We’re Doomed! (Or Not)

Over the past few days the world has been abuzz over the recent meteorite strike in Russia, that just happened to coincide with the close pass of Asteroid 2012 DA14. If that wasn’t enough, reports coming out of Cuba state that a similar event took place in the central part of that country. Then, reports came out of the San Francisco Bay area of a bright fireball streaking over that city! All within 2 days of each other.

Image“Oh Crap! We’re Doomed!”

With these events taking place all within a matter of days, there is a temptation to place some kind of meaning to these events. Unfortunately, many are doing so, and that only stirs up unnecessary fear. While it is hard to get a precise measurement of how much space dust and debris falls to Earth each day, some measurements suggest it could be up to 200 metric tons, while other measurements go as low as 5 metric tons/day. Either way, that is a lot of debris coming in! Most of this is literally dust sized particles left over from the formation of the Solar System. This dust burns up as it meets the atmosphere, and can be occasionally seen in the form of fast moving “shooting stars.” However, there are times when larger chunks of rock enter the atmosphere and put on a dazzling display and appear as brilliant fireballs streaking across the sky as they burn up. Then there are those that make it through, and fall all the way to the surface of the Earth. Usually we do not notice these because the chances are that they are going to fall into the ocean, or an unpopulated area.

Thursday’s event in Russia was only unusual in that it occurred over a populated area. Same with the one over Cuba, and the one over the San Francisco area. These events are not precursors to some type of Apocalypse. They are not signs pointing to the end of the world. These events have been happening, well, since the formation of the planet billions of years ago!

That being said, there is a very real danger and likelihood that Earth will be hit by a very large asteroid – one that could even end civilization. NASA is actively searching out objects of that size and believes that 90% of such objects in near Earth orbit have been found.  What the event over Russia should teach us is that more needs to be done to search out these smaller rocks. 2012 DA14 was not seen until literally the last second. Funding for such searches, and developing ways to deflect such objects needs to be a priority, not just of one country, but of all countries.

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Thoughts On A Massacre

Batman. A cartoon character come to life on the Big Screen. Michael Keaton played the first Big Screen Incarnation of the iconic cartoon character way back in the 1980’s. Keaton was followed by Val Kilmer, who was followed by George Clooney who was followed by Christian Bale, in the latest trilogy. Bale’s Batman portrays a darker character.

“The Dark Knight Rises” was the most anticipated movie of the summer. People everywhere, including myself, were excited to see this movie. No one cold have possibly foreseen the horror unleashed in a Colorado Movie Theater on a Friday night. In fact, those first few seconds of terror were seen as a publicity stunt. Those gathered in this theater thought that the first actions of unspeakable terror and horror were part of a promotional stunt – until the tear gas hit, and the very real bullets started to rip into people.

No one in this theater asked for this. No one in this theater expected this. One person did expect this. One person meticulously planned for this attack. That person was James Holmes. No one, at this point knows the why? Why did this young man, that, apparently was incredibly bright, plan and carry out this massacre? What event in his life triggered this awful action? No one knows. Frankly, no answer will suffice for me.

Already, the gun control debate has been re-opened. In my opinion, no amount of gun control would have prevented this. This was a meticulously thought out and planned attack. He would have found those weapons one way or another – legally or illegally.

Already, the debate about violence in media – the movies we watch, the video games we play, the TV shows we enjoy – is on. The majority of us can recognize the difference between Hollywood fantasy and reality. Last week, I myself watched a movie on Cable – “Shoot ‘Em Up”. It was ridiculously violent. I was laughing at the absurdity of it. Not for one second did I think it was anything near real. The idea that this movie promoted this act is absurd! This was the act of one seriously deranged young man! Hollywood movie makers cannot be blamed for that.

These people gathered in a theater to enjoy a movie. A movie is made to entertain and provide a time for people to indulge in an escape for a few hours. Whether that movie is a sappy chick flick, or a violent gore fest, we recognize that it is escapist fantasy, and when we leave that theater, we return to our REAL lives in a REAL world.

Our thoughts should be directed to those that lost their lives, and to the injured. I am sue that in the coming days and weeks, more will be learned about James Holmes, and what motivated him to commit this horrendous act. These men, women and children were gathered together to enjoy a movie – a fantasy designed to provide an escape from reality for a few hours. How can we best honor their memories? Do not give in to fear. Recognize that the majority of people are good and decent human beings, as the acts of heroism coming from this tragedy are a testament of. Continue to go to theaters. Go see this movie. Do not allow the darkness overcome all that is good and decent.

I Fought The Cable Company, And the Cable Company Won

My cable company sucks. I thought they didn’t.

The story goes like this.

I signed up with a certain phone company that provides internet service.  After 3 years with them, I thought I could probably get better service with the Cable company. I thought the connection would be faster, and I would have faster download speeds. So, gleefully, I called the Cable Company and made the switch. HA! After 3 years, I was sticking it to the man. Or so I thought.

The day arrived! I was so ready to begin this brand new relationship. I bundled ALL of my services – cable, internet and phone. It was supposed to be so wonderful. It was supposed to be cheaper, and easier, and blah, blah, blah. It took all of 4 months for the relationship to go sour.

I remember the day. I was happily surfing the internet and suddenly my connection dropped. “No problem”, I figured. “I’ll just reset the modem.”  I happily resumed surfing and poking my friends on Facebook. Until it happened again. Then again. It didn’t stop happening. I even called the Cable Company. They walked me through a bunch of stuff to change the modem settings. I thought the problem was solve. Until it happened again. Then again. It just kept on happening.

