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Fri, Feb. 4th, 2005, 10:23 am
dr_nebula: Foolish Fun "Facts"

Astronomically Stupid

In this country, we have a very bad habit of believing everything that is in "print". Whether its in a "non fiction" book, newspaper, magazine, internet site or even a 'factual flyer" most Americans have this strange notion that "if its in print - hell, it must be true." The process of "critical" thinking is often discouraged, and rarely are the 'facts' challenged - by the public or even on lj for that matter.

But as bad as the prevailing belief of the printed word being 'gospel' - this goes hand-in-hand with the general lack of checking background sources and citing proper references in many articles and other publications. Yesterday at J's, I found this little Fun Facts Card sitting on his kitchen table. His grandson Jordan got it while dining at that bastion of good taste Burger King. Entitled "Let's Explore Space" it featured a pretty image of M8, the Lagoon Nebula, a beautiful emission nebula in the constellation of Sagittarius. So much, so good - I thought its nice that a fast-food place was promoting "astronomy".

However, the other side of the card was to prove to be far more interesting. :-)

Here are the printed "fun facts" given:

1 - The Earth's distance from the Sun is 93 million miles!

2 - We live in the Solar System known as the Milky Way! ..err, WTF?!

3 - There are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way - give or take a "few"!

4 - If you were to count 1 star every second, it would take you 3000 years to count all the stars in our solar system! Imagine if you lost count and had to start all over again! Holy shit batman, we hit the jackpot (of stupidity)!

OK, the mistake in number two is just plain dumb and could be very easily verified by the slightest amount of research. But the slick-assed twit (probably some Burger King MBA making 4x my salary) never even bothered to check that the Milky Way is a galaxy - an aggregate of billions of stars (including our Sun and the solar system), clusters, nebulae and molecular clouds.

They did save the "best" for last - first the math error, followed by an astounding compounding the stupidity of "fun fact" number two. First, the math:

1 day (solar) = 86,400 seconds
1 year (365.242 days) = 365.242 x 86,400 = 3.16 x 10^8 seconds
"3000 years" = 3000 x 3.16 x 10^8 = 94.7 x 10^9 seconds, NOT 400 x 10^9, which is 4.2 times too small.

So OK, they're not competent in math. But fuck me, taking 3000 years to count all the stars in the "solar system" ? HELLOOOO.. hint, err..."clue" - there is only one star in OUR solar system at its called the SUN. Even a cheese-chewing, bloating excuse of a zoo chimp will sooner or later point at the brilliant light in the sky and go "ook" long before then.

And they actually paid some idiot to make up these questions and design/distribute these "fun fact" cards?

Tue, Nov. 23rd, 2004, 01:11 pm
christianneil: (no subject)




I just made a remark that "they don't make em' the way they used to" while changing a light bulb. I never remember having as many bulbs burn out on me as the last several months. I wouldn't rule out voltage irregularities, but I also notice that they all seem to burn out at around the same time. Some of them I leave on constantly, and don't often seem to need replacement, but the ones that I turn on and off all time all go out within a few days of each other.

I guarantee that with all of our equipment and gadgets, the #1 thing that damages them the most is turning them on and off. And light bulbs operate on the principle of supplying a high amount of energy to a filament that is operating above its recommended tolerances within a vacuum, and causing a chemical reaction that causes intense energy displacement that is then diffused as what we know as light. It's a high risk proposition that requires demanding specs, and in today's consumer-driven economy, the market is so competitive for the low-end light bulbs that they know they could basically shit in the box, and we would buy it as long as it was the cheapest and if it looked like a lightbulb.

My question, is should I start buying the name brand bulbs? I already decided that I will never save money on shoes or toilet paper, and I wonder if it is a good decision to add light bulbs to the list?

Thoughts?

Wed, Nov. 17th, 2004, 09:52 pm
dr_nebula: When tornados and TV collide

..You get a new standard in TV stupidity - F6 - Eve of Mental Destruction

I actually believe that this dumb-assed flick of disaster insanity is even dumber than the Mag 10 earthquake movie of a number of months back. Merging tornados can and do happen - but an "eye of the storm" shit - and hurricanes in Chicago?

Fuck me - this is amazing moronic foolishness. But this is typical in this wondrous age of Virgin Mary grilled cheese, anti-evolution fundies taking over our science curriculum, cheap "reality" TV and the often slack-jawed, PC- oriented excuse of the state of public education.

