Sunday, March 30, 2008

Goodbye Dith Pran

Among the most affecting movies I've ever seen, and one of the best cinematic polemics ever committed to celluloid was The Killing Fields. Roland Joffé could have stopped working at that point and been assured that his reputation had been firmly established. Everybody associated with the film was uniformly excellent - I can't praise the film highly enough.

Dith Pran, portrayed vividly by Hang S. Ngor, died today of pancreatic cancer.

Here a link to a late interview with Dith Pran.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ok, Ok I'm Reposting Too Much Stuff...

... from Pharyngula:

But it's not every day I can find a Hip-Hop video that I actually want to post.

Idiots Trying to Shut Down the LHC

In a Hawaiian court.

James Gillies, head of communications at CERN, said the laboratory as of yet had no comment on the suit. “It’s hard to see how a district court in Hawaii has jurisdiction over an intergovernmental organization in Europe,” Mr. Gillies said.

“There is nothing new to suggest that the L.H.C. is unsafe,” he said, adding that its safety had been confirmed by two reports, with a third on the way, and would be the subject of a discussion during an open house at the lab on April 6.

[Walter L. Wagner] is not mollified. "They’ve got a lot of propaganda saying it’s safe,” he said in an interview, “but basically it’s propaganda.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Galactic Blogging

160,000 light years away, this is a stellar nursery named LH 95 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This Hubble image from APOD shows a great deal of previously unseen detail including a number of lower mass yellow stars much less bright than the bigger bluer monsters that are a great deal less trouble to image.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band

These guys are awesome. I wish there were better vids available - in particular their jazzification of Play That Funky Music, White Boy is about the most paradoxically rocking thing I've ever heard.

GRB 080319B

Naked eye visible (briefly and barely) gamma ray burst from a distance of 7.5 billion light-years - more than half-way across the visible universe. Just staggering.

H/T Instapundit.

Update: APOD link.

PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins Discuss PZ's Expulsion

H/T Dawkins' Site.

Non-Galactic, Non-Friday Post

Actually, in a sense this is still a galactic image, just from the interior of our galaxy; a weaselly construction I may just abuse if and when good galaxy images become too scarce for a weekly submission.

All that aside, on the left is a glorious, detailed image of the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543), a gorgeous planetary nebula half a light-year across and about three thousand light-years distant. This particular image has been created from archival Hubble data and reprocessed to accentuate details. The image on the right, from Wikipedia, shows how differently the imagery can ultimately appear, depending on how, exactly the digital data is processed. It also seems to illustrate how succesfully the details were shown in the other image, though I have no reason to assume that the two images were generated from the same source data.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama Slimed

Citizen Journalist Charles Johnson quoting Joel Pollak quoting Ali Abunimah quoting Barack Obama:

'Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.'

Ali (of Electronic Intifada) was reporting an apparently unwitnessed conversation. Generally, people like Citizen Charles and Pollak are somewhat skeptical of assertions they find in publications like Electronic Intifada. Apparently that skepticism doesn't apply in cases where their own interests are served.

Update: I let my distaste for LGF and Charles Johnson, whom I consider a hateful, vitriolic. intellectually dishonest writer affect my opinion of Joel Pollak, about whom I actually didn't know anything. After he pretty politely mentioned a misspelling of his name in my post, I did what I should have done when I wrote the post originally. I spent some time reading his blog. I doubt that Joel and I would agree on much politically, but he seems like a pretty rational guy. If that doesn't convince you, read his blog for yourself.

Pharyngula Expelled

I happened to get to this item through Wolcott's blog. He doesn't think that any paraphrase would do the piece justice, and I see no reason to argue with that. Do click through. Nobody with a sense of humor will fail to be amused. More from Pharyngula. And another reaction. Good grief.

More links to PZ Myers' expulsion here.

And an eyewitness report.

Friday Galactic Blogging

There are very few individual stars in this image. In fact almost every object in the photograph is a galaxy, to closely paraphrase the APOD blurb. It's a picture of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies, a large, dense cluster of over one thousand galaxies, located about 320 million light years distant from us and found near the North Galactic Pole, which means that we would present as a face on spiral to an observer in any of the galaxies in this cluster.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Self Parody

Michelle Malkin apparently doesn't care how closely she approaches self-parody:

So, the “new” bin Laden tape is threatening a “reckoning” with Europe over the Mohammed Cartoons. The Religion of Perpetual Outrage strikes again:

I challenge anybody to find someone more invested in being perpetually outraged than Ms. Malkin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech and Right-Wing Reaction

Reverend Wright's rhetoric is apparently boilerplate Black Liberation Theology. Most people who attend churches where this is a fairly common thread aren't going to feel as if it's particularly remarkable, and it's not. Born in the heat of the civil rights movement in the 1960's, it expresses feelings that are real enough, and, withholding judgment on whether they're still appropriate, they certainly were forty years ago.

The disingenuous screaming for apologies and timelines from right-wing bloggers is cynical nonsense being tactically deployed by the same old partisans who scream for effect in response to every triviality that comes to light regarding every Democratic candidate for high office. One easy way to measure this is to read The Corner, Malkin, et al... and compare that to reaction anywhere else, from left- to non-partisan. The phrase "right-wing noise machine" is no distortion of reality.

Sad, Sad Day

Arthur C. Clarke is gone.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Galactic Blogging

The Mice. So called because of their long tails, the result of apparent ongoing collision between these two striking galaxies. According to APOD, they are "likely members of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies," and are about 300 million light years distant.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tear Off Your Own Head!

Elvis on Letterman.

Friday Galactic Blogging

Miss me? Judging by the referring URLs, the galaxy images are the biggest draw to this blog, my sterling prose notwithstanding.

This is M104, one of the the most recognizable, and easily seen (apparent magnitude 9.0) galaxies available to us. Also known as the Sombrero Galaxy, for obvious reasons, it is yet another gorgeous spiral - its prominent dust lanes providing a unique appearance. As is always the case with APOD links on this blog clicking the image will take you to the APOD site. Clicking on the image there will open the ful resolution version.