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Showing posts from November, 2013

The life and death- and life, and death (or at least, excuse the pun, coma) of a 'zombie comet'

Yesterday I reported the fiery death of Comet ISON. Here's view from NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft that formed the basis of that judgment:

There seems to be no evidence of a nucleus emerging from the back of the sun. Debris, yes; nucleus, no. The consensus of NASA scientists was that ISON had bought the celestial farm.

On that basis, yesterday I reported that ISON was essentially kaput. Here's a still picture I posted yesterday from SOHO's LASCO-C2 camera. An arrow points to what I was trying for quite a while to convince myself was ISON emerging. But there was a problem, that didn't dawn on me until the next morning: the tail of a comet is created by the solar wind blowing outward. As a result, the tails of comets always point away from the sun.

We were dealing, not with a comet, but with a debris field.

But new hope arose yesterday when NASA released these videos from SOHO:

And from another camera:

Note that the tail is behaving exa…

The death of a comet: ISON turns out to be a Thanksgiving turkey

Sadly, there will apparently be no Great Thanksgiving Comet of 2013.

Comet ISON apparently didn't survive its close encounter with Old Sol intact.

But something survived. The comet's disintegration notwithstanding, take a look at the picture to the right. Sure looks like an emerging comet to me! But NASA can't find a nucleus. Whether there will be enough material closely compacted enough to provide some sort of a show even now remains to be seen; ISON was (is?) a pretty big comet!

If ISON is indeed kaput, it will be a real disappointment to all of us who have been looking forward lo these many months to a visitor which might have been bright enough to read a newspaper by.

For those of us who are non-photographers, that makes us O-for-2 in what had been predicted to be possible Great Comets this year. Comet PanSTARRS disappointed us in March. PanSTARRS yielded great images, but wasn't much visually.

Looks like those of us who are into comets will have to wait a bit long…

Meanwhile, speaking of Illinois....

...the state of my birth has managed to rack up some $8.8 billion in unpaid bills.

The condition of the state is so bad that Chicago mayoral son and brother Bill Daley- like Mayor Emanuel, a former Obama chief-of-staff- has pulled out of a very winnable primary race against Gov. Pat Quinn because he's sensibly decided that he doesn't want the job after all, given the mess the state is in.

HT: Drudge

Now Illinoisans can be called 'Suckers' once again

Back in Lincoln's day, Illinois was known as the "Sucker State," and Illinoisans were called "Suckers" in much the same way as Indianans today are called "Hoosiers" or journalists "Democrats."

There are two theories as to the reason. One is that, when the rich lead deposits in Galena (at the extreme northwest of the state, just across the Mississippi River from Iowa), folks from central and southern Illinois and Missouri traveled en masse up the river to cash in, thereby imitating the migration patterns of the Mississippi River fish called the "sucker" (see illustration).

The other is that the word "sucker" also refers to the shoots that come off the main stems and roots of the tobacco plant, and that the word became an affectionate nickname for Virginians and North Carolinians who emigrated to southern Illinois to take advantage of the rich available farm land.

Either way, the consensus of our allies in the region seems…

'...The saddest are these: 'It might have been!"

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been."
--John Greenleaf Whittier
Fifty years, two hours and seven minutes ago, I was sitting at my desk in Mr. Williams' Eighth Grade class at Grace Lutheran School in Chicago. My teacher was also the principal, and the closet that served as his office was only steps away from the classroom.

The telephone rang. Mr. Williams left the room to answer it. A moment later, he returned.

"Huh," he said. "Somebody just called and said that President Kennedy had been shot and killed."

Everybody laughed.

It wasn't that we thought that the notion of President Kennedy being assassinated was funny. It's just that, in our innocence (having no idea of what the 'Sixties yet had in store for us, and for the nation), we found the very idea ridiculous. Presidential assassinations might have happened back in the days of the Civil War, or the Jurassic era, when Garfield and McKinley we…

Comet ISON progress report

Sky and Telescope reports here.

