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29 December 2009

what do giant twin heaving sweating undulating buttocks mean to you? / HAPPY NEW YEAR! / Tell Vleeptron Your Innermost Thoughts about 2009 or 2010

Please, by all means, click image.
Okay, here's The Light Cone deal, I shall try to make it as simple as possible.
Well, actually, if I explain everything about the Light Cone which my tiny miserable undisciplined brain understands ... that will be pretty simple.
1. The speed of electromagnetic radiation -- most of the time we just call it the speed of light, but light is just a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum -- in a vacuum is a fundamental fixed, unvarying constant of nature.
2. The only way we Know anything about the Universe is through receiving signals, quantities of perceivable information -- light signals, radio signals, sound waves -- and either seeing them, feeling them (infrared warmth on our skin), or recording them on machines sensitive to those parts of the EM spectrum.
3. So it follows that Everything We Know About the Universe is just all the received Light we get from the Universe.
A consequence of (1) is that, from HereNow (the point in Spacetime where we are right now), we can see plenty, but only within the boundaries of a certain Shape.
We can't see or know anything outside the boundaries of that Shape, because it would have been (mathematically, the math of the known laws of physics) impossible for Light to have come from outside the Shape and be seen by us in the HereNow, within the Time it takes for Light to travel through Space.
This Shape -- there's probably a much better technical word for "Shape" -- turns out to be The Light Cone.
The Light Cone defines all the Space we can possibly perceive, and it also defines all the Time we can possibly perceive or experience.
There may be Stuff going on outside the Light Cone, and it could be amazing Stuff, Stuff better than Sliced Bread or Chuck Berry -- but we just can't ever Know it. It truly is The Beyond.

You can't get there from here.
Einstein and the mathematician Minkowski worked out The Shape from simple but inevitable consequences of (1). It's the two ice cream cones, one of them Up, the other Down, connected at their Points. The only difference between an ice-cream cone and the Light Cone is that the fat part of both cones goes on Forever; the boundary of the knowable Universe goes out from the HereNow infinitely.
Got all that? Alles ist klar?
Incidentally, the Angle of the Light Cone -- the slope at which it expands outward from The Point -- is warm, familiar, simple 45 degrees. Euclid would call it a Bisector of a Right Angle. Or, if you prefer, pi/4 = 0.78539816339745+
(I don't know anybody who really would prefer radian measure, but I'm sure there are 40 or 50 geeks out there who like it better. I know people who, in a world of Billie Holiday and Enrico Caruso, go apeshit about Michael Jackson.)
So there it is: The Universe. Or at least the parts of it you'll ever see. There may be more, but it's Off Limits, like the other gender's public bathroom, or some of the Nixon Oval Office audio tapes for a few more years.
So what does all this mean?
It means:
Happy New Year
from Planet Vleeptron!!!
Agence-Vleeptron Presse's Art Director, Philippe de Montebello, wanted to make a Vleeptron Happy New Year Faux Postage Stamp, but he imposed a strange restriction on his design: It must be 100% free and absent of All
Visual Cliches associated with the New Year: the diapered baby crawling in, the ancient bearded man stumbling out, all that Hallmark crap.
Philippe said Non.
He pulled his hair, he sweated blood, he flagellated himself, and finally experienced the required Gestalt: The Einstein-Minkowski Light Cone.
And you can only get a Cliche-Free Einstein-Minkowsky Light Cone Happy New Year Faux Postage Stamp from Vleeptron. Nowhere else. Accept No Substitutes.
Leave A Comment. The Spirit of The Special Moment, when Earth's arbitrary odometer flips over to an arbitary Multiple-Zero moment -- what does the New Year mean to you?
You into Prophesy? Tell Vleeptron what kind of red-hot flinging plague-infested poop you think is coming our way in the next twelvemonth.
Or Antisy? (I think I just made that word up.) Looking Backward. Tell Vleeptron Your Thoughts about 2009.

This can be like one of those
Internet Diaries, or Confessionals. Tell Vleeptron what you REALLY feel about the year just finishing, and tell Vleeptron how you REALLY feel about the next 365 days, which are, for the most part, Tohu v'Vohu -- Void and Without Form. Could go either way. We could all receive a $9400 check in the mail from a government agency we never heard of. Or sharks could eat us. Do you live anywhere near a big volcano? Who told you it was extinct, and not just Very Dormant?

But maybe you have Imagination or Intuition or A Hunch, or Insider Trading info, or a really hot Tarot Deck, and your Minor Arcana keeps coming up Morte and le Pendu and le Catastrophe.
Tell Vleeptron what you see.
Tell Vleeptron what you saw.
Tell Vleeptron what you will have seen.
Tell Vleeptron what you're going to see.
If you are or have been or will have been seen by Vleeptron, spill it. We want the skinny, what's the 411?
Meanwhile, I wish you all -- Adventure! Ah shit, let me see if I can find this speech ...
Found it!
The test of an adventure is that when you're in the middle of it, you say to yourself, 'Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.' And the sign that something is wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.
(a few more summing-up words, Final Curtain)
-- "The Matchmaker," by Thornton Wilder
"The Matchmaker" -- and "Ferris Beuller's Day Off," and "Hello, Dolly!" and about a dozen other pieces of drama, musical-comedy and cinema -- is descended from John Oxenford's 1835 farce "A Day Well Spent," which was translated and lengthened into "Einen Jux will er sich machen" by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy in 1842. Tom Stoppard has a version, set in Vienna at a season in which everyone is wearing kilts and Scottish Highlands attire, called "On the Razzle." It's a lot of fun, the best I've yet seen from this curious and ancient lineage. It's pretty filthy, but in a good-hearted sort of way. But it's pretty filthy. It's about the filthiest thing I ever saw on a stage -- and I once acted in "Lysistrata" wearing a giant synthetic erection under my tunic.
Stoppard addresses a rarely-asked question:
If you spend 15 years, hours and hours every day, staring down or ahead at the heaving, sweating, shaking, undulating, quivering monstrous buttocks of one or two dray horses, what effects might it have on your personality and behavior?
PS. If I'm all full of shit and totally wrong about the mathematics and physics of The Einstein-Minkowski Light Cone, PLEASE feel free to tell me. Send Vleeptron some equations. Specific numbers. Shock & Awe me. Rock my world.

