Archive for July, 2008

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Rivers of “Complex Hydrocarbons” on Titan

July 31, 2008
Saturn and Titan, taken by Cassini

Saturn and Titan, taken by Cassini

Researchers at the DLR-Institut fur Planetenforschung in Berlin, after studing data from the Cassini probe, believe it rains on Titan, and that rain runs into rivers and into at least one large lake – of liquid ethane, a primary component of liquid natural gas.

Perhaps they will find other complex hydrocarbons on Titan…maybe if we can’t drill in ANWR, maybe we can at least drill there…

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Earth, Wind and Fire short concert review

July 30, 2008
Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson, Verdine White

EWF founding members still in the band: Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson, Verdine White

We saw the band at the Chicago Theater last night. It was a delightful, nostalgic, and energetic almost two-hour set that the band turned in, easily the most enjoyable concert we heard all summer (except of course hearing TOP in Fort Wayne in May). Philip Bailey’s voice is a bit rougher, but he still has the range when he needs it and has the power up there as well. B. David Whitworth, who has been with the band as vocalist and percussionist since the mid-1990s, was almost as energetic as 57-year-old Verdine White, who is still the most animated bass player I’ve ever seen. He’s an entire entertainment by himself!

The sound system was, of course, still not up to my expectations. Thankfully the sound engineers didn’t crank everything up until it was deafening, and that was much appreciated. The band’s arrangements are complex, and nobody wants to miss any of what they perform, instrumentally and vocally. The mix was a problem. I think the main system was actually off at the beginning of the show – I know we were hearing the horns without amplification, for certain, and maybe only the stage monitors were on. There continued to be balance issues with the vocalists against the instruments throughout the night. The audience, which seemed to be made up at least 50 per cent by middle-aged white women, all knew the tunes and sang along with everything. This was a help to Philip Bailey, who is often now called upon to sing what were originally his vocal lines and Maurice White’s from the recording, switching back and forth into and out of the head voice – not an easy task. (Dang it, I sang along with most of the tunes myself – it’s hard not to!)

An interesting side note: I always assumed Verdine was Maurice White’s son. Maurice is credited with founding EWF; he no longer tours with the band because of Parkinson’s Disease. It turns out Verdine is his younger brother, and was only 19 when he started playing in the band.

Anyway, it was a very positive, enjoyable night, with a band that produces some of the most uplifting vibes out there, and an audience that adored them and helped raise the spirits of everyone even higher. Bravo, gentlemen!

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Happy Birthday to NASA

July 29, 2008
President Eisenhower commissions Dr. T. Keith Glennan as first administrator and Dr. Hugh Dryden as assistant administrator

President Eisenhower commissions Dr. T. Keith Glennan as first administrator and Dr. Hugh Dryden as assistant administrator

50 years ago today President Eisenhower signed the legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It’s had a bumpy 50 years, but the agency has been responsible for inspiring millions of people all over the world. No matter what what you may say, NASA has done more for space exploration that any other agency in the world.

I just wish it could have done more! There’s still the next 50 years, of course…

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Happy Anniversary, Rush!

July 29, 2008
El Rushbo

El Rushbo

This Friday, August 1, is the 20th anniversary of Rush Limbaugh’s national radio show. He, of course, will credit his listeners, sponsors, radio stations, and business partners with creating his enormous success. However, it really is Rush himself that makes it all happen, and that’s why he is the ultimate big dog in talk radio.

He also is one of the three most influential political conservatives ever in the US. First came William F. Buckley, who did more than anyone, post-WWII, to define and promote the conservative movement. Second came Ronaldus Magnus, the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who brought conservative principles to all Americans and proved they could be used to provide more freedom and opportunity to all.

And then there’s Rush. College dropout, former disc jockey and former promotions director for the Kansas City Royals. He became a major media success after the repeal of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” and now has a daily audience of over 20 million people.

Rush can be belligerent, cantankerous, stubborn, and delightfully funny. He understands and uses hyperbole better than anyone I know. He also is a patriot of the first order and has done more to form my political views than anyone. Happy Anniversary, Rush, and I hope you have many, many more!

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Ed Mitchell says aliens exist!

July 25, 2008

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, said in a radio interview that aliens exist and the US government has known about it for over 60 years. He said he was aware of several visits during his lifetime, but all have been covered up. He said they look like the “grey aliens” referred to in a lot of the popular literature.

I don’t know what to think about that. I personally knew someone who said her father worked as a security guard at Wright-Patterson AFB and knew where the Roswell alien bodies were kept – and that at the time one was still alive – but she was not what I would call a “reliable witness.”

I’d love to believe that alien visitation was real. I kind of go back and forth – one day yeah, probably; the next probably not.

Today is apparently a “yeah, probably” day. Ya gotta believe an Apollo astronaut, right?

Maybe this is how they are infiltrating:

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A word about moderation of comments

July 24, 2008

Hi kids – this is to let you know that this is a blog with moderated comments. That means I’ll keep the spam out, with the help of WordPress, and I’ll delete anything else I don’t think is useful or thought-provoking. It’s my blog, and if you want to air your opinions, you can get your own little bloggish space, of course. I’ve responded to a couple of comments I let through so far. If your comment doesn’t pass muster with me, it won’t end up being visible. Sorry, but it’s my sandbox and my toys.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled program…

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JFK was not a jelly doughnut!

July 24, 2008

Like many other folks, I had read that John F. Kennedy’s famous line “Ich bin ein Berliner” really should have been translated as “I am a jelly doughnut.” Apparently it’s a matter of interpretation and phrasing, like saying “I am a New Yorker” would not be interpreted as if the speaker were a newspaper. What he intended to say, and what the folks in Berlin interpreted him as saying, was “I am a citizen of Berlin,” speaking in solidarity with them. Link

I just heard Rush just talking about it on the radio, so I checked it out. It was a great little story, though.

And in the same speech, JFK predicted the fall of Soviet tyranny…which was achieved by Ronaldus Magnus, of course.