Monday, April 30, 2012

New Earth Found! Well, sorta... Along with 19 other ones...

COOL, TOO KEWL! Earth-like planet found that MAY have been a larger hunk of rock that split up after an ugly encounter with it's star! As my Super-Hero colleague and close personal friend, The Tick, said, "Gravity is a harsh mistress..."

See: SPACE.COM for more info...

I'm still wrapping my head around CT Gov Malloy repealing the death penalty even though 67% of CT folks said it (repeal) was a bad thing... Sigh... Just when did our "representatives" become less than that...than that...

GIANT MOON This Weekend! AAARRRGGGHHHH!

Seems there are plenty of reasons to believe that our own moon is going to [A] crash into us, or [B] cause severe tides so that Denver becomes beachfront property, or [C] get so close as to pull us off the surface of the earth and fling us all into outer space where we will all explode in a horrible frozen bloody death. Those reasons, in order, are [A] stupid people on the internet or [B] stupid people who read stupid things on the internet written by aforementioned stupid people on the internet or [C] stupid people who run blogs who report on stupid stories about stupid people who read stupid things on the internet written by aforementioned stupid people on the internet or, lastly, [D] folks who have previously claimed to have been abducted by aliens, probed in unspeakable ways, then returned to their loved ones to rattle on and on about being probed in unspeakable ways.

Now, as anyone who has ever paid attention to this hysteric type of thing, I can say demonstratively and succinctly that the moon is not, let me repeat, NOT going to kill us this weekend. Nor, is it going to drown, smite, set on fire, collide, send locusts or otherwise spell doom for mankind as set forth by the stupid "2012" subscribers. I much prefer to follow the Armageddon-ish view where Bruce Willis will save us from certain death from a rogue comet originating iron-core asteroid the size of Texas that no one saw till it was too late. [Soliloquy: I'm relatively confident I'd be able to scream to my neighbors, whom I hold no love for, "Look! Here comes Texas!" a few days before Micheal Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer decided the world need to see it...] Anyway, I digress... Which is not a bad thing...

Anyway, the Moon is at Perihelion this weekend, the closest approach to the Earth in it's sorta wide elliptical orbit. So, yeah. It's larger than normal. DURING THE MONTH! The last time it was this "large: was May 2011! OMG! That was before I was born! Wait... Maybe not...

Take a look:


Compliments APOD.com

So, yeah, duh.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

OMG: Oh My Geosynchronous !

Check out this video from APOD! It shows a line of geosynchronous satellites as the distant stars "fly" by. These satellites must remain stationary relative to the earth's surface, so have a period of 24 hrs. SO COOL!

Geostationary satellites in the Swiss Alps from Michael Kunze on Vimeo.

Feel free to embiggenate for better viewing!

CT Illegally, or at least Immorally, Passes Death Penalty Repeal !

Well, now. Here's my understanding of elected officials responsibility. We elect them to represent us. That means they should and must represent our ideas, ideals, and needs. Well, apparently, someone in CT forgot that this week. CT just repealed the death penalty, the 17th to do so, but "grandfathered" all those eleven bad people who are already on death-row; they still die.

Details? Sure, I got a few. Our illustrious opinionated Governor Dan Malloy was quoted as telling the legislators, and I quote, "Vote with your hearts." Wait. What? I thought they were supposed to vote FOR THE PEOPLE, not with their hearts or emotions. What the Front Yard is going on?

CT folks have repeatedly and overwhelmingly polled to KEEP the death penalty. A few results:

According to Yale Daily News: A Quinnipiac University poll released last week revealed that Connecticut voters largely support capital punishment. According to the poll, 62 percent of Connecticut voters surveyed said abolishing the death penalty is a “bad idea.”
According to NorthBranfordPathch: Women want Connecticut to keep the death penalty by a margin of 58-33 percent, men support the death penalty by a margin of 66-29 percent. Democrats surveyed supported repealing the death penalty by a margin of 48-44 percent, while those who classified themselves as "liberals" supported its abolition by a margin of 48-45 percent. All other groups surveyed supported the death penalty.
So, if 62% of a voting block want a law to remain in place, where does the legislators get the power to ignore that? Isn't that illegal of them? If not, isn't it at least over-the-cliff unethical?

