Friday, October 20, 2017

Kilonova!

Big news from the cosmos – the collision of two neutron stars.  Some people are not fascinated by what’s happening way out there beyond the beyond.  But I am.  I don’t understand a lot, the universe is more than I can get my head around, and I know we know very little.  Still, I love the stuff.  And in August scientists followed gravitational waves to see the collision, something they’d never seen before.

A neutron star is what’s left after a massive star explodes in a supernova at the end of its life.  It then collapses into an extremely dense core.  How dense?  A sugar-cube-sized portion of a neutron star would weigh about a billion tons, about the same weight as Mt. Everest.  How large?  A neutron star is about the same size as Manhattan.  Like I say, it’s hard to even conceive of this.

Neutron stars, while common, are usually too small and dark to see with telescopes.  Many stars are binary – two stars that orbit each other.  In this case we had a binary neutron star spiraling into each other until they collided and merged.  When this happens, what looks like a star quickly appears, then disappears.  So seeing the event is a crapshoot.  But in August they hit the jackpot.  The detectable visible light lasted only a few days.


They call it a kilonova because it is about a thousand times more powerful than a supernova.  Scientists also say that colliding neutron stars produce the precious metals of our universe, like gold.  I wouldn’t know.  I just know it fascinates me!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday the Thirteenth!

In Western superstition Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day.  Friday is also the end of the workweek.  So let’s take a look at what got accomplished this week that ends on the 13th:

Health care for poor people got thrown under the bus.  How bad the damage we’ll have to wait and see.

Puerto Rico got thrown under the bus.  A racist move.  We can already see the damage.

The NFL got thrown under the bus.  The owners will ratify they have no guts next week.
 
The Iran nuclear deal got thrown under the bus.  Only serves to further isolate the U.S.

Harvey Weinstein got thrown under the bus.  Deserved.

The turd-in-charge tried to throw Bob Corker under the bus.  Won’t work.

The environment got thrown under the bus – again.  Happens every week.

NAFTA got thrown under the bus.  No surprise.  A self-defeating move that won’t help union workers who don’t see they’re being used.

People in the path of the fires got thrown under the bus.  To burn or not burn is a fickle crapshoot.  We don’t know whom to blame yet.  Maybe Mother Nature is the best scapegoat.

The Yankees and Dodgers didn’t get thrown under the bus.  Too bad.


Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Civil Wars!

The Republican anti-establishmentarians, led by Steve Bannon, are at war with their party.

The Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren Democrats are at war with their party.

There is a delicious synchronicity in these battles.  It is wonderful to see party regulars on both sides being challenged.  Clearly, the power structures are dysfunctional, mostly committed to being reelected, not serving the people they represent.  So to see them floundering as they struggle to figure out how to turn back the assault is reality TV worth watching.

Will it matter who wins?  On either side?  If the insurgents win will anything change?  Or will one self-serving group simply be replaced by new self-serving faces?  Given recent history and the dominant role of money in politics, it is hard to be hopeful.  The fundamental nature of the swamp will not have changed.


Would I prefer that these civil wars not be happening?  Not really.  Shaking up the status quo is a positive step.  No matter what happens, we won’t end up with anything worse than what we have.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thoughts for Today!

Another Bay Area heat wave.  Does it mean anything?  Depends on your point of view.  The existential meaning?  It will be warm today.

The Giants continue their race to the bottom.  In the fullness of time, i.e., this weekend, all shall be known.

In the sound and fury surrounding what athletes do or don’t do when the national anthem is played, the context for their actions is being lost.  It’s not about patriotism or respect for the flag, it’s about racial equality or the lack of it in this dear land of ours.

I am uncertain who to root for in the Republican party civil war.  If the establishment wins it is more of the same.  If the right wing challengers win it may reduce the power of the party but will increase the influence of the crazies.  Could be a lose-lose situation for the good guys, or maybe not.  Let’s hope for the best.

Will somebody please tell me what the distinction is between acceptable free speech and unacceptable hate speech.

California leads the way in a lot of what matters to people like me.  Secession sounds like a great idea.  And hooray for Jerry Brown.  He’s been a great governor.

Anyone surprised that the latest tax proposal is mostly tax cuts not tax reform?  Or that the rich benefit more than others?  Or that increasing the deficit is OK because that magical growth that will result from the cuts will bail us out?

Is it a coincidence that everywhere we look we see hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, fires, floods, war, and probably a new pestilence ready to attack us?  End of Days anyone?


Have a nice day!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Pissing Match!

Trump and Kim Jong Un are in a pissing match unworthy of two 12-year-olds.  Taunts, threats, personal slander, a barrage of words, as the bard would say, of sound and fury signifying nothing.  Disgusting!


Lyndon Johnson, a wise old barnyard philosopher, once said, “Never get in a pissing match with a skunk.”  In this case the pissing match is between two skunks.  Where can we go to avoid the smell?