|| Thursday, April 03, 2003
News - My Weblog has moved to
http://michaelrogersstartalk.blogspot.com/. Please change your bookmarks.
The new blog site is nicer to look at, I think, and easier for me to
This current site on Userland will expire on April 30. See you at blogspot!
|| Wednesday, April 02, 2003
News -- Last Sunday, The Simpsons had a really great episode about astronomy
and the evils of light pollution: http://www.thesimpsons.com
Here's a description from the Website: "A British filmmaker comes to Bart's
class to make a documentary on the typical American school, and Bart's
celebrity status is plunged into jeopardy when Nelson receives attention
from the filmmaker for stealing hood ornaments. Moreover, the filmmaker
leaves Lisa with feelings of inadequacy, causing her to run out and choose a
career in astronomy. Bart begins searching for unique hood ornaments while
Lisa, unable to find a dark spot to stargaze, climbs Mt. Springfield.
She encounters Professor Frink at the summit, and he teaches her about the
problem of light pollution.
Lisa starts a campaign to reduce the amount of light usage in Springfield,
but when Chief Wiggum encourages Springfield to double its light usage to
fight crime, night becomes day and the town goes "mondo bizarro," unable to
sleep with the constant light.
Lisa finally decides that enough is enough and breaks into the power plant
with Bart, overloads the system and plunges the town into total darkness,
returning Springfield to normal."
The best part of the episode was the end, with the Simpsons family sitting
on their lawn watching a meteor shower. I think we're really making progress
in public awareness about light pollution when it becomes the subject of a
News -- Really, really geeky April Fool astronomy products (see listing
under April Specials): http://www.scopestuff.com/index.html
Comment -- True astronomy dorks will laugh-out-loud at these jokes. One of
my favorites, for example, is a "dark-emitting diode" (instead of a
light-emitting diode) that makes it darker so you can see more stars. Man, I
was rolling on the carpet laughing about that one!
|| Tuesday, April 01, 2003
News - War in northern Iraq is different, with
friendly locals and green hills instead of desert sands:
Comment - I like this story because it notes that the soldiers lie under
their tarps at night and gaze at the night sky. The picture that goes with
the story is amusing, too: it looks like the Marine is getting attacked by a
herd of goats.
News - Spartan basketball primed to take off next year:
Comment - This article notes the return of all their key players, plus the
addition next year of two McDonald's All America guards. I think next year's
the year they have to make a serious charge for a national championship,
before their players start leaving for the NBA.
Only seven months until they play their first game of the 2003-2004 season!
|| Monday, March 31, 2003
News - I had a great birthday party Saturday.
Comments - It was all due to my wife's hard work in getting it organized. I
love you and thanks again!
Thanks also to my mom for hosting the party at her house, and thanks to all
the relatives and friends who stopped by.
News - Spartan win over Maryland in the early hours
of Saturday was a nice birthday present, but they fell short on Sunday
afternoon against Texas.
Brandon really had a good observation when he said that MSU was not forcing
Texas to use the entire shot-clock before they scored. For whatever
reason...I think it was the impact of the Texas guard, T.J. Ford...MSU's
defense was not as effective as it had been in the first three games of the
tournament. Still, State was in the game until the very end.
Next year...State could really be loaded. Depending on whether or not Texas
wins the national championship (they return nearly everyone next year), MSU
could be pre-season #1.
News -- This Web site tried to pick the NCAA basketball tournament winners
by "Googlefighting" the names of the team mascots:
Comment - An amusing gimmick that netted mostly nonsense results.
|| Friday, March 28, 2003
News - Lots of debate over what the U.S. should do next in Iraq:
Comment - The U.S. military is highly adaptable. It's not a "failure" when
you have to change your plan to adjust to changing circumstances. From this
article: "Whatever happens, the war is fast becoming a demanding test of the
commanders' ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, synchronize their
diverse forces to get the most from them and prevail in a complex, risky and
most unusual war."
The Wall Street Journal has an annoying article on today's front page. When
noting our challenges in Iraq (in a war that's all of a week old!) it
mentions Hitler's disaster in Russia, especially in Stalingrad.
