Tuesday, October 17, 2017

So Then I Went Off to Watch "Doc Hollywood."

Julie Warner and Michael J. Fox don't give us performances for the Oscars but it's almost cooler that they don't since that leaves unwavering focus on a charming romance between the New York hipster doctor and the hometown girl who is more hip than she at first seems.  She gave clues since she said, "Peel an onion and find it has many layers."

The Mayor of Grady, the Squash Capital in America, has lived there forever and he said, "I couldn't be happier if I were twins."

Note:  played by David Ogden Stiers to glorious excess.

Sometimes it's better when movies are overplayed and Woody Harrelson glories in that by pouring it on in every possible way.  His lines are kind of cheesy but the way he presents them is a riot.

There's also the cranky Dr Aurelius Hoag, the aging hometown doctor, and he doesn't at first get along with the NYC doctor ... until Dr Ben Stone (Michael J. Fox) saves his life.

Dr Stone earned respect from everyone in Grady for saving their beloved, albeit cranky, Dr Hoag.

Eventually Stone ends up in L.A. for his appointment with George Hamilton, the high-dollar production-line plastic surgeon.  That got Stone tapped into the big bucks but he got immediately homesick for Grady or, more accurately, homesick for Julie Warner.

Zen Yogi:  he went back?

Of course he did, mate.  Wouldn't you?  How much liposuction could you stand seeing in your life.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Who Cares Much or At All About Neutron Stars ... But These Are Magnificent

The music may not thrill you but the video is spectacular in NASA's conception of what it looked like when the neutron stars crashed into each other.

This animation captures phenomena observed over the course of nine days following the neutron star merger known as GW170817. They include gravitational waves (pale arcs), a near-light-speed jet that produced gamma rays (magenta), expanding debris from a kilonova that produced ultraviolet (violet), optical and infrared (blue-white to red) emission, and, once the jet directed toward us expanded into our view from Earth, X-rays (blue).

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

There's much more significance to the event than the gee whiz graphics and NASA has an extensive presentation on the source page.

This is only their intro:

For the first time, NASA scientists have detected light tied to a gravitational-wave event, thanks to two merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993, located about 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.

Shortly after 8:41 a.m. EDT on Aug. 17, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope picked up a pulse of high-energy light from a powerful explosion, which was immediately reported to astronomers around the globe as a short gamma-ray burst. The scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves dubbed GW170817 from a pair of smashing stars tied to the gamma-ray burst, encouraging astronomers to look for the aftermath of the explosion. Shortly thereafter, the burst was detected as part of a follow-up analysis by ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) INTEGRAL satellite.

Swift’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope imaged the kilonova produced by merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993 (box) on Aug.
Swift’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope imaged the kilonova produced by merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993 (box) on Aug. 18, 2017, about 15 hours after gravitational waves and the gamma-ray burst were detected. The source was unexpectedly bright in ultraviolet light. It faded rapidly and was undetectable in UV when Swift looked again on Aug. 29. This false-color composite combines images taken through three ultraviolet filters. Inset: Magnified views of the galaxy.
Credits: NASA/Swift
NASA's Swift, Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer missions, along with dozens of ground-based observatories, including the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS survey, later captured the fading glow of the blast's expanding debris.

"This is extremely exciting science," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. "Now, for the first time, we've seen light and gravitational waves produced by the same event. The detection of a gravitational-wave source’s light has revealed details of the event that cannot be determined from gravitational waves alone. The multiplier effect of study with many observatories is incredible."

NASA:  NASA Missions Catch First Light from a Gravitational-Wave Event

#Photography for the Unusual: World 10/17

London, UK

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge dances with Paddington Bear on platform 1 at Paddington station as she meets the cast and crew from the forthcoming Paddington film

Photograph: Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images

These two wear their places in Camelot charmingly well even if that does condemn Prince William to wear the most boring possible threads until he dies.  His royal robes make a dramatic exception but how much do you suppose he really fancies wearing them.  Did you ever see any of the royals smiling while wearing that type of garb?

London, UK

The sky turns orange over office buildings in Canary Wharf as dust from the Sahara is carried by storm Ophelia. Read more about the Saharan dust sky

Photograph: Tom Jacobs/Reuters

The sky apparently generated quite a bit of concern when people did not know what was doing it.  (The Guardian:  Apocalypse wow: dust from Sahara and fires in Portugal turn UK sky red)

Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

A newly rescued baby orangutan plays with a keeper at Nyaru Menteng orangutan rehabilitation centre. Deforestation and illegal hunting are continuing to threaten their survival

Photograph: Bjorn Vaughn, BPI/BOS Foundation/via AP

Shenyang, China

A swimming pool in the middle of a forest in north-east China’s Liaoning province

Photograph: Sipa Asia/Rex/Shutterstock

Who can fully conceive of the joy in cleaning a forest full of leaves out of that pool.

