Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Am a Geek and I Wear that Banner Proudly, even in Outer Space, even to the End of Time

.. despite my previous post slamming the Intarwebs. Okay, so today Michael “Wacko Jacko” Jackson passed away. I have a story to tell that connects fond (and recent) memories of mine related to Jacko, but that will have to wait for another post. For now, the geek in me is itching to get this out in the open.

(On a side note, Farrah Fawcett died today too, but since I have this bizarre ability to be completely oblivious to the most mainstream pop concerns, I didn’t think much of that. RIP to the two of them, anyways).

I am a science fiction freak. I loved “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, I adore the old sci-fi greats and abhor the new ones, like Brian Herbert and his ilk. If I were to draw up a list of the three authors I would personally like to meet and talk to over a bottle of beer or so, it would have to be:

  • Charles Dickens
  • HP Lovecraft
  • Isaac Asimov

I’d include Arthur C. Clarke to the list, but Asimov takes precedence. And Ray Bradbury’s still alive, so there is still hope!

The point is, I love speculative science. And I love the concept of outer space, and life in other planets. When I read through the latter part of Asimov’s Foundation saga, I was enthralled to know that protagonist Golan Trevize was out to discover the wellspring of humanoid life – Earth. This is, of course, the reverse of our current situation, wherein we’re looking for the possibility of extraterrestrial life, or barring that, the possibility of relocating to another planet that will support our race. But there’s that feeling of the unknown, that sensation of a new frontier being explored, that makes Trevize’s search for a then-irradiated and lifeless Earth hit a chord that’s close to home.

Unfortunately for space geeks like me, though, the evidence pointing to life away from Earth (or Terra, as is the proper name of our planet, in the same way our sun is properly called Sol) has been very unfulfilling. There have been sightings of planets in neighboring galaxies that could theoretically support humanoid life due to the similarities – third planet, distance to their local star, centripital and centrifugal movement, planetary make-up as observed through a variety of telescopes that analyze substance through the emitted radio waves of a distant stellar object – but there have always been questions that pretty much dampen even the faintest hope that this could possibly be the next Terra. Not the least of which is this: how the fuck do we get there to make sure?

So yeah, it looks like the way thing are, we’re going to be stuck in our own little star system for the next two decades or so.

The good news is that it is in this system where we’ve found proof that against all odds, life on other planets aside from Terra is possible! The first big news came when the Phoenix Mars Lander reported a positive on finding ice on Mars last year. That ice was made of CO2, a compound that could ideally promote the growth of an ozone layer that could be vital in terraforming the red planet. But what’s more important here is that organisms could actually be living inside the ice, although that’s highly unlikely given the planet’s barren state.

A more interesting development occurred recently – and this time in the far-flung neighborhood of the outer planets. The Cassini spacecraft went on a fly-by mission along the outer atmosphere (for lack of a better word) of the Saturnine moon Enceladus. This moon, like Jupiter’s own Europa and Ganymede, is considered to be a planet completely surrounded by ice. The curious bit lies in its orbit – unlike other planets and heavenly bodies with a regular orbit, Enceladus has a comet-like tail of sorts. Last 2005, the Cassini probe flew past this “tail” and confirmed suspicions that it was something close to a consistent volcanic geyser of ice. Yes, I know that sounded stupid, but read it again and it’ll make more sense – there really is no other way to put it.

There’s a good explanation of why this was happening, and you can read more about it in the Time article where I picked it up from. What really interested me about this development was the ice’s composition. Unlike Mars’ own aqueous CO2 composition, Enceladus’ ice chunks were made up of NaCl and Na2CO3 (this is my best guess as to the carbonate compounds, since they weren’t specified).

Basically speaking, that’s table salt and soda. Forget CO2 and plants, forget the ozone layer. Out there, in the deepest reaches of the solar system, is a moon with a veritable internal ocean that’s pretty much made of the same thing as our own waters are made of. How awesome is that? This raises a whole new debate about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, because if another planet can have water with basically the same composition as our own planet’s water supply, then the likelihood that similar organisms may exist inside that liquid is a little bit more possible.

Heck, you’re not even looking for humanoid life anymore. Even a microscopic organism’ll be enough. Life didn’t start out bipedal, after all.

I like this development, though. It fosters the imagination of every child who’d read through a “Choose your own Adventure” book at least thrice in his / her childhood. I’d like to believe, or dream, that in my lifetime, we would be able to colonize another planet, live in another location aside from Terra. I think, for me, that would be the ultimate adventure, and I wouldn’t mind dying on that distant planet so long as I am secure in the knowledge that I am, at last, stepping on soil that I could say was 100% alien.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

To Hell With You!

