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29 August 2011

Science Lesson (GRB and Black Holes)

I thought that this video was pretty damn cool, and wanted to pass it along.  Who knows, maybe someone will learn something, and spark an interest in astronomy or astrophysics.  Someone who will be at Goddard in 20 years?  We can only hope.

As is mentioned at the YouTube page itself:
Armed with state-of-the-art supercomputer models, scientists have shown that colliding neutron stars can produce the energetic jet required for a gamma-ray burst. Earlier simulations demonstrated that mergers could make black holes. Others had shown that the high-speed particle jets needed to make a gamma-ray burst would continue if placed in the swirling wreckage of a recent merger.

Now, the simulations reveal the middle step of the process--how the merging stars' magnetic field organizes itself into outwardly directed components capable of forming a jet. The Damiana supercomputer at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics needed six weeks to reveal the details of a process that unfolds in just 35 thousandths of a second--less than the blink of an eye.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: ‪

28 August 2011

Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact

I am a little late with posting this article, but I wanted to share it.  Especially given how popular this dumb as a box of bricks theitard seems to be.  Now I could rant and rave, or I could have Professor Richard Dawkins hit at the heart of the matter (emphasis mine):
There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.
He contineus with this praise of the US (but dispair at our politics):
The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.
Add in why he decided to write to Parry about this:
A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.

27 August 2011

Tim Minchin on Religion

Tim Minchin is a comedic GENIUS! This came just after his song about god and anal sex (a brilliant little ditty entitled "Ten foot cock and a few hundred virgins"), which is what he is referring to when he says "material like that".  So not only is he great with his beat poem, or his many other songs, but just general observations make him stand out as well.  Enjoy.

26 August 2011

Veal Marsala With Asparagus Risotto

I found this recipe over at the freethoughts blog, and I had to share.  This particular blogged goes by the handle of Comradde Physioprof, and I highly recommend his page.  Here is just one example.

For veal marsala:
  • pasture-raised veal scallopinis
  • flour
  • eggs
  • half pound sliced mushrooms
  • one cup dry marsala wine
  • one cup veal or chicken stock
  • half cup diced shallots
  • one diced garlic clove
  • olive oil
For risotto:
  • one cup carnaroli rice
  • half cup diced onion
  • three diced garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • one tablespoon chopped flat parsley
  • one bundle of asparagus
  • half cup dry white wine
  • half cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • one tablespoon butter
  • grated pecorino di moliterno for garnish

Cut the top halves of the asparagus into pieces and boil in salty water for a few minutes, until they are to the correct “al dente” doneness. Reserve the boiling water, bring up to one quart total volume, and then throw in the asparagus bottoms and boil again to make a nice asparagus broth. Remove and discard the bottoms, and keep the broth on a low simmer.

Dredge the scallopinis in beaten egg and flour after seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Pan fry the motherfuckers in olive oil, and put aside in a dish (cover with foil).

Sautee the shallots and garlic in the veal pan with some black pepper. Start sauteeing the onions and garlic for the risotto with black pepper at the same time you start sauteeing the shallots and garlic for the marsala sauce. From here on out, you are simultaneously making the marsala sauce and the risotto.

Sautee the mushrooms until they are fully sweated out, but not breaking apart.

When the onions and garlic are translucent and soft (don’t brown them), add the rice and continue to sautee for about four minutes, until the rice starts to smell toasty and is fully coated with oil.

Deglaze with the wine, cook off all the alcohol, and then cook the risotto in the usual way, adding the simmering asparagus broth ladle by ladle, stirring until it incorporates, etc. Salt to taste when it is nearly done, but be careful, as you will be adding more salt from the cheese (and maybe, the butter if you use salted butter).

Deglaze the mushroom pan with the marsala and cook off the alcohol.

Add the veal or chicken stock and continue to reduce. If there is not enough flour left from the scallopinis to thicken the sauce, you can add a little more. Also, salt to taste.

When the risotto is ready (remember to cook it only until it is more al dente than you want to eat, as it will continue to cook after you turn the heat off), turn off the heat, add the butter, cheese, and parsley, and stir well to incorporate.

After you have incorporated the cheese, butter, and parsley, put in the asparagus, stir gently (so you don’t break the asparagus tops), and cover to rest for about five minutes.

Reduce the sauce until it is nice and thick.


20 August 2011

You can find great stuff in the oddest places!

So today my wife and I drove out to Hillsborough, NH to get my daughter who was at a sleepover with her friend last night.  They had not finished watching their movie yet, so we said we'd let them finish watching, and since we were hungry, we decided to grab a bite to eat.  As we got up on Main Street of this quaint little town, we smelled something mouth wateringly good.  We had found Beauford's Southern BBQ.  We were very pleased, and a little confused.  I mean, New England is an area that thinks pepper is an exotic and powerful spice.  A New England boil with salt is about as flavourful as most here dare go.  So to find this place was surprising.  And then we had the food.  As someone who has lived all over the world, and spent a good amount of time in the south, I can tell you that they know what they are doing.

The Story of Beauford's

Picture Beauford's Southern Barbeque grew out of a love for "Southern Style" food.  After many years living in various parts of the country and traveling extensively in the "south" I developed a love for true southern barbeque.  No matter how you spell it, Barbecue, Barbeque, Bar-B-Cue, BBQ, etc.., barbeque is it's own food group plain and simple.  Whether it's Pork in the Carolinas, Beef in Texas or Mutton in Kentucky you mention the word barbeque and no other explanation is needed.  You know exactly what's for dinner.  Barbeque is not, and I repeat, IS NOT hot dogs, burgers, boneless chicken, portabella mushrooms or anything else you can imagine on the gas grill in the backyard!

