Category Archives: Entertainment

GONE, AND GOOD RIDDANCE

Gave up all TV and Netflix. Glad, and way too busy for that crap.

Aside from work I/we (wife and family) are spending far more time on (active) recreation than (passive) entertainment…

THE WATCHERS

Since my oldest daughter is home on break (from college) we went into town today to eat at O’Charleys. Took some pics of our adventure outside the restaurant.  Then afterwards went to see a movie. Had a ball with my posse. And got in some Monty Python type funny walks too.

I like my posse. Saw some awful weird things up in the sky though. And my oldest daughter saw something weird in my mouth. I think it kinda scared her. Lol!

I WANT YOU…

Superb! I love Postmodern Jukebox…

DAVE DOES GIRLIE

LOL!

WATCH: Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl reacts in horror listening to his first ever song

He recorded ‘Gods Look Down’ in 1990

Dave Grohl and Barrett Jones© LAUNDRY ROOM STUDIO

Footage has emerged of Foo Fighters lynchpin Dave Grohl listening to the first song he ever recorded on his own 27 years ago.

Dave wrote the song ‘Gods Look Down’ as a fresh-faced 20-year-old way back in 1989 for his hardcore punk act Scream. It eventually appeared on their 1993 swansong record ‘Fumble’, released when Dave was in a certain band called Nirvana.

In a newly unveiled outtake from Foo Fighters’ 2014 HBO series Sonic Highways, Dave and Foo Fighters producer Barrett Jones cast their ears on a version of ‘Gods Look Down’ Dave recorded on his own featuring solely his vocals and instrumentation.

With the pair sitting at the mixing desk, the footage shows the instruments slowly kicking in before Dave isolates his more high-pitched vocals and recoils in horror.

“I sound like a girl,” he says to a laughing Jones. “I don’t think my balls had dropped yet.”

Watch the footage here:

With a string of European and US festival dates already locked in, Foo Fighters are reportedly laying down their ninth studio album this year.

Forced to cancel their 2015 slot at Glastonbury when Dave Grohl fractured his leg, it’s widely predicted they will be joining Radiohead at Worthy Farm this coming June.

THE CAT WHO DREAMED OF BEING A DOG

This happened back in 2013. I still miss Alex. Boy thought he was a dawg. All Dawg.

100e2031

(Sam and Alex on point)

I like to watch Sam chase my female cats. He never hurts them but he likes to chase them across the fields and to the woodlines where my female cats either tree, or turn and stop and Sam blunders to a halt to avoid running over them.

Sometimes they will sprint right in front of his face to entice him to chase them. (You know females.)

Once Alex (my male Viking cat) sees Sam chasing the females he’ll go outside and chase them as well as if he’s another dog. And if they tree he’ll sit beside Sam and watch em from the ground as if he’s waiting on em to come back down.

So my two males, dog and cat, sit watching my two female cats as if they are dogs who have treed possums.

It amuses me.

THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE

THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE – YOU’RE NOT GETTING THE TAILLIGHT OR THE WAY THE STOP WENT DOWN

 

I don’t suspect that either “side” (of the political argument anyway) is getting the taillight or the stop. So let me explain something that probably most of you aren’t understanding then. At least not a lot of you.

Yes, it’s possible the woman made up the story of the taillight, but equally possible, if not far more so, that is simply the reason the officer gave for the stop. That, if the kid was a suspect, you give a fake reason for stopping them in order to throw the guy off his guard and not arouse suspicion.

Rarely would you stop a guy, especially if you spot that there is a woman and a kid in the car, and say to them, “Excuse me sir, but you fit the profile and so does this vehicle involved in a recently committed crime. Mind if I talk to you for a minute so we can see if you are the actual perp?”

Game is over at that point. You can likely expect trouble. I mean who the hell does that? Yes, the black humorist in me would like to see it tried sometime but not around anyone else.

And yeah, the cop lied to you in a semi-believable way or a way he can fake later, “Yeah, well, from what I saw the light wasn’t functioning.” Big deal, he’s trying to defuse or cover or prevent a far more dangerous or even potentially deadly situation. Which I’ll get to in a minute.

What I would have said and done, had I been the officer, was this,

“Excuse me, sir or madam (whoever is driving, I’d have to rewatch the video but notice he approached the boy in either case) and I don’t know if you are aware of this or not but your license tag is missing. It’s possible it either fell off or was stolen. No, don’t get out of your car. I just want to know, do you know your license tag number or can you recite it for me?”

