Category Archives: America

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Click to enlarge.

This is the current map of the Milky Way, as best we can make it out from our viewpoint inside. Our home galaxy has about 200 billion to perhaps 500 billion other stars beside our own. Orbiting them are billions to trillions of planets and moons. And that’s just one of billions of galaxies in the universe.

We cannot take pictures of our galaxy, so this image is a model. It is based primarily on results from the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) and the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer Galactic Plane Survey (MIPSGAL). Both are key projects for the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope. This particular image was released on June 3, 2008 at the 212th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

I hope your head is spinning. (It should be).

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Never Will I Falter

America’s entire East Coast is under assault from “Frankenstorm” Sandy tonight.

All of New York is shut down, partially flooded, and half the city has lost power. Nine state governors have declared emergencies and millions of residents are without electricity and under evacuation orders.

In the middle of all this, a sleeper story of human resilience and determination has taken the social media by storm.

Since midnight of July 2, 1937, the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery has been guarded around the clock, without any interruptions. In 1948, guard duty was assigned to the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard“. Since then, they have been true to their credo to “never falter”. Never have the remains of the soldiers buried at the tomb been left alone.

On their Twitter feed and Facebook page, the Old Guard has made it clear that come Sandy, they have no intention of abandoning their post. Their Facebook statement from Monday reads:

“The Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier maintain their vigil even as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the Eastern Seaboard. The Old Guard has guarded the tomb every minute of every day since April 6, 1948. Today will be no exception.”

The message widely resonated in a nation full of doubt, uncertainty and crisis. And now, as the outpouring of encouraging social media postings indicates, the Old Guard clearly have a cross section of America high-fiving and rooting for them.

Here is a photo taken during a storm last month. (I could not determine who the photographer was. Internet users have mistakenly connected the picture with Sandy).

Inspiring indeed!

The Old Guard on Twitter
The Old Guard on Facebook

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Joyriding In Beverly Hills, 1935

This film was studio background footage shot to be seen from the rear window of a stationary mock up car supposedly driving with actors in the front seat. The film records the road scenes on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills from Canon Drive past Robertson Boulevard.The last part of the film records the street scenes on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, following the same route as previous. (Via ).

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Solar Eclipse

While hiking in the woods yesterday, I spontaneously decided to build an improvised pinhole camera to see the solar eclipse. Materials used: a roll of toilet paper, some aluminum foil I found in a trash can, a notepad from my backpack, and of course, my trusted Swiss army knife. Here is the resulting contraption and the image it produced:

If this does not impress you, here is a more professional image taken by the European Proba-2 microsatellite. (Hey, it cost a bit more). Credit: ESA/Pierre Carril.

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Sexual Humiliation In America – A Tool to Enforce Compliance?

Feminist author Naomi Wolf wrote a rather thought provoking and interesting piece for the UK newspaper, The Guardian. She argues that widespread, court approved sexual humiliation is becoming a routine method to threaten, terrorize and desensitize the American public in order to force political and ideological compliance.

Link: How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses

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Etta James, 1938 – 2012

Jamesetta Hawkins, born January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles to a teenage prostitute, never knew her father and grew up in various foster homes. She became a major recording and performance artist under the name “Etta James”. She passed away on January 20, 2012 in Riverside, California.

Etta James on Wikipedia

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Is Krampus Finally Coming To America?

Today’s Santa Claus is nothing but a sanitized marketing figure, stripped of all deeper meaning, and sanitized of any mystery. And (perhaps reflective of America), his morbid obesity problem seems to be getting worse from year to year.

Where I grew up, we still have the original Saint Nicholas. The figure is based on Nikolaos of Myra, a 4th century monk and bishop. “Saint Nik”, of course, represents goodness and selfless charity. He promotes quiet introspection and rewards the good.

But beware. If you are not good, you might expect a visit from quite another fellow who roams the Alps at this time of the year — especially during the night from December 5 to December 6. For if there is goodness, there must also be evil.

According to NPR, the nemesis of Santa Claus is now also gaining a foothold in America. Listen or read the transcript:

I’ve been saying for years: It is about time! (See my earlier blog entry). America needs Krampus to cut through all the commerce, carry off some evil people and restore Christmas to its rightful place as a promised time of light, hope and good joy for all mankind.

If you watch the video, you will understand why Austrian and Swiss children do better in school than their American counterparts, and why they never misbehave. (Well, rarely).


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