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Armageddon – For real this time March 17, 2010

Posted by psmc in America, Armageddon, astronomy, Comets, Enviroment, Evolution, Explosions, history, Mayan Prophecy, Mayans, Moon, Science, Sun.
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There has been a lot of Doomsday talk lately.  Actually there has ALWAYS been a lot of Doomsday talk. I’m pretty sure there were some early cavemen were convinced the Ice Age was the end of the world. However, it WAS for the end for Neanderthals, so they had a point back then. But ever since then, all the Doomsday talk has never seemed to have panned out. After all we are all still here, more or less. 

I am fairly certain, that on the date in question nothing will happen. Except that my godson Jacob will turn 21. Especially after a Mayan elder stated he was fed up with all those questions about 2012 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/12/ap/strange/main5378465.shtml . Apparently, present-day Mayans are unaware the world is to end in 2012. When questioned, most Mayans will have no idea what you are talking about. They have more concrete concerns like their crops and the rain. But then one should be suspicious since it is only Westerners, usually ones that have expensive books to sell or pricy workshops that need attending, that talk about it.

However new evidence has come to light there is an Apocalypse coming. But it has nothing to do with the Mayans or any prophet climbing out of a well.

The satellite Hipparcos recently identified that a star, Gliese 710, is on a collision, or near collision, with the Solar System. Current estimates state the closest approach it will be .15 light years away. This is extremely close in terms of stellar distances. It is as if you were standing on a road and a large truck sped past you and missed you by 6 inches.

An actual collision is extremely remote, however there will be the gravitational effects to deal with. Gliese 710 will pass through the hypothetical Oort cloud. The Oort cloud is a sphere of comets and other debris left over after the Solar System formed. It is thought to extend out to 2 light years. We could be talking about a lot of comets being disturbed. If they are there, then there could be hundreds, if not thousand, of comets sent hurtling towards the Sun, and by extension us. And we all know what happened to the dinosaurs when something similar struck the Earth.

However there is no need to get into a panic just yet. First, the Oort Cloud is only hypothetical, it may not even exist. Second, some astronomers have models that indicate that if the Oort cloud does exist the chance of impact increases by only 5%. And third, and most importantly, this won’t occur for 1.5 million years. So we have some breathing room. This should give us some time to figure what, if anything, we should do. However if our descendents are anything like us, they probably won’t do anything at all until it is too late.

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Pizzas and Basketballs and why Marketing people should NOT be left alone May 13, 2008

Posted by psmc in America, Basketball, economics, LeBron James, Marketing, Pizza, Society.
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I happen to live near Cleveland, Ohio, just east of Cleveland in Lake County to be exact. Which makes this area, in NBA terms, Cleveland Cavalier country. We are now into the second round of the NBA playoffs. In the first round Cleveland played against, and defeated, the Washington Wizards, neé Bullets. This is the third year in a row that Cleveland has faced Washington in the first round. Washington has always felt they were the better team (I wonder if they still feel like that after losing AGAIN this year). This year they played a particularly hard and physical series with Cleveland. I think that series averaged one technical foul per game. There was also a suspension, it should have been two, but hey that’s NBA. Anyway, Cleveland happens to have a very talented player, LeBron James. When it is all said and done, he may be one of the best players ever. After one game LeBron mentioned the fact about how physical the Wizards were playing this year and that the referees seemed to be overlooking this fact. He wasn’t complaining or placing the blame on this for any problems the team had, like losing two games. He simply mentioned it.

Well a local Washington Papa John’s Pizzeria decided to make some hay with his comments and produced some T-shirts calling LeBron a cry baby, of course the shirt’s had Papa John’s Logo. Needless to say, there were camera shots of people wearing these T-shirts on television. Apparently only five or six people were wearing these shirts, I also heard that not that many were made, so I suspect someone in Washington made sure the TV people knew about the shirts so they would appear on TV. How this was done I do not know. I would think someone, somewhere had to get some type of renumeration. Most likely it was in the form of pepperoni, much harder to trace than cash. While they made sure the TV people knew about it, the marketing genius forgot to tell the Papa John Corporate Office of the antic. (Not one but TWO goof-ups by some marketing genius)

As a result, several people in the Cleveland area called in to Papa John’s and complained. There was a PR nightmare in the making. Papa John’s immediately apologized to LeBron, the Cavaliers and the people of Northeast Ohio. In an effort to soothe hurt feelings, make amends, avert a PR a disaster and boost cholesterol levels to new highs, Papa John decided to have a special. On Thursday, May 8 they would sell a large one-item pizza for 23¢, limit one to a family.

