Burb Rocking
Sunday, August 27, 2006
  Pluto is Madeleine Albright's cousin! (now get out the vote)


The pic and captions to the left appear here courtesy of Mista Hall. She teaches earth science and astronomy at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, and she was paying very close attention to the Lamont-Lieberman race awhile back.

Okay, no, she wasn't paying much attention to the primary vote. Or maybe she was. Who knows? A veteran of politics like Madeleine Albright might have been paying attention instead.

Poor Pluto. Stranded way out at the dim frozen verge of our system, where the planets end and the icy trans-Neptunian Kuiper Belt begins. If our sun and its planets were a dog, this forgotten world, tiny, overlooked by all spacecraft (so far), even forced to share its orbit with Neptune, would be its ridiculous tail. And now someone has bobbed that tail.

Plenty of irony here. When it was given planetary status back in 1930, there were a few astronomers who were unsure if that rank was really deserved. It wasn't so long ago that Charon, Pluto's principal moon, was discovered: 1978. Only last year we learned that Pluto also has two smaller moon's: Nix and Hydra. And lately, with refined data about the relative masses and sizes of Pluto and Charon, the two have become recognized as a double-planet. (Charon has just over half the diameter of Pluto, and, more importantly, the center of gravity between the two bodies lies somewhere in the space between their surfaces.) Now, having gained ground to become a double-planet with two recently discovered moons, with, finally, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on its way to pay it a visit in 2015 and, as Sagan envisioned, "complete the preliminary reconnaissance of the solar system" - Pluto gets voted out of the planet club.




(~from FlyingSinger —>)

Yes, voting irregularities again. Only this time, not in Ohio or Florida, but in the Czech Republic. A dedicated core of hardliners at the International Astronomical Union conference in Prague worked tirelessly to oust Pluto, and prevailed. At a site I frequent, a gentleman called "Doc" and I discussed the fiasco:

<>-<>-<>

Doc: OK....who runs the crack concession at the IAU conferences?

Me: Actually, it was quite a nice, clean little crystal meth lab. Run by a respected Czech chemist.

You may wish to have a look at Astronomers Behaving Badly (actual title 'On to Rio!') by Steve Maran. Where you'll find this paragraph:

Less than a third of IAU’s members actually came to Prague -just 2500 give or take- and by the end of the meeting when the Pluto decisions were taken, only a fraction of those were present and voting. By all accounts, a tough gang of solar system experts prevailed to dump Pluto from the planetary ranks. But, as the media report, other astronomers say that they have just begun to fight.

The author adds: 'So when the IAU next meets, in Rio in August 2009, I will be there. Ready to wheel and deal and to vote.'

Doc: Methinks it was augmented :P

Me: Word on the ulička is Jindřich Šilhán showed up with some Pervitin and the place went crazy. But that rumor is unconfirmed (my guess is it was Jiří Dušek, a known party animal).

<>-<>-<>

The connection to Albright and Lamont? Like a certain distant diminutive world, tiny little Connecticut has become a pivotal battleground for the coming mid-term election. The GOP's mistakes are catching up with the party-in-power, in spite of the mainstream media propaganda machine working overtime to make it otherwise. The Jewish vote may prove critical to any victory Lieberman garners; win or lose, right now Lieberman is on the ropes as Lamont continues to gain ground against him. The edge at this moment, though, belongs to Lieberman.

Should it come to light, however, that, like Madeleine Albright, Lamont has until now been unaware of forgotten Jewish ancestors, what then?

(Albright, by the way, was born Marie Jana Korbelová. In Prague.)

So, I think, before the attempt in Rio to appeal the IAU's decision to demote Pluto, our underdog world needs to discover its heretofore unknown kinship with Ms. Albright. I mean, come on, it's the minority of hard-core kill-joys in the IAU against Disney's Seven Dwarfs. Whose side do you really want to be on?

 
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
  Thin men: Lieberman...or Lamont?


On this day of voting in what may be the most closely watched primary in the history of the United States...a poem:

One Way of Looking at the Unseating of an Incumbent

O thin men of Connecticut,
Why do you imagine golden geese?
Do you not see how the F-117A Nighthawks and IEDs
Leave questions and body-bags
At the feet of the citizens about you?


With apologies to Wallace Stevens, of course, whose poem I have just cannibalized.

In a few hours the results will be in. And the New England tempest in the nation's political teapot will pass?

Now, for those few who haven't been paying close attention to this hot race for the Democratic spot in the Connecticut senate race, this from the National Ledger:

John Zogby Predicts Easy Win for Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman by Jim Roberts

Aug 8, 2006

In a post on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire Zogby writes:

Joe Lieberman will probably go down in defeat by a substantial margin on Tuesday. While some bloggers have listed multiple reasons for the loss in confidence among Connecticut voters, it is all about Iraq.

This election cycle is all about Iraq. 2004 was all about Iraq and the Democrats were afraid to take a stand less they appear to flip-flip on a war they supported. But this time around, the statistics are staggering: only 16% of Democrats and 26% of Independents think the war has been worth the loss in American lives. Lieberman's dogged support for the Bush war policy has isolated him from rank and file voters.




Jim Roberts goes on to slam Zogby on his last big election eve prediction, when he called the 2004 election for Kerry. (My opinion: Without the outrageous disregard for democracy demonstrated in a certain Midwestern battleground state - not to mention Florida (again) - Bush had no chance at all; Zogby was right.) He concedes the point in this case, however, writing: "[Zogby's] prediction may be spot on in this case, (I can't imagine Lieberman pulling off this primary) but his Kerry prediction was so ill-timed and so absolutely wrong he has lost my confidence as an independent pollster."

A media circus is in full swing in Hartford at this very moment. National and international media have shown up in force. The media sees the final round of a fistfight on the order of the one featured at the end of The Quiet Man. The media sees that because it wants to see that and people will pay to watch it. Will it be a knock-out? Nobody knows, of course. But if I were to place a bet on anyone's predictions, my money would be on John Zogby. He was right last time - Americans did elect John Kerry in 2004, just as they elected Al Gore in 2000 - and he will be right again tonight.

If Connecticut can manage to pull off a more or less honest primary vote, Ned Lamont will be the next man to run on the Democratic ticket for the senate.

And Connecticut can avoid changing its name to Ohio. It already has enough to apologize for.

 
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
  It's not meat....and it's not cake
It's MEATCAKE
 

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