Eternal Africa Loop


 

Music history regards 1982 as the year American rock band Toto achieved its greatest success. Mainstream radio saturated airwaves with Top 100 Toto hits – Roseanna, Hold the Line and Africa. You didn’t have to like Toto, I changed the station when they aired but still knew every word by heart. Toto hits were a fact of life, songs destined to occupy  supermarkets and customer service hold lines 30 years later.

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Fast forward to the continent of Africa, Namibia to be precise. Namibian artist Max Siedentopf recently created an ode to Africa in his nation’s desert. Seven stark white pedestals, each with a solar powered mp3 player constantly looping Toto’s Africa. Siedentopf freely admits that despite using the most durable materials available, his dream of Africa looping for all eternity could be stymied by harsh desert conditions.

https://www.cnet.com/news/africa-by-toto-is-playing-on-infinite-loop-in-the-african-desert/

 

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Anarchy In The U.K.


 

As I write my neighbours’ 16 year old son loops Sex Pistols Anarchy in the U.K. at high volume. Young neighbour prompted my speakers to blare Sex Pistols in solidarity. Truth is, neighbour kid made my day.

I was 16 in October 1976 when Sex Pistols recorded Anarchy in the U.K. Sex Pistols didn’t register in rural Canada, small town AM radio played top 40 mainstream rock sprinkled with Country & Western hits. A friend’s older brother home from university introduced me to punk rock, I was transformed. Anarchy in the U.K. expanded sheltered perspectives, broadened horizons, made every neck & arm hair stand at attention.

Over 40 years later another 16 year old discovered the Sex Pistols. Different time, place and circumstance, but no less impactful. Kudos to you neighbour kid, play music as loud as you like.

The People vs. Donald J Trump


Ponder the words of New York Times contributor David Leonhardt ….

“The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it.

He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves.

To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary.

The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?

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He has already shown, repeatedly, that he will hurt the country in order to help himself. He will damage American interests around the world and damage vital parts of our constitutional system at home. The risks that he will cause much more harm are growing.

President Trump meeting with members of his cabinet at the White House on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Some of the biggest moderating influences have recently left the administration. The defense secretary who defended our alliances with NATO and South Korea is gone. So is the attorney general who refused to let Trump subvert a federal investigation into himself. The administration is increasingly filled with lackeys and enablers. Trump has become freer to turn his whims into policy — like, say, shutting down the government on the advice of Fox News hosts or pulling troops from Syria on the advice of a Turkish autocrat.

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.”

Win The Pope’s Lamborghini


In November 2017 auto maker Lamborghini gifted the Pope a custom Lamborghini Huracan. Thanks but no thanks replied the Vatican, seems the Pope is more of a conservative Popemobile kind of guy. The Vatican asked Sotheby’s in Monaco to auction it for charity in May 2018. The winning bid of over $900,000 US fell through, the Vatican was stuck with a Lamborghini signed and blessed by the Pope.

Pope’s white Lamborghini offered in sweepstakes; winner gets trip to Rome

Pope Francis blesses a Lamborghini presented by representatives of the Italian automaker at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2017. The car will be offered as a prize in a raffle and the proceeds given to charity. (Credit: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano.)

So what’s Lamborghini to do with a luxury car signed and blessed by the Pope? Offer the possibility that anyone could drive a blessed Lamborghini of course! For a mere $10 per ticket the prize is staggering. You and a friend flown to Rome, put up in a four star hotel, handed keys to your sweet ride at a ceremony attended by Francis himself and Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Lamborghini. According to contest entry site Omaze, his Holiness is “gifting it to YOU.” See contest home page link below.

https://www.omaze.com/experiences/pope-francis-lamborghini

Curiously Omaze omits pertinent contest details such as closing date. However, the site is quick to dangle “free spin” perks to those who buy in. The site asserts “Proceeds from this campaign will benefit a number of causes working to transform lives around the world. Your support will help rebuild villages that have been devastated by violence and war, assist victims of human trafficking, provide medical care and education to those living in poverty, and more incredible, live-saving work. Donations will be distributed through Charities Aid Foundation of America [CAFA, a 501(c)(3) public charity] to causes working to support these communities in need.”

Hang on, I stand corrected – buried deep within the fine print a closing date of January 30, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST. Entrants must be 18 and not residents of Belgium, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Singapore, Sudan, Syria or Thailand. Why Belgium? Thailand?

Catholic charity is no stranger to raffling off gifts to the Pope. In 2015, $12 bought a chance to win unwanted Papal gifts including a new four wheel drive Fiat Panda, a Homero Ortega Panama style hat, a leather suitcase, an espresso coffee maker, watches and bicycles gifted to the Pope. It’s hysterical!

In practical terms I suppose the Pope has to do something with all the gifts bestowed upon him. Maybe I’d feel better if proceeds went to victims of Catholic abuse, hard to say let alone put into words how absurd the notion of raffling off a Pope signed Lamborghini strikes me.

Ultima Thule, New Horizons, New Year And Brian May


 

In a few minutes space history will induct New Years Day 2019 into the cosmic hall of  fame. At 12:33 am EST on January 1, 2019 NASA’s New Horizons probe is tasked with making the farthest close approach fly-by of a space object in human history. Ultima Thule, a tiny Kuiper Belt object no more than 30 kilometers wide is about to be buzzed by the little mission that could. Linked below, a look no more definitive guide to NASA news conferences, live fly-by viewing and mission status.

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Where-to-Watch.php

Moments ago astrophysicist, New Horizons science collaborator and Queen guitarist Brian May premiered his first solo song in twenty years – New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix), a tribute to twelve years of New Horizons and her brush with Ultima Thule.

Happy New Year.

Ultima Thule


A billion miles beyond Pluto, deep within mysteries of the Kuiper Belt resides object 2014 MU69 -otherwise known as Ultima Thule. On New Years Day, January 1, 2019, NASA will make space history when New Horizons buzzes past Ultima Thule, solidifying the farthest planetary flyby in human history.

On January 1st, 2019, shortly after the switch into the new year, New Horizons will make its close pass of Ultima Thule. Here’s what we’re poised to learn.NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

Ultima Thule is the bright yellow spot in the middle. Image courtesy John Hopkins.

Passing at 2,200 miles, science hopes New Horizons can explain anomalous light reflected from Ultima Thule. Is Ultima Thule two orbiting objects, one elongated object, a miniscule planet orbited by many tiny light reflecting moons?

We’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, say Ultima Thule out loud – science fiction couldn’t script a better name for a mysterious cosmic object.

https://earthsky.org/space/new-horizons-approaching-ultima-thule-dec-2018

Laptop Frustration


I didn’t want a new laptop for Christmas, asking for one stemmed from telltale signs my old one was close to death. Sickly laptop was my friend, we understood each other, communication was effortless. Despite my best efforts I knew she couldn’t hang on. Christmas morning arrived with a stranger I knew nothing about, 24 hours passed before opening a box that cemented my constant companion’s passing.

With palpable trepidation I find the power button on new laptop, a moment later Cortana introduces herself.

Stop talking Cortana, I’m trying to remember passwords! An hour later Cortana assures me I’m ready to go. Ready my ass! Everything I hold dear is gone. Would it kill Microsoft to include a Windows 10 users manual in this box of irrelevant dribble? What good is a diagram of ports in 37 languages if I can’t find a way to import my photographs? Argh!