Saturday, March 27, 2010
"There's a reason education sucks."
"They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking... that's against their interests."
"They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago."
- George Carlin
- When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims- religion.
- No contest. No contest. Religion.
- Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!
- But He loves you.
- He loves you, and he needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
- But I want you to know something, this is sincere, I want you to know, when it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize, something is fucked up.
- Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would've been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. And by the way, I say "this guy", because I firmly believe, looking at these results, that if there is a God, it has to be a man.
- No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, I think most reasonable people might agree that he's at least incompetent, and maybe, just maybe, doesn't give a shit. Doesn't give a shit, which I admire in a person, and which would explain a lot of these bad results.
- So rather than be just another mindless religious robot, mindlessly and aimlessly and blindly believing that all of this is in the hands of some spooky incompetent father figure who doesn't give a shit, I decided to look around for something else to worship. Something I could really count on.
- And immediately, I thought of the sun. Happened like that. Overnight I became a sun-worshiper. Well, not overnight, you can't see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshiper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the sun. I'm big on that. If I can see something, I don't know, it kind of helps the credibility along, you know? So everyday I can see the sun, as it gives me everything I need; heat, light, food, flowers in the park, reflections on the lake, an occasional skin cancer, but hey. At least there are no crucifixions, and we're not setting people on fire simply because they don't agree with us.
- Sun worship is fairly simple. There's no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money, there are no songs to learn, and we don't have a special building where we all gather once a week to compare clothing. And the best thing about the sun, it never tells me I'm unworthy. Doesn't tell me I'm a bad person who needs to be saved. Hasn't said an unkind word. Treats me fine. So, I worship the sun. But, I don't pray to the sun. Know why? I wouldn't presume on our friendship. It's not polite.
- I've often thought people treat God rather rudely, don't you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday His day off. It's not nice. And it's no way to treat a friend.
- But people do pray, and they pray for a lot of different things, you know, your sister needs an operation on her crotch, your brother was arrested for defecating in a mall. But most of all, you'd really like to fuck that hot little redhead down at the convenience store. You know, the one with the eyepatch and the clubfoot? Can you pray for that? I think you'd have to. And I say, fine. Pray for anything you want. Pray for anything, but what about the Divine Plan?
- Remember that? The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn't in God's Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn't it seem a little arrogant? It's a Divine Plan. What's the use of being God if every run-down shmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and fuck up Your Plan?
- And here's something else, another problem you might have: Suppose your prayers aren't answered. What do you say? "Well, it's God's will." "Thy Will Be Done." Fine, but if it's God's will, and He's going to do what He wants to anyway, why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn't you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It's all very confusing.
- So to get around a lot of this, I decided to worship the sun. But, as I said, I don't pray to the sun. You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of all, I think he's a good actor, okay? To me, that counts. Second, he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn't fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with.
- For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog, Joe Pesci straightened that cocksucker out with one visit. It's amazing what you can accomplish with a simple baseball bat.
- So I've been praying to Joe for about a year now. And I noticed something. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don't. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit's foot, same as the Mojo Man, same as the Voodoo Lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat's testicles, it's all the same: 50-50. So just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself.
- And for those of you who look to The Bible for moral lessons and literary qualities, I might suggest a couple of other stories for you. You might want to look at the Three Little Pigs, that's a good one. Has a nice happy ending, I'm sure you'll like that. Then there's Little Red Riding Hood, although it does have that X-rated part where the Big Bad Wolf actually eats the grandmother. Which I didn't care for, by the way. And finally, I've always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I like the best? "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again." That's because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no God. None, not one, no God, never was.
- In fact, I'm gonna put it this way. If there is a God, may he strike this audience dead! See? Nothing happened. Nothing happened? Everybody's okay? All right, tell you what, I'll raise the stakes a little bit. If there is a God, may he strike me dead. See? Nothing happened, oh, wait, I've got a little cramp in my leg. And my balls hurt. Plus, I'm blind. I'm blind, oh, now I'm okay again, must have been Joe Pesci, huh? God Bless Joe Pesci. Thank you all very much.
- Joe Bless You!
Friday, March 26, 2010
I like to listen to science stuff while editing images (LifeAsArt Photography).
The first episode I heard was "Travels in Time", with guest J.Richard Gott III, Professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, and author of "Time Travel in Einsten's Universe."
Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
For his photograph "Faith and Confidence," showing a policeman patiently reasoning with two-year-old boy trying to cross a street during a parade.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
You've been my golden best friend
Now with post-demise at hand
Can't go to you for consolation
Cause we're off limits during this transition
This grief overwhelms me
It burns in my stomach
And i can't stop bumping into things
I thought we'd be simple together
I thought we'd be happy together
Thought we'd be limitless together
I thought we'd be precious together
But i was sadly mistaken
You've been my soulmate and mentor
I remembered you the moment i met you
With you i knew god's face was handsome
With you i suffered an expansion
This loss is numbing me
It pierces my chest
And i can't stop dropping everything
I thought we'd be sexy together
Thought we'd be evolving together
I thought we'd have children together
I thought we'd be family together
But i was sadly mistaken
If i had a bill for all the philosophies i shared
If i had a penny for all the possibilities i presented
If i had a dime for every hand thrown up in the air
My wealth would render this no less severe
I thought we'd be genius together
I thought we'd be healing together
I thought we'd be growing together
Thought we'd be adventurous togheter
But i was sadly mistaken
Thought we'd be exploring together
Thought we'd be inspired together
I thought we'd be flying together
Thought we'd be on fire together
But i was sadly mistaken
Like anyone would be
I am flattered by your fascination with me
Like any hot-blooded woman
I have simply wanted an object to crave
But you, you're not allowed
An unfortunate slight
Must be strangely exciting
To watch the stoic squirm
Must be somewhat heartening
To watch shepherd need shepherd
But you you're not allowed
An unfortunate slight
Like any uncharted territory
I must seem greatly intriguing
You speak of my love like
You have experienced love like mine before
But this is not allowed
An unfortunate slight
I don't think you unworthy
I need a moment to deliberate
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
DeVotchKa: Too Tired
Devendra Banhart: Cristobal
Iron and Wine: In My Lady's House
The Dodos: Winter
Magnetic Fields: Nothing Matters When We're Dancing
Neutral Milk Hotel: The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One
Sea Wolf: Middle Distance Runner
Andrew Bird: Imitosis
Radical Face: Winter is Coming
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Amélie is six years old.
Raphael Poulain's only physical contact
with the child
occurs during her monthly medical checkup.
Deeply moved by the exceptional closeness,
the child cannot prevent her heart from beating
a mile minute...
her alarmed father
that she suffers from a cardiac anomaly.
Amélie is a shy young woman
with a pronounced taste for all life's small pleasures.
immersing one's hand in a sack of grain,
cracking the crust of a crème brulée with the back of a teaspoon
or skipping stones on the Canal St-Martin.
Amélie still seeks solitude.
She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below,
such as 'How many people are having an orgasm right now?'
Well it's been a long time, long time now
Since I've seen you smile
And I'll gamble away my fright
And I'll gamble away my time
And in a year, a year or so
This will slip into the sea
Well it's been a long time, long time now
Since I've seen you smile
Nobody raise your voices
Just another night in Nantes
Nobody raise your voices
Just another night in Nantes
- Oh non je t'en prie, nous ne sommes pas chez nous.
- Oh je t'assures que ce n'est pas grave.
- Non laisse moi !
- Mais qu'est-ce que tu as aujourd'hui ?
- J'ai que les hommes me dégoutent. Vous ne pensez qu'à ça ...
Woman: Oh no please! We're not at our house.
Man: I assure you, it doesn't matter.
Woman: No, let me go!
Man: What's gotten into you today?
Woman: I know that men disgust me. You don't think of anything other than 'that'.
SBIG ST2000, G11, TMB105 @ f5, 17x120s Lum + 7xRGB 2x2 60s, SDMask, DDP, CS2
"Milky Way Waterfall" by Masahiro Miyasaka, overall winner of the Galilean Nights Astrophotography competition.
Location: Zengoroodaki Waterfall Norikura in Nagano Japan
Camera: EOS 5D MarkII
ISO 5000,F2.8, 44sec
Taken October 10, 2009
Credit & Copyright: Jens Hackmann
Explanation: Driving along on a summer evening, near the small town of Weikersheim in southern Germany, photographer Jens Hackmann had to stop. He couldn't resist pointing his camera and telephoto lens at this lovely conjunction of a Full Moon and planet Jupiter looming near the steeple of a local church. Of course, 400 years ago, Galileo couldn't resist pointing his newly constructed telescope at these celestial beacons either. When he did, he found craters and mountains on the not-so-smooth lunar surface and discovered the large moons of Jupiter now known as the Galilean Moons. Jupiter's Galilean moons are just visible in this photo as tiny pinpricks of light very near the bright planet. Want to see the Moon and Jupiter better than Galileo? Look for local 2009 International Year of Astronomy activities and events during these next few Galilean Nights (October 22-24).
Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh
Explanation: The most distant object easily visible to the eye is M31, the great Andromeda Galaxy some two and a half million light-years away. But without a telescope, even this immense spiral galaxy - spanning over 200,000 light years - appears as a faint, nebulous cloud in the constellation Andromeda. In contrast, details of a bright yellow nucleus and dark winding dust lanes, are revealed in this digital telescopic image. Narrow band image data recording emission from hydrogen atoms, shows off the reddish star-forming regions dotting gorgeous blue spiral arms and young star clusters. While even casual skygazers are now inspired by the knowledge that there are many distant galaxies like M31, astronomers seriously debated this fundamental concept in the 20th century. Were these "spiral nebulae" simply outlying components of our own Milky Way Galaxy or were they instead "island universes" -- distant systems of stars comparable to the Milky Way itself? This question was central to the famous Shapley-Curtis debate of 1920, which was later resolved by observations of M31 in favor of Andromeda, island universe.
Image Credit & Copyright: Acquisition - Torsten Grossmann, Processing - Dietmar Hager
Explanation: Magnificent spiral galaxy NGC 4565 is viewed edge-on from planet Earth. Also known as the Needle Galaxy for its narrow profile, bright NGC 4565 is a stop on many telescopic tours of the northern sky, in the faint but well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. This sharp, colorful image reveals the galaxy's bulging central core cut by obscuring dust lanes that lace NGC 4565's thin galactic plane. An assortment of other galaxies is included in the pretty field of view. Neighboring galaxy NGC 4562 is at the upper right. NGC 4565 itself lies about 40 million light-years distant, spanning some 100,000 light-years. Easily spotted with small telescopes, sky enthusiasts consider NGC 4565 to be a prominent celestial masterpiece Messier missed.Please Enjoy...
View more of the cosmos at Astronomy Picture of the Day
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Radical Face, Welcome Home
Radical Face, Wrapped in Piano Strings
Radical Face, Along the Road
Radical Face, The Strangest Things
Beirut, My Night With A Prostitute From Marseille
Beirut, My Wife, Lost in the Wild
Beirut, My Wife
Beirut, A Sunday Smile
Beirut, A Scenic World
Alone by Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were - I have not seen
As others saw - I could not bring
My passions from a common spring -
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow - I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone -
And all I lov'd - I lov'd alone -
Then - in my childhood - in the dawn
Of a most stormy life - was drawn
From ev'ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still -
From the torrent, or the fountain -
From the red cliff of the mountain -
From the sun that 'round me roll'd
In its autumn tint of gold -
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass'd me flying by -
From the thunder, and the storm -
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view -
A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow --
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand --
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep -- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
Monday, March 1, 2010
As Lawrence Krauss explains in the above video, our universe is expanding uniformly in all directions, and we can tell this by studying distant galaxies.
As galaxies move away from us, the light (which is a wave) coming from the galaxies gets stretched out due to the Doppler-Shift. This stretching causes a shift of the wavelength towards the red end of the spectrum.
Galaxies that are more and more red shifted, are further and further away from us.
700 million years old, not long after the formation of the first galaxies.
To better understand light and red-shift, imagine that a source of a light wave (such as a sun) is moving away from you (see image below).
Between emitting one wavefront and the next, the object emitting the light will have moved a little distance (Notice the dimmed representations of the sun above), and the second wavefront will have slightly further to travel. That means that the wave (or, the light) reaches you later than it would have done otherwise. (If, instead, the sun were moving toward you, the opposite would happen: The wavefronts would "smash" together, creating a shorter wavelength (the blue wavelength in the image above).
So, we know that our universe is expanding. The current rate of expansion is usually expressed as the Hubble Constant (in units of kilometers per second per Megaparsec, or just per second).
Empty space is not empty!
Check out the animation at about 20 minutes and 50 seconds into the lecture. Most of the mass of a proton comes from the empty space between the quarks of a proton. The fields popping in and out of existence produce about 90% of the mass of a proton. (Since protons and neutrons are the dominate stuff in your body, empty space is responsible for 90% of your mass.)
When we calculate the energy of nothing, we calculate that the energy of empty space is a gazillion times the energy of everything we see. We calculate that empty space should have an energy of 120 orders of magnitude more than the galaxies and stars and people and aliens and all the rest. The symmetries of nature, however, allow the energy of nothing to be 0. What's so beautiful about a universe with total energy 0? Only such a universe can begin from nothing. This is remarkable because the laws of physics allow a universe to begin from nothing. You don't need a deity. You have nothing- 0 total energy, and quantum fluctuations can produce a universe.
As Lawrence Krauss explains, "Nothing isn't nothing anymore in physics. Because of the laws of quantum mechanics and special relativity, on extremely small scales, nothing is really a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles that are popping in and out of existence in a time scale so short you can't see them."
A growing number of scientific observations support the idea that dark energy is causing the universe to expand faster as it ages. The geometry of the universe adds more evidence to the case for dark energy.