Here's where and when to find the comet in the next few days:

Photos courtesy

The comet symbol in the pictures is greatly exaggerated; to the naked eye, ISON will appear to be a star. The tail will be visible, though, in binoculars.

Perihelion (the comet's closest approach to the sun) will be on Thanksgiving Day. It will hopefully brighten rapidly thereafter as it becomes an evening object, visible shortly after sunset. Unfortunately it will also fade rapidly as it climbs higher in the sky. It still could fizzle, either by not brightening as much as expected or even by breaking up and disbursing on the other side of the sun. Or it could be a memory that will last a lifetime.

Here's a recent picture of ISON, taken by amateur astronomer Damian Peach in the U.K. using 4-inch f/5 refractor for 12 minutes of combined exposures on November 15th. It shows what even a relatively small telescope can do with a good imaging system!…

Move over, Buck Rogers!

Although it was never fully deployed, the F-22 Raptor is the next step above an "air superiority fighter." It is an "air supremacy fighter." Nothing can exist in the skies it patrols without its permission. That includes things on the other side of the horizon.

Here's a Lockheed-Martin sketch of the plane that may replace it in the circa 2030 era. Its offensive weaponry will not be limited to missiles and conventional guns.

It will also include lasers.

Hopefully we'll decide to fully deploy this one when the time comes.
HT: Drudge

Report: pre-election unemployment statistics were deliberately faked!

You may remember that statistics were released just before the 2012 election which showed the unemployment rate, after remaining above eight percent during the entire Obama administration, suddenly and inexplicably dropping from 8.1% in August to 7.8% in September. Numerous economists and other experts said that the numbers simply didn't add up and couldn't possibly be accurate. Nevertheless, they were seen at the time as a major plus for the President which helped reverse a decline in the polls and may well have played a key role in his re-election.

Well, John Cruddle of the New York Post is reporting that the Census Bureau, which provided the statistics, knew at the time that they had been faked to make President Obama look good.

My comments at the time can be found here.

HT: Drudge

Bears..........................................................................................23, Baltimore 20

It took quite a while- the Windy City being even more windy than usual, so much so that the game between the Bears and the Baltimore Ravens had to be delayed for two hours- but the Ursine Warriors beat the Super Bowl champs, 23-20!

The longest game in team history, it ended with a Robbie Gould field goal in overtime some five hours and 18 minutes after the opening kickoff.

Backup quarterback Josh McCown came through again- and sadly, starter Jay Cutler's case for sticking around Soldier Field for another year got weaker.

And the Bears are- for what it's worth- back in the playoff hunt. The Packers lost- and to the lowly New York 'Ants, of all teams!

BEAR DOWN, beat Green Bay on December 17- and if possible, as a bonus, make the playoffs! But beat Green Bay on December 17!

A heartbreaking exchange

(NOTE: I initially confused the names of the two Cheney sisters, undoubtedly rendering this post incomprehensible to anyone who had already heard about the incident. I apologize for the confusion; the mistake has been corrected).

The Cheney sisters- one heterosexual, and running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate, and the other a "married" lesbian- disagree about gay "marriage."

Sadly, the exchange provides further evidence that civil discourse on this subject simply isn't possible. Sadly, it also provides additional evidence that rational discussion that doesn't lapse into the purely emotional isn't possible.

I'd like to think that friendship is. Even love. But even more sadly, this exchange seems to suggest otherwise, at least in this case.

I'm sure that it has long since occurred to Liz that Mary might not see the question raised by marriage definition as being the same question her own negative reponse is meant to answer. But I wonder whet…

Comet ISON is here!

I missed it this morning- it was cloudy in Des Moines- but Comet ISON (left) is now visible about an hour before dawn!

More information here.

A burst of activity has heightened the possibility of an impressive apparition (that's what you call the appearance of a comet). But just how good a show we'll get still remains to be seen.

Its closest approach to the sun- aka "perihelion-" will be on Thanksgiving Day. It may not be visible for long, but expectations are currently for a spectacular show while it lasts- assuming that ISON survives its perilous encounter with the sun, or at least breaks up in such a way as to remain a more or less coherent object. Comet West, also known as "the Great Comet of 1976," actually brightened considerably as a result of breaking up as it emerged from the back of the sun.

