the mid-80s, they did more poorly on 42 indicators, better on none. In the late 1990s, scores crept back up a bit, but were nowhere near as high as they had been on the first round, in the early 70s.

That's the data. What I believe, but can't prove, is that this decline is due in large part to economic and technological forces. For one, the ratcheting upward of global competition means that over the last two decades or so each generation of parents has had to work longer to maintain the same standard of living that their own parents had — virtually every family has two working parents today, while 50 years ago the norm was only one. It's not that today's parents love their children any less, but that they have less free time to spend with them than was true in their parents' day.

Increasing mobility means that fewer children live in the same neighborhood as their extended families — and so no longer have surrogate parenting from close
relatives. Day care cn be excellent, particularly for children of privileged families, but too often means less well-to-do children get too little caring attention in their day.

For the middle class, childhood has become overly organized, a tight schedule of dance or piano lessons and soccer games, children shuttled from one adult-run
activity to another. This has eroded the free time in which children can play together on their own, in their own way.

When it comes to learning social and emotional skills, I suspect the lessoning of open time with family, relatives and other children translates into a loss of the very activities that have traditionally allowed the natural transmission of these skills.

Then there's the technological factor. Today's children spend more time than ever in human history alone, staring at a video monitor. That amounts to a natural experiment in childrearing on an unprecedented scale. While this may mean children as adults will be more at ease with their computers, I doubt it does anything but de-skill them when it comes to relating to each other person-to-person.

We know that the prefrontal-limbic neural circuitry crucial for social and emotional abilities is the last part of the human brain to become anatomically mature, not finishing this developmental task until the mid-20s. During that window, children's life abilities become set as neurons come online and are
interconnected for better or for worse. A child's experiences dictate how those connections are made.

A smart strategy for helping every child get the right social and emotional skill-building would be to bring such lessons into the classroom rather than leaving it to chance. My hunch, which I can't prove, is that this offers the best way to keep children from paying of modern life for us all.

From the same source, also on children...

Writer and Developmental Psychologist; Author, The Nurture Assumption

I believe, though I cannot prove it, that three—not two—selection processes were involved in human evolution.

The first two are familiar: natural selection, which selects for fitness, and sexual selection, which selects for sexiness.

The third process selects for beauty, but not sexual beauty—not adult beauty. The ones doing the selecting weren't potential mates: they were parents. Parental selection, I call it.

What gave me the idea was a passage from a book titled Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, by the anthropologist Marjorie Shostak. Nisa was about fifty years old when she recounted to Shostak, in remarkable detail, the story of her life as a member of a hunter-gatherer group.

One of the incidents described by Nisa occurred when she was a child. She had a brother named Kumsa, about four years younger than herself. When Kumsa was around three, and still nursing, their mother realized she was pregnant again. She explained to Nisa that she was planning to "kill"—that is, abandon at birth—the new baby, so that Kumsa could continue to nurse. But when the baby was born, Nisa's mother had a change of heart. "I don't want to kill her," she told Nisa. "This little girl is too beautiful. See how lovely and fair her skin is?"

Standards of beauty differ in some respects among human societies; the !Kung are lighter-skinned than most Africans and perhaps they pride themselves on this feature. But Nisa's story provides a insight into two practices that used to be widespread and that I believe played an important role in human evolution: the abandonment of newborns that arrived at inopportune times (this practice has been documented in many human societies by anthropologists), and the use of aesthetic criteria to tip the scales in doubtful cases.

Coupled with sexual selection, parental selection could have produced certain kinds of evolutionary changes very quickly, even if the heartbreaking decision of whether to rear or abandon a newborn was made in only a small percentage of births. The characteristics that could be affected by parental selection would have to be apparent even in a newborn baby. Two such characteristics are skin color and hairiness.

Parental selection can help to explain how the Europeans, who are descended from Africans, developed white skin over such a short period of time. In Africa, a cultural preference for light skin (such as Nisa's mother expressed) would have been counteracted by other factors that made light skin impractical. But in less sunny Europe, light skin may actually have increased fitness, which means that all three selection processes might have worked together to produce the rapid change in skin color.

