Sunday, January 23, 2005


The pictures from Titan got me thinking, methane rivers and seas, could there be methane (CH4) based life? Life on earth is based on water, H2O. The thing that's special about water is not the two H's (the most abundant primordial element), it's the O. Oxygen is the lightest element that is highly reactive (it burns), but not too reactive like Flourine (it explodes). The two elements just below it, Nitrogen and Carbon, are stable to where they are the natural building blocks. So, chemistry as we know it on earth and as the base from which life evolves, is probably pretty much the same everywhere. On the next level up in the periodic table in the same slot as Oxygen is Sulphur -- which mostly binds w/ Oxygen (? 35 years since I've had chemistry), and probably does not have the cosmic abundance needed.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

So This is the New Year ...

Had nice holidays, all the kids here. Had a nice visit to my baby sister in North Carolina. The therapeutic hot tub was great in the 25 degree weather. Also, got charged with making the gravy. Normally when I'm making gravy I have 3-4 other cooking tasks going on. Being able to focus on the gravy, I believe it came out most excellently.

My oldest daughter gave me Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" -- the story of the USA as told from the viewpoint of the fuckees rather than the fuckers. I was glad when I finished it. Towards the end he admits that it's very one-sided (he's basically a commie), but that all the other histories are so one-sided the other way that it's OK. Well, I guess -- but still, annoying to hear that AFDC was cut, when you've never been told it had been created. Also, why can't these guys use graphs and charts? 5-6 statements scattered through the book about what % of the wealth is controlled by what % of the population -- how about some graphs so we can see the trendline? Plus, no real mention of the rise of the large middle-class in the US, except to characterize them as sell-outs to the capitalists.

I saw Zinn on The Daily Show a few days after I finished the book. He looked mid-late 70's and appeared to be losing some his mental accuity. Interesting tho, Stewart asked him, what would really surprise someone in the book, and he mentioned the thing that was the biggest surprise to me -- that Columbus was such a genocidal fucker.

Also read over the holidays "Zetatalk: Direct Answers from the Zeta Reticuli People" by Nancy Lieder. My middle daughter and her boyfriend are currently UFOlogists! So pleasant to have cultists in the family! At least it was a quick read. Among the high points:

  • The world was supposed to have ended in the spring of 2003 due to the earth's flipping on its side due to the passing of Planet X on its highly elliptical orbit. Damn, I missed it. Now rescheduled for 2012. I looked up the Jehovah's Witnesses, after around 140 years of the second coming any day now, they no longer say it's coming! Wonder how long it will take the UFOlogists to give up?
  • The physics and astronomy in the book are horrible. No understanding of well-known principles of magnetism or gravity. Planet X, with its race of oversize humans with technology on the level of ours, would not be able to survive in a highly elliptical orbit.
  • The ETs talk to anyone who requests it by planting the memories in your subconscious rather than your conscious mind. Then, it's up to you to remember them. So, they don't hear voices, they're not schizophrenic. Rather, they convince themselves that their fantasies are real implanted memories -- they're only delusional. I have had times where I realized what I thought was a memory was actually a memory of a dream. Channelling is interesting, tho. As with hypnotism and MPD (multiple personality disorder), both of which some number of psychology types discredit the actual existence of, channelling shows the youth and relativity fraility of the human mind. We deceive ourselves so easily.
  • The ETs are 4th dimensional beings (or 5th or 6th -- we're third). So, they can walk through walls, make their UFOs disappear, teleport hybrid foeti (foetuses?) out of wombs, implant alien DNA in Nancy's brain, all in the blink of an eye! How convenient and totally unverifiable!
  • Did you know there are 100s of different alien races on earth, helping people of the "service-to-others" (as opposed to "service-to-self") persuasion prepare for the coming cataclysm? All these different channelers can have their own private alien race -- so they all can feel so very special.
  • Got to google lots of different pieces of UFO lore: MJ-12, Roswell, the Mexico City UFO sightings (god, what bad special effects).
All in all, very sad. Poor lonely delusional Nancy now has a book, website, followers, probably gets to sit on UFO panels. (Surely she deserves no more than a blog ;->)The book talked about the aliens giving signs. On the web, Nancy talks about how she had a feeling that her sign from the ETs was going to be that some magazines in her office that were face up were now boing to be mysteriously face down. But, she got there, still face up?!? Her faith wasn't great enough. But, shortly thereafter, she was at a movie, and got a box of Starburst with one Starburst NOT IN A WRAPPER!!! Machines package Starburst, there was NO WAY one could have gotten loose, it had to be her SIGN from the aliens! Damn, I don't even like Starburst, and I have had one without a wrapper. If only I had known, it was the ETs trying to communicate :-(

The problem with faith-based shit is that, to the believer, the more unlikely it is the better. I mean, if the thing you believe in is rational or likely, your faith doesn't have to be very strong, does it? Like Bowie says, "I don't want knowledge, I want certainty."

Recently read another Jack McDevitt, "Omega". Some characters from earlier stories, an enjoyable read. A nice race of aliens, with an interesting set of cultural differences.

Had some technolust satisfied for xmas. My wife got me a 40G iPod. Now half full, took 10 hours to sync with my PC. I'm looking fwd to taking it on the cruise we're taking in mid-Feb, and am shopping for a small set of speakers for it.

Musicwise, I bought "Unconscious Ruckus" by Appogee (Amazon made me do it), OK technoish stuff, 3 stars. Also Sarah McLachlan "Afterglow". No catchy tunes, 3 stars.

But, I am surely on the road to hell now -- downloaded my 1st album from iTunes: "Brazilian Girls", eponymous. Good variety of stuff in different languages, but they're a NYC band (not really brazilian). Nice world/dance beat. Googling "brazilian girls" is a bad one tho. I don't think I have a mail-order bride on the way, but I'm not 100% sure ;->

Movie-wise, I'm sure I have seen numerous new movies lately, but all I can come up with is an anti-recommendation: "The Village", M. Night Shyamalan's latest. Man, is that guy on a downward spiral. "6th Sense" was great in the theater (but is mediocre on a rewatch, interesting). "Unbreakable" was fun for an old comic book fan, but its premise (there is ancient hidden wisdom in comic books) was a bit much. "Signs" I (and my wife) found totally offensive. God made the son asthmatic so the aliens' poison couldn't kill him and made the daughter leave glasses of water all over the place so they could figure out the aliens didn't like water? What in the hell did they come to Earth for then? And all so Mel Gibson could regain the religious faith he lost after his wife's senseless death? What a total crock!

"The Village" I figured out 15 minutes in, after which it's all pretty silly.

Oh, that reminded me, we did see "Collateral", which was good -- my wife was all over that one tho, she figured out the ending w/ 30 minutes to go. "50 1st Dates" I found surprisingly touching -- "Memento" with a happy ending. Adam Sandler was only totally annoying a couple of times. Also really enjoyed "Stuck on You" -- another surprisingly warm movie, in addition to having the expected slapstick.

Well, Bjork came up on the shuffle play, and I'm reading "Marvel 1602" -- Neil Gaiman with Marvel characters in Elizabethan England. Back to it.