Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

November, 2008:

Kitty Video!

My daughter’s new kitten started doing a begging thing with her paws and it was so cute that we just had to encourage it. Here’s a video of her doing it for treats.

And yes, the other cats did get treats, too… just not during the video. 😉

Dr. Horrible Soundtrack on Amazon

Get the soundtrack now!

Get the soundtrack now!

By the way, the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog soundtrack is now available via an MP3 download at Amazon.com. This is important for folks like me who don’t use iTunes and never will. The Amazon MP3’s are not DRM protected, so you can play them on any MP3 player, which is one of the major benefits of purchasing your MP3’s somewhere other than iTunes (in my opinion, of course). So have at it! If the songs aren’t already stuck in your head, they really should be.

Oh… and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you really need to go watch now. Just click here and sit back for some really great entertainment. It’s about 45 minutes long, so make sure you block it off in your schedule before you get started.

…in a galaxy far, far away…

Artist's interpretation of Fomalhaut

Artist's interpretation of Fomalhaut

Yesterday, I read that astronomers had actually photographed planets outside our solar system for the first time. Planets had been detected before, but always by methods other than direct visuals. This is the first time they’ve actually seen an object this cool (temperature-wise) and this small outside our own solar system, according to aBBC article (linked below).

To me, that’s just phenomenally cool. Astronomers viewing other galaxies and deep space features like gas clouds and nebulae has produced images that are just fundamentally awe-inspiring, showing a universe that is at once beautiful, mysterious, and scientifically enthralling. Seeing actual planets gives spine-tingling shivers to those of us who have imaginations that love to wander around the speculative playground of extraterrestrial life.

I never got to see Star Trek much as a kid, but Science Fiction has always fascinated me from an early age. Seeing images of space from astronomers’ telescopes always ignites a feeling of wonder and appreciation for the vastness of the universe and gets my imagination soaring around space travel, exploration, alien life, terra-forming, and all kinds of other fantastical ideas. It also piques my scientific curiosity about how the universe works, how it formed, and where it’s headed.

Kudos to the astronomers who made this new planetary discovery. Keep up the great work and know that you’re not only making leaps of scientific progress, but you’re providing inspiration and joy to those of us who step into the images of your discoveries… if only in our minds.

Here’s a link to an article about the discovery: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7725584.stm

So NOW what?

I watched Obama’s acceptance speech this morning and as he walked out onto the platform in front of 125,000 supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park, I joked with a co-worker that he’s walking out there thinking, “Wow… I won! OMG NOW WHAT?!?”

I doubt if he was actually thinking that, but that joke and an interview question that my niece asked me yesterday for her school project started my speculation. Now that Barack Obama won the election and will be President of the United States of America come January, what will happen?

My niece’s question was “What do you think will happen if Barack Obama becomes President?” My answer? “I think our standing in the international community would increase dramatically over the first few years.” That was all. She asked the same question about McCain. My answer was, “Nothing.”

I didn’t mean it as a negative against McCain. I don’t think any Presidential candidate can fulfill all the promises and plans made on the campaign trail. He may sincerely want to fulfill them, but when it comes right down to it, the President isn’t the “do’er.” He (or she) has influence (some more than others, obviously) and can help drive things in a certain direction, but it’s Congress who actually “does stuff” when it comes to domestic issues. The President can propose and he can shoot down.

However, the “Commander in Chief” controls the military and controls foreign policy (more or less). I believe that Obama will represent the United States positively to the rest of the world and based on world polls, the world believes that, too. That, in and of itself, will do more for national security than any amount of border control or military action or aggressive posturing, especially in the long run. Representing the United States with strong, positive leadership tempered with humility and a willingness to listen to others’ viewpoints will repair this country’s relationships and make it stronger and safer. I believe Obama can do that.

I’m not as sure about the heavily Democratic Congress, however, when it comes to domestic policy. I hope that Obama can bring any wildly left-wing proposals into the middle, but only time will tell. Up to this point, the gap between political parties has been fairly wide and the gap has gotten increasingly larger in the past 8 years, so hoping for a spontaneous “meet in the middle” would be somewhat naive. I do hope for a nudge in that direction, however… enough to get the ball rolling toward the middle area where it belongs. If Obama can get that to happen, I’d put a pretty big check mark in his “Success” column.