28 December 2009

"La Granja" / Mexican drug gang ballad, but in code, tells story of murderous new phase of drug industry

"La Granja" is the No. 1 hit song in Mexico right now. It's a new breed of song -- a narcocorrido, but in code, so radio stations that won't play overt and obvious (and highly popular and beloved) drug gang ballads can't find a clear reason to censor or ban "La Granga."

The lyrics and story roughly reflect George Orwell's novel "Animal Farm." "La Granja" was released as a video cartoon of the story; the cartoon will help tell the story and the meaning.

The female dog, la perra, is Mexico's hugely profitable and increasingly murderous illegal drug industry -- chiefly cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Nearly all of it is smuggled into the United States, where the demand and the money are.

Drug-gang violence, both in Mexico and in near-border USA cities like Phoenix, Arizona, are at a historic high. Since former Presidente Vincente Fox began a crackdown on drug gangs and their corrupt government and law-enforcement partners in 2006, about 13,000 people have been murdered in drug-related violence, according to the newspaper USA Today.

The English translation may be very iffy; if you can do better, por favor give it a whack, and mil gracias from Vleeptron.


La Granja (The Farm)

from the album La Granja (2009)
by Los Tigres Del Norte

Si la perra esta amarrada
Aunque ladre todo el día
No la deben de soltar
Mi abuelito me decía
Que podrían arrepentirse
Los que no la conocían

Por el zorro lo supimos
Que llego a romper los platos
Y la cuerda de la perra
La mordió por un buen rato
Y yo creo que se soltó
Para armar un gran relajo

Los puerquitos le ayudaron
Se alimentan de la granja
Diario quieren más maíz
Y se pierden las ganancias
Y el granjero que trabaja
Ya no les tiene confianza

Se cayó un gavilán
Los pollitos comentaron
Que si se cayó solito
O los vientos lo tumbaron
Todos mis animalitos
Por el ruido se espantaron

El conejo esta muriendo
Dentro y fuera de la jaula
Y a diario hay mucho muerto
A lo largo de la granja
Porque ya no hay sembradíos
Como ayer con tanta alfalfa

En la orilla de la granja
Un gran cerco les pusieron
Para que sigan jalando
Y no se vaya el granjero
Porque la perra no muerde
Aunque el no este de acuerdo

Hoy tenemos día con día
Mucha inseguridad
Porque se soltó la perra
Todo lo vino a regar
Entre todos los granjeros
La tenemos que amarrar


The Farm

If the dog is stingy
even if she barks all day long
they don't have to let her loose
my grandfather used to tell me
that those who didn't know her
could regret it

[the fox refers to former Mexican Presidente Vincente Fox.]

thanks to the fox we came to know
that it started to break the plates
I think the dog bit at her rope for a long time
and finally broke free
and then she really made a mess

the pigs helped her
they feed themselves
thanks to the farm

every day they want more corn
and they lose profits
and the farmer who works there
isn't so confident about them

[The next stanza refers to the mysterious crash of a Learjet carrying Mexico's Interior minister on 4 November 2008.]

a sparrowhawk fell to the ground
the chicks discussed that
whether he fell on his own
or it was the wind that knocked him
the noise scared all my animals

the rabbit is going to die
in and out of the cage
and every day a lot of them die
all over the farm
because the field isn't sown anymore
as it was yesterday with a lot of alfalfa

they laid siege to
the borders of the farm
so that they continue to work
and the farmer doesn't go away
because the dog doesn't bite
even if he disagrees

today we're so insecure day by day
because the dog broke free
everybody knows it now
all we farmers have to tie her up.

27 December 2009

First Day Issue / TdSPosta / Vleeptron New Smile Project Phase 3 / cursed to live for eternity as a high school boy

Click image for larger and more disgusting.

First Day Issue / Tierra de los Sueños / TdSPosta
Vampyr3000 / Vleeptron New Smile Project Phase 3

Soon -- maybe a month from now -- I will have Tom Cruise's Smile, and the damn thing will actually chew solid food just like I used to be able to!

But now ... well, about 2 weeks ago, this is what my mouth looked like. Vampyr 3000, all surgical steel and titanium.

I could tell it was so geeky horrible that I asked the dentist if he could take a photo of my mouth while these crazy things were in them. He thought that was a nifty request and ran to get his digital camera. He just sent me the photo via e-mail.

Technically these 4 tall black metal posts are called Pickup Impression Copings. While they were screwed into my jawbone, they made 4 marks in a soft gooey template, which will be the model for my lower teeth. They'll snap into four gold buttons. This procedure lines up the snaps on my gumline with the buttons on the denture.

By the year 3000, this is what Vampires, and other people who like to put on a jewelry and metal show in their mouth, will look like. Behold Vampyr 3000!

The face is Max Schreck, the actor who played Nosfaratu in the 1922 F.W. Murnau silent movie "Nosferatu," aka
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; also known as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror.

Why is the entire entertainment industry so whacky about vampires?

In the early days of Vampires -- the Bram Stoker novel, the silent movies, Bela Legosi -- Vampires were either late middle-aged or incredibly old. Old guys drooling all over innocent young virgins, and sucking their blood, turning them into their Undead Love Slaves for Eternity.