I named the business after my dog Beauford.  He came to me as one of a litter of 7 from Ladybug who was rescued in Georgia.  She was pregnant at the time and shortly after we got home she gave us Beauford and  litter mates.

I started Beauford's Southern Barbecue with a Lang model 84 Tandem Trailer in the summer of 2010.  I spent my first summer in Concord NH selling my 'Que to passersby in a hockey arena parking lot.  This gave me the desire to step it up and open a sit down place.

I can now be found in downtown Hillsborough NH next to the Mobil station in a former pizza place.  The place is small but inviting.  I invite you to come in and try our Southern Barbecue.  We look forward to seeing you!
If you are ever in Hillsborough, give them a visit.  It will be well worth your time.

18 August 2011

Can we laugh at the Theitards again?

So back in April, the loony that runs Texas this time had a 3 day prayer vigil for rain in Texas.  Seriously!
With Texas in the midst of an historic drought and battling thousands of wildfires, Gov. Rick Perry has decided to ask for some divine intervention. The governor issued a proclamation yesterday officially declaring April 22-24 “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.” (You can see the proclamation here.) “I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land,” Perry wrote. 
Well, it is now August, and loony Parry (I mean Perry, damn that Colbert) has precious little to show for it.  It seems it only gets drier and hotter.  And this guy thinks that he's somehow a viable candidate for President?  Even if we ignore the fact that his beliefs are barely past the stage of Bronze Age myths, how about the state of Texas in things that would indicate how he runs things?  Just check out their record on deficits, education, employment (especially under-employment), and the list goes on.  This guy is dumb as a box of rocks, and that's probably insulting to rocks.

And worst of all, Parry and his ilk are ignoring their very own teachings.  I just wish they would shut up, but then, seeing how loony they are is probably a great weapon against them; if it wasn't for all the other stark raving mad loonies that are here in the US...

17 August 2011

Companies Are Hiring. Just Not You

The rising anti-intellectualism in this country is having an effect on everyone.  I just read a Bloomberg Businessweek article that finished with these words:
The bottom line: With the jobless rate still above 9 percent, the untapped labor pool is deep. Yet some companies struggle to find qualified applicants.
And from what I am hearing, there are over a MILLION jobs out there.  The basic gist of the problem is that our workforce is too dumb to perform those jobs.  Instead Chinese and Indians will get them.  You see, this is an actual material effect of thinking that bronze age fables represent reality.  You can't really hold a job in a science and technology field successfully if you think the world is 6000 years old.  You are just too willing to discount too much evidence to be considered intellectually reliable.  Not only that, but there are probably serious gaps in the education you have.

And education is a key.  I am lucky, I have a great job, and I have excellent credentials and qualifications.  But then, I value education, and pursued it vigorously!  Many think that education really is key to restoring the American Dream.  And I agree.  But again, if people get educated, they may stop following bronze age fables, start to question what misplaced authority figures have told them, and start to question their "place".  And trust me, corporations and the rich want to keep you in your "place"!  The wealth disparity is good for them in the short term, and they want to keep it that way.  Sadly, they seem to have forgotten to study history.  If they looked at the 100% reliable pattern of what happens when things become as skewed as they are now, they should be concerned.  Well, either that, or they simply just don't care.  Makes you wonder why they hate the country that actually gave them such obscene wealth?

16 August 2011

We Stopped Dreaming

Here is a clip from Real Time with Bill Maher, where Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a very good "rant" about how we have become downright ANTI-intellectual in this country (more on that on another post).  Sadly, this will actually lead to a downfall of our standing in the world.  The Europeans, Indians, and Chinese will take the risks we used to be famous for.  And watch out for the South Americans!  That is where the center of American power will be in a century if we keep on this "idiocracy" and bronze age culture.

14 August 2011

Deconversion Story

I am always interested in reading the deconversion stories of people.  I don't have one myself, so I find it valuable to understand how someone can go from a mindset of "faith" and acceptance of the supernatural (or ridiculous) to being rational.  In my personal experience, it's so easy that anyone should be able to do it.  Faith and other woo-woo ideas are so patently silly that I am even confused how people can hold on to those ideas, but then I also realize that I am shaped by my personal experiences and education.  Not everyone will think like me.

My wife has her own deconversion story (which I contributed to a great deal I think), but that may be too close to my own experiences to truly learn a great deal from (and she had started her journey before she met me, I just helped her be less afraid of the journey).

So, today I'd like to give you all this story:

Of course, even after reading this heart wrenching tale, I can already hear the apologists with their (predictable) platitudes and outright bullshit comments of:

"Why are you angry at god?" or the ever popular "Gawd has a plan that you just don't understand.  You will see that your son's death had a purpose."   /puke  Way to insult the man and his very real pain.

I must admit, this one seems quite a bit different than the other deconversion stories that I generally hear.  Most of the stories I hear are how people realize how religion consistently and deliberately lies to them, and tries to keep them ignorant.  After a while, things lead through the indoctrination and questions get asked.  And once the questions come, they start seeing that it's turtles all the way down.

01 August 2011

It takes talent to fuck ourselves like this

So I finally got to my DVR to watch Fareed Zakaria GPS.  He opened the show with a few thoughts about this "debtageddon" that we seem to have narrowly averted.

Well, what do you know?  We totally did this to ourselves in more ways than one...  One of two countries that even has this cluster fuck of a process in place?  And if you think about it, the votes to approve the budgets really are an endorsement of all this fucktardery we have done to ourselves, so why are they throwing a hissy fit now?  I think I join the rest of America in my utter and total disgust with our elected officials.