Friday, October 28, 2005

I subscribe to Sky and Telescope Magazine, which is a magazine for amateur astronomers and those who enjoy astronomy. The cover article of the current issue (December, 2005) is about the good work that the European orbiter Mars Express is doing at the Red Planet; the photographs are just spectacular.

There's also a report on the Deep Impact probe that slammed into the comet Tempel 1. According to the spectroscopic analysis, the comet is made up of water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, methyl cyanide, and other organic molecules. There are also minerals like olivine, calcite, and aluminum oxide.

Based on the nature of the explosion from the impact and the way the dust looked and acted, the concensus at the moment is that the mass of Tempel 1 is 72 trillion kilograms. Its density is about 0.6 gram per cubic centimeter. That value, along with the gravity dominated nature of the nucleus, has led team members of the Deep Impact mission to conclude that Comet Tempel 1 is a porous rubble pile--a loose body that is weakly held together by gravity.

The crater created by the Deep Impact probe's colision is thought to be about 100 meters (330 feet) across and about 30 meters deep.

They got some neat photos, too, one of which was in the article in this current issue of Sky and Telescope.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

You know, I've lost all respect and confidence in the newsmedia. CNN bothers to give a report on Louis Farrakhan. The report is uncritical, lauditory, spun to present him as a reasonable and decent fellow:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Saturday that the federal government should be charged with "criminal neglect of the people of New Orleans."

"For five days, the government did not act. Lives were lost," Farrakhan said at the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. "We charge America with criminal neglect."
A crowd of thousands cheered as dozens of prominent speakers -- academics, activists, artists and media pundits -- spoke, recited poetry and sang songs in the 12-hour program on the National Mall.

Pointing to the broad spectrum of participants, Farrakhan said the march included an "unprecedented" array of black leaders of organizations "coming together to speak to America and the world with one voice."

"This tells us that a new day is dawning in America," he said.

Yes, a new day. A day when the newsmedia treats an anti-Semitic loon with respect and reports his words and his ideas as if they are worth anyone's attention. A new day when they think what he does is reasonable and legitimate and newsworthy. A day when a man who believes all the anti-Semitic claptrap that would have warmed the heart of Adolf Hitler, when such a man, who believes that whites are the creation of a mad scientist, who believes that AIDS was created in a laboratory, who believes that 911 was an "inside job", who believes that the flooding in New Orleans was caused by bombs set off in the levies for the purpose of killing African Americans, who repeats lies on a regular basis as if they were facts. Yes, this is what the news media thinks is news. This is what gains their uncritical reporting as fact and they give him a platform to spout his lies and his idiocy and they act as if he matters. What next, are they going to go to Idaho and interview the neo-Nazis hiding in their compounds there? If not, then why do they give this jerk a forum?

But then it has always been thus, it seems, since the last century, when Adolf Hitler was portrayed by the newsmedia as a decent fellow to be negotiated with, while Chamberlain was praised and Churchill villified. Yes, this is the same newsmedia, who praised Stalin while he starved Ukranians by the millions. Yes, a news media who even now thinks Mao was cool and Che was a good fellow. Who thinks that Communism is a good thing and waxes nostalgic over dead socialist dictators. A news media who thinks that Castro is a decent man (so what that he throws people in jail and kills those who write or say things he doesn't like) and that there's nothing peculiar about dictorships running the human rights commissions at the UN.

So why shouldn't they think Farakhan is a fine fellow. After all they're cheerleaders for those who chop off heads and blow up children. Terrorists are only "insurgents," or "freedom fighters" fighting the good fight against tyrany--since they imagine America is merely the home of the oppressors and the land of the dictators. They seem to imagine that the enemies of America are righteous and doing the Lords work. America is evil and deserves to be punished they think.

I can only hope that history judges them for the foul, evil, moronic people that they are. I find it difficult to come up with words to express my contempt for them. The newsmedia is unworthy of any respect, and is not particularly trustworthy if they present reports like this. Why should I believe them if they won't tell us who Farakhan is and what he really believes? Why should I listen to them when they act like a crackpot's ideas deserve equal billing?

If reporters would merely do their jobs, and in their reports of Farakhan point out that the Nation of Islam, whom he leads, believes certain foul things, then that would be okay. If perhaps they would actually read Elijah Muhammed's book Message to the Black Man in America and report what it says; if, every time they interviewed Farakhan, they would quote from it and ask him to explain how he can believe such racist idiocy, then I could stomach the news reports about him. Of course, if they forced him and those who march with him, those who participate in what he does, who want to tell us "well, look at all the good work he does"--if they actually confronted them with his vile beliefs, how much longer would he be followed? How much longer would anyone listen to him? But the news media abrogates their responsibilities and become willing participants in his evil, as if anti-Semites forming youth groups and getting people into the streets and making them politically active is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

When I hear certain evangelicals commenting on natural disasters, or other unfortunate events, that they are signs that the end of the world is near, I can't quite help but think of Chicken Little and wonder whether they know that story? Or worse, they sound like the boy who cried wolf. Frankly, when Christians go off like a certain televangelist with a tendency to say stupid things just did, they wind up sounding like dolts. Why, oh, why don't Christians work harder at being educated and knowledgable? Why can't they calm fears, pointing out that every year, for the last few thousand of them, there has been one 8 point earthquake and seventeen 7 point earthquakes? And hurricane frequency and intensity go in cycles. There's nothing unusual going on. Why don't idiot televangelists just comfort the suffering instead of sounding like a stupid chicken?