I’ve used that ploy myself to great effect and it confuses people and distracts them. Setting their mind to a task that occupies them. But then again I’m fifty something years old and this cop was apparently a rather young guy with 3 or 4 years on the force and his partner about the same. You can’t blame a man for being inexperienced. That alone is not a crime. Though sometimes it can be a disaster.

But in either case the cop likely used the broken taillight as a ploy for the stop. Then everything else went down.

I have no problem with the stop. Or the ploy, if that’s what the cop did and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that’s what he did. That’s not my complaint with this entire incident.

My complaint is with everything that follows.

Some of you are gonna think I’m anti-cop and some of you are gonna think I’m racist and so the hell what?

I’m not interested in either, I’m not either, and I don’t give a fuck what you think. None of that is germane. I am interested in solutions.

Let me tell you how I would have likely handled this and how most old timers would have handled this and without a shot being fired (unless the kid pulled a gun and started shooting, which you cannot control).

I would have told them both, “Your license tag is missing.” To occupy them. Then I would have filmed them all good with my body cam (an advantage of modern technology). If the guy informed me he had a gun and a permit I would have said, “Good, just wait on that please. No hurry.”

Seeing there was a kid (in case I hadn’t before) and a woman I’d have likely said, “You have a child in the car, you don’t want anything to happen to that child or to be stopped again. Do you?”

“No.”

“No, of course not. No one wants to endanger a child.”

“Do you two live together?”

Yes, or no.

“What are your addresses? Do you live nearby?” Get them without arousing suspicion and knowing they might or might not be true. But remember you still have the licenses and you still have the tags. Even if they don’t know that.

“Okay, go straight home and get this car and your child (even if it ain’t his kid you want him thinking that way about the kid) off the road. Someone else could pull you over.” (Remember you could be aware that there is a call out for the vehicle or the suspect, but they don’t necessarily know that.) “I’m gonna give you a warning ticket about the tag and if another officer pulls you over between here and home then show it to them. That will clear you, but go straight home, okay? Will you promise me that until we can recover your tag?”

Then I would have all I need for alter advantageous action and I’d send them on their way. I might even shadow them home but more than likely I’d just call it in and let everyone know what I did and for someone else to pick them up along the way or near their home(s). Once I could be sure the boy was safely separated from the child and woman then I could isolate and interrogate him and either verify or disprove he was the actual suspect.

Will they check their license tag on getting home? Maybe. If the boy does and he knows he’s a suspect then he might take off. Likely alone. Which is what you want. (Not necessarily policy wise, but practically and realistically.) If he has been properly shadowed or picked up he won’t get far and you won’t have to wait for long to pick him up at an advantage to you, and at a disadvantage to him. If he’s not the real suspect then you’ll just confuse him and the girl. No harm done. And again you can wait, observe, and possibly eliminate him as a suspect.

Either way your real effort is to get them separated. If he’s a suspect and isolated then the danger to everyone else is eliminated, if he is not a suspect then you either make up a story “It really looked like your tag was gone,” or you level with the guy. And apologize. And let him know why, “you fit a suspect description and so did your vehicle, but we’ve either been able to clear you or we caught the real suspect. I wanted you to know that because this could have gotten dangerous for you. And for us. I’m very glad it didn’t and hope this never happens again to you.” Then shake his hand.

Most of the time that satisfies most people. Even endears you to a few. Sometimes someone will file a complaint. But, and I don’t wanna sound syndical here but you know exactly what I mean, that beats the hell out of the paperwork and complaints you’ll receive for a shooting or for getting shot.

Point is, you don’t have to solve every possible criminal problem or engage every criminal suspect at first encounter unless of course you or someone else has found them in the commission of a crime. Or the suspect suddenly draws his own weapon and starts firing. Things you can’t control anyway.

Danger is not your real job as a police officer, it’s a perk (black humor again), and shooting and getting shot is not your real job as a cop, avoiding or deescalating danger and avoiding shooting and getting shot, and thereby resolving crime as peacefully as possible – that’s your real job. (Is that always possible, no, sadly, you understand real people too, but that is your aim and most of the time it can be done if you are craftier than the criminal or the public, and you should be craftier than both. Oh few people will say that out loud, because of modern political pussification, but it’s true. You want to be far smarter than either the criminals or the public to both defeat and destroy crime and to guard society, sometimes even from itself, without endangering the innocent.)

