Saturday, May 18, 2013

A really big -think Ocean Liner size - Asteroid is coming close to Earth this month…but don’t worry!

      Good Day World!

A big asteroid will cruise by Earth at the end of the month, making its closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries.

The May 31 flyby of asteroid 1998 QE2, which is about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) long, poses no threat to Earth. The space rock will come within 3.6 million miles (5.8 million km) of our planet — about 15 times the distance separating Earth and the moon, researchers say.

But the close approach will still be dramatic for astronomers, who plan to get a good look at 1998 QE2 using two huge radar telescopes — NASA's 230-foot (70 meters) Goldstone dish in California and the 1,000-foot (305 m) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. [Photos: Asteroids in Deep Space] (Full story here)

I put together a board for Learnist recently that you may find interesting called “How to catch an asteroid: no really!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, May 17, 2013

Crazy big diamond sells for $27 million, & other diamonds in the news

   Good Day World!

A pear-shaped colorless diamond that is the largest ever offered at auction sold for a record of nearly $27 million in a Geneva auction, where records were also set for the prices of pearls and sapphires, auctioneer Christie's said yesterday. (Story here)

Then there’s the story of the homeless Missouri man who returned a diamond ring and got $86,000 in donations for his good deed. (Story here)

The big news in diamonds of course was the huge diamond heist - $50M US stolen from a plane in Brussels by eight masked gunmen dressed up like police – in February. (Story here) But their luck ran out this month:

Belgium Says 31 Detained In $50m Diamond Heist

Related diamond stories:

Detroit woman finds mystery engraved diamond ring in her toilet

Five great movies about diamond heists

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Even an endorsement from Jesus Christ wasn’t enough for mayoral candidate!

Anna Pierre, a registered nurse and one of seven candidates looking to become the city's mayor during Tuesday's election, is claiming she is being endorsed by Jesus Christ. Pierre, Former Mayor Kevin Burns and voters Grover Rawlings and Ann Simpson comment.

  Good Day World!

Despite having a celestial attaboy from Jesus, Anna Pierre lost her bid for mayor of North Miami yesterday.

That must have been tough because she posted a campaign flyer on her Facebook page that reads "Anna Pierre, RN, is endorsed by Jesus Christ" and features a photo of the savior.

Maybe it was voodoo that prevented her election? Pierre previously claimed she was being intimidated with voodoo tactics. Pierre said the endorsement came to her in a revelation while on the campaign trail as she competed against six other candidates.

I’d say there was a miscommunication between her savior and the voters. I suspect they were suspicious she wasn’t playing with a full deck when she ranted about voodoo problems. But who knows? Could be there was a lot of atheists at the polls!

Here’s the story:

“A North Miami mayoral candidate who said she secured an endorsement from on high finished far back in Tuesday's election. Anna Pierre, a registered nurse who claimed she was being endorsed by Jesus Christ, finished last among the seven candidates with 56 votes, or just 0.83 percent.

"Yes, Jesus endorsed me!" Pierre said during a stop at the Gwen Margolis Community Center Tuesday morning as the polls opened. "I'm not nuts, if I'm a freak and nuts for Jesus, let it be! Let the world know that Jesus is it and when you have Jesus on your side you can go on." (Full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scientists looking at something faster than warp speed…for real!

Captain to Scotty, “Warp speed Scotty, give em all you got!”

Good Day World!

I’m feeling kinda spacey today.

Been reading how NASA is getting ready to thrust us into the 21st Century with faster modes of travel. Yes, faster. Faster than a speeding train or Super Man! So fast, you can’t see something move!

Scientists are out to prove Einstein was wrong about something. Not to be malicious mind you, but in the name of science and speed. Warp speed. Thanks to "Star Trek" the word "warp" is now practically synonymous with faster-than-light travel.

The next step is to go further than ever before…faster!

Here’s a good article on the subject: 

In the "Star Trek" TV shows and films, the U.S.S. Enterprise's warp engine allows the ship to move faster than light, an ability that is, as Spock would say, "highly illogical."

However, there's a loophole in Einstein's general theory of relativity that could allow a ship to traverse vast distances in less time than it would take light. The trick? It's not the starship that's moving — it's the space around it.

