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The definition of a planet February 28, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Space.
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Plutonian System.Nine planets, twenty planets, how many planets are there in our Solar System anyway?

This is a question that the astronomical community has been discussing with zeal since the discovery of 2003UB313 (temporarily designated Xena, though this won’t be its official name). Xena is about 3000 km in diameter according to observations, which makes its about 25 percent larger than Pluto, the last discovered object to be designated a planet.

The International Astronomical Union, the organization charged with naming and classifying celestial objects, never really set down criteria for new planets in our Solar System. Because they, like most of the astronomical community, assumed there were no other planets in our star system. (more…)

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The battle over science and money February 28, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Space.
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Human space travel is perilous, even during its good times. Since the Columbia disaster, NASA has had to remain content with successes through robots instead of humans.

Believe it or not, there have been plenty of successes. Especially considering the woefully small portion of the federal budget the agency recieves. More on recent successes in just a bit, first a short bit on why human spaceflight is important. (more…)

Asteroid reaches two on Torino Scale February 26, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Asteroids, Space.
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Wow. I was kind of stunned when I saw this but an asteroid, 2004 VD17, has moved up the Torino Scale, to a two. Previously, only one other near earth object has reached as high as two on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale, that is Apophis, which briefly went as high as four. (more…)

The black heart of the Alleghenies–Drilling and Logging in the National Forest February 22, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Enivronmental Issues.
7 comments

I love nature. I avidly pursue it. And just as avidly want to see it protected from profiteering and exploitation. We humans do enough damage as is.

Every couple years, since 2001, I have made the long drive to Pennsylvania, first to Pittsburgh and then on north to an area just south of Jamestown, New York. The heart of the Allegheny Mountains and right smack dab in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest. Truly one of the most amazing places on Earth. A place that I last visited in the spring of 2005.

One major thing stood out in my mind while I was there. There were a number of new natural gas and oil wells dotting the forested mountains. More than I remembered being there on my previous two excursions to the locale. New access roads crept up hillsides where before only trees stood. The forest still bore the scars of the reckless hack job done on its denizens. Fresh gravel roads, leading up to the brand new, pine green wells, shone brightly on even the rainy days, almost mocking the arboreal surroundings. (more…)

Mosques and incursions February 22, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Crime.
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Remember the bombing at the Clifton Mosque in Cincinnati?

The bomber still has not been caught.

——

The infamous Mexican border incursion continue to pop up here and there. Now it looks like the U.S. and Mexico will work together to curb the problem.

The U.S. House’s Committee on Homeland Security has been investigating the incursion question through hearings, the first of which was held Feb. 7.

Pertinent Links for Mexican incursions:

Video footage of Jan. 23 border encounter.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) opening statement.

Trouble in Fissionville February 21, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Nuclear Power.
4 comments

A couple notes on nuclear power, which once had the potential to be the world’s next great source of energy – before Chernobyl and Three Mile Island anyway.

And then there are incidents such as this:

“Operators at the LaSalle Generating Station declared a ‘site area emergency’ at 12:28 a.m. Monday during shutdown of the Unit 1 reactor for a scheduled refueling outage and exited the emergency condition at 4:27 a.m. Monday. (more…)

Smoke this February 21, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in DeKalb.
12 comments

Not that it really matters, because what’s done is done. But the smoking ban for DeKalb bars and restaurants is utterly ridiculous. Who are we kidding with this public safety crap? We are talking about establishments that dispense alcohol not day care centers. The people who run these places don’t care about the risk to public safety that they create, nor does the city of DeKalb, evidenced by their issuance of liquor licenses, however few that may be. (more…)

Close encounters of the asteroid kind February 20, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Asteroids, Space.
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Apophis, the asteroid with a slim chance of impacting the Earth in 2036 (I blogged about it here), will make history in 2029, regardless of whether it hits Earth or not.

On Friday April 13, 2029 the asteroid will approach Earth and pass within 30,000 km (18,600 miles). That’s really close, really, really close. It will miss Earth but will provide skywatchers with a show unparalleled in recorded history. (more…)

Cleared for takeoff? February 18, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Technology.
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Flying cars anyone?

A company, Terrafugia, founded by MIT scientists, plans on building a viable flying car. Check out the story here.

Of course, depending on who you ask, it could already exist.

Semi-related post: What to take, what not to take (to the airport)

Apophis collision more likely February 16, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Asteroids, Space.
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration maintains a Web site which disseminates information on Near Earth Objects. Link to it here.

