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To the cock-sucker* in the black “truck”

Posted by barb on Aug 5, 2005 in Random Thoughts

You know who you are. You’re the one in the shiny black “truck”. I use the term “truck” loosely here, because it was one of those trucks with a full cab and a tiny bed — the kind of “truck” bought by someone who really wants a car, but buys the truck-version to look cool.

Here’s a clue: darting into a space that’s already barely large enough for you in front of an accelerating car without signalling is a stupid thing to do. Second clue: when that accelerating car honks at you and slows down to make sure you’ve gotten the message, that is not your invitation to start back into the lane. Perhaps you shouldn’t be surprised when that car honks at you again.

Then he got over one more lane, and since he was behind me, honked. Yeah, he honked at me. I waved.

Sadly, his lane advanced on mine, so he passed me. He rolled down his window so he could give me the finger (since, of course, the windows on his pretend truck were tinted). Me? I smiled and blew him kisses.

(Thank you, Suzanne, for teaching me that wonderful response to the finger!)

* Ordinarily, I don’t really see “cock-sucker” as an insult; after all, I, myself, am a cock-sucker. However, this was the type of guy who looked like the kind of asshole who would be very insulted by this epithet.

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Brainless Cyclists

Posted by barb on Jul 30, 2005 in Biking, Random Thoughts

Every public trail has them. They try to look like professional cyclists. They wear brightly colored jerseys and black cycling shorts, just like the professional and hard-core cyclists. They train hard like professionals. They bike fast, even on the steep grades, like professionals. But they are not professionals. In fact, professionals probably dislike these imposters as much as the non-professionals. Let’s call them brainless cyclists, or bcs for short.

What exactly makes them brainless? There are a couple things.

BCs are the cyclists who feel entitled to go 20 mph (or their normal riding speed) no matter the conditions on the trail. There are a hundred pedestrians on the trail? No matter, I’ll just weave between them like an idiot. The cyclist ahead of me is passing a pedestrian? No matter, I’ll just brush past them within an inch…maybe two. There’s a sign ahead saying that the trail narrows, so cyclists please dismount before crossing? Screw that, it doesn’t apply to me. Never mind that there is barely room for a single pedestrian; I’ll just be there for a moment, so they’ll hardly notice me.

Perhaps worse, BCs are also the cyclists who don’t feel like the rules of courtesy on trails apply to them. The foremost courtesy on the trail is to give a audible warning when you are about to pass someone. Andrew and I have bells on our bikes that we ring. Many other cyclists just say, “On your left”, or simply “left” or “passing”. The reason for this should be clear — if you’re passing someone, you don’t want to startle them, causing them to veer one way or the other. It is equally important to warn other cyclists as it is to warn pedestrians. The BCs, however, don’t see it that way. It’s too much effort for them to say “left” when they are passing, or perhaps it’s beneath them. I’m not sure which.

To these assholes on the trail I say, find another damn place to ride your bike. Find a nice quiet country road where you can be alone. As for those of us on the public trails, we don’t want you here.

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Crime without punishment

Posted by barb on Jul 12, 2005 in Random Thoughts

This was interesting[Link removed 9/2015 – no longer active].

AtCenterNetwork.com, an online news site, asked abortion protestors if abortion were made illegal, what should the punishment be for women who have an illegal abortion. It’s fun to watch these protestors, many working for several years, try to come up with an answer. Despite thinking that abortion is murder, they had trouble coming to the conclusion that a woman who has an illegal abortion should serve jailtime, let alone considering the death penalty.

[via Feministe]

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So depressed…

Posted by barb on Jul 8, 2005 in Random Thoughts

I recieved an invitation today for my ATR’s 30th birthday. ATR is contract lingo, which basically means she’s the person I answer to, but who has no direct authority with my contracting company. Basically she’s my boss. And she’s just now turning 30. I’m 33, still in school, and so far behind her that it’s almost funny. And she’s just now turning 30. Ugh.