In fact, scientists at NASA are right now working on the first practical field test toward proving the possibility of warp drives and faster-than-light travel. Maybe the warp drive on "Star Trek" is possible after all.[See also: Warp Drive: Can It Be Done? (Video)]

According to Einstein's theory, an object with mass cannot go as fast or faster than the speed of light. The original "Star Trek" series ignored this "universal speed limit" in favor of a ship that could zip around the galaxy in a matter of days instead of decades. They tried to explain the ship's faster-than-light capabilities by powering the warp engine with a "matter-antimatter" engine. Antimatter was a popular field of study in the 1960s, when creator Gene Roddenberry was first writing the series. When matter and antimatter collide, their mass is converted to kinetic energy in keeping with Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula, E=mc2.

In other words, matter-antimatter collision is a potentially powerful source of energy and fuel, but even that wouldn't be enough to propel a starship to faster-than-light speeds.

Nevertheless, it's thanks to "Star Trek" that the word "warp" is now practically synonymous with faster-than-light travel.   (Read full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road….

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The saga continues…Rafter’s Redemption: Chapter 8 - Shootouts


Welcome! If you’re a new reader of my novella, Rafter’s Redemption, GO HERE

I’ve serialized my book for reader’s enjoyment. This week things are coming to a head as Smokey makes a bold move!


“He should have tied Smokey up or run him off the property. It was too late for that. Smiley was deep in his drunken sleep when the shotgun roared!”

Justice Department pulls ‘Nixonian’ move & wiretaps AP for 2 months!

              Good Day World!

Is it any wonder why tough investigative reporting is becoming a relic of the past – a black and white film noir where the good guys use to win out in the end?

Farewell to freedom of the press. Nothing is sacred anymore. Nothing is safe. Even from the Justice Department.

All the good guys aren’t wearing the same color hats anymore, or else there are no more good guys left. The Associated Press phone records on 20 separate telephone lines were bugged without prior notice, resulting in a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into AP’s news-gathering operations.

How could this happen? More importantly, why did this happen? It’s a chilling effect on journalists when they know they could be monitored while working on stories. If it sounds like Big Brother, then perhaps it is. What will stop the Justice department from repeating this invasion again? I’m not sure there’s an answer to that question!

Current news item:

“The Justice Department used a secret subpoena to obtain two months of phone records for Associated Press reporters and editors without notifying the news organization, a senior department official tells NBC News, saying the step was necessary to avoid "a substantial threat to the integrity" of an ongoing leak investigation.

The seizure of the phone records, disclosed earlier Monday by AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt, is the latest move in a series of high profile and controversial investigations of leaks of classified information by the Justice Department. In a letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder, Pruitt called said obtaining more than two months of AP phone records on 20 separate telephone lines without prior notice was a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into news-gathering operations.

It also drew a swift rebuke Monday from members of Congress and freedom of the press watchdogs, one of whom called the move "Nixonian." (Story here)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Zombies staggering success in society & why plants & animals have nothing to worry about

Good Day World!

 I’m thinking about Zombies today after my grandson went to a Zombie Run in Clear Lake yesterday.

 I have a niece who was planning a zombie wedding, but things didn’t work out…which is probably for the best anyway!

So why are zombies so popular these days? I fail to see the attraction of a rotten corpse staggering around, but then I can’t understand why vampires are so popular with young teenagers either. Especially girls.

Here’s the latest news about zombies and plants (why not?):

 “Television sure seems obsessed with a post-apocalyptic planet -- and you can't throw a remote without hitting a zombie these days.

I admit that it's certainly hard not to be intrigued. What would it be like if most of humanity were gone? What would life on Earth be like if zombies ran the roost?

Well, from the perspective of the living environment a zombie-dominated world may not be so bad. As far as I can tell, zombies take no interest in nature -- they just look for humans to eat. That is bad for Homo sapiens, but seems like a pretty good deal for the rest of Earth's species. On The Walking Dead, the birds are chirping with so much gusto that you can just tell they like how things have turned out.

Plants can't sing about it, but I'd wager that most of them would also be pleased about a zombie apocalypse. Zombies don't mow the lawn or douse it with herbicides. They don't cut down trees to build houses or to make charcoal. Contrary to the central plot of the Plants vs. Zombies video games, these two classes of beings probably have little to fight about. In fact, even in the current non-zombie times there are plants that have a lot in common with the undead.

