Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gamma-ray burst offers first peek at a young galaxy's star factory

It came from outer space- deep outer space, near the edge of the universe, some 11 million light-years away. It was gone in a flash! Yet, it was one of the largest 'bangs' ever witnessed. In fact, it occurred at the edges of the Big Bang; GRB 080607 blew up when the universe was just 2.2 billion years old.

Gamma-ray bursts- the most violent and luminous explosions occurring in the Universe since the Big Bang- are caused by immense explosions following the collapse of the core of a rapidly rotating, high-mass star into a black hole. Fascinating stuff, indeed.

Astronomers believe most occur when exotic massive stars run out of nuclear fuel. As a star's core collapses into a black hole, jets of material — powered by processes not yet fully understood — blast outward at nearly the speed of light. The jets bore all the way through the collapsing star and continue into space, where they interact with gas previously shed by the star and generate bright afterglows that fade with time.

Astrophysists are coming closer to the edge of the universe and the so-called Big Bang itself, just 2.2 billion years away. We all wonder what they will discover at that precipice of time. Perhaps they will find the 'master' of the universe there, shining magnificently, sitting on a gamma-ray throne.

"Answers" on Creation Coming Your Way

If you live in the Northwest Ohio area, and want the 'answers' to creation, be sure to mark down March 15 and 16th on your calendar. Those two days hold the answers to the questions of life on earth. An adjunct lecturer with the Institute for Creation Research and expert in the field will hold a seminar to help us understand how 'it' all happened.
Sorry, but the series won't be held at the University of Toledo nor bowling Green State University and the lecturer is not a paleontologist, biologist or biochemist. No. It is at the Monclova Road Baptist Church.

Yes, friends, everything you wanted to know about primordial matter, DNA and RNA, cell-formation, enzymes, ester-linked phospholipids, cyclic 2,3-diphosphoglycerate, and abiogenesis in general will not be heard on those days at that location.

Rather, "Answers in Genesis" will be the subject of this lecture series. Everything that you wanted to know about the science of life is contained in both of the stories of creation presented in that ancient Jewish document.
The presenter is Mike Riddle- " a dynamic and passionate speaker, with a wealth of experience in creation ministry. He already has a phenomenal reputation, and brings another exciting dimension to the AiG outreach—including his ability to produce curriculum for many levels. Mike’s a great speaker and curriculum developer.”

What more is there to say? The Answers in Genesis website has some interesting topics that the curious scientist may wish to explore such as, Are Some Mutations Directed? and What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? Also, Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old?

There you have it, amateur scientists, everything you wanted to know about creation in two exciting, science-filled days. And this about the lecturer: Mike Riddle is a former world-class athlete in the multi-event decathlon (i.e., becoming proficient in ten athletic events, with each decathlon conducted over two grueling days), it’s not surprising that Mike is also versatile in his “creation evangelism” efforts.

Finally, this piece of information to help you decide whether you'll want to attend the church series: Mike will also be holding workshops in the new AiG-USA facility (within the Creation Museum) in Northern Kentucky.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mr. Bean for Head of GOP

Mr. Bean would make a great replacement for embattled GOP chief, Michael Steele. He has all of the qualifications, especially this one: "a child in a grown man's body." Mr. Bean is based on a character developed by Rowan Atkinson which followed the exploits of Mr. Bean, described by Atkinson as, "a child in a grown man's body, in solving various problems presented by everyday tasks and often causing disruption in the process." 

You have to admit that the 'solutions' offered by most of the current members of the Republican Party have already been presented on British Comedy Television. They are clearly 'adolescent' in depth and 'childish' at best.

Mr. Bean, you are da man!

Joe the Plumber's Newest Job

He isn't a plumber and his name is Samuel, but what the hell does that matter? Samuel Wurtzelbacker, author, war correspondent, and red herring for the McCain/Palin presidential campaign now hopes to 'earn' a living through litigation proceedings.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday by Washington-based Judicial Watch says Samuel J. Wurzelbacher suffered emotional distress, harassment and embarrassment as a result of the search of his records by three former Ohio officials. It seeks unspecified punitive damages. I bet it does.

Looks like Joe aka Sam might just make it to the $250,000 level- the tax level of which he complained to candidate Obama in October. At the time, Joe was a worker for an unlicensed plumber, now out of business. He lives with his son in his dad's house and, at the time of his encounter with Obama, owed back taxes to the state of Ohio. He apparently went through an interesting divorce and payments to a woman's shelter were included in the settlement. No doubt, these facts catapulted him to a top position as model citizen for the Republican Party.