I've only seen bits and pieces between commericals of Lost - and about 30 minutes after that, but here are some classic scenes:

Views of the Lake Michigan shoreline with friggen palm trees! WTF! Global warming must be really going great guns in the midwest!
Some crazy tornado chaser's truck flying in the air and he's yelling "yeehaw" much like Slim Picken's character Major Kong from the movie Dr. Strangelove.

Got more great scenes and impossible science - I'd like to know. But for the time being, I'm taking a break to let my lungs recover from all the laughter.

Tue, Nov. 16th, 2004, 08:59 am
dr_nebula: Dumb and dumber..

Tuesday is for "twits"

Sometimes I find shit on the news that's so incredibly ridiculous that it jolts the mind awake better than a steaming hot cup of java. Today's twit is brought to you by a woman who bit a friggen cheese sandwich ten years ago and then saw the image of the Virgin Mary.

She then keeps the holy relic cheese sandwich in a box for ten years and it had "no mold on it". Hmm, perhaps not that much of a miracle here - in my college days I've kept pizza under my bed for a week and still eaten it. The cheese forms a tight seal, and the tomato sauce acts as a bactericidal agent. In fact, it wasn't too bad once I nuked it. Err, maybe I shouldn't have admitted this..

But I believe this tops the cake, err.. sandwich:

The blessed relic brought bids as high as $22,000 on Ebay before it was 'pulled'.

Pulled? Pulling my leg - or are people that damned idiotic to believe that this chunk of flour, yeast and aged milk can be a true reflection of the Virgin Mary, and thus achieve the status of a holy icon? Even the article title has a major misspelling of Birds for Bids.

Perhaps it was a Freudian Slip by the editors of the Herald? I believe they are giving all of us "the Bird" for even posting such an inane story of religious fervor and auction fever on the internet.

Then again, we are an amazingly ignorant society..

Sat, Nov. 13th, 2004, 08:52 pm
loo: (no subject)

So, if you've got any Rainman-esque obsessions, and you can talk about them, you'll fit in here.
-scrapdog






RUSH
30 Years

Part 1: 1974-1976
From Inception to the First Live Album





PROLOGUE:

In August, 1968, top British session guitarist Jimmy Page was in something of a dilemma. For the past two years, he had been playing with the legendary Yardbirds, whose previous line-ups had boasted such worthy talents as Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. However, after Beck quit to pursue a solo career at the end of 1968, Page had been left to carry the group through the next 18 months, until it finally crumbled under his feet.

While Jimmy was eager to start a new band, the Yardbirds were already booked on a 10-date Scandanavian tour the following month. Consequently, he began a desperate search for accompanying musicians, soon hooking up with John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant. Over the ensuing months the group was to change its name to Led Zeppelin and go on to become Britain's most celebrated rock act.

Meanwhile, as Jimmy Page unveiled his New Yardbirds in Europe, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the suburbs of Toronto, a young Canadian guitar player, named Alex Lifeson, was busy forming Rush. Although Page was fortunate in enjoying immediate acceptance with his outfit, it necessitated years of hard graft and extreme patience before Lifeson and his band made their mark.

After battling fiercely to break out of Canada, Rush were forced to embark on endless US road outings before garnering major recognition and acclaim. For many years, radio stations ignored their music, and, in the pre-video age, touring was the only means of gaining exposure. Despite the long wait, Rush were to end up selling more records and playing to more people than Zeppelin ever did.

Attempting to parallel the histories of Rush and Led Zeppelin would prove an impossible, and extremely futile, exercise. Yet, it's interesting to observe that each band basically encountered success under its own terms. For both, the major forte was an essential high quality of musicianship, combined with a diverse range of musical styles. Never was there any compromise in their overall approach on the road to fame and fortune.

Led Zeppelin are, of course, sadly no more. However, Rush are still going strong and continue to warrant recognition as Canada's finest hard rock export. Throughout their illustrious history, the group has released a succession of highly innovative albums and delighted concert audiences around the world. Their work has been admired for its breadth of reach, technical elegance, and for the confidence with which it has combined great boldness with artistic poise.