Now a lot of people will say by way of objection, “Well, our resources are already stretched too thin and we can’t afford to wait and to isolate.”

Of course you can. Don’t be absurd. Waiting and isolating is a hell of a lot cheaper and safer for everyone, including you (in the vast majority of cases) than facing lawsuits and riots and potshots at your fellow officers and mass murders attacks (I am not saying any of these things are actually justified, I am saying you likely will face them, and you know that if you are really honest with yourselves) and possibly getting civilians involved in a shooting. Shooting is the very last thing you want to do if you can possibly help it, but nowadays if an old woman with a knife is running around screaming, you just shoot her.

For God’s sake, think on that and think on how your grandfathers would have handled that.

You don’t, returning to the subject matter at hand, escalate a potentially dangerous situation around a woman and child. Even assuming you have a right to fire (and being a suspect does not make a man guilty and having a firearm – unless you are a convicted felon – is legal for everyone else or should be under our Constitution) bullets can hit bones or metal or other material and spin away and hit the woman or kid, or in a rush you can just plain miss.

And suspicion does not give you a right to fire.

And after you do fire and have severely injured a guy you immediately disarm him, clear the child and woman, and render assistance. You do not stand there with your weapon continually aimed at the guy as he bleeds out and dies.

There are lots of ways this could have been handled. Most all would have ended safely for everyone.

Now was this stop racism? Very, very unlikely that most any situation like this is racism. That’s ridiculous. It’s paranoia, is what it actually is. If it was racism or “systemic racism” then cops would be shooting sixty year old back guys and black women and little black kids, or whatever. They aren’t. They tend to shoot young black males because that is who is usually proven dangerous. After all young black males kill far more young black males than most cops ever will. (And you gotta be honest about that too.) But cops are paranoid of young black males precisely because, primarily in big city/heavily urban areas, they kill each other so often. Add that, to a cop’s already natural sense of paranoia and danger, not only abides for all, it multiplies and thrives.

And that’s fine and I get that, paranoia has on more than one occasion saved my ass. But paranoia and inexperience and the idea that you must be in a rush to resolve every dangerous or potentially dangerous situation has a bad side as well.

If you ask me, by studying this situation carefully, you can see how modern police training is going badly awry. Your training is all fucked up. Especially big city training. Well, most big city training anyway.

You gotta start being honest about that. Primarily, urban police officers, I mean.

You gotta start acting beyond your training and incorporating your own experience to your actions and reactions and listening to what your older officers and old timers do/did in tough situations, and listen to their stories.

You gotta stop being in such a rush and yeah, I know, if your superiors second guess you and think you have fucked up by letting a suspect walk (for the moment) they will give you hell and maybe even screw with your career. I know all of that shit. Your job sucks.

And yeah, I know you’re not racist, you’re paranoid. You’re stuck in a system, and an environment (just like most young decent blacks kids are) where the usual suspect and the usual perp of violent crime (and the usual victim) is a young black boy. That’s just Reality. So if you’re a cop, especially in certain areas, and you’re not paranoid, then you’re a fool.

But don’t let paranoia rule you (easier said than done, I know), don’t be in a rush, rely upon your training but don’t be hamstrung by it, add to it your experience and the experience of those around you, and remember a lot of problems, even those that seem immediately dangerous aren’t really if they are handled right. And given some time, thought, and pre-calculation.

(It sure as hell wouldn’t hurt for you to write down all of the tricks you’ve employed over time that worked out well, and all of the things you’ve done that haven’t worked and review those with yourself and your fellow officers from time to time. Screw policy when necessary, write down and think about and review what actually works. Lessons Learned. Keep your own records and notes on your own best techniques and the best techniques of those who do best.)

And remember that if you see a woman and a kid, assuming your suspect hasn’t already pulled a gun then he’s just a suspect and a lot of things can wait until the situation is to your advantage, and to the woman and kid’s advantage, not the suspect’s advantage.

And you owe people who are not criminals (especially when they are in or around potentially dangerous situations) respect even when they give you a hard time, and many will for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Most people are driven by their emotions at least some of the time. Everyone is from time to time. You know that better than most. You see it constantly.