I'm pumped. As the late Jack Horkheimer used to say, "Keep looking up!"

Pants on fire

This is utter nonsense.

Apparently Brietbart didn't bother to fact-check this one. If they had, they would have discovered that the herpes virus wouldn't survive on a library book long enough for those Belgian professors to have found it there.

Can you say "urban legend?"

Can you say "gullible?"

Can you say "the fire is on the wrong side of this guy's pants?"

HT: Drudge

Barack Obama really is who the media tried to convince us Dubyah was

During the last administration, Dubyah's notorious infelicity with words was the source of constant mockery in the press and among the self-proclaimed elites. But Barack Obama's even greater problem with articulating a coherent thought without a script has been largely (and not unexpectedly) ignored by the same people.

Joe Biden's comic talent for saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time is, of course, a far more serious problem than the  difficulty with coherently articulating their thoughts suffered by both Bush the Younger and our present chief-of-state. But there's a a basic- and highly ironic- difference between Bush and Obama.

Ironically, it seems that Bush simply had problems putting his thoughts into words. But there's serious reason to doubt that our present leader has the slightest idea what's going on in his own administration.

Obamacare has made this all too clear. It's Barack Obama, not George W. Bush, who is chronically confused about …

What two things do Obamacare and dinosaurs have in common?

Obamacare in its present form is dead- and with it, any possible legacy for this president.

Extinct. Dead. Ancient history. A fit subject for paleontology.

Meanwhile, here's both an excellent analysis of what happened to Obamacare, and a critique both of this administration and of liberalism- excuse me, progressivism- generally. Basically, it argues that the fallacy involved is the same as that behind InGen's decision in the movie to go ahead with Jurassic Park.

BTW, how many of us have noticed how much the Obamacare fiasco has in common with the housing bubble that set off the economic meltdown of 2008 that the Democrats are so eager to blame (and not entirely without justification) on a president whose philosophy was predicated precisely on avoiding such presumptuous overreach?

If conservatives live in the Stone Age, as the Left so often maintains, what does this say about liberalsprogressives leftist dinosaurs?

Fox News faring well among the unbalanced

The prime time ratings for Fox News is now nearly twice that of CNN and MSNBC combined.

Apparently Americans prefer ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS for their left-wing propaganda masquerading as news. But it has to frighten the lefties that even when it comes to propaganda, Americans prefer the conservative kind by such a wide margin.

HT: Drudge

Kerry: U.S. not blind or stupid

Secretary of State John Kerry has assured the world that America is neither blind nor stupid when it comes to the Iran nuclear issue.

It's nice of him to clarify that for us.

So the administration is screwing up on purpose? Perhaps importing Israelis who glow in the dark is the Administration's solution to our future energy needs?

HT: Drudge

Conservative Catholics feel abandoned by loose-cannon pope

Seldom has a pope been more popular with atheists and the less-than-orthodox than Pope Francis is today.

And seldom have Catholics who adhere to what the Church has always taught felt more abandoned by the man whose job is to lead them.

The current occupant of the Chair Peter Never Sat On seems so intent on making nice-nice with unbelievers and heretics that he's beginning to make all of us who aspire to adhere to the apostolic faith- however they perceive it- wonder whose side he's on in the ongoing struggle between that faith and its detractors.

Even us Lutherans (in the historical, rather than nominal, sense of the word) are used to having the pope as an ally on issues like abortion and same-sex "marriage." But this guy seems not to have gotten the memo about what it means when the world is down with what the Church is saying and doing.

I really don't think he's doing it on purpose. But like the traditional Catholics quoted in the article, I wish he'd…

'Things fall apart/The Far Left cannot hold..."

Bummer to be President Obama these days. Consider:

1. A report says that 52 million Americans either have lost or will lose their health insurance due to Obamacare.

2. A Gallup poll reports that 78% of the uninsured are uninterested in Obamacare (only one person has signed up in North Carolina, and preliminary reports say that only five have in the District of Columbia).

