They Dance

(Via Bad Astronomy.)

This video made me think of us. We’re the only ones here. And we’ve only recently become capable of seeing planets dance with their moons. We strapped cameras to rockets and flung them to the heavens.

We aimed for these specks of light that have traveled among the stars our entire existence. We’ve watched and traced and slowly figured out how to anticipate them. And in the process, we’ve found that we’re one of them. They’re our family.

Now we’ve taken so many pictures that we can watch them move, watch them dance. They’re out there in the depths of cold beyond cold, held onto by the invisible marionette strings of our single, lonely star.

They always would be moving, even without us watching. But we get to, in all the glory of a simple flickering video, like watching experiments with film at the end of the 19th Century. Knowing that this has gone on for time beyond comprehension, yet we finally are seeing it.

Since we are who we are, we will keep looking. Not only do we get to watch our ancient family dance here, but we search on to see how many other dancers there are in the skies.

And since we are who we are, we will never stop. We can’t. Give an animal some thumbs and plenty of time and its progeny will crack rocks into axes and build fires and eventually run around strapping cameras to rockets.

Maybe those animals would start seeing the faintest traces of those marionette strings pulling on our dancers spinning around our single, lonely star.

The planets would still be out there without us. The tree would definitely fall in the woods and vibrate the air. Those planets would be moving with their moons, nameless and silent. But we are the ones who get to see them dance.

Quick Thoughts

First, from my daughter’s brain:

Emily-Writing

Emily wanted to write a letter to her friend Elizabeth. The top is her attempt to sound out the name. Then she asked me to write out the name below, so I did to give her an example. Last, she copied it herself. She turns 4 next week. Kinda cool there.

Some links:

Emily’s schoolwork. She’s big into cartography. And posing.

Emily-Map

Snow

Snow.

Did you know that Eskimos have 600,000 words for snow? It’s true. I, like, totally looked that up just now.

Minnesotans have a few different words for them as well.

“Shit” comes to mind.

In less than a day, we went from no snow on the ground to 8.5″ being dropped. That’s after having rained yesterday afternoon. Not only is there a lovely layer of slush under everything, it means this was a warm storm and the snow is very wet. In the city, it was mostly rain and a couple of inches of snow. Up here, we got nailed hard enough that even the district called a Snow Day.

After sleeping in a bit, the neighborhood got up and began work to dig itself out. I and the boy were sweating through our gear pretty quickly. Once we got about 1/3 done, he was off and playing. 1/3 more of the driveway cleared, a neighbor loaned me his snowblower.

Upon handing the rumbling contraption off to me, his only words were, “This shit is too heavy.”

See!? It’s not just me. The natives do have many words for snow up here! Cultural Anthropology is so fascinating.

Point of order, however: this heavy, wet snow is some of the best. At least for kids. Why? You can reach right down and grab a handful of snow and it automatically forms into a functional snowball. Had I not wiped myself out shoveling, the games would have been on.

On like white on rice.

In a glass of milk.

On a paper plate.

In a snowstorm.

Pithy Quote

I would rather have spent time and money on lowering our levels of waste just to find out global warming was false, than do nothing and find out global warming was true.

– Me

A Funny Little Place

The Internet makes our world a very accessible funny, little place.
So I’m going about my business, procrastinating, reading blogs; all the usual. I get to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog and get this amazing view of Orion over some Mayan ruins:

I’m already wondering how quickly I can make this my desktop background for my laptop. I have always had a soft spot for astronomy and exploring the ways of the universe. Then I click over to St├ęphane Guisard’s group of photos from Tikal. Perusing those amazing pictures, I find this:

There is something about seeing how the sky rotates over us that gives me pause. Then the bigger realization backs it up: the sky isn’t moving, we’re spinning underneath it.

You can see the pinpoint of our spinning top, the few specks of light we get to see in the evening. It’s all there during the day, though quite a different group being seen from the other side of the planet.

The world is so big and twirling so fast, it is almost impossible for our animal minds to fully grasp all that is in motion at once. Hence why such a view is both enlightening and nauseating at the same time. Just to add to the crazy, where the sun and fellow planets pass through this centrifuge changes through the seasons.

