Thursday, August 23, 2007

Out of This World. And In It, Too.

This is pretty cool stuff…Google Sky.

Stardate 61105.2, planet Earth. I've booted up my computer and loaded Google Sky and ready to trek across the galaxy.

Today Google released a beta version of Google Earth (4.2.0180.1134 (beta)) that includes a Google Sky feature that allows you to get up-close and personal with over 100 million galaxies and 200 million stars.

As Google did with Google Earth, Google Sky is made up of stitched photographs of the heavens pieced together to make a one giant navigate-able database of the universe.

To get started you have to download the most recent version of Google Earth software. Once you've done that launch the application and go to the View drop down menu and select the "Switch to Sky" item. Now you're ready to blast off.

This isn’t something I’ll use all that much, if ever, simply because I’m not all that interested in astronomy. But there are lots of folks that are interested, especially kids. And Google Sky should be a wondrous tool for teaching kids the basics about astronomy. Not everyone is impressed, however:

I don’t like it.

You read that right. I don’t like it. Well, to be clear, I don’t like it yet. I think this version is lacking some basic necessities, but once they (and some tweaks) are added this will be a pretty cool app.

For one thing, when I clicked the button to start it, it said it was loading the sky above my current location. However, it doesn’t tell me what that current location is. It doesn’t tell me what time of day it’s using — the sky moves, so time is crucial. It doesn’t move the sky in real time (or provide that option). It doesn’t tell me if the Sun is up or not. It doesn’t tell me where the horizon is.

And the proprietor of Bad Astronomy goes on to give Google a laundry list of fixes to implement in its next release. Point(s) well taken, but…Hey! Google said it’s a beta release.

The BBC has more, including alternate astronomy applications for the PC and Mac.

This is weird. You probably noticed the intro graf to the PC World article is expressed as a Stardate, with a link. I’m not a trekkie, but I am curious. So I chased the link. And here’s a screen cap (on the left) of the page one gets when following the link to convert any date/time to a Stardate. Notice the default date and time in the conversion block at the bottom of the screen cap: this is one minute off the generally accepted time of impact for the World Trade Center’s North Tower on 9/11. I just think that’s strange. Of all the possible dates/times to use as a sample, why this particular date? Strange…

Further on Cannon…from the Air Force Association’s Daily Report newsletter:

Thumbs Up for Cannon: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says the environmental impact assessment on turning Cannon Air Force Base into an Air Force Special Operations Command facility has received final approval. The former fighter base is slated to become home to special operations AC-130 gunships, new CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft, MC-130 Combat Talons, and helicopters. AFSOC officials earlier said that plans to take control of the base on Oct. 1 were on schedule despite funding worries cited by New Mexico lawmakers.

Good news, but if you follow all the links within the links (most of which are fairly old, dating back to Spring of this year) you won’t find any definitive statement about funding. Lots of “should be enough,” “we think we have enough,” along with various and sundry reassurances from shooters, including Deputy SecDef Gordon England. This past Tuesday the Clovis News-Journal reported everything is a “go,” including the naming of Cannon’s new base commander, Col. Tim Leahy.

What? Not Again? From the UK tabloid Daily Mail…“How Miss Slackistan and the Burka Beauties fell foul of the racism zealots.”

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Stuck for inspiration about what to wear at their village carnival, one group made a last-minute decision to dress up in mock Muslim burkas.

Calling themselves the "Page Three Beauties from the Ramalama Ding-Dong Times", the 17 men and women carried placards with made-up names such as "Miss Hairyarmpitsbad", "Miss Slackistan", "Miss Notbadinbedabad" and "Miss Reallyamanistan".

As they walked the one-mile parade route, the group knelt down in mock prayer and used fake compasses to try to find Mecca.

Their routine impressed carnival judges - a mayor, two district councillors and a parish councillor - and they were shortlisted for the "best entry" prize.

But before any awards were handed out, police told the group to leave after complaints about racism.


Local religious representatives criticised the carnival entry. Fareed Ahmad, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association for Devon and Cornwall, said: "With carnivals it's quite difficult to judge between humour and causing offence, and on this occasion it looks like they have that balance wrong."

The Reverend Chris McQuillen-Wright, of St Columb Minor parish church, added: "One can see the intended humour and the play on words but, in light of the current international climate, it was insensitive and in bad taste.

"I cannot believe they thought people were going to laugh. No one would want to curtail freedom of speech, but it's hard to differentiate this from downright bullying."

“Racism.” “Insensitive and in bad taste.” “Bullying.” I gotchyer racism, bad taste, and bullying right here, Buddy. This is really getting old. REALLY old. And when community religious representatives chime in and climb aboard the PC Bandwagon, one gets the feeling that all is just about lost. I’d have laughed my a$$ off, but then again…I AM sorta insensitive and bullying when it comes to the subject of intolerance — of the real sort — and suppression of speech.