One of these plant species, skunk cabbage, is the subject of the latest episode of the "Plants Are Cool, Too!" video series. Skunk cabbage, known to science as Symplocarpus foetidus, uses two chemicals called cadaverine and putrescine to emulate the odor of rotting flesh. Whereas many flowers draw in insect pollinators with flowery scents that might make for an attractive perfume, those of skunk cabbage are meant to bring in insects that prefer something meatier.” (Story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, May 12, 2013

AS IT STANDS: Confessions of a 62-year old Tweeter: ‘I sang like a canary!’

 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
  I started tweeting four months ago. Before that I spoke words. Started out with just a little tweet, “Hey! Take a look at my blog!” 
  Now, I’m going tweet! tweet! tweet! every day! And I’m not ashamed to say it’s my favorite way to get a message across in cyberspace. Forgive me for assuming you know I’m talking about Twitter. 
  It’s an online social networking and microblogging service for people who are in such a hurry they only have time to communicate a sentence before moving on to bigger and better things.
  The man who created Twitter, Jack Dorsey, launched his social network in July of 2006. The service gained worldwide popularity faster than the speed of light and by 2012 (most recent figures available) there were over 500 million registered Twitter users.

  And growing daily. Daily Twitterers tweet more than 340 million times a day. That’s a lot of chirps - oh, I’m sorry, Tweets - in cyberspace every 24 hours.

To make the process of tweeting more challenging, developers have decided we only get 140 characters (tweets) to get our message across.

Turning the clock back one year:
Me “Have you heard about that stupid thing everyone is talking about called Twitter?”
My wife: “Yes, I have dear.”
Me: “I can’t believe adults would actually have anything to do with a social service that calls itself Twitter. Sounds like a movie for teens or something.”
My wife: “It’s pretty popular. You have to like texting to really enjoy it.”
Me: “I hate texting! I’m so tired of seeing people drive and text..”
My wife: “Yes dear…calm down. We know how you feel.”
Me: “Well, I’m too serious a journalist to be messing around with something so silly.”
Turning the clock back four months:
Me: “I’ve been doing a lot of research on Twitter lately.”
My wife: “No way! I thought you said…”
Me: “Hold on dear. You know how I’m involved with Learnist, the social learning website? I was talking with some other expert contributors and they advised me to use Twitter. They assured me it would increase traffic to my blog - - and my learning boards at Learnist.”
My wife: “Does this mean what I think it does?”
Me: “I sang like a canary! Now, I’m the Big Bird of Tweets merrily sending out abbreviated messages with hashtags.”
My wife: “Hashtags? What are they?”
Me: “Oh, just a sweet tweet technical term dear. Did you hear that Warren Buffet tweets now?”
My wife: “If it’s okay for the Oracle of Omaha to tweet, then it’s okay for you!”
   I can’t help feeling guilty. I’m an old school journalist using social media. I should go down screaming and clawing for the printed word on paper, resisting the innovations that are replace it. Like Twitter, or Facebook.
   I broke away from my traditional bias five years ago when I started a blog and became a hybrid journalist, reporting things as I saw them. As you can see, I haven’t given up on newspapers you can hold and have your coffee with on a Sunday morning. 

July will mark five years of writing this column for The Times-Standard. My last traditional link to journalism. There’s no telling how long the management will let me continue to churn out columns for you. I suppose when I become a big enough pain they’ll urge me to move on to my social media and leave them alone.
   Meanwhile, did you know that Twitter’s origin resulted from daydreaming? True story. The original code name for the project was twttr. New York University undergraduate Dorsey introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS (short codes) service to communicate with a small group.
  Now for that great moment when the inventor introduces his creation to the world.
Remember what Alexander Graham Bell said?

  “Mr. Watson - come here - I want to see you.”
   The historic moment for Jack Dorsey came on March 23, 2006 at 9:50 PST:
  “Just setting up my twttr.”

I know. Is that it? For something as earth-shattering to our world of communications, couldn’t he have said something like, “This is one small tweet for me and my investors, and a big tweet for social media and learning!”

As It Stands, my tweet ID is freefrogie59...don’t even ask! That’s another column!

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Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...