July 21st, 2009


Longest Solar Eclipse in Two Days....

For those not keeping track of space news, on Wed. the longest solar eclipse in the 21st Century will be occurring. According to the NASA news feed...

On July 22nd, Earth happens to be near its farthest point from the sun. A small sun means the Moon can cover it longer. At the same time, the Moon will be near its closest point to Earth. A large Moon covers the sun longer, lengthening the eclipse even more.

Alas, we here in North America won't be able to catch this cosmic show in person. It'll be up to our South Asian friends to catch this event for us. Thankfully, I'm sure there will be video posted all over the place so that we'll be able to see this unusually long blocking of the sun by the moon.

For live streams during the event, you can catch out one of the sites listed here:


Also, you should all know that this is yet another portent that the end times is among us:

“The probability for unrest or war to take place in years when a solar eclipse happens is 95 percent,” announced an article that attracted a lot of hits on the popular Chinese web portal Baidu.com.

Thankfully, some of us will be more prepared to step into the global castrophe that will surely befall mankind... like all of the other solar eclipses through human history have led to the world ending..., err... wait....

Well, nevermind. I have it on good authority that this time WILL definitely be the one to wipe out nearly all of humanity:


* World is coming to an end!
* Only the strong will survive
* It is a new start of humanity
* A new sociaty will be built and YOU will be an important part of it!
* After you sign up you will not only experience more happiness (before the armageddon), you will also find a inner understanding and be able to see the true meaning of life.

I hope it's going to involve zombies. I'm going to be really disappointed if there isn't any flesh-eating zombie action.


Or, possibly, Kaiju... I wouldn't mind if we were wiped out by a monster from space either:


Well, in case the world doesn't come to a screaming end, I guess I won't quit my job and seek out a lightly populated island quite yet.

Thank you.


Straw man Arguments. Who's makin' them now?

Some dufus named Matthew J. Franck has written an opinion piece for the national review slamming the law suit against Prop 8 in California. His post was in direct response to a piece by David Boies that I commented on already.

Naturally, he tries to argue against Mr. Boies' suit by pointing out that he's making a bunch of straw man arguments. And, he does this by... making a bunch of straw man arguments! Dunder-head.

I had to respond to him by email with this:


I'd say that about you.

"Nothing about their racial differences made for a relevant consideration between a man and a woman naturally capable of marrying."

Nothing about their being different genders are relevant for consideration in being "naturally capable of marrying" either. Marriage in and of itself is a man-made, civil contract matter. And ergo, there is no reason that same-gender couples should be any less "naturally capable" either... whatever that is supposed to mean.

"depriving lesbians of the right to marry each other could force them into marrying someone they do not love but who happens to be of the opposite sex."

This argument has actually been made by same-gender marriage foes in arguing that gays and lesbians aren't being discriminated against. Perhaps, not in court... you'd probably know more about that than I... but the pundits have certainly made that case. "Gays aren't being discriminated against because they can get married, if they'd choose a partner of the opposite gender."

"But it has everything to do with same-sex marriage's necessary severing of the link between marriage and procreation."

Talk about strawman arguments! By that logic, anyone who isn't planning on having kids should be barred from marriage. Along with: the old, the infertile, those who've had vasectomies, those who've had their ovaries or womb removed (perhaps due to cancer for instance)... this argument shows where your true motives lie - and its not with constitutional arguments, but with your definition of what marriage is for which sounds amazingly biblical. And, the bible doesn't dictate our laws - thankfully - we're not a theocracy.

"In any event, the question of changing sexual orientation is quite irrelevant to the issue of who is entitled to marry."

Really? Because if only straight people can marry each other, and gay people can only marry straight people then doesn't that imply that if only gay people would be straighter then they could happily marry? This is completely about orientation and whether one can 'be changed' in order to fit better into the straight world - including marrying.

"It is incumbent on him to show why restricting marriage to one man and one woman is a violation of those clauses."

It's a violation of the 'due process' and 'equal protection under the law' because it specifically targets one group and tells them specifically that they may not have 100% of the rights and priviliges of other groups of people.

"On the other hand, Boies passes merrily by the very serious argument that state recognition of same-sex unions as marriages will lead to official infringement of the religious liberty of many Americans."

Another straw argument. Those states with same-gender marriage recognition have already included rules barring the forcement of religious organizations to perform, recognize or acknowlege those unions in their religious settings. Religion and Government are two very separate things and secular laws are not dictated by the bible... at least they shouldn't be in a "free" society. As for the adoption question and Catholic organizations... I'd have to know more about why they've been forced out, but my first question is "Were they taking state funds to perform their works?" If the answer is 'yes, but...,' then shut up. If they're taking handouts from the state, they should be following the law and if they can't do that, then they shouldn't take state funds (including their tax exemptions). But, I would like to know more about why they can't operate as a private, religiously based adoption agency. That would seem unfair and unjust to me.

"It is a statement of fact about a central institution in our civilization—a fact historical, natural, and moral, backed up by many centuries of wisdom about men and women, children and families, law and culture."

Straw argument. Societal mores are not static and change over time and the law follows. 'Natural' and 'moral' are relative terms depending on the culture. And many centuries of wisdom also allowed slavery, miscegenation, disallowed men of women of different ethnicities from marrying, disallowed different Faiths from marrying, allowed people to be legally murdered for witchcraft, thought mental illness was actually possession by evil spirits, etc. etc. etc.

"Justice requires that the lawsuit brought by David Boies and Theodore Olson be laughed out of court."

Justice requires that the judges of the Supreme Court issue a reminder that "the bible says so" isn't a legal argument.

I would highly recommend that everyone email this twit and point out his utterly transparent attempts to paint somebody else with the very brush he's the one wielding... It's not even Pot/Kettle... it's trying to deflect attention from the empty arguments that the Right/Social Conservatives want to use that have nothing to do with an actual legal argument.   MJFRANCK@MSN.com

Another Thank you

This time my undying gratitude goes to Jupiter, who's taken another one for the team (the 'team' being our solar system):

picture from newscientists.com

The scary part of this is how we had no clue it was even happening or where or what it was that hit the gas giant (I want to believe it was a Kilaak ship). Check out the New Scientist story and let's give a shout out to amateur astronomer, Aussie Anthony Wesley.