It's an ignorant and shallow comparison. The article claims Hitler's army
"was shattered by crumbling logistics and harassment of supply lines by
small Russian units." No, that's not what happened at all in Russia during
WWII. Hitler's army was shattered by a vicious, multi-million-man Soviet
counterattack that was supplied in large part by American trucks and food.
Plus, there was the impact of round-the-clock Allied bombing of Germany and
the opening of a second front on the beaches of Normandy.
It's not so much that those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to
repeat them...it's more like reporters who get their history wrong are
destined to sound stupid.
News - Okay, I always try to finish on a light note. Frosty Welcome gives
you online fridge magnets:
Comment - Use your mouse to arrange the magnets into a message, then e-mail
it to your friends.
|| Thursday, March 27, 2003
News - Here's a pretty good analysis of what has and has not been
accomplished in the war, so far:
Comment - On the plus side: the oil fields were quickly captured, western
Iraq was secured to prevent the firing of Scuds into Israel, we have a
bridgehead across the Euphrates River, the new Patriot missile batteries
appear to be working really well (shooting down most of the Iraqi
surface-to-surface rockets) and, for whatever reason, no chemical attacks
On the negative side: Saddam's regime did not crumble under the "shock and
awe" attacks (although it remains an open question whether Saddam is dead or
alive), the fedayeen thugs are dangerous and need to be eliminated, and
weather/supply problems have slowed the U.S. advance.
Here's a summary quote from the article: "The war so far has been demanding
and unpredictable. But the United States military has accomplished some
important objectives and has changed its strategy and tactics to deal with
its foes. Allied commanders seem persuaded of two things: the fedayeen will
be defeated and the most difficult fight, the battle of Baghdad, lies
News - My reading of headlines in the Washington Post, New York Times, and
watching CNN makes me think that Bush is starting to turn around the PR
Comment - This article is reinforcing the message that the war could last
months and that we need to assemble more troops. What's missing is any hint
that we should quit, so that's a win for Bush.
Also, coverage of our troop conduct is overwhelmingly positive. And, several
stories today about how the U.S. forces are showing flexibility in dealing
with temporary military setbacks.
I'm sure the media is strongly influenced by daily polls that continue to
show strong support for the war.
News - Brandon passed on this link to an article that shows what happens
when you get too curious about Homeland Security:
Comment - Goes to show that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean
they're not out to get you.
News - To close on a lighter note, here's a funny article from Dave Barry
about how he helped write jokes for Steve Martin's Academy Awards show:
Comment - From the article: "We met eight times over the course of three
months. Most of the meetings were in the living room of Martin's home, a
fine place to sit and laugh. In addition to the writers, these meetings were
attended by Martin's Labrador retriever, Roger, whose contribution to the
process was to periodically emit eye-watering blasts of flatulence. We'd be
sitting around, tossing out jokes, and suddenly, WHOA, the air would turn
green. When this happened, Martin would give Roger a stern lecture."
|| Wednesday, March 26, 2003
News - Here's a picture shot out the window of the International Space
Station. It's Large Magellanic Cloud--an irregular galaxy visible from
Earth's southern hemisphere:
Comment - The article about shooting photos from the Space Station can be
astronauts say the aurora are the most beautiful things they see from orbit.
News - Worried about the war? Quit watching the news!:
Comment - From a story I wrote today for our Online Digest:
Try and ignore the media saturation coverage of the war's minute-to-minute
progress. "I only pay attention to major developments, otherwise I would
find myself worrying needlessly over every event and every reported
casualty," says Robert MacDonald, Vice-President of WORKPOINTS, who is a
combat veteran with a family member serving in Iraq. "I also find that
there are too many media 'armchair generals' offering their own opinions and
criticisms of how the war is being conducted. If you are anxious about the
safety of a loved one, listening to these self-appointed experts will only
make matters worse," he says.
If there's one thing I've learned from reading a lot of military history
over the years, it's that there is no substitute for victory. Nothing will
shut up the CNN "armchair generals" faster than winning the war. I pray it
© Copyright 2003 Michael Rogers.
Last update: 4/3/03; 12:48:37 PM.