Farewell, Professor Hawking. Thank-you for your incredible contributions to our better understanding of the cosmos.
Rolling Stone has nice obituary for him.
It was Barlow’s lyrics and Bob Weir’s music that had the earliest influences on me when I was first turned-on to The Dead. Throwing Stones and Hell In A Bucket from the album “In The Dark” made their early marks. Mexicali Blues from “Skeletons From The Closet” and Estimated Prophet from “Terrapin Station” followed closely. Then others, such as Looks Like Rain.
I had been passingly familiar with JPB long before I knew his music though. In high school, I found a long article in Harper’s magazine titled, Is Computer Hacking A Crime? It was a long chat-room transcript from The WELL (a pre-world wide web bulletin board system). The chat included JPB, early computing luminaries such as Richard Stallman, and a hacker who would later become more widely known…
Hacking was more of the exploratory, curious and creative nature back then. I still vividly recall JPB referring to our ancient ancestors as engaging in “fire hacking.” In that chat article, hacking was a force for good that drove our species forward. The word was only just gaining its nefarious, darker pall for the renegade and destructive activities it is known for today.
Like the other members of The Dead Family before him, John Perry Barlow will be sorely missed.
Thank-you for the EFF. Most importantly, thank-you for the music!
I was very pleased to learn last night that Australians overwhelmingly voted for marriage equality. Excellent!
Every state and territory with the exception of New South Wales voted more than 60% “Yes.” New South Wales was just below the 60% mark. So love wins!
As I understand it, this result still does not make any binding laws. However, hopefully it sends a clear message to politicians that their careers will be in jeopardy if they fail to pass laws in favour of equality.
Advance Australia Fair!
I’ve spent the rest of the week processing this and listening to The Hip constantly. Much of Canada is still mourning this collective loss. Downie’s music and poetry has a way of vibrating the Canadian nerve.
He will be missed deeply.
Farewell Mr. Hefner and thank-you for all your work.
Although I suspect that much of this news will surround Playboy and nude photography; I actually prefer to remember Hef’s work promoting and defending the First Amendment. His fighting against censorship laws and his promotion of feminism and same-sex rights have helped build the bulwark against theocracy in Western society.
Nudity aside, Playboy magazine did advance lifestyle and culture in new directions. It helped to get people thinking outside norms that were barely altered clones of past generations.
Hef will be missed. I hope that Playboy will carry on his legacy. The First Amendment must be defended constantly on many fronts.
Happy 241st birthday America!
I sincerely hope that you are around to see number 242…
The Constitution Act (aka. the British North America Act) was signed 150 years ago today. It essentially formed Canada.
I am very proud to be Canadian. We are not a perfect country by any means; however we get the gist of it correct and we are always trying to move in the right direction.
There is an odd sense to it this year. I can hear the fireworks outside and the country has made a big deal of this anniversary. But the world seems to be spiraling downward. I’ve mostly kept politics from this blog and most generations feel that theirs is the worst.
But I look forward to Canada continuing to set an example for the world.
What a week! A tumultuous upset in the United States’ election – which I kept out of on this blog but was rather active on Facebook. I’ve had a lingering sore throat all week and that was what got me out of bed on Friday morning at 1am.
My cousin Hana had posted the news about Leonard Cohen’s passing.
2016 has not be kind to music. This time I felt it much deeper.
The sore throat got worse and the only positive is that I could sing in closer tune to the Cohen songs that I’ve been playing on WinAmp all weekend.
So long sir. Thanks for everything you’ve given us.
One day after the wonderful first anniversary of the Obergefell decision and SCOTUS gives us this excellent decision.
This stupid Texan law was a naked assault on the rights of women. It served absolutely no medical purpose in spite of the gibbering, spittle-flecked blubbering of Re-thug-licans to the contrary. It was nothing more than kissing the ass of the dying evangelical christian movement.
I hope this deters other states in the South that have implemented or are considering such backward, anti-women, anti-choice laws. I hope this is one more nail in the coffin of the current GOP.
The United States desperately needs reform across all its halls of power. This is a step forward.
Today marks one year since the SCOTUS Obergefell decision legalized marriage equality across the United States.
Suspiciously absent is the god-spawned smiting we were promised.
Everybody should have the right to marry the person that they love. It is simple as that.
EDIT: I want to link to Camille Beredjick’s post at Friendly Atheist. A celebration of major victories is important; but work remains. There is much prejudice and discrimination that still must be overcome.
While I am grateful to have escaped such violent weather – my second spring in Texas was an introduction to incredible windstorms – I spent yesterday trying to find out if my friends are alright.
So far, it appears that everyone is fine. But sadly, these storms have brought sadness and grief to many families. I feel sorry for these people.
Yet one cannot and should not escape thinking, “Tornados in December?”
How can this not be due to anthropomorphic climate change? Of course, plenty of Texan politicians deny this issue because they are bought-and-paid-for whores to their donors from the fossil fuel industry. Sorry Texas, but you should gear up for more extreme weather events like this.
We did it to ourselves…
WOW! What an incredible accomplishment. Congratulations to everyone at SpaceX for advancing the technologies for space travel and exploration.
My last post let Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy do all the talking. This one isn’t much different – he nails all the technical details far better than I can.
This news excites me because it brings the USA closer to getting itself back into space instead of relying on Russia. By re-using the first stage booster rocket, SpaceX has made space launches less expensive. I cannot wait to see what they do in the future and I cannot wait to see SpaceX handle crewed launches.