A cofusing argument, to me, is:

Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, who opposed the bill last year following the home invasion case's death penalty phase, voted to support the repeal in the Senate. "I cannot stand the thought of being responsible for somebody being falsely accused and facing the death penalty," she said. "For me, this is a moral issue and realizing that mistakes are obviously made."
So, let me get this straight. Our leaders are no afraid to make decisions because they might be wrong? Wow. If I lived my life that way, I'd still be clinging onto my mother's breasts. If you knew my mother, that is an utterly unappealing prospect, believe me. Let's be grown-up here. Yes, mistakes happen, and yes, when they happen they can be devastating. However, we are not talking about the "evidence" admitted back in Perry Mason's day. Now, we have this thing called DNA and lots of expensive science machines that go "ping" that can virtually point a finger at only one human being out of the 7,000,000,000 on the planet. Case in point was the infamous OJ trial. The 5 drops of blood tested showed OJ had an identical genetic type that occurs in about one out of 170 million African-Americans. To some folks, 170 Million to 1 may not be that impressive. However, when you consider that in 1995 the entire world population was 5.6 billion, and the population of the United States was 261 million with 33 Million African-Americans. Two other blood samples: The two samples share a combination of genetic characteristics that would occur in about one out of 9.7 billion Caucasians and about one out of 530 billion African-Americans. Both these stats should scream out at you that OJ's DNA was LESS THAN 1 out of the total number of African-Americans in the gene pool. Is Sen Prague afraid of the math or is she still stuck in Perry Mason's day? DNA, by the way, has freed more than 250 innocent folks who WERE in prison due to faulty or lacking scientific evidence. This argument of "we make mistakes" is simply a feeble weak person's way of shirking their actual duty of punishing the bad. Darn, just how nice are we going to be to these criminals?

How many of our lawmakers seriously think the eleven bad folks currently on death-row won't take this opportunity to re-convene their own cases at a huge public tax cost? What sense does it make to say that if you killed someone before Wednesday 04/11/2012, you die, but if you kill someone next week, we'll be happy to give you 3-square meals a day, provide better health care than the working middle class shmuck you killed had, and we will provide advanced education so you can be released back into society so you can thank each and every member of CT for doing that for you? I get cramps just thinking about this! I'm already ticked off at Dan Malloy for his idiotic (and I reserve that word for the most serious offenders of logic) comments made about teachers and his "educational reform". He actually stated that "...no teachers will leave the state..." due to his education package that actually decreases teacher pay (See my next post dedicated to the CT Educ Reform Bill...). Well, I'm one of them. Along with this death penalty repeal, decreasing my salary by up to 25% in the 3rd most expensive state, and the overall ridiculous tax rates and government waste here in CT, I'm gone.

Recent Really Stupid Political Activities...

I'm not very savvy on the ins and outs of the political scene. I do my best to keep abreast of what's happening and whose causing it. However, there have been a couple silly (and IMHO downright illegal) political happenings the past week or so.

First, similar to some of the other anti-science education topics I've tried to cover here, Tennessee's so-called "Monkey Bill" stands to set back science education a good century or more. We've come a long way since the Butler Act of 1925, the law that actually prohibited the teaching of evolution in classrooms in Tennessee. Yikes. However, let's keep in mind that was 1925. Unclothed savages and dinosaurs roamed the Tennessee Valley way back then. Then the (in)famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" backed by the even more (in)famous ACLU challenged this Butler Act via a school teacher named John Scopes. In a long drawn-out battle between Jennings Bryan and Darrow, but the Butler Act was actively on the Tennessee books till 1967.

Well, it seems our ID.10.T friends from Tennessee are at it again; attacking science at its core. The Monkey Bill has become State Law. What I can't comprehend, beyond even the fact that elected officials can be some dumb when it comes to even what science is, let alone how to teach it, is the fact Governor Bill Haslam didn't even sign it! Yep, that's right! He decided NOT TO SIGN THE BILL and it passed into law anyway. According to the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis TN:

In a short statement Tuesday afternoon, Haslam said that while he did not see that the bill would change the "scientific standards" taught in Tennessee schools, he also didn't see it accomplishing "anything that isn't already acceptable in our schools." He noted that while the bill passed with a three-to-one margin in the House and Senate, "good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion." "My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill, but will allow it to become law without my signature." This is the first bill in Haslam's nearly 15 months in office that he has allowed to become law without his signature. Although the governor didn't say so, a veto would likely not have killed the bill. Under the Tennessee Constitution, the legislature can override a governor's veto by simple majority votes of the total membership of each chamber -- 17 votes in the 33-member Senate and 50 votes in the 99-member House. The bill won House approval on a 70-23 vote last year, then Senate approval 25-8 last month.
Oh, My Proverbial God! That means I can now safely teach my religion in my Fizzix class! I personally subscribe and practice the Flying Spaghetti Monster as my creator.

Let me be clear here, the language of TN House Bill 368 (Senate Bill 893) states:

(a) The general assembly finds that: (1) An important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to becoming intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens; (2) The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy; and (3) Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects. (b) The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues. [Emphasis mine...]
Yikes...

See next post for a crime committed by my own CT Legislature just yesterday...