Astronomy Picture of the Week – Northern Summer on Titan

Another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale. And yeah, I’m a day late.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sees bright methane clouds drifting in the summer skies of Saturn’s moon Titan, along with dark hydrocarbon lakes and seas clustered around the north pole.

Compared to earlier in Cassini’s mission, most of the surface in the moon’s northern high latitudes is now illuminated by the sun. (See here for a view of the northern hemisphere from 2007.) Summer solstice in the Saturn system occurred on May 24, 2017.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 9, 2017, using a spectral filter that preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. Cassini obtained the view at a distance of about 315,000 miles (507,000 kilometers) from Titan.

As usual, click on the image for the .tif download…

[Read more…]

#BlackLivesMatter Philando Castile’s Murderer Found Innocent

Also late to this (warning: that link includes the Facebook video of Philando’s death; it does not include the more recent dashcam as far as I can tell; I will not be sharing that)…

Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year, was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter Friday.

He also was acquitted of two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety.

Castile’s death garnered widespread attention — and sparked nationwide protests over the use of force by police — after his girlfriend broadcast the shooting’s aftermath on Facebook Live.

Not guilty? Fucking not guilty?

I just… I…

#BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName Charleena Lyles

Another one

I’m late to this one, I know. I’m sorry.

Seattle police officers shot and killed a woman at her apartment Sunday morning in front of “several children” when the woman, who relatives said was pregnant, “confronted” them with a knife, according to a statement from authorities.

The Seattle Times reported that the 30-year-old woman had called police to report a possible burglary.

At a vigil Sunday night, family identified the woman as Charleena Lyles, according to the Times, and relatives said she had a history of mental health struggles. She was several months pregnant, her family said, and too “tiny” for officers to have felt threatened by her — even if she had a knife.

[Read more…]

Great Guitar Solos – Porcupine Tree Plays The Sound of Muzak Live

I’ve highlighted Steven Wilson before, as well as Porcupine Tree. At this point, it’s safe to say Porcupine Tree is done, despite many fans desperately wanting a reunion.

Admittedly, I feel quite different about modern music today then I did when I first heard this song. When I first heard it, I was definitely the worst kind of music snob, and so this became a sort of anthem to me. Now, I accept that there’s no accounting for taste, and that love of music is subjective. I’m not so sure that music is “going down” so much as it, by nature, cyclical. The genres and styles may change and/or evolve, but the way music is produced, performed, and made popular doesn’t ever really change… it just goes in circles…

That said, I do still enjoy this song immensely, especially for the guitar solo, which is another brilliant one played by Steven Wilson himself… it starts at 2:44 and ends at 3:38.

[Read more…]

Astronomy Picture of the Week – Puzzled Iapetus

Yet another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale. Yup, it’s still going

Iapetus is a world of contrast, with light and dark regions fitting together like cosmic puzzle pieces.

Cassini Regio on Iapetus (914 miles or 1,471 kilometers across) is covered in a layer of dark, dusty material creating a stark contrast to the much brighter region that surrounds it. This leads to the moon’s distinctive, two-toned appearance. To learn more about the cause of the contrast between regions, see Encountering Iapetus.

This view looks toward Saturn-facing hemisphere of Iapetus. North on Iapetus is up and rotated 20 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 11, 2017.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Iapetus. Image scale is 9 miles (15 kilometers) per pixel.

[Read more…]

Great Guitar Solos – Heart Plays Even It Up

About time I included Nancy Wilson. She really is such a great guitarist. This solo here is, honestly, very short and quite simple. But I’m including it because it works. It’s absolutely perfect for the song, itself a short and simple song.

That’s the thing about great solos… what makes them great isn’t necessarily how complicated they are. You can have a great guitarist playing an amazing solo, but if the solo doesn’t fit with the song, then it’s just not going to sound good. And short, simple solos can sound pretty darn amazing when they fit perfectly into the song. This one is a great example of that.

So…

The solo starts at 2:34 and ends at 2:48…

[Read more…]

Astronomy Picture of the Week: Mimas Dwarfed

We continue with images from Cassini’s Grand Finale. This time, it’s an image from over Saturn’s north pole, with a teeny tiny dot, Mimas, in the upper right

From high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gazes over the planet’s north pole, with its intriguing hexagon and bullseye-like central vortex.

Saturn’s moon Mimas is visible as a mere speck near upper right. At 246 miles (396 kilometers across) across, Mimas is considered a medium-sized moon. It is large enough for its own gravity to have made it round, but isn’t one of the really large moons in our solar system, like Titan. Even enormous Titan is tiny beside the mighty gas giant Saturn.

This view looks toward Saturn from the sunlit side of the rings, from about 27 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on March 27, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 617,000 miles (993,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 37 miles (59 kilometers) per pixel. Mimas’ brightness has been enhanced by a factor of 3 in this image to make it easier to see.

[Read more…]

When Social-Media Blocking Goes Political

I’ve talked about free speech often in the past. I even said, quite recently and quite angrily, that getting blocked on social media is not a violation of your free speech.

However… it would appear that some Twitter users have found an exception… and I’m not sure I can think up an argument against this…

President Donald Trump may be the nation’s tweeter-in-chief, but some Twitter users say he’s violating the First Amendment by blocking people from his feed after they posted scornful comments.

Lawyers for two Twitter users sent the White House a letter Tuesday demanding they be un-blocked from the Republican president’s @realDonaldTrump account.

“The viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional,” wrote attorneys at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in New York.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Read more…]

Great Guitar Solos – Glen Campbell and Carl Jackson Play Dueling Banjos in 1973

Well, technically, guitar and banjo, but still…

I decided to include this, but I didn’t want to go for the clip from Deliverance because that would be too obvious and pretty much everyone’s seen it.

Instead, I want to highlight this performance from 1973. It features Carl Jackson on banjo and Glen Campbell on acoustic guitar, and it’s really, really good.

I’ve always enjoyed the song (no, I haven’t seen the movie, and I honestly don’t want to; that’s not a judgement call or anything, I’m just not interested), though sadly never really tried to play it because I’m really a terrible finger-picker (although hopefully that’ll be changing as I start learning Bron-Y-Aur Stomp).

Anyways… since this is an instrumental, just listen to, and watch the whole thing…

[Read more…]