I *Think* I'm Happy...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Right?  Am I happy?

From Balloon Juice, who quoted from SCOTUSblog:

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.


Beer Poetry

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I saw this poem not long ago, and loved it. Just wanted to share.

The Little Vagabond
by William Blake, 1757-1827

Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,

But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;

Besides I can tell where I am used well,

Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

But if at the church they would give us some ale,

And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,

We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,

Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

Then the parson mug preach, and drink, and sing,

And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;

And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,

Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see

His children as pleasant and happy as he,

Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,

But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.


Art Via Science

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


On board the International Space Station ESA astronaut André Kuipers
 looks through a drop of water containing a bubble of air.

Credit: ESA/NASA


We're Tall, O God, We're Tall

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

As you all have seen in the news, Ray Bradbury passed away a few weeks ago on June 5.  But just today, I stumbled across the video embedded below (H/T to It's Okay To Be Smart).  This video, taken with yesterday's news that Voyager 1 is now in the "heliosheath," just about to break through into interstellar space, make a powerful statement to me about the value of human imagination and education.

A ship of our creation, directly in communication with us, an extension of us, breaking through the "barrier" of our solar system, our sun, our home. We are tall today.


And the Answer Is:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Here's as full of a story we're going to get on MBC right now.

So, a question I have for the coming months: who will buy the rights to MBC's brand names?

And some follow-ups, if I may:  Will they keep the names the same?  Will it be resurrected, like Bobby resurrected the Celis name?  Will whichever company buys the beer brands improve some of the recipes?  Keep some the same?

And the fate of MBC Downtown is unclear.  The manager right no is trying to get a Class C liquor license, allowing him to be a beer bar and serve, as is his wont, higher-end craft beer.  If the City of Lansing gives him guff, I'll be sure to let all 4 ATK readers know so we can all bitch to city hall.


Beer to Beat the August Heat

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time to get a couple beers in the fermenter for the brutal August I'm expecting.  I'm thinking of some new (but not risky) takes on classic summery ales.

What about a Blonde Ale (go here, click "6B" on page 2), brewed with apricots?

What about a Kolsch (go here, click "6C" on page 2), or maybe a Weizen, (15A, same page), brewed with honey?  Note:  the honey doesn't add sweetness; it ferments completely.  It'll add some alcohol, and some flavors of the type of honey it is (organey from orange blossoms, floral from clover, etc), as well as add a bit of body to the beer.  So the Kolsch won't be so lightly watery and the weizen will be a tad creamier.

This Blonde Ale, which is normally this sort of lighter, grainy concoction, brewed with apricots is really exciting me.  I love Dogfish Head ApriHop, what with its complex balance of hoppy IPA and nectary-sweet apricots.  Really a great beer.  But a Blonde Ale is normally so...so...boring.  I think apricots, as mildly sweet as they are, will add a really nice sweetness to this otherwise grainy doldrum without overpowering it.  Apricots aren't as strong as blueberries or raspberries or cherries.  They're really mild, so I feel like I'm not gonna be brewing "fruit juice with beer in it."

Note - some examples:  New Holland has a fine Kolsch-style ale called Full Circle.  My favorite weizen is Hacker-Pschorr Weisse.  And a passable Blonde Ale is either Fuller's Summer Ale or Saugatuck Oval Beach Blonde.

What says the crowd?

Week 3 of Crossfit training.  I train 3 days, take a day off to stretch and do yoga, 3 on 1 off, etc.  Today's Workout of the Day is called The Filthy Fifty:

  1. 50 box jumps
  2. 50 jumping pullups (start in a squat, jump into pull up, drop, land in squat)
  3. 50 kettlebell swings, 30#
  4. 50 walking lunges
  5. 50 push-press (standing shoulder/upper-chest press), 45#
  6. 50 back extensions
  7. 50 burpees
  8. 50 jump-rope reps
  9. Run 800m
Hell yeah.


This, I Believe

Friday, June 08, 2012

A blog I frequent, Skepchick, is one of my favorite skeptic/science blogs sites on the interwebs, and it has really quality writing from honest-to-goodness scientists on topics from their field of study to feminism to pop culture.  Skepchick is part of a network (the lead site in the network).  One of the other sites in this network is Mad Art Lab, a skeptics-meets-artists bog.

That's an "around the ass to scratch my elbow" way of getting us to Zen Pencils.  Zen Pencils is the work of an Asian-Autrialian named Gavin Aung Than who illustrates quotes and parts of speeches of famous and interesting people.  I really dig his work, and am always inspired by TR's "Man in the Arena" speech, illustrated here.