Parental selection coupled with sexual selection can also account for our hairlessness. In this case, I very much doubt that fitness played a role; other mammals of similar size—leopards, lions, zebras, gazelle, baboons, chimpanzees, and gorillas—get along fine with fur in Africa, where the change to hairlessness presumably took place. I believe (though I cannot prove it) that the transition to hairlessness took place quickly, over a short evolutionary time period, and involved only Homo sapiens or its immediate precursor.

It was a cultural thing. Our ancestors thought of themselves as "people" and thought of fur-bearing creatures as "animals," just as we do. A baby born too hairy would have been distinctly less appealing to its parents.

If I am right that the transition to hairlessness occurred very late in the sequence of evolutionary changes that led to us, then this can explain two of the mysteries of paleoanthropology: the survival of the Neanderthals in Ice Age Europe, and their disappearance about 30,000 years ago.

I believe, though I cannot prove it, that Neanderthals were covered with a heavy coat of fur, and that Homo erectus, their ancestor, was as hairy as the modern chimpanzee. A naked Neanderthal could never have made it through the Ice Age. Sure, he had fire, but a blazing hearth couldn't keep him from freezing when he was out on a hunt. Nor could a deerskin slung over his shoulders, and there is no evidence that Neanderthals could sew. They lived mostly on game, so they had to go out to hunt often, no matter how rotten the weather. And the game didn't hang around conveniently close to the entrance to their cozy cave.

The Neanderthals disappeared when Homo sapiens, who by then had learned the art of sewing, took over Europe and Asia. This new species, descended from a southern branch of Homo erectus, was unique among primates in being hairless. In their view, anything with fur on it could be classified as "animal"—or, to put it more bluntly, game. Neanderthal disappeared in Europe for the same reason the woolly mammoth disappeared there: the ancestors of the modern Europeans ate them. In Africa today, hungry humans eat the meat of chimpanzees and gorillas.

At present, I admit, there is insufficient evidence either to confirm or disconfirm these suppositions. However, evidence to support my belief in the furriness of Neanderthals may someday be found. Everything we currently know about this species comes from hard stuff like rocks and bones. But softer things, such as fur, can be preserved in glaciers, and the glaciers are melting. Someday a hiker may come across the well-preserved corpse of a furry Neanderthal.

Posted by duver001 at 12:48 PM

Crime and the primal instincts

Adult store clerk murdered over a Jenna Jameson doll. He then attempted suicide at a Taco Bell.

A service station robbed by a rock-wielding criminal. Getting in touch with the caveperson in each of us. Seems very new agey in fact.

Posted by duver001 at 12:36 PM

January 5, 2005

Mila does Prairie Home Companion

The Mila Vocal Ensemble will be on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion this weekend. Do check it out!

Hi Anne, is this less embarassing than other possible blog topics?

The new Mila CD (listed in Apple's cddb a week after it came out...) is also available for order on the webpage. <= Shameless plug here!

Posted by duver001 at 6:20 PM

Minnesota Winter

Not as bad as it used to be.
All the cold ways to die before gas heating and polypro undies.

Posted by duver001 at 12:27 PM

Tsunami conspiracy theories begin already

Let me admit that I had a momentary thought while in the coffee shop that maybe sumatran coffee bean prices might be affected. I know I'm going to burn for that though, so here are some worse ones (from other people):

First is the foreknowledge theory. The bad guys, that would be the US government, knew the tsunami was coming but didn't let the good guys, poor third-world folks, know.

The link to oil is explored here. Coincidence or a corporate oil tragedy?

Next is the Iman Falwell theory, that is, the victims were sinful in not following the Koran closely enough. Or bible, or something.

Some religious fanatics in the US praise the tsunami and the Swedish deaths there.

The official "George Bush created the tsunami" web pages.

And this grim photo note from the fnord illuminati in Sumatra.

Lots of possible conspiracy theories here...

Including the New York/Wall Street/Zionist use of nuclear weapons.

And don't forget the bovine illuminati! Obvious connections to the tsunami.

