atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7028: Well, let's get this out of the way right now.

We here at the Fungus wish to extend our condolences to the family of Mike Bloomberg should he win the election and become President. "Short Stuff" Bloomberg will have had, if elected, one of the shortest tenures as President of the United States in history, but his vice President, Hillary Clinton, will honor his memory by taking over as swiftly as possible once what's-his-name's funeral is over and the body is buried so no one can ever contest the official narrative that so-and-so died after he stumbled in his new elevator shoes and tragically struck his head five times on the corner of the Resolute desk.

I think Bloomberg expects that his security is better than the Clintons' hit men. Gambling with his life, isn't he?

* * *

I take exception to this, of course.
As a biologist I find this whole argument of more than two genders to be patently absurd. You are a man or a woman period. If you're a male and want to identify as a woman then your gender is female and visa versa.
No it isn't.

If you're a "biologist" and you think that "identify as a woman" makes a man into a woman, you certainly don't understand your science very well.

* * *

Dust cloud? Sunspot? Something else? Betelgeuse just keeps getting weirder. Turns out the record low luminosity is due to an asymmetrical darkening of the star.

This image is years old, and it's an artist's impression rather than a photograph, but it gives a sense of what we're looking at:

Betelgeuse is big. If placed at the center of the solar system, its photosphere would extend almost to Jupiter's orbit. That image shows a gas and dust plume the star emitted some years ago and shows how big it is, with our solar system shown for scale.

It's also lumpy. It's not a serene sphere like the Sun; it's fulminating and churning and turbulent. And because it's in the end stage of its life, occasionally it ejects huge plumes and clouds of dust and gas.

The recent images of Betelgeuse show that half the star's disk has turned dark, but we don't know exactly what that means. It's a dust cloud, it's a sunspot, it's something we don't understand--smart money is on "dust cloud", but we've never had this good of a look at an end-stage red supergiant, and for all we know this could be the last thing it does before it goes supernova.

Let's face it: the thing is ten astronomical units in diameter, close to a billion miles across; why would it dim all over if the dimming was due to the beginning of iron fusion?

Well--we won't know the thing is blowing up until it blows up, because this is the first supernova that we've had a front row seat for since we invented telescopes. I guess we'll just have to see how it goes.

* * *

Favorite satellite TV memory: after TNT's set of car shows had ended (long before it was "Powerblock") a fishing show came on, and after the opening theme with montage, the host introduced himself and said "Today, we're gonna show you how to unhook a fish!"

I can't stand fishing shows. I don't like "catch and release" because that's just tormenting animals for fun. If you don't intend to eat the fish, don't catch them. Leave them alone.

* * *

Our Valentine's day celebration included taking my wife to urgent care to get her hip looked at. It was bad enough that she had trouble walking. We got home from there between 11:30 and midnight.

After I put her to bed I was sitting in my rocking chair in the dark listening to music, and gradually I came to realize, Damn, it's cold in here. About 2:30 AM, heading for bed, I had a look at the thermostat: 66°.


Went downstairs, pulled the ignition propagation sensor out of the furnace, cleaned it, put it back in. Got to bed at 3 AM. Was up at 9 to go get pills for my wife's hip, waited 90 minutes for union shop Jewel Osco to fill three prescriptions.

"The British-Leyland Concerto in four parts," Basil Fawlty said, "all of them slow, with a half-hour tea break in between." Never have I heard a better encapsulation of what unions do for productivity.

Current temp: 70°.

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