Archives for the month of: October, 2010

Mindlessly scrolling the BBC News page, I noticed this little gem of a headline mere pixels above the page’s distant lower end:

Earth-sized planets ‘very common’

Here’s an article on Wired’s Science blog about it. I hope everybody kept their Drake equations in pencil.

Did you know that they’ve directly imaged exoplanets already?

55 Astronomical Units is farther out than Pluto— and 70 parsecs is about half the distance from here to the North Star. Lame analogy on the distance, I know, but I came up empty trawling the Internet for a better one and got far too distracted when I found this website with a table of “50 exoplanetary systems within 65 light years (20 parsecs):”

Meanwhile, back on Original Style Earth, Sam’s new phone just made a foreign sound that filled her with terror. I hope she didn’t let slip a “Code zero zero zero. Destruct. Zero.”


As commented by our #1 fan/ my mother below:

unfortunately, this firing reinforces the false perception that NPR is ‘liberal’

I think the far worse misconception this story is promulgating is the myth of NPR as a taxpayer boondoggle.

Conservatives love pointing out that even though NPR receives no operating money directly from the Feds, there is a money chain along these lines:

Federal funding -> Corporation For Public Broadcasting -> Grants from CPB to local public radio stations -> Station dues to NPR

Nobody seems to have solid percentages on how much of NPR’s $166 million annual budget that ends up being, but it’s definitely somewhere in the single digits. For the sake of argument, let’s use the 2% in the same article I got the $166 million from.

Two percent of that budget is equivalent to a little over three million dollars— or the cost to support three US soldiers in Afghanistan for a year. If you want to use the higher numbers favored in this article, it’s eight percent, or $13 million dollars/ 13 US soldiers. We have something over 100,000 troops over there right now. So: a high-end estimate of federal funding of NPR amounts to 0.01% of the federal funding for our forces in Afghanistan.

Just sayin’.

I wish he’d been fired for being such a worthless sack of shit.

Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going.

Good riddance to bad rubbish— a far less vulgar epithet than he deserves. Now if only “Mara Liasson” was the maiden name of Luke Skywalker’s wife…

My mother sent a link to this image from the BBC News site.

It’s from the article about those German satellites. Sometimes Germany makes me think of a joke from Curb Your Enthusiasm— “It’s nice to be affectionate to something German, you don’t get the opportunity that often, you know.” Tell me about it, Angela Merkel. Here’s another image from the BBC News:

The headline? “Merkel says German multicultural society has failed.”

[At] the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country… We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone,’ but this isn’t reality… And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.

She also went out of her way to refer to Islam in a bit on the importance of thorough integration. “Anyone who does not immediately speak German is not welcome.”

I knew the 21st century had the potential to be a sack of shit the day Mitch Hedberg died.

In the last six years, Yo La Tengo has charted a slow, inexorable rise in my esteem— from Band With An Album I Like to Band Serving As A Do-We-Agree-About-Music Litmus Test.

I just saw this for the first time and, yes, those are the Mr. Show guys. I think Dr. Funke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution would have really benefited from that pink wig.

Looking for Yo La Tengo on YouTube led me to this (profoundly “okay”) video about a cred-salvaging iPod that displays hipster music on your screen to cover up your secret pop fetishes. The fact that the “hipster” bands they cite are Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, the Velvet Underground and Wilco clues you in to the fact the video’s clearly not a hipster inside job…

I just saw Sam’s video from below and obnoxiously au courant-adly thought of the German satellites making their intricate orbital maneuvers to use radars to capture a “most detailed ever 3D map” of the Earth’s topography. I did some back of the envelope calculations and think the close distances these satellites are approaching each other— within 200 meters at an orbit 514 kilometers up— is equivalent to a precision of 1 in 217000 at that orbit. Did I mention they were launched 3 years apart?

Dr. Manfred Zink is a project manager (for the TanDEM-X side). This, obviously, is Manfred Mann:

This was the top comment when I saw that page today:

great song by a proper band i.e. people who could play instruments and perform live not like the manufactured crap of today (i guess i’m getting old a ) still who cares we all get old sometime i suppose
I hope that guy didn’t realize that for the first time during his YouTube comment.