In an interview with the Independent newspaper in Britain, Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "No one can ignore the relentless increase in extreme weather events and so-called natural disasters, which in reality are no more natural than a plastic Christmas tree." Speaking to the same newspaper, Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper pressed the argument home: "Here again are yet more events in the real world that are consistent with climate change predictions." Yup, climate change causes earthquakes...

Or maybe the "terrorists" have earthquake weapons?

Good tsunami data---good starting point for data on the physical quake and waves.

Posted by duver001 at 12:10 PM

Fear Hydrogen

The government created hydrogen in 1897 and altered all history books to reflect otherwise.

Background: I work as a research scientist in a secret government lab deep under the Nevada desert. There are a few things the public needs to know about hydrogen.

FACT: Hydrogen was NOT discovered by Henry Cavendish in 1776 as the books say. Read on...
FACT: in 1892 the US government was experimenting with ways to weaponize a new substance that was discovered at an alien crash site in New Mexico. The military knew that this substance, used as fuel in the alien ship, could be weaponized which would allow the US to take over the world as part of its Pax Americana goal.

FACT: in late 1894 a spark in the secret lab caused the fuel to chain react. It destroyed several square miles of land and created a crater in Arizona. The history books were re-written to suggest that Barrington Crater in Arizona was in fact created by a meteor eons earlier. The fact is that Dr. Hymie Barrington was the person who sparked off the largest explosion until that time on the planet.

FACT: A byproduct of the fusion was a toxic product the government called "Hydrogen." So much of the hydrogen was released that it is now found virtually everywhere on Earth. Recent measurements show that common water is now two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen.

FACT: The US wanted to scare people into not using hydrogen. That is why they engineered the Hindenberg disaster in 1937. An oilman at the time, Wallace Bush (sound familiar?) knew that hydrogen could ruin his new buisiness of oil drilling. Bush, along with Herman Cheney (another oilman) rigged explosives in the Hindenberg back in Germany and activated them by remote control when all the cameras were rolling.

Posted by duver001 at 12:34 AM

Worst quotes of the year

End of the year/start of the year, mandatory best/worst list:
Of course no Best/Worst list would be complete without quotes of the year, here is a pretty comprehensive list from By Daniel Kurtzman, AlterNet

25. "This is the best election night in history." -Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, Nov. 2, 2004, just before 8 p.m. EST

24. "This race is hotter than a Times Square Rolex." -CBS Anchor Dan Rather, on election night

23. "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." -Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding to a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq who asked him why troops had to dig through scrap metal to armor vehicles

22. "I heard there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft." -President George W. Bush, during the second presidential debate

21. "You've done a nice job decorating the White House." -Pop star Jessica Simpson, upon being introduced to Interior Secretary Gale Norton while touring the White House

20. "Go fuck yourself." -Vice President Dick Cheney to Sen. Patrick Leahy, during an angry exchange on the Senate floor about profiteering by Halliburton

19. "I even accept for the sake of argument that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged." -Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking at Harvard

18. "You forgot Poland." -President Bush to Sen. John Kerry during the first presidential debate, after Kerry failed to mention Poland's contributions to the Iraq war coalition

17. "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel." -Sen. Zell Miller to Chris Matthews, during a heated interview on "Hardball"

16. "We are in a three-way split decision for third place." -Sen. Joe Lieberman, on his fifth place finish in the New Hampshire primary

15. "If I could only go through the ducts and leap out onstage in a cape — that's my dream." -Ralph Nader, on the presidential debates

14. "You bet we might have." -Sen. Kerry, asked if he would have gone to war against Saddam Hussein if he refused to disarm

13. "Gammie, we love you dearly, but you're just not very hip. She thinks 'Sex and the City' is something married people do, but never talk about." -Jenna Bush, speaking at the Republican convention

12. "All of a sudden, we see riots, we see protests, we see people clashing. The next thing we know, there is injured or there is dead people. We don't want to get to that extent." -California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the dangers posed by gay marriage

11. "I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified." -CIA Director Porter Goss, in a March 3, 2004 interview that was conducted while he was still in Congress and which was cut from "Fahrenheit 9/11"

