Archive for March, 2017

White House Denies Any Ties to United States


(New Yorker::Borowitz Report) – Andy Borowitz:

In a fiercely defiant statement, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, denied that any member of the White House staff has ever worked “in any way, shape, or form” for the benefit of the United States. …

borowitz-report white-house-denies-any-ties

Sean Spicer air quotes

What will happen when Betelgeuse explodes?


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

At only 600-or-so light years distant, Betelgeuse will be far closer than any supernova ever recorded by humanity. It’s fortunately still far away enough that it poses no danger to us. Our planet’s magnetic field will easily deflect any energetic particles that happen to come our way, and it’s distant enough that the high-energy radiation reaching us will be so low-density that it will have less of an impact on you than the banana you had at breakfast. But oh, will it ever appear bright.

Not only will Betelgeuse be visible during the day, but it will rival the Moon for the second-brightest object in the sky. …

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Orion with simulated supernova Betelgeuse

Tyrants, Dictators, and Demagogues


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The election of Donald Trump, whose autocratic tendencies are more visible than those of previous presidents, has resulted in greater appearance of words like dictator, tyrant, and demagogue in news and political commentary. In the classical Roman and Greek worlds these words originally had more benign meanings. They only later developed pejorative connotations as a result of the actions of some of those to whom the labels had been applied. …

singham tyrants-dictators-and-demagogues

Philipp Foltz: Pericles delivers his funeral oration in front of the Assembly

My Life with Oliver Sacks


(Guardian Books) – Bill Hayes:

In this extract from his memoir, Bill Hayes, partner of Oliver Sacks, recalls the neurologist’s unworldly charm, their remarkable stay with Björk in Iceland, and the dignity of Sacks’s final weeks. …

theguardian 2017/mar/26 insomniac-city

Bill Hayes: Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me

Reforming Government First Requires Understanding It


(Atlantic Politics) – Elaine Kamarck:

Jared Kushner’s new initiative promises to tap the expertise of the business community – but government isn’t a business. …

theatlantic 2017/03 521004

Bill Clinton and Al Gore examine stacks of paperwork at a National Performance Review event in 1993

Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2


(Good Tickle Brain) – Mya Gosling:

OK, we’ve established that Romeo and Juliet are impulsive, infatuated, hormonally-driven teenagers. Let’s see what happens when we introduce an adult in a position of responsibility into the equation! …

goodticklebrain romeo-and-juliet-22

Mya Gosling: Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2

The Party of Destruction


(Guardian Comments) – Lindy West:

We pay our elected officials to take care of our communities and our planet. Since Trump took office, the GOP has set out only to destroy. …

theguardian 2017/mar/28 gop

The Far Left Side 2010-07-30: GOP - The Heart of Darkness

Farewell, Pluto


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

On July 14, 2015, just after noon UTC, the small space probe New Horizons shot past Pluto at 50,000 kilometers per hour. It took images and data as it barnstormed the tiny world just 12,500 km above the surface, and then, as it passed what for many is the final outpost of the planets, the spacecraft spun around to look back on its target, lit from behind by the Sun.

And what it saw was awe. …

blastr 2017-3-27 pluto

New Horizons: Pluto farewell

Queen of Science Fiction


(Guardian Film) – Vanessa Thorpe:

With her role as a cyborg in Ghost in the Shell, Scarlett Johansson has sealed her position as our favourite space invader. …

theguardian 2017/mar/26 scarlett-johansson

Ghost in the Shell, 2017 film

Strong Encryption Makes us all Safer


(Guardian Comments) – Editorial:

There are many things the web giants could do to help combat terrorism, but weakening privacy protection is not one of them. …

theguardian 2017/mar/27 strong-encryption