"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Cosmos Highlights for January 2012

Nature Does Not Ask For Our Opinions

Whether or not one believes in climate change is irrelevant. Neither faith nor hypothesis decides reality. Perhaps the best citizens can do is be conversant in the ongoing research and consensus of experts. Regardless, scientists overwhelmingly agree in the reality of climate change.

The Environment Report, a service of Michigan Radio, did a short and insightful story this week entitled "Breaking Through to Climate Change Skeptics." For the price of a few minutes, reading or listening to audio, you can observe politicians and constituents stumble arrogantly over this issue...but then refine their perspective. And in turn they teach scientists a thing or two about effective communication. Great story!

Breaking Through to Climate Change Skeptics

A Three Generation Family Portrait

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The above image is like any family portrait, except the three generations shown are robotic explorers of neighboring Mars. Very cool! Here is an excerpt from the official caption:

"Front and center is the flight spare for the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997 as part of the Mars Pathfinder Project. On the left is a Mars Exploration Rover Project test rover that is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004. On the right is a Mars Science Laboratory test rover the size of that project's Mars rover, Curiosity, which is on course for landing on Mars in August 2012." The above is taken from the NASA website.

For the complete caption, please visit NASA's Image Gallery

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Creepy Cool Sounds of The Potter's Field

This week I received an old-fashioned CD in the mail. For readers who remember records and cassettes, and who just saw me refer to a compact disc as old-fashioned, you may begin vomiting now. For those of you who live by iTunes and MP3s, be aware that the seller of my CD was hip enough to let me download the entire album right after purchasing it (so I didn't have to wait for my old-fashioned CD to arrive via snail mail). And what pray tell is on this disc?

It's the debut album of Michigan-based duo The Potter's Field: Pleasureville. Here is raw video of a live performance. The song is emblematic of their creepy cool style. Please take a free listen:

If you even just sorta liked that one, now try what is perhaps my favorite song of theirs:

I was tempted to write a review of the album "Pleasureville." After all, I have professional training as an arts and entertainment critic. The problem is I am unable to write a fully objective review of The Potter's Field or their album. I count singer Rochelle Clark as a true friend. We've worked together, laughed together, and even cried in front of each other (but I'll spare you the professional theatre stories). It's an honor to know her and her excellent music partner: singer/songwriter John Natiw.

Bias admitted, I can say this. I have a Bachelor's Degree in English and a minor in music (and my grades were great). On levels both subjective and technical, I can discern music and lyrics that are worth paying to experience. So I say with confidence that you don't need to be a close personal friend of either member of The Potter's Field to find their music wonderful. "Pleasureville" is an excellent album. The recordings are professional and have even begun to score airtime on radio. The songs are a masterful blend of the beautiful, the personal, the earthy, and yes...even the creepy. It's good stuff!

You would do well to visit The Potter's Field website:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

'Physics for Future Presidents' and/or Dummies

Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the HeadlinesPhysics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of several books I learned of by listening to NPR. It is based on a popular class the author teaches. And having now read the book, I'd love to take the class.

Dr. Muller tackles all of the hot button topics that utilize scientific inquiry: the environment, energy policy, space exploration, etc. His chief goal is to compile a handbook of rudimentary knowledge a President ought to have at his/her disposal when making policy decisions. Think about it. Should homeland security be governed by someone who has no practical knowledge of how "dirty bombs" work? (And why most terrorists don't bother trying to make them.)

Another of Dr. Muller's goals is clearly to point out popular and deeply flawed notions the public has about issues like nuclear power and the environment. As it turns out, we all know many things that 'just ain't so.'

My only gripe with this book is Dr. Muller's pessimistic take on human space exploration. Of course he is against it. None of the research he is doing requires it. It serves his academic passions to focus solely on robotic space probes. Still, I think the book is great. And it is a sad certainty that the people who need to read this book the most, won't.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Best of Facebook Status Updates: Volume 5

On the lighter side

  • When a coworker brings in half of a Cookie Monster b'day cake to share, and then has you take home a section, try to make sure it's not the section with just the muppet's eyes. Cuz it's kind of spooky. I mean, I ate it. It was delicious. But it was spooky delicious.
  • When God closes a door, Congress defunds the window.
  • I'm watching the Kardashians on E Channel. So I understand women now.
  • I love this new shirt so much I'm gonna share my Faygo soda with it.
  • Haven't seen Captain America. But I'm already looking forward to the slightly darker, more cerebral sequel where the title character will confront deep personal doubts and leave movie fans praising the film's innovative story.
  • Gotta be honest. I actually did have a bat fly straight at my face a couple weeks ago, but I have yet to want to wear spandex or fight crime.
  • I am the Rocky Horror fan of NPR. Earlier, during a piece on the melting of the Arctic Ice Sheet, a climatologist prefaced her research by saying, "What happens in the Arctic..." I bolted upright and shouted at my radio, "Stays in the Arctic!!" That's not what she said next, but for a moment I totally felt like I was part of the broadcast.

On a serious note:

  • I went to the Borders viewing last night. Despite purchasing four pieces of the cadaver at 20% off, I still left despondent.
  • ‎'If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.' Thomas Paine, 1776