I am publishing this without formatting the HTML. Because I believe in what you’re about to read.

The past week, I spent more hours on the ‘net than I did asleep. I wrote more than I could ever care to write about without any relation to fiction. And then I heard that Ray Bradbury was campaigning to keep libraries open.

So why’re libraries closing down? The Internet.

Ray Bradbury to Yahoo:

“The Internet is a big distraction,” Mr. Bradbury barked from his perch in his house in Los Angeles, which is jammed with enormous stuffed animals, videos, DVDs, wooden toys, photographs and books, with things like the National Medal of Arts sort of tossed on a table.

“Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,” he said, voice rising. “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’

“It’s distracting,” he continued. “It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.”

That quote was formatted thru Livewriter’s buttons at the top. Because I’m lazy to edit HTML. I can, but I choose not too.

Because sometimes, you just feel as if we should just go tell the Internet to bugger off and stop bothering our lives. It sure makes things easier, but it keeps us from staying alive.

So to Hell with you, Internet. Even if for just a few moments. So that you learn yourself some self-respect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Continuing the Political Hiatus

I did not know this. I seriously did not know this.

I love ice cream. A lot. If I can just settle down with a tub of ice cream and not gain any weight, I will be a happy, happy camper. As a matter of fact, I once learned how to make ice cream – the problem was, it was for chemistry class, and I treated it like I would treat any class I have – threw the recipe away when class was done.

Now I wish I didn’t.

Luckily, while searching for the perfect way to make tea on Videojug (and I found some not so perfect methods, refer to my tweet), I stumbled upon the following video, which promptly enabled my jaw to drop down in awe. I was going “What the fuck?” for several minutes after watching this, and to think this was just a backyard experiment for kids, and I didn’t know. What the hell was I learning back then??

Anyway, I did some research, and apparently, this trick DOES work! I can’t wait to try it out on my own, albeit I’m sure the process will be rather messy. That’s a helluva lot of ice cubes.

Anyway, to the video! I present to you ladies and gents, the amazing five-minute way to make ice cream! There is no audio, but don't worry - you don't need it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Need a Break

And by a break, I mean that I need to blog. It’s twelve midnight, I’m several articles away, and I’m listening to LapidFire in DWIZ. The issue’s still about the con-ass and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s plans of extending her tenure of power in a Marcos-like manner, except that her method is far sneakier, which leads me to say that she is one sneaky bitch, if you’ll pardon my French. I’m drowning in work, though, so let’s take a break from the amateur political commentary of this blog for something totally different after the jump.

Yes, that's the Dune-themed techno mix by Fatboy Slim called Weapon of Choice, a classic in its own right. And Christopher Walken burning up the rug - I am inclined to believe that he performed all of the stunts in this video. The man is a hero. One does not simply Walken to Mordor - one does the shuffle.

It’s funny though. This song is rather timely, because you need to realize that if there are only two things, two weapons of choice, that we could all use today,it would be the Bene Gesserit Voice and the Bene Gesserit Litany against fear.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Turnover!

I promise, this will be the last Hayden Kho-related post I will be making. This was prompted more by this query of a friend of mine regarding what my stand was on the proposed Internet regulation bill.

Well honestly, right now it doesn’t seem to matter. DWIZ’s Bantay Bayan program was right; the way this government runs is absurd to the extreme. First there was all that hullabaloo about Hayden Kho, Internet pornography, and Bong Revilla being a douche. Then overnight – literally – there’s a big turnover of focus when Congress decides to approve a constitutional assembly without any warning whatsoever.

Everybody wants to be the star of their own little show here. It’s disgusting.

Honestly speaking, I see no feasible way of initiating a constitutional assembly before the elections take place next year, but just like with every big issue in the government, this thing is still making waves up to this day – and for good reason. The topic is timely – the country needs constitutional change. It might not remove corruption in the government completely, but it’ll shake things up enough to make red tape work against the government for a change.

But again, changing the constitution now? With GMA still at the helm? Please, spare us. The way I see it, Senate will hedge congress in every step of the way, and if GMA is true to her word, elections will take place as it should next year. The troublesome bit here is that why did this issue suddenly pop up? And the rumour that GMA pushed for it? What the hell?

I have but one explanation for all of this: a wizard did it. I'd much rather focus on the 2009 NBA Finals. The Lakers're leading by two games, but this time, Magic's got the homecourt advantage. And to think I don't even like basketball that much.