This American Economy

I love this American Life.  While not every episode is genius, the non genius episodes are good, and the genius ones are the most amazing radio you’ll ever listen to.

This past week they did an episode called Another Frightening Show About the Economy, which was a follow up (in some ways) to The Giant Pool of Money, which explained the sub-prime crisis through really compelling story telling.  You can listen to both of them online for free, which I highly recommend that you do.  Nothing I’ve read or heard so far during the financial mess explains it nearly so well, or is so riveting.

I’m looking at you, Audible.com

This comics comes timely as I attempted to figure out how to make Audible.com work on Linux this weekend, and gave up.  I don’t get why vendors don’t switch from DRM to watermarking (like a lot of people doing eBooks now).  Watermarking makes your customers part of your enforcement, as their name gets badly spread around if their files get out in bittorrents, and it doesn’t prevent your customers from using their purchased items in all the legitimate ways they want.

A view of Astronomy in 1970

Tonight we were at the library, as I needed to pick up an inter library loan book. As per usual they had a table of old books for sale, which I was flipping through.

One of those books was “Astronomy”, published some time in the early 1970s. Towards the center were some really fuzzy pictures of Mars and Saturn. And it occurred to me. This was prior to the Viking missions, and the Voyager missions. In 1970 our understanding of even our own solar system was incredible elementary.

As I now look at beautiful images taken by Hubble over the last decade, it’s hard to believe how recent all this knowledge really is, and how much more we are sure to discover.

Update on Amateur Astronomy Hour

2 months ago I bought a telescope.  I’ve wanted one for years, and finally broke down and did it while they were on sale at Orion.  It arrived about 6 weeks ago, and I’ve had about a dozen good observing days since.

Previously I spent some time finding Nebula, double stars, and galaxies.  Last night I decided to check out something different, stellar clusters.  It turns out there are 1/2 dozen different stellar clusters in and around the constellation of Cassiopeia, and I found most of them last night.  While the most famous is M103, as that’s in the messier catalog, the double cluster was the most spectacular.

There is something about a stellar cluster and it’s dense packing of starts that gives you the sense that the stars are just spilling out of a rift in space.  The pictures don’t do them justice, they are just breath taking in the scope.  The detail and depth of the clusters is amazing, even in slightly too bright sky last night (the moon was 1/2 full and setting at the time).  I can’t wait to check them out once the moon cycle passes and we get back to really dark skies.


M103 – open cluster in cassiopeia


NGC 869 & 884 – double cluster in perseus