And so for God’s sake be careful out there. I mean that in all of these potential senses, careful for yourself, careful of others, and careful for others. All are equally important but not all have to be serviced immediately and sometimes it is just plain better to wait, to observe, to qualify, and to understand before acting.

And for you civilians out there, especially you middle class blacks (and whites and others) who have lived basically sheltered lives but for whom the police may still be paranoid of you, they are paranoid by nature and as a result of the job (keeps them alive), not racist.

(At least not racist in the way you think at all. They are practical racists, if that is the real term or expresses the real idea. I know no one wants to hear that, even cops because they are not racists or bear ill-will against a race-group but they have “attached danger to the idea of young black males” primarily young black urban males because they have seen so many dangerous young black urban males. To that one group they are, rightfully or wrongly, extra-paranoid. You can call that racism if you like, I don’t, it should have its own term, and maybe I should devise one, but it’s not race-hatred, it’s an extra-heightened sense of danger and paranoia around a particular group of young black males born of experience, particularly those who live in certain areas.)

Nevertheless, and all of that being true, a police officer cannot rely upon suspicion and paranoia as a tool of interaction in working with the public. A police officer owes you respect especially if you are not engaged in crime or have no record. But cops have a heightened sense of suspicion and danger. Often to them suspect = convict or dangerous individual because they have seen it so much.

I wish there was a way I could magically wave a wand and resolve these situations for everyone involved or make everyone understand the other better.

But I can’t.

But I can say this, we can all do lot better. Cops, civilians, society, black, white, you name it. And we should all do lot better.

And criminals, for God’s sake, stop doing the shit you do.

There’s no future in it for you or anyone else. Without you being idiots and fools most of this shit would never happen. That’s the real answer to the vast majority of this mess.

Criminals, find and pursue a better way. You’re the real and by far the most prominent and dangerous problem.

Do I actually expect that? For criminals to suddenly grow a conscience and to change?

What the hell am I? Some kind of naïve modern man?

Not likely. But still, it’s what ought to be done.

 

Woman films shocking aftermath of police officer shooting her partner.

Warning: this post contains graphic footage. 

A shocking video shared live on Facebook by an African American woman whose partner was just shot four times by police has rocked the United States.

Having been pulled over for a broken tail light on Wednesday, Philandro Castile informed the police officer that he had a weapon in the car and a licence to carry before reaching for his wallet.

It was then that the officer opened fire, shooting Castile four times.

Castile’s partner, Diamond Reynolds and her four year old daughter watched on helplessly.

philandro castilePhilandro Castile in his last moments. Source: Diamond Reynolds / Youtube.

Within moments of Castile being shot, Reynolds began filming, live-streaming what was happening to Facebook, speaking to the camera and police officer intermittently.

“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” Reynolds said to the camera.

Reynold’s four year old daughter offers comfort to her mother. Post continues… 

Play Video

Diamond Reynolds films Philando Castile.

Castile can be seen slumped between the front seats, his white t-shirt soaked with blood, his breathing slowing between cries of pain.

“I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off it,” the St. Anthony police officer can be heard saying to Reynolds.

Following the arrival of more officers, Reynolds’ confronting footage continues, with her being forced to drop to the ground at one point.

The shooting of Castile comes following the death of Alton Sterling, another African American man shot dead by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

philandro castileDiamond Reynolds speaking to press following the shooting. Source: Youtube

“Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said. “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir,” Reynolds says frantically. “He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

Later, as Reynolds and her daughter are being loaded into a police vehicle, she again cries, “Please Jesus, no. Please no. Please no, don’t let him be gone.”

From out of shot, Reynolds daughter  can be heard saying, “it’s okay, I’m right here with you.”

Castile was pronounced dead at at Hennepin County Medical Center. He had no criminal record and was said to be well respected by co-workers and friends.

MOST WATCHED

ALL OF MY LOVE

THE KING IS DEAD – LONG LIVE THE KING

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. But I’ll miss his playing.  The man sure could hit his licks.

Godspeed BB, and may there be no more need for the Blues where next you play…

// //

Blues legend B.B. King dies at age 89 in Las Vegas

Blues legend B.B. King dies at age 89 in Las Vegas – CNN.com// // // //

CNN)Riley B. King, the legendary guitarist known as B.B. King, whose velvety voice and staccato-picking style brought blues from the margins to the mainstream, died Thursday night.

He was 89.

His daughter, Patty King, said he died in Las Vegas, where he announced two weeks ago that he was in home hospice care after suffering from dehydration.