Zen Yogi:  at least the leaves come in all those lovely colors

Right, Yogi.  They do have that.

Paris, France

Competitors skate past the Eiffel Tower during the Paris Rollers Marathon

Photograph: Yann Bohac/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Check out the most unusual but highly cool skates they use.

What's Hot on the Blog 10/16


A Gorgeous - the pad is astounding but it's crazy in its ways too and its origin is highly nuts

California - rejects sales of any but rescue critters in pet stores and this hammers puppy mills right into the ground


Equifax - those crooks have been due a tarring and feathering and John Oliver delivered it

About - a charming story of a young woman who chose sportsmanship over competitiveness

Chucking - the #Blotto has been too much whitewashed and ignoring the other side of things wasn't a good idea

Do You - a word from Larry Cohen from Our Revolution regarding Boss's Day

Ancient - a nine-hundred-year old monastery must close because too few monks come and an unusual sadness comes from that

Hansen - gives a major hammering of smartphones and also to some extent Facebook but you decide which is most the cause of the problems

Oh Joy - just what I had hoped for my birthday ... the JFK conspiracy is back

Chucking the Whitewash from the Trail of the #Blotto

Disclaimer: this is straight-up writing of active lung cancer in me but nothing in the #Blotto set of articles has been written with thoughts of trying to shock or disturb.  I am using in-home hospice and that's the best circumstance I could hope relative to being in a hospice clinic or, worst of all, to be admitted into a hospital.

It occurs to me that my emphasis on the search for the goodness in things entirely whitewashes my situation look like a spiritual retreat for philosophical cleansing or some such.  The reality is there is violent vomiting two or three times per day.  At first it seemed the morphine causes it but that's not it.  Right now is the dance to take the morphine in about half an hour.  I have to do the dance properly or it will come back up since that vomiting happened just a few minutes ago after doing it about two hours ago before I went to lie down.

My weight is down to 116 pounds and that was a bit of a shock but it's all part of the #Blotto.  The answer is the same as for any other aspect of this in requiring the Morphine Dance to deal with it.  That loss means the dive is accelerating but that emphasizes all the more the Zen of it in which Now matters but nothing else does.

Right now I take some Omeprazole to reduce the potential for any acid effects which is a big deal since I was diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus about eight years ago and that means the cells of the esophagus were pre-cancerous.  The medication is to work against complications from that to let me eat some really bland food in about half an hour.  If that goes ok then about half an hour after that I will take the morphine with some confidence it will stay down.

Zen Yogi:  so you don't simply have the cancer but you're riddled with it?

That appears to be the general reality, Yogi.  This is hospice care so there are no diagnostics because their objective is palliation to reduce the pain in something which will come anyway.  I fully accept that it comes anyway and hospice does its best to reduce the pain but nothing takes out all of it.  Even so, I do the Morphine Dance since there's no way to deal with trying to eliminate it.  Everything becomes a matter of trying to reduce the pain.

In the same course of things I will smoke some of the ganja and that modulates the somnolent horror of the morphine to a vibe of general goodness.  The ganja does little to mitigate overt pain but it works directly against the existential anomie of the circumstance.

Jim Morrison sang, "This is the end 
Beautiful friend 
This is the end 
My only friend, the end."

The end is not my friend.  It's more like my only combatant and I refuse to roll over for it.  In the end I must roll over for it anyway but not before it is time.

Yevette asked me earlier what do I really want for my birthday other than a new body but I told her I didn't really want anything I don't have already and that translates to an indirect I love you.  She saw that and we had a hug.  That was when I told her I can be like Miss Congeniality and ask for world peace.

It's about two weeks until that glorious event and two weeks minus one day for Doc's birthday.  Barbie's birthday is in about a week but she doesn't count them anymore.  There's a real family birthday swarm at this time of year and through our lives that has been a little weird.  We're heading into another one and Happy Birthday all 'round.