3. Fewer women participated in the labor force in October than at any time since records have been kept (if the GOP is waging a "war against women," it's the Obama administration that seems to be inflicting the casualties on them!).

4. U.S. popularity in Germany is in steep decline after the revelation that the United States has been spying on German leaders, including Chancellor Merkel.

5. And then, there's Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments concerning the reported upcoming deal between the Obama administration and Iran. It's not exactly what you'd expect from an ally:

Going Chicago one better

Being from Chicago, I'm used to dead people voting. But as a general rule, even the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization expects its candidates to be alive.

Not so, apparently, people in Washington state.

I love that last line. I assume that Jon David Kahn is not a pseudonym for Chevy Chase.

Meanwhile, as they say back home..."Vote early, and vote often!"

HT: Drudge

Oh, THIS is nice!

Of course, nobody at Time ever even thought of being disrespectful to Gov. Christie because of his weight. And the possibility of his being Hillary's opponent n 2016.


It was all about the elephant being the symbol of the Republican party.

Uh-huh. And if you believe that, let me sell you some government-mandated health insurance.

HT: Drudge

Health care for clunkers?

George Will compares the Obamacare fiasco with the administration's early "Cash for Clunkers" program- which also turns out to have been a catastrophic failure- and ponders whether there might be a pattern here.

Will advances an interesting thesis: that Barack Obama's failures have been so frequent and so numerous that he doesn't really have to take the heat for any one of them. I guess when you have the media in your pocket, even ineptitude can turn out to be an advantage.

This administration's only real "accomplishment" has been getting an incredibly unpopular health care bill passed, and somehow OKed by the Supreme Court. Now it's implementation is turning out to be a fiasco, and it's becoming increasingly clear that the promises made about keeping one's own health plan and/or doctor were so much hooey.

Now, remind me again why this guy was re-elected?

Get ready for an escalation of the War on Religion

Illinois has become the latest state to legalize that oxymoron, "same-sex marriage" (btw, note the bias of the Tribune article, which accepts without hesitation the spurious claim of supporters of the bill that it grants gays "equal rights." All gays and lesbians can presently marry people of the opposite gender- the only people which, by the very nature of the institution, anybody can marry. The notion that marriage has anything to do with "love" is a very recent and very sentimental innovation; law and custom have always been explicit on the point that marriage exists to give legal sanction and encouragement to child-bearing. The fact that we do not explicitly disqualify heterosexual couples who are too old to have children from getting married does not change that).

The unnatural arrangement contemplated by the new law will become legal in the Land of Lincoln the first of the year.

Meanwhile, Robert Gilligan of the National Catholic Conference explains …

The poor we always have with us. But Mr. Obama has outdone himself.

And yet, nearly all of them voted for him.

And they'll probably vote for Hillary next time. You'd think people would learn...

HT: Drudge

Chris Sosa doesn't get it

Chris Sosa of "Salon" says that "Evangelcals" need to "tone down" their views on homosexuality in order to stay "relevant."

First off, opposition to homosexual behavior and to the redefinition of marriage isn't a peculiarity of that branch of Christianity called (with varying degrees of accuracy) "evangelical" Protestantism. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy share it. So, in fact, does every Christian who seeks to remain faithful to the witness of Scripture, the apostolic tradition, and the Faith as it has been confessed down through the ages.

To depart from the Church's historic disapproval of homosexual behavior and from its confession of marriage as an institution which by definition involves members of both sexes would be to reject the Bible and the historic Christian faith. It would be to admit that Christianity is merely a made-up set of rules and doctrines that can be changed at will. And if that is the case, we&#…

Obama's approval rating continues to tank

Good 27, Evil 20

The Bears weren't the only team to have to go without their starting quarterback Monday night. On the P_ckers first possession, Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone. The Pack had to go with Iowa State's Seneca Wallace. It was not a good exchange.

Not so Josh McCown's substitution for injured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. For the second week in a row, McCown excelled. Jay will probably get his job back when he's healthy, but his case for a new and expensive contract is not prospering at the moment.