Two of Than's illustrations really jumped out at me.

This one, an excerpt from Carl Sagan, when used in conjunction with the last 5 paragraphs of Pale Blue Dot (animated here), sums up pretty much my entire belief system.  Than's illustration to Sagan's words that mean so much to what I hold true - somehow, "cartoony" lends a certain innocent simplicity and credibility to those words - that I get a little throat-lumpy and am pleased to share.

Finally, this illustration is one I am having Smitty Jr read, and one I'll share with the Wonder Twins.  This is how excited I want them to be when it comes to uncovering - in a real way - their world.  I want them to embrace science and learning and questioning and searching.  The cartoon, based on Phil Plait's (Bad Astronomy, another favorite blog) speech to a science fair, I think is built perfectly to reach a smart kid.

I like where Than is headed with Zen Pencils.  Not only did I not want to monkey with putting jpgs of his illustrations on here, I really want you to go to his site, hunt around, get inspired, and maybe even support him.

Happy Friday!



Thursday, June 07, 2012



It's real.  It's really real...

Cosmos - that Cosmos - is...

 ...wait for it...

getting a sequel!

Carl Sagan's widow and original Cosmos producer, Ann Druyan, is teaming-up with Seth McFarlane (yes...that Seth McFarlane) to air a 13-episode sequel to Cosmos.

And who's the host?

Oh god, I might pee...it's...NeildeGrasseTyson.

Dream.  Come.  TRUE.

Anyway, from the article:

The bad — or at least, potentially bad — news is that, because of MacFarlane’s involvement, the series will air in prime time, and on Fox.
Now, in one way I’m all for showing it in prime time on a major network, because it’ll be that much more likely that people who routinely ignore the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel and, yes, PBS will actually see it. 
I’m less thrilled, though, that it will have to compete with other, more mainstream prime-time shows — and it’ll be on Fox, which doesn’t have the greatest track record for giving shows a chance to pull their ratings up once they go down.
I agree with the middle paragraph.  I think it's fine to run on mainstream TV, because that's who we're trying to reach.  That's the intent of Cosmos. And I think it does help that it's Seth McFarlane, whom Fox has made gazillions off of.  If it tanks just a little, McFarlane might have the juice to kep it going rather than having it pulled.

It apparently airs "some time in 2013."  I'm checking my DVR schedule every night starting in December.


Transit of Venus - It's Not Too Late!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Smitty:  "Speaking of geeked...gonna make a Transit of Venus viewer?"

Bob:  "Too late. Its tomorrow. I will hold off until 2117."

No!  It's not too late!

Smitty's guide to a field-expedient Transit of Venus viewer:

Method 1:
  1. Buy 2 of those triangular post office picture shipping tubes
  2. Tape them together to make a 6' tube
  3. On one short end, cut a hole a few inches big; this will the the "top" you'll point at the sun 
  4. Tape some tin foil over that hole
  5. Pick the tin foil in the middle with a push-pin
  6. down near the bottom, but not on the bottom, like along the side near the bottom, cut open a window about as wide as one of the sides of the triangle shipper, and several inches long up the length.
  7. put a piece of blank white paper in the window and flat on the bottom 
  8. Point the viewer at the sun
  9. Observe through the window!
Method 2:
  1. Take a piece of paper or posterboard and punch a hole in the middle
  2. Lay a blank piece of paper on the ground, maybe at an angle depending on the angle of the sun
  3. Kneel or stand up.  
  4. Hold the hole-punched sheet over the one on the ground so it covers with a shadow, save for a little prick of light (I said "little prick"...I know...)
  5. That little prick, if pointed right, is the sun.  Look for a dot.  That's Venus.
Here's my source for methods 1 and 2.

Want a third method?  Here's one with a bathroom hand mirror!

No excuses!  SCIENCE!!


Found: 2 Hubble-Class Space Telescopes.

Monday, June 04, 2012

"First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?" 
 - The Movie: Contact

Or three for that matter.

It seems that the National Reconnaissance Organization has just stumbled across a couple Hubble-class Space Telescopes they had laying around. While these were built to look downward instead of toward the heavens, it seems they will work damn well pointing upward.  NASA has plans to use them to seek out dark matter and save the U.S. $250 million over the cost of building a new telescope.

See the great article at the New York Times.



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