Sunday, March 27, 2011

Great Caesar's Ghost oh Astronomer!

* All my life, I thought Superman boss, editor Perry White, had originality with his constant plaint "Great Caesar's Ghost!" I now know better. The term comes from the title of a Newspaper comic strip 'Great Caesar's Ghost!..and Great Caesar's Goat' by A E Hayward back in the 1910s. It consisted of a comic Julius Caesar living in Rome [by name only; the city had a mix of Roman buildings and modern structures, complete with lamps etc...] and getting his daily lumps from 1910 life and wife.

Julius wears modern clothes over his obvious toga. Some other characters are dressed the same way, and some are in modern [1910] clothes. Anachronisms abound, such as a cigars, watches, alarm clocks, glass windows, mirrors, cuckoo clocks, glass fish bowls, telephones, seltzer bottles, etc... In one Sunday panel, a well dressed little guy comes into Julius's throne room. He claims to represent the 'Rome Law and Order Society' led by Antony Comstockus. They have some 'requirements.' Among other things, they want "...Our chief, Antony Comstockus, says as how you got to drape all the statues on the Boulevards...the legs of the all dining tables must be covered and..." Julius is aghast. His reply [while jumping up and down] to this: "...What? Dictate to me? Who's runnin' Rome!"

Not only is Superman's Perry White unoriginal, but the grappling fingers of pc-ism in 1910 Comic-land is quite apparent. It's also very funny.

*Those TV ads are still trying to trick you into buying ersatz gold coins. The latest is an ersatz nickel that is based on a 99% gold larger denomination coin---which the ad praises for considerable time as if it's the perfect coin. But this copy only has 14 milligrams of gold. As you'll remember from my prior entries, that isn't very much. Thus, the advertised 14milligrams is only worth 63 cents [based on $1,400 per troy ounce of gold.] So, for $9.95, you get an unusable plug nickel with 63 cents of gold on it in a very thin layer. And the ad has the effrontery to claim the price can only be guaranteed for 7 days. One order per customer. [The ad has been spouting that for months---with the same price.] Even Vince's 'Sham Wow' is a better deal.

*Noted during last August: I heard recently the beginning of the NASCAR Martinsville Race. It began with a spiritual invocation, and it led to the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by a group of school kids. The kids then went on to sing the National Anthem---correctly, by the way. Most professionals don't know the words, the song, or the meaning. They're mostly neck singers anyway [instead of singing from the gut and diaphragm], and they're just at the race with the hope of sparking their professional careers and putting their own vocal spins on the Anthem. While it's deplorable having some of those 'celebs' out there 'singing', it's too bad no other sport allows normal American expression from regular people. They all seem to be worried about ACLU and Liberal critics. So much for freedom of speech. I would expect NASCAR has some financial interest in these singers trying to sing.

As an update, I heard another Grammy winner sing the National Anthem today [3/27/11] before the Race in Fontana CA. He did a terrible job. His voice is weak, and without amplification and a lot of noise accompanying him [everyone sings a Cappella], he can't hack it. And people buy records from Amazon starring this guy?

*In today's game [3/24/11] between the LA Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, I make note of the Rockies pitcher, Michael Marbry. Firstly, he's obscenely young from my point of view. [He was born in 1984.] Arggh! I was getting old even back then. Secondly, he has an earned run average this year of 135! Today, he allowed five runs in 1/3 of an inning. Don't get me wrong. I like all this. I've been a Dodger fan all my life. Today, the Dodgers were behind 5 to 0 in the bottom of the ninth inning with only their last three outs to work with. They proceeded to score seven runs and win the game. As Kermit would say with mouth and body language, "Yeaaaaaa! Yeaaaaaa!"

*Per the AP in December in an article entitled: Scientists Find 200 Sextillion More Stars in the Sky

"A study suggests the universe could have triple the number of stars scientists previously calculated...The study questions a key assumption that astronomers often use: that most galaxies have the same properties as our Milky Way. And that's creating a bit of a stink among astronomers who want a more orderly cosmos...The study that offers the new estimate on stars is led by a Yale University astronomer." [Pieter van Dokkum] [The prior estimate was 100 sextillion; the new one is 300 sextillion]

"'For the past month, astronomers have been buzzing about van Dokkum's findings, and many aren't too happy about it', said astronomer Richard Ellis of the California Institute of Technology...Van Dokkum's paper challenges the assumption of "a more orderly universe" and gives credence to 'the idea that the universe is more complicated than we think,' Ellis said. 'It's a little alarmist.'"

Tell me the truth, now. Do you know how much 100 sextillion is? Or 300 sextillion? The latter is a 3 followed by 23 zeroes. Does it make a difference to you how many stars there are from these poor estimates? What if the estimate is off by a few tens of sextillions? Are you alarmed at these numbers? Want to count the stars in the observable Universe? After all, no one knows how big the Universe is, so these estimates are all done with smoke and mirrors---rather like weather forecasting. How simple do you want the Universe to be? Is this what astronomy has come to? Counting stars with varying assumptions and then arguing about them? Why don't they do something useful like estimating or counting the number of baseballs used by all the Major League Baseball teams for an entire year? Or how much mud is used to rub them?

And why is the larger number of stars classified by Ellis as 'alarming.' Does he expect a few sextillion UFOS to arrive from all the possible planets among the additional stars? Is he privy to the real size of the Universe? Or does he just enjoy being contrary? I remember the arguments in the past between those promoting the Big Bang theory and those promoting the steady state theory [constant creation of matter from nothing in space.] Big Bang finally won out, but the steady state guys are still trying to promote it under certain circumstances. You've got to admire their tenacity---just like those members of the Flat Earth Society.

As for me? Well, the number of stars in the Universe is not as important as the number of asteroids and meteors on collision courses with the Earth or Moon. Those frighten me more than a few sextillion UFOs.