The Bears were short star linebacker Lance Briggs, too. But the forces of good nevertheless triumphed over the forces of evil, 27-20.

The Ursine Warriors probably won't go to the Super Bowl this year. But even if they lose the rest of their games, if they can beat Green Bay again at Soldier Field in Week 17, the season will be counted a resounding success.


Chicago African-American religious leaders speak out against marriage deconstruction

When the NAACP and the other civil rights groups which most tend to march in lockstep with the agenda of the Left absurdly decided that marriage redefinition was somehow a civil rights issue, not all African-American leaders were willing to go along. At least one local NAACP leader resigned over the decision.

Now African-American clergy in Chicago are ramping up their opposition to the bill that would legalize same-sex "marriage" in Illinois, vowing "consequences" for legislators who support it.

It's good to learn that there are brother clergy in the African-American community standing up for the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints, rather than joining the craven cave-in to the post-modernist, deconstructionist agenda of the politically correct Left.

HT: Drudge

Drudge's misleading link

'IRAN COMMITTED TO 'DEATH TO AMERICA" reads an item on "The Drudge Report," an aggregator run by a somewhat "yellow" journalist of vaguely conservative inclinations and- to be honest- quite frequently a source for this blog.

Thing is, that's not what the story it links to says. The story says only that Iran's Revolutionary Guard (whose leaders are shown at the right  with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) are committed the slogan, and adamantly opposed to dropping it as more moderate elements have suggested.

It is not the government of Iran that is committed to the slogan, but a radical element within the army (though admittedly one with a great deal of influence).

Tsk, tsk, Matt Drudge. That's the kind of thing we'd expect from the networks.

We, too, 'need this material' before considering Christie in 2016

A new book tells us that, even assuming the best, if Chris Christie is the Republican nominee in 2016, there is stuff in the New Jersey governor's background that might give the Democrats ammunition with which to Bork Romney him.

Seems that his failure to be forthcoming about it was enough to torpedo his otherwise rather formidable shot at being Mitt's running mate last time out.

Disclosure time, Governor. Please. Don't make it any easier for people to lie about you.

HT: Drudge

Let's see 'Bejing Bobby Fletcher' spin THIS one!

The bloodstained tyranny that is China tries to present a civilized face to the world, and there is no shortage of what Lenin called "useful idiots-" or even eager accomplices- willing to help them promote that lie.

But every once in a while, they let the mask slip. Very often the subject matter is Tibet- and their ongoing embarrassment that one of the world's great religious leaders- the Dalai Lama, who is Tibet's Chief-of-State- speaks out for that enslaved nation from beyond their grasp.

China is our enemy, and the enemy of every value we cherish as Americans. It is not the world's only enemy of freedom. But it is the most powerful- and Iran and North Korea aside, it may well, in the long run, be the most dangerous.

HT: Drudge

The Exorcist's Blatty talks about something really demonic

Remember William Peter Blatty? For those born after the late Cretaceous, he was the author of The Exorcist, the novel from which a movie was made which for some still sets the standard for horror films.

Blatty isn't entirely conventional in his theology. But nobody has ever claimed that he didn't do his research. And he's correctly identified one manifestation of Old Scratch in our contemporary society.

Wherever you stand on demonic possession, that manifestation is truly satanic.

HT: Real Clear Religion

Hallmark shouldn't have folded on this one

Hallmark is apologizing for changing the lyrics of  "Deck the Halls"from "Don we now our gay apparel" to "Don we now our fun apparel." This has been cited as an example of "homophobia," the artificial word created to signify prejudice against homosexuals.

It shouldn't. When you change the meaning of a word (as in making "gay" mean "homosexual" rather than/as well as  "happy,") it's perfectly reasonable for people who use it to distinguish between the old meaning and the new one. And if gay activists haven't heard the snickers which have accompanied "Deck the Halls" lo these many years, they need to do something about all that earwax.

The fact is that in common usage the old (and largely archaic) meaning of the word has given way to the new one, and Hallmark was merely taking note of that fact.

HT: Drudge