Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

June, 2009:

More Rush stupidity.

I can’t accuse Limbaugh of ignorance on this one because that implies that he just doesn’t have the information. This time, it’s just a case of stupid.

I found this article from Metavirus over on Library Grape about Governor Sanford’s affair and what the cause was. Jimmy Kimmel had some humor (I’m assuming), but Rush took the cake with this

Rush Limbaugh, without a hint of humor, argued that South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) cheated on his wife, betrayed his family, and abandoned his professional responsibilities to fly off to Argentina … and it’s President Obama’s fault.

“This is almost like, ‘I don’t give a damn, the country’s going to Hell in a handbasket, I just want out of here,'” Limbaugh said. “[Sanford] had just tried to fight the stimulus money coming to South Carolina. He didn’t want any part of it; he lost the battle. He said, ‘What the hell. I mean, the federal government’s taking over — what the hell, I want to enjoy life.'”

Limbaugh added, “The point is, there are a lot of people whose spirit is just — they’re fed up, saying, ‘To hell with it, I don’t even want to fight this anymore, I just want to get away from it.'”

A listener apparently sent Limbaugh an email during the program, asking if he was kidding about the White House’s economic policies being responsible for Sanford’s affair. “No!” he said, adding that the governor may have realized, “The Democrats are destroying the country; we can’t do anything to stop it.”

As a general rule, I try to avoid name-calling… though I’m having a tough time refraining in this case because it seems to be somewhat warranted.

Metavirus sums it up thusly…

Remember when conservatives used to say that liberals were opposed to people taking responsibility for their own actions? Good times, good times.

Or, if you’d rather go with lolspeak…

Teh stoopid! It burnzz!!

Rush Limbaugh is profoundly ignorant

Rush LimbaughEvery now and then, I listen to Rush just to see what he’s up to. Usually, I find him ranting, sometimes incoherently, about the evils of the Democratic party or giving some sort of out-there, right-wing dissertation on how to interpret the latest actions of the liberal elite. It’s entertaining, in a “pandering to intellectual vapidity” kind of way, but I end up shaking my head in dismay within 5 or 10 minutes, after which I change the station, lest my eyes glaze over and I veer uncontrollably off the freeway.

At times, however, Rush just gets his facts wrong… or contradicts himself… or misses the point. Today, he did all of the above in grand style. Not only that, but he displayed a huge amount of sheer ignorance about the subject on which he was speaking. Sadly, I don’t have a transcript, because it’s not on his site yet, since it was less than an hour ago that I heard this part of his show. However, I got the main gist of it.

There’s an addition to what he was calling the “cap and trade” bill. I didn’t hear the beginning, so I’m not sure of the exact bill, but the addition was a list of items related to gaining energy independence. The government would offer an award to anyone who could invent technology to accomplish any of the tasks in the list during the next 10 or 20 years. The list included solar energy, better gas mileage, bio-fuels efficiency, and a number of other items that we don’t currently know how to do in any practical sense.

Rush lambasted the entire list, calling the items absurd or pointless or senseless… or some other combination of words that escapes me. He decried the list with exclamations such as “We don’t have the technology to even do that!” or “We’re nowhere near being able to do that!” or “If there was profit in it, we’d already have it now!” Evidently, in Rush’s little world, since it’s currently profitable to build Toyota Sequoias, we should have had them since the dawn of time. Or since nuclear energy is profitable, we should have had nuclear power plants way before the civil war.

But then he says the following about alternative energy as opposed to coal and oil (paraphrased until a transcript is available):

The coal already has the energy in it. All we have to do is dig it up. The oil already has energy in it. We just have to get it and refine it.

Magic coal and magic oil. The energy is already in it and magically appears in our homes just by digging it up! That’s all we have to do!

He then stated that our energy problems would be solved if we just drilled here at home… and that the world was nowhere near the point of running out of oil or natural gas… as if that would be a perfectly valid reason to never do any research into any alternative sources. Never mind pollution. Never mind cost. Don’t plan ahead. That would be bad… and silly.

Rush seems to have no concept of what research is or how it works. He misses the fundamental point that technology advances with research. It doesn’t just appear in a magic poof of spontaneous Republican ingenuity. The research takes work and it takes time and it takes money… and if it gets started now instead of next year, it puts us one year closer to a beneficial result. Rush seems to prefer doing nothing but burning coal and oil. Don’t bother with the research because “we don’t have that technology now.” Don’t bother rewarding those who can come up with more energy efficient solutions. Don’t bother improving technology so we don’t have to pollute the Earth. Don’t bother because we have plenty of oil and natural gas.

…and it seems Rush is producing most of the gas.