King of the blues

The Mississippi native’s reign as “king of the blues” lasted more than six decades and straddled two centuries, influencing a generation of rock and blues musicians, from Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Sheryl Crow and John Mayer.

Musicians mourn the loss of B.B. King

His life was the subject of the documentary “B.B. King: The Life of Riley,” and the inspiration for the The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, which opened in 2008.

King’s enduring legacy came from his refusal to slow down even after cementing his status as an American music icon.

Even with a long list of honors to his name — Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Presidential Medal of Freedom — he maintained a relentless touring schedule well into his 80s.

Throughout his career, King evolved with the times to incorporate contemporary trends and influences without straying from his Delta blues roots. Whether he was sharing the stage with U2 on “When Loves Comes to Town” — a scene memorialized in the 1988 concert film, “Rattle and Hum” — or playing in the East Room of the White House with Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck and others, King’s single-string guitar notes trilled with an unmistakable vibrato from his hollow-bodied Gibson affectionately known as Lucille.

Slowing down

King finally started showing signs of his age last year after decades of living with Type II diabetes.

A shaky show in St. Louis prompted his reps to issue an apology for “a performance that did not match Mr. King’s usual standard of excellence.” He fell ill in October after a show at Chicago’s House of Blues due to dehydration and exhaustion, prompting a rare cancellation of the remainder of his tour.

He was hospitalized for dehydration April in Las Vegas, a long way from his modest roots as the son of a sharecropper.

King was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation between Indianola and what is now Itta Bena, Mississippi. He sang with church choirs as a child and learned basic guitar chords from his uncle, a preacher. In his youth, he played on street corners for dimes, saying he earned more in one night singing on the corner than he did in one week working in the cotton field.

Beale Street Blues Boy

He enlisted in the Army during World War II but was released because he drove a tractor, an essential homefront occupation.

In 1947, he hitchhiked to Memphis, Tennessee, home to a thriving music scene that supported aspiring black performers. He stayed with his cousin Bukka White, one of the most celebrated blues performers of his time, who schooled King further in the art of the blues.

King took the Beale Street Blues Boy, or BB for short, as a disc jockey for radio station WDIA/AM Memphis.

He got his first big break in 1948 by performing on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program out of West Memphis, leading to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis, and a 10-minute spot on WDIA.

As “King’s Spot” grew in popularity on WDIA, King shortened “Beale Street Blues Boy” to “Blues Boy King,” and eventually B.B. King.

His ascent continued in 1949 with his first recordings, “Miss Martha King/Take a Swing with Me” and “How Do You Feel When Your Baby Packs Up and Goes/I’ve Got the Blues.” His first hit record “Three O’clock Blues” was released in 1951 and stayed on the top of the charts for four months.

// // // //

Beloved Lucille

It was during this era that King first named his beloved guitar Lucille. In the mid-1950s, King was performing at a dance in Twist, Arkansas, when a few fans became unruly and started a fire. King ran out, forgetting his guitar, and risked his life to go back and get it. He later found out that two men fighting over a woman named Lucille knocked over a kerosene heater that started the fire. He named the guitar Lucille, “to remind myself never to do anything that foolish.”

King has used various models of Gibson guitars over the years and named them each Lucille. In the 1980s, Gibson officially dropped the model number ES-355 on the guitar King used and it became a custom-made signature model named Lucille, manufactured exclusively for the “King of the Blues.”

30 Grammy nominations

In 1970, he won his first Grammy, for Best R&B Vocal Performance Male for his trademark song, “The Thrill is Gone.” That same year, he debuted an all-blues show at Carnegie Hall and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

YES!

Yes I would do this…

BRIDGE OF SIGHS – ACCULTURATION

For your Monday Acculturation

 

SPACE NET BASE JUMP

I’m behind because I was out yesterday. So I give you:

DISNEY (RE)DOES BAMBI

Lol!

DIE TECHNIKER IST KAPUT!

This was absolutely freakin hilarious. I laughed for a long, long time…

So last month, an electric door at the University of Mainz in Germany broke down.

So last month, an electric door at the University of Mainz in Germany broke down.

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“BROKEN. The technician has been informed.”

The next day the door wasn’t fixed: “Technician also broken.”

The next day the door wasn't fixed: "Technician also broken."