-Steve Gett




In the six years between the original formation of Rush and the release of their debut album, the band would go through 12 total members (they were even a quartet for a period) and a name change or two among a myriad of other "growing pains". Based in Toronto, Ontario, Rush would work tirelessly to be noticed in the U.S. market as well as in their home country of Canada. Their break came when a disc jockey in Cleveland happened upon a copy of Working Man and began playing it on the air there. The popularity of the song led to eventual notice by a record company exec from Mercury Records and the rest, as they say, is history.


July 1974: Rush


Rush's debut album followed the release of two singles, a song called Not Fade Away (a Buddy Holly cover - this single is very rare now and worth a great deal of money) in 1973 and Finding My Way prior to the release of the LP in July 1974. The lineup on this album features current members Gary Lee Weinrib, better known as Geddy Lee on bass guitar and lead vocals and Alex (Zivojinovich) Lifeson on guitar. Playing drums on the first album was the occupationally short-lived John Rutsey. Rutsey suffered from diabetes, making touring difficult, so he left the band after the Canadian leg of their first tour and was replaced on July 29, 1974 by Neil Peart. Music and lyrics were composed entirely by Lee and Lifeson on this album, which today is best known for the track Working Man, a staple of classic rock radio. Often compared to Led Zeppelin's early works, Rush was a raw, garage-esque album that was extremely listenable in its own rite but certainly, in hindsight, showed in living color the gap that the addition of Neil Peart would fill in the songwriting lineup (and clearly on the drums as well) starting with the band's sophomore release, Fly By Night.



February 1975: Fly by Night

Their first tour gave Neil Peart a little time to warm up to the band, and on their second LP which was released after the U.S. leg was completed, Rush's style begins to break from the Zeppelin-esque feel into a style more their own. Peart's influence can be noticed immediately, with more mature lyrics, more complex musical stylings, and of course in his incredible drum licks. Casual listeners will recognize the title track, still spun by classic jocks today, while more devout Rush fans will remember this album for it's epic By-Tor and the Snow Dog and the searing Beneath, Between and Behind.



October 1975: Caress of Steel

Caress of Steel is generally the least recognized of Rush's earlier works. It is another album of epic fantasies with Side 2 being completely committed to a 20 minute work, The Fountain of Lamenth. Bastille Day and Lakeside Park both produce excellent grooves with powerful songwriting. Interestingly, this album also marked the presentation of Rush's first "polished turd" in the form of Side 1, Track 2 - an unusual effort entitled I Think I'm Going Bald.



April 1976: 2112

Empirically, 2112 offered little more musically than did its preceding albums, but this album for many people is considered something of a breakout album for the band. 2112 continued with an epic format, with an entire side of the album devoted to the title track which deals in toppling a totalitarian future-world with the power of music. The album offered more individual tracks than Caress of Steel, however. A Passage to Bangkok was a great track about...well...pot. Further, you'll find Twilight Zone and Something for Nothing on this release.



September 1976: All the World's a Stage (Live)

All The World’s A Stage completes the first stage of Rush’s development, or as the band notes on the sleeve: "the end of the beginning, a milestone to mark the close of chapter one." And in time, the band’s live albums would serve as signposts through their career (Exit: Stage Left, A Show of Hands, Different Stages). All the World's a Stage is early, live Rush at its best - raw and uncut. This album features a nice cross section of all four albums that preceded it and is a must for all true Rush aficionados.





NEXT: 1978-1981 - An Arena Rock Legend is Born

Thu, Nov. 4th, 2004, 08:58 am
christianneil: (no subject)

Toyota Displays DJ Booth Utility Van



http://www.jalopnik.com/cars/concept-cars/toyota-displays-dj-booth-utility-van-024855.php

The latest concept car involves a mobile studio whereupon tailgate parties can now turn into full-blown raves. I think that maybe things are starting to get out of hand.

If this mobile DJ booth becomes a regular thing, then I suppose that it won't be too long before these minivans are towing dance floor trailers, installing strobe brake lights, and using exhaust pipes as fog machines.

Maybe this will lessen road rage, because drivers will finally have something to do in traffic jams. Of course, some people have trouble operating a motor vehicle while talking on a cell phone, and I can't imagine that they will do much better if they're trying to remix the new Kruder & Dorfmeister album in 4:00 traffic. But I'm sure that this is not the worst idea in motor vehicles....The Yugo still gets my vote.