There's been no diminution in my personal need to look for the goodness any more than that need diminishes in anyone.  As the situation worsens, the need to find the goodness increases rather than reduces.  As an example of the goodness comes, if you like, from Tom Hanks who has just released a book of poetry which further exemplifies his talents but he wears them with same humility as maybe Garrison Keillor in "A Prairie Home Companion."  (The Guardian:  Uncommon Type: Some Stories review – Hanks, but no thanks)

While the critic was not much a fan, the work nevertheless reveals Hanks' humility and I admire that in him tremendously.

Much love to you all.

Equifax: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

If you were looking for someone to set that sorry lot at Equifax afire, John Oliver will definitely not disappoint.  You already know they have it coming and the CEO for Equifax is an absolute prince so eminently deserving of a bloody good hiding.

Ancient German Monastery Must Close Because Monks Are So Few

I have written plenty about a spiritual aspect but I don't have much of a religious aspect and, even so, there's a vague feeling of dysphoria and melancholy at this news.

RT:  900yo German monastery forced to close due to monk shortage

For almost a millennium, the monks served their mission from the moment they joined until they died, often living under the most austere of conditions which most people would never tolerate.  Now it seems so few will tolerate it that not enough new monks come to join the Order.

It's fuckin' tragic, mates.  The monks dedicate their lives to the preservation of knowledge and they were likely almost the sole sources of it in the Dark Ages, etc.  Enlightenment eventually came and so the new age.  If you will accept the idea that monks are dedicated specifically to the preservation of knowledge regardless of which kind then that presents a peach of a segue to one of my favorite sci-fi novels.

Zen Yogi:  "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller?

The very same, my insightful furry friend.

Zen Yogi:  also on the Ithaka Required Reading List?

Of course, Yogi.  If Miller didn't get a Hugo Award out of this, he should have.

Note:  I checked and he did win the Hugo.  (WIKI:  A Canticle for Leibowitz)

In that case, the monks of the Order of Saint Leibowitz dedicated their lives to the preservation of knowledge with the only knowledge they had from prior to the nuke war, a scrap of paper retrieved from a bunker or some such where a minimal number of artifacts sometimes survived.  The monks preserved the note even down to some stains on it because they didn't understand its meaning and wanted to ensure nothing important was omitted.

The acts of preservation by that monastery were also taking place with others which made a situation which is analogous of the modern Catholic church and its monasteries.  From the perspective of the book, the analog is the ancient Catholic church but it didn't exist in that time after it was burned up by the nuke war or most of it.

The apparent human need for that preservation led to that analogous creation and the same thing came from it with another Enlightenment and rebirth from the darkness.  You already know the book is dark simply from the premise of it but it has plenty of room to get darker.

Only six monks remain in the German monastery and it has no chance at survival but it's loss no-one wants to see.  Hopefully the monastery will be respected in whatever becomes of it.

Do You Know What Today Is | Larry Cohen, Our Revolution

Our Revolution


Even though I am the Chairman of the Board at Our Revolution, I am not expecting any gifts today for Boss’s Day. In fact, I would return them and encourage any boss’s receiving gifts to give theirs back as well. The reason? As we face such extreme inequality in our country, it's hard to argue that most employers deserve a gift. Whether from their employees or their pals in Congress and the Trump administration.

For forty years, Congress has cut taxes for corporations while income inequality grows and millions of people are slowly cut off from basic health care, education, and nutrition.

Not only is Congress considering more tax cuts for the uber-wealthy at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid, the Trump administration just signed an executive order two days ago that is a giveaway to the insurance industry. Bosses don’t need a day.

We need to stand up and fight for the 99% and reject the tax giveaway. We must stand together, today and every day, against corporate greed and against cuts in critical programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

If you do end up celebrating Boss’s Day today, I'm sure you have a good reason to, but make sure your boss adds their name as well.

We can’t do this without you.

In Solidarity,

Larry Cohen
Board Chair
Our Revolution

Hansen with the Greatest Headline Yet for Facebook and Smart Phones

Matthew Hansen


Omaha World-Herald:  Hansen: We are slaves to our smartphones — we are the Facebook Zombie Army. We are the Walking and Tweeting Dead

That sets up some grand melodrama but Hansen's perceptions are accurate.

It was your classic 6-year-old’s drawing of a family, save for one thing: Mom and dad did not have eyes and noses and mouths.

Instead, they had a screen and buttons and apps.

This Omaha kid had drawn his parents as he often sees them. He had drawn his parents with iPhones for faces. It was cute. Funny. Also, terrifying.

- Omaha

The sketches he did of himself and his brother were not unusual but those of his parents were sketched as iPhone Heads (i.e. Hansen's description for them).