General relativity tells us that space is curved (Space curves in the presence of matter.), and that because of this, the universe can be one of three different geometries: open, closed, or flat.
Weighing the universe tells us what the curvature of the universe is. Our universe is flat. It is flat because all the matter and energy that make up the universe creates a kind of universal balance. In other words, the geometry of the universe depends on how much total matter and energy it contains. If there is a lot of matter and energy, then the universe is curved at an angle that scientists describe as "closed." In that case, the universe would eventually collapse in on itself. With relatively little matter and energy, though, the curve is the other way, so it is "open" — it would expand forever, although at an ever-slower rate.
Our universe is expanding, but instead of expanding more slowly as it ages, it is expanding faster as it ages. The universe is flat, which means it must contain a lot of dark energy.
If you have nothing in quantum mechanics, you'll always get something. There is only 30% of the stuff in the universe needed to make it flat. Where is that other 70%? If you put energy in empty space, so that empty space weighed something, it would produce a cosmological constant, which causes the expansion of the universe to speed up over time. The amount of energy needed in empty space to make it speed up by the amount we measure it is exactly the amount we are missing (70%). Our new cosmological picture of the universe it that we live in a universe dominated by nothing.
Clusters of galaxies are the biggest bound objects in the universe so if we could weigh them we could weigh all the mass in the universe. We can do this with the theory of general relativity. (27:23 in video)
Galaxy Cluster 0024+1654
W.N. Colley (Princeton University), E. Turner (Princeton University)
J.A. Tyson (AT&T Bell Labs) and NASA
The weird blue things in the above image are a phenomena that we now understand as gravitational lensing. Einstein told us that a mass will curve space around it. Einstein realized, therefor, that if you had a big enough mass, and you have a source of light behind that mass, the light can bend around that object and come back, and be magnified. Mass can act like a lense and magnify things and split images, and that is precisely what we are seeing (the weird blue things). All of these blue things are different images of a single galaxy located about 3 billion light years behind this cluster. Gravity is magnifying, distorting, and bending this image. Because we understand general relativity we can work backwards and figure out how much mass must be in that system and where it is in order to produce that image. We can weigh the system using general relativity.
The image at 28:28 in the video shows the results of weighing the system. The spikes are where the galaxies are. Most of the mass in this whole system of clusters of galaxies is not where the galaxies are. It's between the galaxies. About 5o times as much mass in this system and in all systems we can measure comes from stuff that doesn't shine. Physicists call this stuff dark matter. We now understand that 90% of the mass of galaxies and clusters, including our own milky way galaxy is made of stuff that doesn't shine. We know how many protons and neutrons there are in the universe. We can actually measure that. There aren't enough protons and neutrons in our universe to make up all this dark matter. This is why we are pretty convinced that dark matter is a new type of elementary particle. Taking normal matter + dark matter and weighing it, we now have determined how much stuff there is in the universe. Omega is the ratio of the total amount of stuff we know is in the universe, divided by the amount of stuff you need to make a flat universe. The universe has only 1/3 the amount of matter to make it flat. In a flat universe, the total energy in the universe is precisely 0. This is because gravity can have negative energy. So, the negative energy of gravity balances out the positive energy of matter.
The cosmic microwave background is the afterglow of the big bang. This is just one of the many reasons that we know the Big Bang actually happened. If we look far enough ( to the birth of the universe), we should see the big bang, but we can't. Why? Because between us and the big bang there is a wall. The radiation in the past was so hot, that that is could break apart atoms, creating a charged plasma that is opaque to radiation. We can't see past this time, simply because the universe is opaque.
The largest amount of energy in the universe (70% dark energy) resides in empty space. We don't have the slightest idea why it's there. We are more insignifigant than we ever imagined. If you get rid of everything we see, the universe is essentially the same. We constitute a 1% bit of pollution., in a universe that is 30% dark matter and 70% dark energy. This has changed our picture of the future.
Cosmic natural selection
There is more we don't understand about the universe than we do.
• The universe is the way it is whether we like it or not.
• Velocity is proportional to distance.
• The universe is huge and old and rare things happen all the time, including life.
• The energy of nothing.
• Take empty space- get rid of all the particles, all the radiation- absolutely everything, so there's nothing there, and imagine that nothing weighs something
• The universe we live in is the worst of all possible universes to live in.
"Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded, and, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: you are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron- all the things that matter for evolution and for life weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode, so, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today."
- Lawrence Krauss
For more information:
"Nailing Down the Discovery" at hetdex.org
"Hubble Finds Evidence for Dark Energy in the Young Universe" at hubblesite.org
"Redshift: The Second Most Powerful Tool in Astronomy" by Olaf Davis