Wed, Nov. 3rd, 2004, 10:56 am
christianneil: (no subject)

Not unlike your average American, I am faced with the twofold problem of not making enough money and carrying a rather significant amount of debt. That being said, it makes sense to me to figure out ways to reduce the amount of money that I spend monthly on as many things as I can, and hope that each cut corner drives me a little bit closer to the Horatio Alger fantasy that is so often dangled in front of me. One day I too will be debt free and have massive stacks of liquid assets gathering tons and tons of compound interest. As a matter of fact, when I got my most recent statement from my savings account, I made .07 in interest, and that will come very close to offsetting the finance charges on my credit cards, assuming of course that I can let that .07 cents sit in the savings account for roughly 1,000 years, give or take a few hundred.

One of my cost-cutting measures was to drastically reduce my cable package. I now pay about $13 a month (instead of $50), and get a rather eclectic amalgam of television offerings. Fortunately, my $13 gets me all the religious and home shopping channels, the networks, a couple of superstations, and a few others. One thing that I don't get is ESPN. I do get ESPN Classic, and I'm actually digging on that very much. I've always been something of a sports enthusiast, but not at the expense of other things. When offered a choice to see a game in just about any sport live, I take it. When offtered a choice between a game on television and just about anything else, I take the anything else part.

That being said, I like the fact that when I turn on ESPN classic, I am going to get to see a game that has went down in the history books as a good game. They have eliminated a lot of the guesswork for me. The fact that I am such a casual observer means that regardless of the game, I probably haven't seen it.

It occurred to me that this concept is simply a permutation of other networks. Nick at Nite was such a hit, that they made an entire network (TV Land) to play reruns of old TV shows. The superstations make names for themselves by offering "stripped" programming of more recent reruns, and each new TV show begins selling rights to its reruns years ahead of time, charging premiums based on the strength of their high ratings.

Based on the fact that American TV viewers seem to have an insatiable avarice for old programming, it gives me great pleasure to announce my own concept for a new TV network: C-Span Classic



Imagine the response when you can come home after work and experience the sheer nail-biting excitement of going back into time to December of 1985 and hearing the legendary Gramm-Rudman Act being read into the congressional record. The mere thought of that gives me chills. I remember being a spry young 5th grader at Cloverdale Elementary school when that act was introduced, and hotly debating the long term ramifications of the President's economic stimulus package on the playground with my friends. I was always of the opinion that the old guard was too Kenyesian in their approach, but this kid named Tony and had a different opinion that he shared as he was playing with the zippers on his Michael Jackson jacket. He told me point blank that in the wake of Nixon officially taking the country off the gold standard had set into place so many market corrections that the only hope that we could have was to place our faith on Milton Friedman's optimism for the growth of the global economy. It turns out that we were both off base on that one, but I for one would enjoy to revisit my own naivete.



That was the same year that we got to watch Oklahoma Senator David Boren filibuster the senate floor when Edwin Meese's confirmation was up for a vote as Reagan's Attorney General until Reagan agreed to sign an emergency farm relief bill. During that historic time, it became progressively harder for us to focus on other relevant issues such as the Chicago Bears Super Bowl Shuffle, because the action on the senate floor was just too damn exciting.

Not to mention 1992's landmark Revenue Act of 1992 to help inner cities introduced by historical footnote Lloyd Bentsen. I think that everyone remembers where they were when that bill was introduced, and would probably enjoy to revisit the tension in the air when Bentsen read that one into the record. I think that we were all on the edge of our seat for that one, and the senate floor was a shove away from a knife-fight. I know I'm not alone when I say I'd like to revisit that experience.

I don't know how soon I will get the chance to pitch this idea. I spoke to a representative of cable television juggernaut Comcast about this idea when I paid my bill last month at one of the Little Rock substations, and he supported my idea by giving an affirmative sounding grunt as he printed my receipt. I expect to get a telephone call about this shortly, and as soon as I have more information on this, gentle reader, so will you.

Tue, Nov. 2nd, 2004, 04:55 pm
dr_nebula: Voting in rural Georgia

Late last week I was asked by christianneil to be a contributer for disciplinegrid. At first I was going to write a truly technogeek post on my love of techno-toys, but today's experience at the touch screen voting machine seemed appropiate. As you will soon see, the inclusion of high technology does not always guarantee a smooth running election.

Fun at the Polls - ( x-posted in my lj)

Since its the main theme of the day - I decided I'll describe today's voting experience in South Douglas County. I arrived at Bill Arp Elementary School at about 2:50 to see the parking lots jammed with cars and trucks of every type. Yep, long lines just as predicted.