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Then a second notice appeared, referencing a contestant on the German version of Wife Swap. It reads: “Everything stays exactly the way it is!”

Then a second notice appeared, referencing a contestant on the German version of Wife Swap. It reads: “Everything stays exactly the way it is!”

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And suddenly the meme floodgates opened.

And suddenly the meme floodgates opened.

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A day later, and the university’s meme lovers had left the door looking like this.

A day later, and the university's meme lovers had left the door looking like this.

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Three days later, and the door still wasn’t working. In fact it looked like this.

Three days later, and the door still wasn't working. In fact it looked like this.

And then – OMG. The memes had gone. GONE.

And then – OMG. The memes had gone. GONE.

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But one lone memeist decided to hold firm against the unknown meme removers.

But one lone memeist decided to hold firm against the unknown meme removers.

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The university dean could obviously take a joke. He thanked the memeists for their creativity, but said they sadly had to be removed due to fire regulations.

Then came a note PROMISING that the technician had been informed, but they were just waiting on a single technical part, which would be there in a few days.

Then came a note PROMISING that the technician had been informed, but they were just waiting on a single technical part, which would be there in a few days.

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Brandschutzvorschriften = fire safety regulations, of course.

But the memes continued to build…

But the memes continued to build...

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…and build…

...and build...

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“If the door fails, Europe fails.”

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Until finally: It was repaired!

HARD MAP

Space Without the Space

When we think about our solar system, most of our mind’s likely wander to Jupiter’s immensely large storm, or Saturn’s fantastical rings. Perhaps some picture Neptune’s deep blue hue, or its sea of liquid diamond. The point being, these huge objects capture our imagination because they are so far-flung from Earthly sights, like the rolling seas of blue and green and the rocks that crunch beneath our shoes. We kind of look over the fact that the vast majority of planets are composed almost entirely of gas; our solar system included.

This handy graphic by XKCD helps drive this point home:

Credit: XKCD

Here, in a piece called “Space Without the Space,” XKCD’s Randall Munroe stitched together an old school, pirate-like map that shows all of the solid ground in our solar system (excluding speculative estimates solid “ground” we might find deep within the cores of gas-giants). Earth clearly wins hands down, though it’s unclear as to how Munroe incorporated the oceans of Earth in the map. Venus comes in at a close second, which isn’t surprising since it’s very similar to Earth in size. Then we have the other rocky bodies, Mercury and Mars.

What might be surprising to some is just how similar in size the planets and moons are. Three out of four of the Galilean moons (Callisto, Ganymede and Io) make up a considerable amount of the map. Ganymede, in particular, is the most noteworthy. Believe it or not, it’s actually a bit larger than the inner-most planet from the Sun, Mercury (it’s not that much smaller than Mars, for that matter). It even appears as if all of the dwarf-planets (pictured near the bottom) could fit inside any of the three largest Galilean moons.

A comparison of Mars, Mercury, the Moon and Ganymede (credit: NASA/SolStation)

It’s also neat that he grouped asteroids, comets and other small planetoids together. They make a small, but discernible fraction of our solar system’s rock. I’m not sure which point of view is cooler: the fact that there are so many of these objects scattered throughout our solar system that, together, they are the same size as a small moon, or that objects so numerous (there are billions, perhaps even trillions, of them) could be so small that all of them combined only add up to the size of a small moon. I’ll leave that one up to you guys.

How Planets Form:

Despite just how vastly different they are in size and composition, terrestrial planets and gaseous ones form in a strikingly similar manner (at least we think so).

It’s understood that based on our most current model, our solar system (along with all of the other planetary systems we’ve found circling distant “Suns”) formed following the collapse of a nebular cloud. From there, it’s understood that after a newly born star emerges from its cocoon, an elliptical disk of material, called a protoplanetary disk, encircles the young star.

Artist rendering of a protoplanetary disk (Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA Artwork by Lynette Cook)

The disk is composed of a variety of materials: including ice, water-ice, rock, grains and some heavier elements (iron, nickel, gold, etc), but gas is by far the most prevalent type of material. Within the chaotic, spinning disks, the materials collide and start to coalesce into a planet. After enough of the materials gather, gravity takes over and helps transform the oddly shaped planetesimals into the spherical planets we all know and love.