10. "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it...I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet...I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." -President Bush, after being asked in a news conference to name the biggest mistake he had made

9. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" -President Bush, joking about his administration's failure to find WMDs in Iraq as he narrated a comic slideshow during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner

8. "So anyway I'd be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda' kissing your neck from behind...and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and I'd just put it on your p — -y but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business..." ˜-Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, as quoted in a sexual harassment suit filed against him by a Fox News producer

7. "Wolf, be excited. This is Joementum here in New Hampshire." -Sen. Joe Lieberman to Wolf Blitzer, on his momentum leading up to the New Hampshire Primary

6. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." -President Bush

5. "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it." -Sen. Kerry, on voting against a military funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq

4. "Go, balloons. Go, balloons. Go, balloons ... What's happening balloons? There's not enough coming down. All balloons! Why the hell is nothing falling? What the fuck are you guys doing up there?" -Democratic Convention producer Don Mischer, overheard on CNN having an apoplectic seizure when the balloons failed to drop from the ceiling of the Fleet Center in Boston

3. "As I was telling my husb-" -National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, overheard making a slip of the tongue at a Washington dinner party. Rice, who is unmarried, stopping herself abruptly, before saying, "As I was telling President Bush."

2. "Not only are we going to New Hampshire ... we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York! And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we're going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House, Yeeeeeaaaaaargh!" -Presidential candidate Howard Dean's Iowa concession speech

1. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." -President Bush

Posted by duver001 at 12:17 AM

January 4, 2005

A continuing crisis

Laura Bush, satanist? Other top urban legends.

Softcore robot porn. Actually work-safe, but a mite bizarre nonetheless.

Bulgarian man admited to the hospital with a blood-alcohol level of 0.914! About twice the usual lethal level...

FEMA's tsunami warning comic for kids. Their "stack up the dead bodies and burn them" game has been removed due to bad taste. Really.

Posted by duver001 at 11:14 PM

Tsunami relief funds = 1.5 Days of Iraq War

Though these sorts of equations have their limitations. The biggest science experiment I've ever worked on costs the same as a new fighter plane, or enough to immunize all of the unimmunized kids in the States.

But the money is never movable.

Posted by duver001 at 12:36 PM

$175 Billion for a bunch of roads in Texas?

Privately owned and tolled. But $175B? Very weird vision of future travel. Quarter-mile wide strips of pavement, with train lines, and power/gas/oil lines. I would think that a back-of-the-envelope calculation would show the number of lines to be silly, but I'm kinda busy at the moment...

Posted by duver001 at 12:26 PM

Negativland, copyright, and Jesus

MN Artists interview with Mark Hosler of Negativland.

Posted by duver001 at 12:18 PM

January 3, 2005

Wikipedia debate continued

The Tea coverage on the wiki I think shows the very best of what is possible with the open source encyclopedia. Some folks have been having luck with other wikis, including wikitravel. Larry Sanger, who I briefly worked with on Nupedia, the peer-reviewed (failed) precursor to wikipedia, has a critical article up on the problems with wikipedia. Check out slashdot for some additional discussion on the subject.

"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you." - William Gladstone

Posted by duver001 at 9:01 PM

Dubya's church funding

Dubya wants to send more money to faith-based "charities." Already five federal agencies send their cash directly to religious organizations...

Posted by duver001 at 4:27 PM

New comet

Doorstep Astronomy: New Comet Looking Bright

By Joe Rao
SPACE.com Night Sky Columnist
posted: 31 December, 2004
7:00 a.m. ET

As 2004 draws to a close, skywatchers have yet another opportunity to view a naked-eye comet. Comet Machholz has been brightening steadily and conditions are now prime.

So far this year, there have been four comets that have managed to attain naked-eye visibility. Last spring, comets Bradfield (C/2004 F4), NEAT (C/2001 Q4), and LINEAR (C/2002 T7) all reached third magnitude, while in July another comet discovered by the automated LINEAR project (C/2003 K4) briefly peaked at sixth magnitude.