OK, more thought should have into this plan. I am sure it sounded great in the president’s office, but on the said day, needless to say, Papa John’s was very popular. How popular? One community was reduced to gridlock from all of the pizza traffic, hopefully no one there had any emergencies or pressing business. I know of one accident in a parking lot between two Papa John customers. Another city fattened its coffers by ticketing several cars for illegal parking, $70 fine. There were also reports of a few fights, not to surprising in a day and age where road rage is a problem. One merchant who had his store next to a Papa Johns, spent the entire day telling people they could not park in his lot. One would think that the empty lot might have told these people something, but obviously hunger and/or the need to save money had dulled their thinking. I’m sure he wasn’t the only merchant hurt by this promotion. Another Papa Johns had to close at 4PM due to running out of dough, sending home hungry multitudes. How can you run out of dough? You would think they would have given everyone more flour and yeast. It’s not as if flour and yeast are expensive. Most Papa Johns had lines circling the block. Waiting times approached 2 hours for most to get their annointed pizza. And the majority of these people called-in their orders. Two hours for a 23¢ pizza. Somehow the math doesn’t seem to balance. Let’s not forget the time it took to and from the pizza joint. Apparently people don’t think their time is worth anything when they are not working.

It seems rather silly, all this hassle and confusion for a 23¢ pizza. But this demonstrates the danger of letting Marketing people go unsupervised. One came up with a not only a questionable promotion, they failed to get permission causing a public relation nightmare for the company. Then the company comes up with a plan that caused even more headaches. I think it would have been easier and cheaper for them to have mailed coupons to everyone in Northeast Ohio. First, not everyone would use them. Second, they could have placed expiration dates on them as well as other qualifications. Even if it would have resulted in more pizza sales, it would have spread the insanity out over a longer period and hence be more manageable. Besides, if customers could have come in at any time and not this one specific date, they probably would have bought more items. like another pizza. I know most of the customers that day got just the one pizza. I wonder what the carbon footprint of this 23¢ pizza was? Hopefully Al Gore won’t find out about this.

OOPS WE DID IT AGAIN…… December 26, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Britney Spears, Family Values, humor, Jerry Springer, music, Parenting, Pop Music, Society.
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And to think she’s the good one in the family.  Gee, I wonder why the publisher of her mother’s book on parenting was delayed indefinitely.  On a serious note, there are three children who are in danger of being victims of the Spears’s train wreck. Hopefully Britney can get her life on track and her sister can look to her sister as what NOT to do as a mother.

Up in the sky…It’s a bird..It’s a plane…It’s 17/P Holmes 2007 !! October 31, 2007

Posted by psmc in astronomy, Comets, Explosions, Science.
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Nature is putting on an impromptu and impressive display for us to enjoy.  Well, for us in he Northern Hemisphere.  Sorry Lisa, Lou and the rest of Australia.  Comet Holmes, first seen in 1892, has suddenly brightened from a visual magnitude 10 to a visual magnitude 3.  For those of you not familiar with astronomical magnitudes, this means the comet suddenly brightened  630 times.   In astronomy the SMALLER the magnitude number the brighter it is, for example the Sun has a magnitude of -27.  Also visual magnitude refers to how bright it seems to us.  Comet Holmes is now on the part of its orbit that will carry it away from the Sun, so it will get progressively dimmer, eventually fading from view.

Finding this comet is relatively easy.  Look for Casseiopeia, it appears as a misshapen W, M, E or 3 depending on its orientation. Once you find it, look at the two stars that form the second leg of the W.  Then continue the is leg DOWN from the W.  The next group of stars you will come to is the Constellation Perseus.  In fact line will pass right by Comet Holmes, at it will for the next week or so.  It will appear starlike to the the naked or  perhaps a bit fuzzy depending on how dark and clear you location is.  It will also have a yellowish tint to it.  It is more impressive in even a modest pair of binoculars.  It will appear a large fuzzy, yellowish dot.  The comet rises early and is visible throughout the night.