Cool on a Galactic Level

The Arches ClusterWhile perusing Tom’s Astronomy Blog, I saw a post about the Arches Cluster, which is near the center of our galaxy, a mere 25,000 light years away. Pictures of space always fascinate me, but this picture comes with information that takes “fascinate” to a whole new level.

The Arches Cluster is a small (relatively speaking), dense cluster of huge baby stars. The new picture from the European Organization for Astronomical Research‘s Very Large Telescope is “one of the sharpest views ever of the Arches Cluster.” Check out the press release to see more details of the photo of this area of our galaxy. It’s breathtaking.

From the press release:

“With the extreme conditions in the Arches Cluster, one might indeed imagine that stars won’t form in the same way as in our quiet solar neighbourhood,” says Pablo Espinoza, the lead author of the paper reporting the new results.”However, our new observations showed that the masses of stars in this cluster actually do follow the same universal law”.

In this image the astronomers could also study the brightest stars in the cluster. “The most massive star we found has a mass of about 120 times that of the Sun,” says co-author Fernando Selman. “We conclude from this that if stars more massive than 130 solar masses exist, they must live for less than 2.5 million years and end their lives without exploding as supernovae, as massive stars usually do.”

For reference, the most massive known star is the Pistol Star, with a mass of about 200 times that of our sun. That’s in our galaxy. The biggest known star in diameter is VY Canis Majoris with a solar radius of about 18,000 – 21,000 (that’s 18 – 21 thousand times bigger than our sun). It’s also in our galaxy. Outside our galaxy, we can see other galaxies, but not much of their contents… at least not directly.

Seeing those stars in the Arches Cluster is fascinating for me, but for an astronomer, it’s got to be the stuff of dreams. There are lots of stars to study, but this formation is unique.

Our galaxy (the Milky Way, for those of you who haven’t kept up) contains an estimated 200 to 400 billion stars. The observable universe probably contains more than 100 billion galaxies.

That’s a lot of stars.

The Bacon Lance

Okay, so it’s not like I (and the enlightened contingent of humanity) don’t know that bacon isn’t the world’s most awesome meat, but until today, even I didn’t fully comprehend the heights of awesomeness that bacon could reach.

Now I know.

Behold, the bacon lance… a torch made of bacon that burns so hot it can cut through a steel pan. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a cutting torch… made of bacon.

baconlance001

Ummm… wow. You can watch the video below (or at the link above) of the bacon lance’s construction.

My favorite quote: “It turns out that ordinary American bacon does not have the structural integrity that’s necessary for this applicaiton so I’m using an engineering grade of bacon which is known as prosciutto.”

“Engineering grade”… R0XX0R!

Sadly, at the end of the article, there’s a warning which says, “Theodore Gray is trained in lab safety. Don’t try this at home.”

So much for my weekend plans.

Seriously? The best health care system?

Senator Richard Shelby

Republican Senator Richard Shelby said on Sunday that President Obama’s proposed health care reform plan is “first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.”

Are we talking about the least expensive health care system? No. Are we talking about the most effective health care system? It seems not. Are we talking about the health care system that covers the most people in the country? It’s not that, either.

I wonder, then, what criteria Senator Shelby is using when he makes his statement because using the criteria that I think most people would use to judge the quality of the health care system, his statement can be considered nothing more than political grandstanding.

While I don’t necessarily know what the best way is to improve our health care system, I certainly don’t think that the solution is to spew partisan hyperbole or to repeatedly parrot the party-line talking points.

…especially when those talking points have no basis in reality.

Jenny McCarthy Body Count

To augment my disgust with anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy, I’d like to provide this link to JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com.

Not only does it highlight the vaccine-preventable illnesses and deaths, but includes information and links about both vaccinations and the anti-vax movement.

Give it a visit and help show anti-vaxxers that their dangerous and ignorant actions are unacceptable.

We are very tiny

I came across this video this weekend and wanted to share it. I’ve seen static images with size comparisons of the planets in our solar system, our sun, and other starts in our galaxy, but this video makes it significantly more dramatic.

It also uses the music from Disney’s movie The Black Hole, which, despite it’s scientific shenanigans with physics, is just a fun, fun movie.

(For the best effect, click the “HD” button and then make it full screen. Good stuff!)

Windows Live Writer

I just used Windows Update to get the latest Windows Live tools and one tool was Windows Live Writer which gives you an editing interface for your desktop that can automatically publish your content to your blog (I’m using it to write this).

It’s somewhat like a mini-version of Microsoft Word, but it has some sidebars and dropdowns for blog-related stuff like categories and keywords, inserting pictures and links, and related stuff. It’s pretty much the browser interface of WordPress with a different layout, which begs the question… What’s the point?