Recall the GOP mantra- 'frivolous lawsuits?'

You betcha!

Looking for Earth 2

Spacecraft to blast off in search of 'Earths' is the headline today. NASA on Friday prepared to launch a telescope that will search our corner of the Milky Way galaxy for Earth-like planets.

The Kepler spacecraft is scheduled to blast into space on top of a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida just before 11 p.m. ET today.

"This is a historical mission. It's not just a science mission," NASA Associate Administrator Ed Weiler said during a pre-launch news conference.

"It really attacks some very basic human questions that have been part of our genetic code since that first man or woman looked up in the sky and asked the question: Are we alone?"

Kepler contains a special telescope that will stare at 100,000 stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the Milky Way for more than three years as it trails Earth's orbit around the Sun.

The Science Channel previewed the mission last evening as it presented three hours of space programs to eager amateur astronauts like me. I became interested in the stars when my father purchased an 8-inch reflecting telescope that he operated in our back yard in the 50's and 60's. It was a quite-powerful instrument which detailed the moons and rings of Saturn as well as far-away galaxies and nebulae. I retain memories of those magical evenings even today, especially as new instruments offer yet another glimpse into the heavens.

Black holes, exploding red giants, pulsars and quasars had not yet been discovered back then, and the twin mighty midgets, Voyager 1 & 2 had not sent back their marvelous images of our own planetary system and beyond. Today we look for planets similar in size as well as distance from their star in the hope of finding another world, another set of life, another intelligent species.

As Carl Sagan used to say, 'We are all star-stuff,' and thus, any newly discovered earth-like planets will also be star-stuff as will any life thereupon.

"Finding that most stars have Earths implies that the conditions that support the development of life could be common throughout our galaxy. Finding few or no Earths indicates that we might be alone." said William Borucki, Kepler's science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

As the universe is 13 billions years old, I suspect that there has been ample time for life to have evolved on many planets orbiting stars throughout our Milky Way galaxy. Maybe they already know about us. If so, I wonder if they have concluded that we are an 'intelligent' species?

Another Snake Oil Salesman at My Door

Recently there have been numerous salesmen attempting to 'talk' with me in my living room. Salesmen- snake oil. As I flip through channels, there they are on some cable channel talk show peddling the same old ointment that I bought some eight years ago. It never worked. in fact, it made my pain worse.

Yet, there they are, day after day, trying to convince me and the rest of America that their ointment is a cure-all for the nation's woes. You'd think, wouldn't you, after being kicked out so overwhelmingly in early November, that they wouldn't have the nerve to come back so soon? And, logic would dictate, that they might try to improve their product before peddling it to the people once again.

Then again, given their early track record- enormous sales 7 or 8 years ago, all throughout America- perhaps they think that their former customers are still as dumbed-down as they were then. Who knows, maybe they are!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Muckraked Comment from Limbaugh

TalkingPointsMemo muckraked through the cesspool of verbiage spewed out the other day by the oh-so righteous Rush Limbaugh and they found this closing tidbit. He said,

"Don't measure your success by how many people like you. Just worry about how they vote. And then at the end of the day how they live, but that's really none of your business once they close the doors."

Wait! Beg pardon? I'm sorry, could you repeat that again, Mr. Righteousness?

"And then at the end of the day how they live, but that's really none of your business once they close the doors."



I'm OK, I just fell off of my chair.

Did, the Grand Poohbah of the GOP really declare that what happens to Americans behind closed doors is none of our business?  Behind closed doors?  As in perhaps the bedroom?

The Religious Right's panties must be all in knots after hearing this.  What going to happen with America's Morality Police? Unemployment??  

TPM concludes:

"But it's hard to imagine anything more ridiculous that this man, whose personal life is a far cry from the ideal the Religious Right preaches, having this crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, and then ending with a call for privacy rights. In all the inside baseball about GOP power brokers, the absurdity seems to have been lost."

Yes it has.

Bush Aides to Testify or Stonewall

Any bets? Raise your hand if you think that, when Karl Rove and Harriet Miers conclude their 'testimony' before the House committee investigating the firings of nine United States attorneys in 2007, we will know anything new? Hmmm. Not very many hands.