Comets are ephemeral by nature so its appearance can and most likely will change as time goes on.  If you get a chance, go out and look for it.  It should be visible and relatively easy to find for the next month or so.  If you like what you saw or didn’t get a chance to see it it will be back in August 0f 2013.  Hopefully it will be brighter on its return than it was this time. Since there is a good chance that most of the material placed into its coma by this recent outburst will still be present on its return.

Today’s Forecast- Clear and the Occasional Downpour of Whale Blubber September 27, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Enviroment, Explosions, humor, Whales.
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This story is about 35 years old, though I just heard about it.  The Oregon Highway Department officials involved with this incident STILL refuse to talk about it.  It wasn’t their most stellar moment.  No whales were hurt in the filming of this video. it was already dead. However a car was severely damaged.  Nor were any people hurt, although I am sure a lot of dry cleaners were shocked the next day.  The sounds you hear after the explosion are indeed whale bits raining down on the bystanders.

Siberia Farts September 19, 2007

Posted by psmc in Al Gore, biology, Carbon Emissions, Enviroment, Global Warming, greenhouse gases, mammoths, methane, permafrost, Science, siberia.
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Paleontologists believe that prehistoric hunters, along with climate changes, led to the extinction of the mammoth and the mastodon. It now looks, according to one Russian scientist, that these shaggy cousins of the elephant are going to have the last laugh on us.

There is one threat to the environment that has been overlooked by Al Gore and the others, Mammoth Dung. Apparently Siberia is covered in it. Well that and other organic matter from the Ice Age.

Currently all this pachyderm poop is safely ensconced, frozen into the tundra. However, it is warming up. When it does thaw out it will start to decay. This decay could potentially release vast amounts of greenhouse gases, primarily methane, into the atmosphere. Methane is the combustible gas in flatulence. Basically, Siberia will be farting.

How much is estimated to be there? Current estimates state that the activities of man release approximately 7 billion tons of carbon annually. The amount of carbon that is locked up in the tundra is approximately 500 billion tons. That is equivalent to 71 years 5 months and 4 days of man’s activities.

We are not in immediate danger though. A recent report published by Dr. Norman Page of the British Climate Research Unit, indicates that the warming may not be as drastic as previously thought and has questioned the validity of climate models used by more alarmist members of the environmental community. Dr. Page’s report is NOT based on the fact that there was a spike in 1998 and that the warming since then has been less than the 1998 peak. Nor does Dr. Page make any claim of that global warming stopped. The study’s results question previous models and the role CO2 plays in global warming.

However, we are still warming and eventually those massive melting mounds of mammoth manure will decay. If you should happen to notice a rather pungent odor wafting in on the North Wind, you may want to rethink your trip to Vail or Aspen. Also, be careful with open flames.

http://tinyurl.com/263bsc

Justice for Jena, well sort of September 15, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Freedom, KKK, LAw, Politics, race relations, racism, Society.
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Awhile back I commented an injustice that occurred in Jena, LA.   I am happy to say that for one of the young men involved,  the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned his  conviction.  The court said that the charges he faced warranted him being tried as a juvenile and not an adult.  It is not known what the district attorney will do.  But if he is re-charged and re-tried, it will have to be in the juvenile courts.

Earlier two other defendants had their charges reduced to aggravated battery. The other three still face the original charge of attempted murder. They are still awaiting trial.  If found guilty of attempted murder, they can face 80 years in jail.

I am not saying that they should go unpunished, they did after all beat up some one.  But it was not attempted murder.  Clearly the charges are excessive here, and many feel that these excessiveness of the charges is due to their race.

For those not familiar with the story, Jena is a predominantly white town in rural Louisiana.  Last year a black student at under a tree that was traditionally a place where only white students congregated.  The next day three nooses appeared on the tree.  Neither the high school nor the school board did anything to punish the students involved.  They dismissed it as a student prank and did nothing.

Odd, in my high school one was usually disciplined when caught pulling pranks.  Sometimes it was a lecture or detention or even suspension.  But action was always taken.  Apparently the Jena schools have a more enlightened view on disciplining students.  Which is about all that is enlightened in this part of Louisiana.

As a result, a group of black students attacked one of the white students responsible.  They were arrested, and charged with attempted murder or aggravated battery.

The real criminals are the school authorities of Jena.  If they would have done their job after the initial “prank”  and punished the student or students who put up the nooses, the odds are good that no one would have been beaten up and 6 teenagers would not now be facing the possibililty of hard jail time.

