Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Time For Some New Reading Material

Recently I've been going back and forth between reading about two subjects that are near and dear to me; Evolution and Near Earth Objects. In doing so I've been running across the familiar faces I admire who are involved in the debate about these subjects such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens in terms of evolution, and Rusty Schweickart and David Morrison on the NEO side.

But there's this other guy that keeps showing up in these debates, and the funny part (for me anyways) is that he shows up with regularity as a recognized and respected perspective in both debates.

His name is Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is an astrophysicist and, since 1996, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. You may also recognize him from PBS's educational TV show NOVA scienceNOW.

I was reading the following Gizmodo.com report of a recent public lecture by Rusty Schweickart about the B612 Foundation and I came across this video of Mr. Tyson discussing Apophis, the asteroid scheduled to buzz the earth in about 30 years.

And here he is discussing what the B612 Foundation and others have been working on to resolve the deflection "problem"-

Great stuff. Mr. Tyson breaks it down in layman's terms effortlessly. I've seen him on other shows before, but this was a neat explanation of the facts behind NEO's like Apophis and what is currently being done about it.

I have also been following the recent intellectual purging that Charles Johnson has been subjecting his audience to over at Little Green Footballs. He's been taking on each and every last idiotic and ignorant stance on creationism/intelligent design and flailing it mercilessly in to a beaten stump of denial, and in doing so getting the full wrath from the usual suspects. It's been refreshing for me to watch this happen as his stances on politics are similar to mine, yet the audience that has made his site one of the most visited on the web had a reputation for being knuckle-dragging creationist-conservatives. His posts on evolution have cleared any misconceptions about what the owner of the site believes.

As I was thumbing through some of the more recent discussions in the evolution debate , I came across, well, Neil Tyson again.

And in this following video from the Beyond Belief 2006 Forum , Mr. Tyson takes the evolution debate and sort of turns it on its head by taking some angles that I bet you haven't heard of before. For instance (about 8:45 in) he talks about how Sir Isaac Newton himself could be considered a proponent of intelligent design and still be wrong, so maybe that's what we need to be teaching in science class. He also brings up 9/11 (he lives four blocks from ground zero) to make a point about Arabic culture and creationism that should be a lesson for humanity.

Next step for me was to order his recent book, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, and now I basically have to ignore the web because I don't want to spoil the book.

Thank you video poker. I'll post a review when I finish the book.

Update:.....so I found this video of Tyson on the Daily Show......so sue me, alright?

Daily Show - Neil Degrasse Tyson Pt 1 Comedy Video via Noolmusic.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight Mirrors Bush?

Somehow I don't see our current president riding the batpod without killing himself and several bystanders simultaneously, but Mr. Andrew Klavan makes some interesting points in his recent WSJ article...

What Bush and Batman Have in Common
July 25, 2008

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

"The Dark Knight," then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's "300," "The Dark Knight" is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

Mr. Klavan talks about the current Hollywood movies that depict the actual wars going on right now in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how they appear to be more interested in moral equivalence than right vs. wrong, whereas The Dark Knight never hesitates. It spells it out the entire movie:

We all know what evil men can do. And we know we have to stop it. We don't know how far we will have to go to stop it, but one thing we know for sure, the evil men aren't going away.

I've Found Someone Who Almost Makes Stephen A. Smith Tolerable

Skip Bayless decided to jump on in to the Ledger/Nicholson Joker debate recently and he achieved something monumentally difficult; make Stephen A. Smith a.)stop yelling and b.)not sound like an idiot.

Very sly senor Bayless.....

I plan on writing some thoughts about The Dark Knight here soon, but I need to see it again and this time in IMAX because it really whizzes by even at two and a half hours.

And if you haven't seen it yet, go immediately. There hasn't been a villain like this that scrapes the very depths of mankind's potential for evil since Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, and the Joker is just one part of the movie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is there anything that ISN'T on youtube?

The Allman Brothers on David Letterman from the 90's?

Yep, we have that.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ron Bailey Reports From The Conference on Global Catastrophic Risks

Saturday's subject was the one yours truly was extremely interested in hearing about..

It Came From Outer Space

Ronald Bailey | July 19, 2008, 7:21pm

July 19, Oxford, UK-Death by asteroids, comets and gamma ray bursts was on the agenda of the conference on Global Catastrophic Risks this morning. First up was NASA senior scientist David Morrison to talk about the Spaceguard Survey and the threat of a catastrophic asteroid strike.......
..........According to Morrison, 80 percent of the NEAs that are a kilometer or more in size have been identified. Consequently, Morrison could happily assure the assembled Oxford catastrophe mavens, "We are not going the way of the dinosaurs." Why because the Spaceguard Survey has not turned up any NEAs near the size of the one that likely killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That asteroid measured between 10 and 15 kilometers and blasted the 180 kilometer-wide Chicxulub crater.

Bailey reports that "Morrison groused that NASA has spent only $ 4 million on Spaceguard and argued that the magnitude of the risk merits a budget of half a billion dolars."

The impression I get from the conference is that we still aren't looking at this issue from a reasonable cost-benefit analysis. The budget for NASA is usually in the $18-20 billion range the last few years, and it's inexcusable that we've spent such a mere pittance on resolving the one issue that would make all of NASA'S other projects a moot point.

As always, please visit the folks at the B612 Foundation for more.

Friday, July 18, 2008

People Ask Me Sometimes Why I'm Not In A Band Anymore...

I tell them it's because when you live in Nashville a guy like this-

probably served your dinner at that restaurant last night.

Welcome to Music City Kids!

Update: To answer my sisters question, this sensational guitar player is the Australian Tommy Emmanuel.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

20 Years Later, And This Film Still Kicks Ass

My buddy Mark and I were in high school when we wore a VHS version of this movie out to the point that we probably could've recited the entire script from memory.

Midnight Run

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Below are some of the greatest clips from the movie via Youtube. If you haven't seen this movie then I would suggest watching it first, and then watching this clip.

Rated R For Swear words and such. You have been warned.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth Of July Feast.

Appetizers were a fruit salad with mint and cilantro, grilled jalapeno peppers stuffed with chevre and wrapped in pancetta and bacon, and some fresh guacamole.

Main course was this year we have the standard Tmans Ribs which we did on the grill instead of the smoker, grilled salmon steaks (that spent the night in a marinade of olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon slices, and covered in fresh rosemary and thyme), a rib eye steak, pork chipolte tacos and sides of grilled squash and zucchini in roasted red chile paste and corn on the cob in herb butter.


I'm stuffed. Happy Fourth Everyone!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

That's A Big Flag...

Let's hand it over to the folks from the NASA Image of the Day Gallery-

Stars and a Stripe in Celestial Fireworks

A delicate ribbon of gas floats eerily in our galaxy. A contrail from an alien spaceship? A jet from a black-hole? Actually this image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is a very thin section of a supernova remnant caused by a stellar explosion that occurred more than 1,000 years ago.