I saw this by following the link trail on digital bits scattered around servers across the world. I saw this and thought, “This must be how a ball feels rolling around on the floor.” We live in a funny, little place.

American Discourse

A rather reasonable discussion on the tough topic of abortion.

I’ve always been pro-choice. Nobody should be forced to be a parent, nor should anyone be forced to find a far more dangerous medical procedure (which they always have and will fine). Michelle Goldberg, for me anyway, helped solidify the political theory behind that argument.

It is certainly a matter of liberty for a woman. The idea of the state imposing its will on a woman, essentially declaring that she will become the indentured incubator for the fetus, hits me not only as bad but un-American.

I have no qualm with those groups who are anti-abortion (I call bullshit on the term ‘pro-life’ if you ignore the mother’s). Anyone has the right to say and promote programs that suit their beliefs. I love me some First Amendment. And I can understand the debate on questioning at what point a clump of mammalian cells becomes fully human, becomes a person. But the line is drawn at the state dictating what avoidable physiological tolls are placed on a person.

Goldberg’s analogy to the state forcing a person to give blood or a kidney seems somewhat apt. That would be a forcing of bodily alteration, however survivable, to be beyond choice. If living under such a regime, I would definitely wind up doing one of two quintessentially American acts: fighting or leaving.

(Found via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.)

Ripon: Anew, One.

The title is the motto I always dreamed for a town neighboring where I grew up.

Twenty-Ten ended and Twenty-Eleven began in the best and worst manners possible. Over Christmas, I was sick with strep throat. Yes, twice in two months, yes, diagnosed on the Eve. M followed suit after the holiday, and the lad has a chest cold that I also managed to give him.

Luckily we had family in town to support us, and after Christmas my friends flew in to stay for a week of smiles and laughs. I love those guys and I’m glad they enjoy staying with my family. We conquered Mario Brothers and caught up on Community. We laughed at one another and at the silliness that sprang from my children’s lips. We ate steak and drank beer. Go ahead and try to beat that; you won’t.

Looking ahead, I’m thinking of a regular weekend feature again. I’ve done videos and music. This time I’m going to try pictures. Ideally they’ll all be ones taken on our own camera. We’ll see how far that goes. I do want to be a little more visual at The Fry Side, but I also want to avoid the blogging cliche of starting every post with a picture.

Just like this site, we’ll just see where the experiment goes.

Happy New Year!

And today, Happy Perihelion!

The Dome’s Down!

This video of the collapse of the Metrodome roof leads to some questions: The stadium was built in 1982. There have been plenty of nasty snowstorms in the past three decades. Nobody saw this coming? Who thought it would be a good idea to build a fabric roof in the Minnesota climate? During the year, every year, we spend a minimum of four months under an increasing carpet of snow.

Of course, there’s also the factor that it takes a major storm to do any harm to a 30 year old fabric roof? Humans are great at making stuff.

(Found via JZeller.)

Now That’s Comedy. Wait, I Mean Tragedy.

Mr Clark over at the Slacktivist finds something properly laughable:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Republican Christine O’Donnell, a candidate for the United States Senate, is unfamiliar with those 16 words.

You really have to check out the video from about the 2:30 mark. Within 30 seconds of that, Christine O’Donnell rightly gets laughed at by the entire room. It is honestly worthy of Saturday Night Live.

There hasn’t even needed to be all that much debate on the topic of religious and secular separation in this country since the Bill of Rights. The biggest debate? Whether to put it in the Constitution proper, or as an Amendment. (The Founders opted for Amendment because they needed to get a functional government, plus it was quite obvious the thing would get passed so they may as well get some practice).

Then comes the tears to my brain. This isn’t a skit. Not a spoof. Not even a snafu. It is a real debate between candidates for the United States Senate. Though tremendously faulty, it is the body that is the true check on Executive power. It is the place in the Federal Government I had most hoped to take my place in (though since I don’t sit well under either political party, those plans are slightly delayed.)

I have more coming. Suffice to say, if we as a people are even considering putting up candidates that utterly deny science, law, history, and even simple fact, then our country’s slow collapse is well underway.