Now all the vampires are teenage high school California pumped hunk Todds. Fascinating. Teenage high school vampires. Color me thrilled.

My guess is that High School Romance is aleady so confused and miserable and doomed that some producer decided Vampires would make a great metaphor for 16-year-old high school love -- finally an explanation of why everything's so painful, doomed, unsuccessful and miserable at that age.

That would indeed be Hell: To have to live forever as a high school student.

26 December 2009

They need a Miracle along the way to Sainthood

Click image to enlarge saints.

I Need a Miracle

performed by The Grateful Dead
by John Perry Barlow and Robert Hall Weir

I need a woman bout twice my age
A lady of nobility, gentility and rage
Splendor in the dark, lightning on the draw
We'll go right through the book
and break each and every law

I got a feeling and it won't go away, oh no
Just one thing then I'll be okay
I need a miracle every day

I need a woman bout twice my height
statuesque, raven-dressed, a goddess of the night
Her secret incantations, a candle burning blue
We'll consult the spirits
maybe they'll know what to do

And it's real and it won't go away, oh no
I can't get around and I can't run away
I need a miracle every day

I need a woman bout twice my weight
A ton of fun who packs a gun with all her freight
find her in a sidewhow, leave her in L.A.
Ride her like a surfer running on a tidal wave

And it's real, believe what I say, yeah
Just one thing I got to say
I need a miracle every day

It takes dynamite to get me up
Too much of everything is just enough
One more thing I just got to say
I need a miracle every day
I need a miracle every day
I need a miracle every day (got to be the only way)
I need a miracle



The Times (London UK)
Saturday 19 December 2009

Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII
move closer to sainthood

by Simon Alford

[photo:] File picture showing late Pope Pius XII on his 80th birthday on March 11,1956. (AFP/Getty/Unknown) 'Heroic': Pope Pius XII

The controversial wartime pope accused of failing to openly condemn the Holocaust has moved a step closer to sainthood, the Vatican has confirmed.

Pope Pius XII will be declared venerable after the current pontiff Pope Benedict XVI approved a "heroic virtues decree," the first of three stages before canonisation.

To be declared venerable, a church investigation has to conclude that the person in question lived a life of exemplary holiness and heroic virtue. There must be nothing in the dead person’s writings that enables these characteristics to be challenged.

Pope Benedict has also agreed to declare his predecessor Pope John Paul II venerable, just four years after his death, it has been announced.

Related Links

* Pope John Paul II on fast track to sainthood
* Senior scholars join forces to protest
* Pope 'silent on Holocaust set to be saint'

Jewish groups had asked the pope to delay the process for Pius XII until further World War Two archives could be studied. He reigned from March 1939 until his death in 1958, and opponents claim he failed to explicitly speak out against Hitler or openly offer support to Jewish people.

Both Jewish and Catholic scholars have complained that Vatican archives on Pius XII are only fully accessible for the years up to 1939. It is understood the Vatican has said the 16,000,000 files relating to Pius XII's 19-year reign will not be ready for public viewing until 2014 at the earliest.

“We are saddened and disappointed that the pontiff would feel compelled to fast-track Pope Pius at a point where the issue of the record, the history and the coming to a judgment, is still wide open,” said Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and the director of the US-based Anti-Defamation League.

The Vatican has maintained that Pius XII worked behind the scenes during the war, fearing that any direct intervention may have worsened the situation for both Jews and Catholics.

In his wartime Christmas broadcasts on Vatican Radio, Pius XII offered support for "those who, although personally blameless, have simply on account of their nationality and origin been killed or reduced to utter destitution."

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, added: “We are left bereft in our feelings.”

Pope Benedict was first asked to make the decree in 2007, but put the process on hold while asking for a "period of reflection."

But the decision has received some support.

The Reverend Peter Gumpel, a German Jesuit priest and church historian who has spent 20 years supporting Pius XII's cause and has championed him as a defender of the Jews, said he was "delighted" by the decision.

“I’m glad that the truth has been professed,” he said. "The accusation that he was anti-Semitic or anti-Judaic is absolute nonsense.”

Pope John Paul has been on a fast track to sainthood since his death in 2005, after normal church rules, that prevent the process beginning for five years, were dispensed with.

Crowds had chanted “Santo subito!” (“a saint at once”) at his funeral, following his 27-year papacy.

Being declared venerable is the first of three stages which need to be completed.

The former pontiff is expected to be beatified, the second step, next year in recognition for a miracle. To complete the third stage to sainthood, John Paul must be recognised for a second miracle before he can canonised.

Last year Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the official in charge of the beatification process, finished a 2,000-page document summarising evidence that John Paul, who was the first non-Italian pope in 450 years, should be made a saint.

More than 250 claims of miracles have been made. One investigated in 2006 was that of French nun, Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, who was cured of Parkinson’s disease.

Doctors declared her cure “scientifically inexplicable” after her sisters prayed for the late Pope’s intercession and she found herself able to pick up a pen and write.

In September next year the Venerable John Henry Newman, an English Cardinal who died in 1890, will be beatified during a visit by Pope Benedict to Britain.

- 30 -

25 December 2009

Mayon, Philippines: Earth's scariest, noisiest, most dangerous erupting volcano this week

Click image for larger.

a Christmas gift for Bethlehem's pilgrims

Tradition holds that Jesus was born in Bethlehem -- in Hebrew/Ivrit, Bet Lechem, House of Bread, probably a community of bakers 2000 years ago. Bethlehem is a tiny town on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but nearly sealed off and suffocated socially and economically from the rest of the world by "The Thing" -- Israel's Separation Barrier, an architectural descendant of The Berlin Wall designed to keep human beings imprisoned, isolated, and prevented from free travel.