Gas-Giants v.s. Rocky Bodies:

Of course, the concentration and the quantity of the materials dictate what the planets are made of and the number of them that form, but a different mechanism — one occurring much farther out within the disk — starts to influence the proto-planets. After hundreds of millions of years of slow accretion, all at once, they start accreting gaseous envelopes (like an atmosphere). The growth can be stanched by stellar phenomena (like solar winds), but these effects are diluted over vast distances, thus allowing the more distant planets to keep on growing until they are more gas than rock.

At such distances, the temperatures also drop off, eventually becoming so cold that even gas itself freezes over. The newly acquired mass allows the large bodies to capture the frozen gas and become even more immense, until the planets become full-blown gas-giants.

 See a larger image here.

HAPPY TRAILS

My Top Five: The Best Mountain Bike Trails in the CSRA

1

I’m proud to call the the Central Savannah River Area, or CSRA, my home. The CSRA is the the area surrounding Augusta, GA and North Augusta, SC and it’s home to some of the best, least-expected mountain biking in the southeast. I say least expected because we don’t have any mountains here. We’ve got hills, but no mountains. But boy oh boy do we have trails, about 150 miles of them actually, with more in the works. We have many of these trails because of the local MTB club, SORBA-CSRA. SORBA-CSRA has done such a good job in this area that in 2010 IMBA held their biannual World Summit here. So if you’re looking for a place to take a spring MTB trip, give the CSRA a look. In this blog post you’ll find my five favorite trails in the area, in no particular order.

FATS: Forks Area Trail System (SC)

FATS, located in the Sumter National Forest in SouthCarolina,is the crown jewel of the CSRA mountain bike scene, and the only IMBA Epic in South Carolina. It’s 37 miles of fast, swoopy, roller coaster like purpose built mountain bike trails. There are six individual loops, each with a slightly different feel and the trails will satisfyboth beginners and experienced riders alike. There is very little technical terrain at FATS so anyone can ride here and likely clean every inch of trail. What makes this trail fun is the speed – it’s easy to get, and easy to keep. But you do have to be careful with all that speed: there’s a bunch whoop-de-doos that will throw you over the handlebars if you’re not careful.


Riders cruising through some whoop-de-doos on the Deep Step loop at FATS

Mistletoe State Park (GA)

Mistletoe is the anti-FATS. It’s the most technical trail in the CSRA. The trail was not built for mountain biking, even though bikes are allowed now. There are lots of creek crossings – some are easy, some are not. There’s some rocks, and some steep climbs. The trails can be a little confusing your first time out so I suggest looking for a local to show you around. The Rock Dam and Cliatt Creek Nature Trail are the most popular rides, and most locals link them together to form a loop around 6.5 miles long, with a lot of climbing for this area. Mistletoe is the western most portion of the big Thurmond Epic route.


One of the deeper creek crossings at Mistletoe State Park

Modoc (aka Stevens Creek)(SC)

Modoc is another technical trail, for the CSRA at least. Located in Sumter National Forest, the Modoc trail roughly follows Steven’s Creek and has some nice scenic views. Several ditch and creek crossings keep you on your toes on this 6-mile out and back trail. Between the technical bits Modoc is pretty fast and smooth. There is plenty of really nice bench cut singletrack that has been in place for decades and it’s a lot of fun to ride. Locals link Modoc to the Turkey and Wine Creek trails for longer routes.


Only 1/4 mile from the parking lot is one of Modoc’s most memorable creek crossings. Photo: brianW

Bartram (GA)

The Bartram trail is one of the least technical trails in the area, but it’s also one of the longest. The trail is an out and back stretching from the West Dam Recreational Area west all the way to Washington Road, and it’s 22.5 miles one way! The trail runs right through the Petersburg Campground, making Petersburg a great place to stay if you’re planning a visit to theCSRA to ride.

East of Petersburg is known as “old Bartram” to the locals and it is the least challenging side. It is very flat, smooth, and very fast if you want it to be; a great place to take the kids riding. West of Petersburg, or “new Bartram” is a little tougher, with some climbing, whoop-de-doos, and a few technical challenges. The entire trail hugs the shores of Lake Thurmond and has lots of nice views. Bartram is the biggest chunk of the Thurmond Epic route.


There’s something special about lakeside singletrack. Photo: brianW

Canal Trail (GA)

This is probably going to a controversial pick as a Top Five trail but hey, it’s my list and I love the canal trail! It’s a very short 2.8 mile loop inside the city limits of Augusta. This is the only trail in the area that’s within easy riding distance from a large population area. It sits on a small piece ofland between the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal. To make the best use of the land the trail is very tight and twisty, making it a great place to work on your cornering skills. There aren’t any big climbs, but there are a few short steep rooty grunts that can test your skills.It’s a little trail, but it is big on fun!


