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My first Infographic post

Categories: Astronomy
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Published on: December 21, 2014

Sizes of the Universe
Source: Number Sleuth

Being Contrarian

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: December 18, 2014

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an oxymoron. If you want your work to be recognized in a museum, learn to paint.” – Rule #29 of the 33 1/3 rules of Rock and Roll

I haven’t started a post with an epigram in quite a while. What sort of discussion deserves that kind of over done pretension? The latest inductee class in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course.

I’ve got a thousand thoughts, but I’ll keep this short. People my age feel aggrieved because Green Day will be in this year over the Smiths. I think the real reason is that it means older Gen Xers have to admit that a band that came up a bit after their time has now been around long enough to be considered for the Hall.

Were the Smiths more deserving? Probably. It is also pretty ridiculous that Green Day gets a nod before the bands that they ape get consideration. Buzzcocks, anyone? It is a similar problem that I had with Rush getting in before Yes.

It does say Hall of Fame, not Hall of Influence or Hall of Originality. Just Fame…Green Day has that.

Here’s what I like about Green Day getting in, though. It likely means we are done with the Hall being just a way for Baby Boomers to make a list of bands they could be nostalgic about. The Woodstock Generation managed to make one last gasp of their brand of Rock and Roll by putting in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band this year. The fact that they had to reach that far down in the hierarchy is a good sign that the days of what is “real rock” being determined by the tastes of what college kids forty years ago liked is over.

I count that as a plus.

By the way, Bill Withers is finally being inducted this year. It goes to show how much influence the white boy rockerism of Jann Wenner has had over past inductees.

A whole litany of snubs, including the aforementioned Buzzcocks and Yes, can be found at Not in Hall of Fame’s rock list. They’ve got NWA and Link Wray on there too. What’s with them not getting recognized?

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Mexican, Shmexican…

Categories: Random Miscelany
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Published on: December 10, 2014

I love cybersquatters. Here is an e-mail I got yesterday:

Hello, I noticed that you own polishmexican.net, which is very similar to a domain I am running an auction for, shmexican.com. The auction for shmexican.com kicks off at $89!

If you have any interest in acquiring shmexican.com, please let me know immediately. This auction will only run for a limited time before being given to the top bidder. At that time, the chance will be lost.

If this is something you would like to participate in you may enter your offer in two ways:

Just respond to this email with your contact information and bid amount and someone from my team will get back to you right away.
Click here to enter your offer directly into the auction website

If you are not interested in this domain or wish to not receive any future notifications, please opt out of the sending of any other notifications at the bottom of this email and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Kind Regards,

Paul

Baby Names

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: December 4, 2014

The Washington Post published their list of the most popular names for newborns this week. Sophia and Jackson topped 2014’s top names.

I take it Jackson is not particularly popular among Native Americans.

While it doesn’t grate on me the way other lexicographical abuses do, they did something I don’t like: they referred to the list as “baby names.”

I run across lists of “baby names” on the internet all the time, often as obvious click bait. My trouble with the use of the term is the implication that this name is for an infant only, not one that will eventually grow up and be stuck with whatever someone thought would be cute for the little bundle of joy.

Something to think about to: that kid with the cute “baby name” like Shimmer or Sun-Willow will attend junior high at some point.

Remember that trend of calling girls Nevaeh? Did we ever settle on a pronunciation? Kinda makes my point, right? Glad that’s over.

Do zobaczenia. Hasta la proxima.

Two Words When One Is Better

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: November 16, 2014

A story on Morning Edition had a small detail that made me cringe. It was about Google’s attempt to raise money to fight Ebola. More power to them.

What got me was when the Google spokesperson said that the company hoped to make a “differential impact.” Not a “difference” or an “impact,” but a “differential impact.”

I’m sure there is a name for this. There are times when someone has to use a fancy word or term to be more precise or to convey some connotation, but “differential impact” just comes off as a pretension. Yes, I’m a bit of a jackass about such things, but it left me saying “get over yourself” rather than thinking about how good it is that her organization is trying to make a difference, I mean “differential impact.”

There are two others that get me.

One is saying “price point” when one really means “price.” In economics, price point means something specific. Basically, it is how much you can charge without affecting demand. Nowadays, it seems to be used when someone just wants to say how much a product costs. These are not the same, and “price point” just means you are trying to sound smarter.