Bethlehem is not in Israel, but in the Israeli-controlled West Bank territories taken by military force in the 1967 war between Israel and neighboring Arab/Muslim nations.

One of the most famous religious pilgrimages on Earth is the Christmas pilgrimage to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus -- nobody can nail the exact date, but it was during the reign of the first Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus. Jesus' parents went to Bethlehem in obedience to a Roman tax census, and finding no room at the inn, the child was born in a stable filled with farm animals.

Maybe I'll write more about the Suffocation of Bethlehem and the annual traditional world-class insult and military impediment to Christian Pilgrims, but for now, here's something of a Christmas Present -- if you can perceive the temporary restoration of the fundamental human right of travel and religious worship as a gift.

This "gift" is like thanking a hoodlum for not beating you up anymore.

IDF is Israel's military forces, Israel Defense Force. It falls to the IDF to stick weapons in the faces of Pilgrims trying to reach Bethlehem at Christmas.

There are appropriate, even honorable, worthy jobs for soldiers. This is not one of them -- using weapons to interfere with religious activities and worship.

But it seems as if this Christmas, Pilgrims are getting an easier time to visit Manger Square, Bethlehem. Merry Christmas to them all!

~ ~ ~

Jewish Telegraphic Agency
(newswire founded 1919, headquartered in New York City)
Thursday 24 December 2009

West Bank Palestinians
entering Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- An unlimited number of West Bank Palestinians will be allowed to enter Israel for holiday and family gatherings.

More than 10,000 permits valid between Dec. 20 and Jan. 20 have already been issued, according to the IDF spokesperson and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories spokesman in a statement released Thursday.

In addition, 300 Christian-Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip over the age of 35 will be allowed to enter the West Bank for 24 hours during the Christmas holiday. Another 300 Christian Palestinians will be permitted to cross to the Ben Gurion International Airport. These permits will be issued subject to a security clearance.

During the holiday season, all the crossings into Bethlehem will be open 24 hours a day, according to an IDF official. Additional staff from the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria are scheduled to help ensure easy passage for visitors.

"Israeli security forces will continue to operate in order to ensure freedom of religion and normal way of life for Palestinians uninvolved in terrorism," the statement said.

- 30 -

19 December 2009

News from Republic of Gilead: Oklahoma legislature strangles women's privacy and reproductive health rights

I don't think I'll be setting foot in Oklahoma anytime soon.

I've been there, a long time ago, and I liked it.

But Oklahoma no longer seems to be in the United States of America.

~ ~ ~

CNN / Cable News Network
Friday 18 December 2009

Online posting of women's
abortion information
challenged in Oklahoma

by Wayne Drash, CNN

(CNN) -- A judge in Oklahoma extended on Friday a temporary restraining order on a law that would post information online about women who get abortions in the state.

In extending the restraining order, Oklahoma County District Judge Daniel Owens denied the state's motion to dismiss the case, putting the measure on hold until a February 19 hearing.

"We are very pleased with today's ruling. This law is a profound intrusion on women's privacy and a waste of taxpayers' money," attorney Jennifer Mondino of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a written statement. The New York-based center had filed a suit on behalf of former state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton and another Oklahoma resident.

"Women in Oklahoma should not have to jump through hoops to access legal medical care and the government has no business violating the state constitution to impose those obstacles," Mondino said.

The law, passed in May, requires doctors to fill out a 10-page questionnaire for every abortion performed, including asking the woman about her age, marital status, race and years of education. In all, there are 37 questions the women are [required] to answer.

Critics say the act would be harassment and an invasion of privacy.

State Sen. Todd Lamb helped draft the abortion legislation and describes it as "a common sense measure with bipartisan support." He said the left has tried to skew the law's intent through a campaign of misinformation.

"We're not trying to embarrass anybody, hurt anybody or make anybody's identities known. That's not the purpose of the legislation," the Republican lawmaker said.

"We want to collect hard data that can be a useful tool in helping prevent future unwanted pregnancies."

One section of the "Individual Abortion Form" says the woman must state her reason for seeking an abortion and answer this checklist. "Having a baby:

• Would dramatically change the life of the mother;
• Would interfere with the education of the mother;
• Would interfere with the job/employment/career of the mother."

A Democratic former state legislator called the law "abusive and invasive."

"Nosy neighbors with some effort could identify or, even worse, misidentify these women who answer these questions," said Stapleton.

Lamb, who is running for lieutenant governor, rejects that notion. How can it violate women's privacy, Lamb said, if their identity is kept confidential?

The measure specifies women's identities will be protected. "Nothing in the Individual Abortion Form shall contain the name, address or information specifically identifying any patient," it says.

"Nobody's identity will be made known," Lamb said.

Troy Newman, the head of the Kansas-based anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said the law is "designed so that the pregnant mother can have as much information as technology and medicine will allow."

"Naturally, the abortion industry wants to block this, because they know the more information the mom has, the less likely she is to abort her baby," Newman said.

The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that the measure is unconstitutional and in violation of the state's "single subject rule" because it covers different aspects of abortion. The law also bars women from seeking abortions solely because of the sex of the fetus, with fines up to $100,000 for doctors who "knowingly violate" it.

"We are very committed from keeping the law from going into effect," Mondino said. "The law represents a very serious invasion of women's privacy interests."

Lamb said he believes the law will stand. "None of the bill is being challenged on the merits of the legislation," he says.

Abortion rights supporters are extremely concerned about the intrusiveness of the questions, and fear that identities of women could be compromised, especially in small communities.

"It requires doctors to ask and submit answers to at least 37 intensely personal questions. There are details in those questions about rape, incest, abuse, relationship problems and emotional health," Stapleton said. "I think women can be identified."