The subject of traffic…specifically MY traffic… is of more than passing interest to me. Or, in other words, I tend to live in Site Meter, checking out the stats, the search terms, the origins and durations of visits to EIP, and all that fun stuff. So, I find this lil graph interesting, in an academic sort of way:

Yesterday’s traffic was less than half that of last Wednesday’s traffic, and as a result, my “moving average of visits” stat took a pretty big hit, as you can see. But then again, we’re in much better shape, traffic-wise, than we were a mere two months ago.

Traffic is cyclical; I know this. And EIP is a lowly blog, as blogs go. But every time I see my stats drop off precipitously I still wanna say something like “Was it something I said?”

Today’s Pic: This morning’s sunrise. Not as spectacular as some I’ve seen, but not that bad, either. Besides that, I was getting tired of posting pics from the archives. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that…it just gets old. (Badda-da-bump)


  1. I've seen a rough correlation with number-of-posts on a daily basis. If I get busy with other things, then so do my readers. I suppose that pattern would dissipate if one stuff his scroll full of the same ol', turning himself into a one-trick pony. Serve up the smorgasbord, they will come.

    I did manage to break myself of the habit of slavishly checking Sitemeter, but that bit me in the butt one time. I checked my monthly-hits graph and it was shaped like a maypole. Some huge spike a few days previous. It was b-a-r-e-l-y too far back for me to figure out what happened. Oh well.

  2. I get my traffic stats from within my blog provider - not as detailed as what you get from Sitemeter, but good enough for this neophyte, for now. And I do wonder sometimes - I'll put up something that I think is thought provoking or of interest and then, nothing. Then something else that I slap up like so much crap gets more comments than anything...go figure. Fickle is readership.

    Love the photo - very nice colors.

  3. Buck I love google earth, I had heard about google sky coming, i guess I'll wait for the bugs to be worked out.
    I enjoy your blog, I know I can come over hear and you have found some article to share or a site to visit. Thanks for doing the work for us.. Beautiful picture.


  4. Most of yesterday morning I couldn't get on to any blogger sites, including yours. Maybe that had something to do with it?

    The group mocking those women would have had my vote! LOL!

    Fair this week. Will you be going? We already have our tickets for the arenacross Saturday. My son loves to watch all the motorcycles and 4-wheelers. He will probably be mad that he didn't get to bring his, especially when a couple of his friends are racing in it in the younger class group.

  5. I love Google Earth, and I, for one, would be very interested in Google Sky. My dad was very in to astronomy, and I get it from him.

    As for lowly blogs, yours is streaks above mine. I suppose if I argue politics, I might get more traffic, but I don't really want to go in that direction. There's already a gazillion political blogs out there anyway.

  6. WRT the "Burka Beauties," here's my take on "tolerance."

  7. I think I visited yesterday... yes, I remember reading yesterday's post. But I've been a slacker of late with blogging. All ready for vacation!

  8. Morgan said: I checked my monthly-hits graph and it was shaped like a maypole. Some huge spike a few days previous.

    Another link from Gerard, perhaps? I also saw you linked recently on Pajamas Media's sidebar... don't recall how long ago that was, tho.

    Re: Site Meter. It does fascinate me, as I've noted oh-so-often. Less for the "numbers" than what people are looking at (page views) and where they come from. I'm not in this blogging game for the numbers... in fact I don't want Big Dog status. The way things are at the moment I can interact with each person who drops by individually, kinda like a "small community of friends." (That sounds a bit Quaker-ish, doesn't it?) This cozy little community would change radically if I had mega-numbers. I like things pretty much the way they are. But I wouldn't mind, say, double my current traffic.

    Kris said: I'll put up something that I think is thought provoking or of interest and then, nothing. Then something else that I slap up like so much crap gets more comments than anything...go figure.

    Boy, Kris...Do I EVER hear that! I've also heard the same sorts of things from other bloggers, as well. You just never know.

    Shelly: I'd go for the Google Sky now, assuming I were interested. The Bad Astronomer guy was kinda-sorta picking nits. Although he DID have some fairly large ones (nits).

    Jenny: Dunno about the fair. I saw the banners when I was out for my morning putt around the area today... I just haven't made up my mind. And thanks for the heads-up about Blogger. That might be the answer, but traffic is down today, too.

    Becky: Agreed on the "gazillion political blogs" thingie. I've been trying to "diversify" of late, but sometimes I can't help myself... ;-)

    Mike: Thanks for your link...that is a great post. The most comprehensive "equal opportunity offender" post I've ever seen, bar none. Your ultimate point was excellent, and you chose a most unique way of expressing it.
    BZ! (as the Squids...God Love 'Em... say.)

  9. I'm behind in my blogging activities. Yesterday I was able to read through your posts, but not able to comment. I'm feelin a little guilty about it:)

    The burka parade probably would have been funny, but times being what they are, it was bound to cause a problem. People who can't laugh at themselves are a problem. People who are easily offended are a problem. People whose religion is more about what they wear, praying on time, going to an earthly city, etc, rather than dealing with the hatred in their hearts - that's the biggest problem.

    Nice sunrise!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.