Below are links to stories concerning the recent events in Jena.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20779755/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20589789/

Dragon Will Devour the Moon August 20, 2007

Posted by psmc in astronomy, Moon, Science, Sun.
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On August 28 there will be a total lunar eclipse. For those living in the eastern US the eclipse begins at 3:54 AM EDT.  But you really won’t notice anything until the Moon starts to enter the umbra, or main shadow at 4:50 AM. Totality starts at 5:52 AM EDT. This will last for nearly 90 minutes. Which means that for people on the East Caost the moon will set still undergoing eclipse.

For those who like to rise early in the Central Time zone for an early morning jog will be treated to seeing eclipsed moon. During totality the color of the moon darkens to a deep blood red, but in some years it has darken even more.  Each eclipse is slightly different.

For people in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii will be able to see the entire eclipse.  Provided the weather cooperates.  For those in the UK, Europe and Africa will not see it.  Sorry Kathy.

Two weeks later, on September 11 there will be solar eclipse.  However it will be a partial solar eclipse and will be visible from western South America and Antarctica.

I pronounce you man and wife…. August 19, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Arkansas, Familiy, Government, humor, Jerry Springer, LAw, Marriage, Politics, Society.
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In a horrible case of life imitating a bad episode of Jerry Springer, the state of Arkansas has mistakenly lowered the age that people can marry to, well, now there is no minimum age.  Infants can now get married.  Before this law went into effect the age of consent was 16 for women and 17 for men.  They had wanted to make it 18 for everyone.  But the bill had an exception in case of pregnancy. If there was a pregnancy involved and one or both participants under 18, then they could marry with parental consent.

However due to a typo the new law read: “In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage.”

In other words, if the parents say yes, then kids can get married at any age. I’m not sure but I believe due to this wording,  makes marriage in case of pregnancy IS prohibited.  At least while the pregnancy lasts.

Amazing the power of one three letter word.  Even more depressing,  two houses of a state legislature along with the governor’s office bothered to read the law they were passing.  Makes you wonder what else is has been made legal, or illegal, and no one yet  figured it out.

In order to fix this, another law has to be passed.  This will require a special session of the Arkansas legislature since it is now in recess and won’t meet again until 2009.  Frankly I think the people of Arkansas would be better served if these turkeys never would have convened in the first place.

The story can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/yvu29d

A grieving grandmother and her lawyer August 16, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Familiy, LAw, money, Society, Wrestling, WWE.
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As you may recall, there was a tragic event in Georgia last month.  The wrestler Chris Benoit suffered some type of breakdown and murdered his wife, his son and then committed suicide.  As tragic and disgusting as this was, it entered a new level this week.  What is at issue now  is the order in which the victims died.

The mother of the wife of Chris Benoit wants a piece of his estate, which is worth millions.  As it stands now, it will go to Chris Benoit’s two children from a previous marriage.  However, some lawyer has obviously convinced this woman that she is entitled to some of this money.  It seems under Georgia law, if the mother died after the child then then the mother’s family is entitled to a piece of the estate.

This seems to be an esoteric fact of Georgia law.  It looks like a lawyer, smelling an easy payday, contacted this grieving mother, and convinced her she has a legitimate shot at the estate.

Unfortunately the police have consistently said that the mother died first then the son.  And if I recollect correctly, it was some time between the two deaths.  So there should be little doubt of the order of death.  But when it comes to money, especially millions of dollars, the truth is often a victim as well.

You’re Afraid of What?! part 2 August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in humor, Language.
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In case you wanted to know….

Photografiakremazophobia – Fear of hanging pictures on the walls of your home.

Evolution on Talk Radio August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in biology, Coast to Coast AM, Evolution, paranormal, religion, Science, Society, Uncategorized.
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Before I continue, a disclaimer. I am not a Biologist nor am I an Anthropologist. My degree is in Mathematics with extensive coursework in Physics and Computer Science. And for most of my career I have been working with computers. Needless to say, I have a firm grasp of the principles Logic and of the Scientific Method. I have taken courses in Biology and Anthropology and have been very fortunate to have good friends and a few roommates who were anthropologists and have had many discussions with them on this subject. Sometimes, the best education one can get is having a lively discussion with knowledgeable people in a field over beer and pizza. The point I am making however is that one need not be a PhD candidate in a field in order to understand concepts that are fundamental to that field.