According to state estimates, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will spend roughly $250,000 a year to carry out the law.

"To spend a quarter of a million dollars on this is absolutely ridiculous," Stapleton said, adding, "Oh goodness, all the publicity over this has severely blighted the image of Oklahoma."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1969 drafted criteria for vital statistics around abortion to look at infant and maternal mortality in an effort to make the procedure safer.

The CDC's guidelines have long been considered the standard and "all the states pretty much follow that," said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks state abortion legislation for the Guttmacher Institute.

"You compare the law in Oklahoma to the CDC standard, and you see the law in Oklahoma goes far beyond what has been considered appropriate for vital statistics purposes," Nash said.

The law's co-sponsor, Lamb, said legislators drafted the measure using portions of a Guttmacher study. "Some of this was gleaned from the Guttmacher Institute," he said. "It's not Draconian."

"If we collect this evidence, we can better treat, we can better counsel, we can better provide alternatives," Lamb said.

Why draft the legislation?

"I'm pro-life," he said. "Oklahoma is a conservative state. We are a pro-life state, and I believe it's important public policy to stand on the side of sanctity of life."

Stapleton, who served in the state House of Representatives from 1986 to 1996, said the law is another example of the GOP "onslaught" in recent years in Oklahoma, with lawmakers taking aim at abortion.

"They're trying to do away with abortions completely," she said. "They can't because of Roe v. Wade. But they're finding ways around Roe v Wade."

If the law does go forward, the state Department of Health is to have the Web site up and running by March 1, 2011. Doctors are to begin submitting completed questionnaires 30 days later.

- 30 -

18 December 2009

rara avis -- Whooping Cranes on the brink / Bob escapes wild boars by climbing a tree

Click image, gets bigger.

First Day Issue / Tierra de los Sueños / TdSPosta

39th Anniversary of scrambling up a tree to escape a family (sounder) of wild boars (javelinas) in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Gulf of Mexico, Texas USA.

(From TdSPosta stamp series: "Recovered Memories")

* Whooping crane painting by Jean-James Audubon

* Alligator from circa 1930 tinted postcard
..of St. Augustine, Florida USA

* Wild boar / peccary / javelina
..image source unknown

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was the winter habitat of the Whooping Crane, at this time on the brink of extinction in the wild.

The summer habitat is Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta, Canada. The Whooping Crane -- about 5 feet / 1.52 meters tall -- is the tallest bird in North America.

In 1970-71 I was stationed in an Army unit in nearby Corpus Christi, Texas, and one winter day a buddy and I motorcycled to Aransas to see the Whooping Cranes. I think we saw one or two far in the distance from the wooden birdwatcher walkway.

These were the seasonal termini of the last migratory flyway of the last Whooping Cranes still in the wild in the winter of 1970/71. There were about 20 or 21 of these magnificent birds left in the wild, although there were captive zoo populations, chiefly at the Patuxent, Maryland National Wildlife Research Station.

If ever there was a rara avis, it was the Whooping Crane in those days, its wild population rapidly heading the way of the dodo.

The single flyway exposed the migrating birds to accidental (or intentional) hunting kills. A cooperative program between Canadian and U.S. bird experts took eggs from Whooping Crane nests at Patuxent and replaced them in nests of the far more populous and robust Lesser Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis canadensis) in their geographically different nesting sites. The hatchlings were reared by their adoptive Sandhill parents, and migrated with them, thus establishing new north-south winter-summer flyways.

Another problem was the aggressive physical behavior of Whooping Crane chicks toward each other, resulting in broken bones and deaths. The Patuxent naturalists raised the fragile but aggressive hatchlings among robust and non-aggressive domesticated turkey chicks, who acted like soft punching bags; the Whooping Crane chicks bounced off the turkeys undamaged, and were able safely to grow to adulthood.

16 December 2009

At the Kabul Zoo: lonely pig / lion kills man / man's brother avenges with hand grenade / Please Do Not Shoot & Eat the Animals

Click image to enlarge maybe.

Reuters (UK wire service)
Tuesday 5 May 2009

Afghanistan's only pig
quarantined in flu fear

KABUL (Reuters) -- Afghanistan's only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to Kabul zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with the virus popularly known as swine flu.

The pig is a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, and has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm it could spread the new flu strain.

"For now the pig is under quarantine, we built it a room because of swine influenza," Aziz Gul Saqib, director of Kabul Zoo, told Reuters. "We've done this because people are worried about getting the flu."

Worldwide, more than 1,000 people have been infected with the virus, according to the World Health Organization, which also says 26 people have so far died from the strain. All but one of the deaths were in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.

There are no pig farms in Afghanistan and no direct civilian flights between Kabul and Mexico.

"We understand that, but most people don't have enough knowledge. When they see the pig in the cage they get worried and think that they could get ill," Saqib said.

The pig was a gift to the zoo from China, which itself quarantined some 70 Mexicans, 26 Canadians and four Americans in the past week, but later released them.

Some visitors were not concerned about the fate of the pig and said locking it away was probably for the best.

"Influenza is quite contagious and if it passes between people and animals then there's no need for the pig to be here," zoo visitor Farzana said.

Shabby and rundown, Kabul Zoo is a far cry from zoos in the developed world, but has nevertheless come a long way since it suffered on the front line of Afghanistan's 1992-4 civil war.

Mujahideen fighters then ate the deer and rabbits and shot dead the zoo's sole elephant. Shells shattered the aquarium.

One fighter climbed into the lion enclosure but was immediately killed by Marjan, the zoo's most famous inhabitant. The man's brother returned the next day and lobbed a hand grenade at the lion leaving him toothless and blind.