Just amazing stuff!
Oh boy was I pissed off when I read about what the Irving school district did to Ahmed Mohamed. I live in Irving (my property taxes go to the Coppell school district though) and even though I have a general distaste for Texas, this felt like it hit close to home in more than a geographic sense.
I have no doubt in my mind that this is nothing more than anti-Muslim bigotry stirred-up by hateful, small-minded idiots.
Such are the types of people that Texans – though many are intelligent and caring people – seem to prefer electing to represent them. The current Irving mayor, Beth Van Duyne, campaigned around not “allowing Sharia law into Irving.”
I was disappointed that Bill Maher (whom I frequently agree with) supported the school district. Maher does clearly draw a distinction between the 14-year old geek who happens to be Muslim and the radical Islamists that routinely – and correctly – draw his ire. However he is completely misguided when he says, “…and the people at the school thought it might be a bomb. Perhaps cuz it looks exactly like a fucking bomb.”
Obviously the school did not think Ahmed’s clock was a bomb. Multiple teachers saw the clock and did not react. The school was not evacuated and the bomb squad was not called. I cannot accept that line of weak sauce reasoning. I have seen enough of the South’s ill-concealed racism to believe that the school was reacting to Ahmed’s name and his religion. Sure, the authorities deny this.
The clarifications that Mark Cuban adds are very interesting. Chris Matthews’ outburst was unexpected and funny but also spot-on.
It was heartening to see so many support Ahmed. That was a nice counter-balance to the spectacular stupidity from the school and from moronic bigots like Bristol Palin. George Takei, Satya Naedalla, Mark Zuckerberg and even President Obama.
Many have called out the support of technical companies like Microsoft and Google as crass marketing gimmicks. That might be true to an extent. However, I think that these companies are also sending a message to the rest of America’s youth – and America’s political leaders. “Hey! Listen up! This is the creativity, curiosity and technical knowledge that we want to encourage and eventually hire.”
This is about more than fear, racism and religious bigotry. This about the United States miserable and worsening performance in the STEM fields of studies.
I cannot write a post about the hypocrite bigot Josh Duggar and not mention the other recent religious maelstrom around Kim Davis. What a saga this turned out to be.
Some criticism against Davis turned needlessly personal and ultimately off-topic. I got tired of that pretty quickly. I agree with Libby Anne’s thesis here, but I do disagree with the example that she used.
I do not see the use of the Southern drawl as being “classist.” I do not see this as mocking the way that Davis talks and I certainly do not see it as a barb against her intelligence. This simply sells the point of who is being represented here.
I definitely disagreed with the memes that attacked Davis as a whore or a bitch or questioned why any of her husbands would marry her in the first place. Such things are completely irrelevant and just mean-spirited. Questioning the obvious hypocrisy of her supposedly Bible-based position is absolutely correct and valid.
My biggest wish is that Kim Davis had been incarcerated and fined. Judge Bunning noted that a fine alone would not incentivize her to do her job. He was correct at the time – many people worried that fundie believers would simply setup a GoFundMe account to cover her expenses – however, GoFundMe has changed their rules to preclude such a thing.
Now, we’ll just see how long she’ll stay in jail. The main thing is that marriage equality continues to gain ground and acceptance despite the efforts of bigots.
Although we should not take pleasures in the misfortunes of another, sometimes it simply cannot be resisted. The Duggar family has done such spectacular damage to basic human rights and dignity that I won’t hide the smile on my face caused by their so-called plight.
The revelations that Josh Duggar – in addition to being a child molester – has also cheated on his wife obviously gave a speed boost to the downward spiral ride for the family.
This sniveling worm’s public statement tries to put the blame for his actions on an “addiction” to pornography. There is no such thing as porn or sex addiction according to the DSM-5. This is just another way to shift responsibility instead of being a real man and owning one’s actions.
Friendly Atheist commenter Holytape puts it far better than I though:
Not true, Joshy. Don’t beat your self up like that. Sure you’re a hypocrite. Sure you’re a miserable piece of dog shit with the moral compass, of… well you. Sure you campaigned to make people’s lives miserable for no other reason that your narcissistic desire to control other people’s happiness. But you’re not the biggest hypocrite ever. You’re not that important. Most people don’t know about your work at being an asshole. They only know of your existence because you were the first one out of that clown car they call your mother’s vagina. So people really don’t care enough to make you the biggest hypocrite ever. And don’t worry, by this time next year, everyone will have forgotten your transgressions, because they will have forgotten about you entirely.
It will be wonderful when the world has completely forgotten about this brood of hypocrites. That day cannot come too soon – I only wish that all the other asshole Christians would be forgotten too.
Society would benefit tremendously.
I am really excited by New Horizons. It is not often a major leap forward in our understanding of universe happens. I was too young to appreciate what the Viking and Voyager missions did for us. But I am following the great space explorations of our time: Rosetta, Cassini-Huygens (hard to believe we are approaching end-of-life to this incredible mission), Messenger, Curiosity and so much more.
Now – in just two days’ time – we are going to see Pluto up-close and personal.
I really cannot do this any more justice than what Bad Astronomy wrote about it. There are some great links and videos in that post.
I hate to end this post on a down note; but we desperately need to increase the funding of NASA. All of humanity benefits from space exploration.