Another, and this has bugged me for a while, is the use of “epicenter” when a speaker really means “center.” This is a term used for earthquakes, and its misuse likely comes from a misunderstanding of geology. A spot is referred to as an epicenter because it is actually not where the earthquake occurred, but on the surface above the spot where it happened. Yes, it’s a center, but not really. In any case adding “epi” to the word “center” has more to do with trying to use a lofty term of art than actually conveying any meaning.

Now that I’ve insulted all of you, my work is done.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

St. Chad

Categories: Blatant Romanism
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Published on: November 13, 2014

This is my second political-esque post on here in a row. I am not making this into a political blog.

Note to Chad Campbell: despite the title, this is not about you.

Given the current recount in our congressional election here, it made me wonder, is there a patron saint of such things?

The answer is yes and no. Spolier alert: I lean towards yes.

St_Chad_Church_(5)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1592962After the 2000 presidential election, a writer for the Baltimore Sun noted that there was a Saint Chad in seventh century Britain. Given that the disputes in that election centered on dangling chads, hanging chads and pregnant chads, it only made sense to declare that this particular Chad was the go to saint.

What also helped was that St. Chad’s holding the office of Bishop of the Mercians and Lindsey People was disputed. He was removed from office after his predecessor, St. Wilfrid, reclaimed his position after being away so long that people thought he had died in a plague.

St. Chad’s manner was to walk everywhere rather than ride a horse, which is why he is sometimes called St. Chad the Pedestrian. This humble style caused a bit of controversy among his fellow church leaders, which goes to show that some things don’t change.

So, is St. Chad as patron of disputed elections official? No.

Snopes has an entry “debunking” the claim and it’s something addressed in other places too (including this nice post about St. Chad’s life).

The trouble is that relying only on the “official” line on St. Chad or any saint fails to recognize that much of the veneration of the saints is populist. Even the process of canonization acknowledges this: popular veneration comes before the church officially recognizes, not declares, sainthood.

Take Father Kino, for example. He is likely a generation, at least, from canonization. Still, he is venerated in parts of northern Mexico and his remains in Magdalena are a shrine. This is despite official recognition. In fact, his eventual canonization would be impossible without his current veneration.

It’s one of the few places where the church has historically followed the lead of the laity.

The same applies to patronages. The church saying that one saint or another is the one to pray for the intercession of in one situation or another means nothing unless people feel that there is a connection, which is why the church grants a patronage recognition. By the same token, if a worshipper invokes the name of a saint in an “unrecognized” situation, do we really think that the saint says “not my department” like a bureaucrat?

Connections to a patronage can be made for all sorts of reasons. I think of the case of St. Fiacre. St. Fiacre was a seventh century Irish holy man (I’m unclear if he actually was a priest, monk or took any orders at all) who built a hospice in what is now France. Because of his popularity in France, things were named for him, including a hotel in Paris. The St. Fiacre Hotel rented carriages, which were eventually called “fiacres.” For that reason, Fiacre is the patron saint of taxi drivers.

It’s a connection made by the people and not the official church, but still valid and who is to say it won’t be officially recognized one day?

So, Ron and Martha, go ahead and invoke St. Chad. The church may agree with you someday.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

The Dubious Honor of Being Someone’s Hobby

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: November 7, 2014

I spouted off on that darned Rum, Romanism and Rebellion blog for nearly eight years. The thing that was most shocking was despite everything, I actually earned the respect of a couple of Republican readers.

Weird, eh?

200px-D&DTrollsI also had my share of…um…special commentators. For some reason, I only earned one comment from notorious anonymous poster and soon to be ex-elected official John Huppenthal. There was one local jackass who posted a threat to a city judge, a son of a state official who didn’t quite get that I was not my brother and a guy who has been engaged in low level stalking of a friend of mine off and on for about seven years. Even with all that, I only banned one guy from commenting.

I’ll leave his name out of it.

Internet comment sections are notorious for how quickly they descend into ridiculousness. Changing the way comments worked on my blog back in the Blogspot days was so controversial that I actually got a mention in the Tucson Citizen. If I had it to do over again, I’d ditch the comment section entirely.

That said, I did okay. No rape threats (probably because I have no uterus) and for the most part even the Republicans that posted just wanted to make their point and move on. This guy, the one I banned, would comment just to throw his feces around. I wanted to ignore it, but my liberal friends wanted to engage him. Things would pretty quickly descend into stupidity.

Finally, I realized that he was rarely addressing what what was in the post so probably not interested in conversing. So I quietly blocked him.