On the astronomers' magnitude scale, smaller numbers denote brighter objects. The dimmest objects visible under perfectly dark skies are about magnitude 6.5.

Discovered on Aug. 27 by veteran comet hunter Donald E. Machholz of Colfax, California, comet Machholz (C/2004 Q2) has been brightening steadily during the past several months while approaching both the Sun and Earth.

Getting brighter

This comet currently is glowing at around magnitude 3.5 and is visible to the naked eye in dark, non-light polluted skies, though much better seen in binoculars or telescopes. This kind of brightness makes Machholz a very fine comet from the viewpoint of a serious amateur astronomer, but it doesn't appear that this comet will become the kind of spectacle that Comet Hale-Bopp was in grabbing the broader public's attention.

Yet this is an auspicious circumstance, as Machholz is now the fifth naked eye comet in 2004. Twice before, in 1911 and again in 1970, four comets managed to reach naked-eye brightness within a single calendar year.

But when Andrew Pearce of Noble Falls, Western Australia saw the comet without any optical aid on Nov. 19, it put 2004 into the books as a record year for naked-eye comets.

At this moment the comet's motion across the sky is toward the north, making it increasingly well placed for Northern Hemisphere observers. During January, according to calculations made by Brian Marsden of the Smithsonian Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the comet will move north of the celestial equator, tracking from southern Taurus on up into the constellation Perseus.

From a brightness standpoint, the comet has also been performing excellently; in fact, running nearly twice as bright as predictions had originally suggested.

Observers who have looked for the comet during the late evening hours could readily see its bright, bluish-white head surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of dust and gas called the coma.

Happy comet campers

A couple of weeks ago, Mike Begbie, observing from Harare, Zimbabwe with 15x60 binoculars, said, "The comet is becoming spectacular. The coma is highly condensed and the dust tail is broad and prominent."

"I couldn't take my binoculars off the comet!" exclaims Brian Summers, a magazine editor from Katonah, New York. "It was an `instant pickup' – just point the binoculars and there it was!"

"Machholz's comet very much reminds me of Comet Kobayashi-Berger-Millon," said Long Island, New York amateur, Sam Storch. "I remember that comet from the summer of 1975 and like Machholz, it passed relatively near to the Earth and also displayed a very condensed nucleus and a large coma."

John E. Bortle, a well-known comet observer from Stormville, New York, describes Comet Machholz as "a strange looking beast; its tails are relatively weak, but the separation (lag-angle) between the classic ion tail and the "thing" that passes for a dust tail, is huge (more than 90 degrees!)."

Bortle believes "the comet will continue to be a very nice sight in January when we can view it high in the evening sky."

During mid-December, the comet's coma appeared ½ degrees across (equal to the apparent size of the full Moon). That size translated into an actual diameter of 384,000 miles and with Machholz continuing to approach both the Sun and Earth in the coming days, the coma's size can only continue to grow larger.

Comet Machholz will be closest to Earth on the night of Jan. 5-6, 2005, when it will be 32,256,000 miles away.

On the evening of Jan. 7, it will conveniently pass just a couple of degrees to the west of the famous Pleiades star cluster, making for a pretty sight in binoculars [Map]. The comet will probably be cresting at its brightest right around this time, perhaps peaking at around magnitude +3.3, which would make it equal in brightness to Megrez, the star that joins the handle with the bowl of the Big Dipper.

"I have been most impressed with recent views of comet Machholz from Palm Springs, California," writes Robert Victor, an astronomer who served for many years at the Abrams Planetarium of Michigan State University. "I am looking forward to its passage near the Pleiades in early January."

From the discoverer

"It has been a pleasure for me to watch this comet grow and develop," Don Machholz told SPACE.com. "I have also had a few months to plan for the time when the comet reaches this point. As a result of having a bit of lead time, I wrote a PowerPoint talk, giving it at local astronomy (and other) clubs during the last couple of months.

"In recent weeks, while the comet has been rising during the mid-evening hours, I've been inviting friends and neighbors to my house for 'private' viewing of the comet," Machholz said. "Other local astronomers and I will be holding a series of public star parties at various locations in the foothills, showing the comet and Saturn and other stuff to the public. We've been doing public star parties for years, but I believe this is the first time we've been able to show a Comet Machholz."