The zoo now holds two lions who replaced Marjan who died of old age in 2002 as well as endangered local leopards. In all, it houses 42 species of birds and mammals and 36 types of fish and attracts up to 10,000 visitors on weekends.

(Reporting by Golnar Motevalli; Editing by Jon Hemming)

- 30 -

stuff from the International Ice Patrol / icebergs in the North Atlantic

Click image to enlarge.


FROM 4725N 5241W TO 4715N 5100W TO 4715N 4800W TO 4800N 4715W
TO 4900N 4715W TO 5245N 5015W TO 5600N 5600W.



[The Titanic struck her iceberg in The Grand Banks.]


AND 1810Z ON FREQUENCIES 6340.5, 9110.0 AND 12750.0 KHZ.






A bulletin from the end of the last season of North Atlantic icebergs from the International Ice Patrol.

The IPP is run by the USA Coast Guard, but funded by 13 nations with commercial interests and activities in Atlantic Ocean shipping.

The IPP was founded and began reporting icebergs in the North Atlantic within a year after the sinking of the White Star passenger liner RMS Titanic, 15 April 1912, on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England. Radio -- Morse code only -- was the state-of-the-art technology for notifying ships of icebergs in the shipping lanes. (The radio operators on The Titanic heard but ignored iceberg warnings from nearby ships.)

Since then the IPP uses satellites and faxes for communications, and for iceberg reconnaissance patrols uses military propeller aircraft based in Newfoundland, Canada. The headquarters of the IPP is in Groton, Connecticut USA.

Notice the large numbers of icebergs near the Atlantic coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. Polar bears do not naturally live in or hunt in Newfoundland, but several times each year a polar bear will hitchhike on an iceberg from Labrador and get off in Newfoundland. One of them tried to rip the shell off the park ranger's house trailer at l'Anse Aux Meadows (Viking settlement archeological site) to get at the meaty inside, but the ranger phoned for help, and the polar bear was returned to his home in Labrador.

The Arctic Circle is just north of the northern coast of Iceland, which is at 66° North Latitude. This map doesn't try to survey all North Atlantic icebergs, but rather concentrates on Europe-North America shipping lanes -- where the ships are, rather than where all the icebergs are. The IPP's charter mentions "Great Circle" navigation, so most commercial sea freight sticks to sea lanes in a fairly narrow band of the Atlantic.

During wartime, of course, all ships, military, passenger and freight, sail all over the place to try to evade submarines, and thus have to be concerned about a much larger area of iceberg activity. A ship sunk by an iceberg is no happier than a ship sunk by a submarine.

Not on my voyage, but on another voyage, my passenger ship from London (Tilbury) to Montreal, the Communist Polish liner TSS Stefan Batory, struck an iceberg that gashed its hull below the water line, but it limped the rest of the voyage to Montreal at an intentional list to keep the gash above water as much as possible. I am guessing the skipper did not receive a medal or commendation or bonus for that voyage.

Happy Hannukah!

Click, maybe gets bigger.

15 December 2009

Cat Report / the Geminids Meteor Shower / Radiant

Click image, gets considerably bigger.

Victorian-era postcard advertising
Handy Box Shoe Blacking.

We can't let the cats out at night,
the neighbors told us, because of owls, coyotes and fisher cats (a weasel family member, real nasty).

Currently living here:

* Benedict Spinoza Cat

* Priscilla (real nasty)

and the most recent arrival

* Stuart Wallace Darnley

... who is a marmalade (orange and white) polydactyl tabby. The Pilgrims brought polydactyl cats from England and Scotland to Massachusetts because they thought they were good luck cats.

Bennie, 4, and Stewie, 2, became instant Bestest Friends, they hunt and wrestle together all day. Bennie had been a bit lonely and unhappy since his Bestest Friend Elmer Elevator the Maine Coon died.

A human couple split up, and neither one took Stewie, so he ended up in the Daikin Animal Shelter in Leverett. He looked like a lot of happiness and fun to us, and is gorgeously colored and patterned, so we adopted him, and that seems to be just fine with Stewie. The Daikin has suspended its fees for cat adoptions, but you're encouraged to make a donation if you can. But essentially, cats are free at the Daikin this season if you have a loving home for them.

Oh, I'm sorry I don't have any photos of the cats, we've misplaced the download cable that connects the camera with the computer. Watch This Space.

Priscilla -- she's becoming quite old -- is ailing, and although she's happy to be anywhere with us humans, I don't think she liked the move to the new house in the Deep Woods. But she purrs whenever we pet her, so she's on the verge of happiness all the time. She doesn't like Benny and Stewie and lets them know it if either of them gets within a cat's length of her.

When Benny and Stewie got here in late autumn and started hunting, the place was overrun with chipmunks. Chipmunks aren't very bright, and the cats went right to work. I haven't seen a chipmunk in two weeks. They brought some of their kill into the house, it was always plump and meaty. We try to praise them when they bring us their kill because this is their way of contributing to the family.

If you saw the Geminids Meteor Shower from anywhere on the surface of Planet Earth, please Leave A Comment, describe what you saw. Did you face the Radiant, or turn your back to it? Or both?

The Radiant is the point in the night sky from which it seems all the meteors are coming. If you face the Radiant, all the meteors seem to be shooting directly at you.

But you see the shooting stars no matter what direction you face, so if you turn your back on the Radiant, you watch the meteors flame past you over your head.

I read that in Sky & Telescope last night.

14 December 2009

Hot Reading Ahead! Hot Reading Ahead! Patience! Patience! Hot Reading Ahead!