We have, almost every one of us, become slaves to our smartphones. We have become iPhone Heads.

There’s a growing body of research that suggests this rampant smartphone use isn’t merely annoying. It’s making us distracted, anxious, insomniacs.

It seems to be contributing to the following trends among teenagers: more likely to be depressed, more likely to be suicidal, less likely to drive, date, hang out with friends or leave the house.

It’s turning our city and world into a place where iPhone Faces of all ages roam the sidewalks and streets, our eyes tilted downward. We are the Facebook Zombie Army. We are the Walking and Tweeting Dead. We are the iPhone Heads.

- Omaha

You know that's exaggerated to some extent due to the number of people who loathe smartphones and won't use them for any reason except necessity such as dealing with online retailers, etc.  It's the others who have become a concern.

The points in the article are fair and clearly articulated but they're so fuckin' horrible it gets oppressive to continue.  The source article is there for the interested student and Hansen makes clear how much kids are screwing themselves with this combination of smartphones and social networks, particularly Facebook.

There's a strong argument to restrict access to smartphones for kids, particularly young ones, but that may be rejected even by parents who are not iPhone Heads.

The Rockhouse impression is the iPhones are not so terrible as it's the social networks which create the omnipresent need to maintain a face-down attitude toward the world due to constantly checking online status and engaging in the chat which comes as a result of it.

The kids know it's trivial but they're not stupid so they wind up bummed by it.  Nevertheless, the relationship with the networks become similar to the one with smokers and cigarettes since smoking one more fag will make everything alright.

Unknown if that problem can be solved when Mark Zuckerberg has been making bank on them by keeping Facebook just as it is.

Zen Yogi:  do we really need to flog Zuckerberg anymore when his shady ways are well-known?

We don't need him specifically but he has made himself the banner boy representing that type of behavior.

Zen Yogi:  what behavior is that?

Sucking up to the jellies in the audience as their friend when his only purpose is to milk their presence for money and he makes one hell of a lot of it that way.

Zen Yogi:  that sounds like a generic problem with sleazy corporate behavior

We all see there's no shortage of sleazy corporate behavior but it's different in social networks since there they take the kid and I don't see anyone who likes what becomes of them from that influence.  That got Matthew Hansen inflamed to the point of writing his article and he voices a concern people have had regarding iPhone Heads.

Zen Yogi:  so the vibe is Save the Children?

Sure, Yogi, but how about another with Save Yourself and it will inevitably benefit the children.  Nothing is ever that simple so it's unknown what people will do.  Meanwhile, there's that six-year-old kid from the top of the article who draws his parents like iPhones.

Zen Yogi:  do you seek to scare us with a kid who brings Pink Floydian images of people going into their sausage grinder?

That image is implicitly terrifying, mate, and it's not my purpose to amplify the fact of that.  Just seeing it is shocking enough already.

Zen Yogi:  so the question is what to do about it?

Yep.  I can't predict what people will do but I do see a growing number of people becoming alarmed by it.  As above, the Rockhouse impression is the problem isn't so much the smartphones but the social networks which draw them so hopefully that focus will get tighter as people decide what needs to be done.

Zen Yogi:  do you think people will really do anything?

Of course, mate, since that's the Hope.  When people become more clear on how much Facebook is a brain suck with particularly destructive effect on the children, Zuckerberg will be lucky to get out of town with his lederhosen.

A Gorgeous Pad, Probably Highly Expensive, with All the Strange You Need

Unknown where this pad may be since this could easily be a savannah in Africa or some parts of California.

Yevette's first thought on seeing it was the place looks really romantic.  It does have all those huge windows for a special view of all the surroundings.  Presumably the windows are modern and controllable so it's possible to make them change to different levels of opacity to make them variable one-way mirrors.

This is not any kind of a pad for old geezers unless the part which may be a center shaft has an elevator in it.  Old geezers are probably not much looking for all day / every day sex marathons anyway, particularly after climbing all those stairs to find one.

That hat is the strangest architectural adornment I have ever seen and it's all the more unusual given the extreme tensions over the fires in California.  That hat would be perfect for catching the embers from the wildfire which means the fire will threaten the home from above and below at once.

That may seem overly pessimistic but I doubt anyone from Santa Rosa would say that.

Zen Yogi:  so you give it one gig for inadequate defense against fire

Here's another one, Yogi.

It would be a bitch keeping the pad warm since there's no insulation on any side.  As soon as the air temperature gets down to about 60F, many people will want relief with the heaters.  There's no sign of solar so the heater will probably be fueled by something less than desirable for a clean world.