That’s me, playing hookie from work and enjoying the canal trail on a sunny Friday afternoon in the spring. Don’t tell my boss.

ORCI OUT

Interesting… or is that Fascinating?

Or not?

Roberto Orci Will No Longer Write Star Trek 3

Star Trek 3

Looks like rumors that concerns over Roberto Orci’s script were central to his vacating the director’s chair on Star Trek 3 may be accurate, as Orci himself all-but-confirmed on TrekMovie‘s message boards.

“I’m producing, [nothing] more or less,” Orci states bluntly about his current role on the project, which means that his original involvement in drafting the screenplay with Patrick McKay and John D. Payne is over.

Moreover, it sounds like Orci’s enthusiasm for the film now that Fast and Furious helmer Justin Lin has taken the reigns may be tenuous at best, as a commenter asks him if fans who supported his vision for the franchise should boycott the film.

“I won’t lie, I don’t know yet, but the story we are talking about would be awesome, hang in there!” Orci writes.

Of course, Orci’s direct online contact with Trek fans has earned him both admiration and ire within that community, and even as he relinquishes control of the U.S.S. Enterprise, it hasn’t stopped him from defending his decision to create an alternate timeline for Kirk & Co.

“Stop blaming [Bad Robot],” says Orci. “It was my idea so that you would not know what was gonna happen next. Nothing more or less. I stand behind it. And it, again, is the reason why I make movies and you don’t.”

Orci may get to make movies, but how Star Trek 3 will get made by its targeted July 8, 2016 release date if the filmmakers are still negotiating the minutiae of the story remains a mystery. As another starship captain once said, “Make it so.”

Paramount Pictures’ currently untitled Star Trek 3 is expected to star Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana and John Cho as the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.

MY GUIDE TO LOLDOM, AND HOW TO USE YOUR LOLS/LOLZ FOR GREATEST ACCURACY AND MAXIMUM EFFECT

Most people use the term LOL, or Lol, very loosely. Including myself, of course.

It can, depending on who is writing it, mean a number of different things depending upon what the LOL-user finds humorous and why. For instance you can Lol at someone or someone’s action(s) or comment(s) because you found them genuinely funny, charming, ironic, or even idiotic.

Since writing tends to have far less communicative context than personal and oral communications (when and where you can read body language, facial gestures, etc.) it can often be difficult to understand why someone is “lolling” on the internet (or in any written communication), or to express your own “Lols/Lolz” accurately in a way you can be sure will be properly understood (from your point of view).

To make matters worse many of the add-on acronyms which seek to explain why you are lolling can often result in a long string of unnecessary letters which clarify to some degree the nature of the lol (ROFLMAO) but do nothing to explain why you are lolling, or at whom. And since we are living in the Age of the Acronym (or Anachronym*, take your pick) then simplicity should rule.

So, this morning on my walk with my dog, I decided I would devise a very simple and straight-forward and accurate key for lolling that explains in a very few letters why you are lolling and at what or whom. Therefore, below, you will find my guide to precise LOLDOM.

THE KEY OF LOL:

Alol – I am laughing about or at it/them/you, because it/they/you are foolish and a moron.

Nalol – Yes, what you just did or said does indeed make you a moron, and so I still feel compelled to laugh at loud, but you are so naïve and so charming that I am laughing as much for you as at you.

Elol – I am laughing enjoyably or in a friendly/good-natured manner with them/you because I fully understand and can relate.

Ilol – I am laughing in a manner which is fully cognizant of the irony, paradox, ridiculousness, or understatement of it all. (Sometimes also called the P-lol, or the Ulol.)

Slol – What you are is just plain silly.

And of course, the ever prevalent and super-charged Lollicopter.

Lollicopter/Lollycopter – I am laughing (or choking) out loud, over and over again, in a very vigorous rotary fashion, because it/they/you have proven to be a complete, intentional, and unrepentant idiot.
Now enjoy your day folks, and go forth and LOL. The world needs more lols. But now you can do so in a more accurate manner, of course.

* I accidentally invented the neologism Anachronym as a teenager. I meant to say it this time.

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