Sweetie turned 30 just a couple months ago, but she and I are on such different career paths that I can’t even compare myself to her. Besides, it’s not like she tells me what to do in my day-to-day work. She’s my best friend.

But my boss? She’s gone through grad school. She has her PhD. She’s done the post doc thing. And she’s just now turning 30. Gawd. I’m so far behind.

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Broadening eminent domain

Posted by barb on Jun 23, 2005 in Random Thoughts

This is unfortunate:

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes (Registration required)

The Supreme Court today effectively expanded the right of local governments to seize private property under eminent domain, ruling that people’s homes and businesses — even those not considered blighted — can be taken against their will for private development if the seizure serves a broadly defined “public use.”

A few years ago, Best Buy pressured the city government in Richfield, Minnesota, for land to build a new home office complex. In the process, Richfield condemed numerous houses and business properties, including Wally McCarthy’s Oldsmobile dealer. This dealership had been in that location for as long as I could remember — a real landmark — and was the dealership used for the movie Fargo. Last I heard, Wally McCarthy was still fighting the city to get fair value for the lands and business that he lost.

The dumbest part? While the Best Buy property is in Richfield, most of the businesses that will benefit from the new home office complex are just one block south, across the city limits. Yup. Richfield gave Best Buy free taxes for umpteen years (can’t remember the exact number), and Bloomington businesses are the real beneficiaries. Besides that, the Best Buy complex is among the ugliest developments I’ve seen.

The only good thing that came out of the deal for Richfield was that Best Buy had to help the city re-do the interesections from I-494 onto and off of Penn Avenue, and build a bigger, beefier overpass.

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DI @ SI

Posted by barb on May 31, 2005 in Science Musings

The Discovery Institute has rented out a hall at the Smithsonian to screen a new film that supports Intelligent Design. Yup. And yet, I could not rent out the Albert Einstein Planetarium at the Air and Space Museum for my non-religious wedding.

Here’s the e-mail I sent off to the Smithsonian (giving@si.edu, Mr. Randall Kremer, Public Affairs):

I was shocked to read that the Discovery Institute would be allowed to rent
space at the Smithsonian to screen a movie promoting their non-scientific
agenda. The DI claims that science will verify Intelligent Design; however,
they have yet to publish a paper in a refereed journal. Why do you suppose
that is? Perhaps because their brand of “science” is not science at all.

I am an astronomer working with NASA out of Goddard Space Flight Center, and
we already have a difficult battle teaching the public what science is
about. Now that the Smithsonian is associating itself with the DI, our job
will become even more difficult.

While the $16,000 donation will be used for science research, the damage
done by the Discovery Institute’s claims that the Smithsonian is a
“co-sponsor” of the event far outweighs any research that could be
accomplished with that $16,000.

[via Pharyngula]

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Attitude and Tachyons

Posted by barb on May 13, 2005 in Science Musings

I received a question through Ask a High Energy Astronomer with such attitude that I wanted to slap the author. She said that she had asked an “Ask an Astronomer” service at NASA when she was a lot younger if dark matter could be made up of tachyons, and was disappointed when the answer was basically “no”. Luckily, she says, this answer didn’t dissuade her from pursuing physics. Now, as a 4th year physics student, she’s dug up a paper (“Quasars as bubbles of dark matter: evidence for axion and tachyon matter in the Universe“) that says that tachyons are a dark matter candidate, so she asks us again if dark matter could be tachyons.

Well, didn’t I feel shamed? Um…no. In fact, I was kind of pissed off. Here’s what I wanted to put in the answer I wrote:

Read more…

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Naming Stars

Posted by barb on May 12, 2005 in Science Musings

Hopefully anyone reading this blog already knows that buying star names is a total crock. However, I thought I’d share this FAQ from the IAU on Naming Stars. The IAU (International Astronomical Union) is the organization that assigns names (or designations) to celestial bodies and the features on them, and their names are the ones that are recognized internationally. They don’t sell star names. If they don’t sell star names, then anyone else you might send money to for a star name is just BS.