What is a NEO, you ask? (more…)

Burnin’ down the forest February 15, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Enivronmental Issues.
2 comments

As a warm up to the post I am still preparing on oil/natural gas drilling and logging in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest (best vacation spot ever) here is a little piece I wrote up about the Bush administration’s Healthy Forests Initiative. Originally intended as part of the logging/drilling post, it became its own post because it was too off-topic and didn’t add to the discussion on drilling at all, so enjoy. (more…)

Sending mail at the speed of light February 14, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Technology.
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Not much to post today, I have been a little busier.

But I would point you in the direction of this old Apple ad about email.

You’ll need to blow it up to read it but my haven’t we come far.

2006 Olympic opening ceremony February 12, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Sports.
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Did anyone catch the opening ceremony to the Winter Olympics the other night?

There seems to be something about the Olympic games that cause those participating in the organization and set-up of the lavish opening ceremony to lose all touch with reality.

During the Parade of Nations, this is the part of the opening ceremony where the athletes are introduced by nation and march around the stadium waving miniature flags, a selection of music is played while the athletes enter and walk around the stadium. (more…)

Atomic death rays–updated February 10, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Science.
2 comments

UPDATE (02.10.06):

After talking with a journalist friend of mine I thought I should update this blog entry.

According to this reporter the smoke detector industry and others began reading about the Americium-smoke detector-atomic bomb connection back in 1996. Thusly, the way most smoke detectors were manufactured changed. (more…)

Who Killed Davey Moore? February 9, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Pop Culture.
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I have been thinking a lot about violent sports so in lieu of a regular post . . .

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an’ what’s the reason for?

“Not I,” says the referee,”
Don’t point your finger at me.
I could’ve stopped it in the eighth
An’ maybe kept him from his fate,
But the crowd would’ve booed, I’m sure,
At not gettin’ their money’s worth.
It’s too bad he had to go,
But there was a pressure on me too, you know.
It wasn’t me that made him fall.
No, you can’t blame me at all.”
(more…)

An interview with an activist February 8, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Horse Slaughter.
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Horse slaughter is back in the news and I recently completed an interview with Gail Vacca. She is the Illinois Coordinator of the National Horse Protection Coalition.

The Horse Protection Coalition’s mission is: “simple and specific: to pass H.R. 503 and S. 1915, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and end the brutal industry practice that leads to the slaughter of America’s horses.”

Gail answered a few questions about the USDA’s announcement of a fee-for-service program allowing horse slaughtering to continue unabated, some questions about her general stance on the issue, and some background questions.

The interview follows: (more…)

Horse slaughter to continue February 7, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Horse Slaughter.
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Big breaking news of local interest. The USDA will circumvent “Congressional intent” to stop horse slaughtering by staving off funding for federal meat inspections.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service agency will set up a fee-for-service inspection program to deal with the cut of federal funding for horse meat inspections.

Check out my post on it here.

Thanks to Gail Vacca for the heads up.

Related Posts:

American Horse Slaughtering–Part One

American Horse Slaughtering–Part Two
American Horse Slaughtering–Part Three
American Horse Slaughtering–Part Four
Cavel, Distriva, Velda
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Coming Soon: Look for an interview with the Illinois Coordinator of the National Horse Protection Coalition and, later in the week, an in depth look at the exploitation of natural resources (i.e. gas, oil, coal, wood) in the Allegheny National Forest located in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Royalty-free, public domain images February 6, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Technology.
4 comments

Finding good, free images without copyright restrictions can be trying, to say the least. You probably know what I am talking about if you have a blog or a newspaper or any published material that uses stock photography of any kind.

So I thought I would compile a short list of some of my favorites as well as a link or two to some more extensive lists that are out there. (more…)

A flurry of updates February 5, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in BlogNotes.
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I have posted a lot of new stuff lately and fear that the few of you who actually might read this may have missed something. So here is a round up of recent updates, the older posts are listed first: (more…)

Give me Ghostbusters 3 or give me death February 5, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Pop Culture.
6 comments

Invisible man? Sleeping in your bed?

Who you gonna call?

(Ray Parker Jr.) Err . . . I mean Ghostbusters?

I heard about this crappy fan film called Return of the Ghostbusters and it made me angry, well maybe not angry, let’s just say off-put, because I have always wanted to see a third installment of “Ghostbusters.” What a horrible tease, Return of the Ghostbusters, pfft. (more…)