Say it wit' flowers
Say it wit' mink
But whatever ya do

-- Jimmy Durante

* * *

The Associated Press (USA newswire)
Monday 14 December 2009

22,000,000 Missing
Bush-Era E-Mails Found

Computer technicians have found 22,000,000 missing White House e-mail messages from 94 days in the administration of President George W. Bush, and the Obama administration is searching for more potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that filed suit over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record-keeping system. The groups, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive, said they were settling the lawsuits they filed in 2007. It will be 2014 at the earliest before the public sees any of the messages because they must go through the National Archives’ process for releasing presidential and agency records.

- 30 -

PizzaQ (Vleeptron Honor System): wtf does this sign mean???

Click image, maybe it gets bigger.

Okay, now this is a VLEEPTRON HONOR SYSTEM PizzaQ -- no Googling, no Binging, no telephoning Klaas in Rotterdam, no asking Mom for help. Do your own work. Take personal pride in figuring it out all by yourself.

Or, if you have no honor, if you are an unhonorable person, this is a SPEED TEST PizzaQ -- if you're the first Commentor with the correct answer, just write in your Comment:

I have no honor. I was too lazy
to try to figure out the meaning
of this acronym by myself.
Or I tried, but I was too stupid.
So I Googled it.

(Dishonorable Answers must identify themselves with your full name and your location, so everyone in the Blogosphere will know what kind of person you are.)

But anyway ... believe it or not, about 4000 human beings know instantly and exactly what this sign means.

Think reallllllly hard and maybe you'll be No. 4001.

For the first correct Honor System answer: 1 large pizza with shallots, shitaki mushrooms, garlic and endives.

For the first correct Dishonorable answer: 1 slice that I found left on a table on a paper napkin in the high school cafeteria.

When somebody gets the right answer, I'll credit the photographer.

13 December 2009

Tonight & Tomorrow night -- the Geminid Meteor Shower, and it should be good!

The radiant of the Geminid shower is near Castor, the fainter of the Gemini Twin Stars.

The radiant is the perspective point where a shower's meteors would all appear to be coming from if you could see them approaching from the far distance. In reality they flash into view only when they hit Earth's atmosphere -— which can happen anywhere in your sky. But their directions of flight, if you trace them backward far enough across your sky, all cross this point. (S&T illustration)

Sky & Telescope Magazine
Cambridge Massachusetts USA, founded 1941
Tuesday 8 December 2009

Homepage Observing by Tony Flanders

A Great Year
for Geminid Meteors

The strongest and most reliable meteor showers are the Perseids of August and December's Geminids. Balmy weather and summer vacations have made the Perseids well known and popular, but the Geminids are actually easier to view from mid-northern latitudes. For one thing, nights are much longer in December. And while the Perseids are best viewed just before dawn (as most showers are), you can easily get an eyeful of the Geminids during the evening hours.

This year the Moon will be nearly new when the Geminids peak on the night of [Sunday-Monday] December 13-14. The shower's radiant, the point in the sky from which they all seem to originate, is near Castor and Pollux. It's well up in the east by 9 or 10 p.m. and crosses near the zenith (for mid-northern observers) around 2 a.m.

The shower should peak around 5:00 Universal Time on the morning of the 14th, corresponding to midnight EST and on the 13th at 9 p.m. PST — excellent timing for North America and Western Europe. Under dark-sky conditions you might see as many as 120 medium-speed meteors per hour. (Light pollution reduces the numbers.) The shower is active to a lesser extent for at least a day or two beforehand and about one day after.

The Geminid meteor shower is extremely unusual in that its parent object isn't a comet. Instead, it's an asteroid, a chunk of rock roughly 3 miles across called Phaethon (pronounced FAY-uh-ton). How can an asteroid produce meteoroids? Nobody knows for sure. Many scientists believe that Phaethon is the core of a comet that's been baked completely dry. Maybe a smaller asteroid collided with it long ago. In any case, a ribbon of debris lines Phaethon's orbit.

Geminid Meteor

On December 13, 2001, Thad V'Soske of San Diego, California, caught a Geminid crossing Orion's Belt. He was using Kodak P1600 slide film at a dark-sky site near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Meteor watching couldn't be easier. Lie back in a reclining lawn chair, relax, and watch the sky overhead. Ideally, you want nothing but sky in your field of view — not trees, and certainly not the ground. That means that you should either lie flat on your back or recline so that you face at least 45° above the horizon. Also remember that December nights are cold at mid-northern latitudes. Normal winter clothing won't even come close to keeping you warm after you've been lying still for a couple of hours. The best solution is to use a sleeping bag. Second best is plenty of blankets over your warmest clothing. And don't forget a hat and gloves!

The arriving Geminids will cover the whole sky, so it doesn't really matter which way you're pointed. If you look straight at the radiant, you'll see meteors coming directly toward you, bright but with short trails. Look the opposite way, and you'll see lots of long meteors moving away from you.

Careful counts of meteors have scientific value. Click here to learn how to conduct a scientific meteor count and how to report your results to the International Meteor Organization.

- 30 -

12 December 2009

carol for Pilgrims to Bethlehem on Christmas / a safe and beautiful Pilgrimage

Click image to enlarge.

Sound ON, Open this link in New Tab
to hear this carol performed by
the Vienna Boys Choir
Wiener Sangerknabel - MozartChor

A song for Christmas Pilgrims to Bethlehem to sing, wishing all a happy and safe Pilgrimage.
~ ~ ~
Il Est Né, le Divin Enfant
Il est né le divin enfant,
Jouez hautbois, résonnez musettes!
Il est né le divin enfant,
Chantons tous son avènement!