Rove already has castigated the hearing as a 'show trial' as reported on his favorite news network. FoxNews EXCLUSIVE: Rove Warns of 'Show Trial,' Says Dems 'Would Love to Have Me Barbecued.' Surely that plays well with those who get their 'information' from that source.

There was some deal worked out with the committee to mollify the testimony: Under the agreement, Mr. Rove and Ms. Miers will provide depositions and sworn public testimony about the firings, but the scope of their testimony will be limited to the dismissals and closely related issues.

Also, they will not be asked about their conversations with Mr. Bush on the subject or their discussions with other members of the White House counsel’s office.

One further complication: it was reported that the key to the agreement was that the Obama White House stopped short of acknowledging that "executive privilege" still applied to Rove and Miers -- though the House Judiciary statement says "it was agreed that invocations of official privileges would be significantly limited."

There's the Rove trump card. How often will Rove 'invoke' executive privilege? Way too many, I predict, which will neutralize anything important from the hearing. Karl Rove would not agree without having a card up his sleeve; he's much too smart and devious to walk in 'alone.'

Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi seems to expect miracles from this session. She said,

"Today's agreement is a great victory for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the separation of powers. I appreciate the strong leadership of Chairman John Conyers and the assistance of the Obama Administration.

Congress now has the opportunity to uncover the truth and determine whether improper criteria were used by the Bush Administration to dismiss and retain U.S. Attorneys."

Well, Ms. Pelosi, hope springs eternal.


TPM says this:

Rove Can Claim Privilege Only When Asked About Bush

We've obtained a copy of the agreement on Karl Rove and Harriet Miers' testimony about the US Attorney firings, and it appears to answer some of our initial questions.  [link]

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Treasonous Bush Memos Uncovered

The Justice Department released nine secret legal memos from the early days of the Bush administration’s "war on terror." These memos asserted broad powers for the executive branch following the Sept. 11 attacks.

 One argues that if the president deployed the military within the United States to fight terrorists, Fourth amendment protection against warrantless searches would not apply.

Another memo concludes, "The President has since the Founding era exercised exclusive and virtually unfettered control over the disposition of enemy soldiers and agents captured in time or war."

Today's news says that Department officials may soon release more secret opinions about counter-terror tactics. Those that contain classified information will need to be cleared with other government agencies before they can be released.

Just as we suspected- trampling of the Constitution- not unlike that of despots and third world dictators. Who can argue that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution can be waved by the Executive Branch of this government? I'd like to know how that can be justified. I want to read the argument.

The junta that took control of our government shortly after 9-11 and wrote these spurious laws knew that what they had done was unconstitutional. That's why they attempted to cover their asses with another legal memo 5 days before Obama took office, memos that rescinded these 'war' memos.

It becomes more clear with each passing day, with each newly leaked memo and story, that the Bush Administration was highly incompetent in nearly every area under its control. It had no desire to 'govern' this nation, no intent to provide due governance. These executive war powers enhancement memos are one more clear example of a group of people who were clearly unqualified for the decisions which were demanded at the time.

When one considers these memos and adds the curious events that happened at Tora Bora along with the inauthentic WMD's claim initiating the War on Iraq, it is obvious that inquiries of treason ought to proceed.

GOP Perps Blame the Rape Victims and the Doctor

It's somewhat cathartic these days to observe the death throes of the once grand old party. After years of greed, narcissism, and nauseous righteousness, today's Republican Party is a little more than a whimpering band of thugs who finally got caught. The party of the rich white man finds itself irrelevant these days with nothing to offer the citizens of this nation, after raping them for decades.

Each day another one steps up to claim that he knows what's best for this nation- the nation that suffered years of abuse, rape and neglect from his own party. Of course, as is the pattern of most perps, he blames the victim and castigates the authority of the doctor. Barack Obama, who has stepped in to stop that abuse and help heal the wounds, is pounded day after day for his efforts. The perp never accepts guilt; it's always somebody else's fault.

Where is the master perp, Phil Gramm of Texas, these days? No doubt, he's counting his money in some Swiss bank. Gramm ought to be put on TV and do a perp walk for all of America to see. He's the guy who initiated this housing credit Ponzi scheme. He's the guy who wrote the legislation to open up commercial banks- banks that were taken off the market after the the Great Depression. Gramm worked tirelessly to get his legislation passed, legislation which opened the doors to the credit failures that haunt our society and devastated our economy.