January and beyond

Continuing northward, the comet will slip less 2 degrees to the east of the famous variable star, Algol in Perseus on the night of Jan. 16-17. The comet will reach perihelion at around 22 hours G.M.T./5:00 p.m. EST on Jan. 24, when it will be 112,019,920 miles from the Sun.

The position of comet Machholz at 9 p.m. local time from mid-northern latitudes on various nights as it climbed higher into the sky during December. Since the comet will be more-or-less opposite the Sun all during this "flyby," it should easily be visible in a dark sky.

Then during February, March and April, Comet Machholz will become circumpolar from mid-northern latitudes. Or in other words, during this time frame it will always remain above the horizon, appear to neither rise nor set. During the second week of March, it will pass within half-dozen degrees of Polaris, the North Star.

Our latest "guesstimates" Machholz's brightness in the coming weeks, is for it to gradually dim to about fourth magnitude by the end of January and to around fifth magnitude by the third week of February. Those blessed with very dark skies might even be able to continue following the comet with just their unaided eyes until about the middle of March. Of course, the comet could always dim much more rapidly . . . or, conversely, a sudden unexpected flare-up could also
occur as well.

But these are extreme cases. So far, the comet has performed very well and there is no reason not to believe that it will continue to delight Northern Hemisphere observers for at least several more weeks.

Once again, we should stress that the darker your observing site, the better the comet will appear. With the bright Moon pretty much out of the way during the first half of January, prospective comet observers are likely to have their greatest success.

After comet Machholz whirls around the Sun on Jan. 24, it will head far out into space. Traveling in a highly elongated orbit, taking it far beyond the known limits of our solar system, it could again return to the vicinity of the Earth and Sun about 119,000 years from now.

Posted by duver001 at 1:56 PM

January 2, 2005

British gal's school lesson saves at least 100 folks at a Thai beach

School lessons can save lives, maybe even 100 lives.

Posted by duver001 at 2:48 PM

January 1, 2005

An especially good "What's New"

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 31 Dec 04 Washington, DC

It's been 145 years since Darwin published Origin of Species,
perhaps the world's greatest scientific discovery. No other
idea has connected so many pieces of knowledge. It's now 80
years since the Scopes trial. If any doubts about evolution
remain, you might suppose that DNA analysis would sweep them
away. We can now measure how closely we are related to every
creature on Earth. We share half our DNA with yeast. So
genetically similar are bonobos to humans that, but for the
inability of bonobos to talk, they might demand a seat in the
UN. Yet, in Dover, PA, a town much like Dayton, TN, the school
board voted to require that intelligent design be taught
alongside evolution. The school board will lose in court, but
we must ask ourselves why science has been so spectacularly
unsuccessful in explaining such obvious truths to people.

A hundred-million miles or so from Dover, PA, two geologists
are picking their way over the Martian surface. They've found
what they were looking for: unmistakable evidence that in the
distant past there were bodies of salty water on Mars that may
have been nurseries of life. Science picked the exploration of
Mars as the Breakthrough of the Year. It is now a year since
Spirit bounced onto Mars, soon to be followed by Opportunity.
Eating only sunlight, they survived the Martian winter, the
intense radiation, and they're still going. The search for
life to which we are not related is the most exciting quest in
science. Spirit and Opportunity are wonderful instruments, but
it's the scientists back on Earth who control the robots,
having become virtual astronauts, who are the explorers. The
real distance from Dover, PA can't be measured in miles.

While scientists are exploring Mars, the big news from the ISS
was that a robotic Russian cargo craft had safely docked with
food and water. It was a month late. To make matters worse,
the previous crew had raided the pantry, forcing the crew of
two to eat mostly desserts and candy, sort of like Christmas on
Earth. What a sad waste. Is there any use to be made the
giant space turkey? Perhaps they could make an ISS sitcom.

Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the
University of Maryland, but they should be.

Posted by duver001 at 4:05 PM