Depuis plus de quatre mille ans,
Nous le promettaient les prophètes
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans,
Nous attendions cet heureux temps.
Ah! Qu'il est beau, qu'il est charmant!
Ah! que ses grâces sont parfaites!
Ah! Qu'il est beau, qu'il est charmant!
Qu'il est doux ce divin enfant!
Une étable est son logement
Un peu de paille est sa couchette,
Une étable est son logement
Pour un dieu quel abaissement!
Partez, grands rois de l'Orient!
Venez vous unir à nos fêtes
Partez, grands rois de l'Orient!
Venez adorer cet enfant!

Il veut nos cœurs, il les attend:
Il est là pour faire leur conquête
Il veut nos cœurs, il les attend:
Donnons-les lui donc promptement!
O Jésus! O Roi tout-puissant
Tout petit enfant que vous êtes,
O Jésus! O Roi tout-puissant,
Régnez sur nous entièrement!
~ ~ ~
from: "Hymns and Carols of Christmas"
The tune for this carol can be found in R. Grosjean's "Airs des noêl lorrain" (1862), where it is called 'Ancien air de chasse' [old hunting song], and it is indeed the case that an old Normandy hunting tune 'Tête bizarde,' although in 6/8, is melodically very similar.
The "Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols" editors postulated that the tune is an 18th c. composition in a rustic style.
The text of this carol was first published in Dom G. Legeay's "Noêls anciens" (1875-6). An English version of the lyric ... Geoffrey Brace's "Carol for Christmas Singers," Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991 ...
Masato (above) links translations in Hymns and Carols ... The Wilcocks-John Rutter arrangement is commonly used by choirs.
On the St. Regis Mohawk Reserve, [New York State USA], the carol is sung as "Rotonni Niio Roienha" (19th c. introduction?).

First Day Issue / Postalo Vleeptron: Hunting Season 2009/10

Click image to enlarge.

First Day Issue / Postalo Vleeptron: Hunting Season 2009/10

So far I have lived through Archery Season and Shotgun Season. Next: Primitive Firearms Season.

I am tired of wearing this stupid orange safety knitted stocking cap, but if I don't, I could get an 18th-century lead sphere bullet through my ass because some drunk in camo mistook me for a black bear.

11 December 2009

PATFROMCH WINS PIZZA! it's a GEIGER COUNTER! Be the 1st on your block to KNOW when the nearby nuke has a Funny

Click image to enlarge.



Not to nitpick, but not a DIGITAL, but an ANALOG Geiger Counter ... but we can take the analog voltage output, stick an Analog/Digital Converter Chip on it, then feed it into the computer as a digital input -- and Voila! Now we got a Digital Geiger Counter (after I write some crude oscilloscope-emulation software).

Or I can just snake out the analog voltage to my olde-fashioned Hitachi Radio-Frequency range Oscilloscope!


Sensitive geiger counter kit uses a Russian geiger mueller tube and is sensitive to Beta and Gamma rays. Want to know if that orange colored plate that was all the rage in the 60's is radioactive, how about your dad's radium dial watch, or the mantles on your camping lantern -this will tell you! Produces the familiar audio clicks and lights up a blue/green LED in response to radioactive sources. Random clicks are even heard from your kit as cosmic rays strike the tube! Uses a Russian GM tube that was made during the cold war (we test every one for proper operation), various resistors, capacitors, and a special miniature speaker. Operates from one 9V battery (not included). Comes with all parts, PC board, GM Tube and instructions (no case available). Size of PC board 4-5/16" x 1-1/2". Skill Level 2. Requires soldering.


View YouTube Video

... and the Gizmo cost U$89 ! Cheap! Cheap!

That long brass-colored tube is a Cold War-era military surplus RUSSIAN Geiger Counter, our Russian ex-Comrades got a gazillion of 'em they're dumping on the electronics market.

Soviet Era Lo-Tek Rulez!!! The Russians are also tied with the Peoples Republic of China as the world's premier Go-To Guys for high-precision vacuum tubes/valves for audiophile music reproduction components each of which costs $1200. Your German Shepherd or Chihuahua can hear the difference!

This American firm in Scottsdale, Arizona USA, Goldmine Electronics, cooked up a KIT!!! for the Russkie GM tube, circuit board, resistors, capacitors and a couple of chips, and Voila! Fits in your pocket or hangs on the wall like a barometer!

Be the first on your block to know if the nuclear power plant in the next county just melted down! Put it next to your pillow with CLICK ON. Why wait for the 6 a.m. morning TV news to know what's hot before the elementary school principal knows! The sooner you guzzle down the iodine tablets, or throw the family into the Volvo and head for Indiana, the better!

Now where the hell is my soldering iron??? Do I have to buy all this soldering crap from Radio Shack all over again???



Anonymous despicableteacher said...

hmmmm the telescope you so much wanted?

Wednesday, 09 December, 2009

Anonymous patfromch said...

Nope, Bob Is Assimilated Now (

GPS collars for dogs, RTFI chips for the cat, pretty soon the fridge will contact the store via the Internet when I run out of beer or ice cream (with or without my knowledge ?? ) Amazon sends me recommendations based on CRM data that acually matches my taste every now and then.

I mean, I can see the medical benefits of a new gizmo for diabetics but what irritates me is the Vleeptron is apperently psyched out about that. Shouldn't we be a bit more cautious when it comes to our privacy nowdays ? I don't want to spoil the fun for Bob, nosiree, but We Are Being Assimilated. Slowly , but we are. Or I am confusing something here or just too paranoid ?

Wednesday, 09 December, 2009

Blogger Vleeptron Dude said...

hey hey hi hi hi ola ola despicableteacher!

telescope is a Great Guess!

but ... wrong. sorry. guess again.

Wednesday, 09 December, 2009

Anonymous patfromch said...

A digital geiger counter ? Can I call someone ? Ask the audience or 50/50 ?

Friday, 11 December, 2009