I want to see him in his orange jump suit, hands cuffed behind him, turning 360, flash cameras lighting up his droopy face. It wouldn't help us, the victims of his abuse, get our money back, but it sure would help us move on, knowing that one more perp is behind bars.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Time to Bring ALL of the Troops Home Now

We invaded Afghanistan more than seven years ago. We have not broken the back of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. We have not captured or killed Osama bin Laden. We don’t even have an escalation strategy, much less an exit strategy. An honest assessment of the situation, taking into account the woefully corrupt and ineffective Afghan government led by the hapless Hamid Karzai, would lead inexorably to such terms as fiasco and quagmire.

Yet, instead of cutting our losses, we appear to be doubling down.

Those are the words of Bob Herbert in the NYT this morning. I couldn't have said it any more clear;ly than Mr. Herbert. It is way past time to realize that we are not the policemen of the world.

When did the United States adopt the world-policeman concept? Was it Korea in the early 50's or Vietnam in the late 50's? By the way, what was our 'national interest' in that neck of the woods anyhow? Must have been that 'evil empire' of which Reagan spoke. Lots of 'evil' identified by our presidents. Recall the trifecta axes of evil identified by Bush. Cuba used to be evil, but apparently it has evaporated, although not completely. After all, they are communists! That word says it all!

Bush senior saw evil as well. He spoke Saddam Hussein's name evily. Naturally we had to stop that evil from attacking its neighbor, the good guys in Kuwait. Then there was that other evil guy in our own backyard- Manuel Noriega. We busted his ass so that he couldn't spread evil around 'our' canal.

Now that I think of it, look at all of those evil men in our hemisphere that we had to exterminate for the good of [ ] fill in the proper word. Pinochet, Stroessner, Videla, Branco, Batista, Duvalier, Trujillo, Somozato mention but a few. OH, wait! Wrong list. These guys were OUR friendly dictators. Sorry. Sometimes I get confused; I ought to have some sort of score card in front of me as I type-GOOD DICTATORS/BAD DICTATIORS.

Sometimes, in fact, the same 'dictator' slides from one column to the other as quick as lightening. Didn't Saddam Hussein move from the left to the right column overnight?

It would funny if this were a sitcom, but, as it conserns the blood of our military, the money from our treasury, and tens of millions of innocent civilians, it becomes a dark tragedy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is Joe the Plumber the new leader of the GOP?

Is Joe the Plumber the new leader of the GOP? asks the Christian Science Monitor, tongue in cheek. They say:

GOP stars Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal are both absent from the conference. Palin in Alaska. Jindal at Disney World (perhaps hiding celebrating his well-discussed speech on Tuesday night).

Everyone’s favorite plumber was there though. Maybe not everyone’s favorite. But make no mistake, those on the left love Joe the Plumber. In fact, Plumber (we’ve given up on calling him Wurzelbacher) may have more fans on the left than on the right.

He’s got his conservative groupies too. Notes Politico’s Andy Barr, Plumber received “rock star treatement” yesterday and apparently was mobbed by devotees.


The plumber named Joe who is neither. That's apropos for the current clutch now in charge of the GOP. An unemployed plumber named Samuel as titular head of the vacuous Republican Party- the stealth head of the stealth political party. Nice fit. Obfuscation at its best! The man behind the curtain-- don't look!

Well, the Bamboozle America Party is in quite a disarray these days and no wonder. The ruse has been exposed; the curtain has been opened by the little dog. And it was nothing more than a carnival shell game.

The Hoodwinkers of Hysteria. The Bastards of Bamboozlement. The Devilish Deceivers. Hard-nosed Hucksters.

That covey of charlatans has been exposed for all to see and they are quite the circus-cast: the bombastic and self-righteous drug addict; the non-plumber not named Joe; the abstinence-preaching mother of an unwed teen and child; the former congressman, thrice-wed.

Yes, America, the Grand Old Party lives on, hoping once again, that you don't pay too much attention to the man behnid the curtain.

Cleaning Up After Israel, Again

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today will pledge about $300 million US in humanitarian aid for the war-torn Gaza Strip, plus about $600 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority, a U.S. official says.

Here we go again! Cleaning up after the adolescents, again. The adolescents with guns and bombs. Were these adolescents inside of America, they would be labeled urban gangs. You know- those young punks who need to prove their masculinity to other dickheads in the clan by terrorizing and killing innocent people. In The States, we have police gang-squads to deal with these punks; in the larger world, we have official gangs like the Israeli Defense Forces that regularly terrorize and kill Palestinians.