Once inside, things proceeded rather orderly. Voter forms were passed out while we were in line to speed things up and though the line stretched the length of the lonest hall in the school, within 25 minutes I was inside the Gym to get checked in. The populace was then subdivided into 3 groups arranged alphabetically - A to G, H to P and Q through Z. My line, H to P was at least three times longer than the other two lines combined. In this age of computers and databases - WTF? It wouldn't take a genius to subdivide the registered voters into 1/3rds and then set-up the alphabetical sequence from there.

But this is the GREAT state of Georgia - so perhaps this is asking too damned much.

Well, OK - so I was in a my 'group' line for another 15 minutes, but I figured that was a small price to execute my consitutional right. Soon it was my turn to vote on the computerized touch screen voting machine. Now I don't understand all the damned fuss about these devices that have been plaguing the news here for weeks. This touch screen system seemed idiot-proof. It works much like any ATM - except its better laid-out and more intuitive. And unlike the dreaded punch machines - you can both review and change any/all your votes in the end.

Seems simple, eh? Well remember that the average person is nowhere near as educated and computer savvy as a lj user or general techno-geek I usually associate with. So yeah, I suppose it can be still tampered with and/or mucked up by the marginally mentally functional voter.

Now for the election itself - its interesting to note the candidates that were listed on the ballot. Only the presidential, congressional and a couple of the high-level state races were contested - about 3/4 were incumbant republicans. It felt sort of Stalinistic to see all these unopposed races. But this seems typical for Georgia as in the city of Atlanta its nearly the reverse - all democratic.

Yes, one must feel truly proud at how well the system works after over 200 years..

Tue, Nov. 2nd, 2004, 02:12 pm
recycling: disciplinegrid: AFTER DARK



And now the time has come for all of us to either blame or thank christianneil for my hearty upgrade to Disciplinegrid-columnist extraordinaire. Chris always believed in me, even back in the days when we first met through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program so many years ago. I was just another wayward youth prowling the streets, vandalizing anything and everything and huffing WD-40, and he found it in his heart to take me under his wing. He taught me that being a man doesn't have to include validating one's machismo at any given occasion or murdering my classmates for $200 basketball shoes. In turn, I taught him that loving someone doesn't have to include elaborate booby-traps and Vaseline. We need to face the facts Chris, THE BRUISES DON'T LIE.

But that was then, and this is now. I must admit that I encountered a certain amount of trepidation in search of finding my voice within this community. You see, I'm not one who has ever been very much enthralled with technology or any of the sciences, so a picture of myself should be painted as someone confounded by the modern world in general, at least as far as the context of disciplinegrid should be concerned. To all enthusiasts, I apologize, and the only consellation I can give you is to humor me, and perhaps the subjects of my various essays might be the evidence you need for my longevity here.

Case in point: I was inspired to write a little piece about something my girlfriend and I were watching for the first time ever the other day, the triumph of American cinema that is 1978's brilliant epic Debbie Does Dallas. Hope y'all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching it. No, really, it was all to grasp a better understanding of the multi-faceted world of adult entertainment. Shut up.

surprisingly work safe!Collapse )

Mon, Nov. 1st, 2004, 09:45 pm
scrapdog: The Highway of the Beast

I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.



Yep.  R.I.P., US Highway 666.

I am the world's biggest road geek and one of my dreams was to drive the remaining stretch of U.S. 666 before it got decommissioned and renumbered.  Alas, the Rand McNally® Road Atlas2005 was the bearer of shattered dreams.

Apparently, not as many people in New Mexico or Utah embrace Satan as I thought.



Well, people, you can no longer blame this highway's notoriously high death toll on Satan.  You just lost yourself a free scapegoat, folks.  Renumbering the highway to 491 means from now on, you're gonna have to take responsibility for your own shitty driving.

It does makes me sad though.  Shattered dreams.  Shattered dreams, I tell ya.

U.S. 666 was established in 1926... it ran from the border of Mexico near Douglas, AZ up into New Mexico, through the corner of Colorado into southeast Utah where it terminated at US 191.  It was numbered 666 for being the sixth branch of the now defunct US 66.  This logic dictates that it probably wasn't numbered in honor of Satan...



...but this sign does look kinda creepy, doesn't it?

Arizona renumbered its portion to 191 back in 1992.  The remaining three states caved into the pressure in 2003.

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