It wasn’t long after that that I got my current job and stopped blogging over there. He posted here once to complain that I banned him. I haven’t heard from the guy until this week.

He sent me a Tweet gloating about the election. Okay, whatever. Well, now he’s sent me another Tweet. I don’t know if it will develop into anything.

This is the most minor of irritations. What’s weird is, I don’t know who the hell the guy is. Apparently, he felt “violated” by my opinions (his word) and thought I should be “damned.” All I know about this friendly gentleman is that he lives in Tempe or Phoenix and claims that we went drinking together once (which is further evidence that we never met.) Why he bothers, especially now that I’m not blogging, I don’t know.

There were folks, Republican and otherwise, that wanted to discuss, then there were those that wanted to throw mashed potatoes and carrots. I’d get two kinds of food fighters who would post on R-Cubed: the stereotypical “pajamas in the basement” types for whom this is the only form of political activity and professional operatives or activists who, for some reason, would take time out of their schedules of doing actual political work to tell me what a big poopy head I am. By the way, this is a non-partisan characterization. I had plenty of lefties and one “radical centrist” that were just as bad.

My trouble was that most comments, far from being actual engagement, were an exercise in…God…who knows? Insulting the writer of a political blog has as much to do with political engagement as yelling “Yankees suck!” while sitting on your couch has to do with playing baseball.

Like I said, I don’t have any idea who this guy is and what his motivations are. Two Tweets in a week likely don’t constitute a pattern, and I’m really not that concerned if he keeps on with it. It’s more a waste of his time than mine. Why folks get themselves all riled up to do this sort of thing is beyond me.

One thing I do know: I know that there is a part of me that is a bit healthier now that I don’t do regular diatribes.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Bury Our Friends

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: October 22, 2014

Yep…Sleater-Kinney has a new song out. I get a little giddy.

The album, No Cities to Love, comes out in January, but one song is available for download.

(By the way, that’s Miranda July)

It sounds like they are keeping on the direction of their last album, The Woods (released nine years ago!). I thought a couple songs ventured into Prog rock territory (particularly “Call it Love”), a comparison that would irritate their fans but I mean no insult by it. I like that they weren’t writing the typical verse-chorus-verse-bridge thing.

I’ll be waiting.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Sola Scriptura

Categories: Random Miscelany
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Published on: October 21, 2014

I am not an Evangelical or a fundamentalist, but I’d think to be one one qualification would be fairly intimate knowledge of the Bible. It would be, after all, the chief source book to how I’d think my life should be run.

I bring this up because I read this on the Twitstream today:

I replied to the guy, but I didn’t want to be to much of a jackass. I can’t imagine the guy was familiar with the part of the Bible in question if he made a mistake like that. If you want to make your arguments based on the Bible, you should be able to get the big stuff right. Otherwise, smart asses like me will wonder if you ever really read it.

Do zobaczenia. Hasta la proxima.

Two Astronomy Sites

Categories: Astronomy
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Published on: October 14, 2014

I changed my homepage to StumbleUpon, so now I’m finding all sorts of fun on the web.

I ran across a site called Chromoscope. The site was put together by two English Astronomers and compiles several “all-sky” projects that you can easily search through. It’s set up so that you can maneuver your view around and zoom in and out. You can also search for specific objects or constellations. A slider lets you view things in different wavelengths.

chromoscope

Although you can zoom in and out, these are from all-sky surveys so don’t expect a lot of detail. I managed to get this interesting view of the Crab Nebula in microwaves, but an attempt to spot Jocelyn Bell’s pulsar in Velpecula was met with failure.

Artist Josh Worth has put together a little demonstration called If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel. He subtitled it “A Tediously Accurate Model of the Solar System.” Be ready for a lot of scrolling through empty space because, well, it’s accurate. As one of his inter-planetary messages says “Most of space is just space.”

There are some oddball little features, such as those messages located between planets. There is also an icon in the lower right hand corner (you’ll see it once you scroll past the opening messages) that allows you to move as fast as light, in this scale anyway. It takes you a bit more than three minutes to get to Mercury. I wouldn’t recommend hanging out long enough to get to Neptune. For a faster trip, you can click the planetary icons at the top of the screen.

I’ll leave it to you to discover the rest of the features, such as changing the scale from light minutes to blue whales. An FAQ page gives you tidbits like the odd reason why he didn’t include Titan at first.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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