If I’m using my computer and have an internet connection, why use Windows Live Writer instead of just loading my browser and using the WordPress interface. As far as I can tell, the Windows Live Writer writing interface isn’t all that much more feature-laden.

Perhaps some more experimentation is in order.

Don’t mess with my movie.

Drop... your... sword.People who know me well know that my favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. Ever since college, it’s been at the top of my list and I think I’ve seen it well over 30 times, though I lost count a long time ago.

Whenever I had a bad day, I’d pop that movie in the VCR. If I was extra lucky, a good friend who also loved the movie would come over, too, and the two of us would sit there watching it and talking along with almost every single word of dialog. To anyone else, it would have been annoying beyond compare, but to the two of us, it was bliss. By the end of the movie, the bad day had been forgotten and the sunlit world of happy endings had taken over.

I’ve always had a knack for remembering lines from movies, songs, or scripts, something that came in handy during my participation in high school plays, musicals, and barbershop quartets. It’s also something that is a source of aggravation…either for me or for someone else who gets a movie quote wrong while I’m around.

“No. She didn’t say ‘like that.’ She said, ‘I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.'”

Believe me, if you’re not surrounded by friends who really like you (or by happy drunk people), that kind of thing gets eye rolls of derision.

I’ve learned (mostly) to keep it in check unless I’m just teasing a friend… or my boss. The only time it’s really tough to do is when someone screws up dialogue from a favorite movie; specifically The Princess Bride.

For instance…

Recently, my father-in-law was visiting (which is good, since I like my in-laws). He’s usually sleeping when I go to work, so I don’t get to see him in the mornings, but this particular morning, I was taking it easy and left the house later than usual, so he was up. As I was saying goodbye and was walking out the door, he said (in a Jewish Miracle Max voice), “Good luck stormin’ da castle!”

I smiled. I chuckled. I closed the door behind me. I got in my car. I started the engine. I pulled out of the driveway. I took a deep breath.

“It’s ‘HAVE FUN stormin’ da castle!'”

And that is how my knack for remembering movie dialogue creates aggravation for me.

But family harmony was preserved… which, like bacon, is a good thing.

Pixar’s UP Almost Ruined by Clueless Harpy

Pixar UPI love Pixar movies. Pixar has never made a movie that has even come close to disappointing me. They’re consistently funny, dramatic, beautiful, and even a little geeky if you know some behind-the-scenes stuff.

Given my penchant for their movies, I was excited to see UP. I planned it so my daughter and I could go see it in 3D on opening night at the best theater in our area. We showed up an hour early just to make sure we could get tickets and get a good seat dead smack in the center of the screen. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as I’d expected, so we had no trouble at all… perfect seats.

Except for one thing.

Two rows behind me, sitting slightly to the left, was a woman who evidently lives in her own self-centered, egotistical bubble of inconsideration and, in an almost conversational volume, kept up an inane, non-stop commentary of the movie’s events to her child, stopping only to indignantly shush him when he made any comments or noises of his own.

“Awww…”

“Oh, look at that!”

“Wow!”

“Oh, they parked right where he wanted.”

“Look at all the balloons!”

“Uh-oh. The balloons are popping.”

“The bird wants her babies.”

“Awww… ” (again)

“Ha! Ha! Ha! That’s so clever!”

“Oh, the poor dog.”

“He’s sad.”

“Awww…” (oh yes… over, and over, and over…)

I’m very non-confrontational, so for a long time, I sat there and tried to ignore her. At one point, I got frustrated enough that I turned around and looked at her, displaying the universally accepted “shut the hell up” expression. Sadly, we all had the 3D glasses on, so the laser-focused, burning heat of my baleful glare didn’t have its fully intended effect.

A short while later, I took a page from her own playbook and turned around and shushed her. Sadly, the shush had a lasting effect of about 60 seconds. In retrospect, there’s a good chance she thought I was shushing her son. I think she was completely unaware of the extreme obnoxiousness of her behavior.

I really should have turned around and said something like, “Lady, would you please knock off the running commentary so the rest of us can enjoy the movie.” I probably would have gotten applause from the people sitting around me.

As it was, it took a lot away from the movie for both me and my daughter. I still loved the movie, though, which is a testament to Pixar’s genius, and I love going to real movie theaters. I really think, however, that it’s not the high prices of movie tickets, popcorn and drinks that will lead to the demise of theaters. It’s inconsiderate, rude, obnoxious, graceless, ignorant people (like the clueless harpy I encountered) that will bring them down.

Next time, I’ll speak up.