I called tech support. I was placed on hold for over an hour. All the while listening to pre-recorded messages about how the Cable Company values Customer Support.  I finally reached tech support. She was very nice. The conversation was light and I laughed as she made the usual, “Isn’t technology wonderful, until you need it” jokes. I could imagine developing a wonderful relationship with her. Then I quickly stopped myself from going there. She works for the Cable Company. It will never work.

This very nice lady was actually able to walk me through some things to get the modem working. It worked for about a month. Then the connection dropped. It was now happening every day. Every hour. I’d had it. I called the Cable Company. I was placed on hold for over 2 hours. I hung up in frustration. I called again. This time, I believe the Cable Company set a record for placing someone on hold. Three hours later, I slammed the phone down in frustration.

The icing on the cake came a few days later when my bundled internet, cable and phone was silent. No cable. No internet. No phone service. For over 4 hours.

I called the Cable company. No answer. Because the Cable company owned my phone service!

When everything was restored. I called the phone company. Unfortunately my phone service was provided by the cable company.They blocked the phone company phone number.  I had to go to a neighbor to cancel the cable company and get the phone company hooked back up.

BTW, now that ll is well, I have phone service, and internet service by the phone company, the Cable company is calling me to tell me how awesome their phone and internet service is.

President Obama Sends Strong Message To Hollywood; Orders Nuclear Strike Against George Lucas

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Written By Michael Lonergan

In a live television broadcast on all major U.S. Networks earlier this evening, President Barack Obama sent a strong message to Hollywood, and the people who made some of the biggest money-making blockbusters of all time.  The President, in his almost 1 hour speech called upon movie directors such as Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich to work together to bring a more meaningful movie entertainment experience to Americans. Then, in a shocking announcement, the President ordered a nuclear attack on a certain Hollywood movie mogul.

The President stated that, “In these times of economic uncertainty, I believe Americans expect more out of the people who provide the entertainment we have come to love. Americans want to see more than big explosions and end of the world disaster flicks that have sent many Americans, already unnerved by dim prospects for the future, over the edge.”

President Obama went on to discuss the ongoing problem of Motion Picture and Franchise ‘Re-boots’. “My Administration has been quite concerned about the growing phenomenon of movie franchise re-boots. They’re even coming out with a new “Spiderman” and “Superman” reboot.  That is why, tonight, I am calling on my friends in Hollywood – Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich to what I have termed, ‘The State of the Movies Summit’, to be hosted here at the White House this Summer.

“My message to the current crop of motion picture Directors in Hollywood is clear – Stop it! Just Stop it! Stop it with the endless movie re-boots. If a movie didn’t work the first time, what makes you think it will work now? If a movie was great the first time why mess with it?

That brings me to another point, and that is this: You will notice one name not on this list of esteemed Directors – George Lucas.  I feel that Mr. Lucas has done a terrible disservice to tens of millions of American adults by destroying their most precious childhood memories – that of sitting in a movie theater in May, 1977, transfixed as the opening bars of that now famous theme rang out in theaters across America. As children, Mr. Lucas transported us to that Galaxy far, far away, not once, not twice, but three times. So, you can imagine the anticipation that Michelle and I, along with millions of other Americans felt when we first heard the news that George Lucas was going to bring the first part of this amazing story to the big screen some 20 plus years later. Michelle and I lined up outside a movie theater in Chicago, as many of you lined up outside theaters all across this great nation of ours hoping to recapture that wonder and sense of awe we all felt as young children. Imagine our complete disappointment after the final credits rolled at the end of ‘The Phantom Menace’. We were disappointed, not once, not twice, but three times. Then, we heard that Mr. Lucas was finally releasing the Blu-ray edition, and we dared to hope and believe that Mr. Lucas would not screw us over again. But, as if to rub salt into an open wound, Mr. Lucas showed his disdain for movie fans everywhere with a single word: ‘Noooooooooo!’

I extended an offer to Mr. Lucas, an invitation, if you will. I directed my Administration to make available whatever resources necessary for George Lucas to make right a terrible injustice visited upon the American movie going people. Mr. Lucas, once again showed complete disdain by releasing a video game for the X-Box 360. ‘Star Wars Kinect’, where Mr. Lucas invites us to dance with our favorite characters from all six of the ‘Star Wars’ movies, as insipid disco music pounds in the ears of our children. I convinced members of my Administration that this callous behavior had gone too far, and that this Hollywood mogul had crossed the proverbial line in the sand and passed the point of no return. So, after meeting with the Secretary of Defense, I have directed 10 of our B-2 Stealth Bombers, or half of our operational fleet, to carry out nuclear strikes against Skywalker Ranch, which we believe to be the base of operations of Mr. Lucas’ empire. Our goal in this operation, which we have termed ‘Operation Skywalker Redemption’, is not necessarily to take out Mr. Lucas, but to take out his ability to further inflict damage upon the hearts and minds of the American movie going public.”

The President ended his speech with the following statements:

“It’s regrettable that we have had to take such forceful action, however, Mr. Lucas asked for it when he made those God-awful prequels. He taunted us when he meddled with the dialogue in the Blu-ray release, and, finally, he begged us to put him out of our misery with the latest ‘Star Wars Kinect’ game. We had no choice.

It is the hope of this President, and this Administration, that such strong action will serve as a deterrent to any other movie director that chooses to completely ignore the values that the American movie going public have cherished since those early days of movie magic. It is our hope that the upcoming ‘State of the Movies Summit’ will provide a guide towards a new cinematic future for Americans.

May God Bless you and, May God Bless The Silver Screens of these United States of America.”

(Image from Commons)