The great irony of it all is that the United States provides the armament for the IDF, giving Israel billions of American tax-payers' dollars to buy the planes, helicopters, tanks, guns and bombs. Then, when the IDF is finished descimating an area, the Unites States rushes in to clean up their mess- to the tune of a billion tax-dollars.

Oh, irony of ironies!

Washington state to allow `dignity' deaths

Terminally ill patients with less than six months to live will soon be able to ask their doctors to prescribe them lethal medication in Washington state. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that it was up to states to regulate medical practice, including assisted suicide, and Washington's Initiative 1000 was passed by nearly 60 percent of state voters in November.

That ought to twist the panties of the righteous religious folks who regularly muck-up the democratic processes of America. Where is Doctor Kevorkian when you need him? He was way ahead of his time, apparently. Too bad he had to spend all of those years in the slammer for doing something that is now 'legal' in the state of Washington.

Seems to me that suicide and assisted suicide have been a part of our world for eons. Hemlock was the drug-of-choice for that great Greek philosopher, Socrates. In fact, hemlock was used in the Greek judicial system to carry out the death penalty in their society. Then there is the Hemlock Society which, by the way, recently changed its name to Compassion and Choice to be more PC.

n 2005 (latest available data), there were 32,637 reported suicide deaths. The gun is the preferred means of suicide here in America, accounting for 52% of the suicides. I cannot imagine the physical scene of a self-inflicted gun death nor that of a loved-one hanging from a beam in the garage. The shock to the survivors must be enormous and everlastingly imprinted in their memory. What a ghastly way of ending ones life.

Of course, depression is the major factor in suicide statistics. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states: 'Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.' Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in American adults ages 18-65.

It seems to me that an awful lot of Americans are unhappy with their lives. Because of the recent downturn in the economy as well as job-losses, I would imagine that the suicide rate is on the increase. While a remedy for this might be good mental health care, our nation is not one to 'fuss' about it. The National Institute for Mental Health reports: ' An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 — who suffer from a serious mental illness. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.'

The fact is that mental health issues in the United States receive inadequate publicity and, therefore, treatment. Many medical insurance plans provide little or no mental health coverage; 'mental health' itself has long been a taboo subject for polite discussion.

Is it any wonder, then, that a person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States and an attempt is estimated to be made once every minute? It seems to me that our society has two choices in this issue: we either take giant steps to intervene in the serious mental health issues plaguing this nation or we offer a dignified means of ending ones life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"U.S. conservatism died with a whimper"

Did you attend the funeral? No, neither did I- too busy trying to keep financially afloat in this current crisis. Alas, I didn't even send flowers. Perhaps I can do a virtual visit; anybody got the website of the funeral home?

"Conservatism as we know it is dead. Its last bastion of power, Washington, is being overrun as we speak, in a blitzkrieg operation fueled by popular panic and led by a charismatic field marshal. To the extent conservative ideology survives the onslaught, it will be as a guerilla force, making its presence felt on web sites and radio call-in shows but never in the corridors of real power" - Jonathan Kay, American conservatism, R.I.P.

Kay continues,

"As well as being a disastrous moment for American conservatives, this is also an epic turning point in the history of western ideas. Since World War II, the welfare state has made steady gains almost everywhere in the West, with the result that just about every form of risk known to mankind — from sickness, to unemployment, to poverty, to childbirth, to old age — has been socialized. Only in the United States had individuals been left reliant (if only to a certain extent) on their own values and wits. That lone exception to the global nanny state is now gone — the victim of a housing debacle that demonstrated that middle-class homeowners are too stupid to manage something as basic as a monthly household budget, just as Wall Street's brain trust is too dumb to operate an unregulated financial market. Condescension, after all, is the mother of socialism.

Who would have thunk it? From the 1980s onward, conservatism was supposed to be America's muscular ideology, as opposed to the soft liberalism peddled by the nation's elites. Instead, U.S. conservatism died with a whimper — a venerable creed knocked out for good in the space of just five recessionary months."

So then, when we hear the blow hards at the conservative convention this weekend, we are only listening to the eulogy? I kinda thought so, although it was rather amusing to listen to. Where is the dignity that ought to be at such a solemn occasion as a funeral? Must be a LIBERAL conspiracy!


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