Zen Yogi:  with two gigs, it only needs one more to warrant a missile strike

That's true, mate, but there's more.

That crazy hat is actually their camouflage around the landing vessel they used to come to Earth.  They are not of our flesh, my brothers and sisters, but they are harmless and their biggest interest here is in architecture, albeit not particularly good architecture.

Zen Yogi:  how is it the Defense Department doesn't know of these space aliens?

They use their special means to ensure the DoD isn't aware of them, mate.

Zen Yogi:  Russians?

Sure, my furry buddy, since Russians are blamed for everything anyway.

Zen Yogi:  don't you think the space aliens plot to enslave us?

No, mate, since the George Carlin rules apply to planets the same as for anything else.  Once you capture a planet, what the hell are you doing to dp with it.  They don't need that hassle any more than we.  Maybe they could make it even worse for themselves by enslaving us.  They would get loads of broken rocks from all the convicts in their prisons but who needs broken rocks.

Zen Yogi:  so what are we supposed to do then?

Nothin', mate, unless you're needing a cold and probably expensive pad.

Oh Joy, the JFK Conspiracy is Back ... Again

© Arnie Sachs / Global Look Press

Top secret files are due to be declassified this month in a move that could bring closure to one of the most traumatic events in US history – the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

A law was signed by former President George H.W. Bush in 1992 mandating the release of all documents related to Kennedy's assassination within 25 years. Under the JFK Records Act of 1992, the National Archives has until 26 October of this year to disclose the remaining files relating to the assassination, unless President Trump determines that doing so would be harmful to national security. There are about 3,100 files still sealed by the National Archives.

Most right-thinking people would like to see the files released, to put an end to the constant speculation about the death of one of history’s most iconic politicians.

RT:   JFK, CIA, Mafia and Fidel Castro - Trump can finally allow the truth to emerge from the shadows

Trump doesn't have much to do with this since he's had less than a year's engagement in a national pie throwing contest which goes back over fifty years.  However, he does have the power to put the kaibosh / kibosh on the release for another fifty years of smoke.

What probability is there this will stop the conspiracy theories, mates?

Zen Yogi:  it looks like the release gives 3100 reasons to keep the conspiracy theories alive for at least a few more generations

It looks that way at the Rockhouse too, Yogi.

Zen Yogi:  you really don't care if the files get released?

Not at all, mate.  I do remember where I was when Kennedy got shot ... crossing the street in front of the Davis Junior High School on the way to the gym.  Ever since that moment I have been hearing Kennedy conspiracies coming continuously so more of that is about as appetizing as a massage by Freddy Krueger from Elm Street.  (WIKI:  Freddy Krueger)

Photographer:  unknown

Except for make-up, this role must have been a riot for Robert Englund to play.  Hopefully most of the make-up came as a latex mask so it wouldn't need to be repainted every day.  Welcome to six hours of make-up for an hour or two of camera time.  Yikes.

The interested student is invited back to the source article for a wealth of points used by the conspiracy theorists and have a ball with that.

Zen Yogi:  you have had enough?

Roger that, Yogi.

About Throwing the Race to Help a Downed Competitor

Nick Benes / Norfolk Daily News

Megan Erickson spotted another runner wobble, then fall onto the grass Thursday during the final stretch of a cross-country race.

The 18-year-old Erickson had promised herself that if a competitor needed help, she’d lend a hand.

Erickson did not waver.

“We’re going to finish,” she told the fallen runner.

Goodnews:  'We're going to finish': Runner helps fallen competitor cross finish line during high school meet

When these runners are this close to the end and still see each other, they were probably seeing each other through most of the race where the camaraderie developed regardless of their teams.

Erickson knew she would likely be disqualified as would her down competitor but her need for sportsmanship was larger than the rule prohibiting help for a runner at any time.  They're not even from the same teams and the need for finishing becomes the most important part of their race.  If they do it together and lose, at least they would still finish the race.

In a loose way, this somewhat resembles part of the racing careers for Doc and I.  We sometimes raced in California enduros.  Since there was only one kart for the boys, that meant we would share it.  The enduro ran for an hour and that wasn't enough to require a pit stop so we knew before starting the motor we would not win.  I don't recall that ever being a concern with either of us because ...

Zen Yogi:  the most important thing is to finish?

Absolutely, Yogi.

Unknown what is to become of the down partner but Megan Erickson is developing into a loving and generous woman.  It seems highly likely she is and will be a lovely person to know.