The other night I was listening to an overnight national radio show that specializes in the Paranormal, UFOs and other things that go bump in the night. They had a small piece on new hominid fossil finds that seem to put the time lines of the emergence of certain hominid species into question. The host was interviewing an individual while a biologist, did not seem to be one that agreed with Sir Darwin. The host seemed very excited and was eager to know if this discovery signaled the final death knell for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. To be honest, he never used those words, but the tenor of hos voice iimplied he was hoping it was so. He also wanted to know that since this discovery totally invalidates Evolution (which it doesn’t) does it mean that Intelligent Design is the only theory left that makes any sense.

Normally, I try to ignore these comments and questions. I understand that they are frequently made out of ignorance and are usually designed to generate interest amongst the listeners which leads to higher ratings (ie more money). But for some reason, this interview was, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Is it so hard for a nationally broadcast program with one of the largest listening audiences in US and Canada, if not the world, to find an accredited expert in the field of Biology to explain WHAT Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is? Especially when they like to make the claim they are trying to enlighten the minds of the listening audience. I also wished that they would interview their guests more aggressively.

This scientist they were talking to made a statement that was patently false and it went unchallenged. He claimed we have NEVER seen new species evolved. Well, where the heck are all these drug-resistant strains of bacteria coming from? How did AIDS arise? Is it just a coincidence there’s a similar virus that affects the other species of primates?

It’s clear that there are many critics and doubters of Darwin and his theory. It’s also clear that many of these people have no idea what his theory is, yet they oppose it just the same. And a lot of these people vote as well. Although I am sure that they decide ballot issues with more thought than they oppose Evolution.

I just find it particularly, well, immoral, for this radio program to do this. They claim that they want to inform and educate their listeners. (How is educating a person different than informing them?) Yet, they don’t seem to educate themselves on what they are talking about. I don’t care if they support Evolution, Intelligent Design or full blown Creationism. They can say and support any theory or no theory. All I ask is that they get reasonably informed on a subject before they attempt to trash it.

Amish Outlaw? August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, humor, religion, Society.
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Well if they are using radar to control the Amish and their speeding buggies, then what I saw yesterday makes more sense.   I was at a local fast food restaurant and I saw a van pull-up with the name Renegade painted across the front of the van. After the van parked, about 10 Amish got out.  I found it amusing that a van full of law-abiding, traditionalist, pacifist Amish  were happily riding in a van named Renegade.  I was wondering what made these Amish renegades.  Maybe they used buttons and zippers, or perhaps they drove around listening to the farm reports on the van’s radio.

After all if they are speeding around in their buggies, Lord knows what other type of mischief they are up to.

Ain’t America Grand? August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Society, Uncategorized.
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America certainly has some unusual place names. I wonder if the name of the town is an indication of what the nature of the town. Do you think Coatesville really is full of coats?

Star Light Star Bright….. August 11, 2007

Posted by psmc in astronomy, Enviroment, Science, Uncategorized.
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During the next three weeks, we will be treated to, hopefully, two rather impressive meteor showers.

First are the Perseids. This is one of the two most prominent and dependable meteor showers of the year. This year the peak of the Perseids, Aug 12-13, corresponds to a New Moon. This means the moon will not interfere with the observing of any meteors since it wont be in the sky. The rate at which metewros are expected tofall will build over the weekend: 30 per hour on Saturday morning; 45 per hour on Sunday morning and 80 per hour on Monday morning.

Best results are in the dark skies after midnight. Don’ t be discouraged if you can’ t stay up past midnight. They will be observable all night long. The hourly rate won’t be as high as it is before midnight as it is after midnight. But it should be higher than a typical night. If you are clouded out on these nights, the Persieds are a meteor shower that persists for a week or so so you should be able to see some decent displays for the whole week.

The second meteor shower, however is not as dependable. It is called the Alpha Aurigids an will peak on September 1. This is a rather sporadic, ie unpredictable, meteor shower that has only made an three impressive showings in the last century, in 1935, 1986 and 1994. The scientist who has studied the comet from which these meteors come from has determined this should be a good year for them, in fact the best for the next 50 years. It is expected they will appear at a rate of 200 per hour and will be green in color.

It turns out the pre-dawn skies of North America on September 1st will be the best place to see them. So if you live in a place with dark skies, like rural Alabama or some such place, then you can expect a nice show on this night, as well as on the Aug 12-14.