The FAQ, though, is rather entertaining and written with a sense of humor (yes, scientists do have a sense of humor, believe it or not). Here’s a sample:

Q: Surely the courts will recognize the name I have paid for??

A: Try to contact your lawyers. Chances are that they will either laugh their heads off or politely suggest that you could invest their fees more productively…

Q: But what about the companies that sell pieces of territory on the Moon and other planets? Those are within reach, we know, so surely I own the piece that I have bought?

A: See the answer to the previous question. As a minimum, we suggest that you defer payment until you can take possession of your property…

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Hotseat Week!

Posted by barb on May 11, 2005 in Science Musings

I love the weeks I spend answering questions for Ask a High Energy Astronomer (soon to be just “Ask an Astronomer”). Why? In part because I get to enlighten people who are curious about astronomy, but mostly because of the websites I run across while searching for resources to pass on in my answers.


Usually I come across crackpot science webpages (and today is no exception, see below), but today I also discovered a cool page, No Answers in Genesis. NAiG is a site devoted to pointing out the inaccuracies and inanities present in the creationist dogma. Much of the site is devoted to evolution and Darwinism, but there are a few things about cosmology and the origin of the Universe.


In the same web search, I also found a crackpot site, TruthBook.com. This site contains the text of The Urantia Book, which is a book containing “religion, history, science, and philosophy, and includes the life and teachings of Jesus.” The authors of this book?

No human being is listed as author of The Urantia Book. The Urantia Book refers to the authorship as a collaborative effort by many superhuman, celestial beings, all of whom brought to this endeavor individual areas of knowledge and expertise. [From the FAQ]

I stumbled upon this site through a quote on our Sun:

Your sun is now passing out of its six billionth year. At the present time it is functioning through the period of greatest economy. It will shine on as of present efficiency for more than twenty-five billion years.

Really? 25 billion more years? Five times more than the currently accepted estimate, based on solid science? But then, this comes down from superhuman, celestial beings, so it must be true.

The best quote, though, in the Sun section is this:

The larger suns maintain such a gravity control over their electrons that light escapes only with the aid of the powerful X rays. [From chapter 41, section 9]

That’s right, it’s gravity that keeps light from escaping from stars, not the incredible density of the central regions. I suppose that means that black holes are just larger suns that have run out of X-rays? And, of course, X-rays are separate from light, right?

Ugh.


Here’s a cute Interview with Sol by Robert J. Nemiroff (from 1987, so a bit old, but the information is still good).

AM: When did you decide to have planets?
Sol: Very early in life, although I’m not exactly sure when – that part of my life was very nebulous. I didn’t really plan to have planets because I never had a steady companion. They just sort of spun off of my care-free early life style.

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Keely is a 13-yr old girl handcuffed by DCF

Posted by barb on Apr 28, 2005 in Random Thoughts

Fla. Agency Gets Teen’s Abortion Blocked

The state’s social services agency was granted a court order to block an abortion for a pregnant 13-year-old girl living in a state shelter, prompting an emergency appeal Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

So, a 13-year-old isn’t old enough to make a decision about legally ending a pregnancy, but she’s old enough to go through pregnancy and childbirth?

This case reminds me of a play called Keely and Du by Jane Martin. The premise of the play was that a young woman, Keely, is kidnapped on her way to an abortion clinic. Her kidnappers are members of a fundamentalist group who plan to hold her handcuffed to a bed until she cannot legally get an abortion. The play centers around the relationship between the Keely and her caregiver, Du. It was a very powerful play, to say the least.

Of course, in the case of the 13-year-old, the fundamentalist group is DCF, and they aren’t handcuffing her to a bed. No, they’re using the legal system. DCF should be ashamed.

[Via Bitch. Ph.D.]

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