Sunday, December 10, 2023

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Cluster In The Cloud


(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ESA, December 2, 2023: This striking image shows the densely packed globular cluster known as NGC 2210, which is situated in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The LMC lies about 157 000 light-years from Earth, and is a so-called satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, meaning that the two galaxies are gravitationally bound. Globular clusters are very stable, tightly bound clusters of thousands or even millions of stars. Their stability means that they can last a long time, and therefore globular clusters are often studied in order to investigate potentially very old stellar populations. 

In fact, 2017 research that made use of some of the data that were also used to build this image revealed that a sample of LMC globular clusters were incredibly close in age to some of the oldest stellar clusters found in the Milky Way’s halo. They found that NGC 2210 specifically probably clocks in at around 11.6 billion years of age. Even though this is only a couple of billion years younger than the Universe itself, it made NGC 2210 by far the youngest globular cluster in their sample. All other LMC globular clusters studied in the same work were found to be even older, with four of them over 13 billion years old. This is interesting, because it tells astronomers that the oldest globular clusters in the LMC formed contemporaneously with the oldest clusters in the Milky Way, even though the two galaxies formed independently. 

As well as being a source of interesting research, this old-but-relatively-young cluster is also extremely beautiful, with its highly concentrated population of stars. The night sky would look very different from the perspective of an inhabitant of a planet orbiting one of the stars in a globular cluster’s centre: the sky would appear to be stuffed full of stars, in a stellar environment that is thousands of times more crowded than our own.

[Image Description: A dense cluster of stars. It is brightest and most crowded in the centre, where the stars are mostly a cool white colour. Moving out towards the edges the stars become more spread out and reddish until a noticeable ‘edge’ to the cluster is reached. Beyond that edge there are still many stars, more disorganised and seen on a black background. Some stars appear to be in front of the cluster.]

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Sarajedini, F. Niederhofer

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Christopher Weyant,

(John Darkow, Columbia Missourian)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Dave Granlund,

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Marian Kamensky,, Austria)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Jeff Stahler,

(Matt Percival, @percivalcartoon, UK)

QOTD -- Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk


"... Next week, House Republicans plan to vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. You see, they believe they have finally found the smoking gun that proves Biden guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors: He helped his son buy a pickup truck in 2018.

"They have become the Three Stooges of the House’s Biden investigations: Jim, Jason and James, stepping on rakes and getting hit by falling flowerpots as they try to make a case for their predetermined outcome of impeaching the president. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan is Moe, thundering and blundering in his repeated failures to prove Biden’s 'weaponization' of the government. Jason Smith, the in-over-his-head chairman of Ways and Means, is Larry, brainlessly reciting whatever script is in front of him. And Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is Curly, perpetually getting a pie in the face when the 'evidence' he produces is immediately debunked.

“'BREAKING,' Comer announced on social media this week, with two siren emojis. 'Hunter Biden’s business entity, Owasco PC, made direct monthly payments to Joe Biden.' This was evidence that the president 'knew & benefitted from his family’s business schemes.' But it turned out the payments, for all of $1,380 each, were repayments for a 2018 Ford Raptor truck Biden helped his son Hunter buy at a time when the younger Biden was broke because of his drug addiction..." -- Dana Milbank, Washington Post, in "Meet the Biden impeachment managers: Larry, Moe, and Curly."  Pretty much any member of the House Republican/ Christofascist caucus could be interchanged with these Three Stooges, or take leading roles in "Fascist Follies of 2023."  Remember, these are some of the same Stooges who tried to get the Malignant Loser's two impeachments expunged. To see these... clowns... running interference for the Malignant Loser, trying to dirty up President Biden with a bogus "impeachment investigation," giving us a preview of the extra- judicial "retribution" the Malignant Loser has promised should he regain power -- it's more than enough to make you want to slap them all across their stupid, cynical, evil mugs.

(Image via GIPHY)

Sunday Reflection: "A New, A Vast And A Powerful Language"

"A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible." British mathematician and considered the first computer programmer Ada King, Countess Lovelace (12/10/1815 - 11/27/1852) from her "Notes on the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage" (1843). As an associate of Babbage, who conceived of the first programmable computer, Lovelace was a pioneer in computer science, who also happened to be the daughter of acclaimed poet Lord Byron. As a true visionary, she imagined the use of Babbage's "Analytical Engine" beyond simple computing, and inspired generations to follow to make that imagination a reality.

(Illustration: Kieran O’Brien)


Musk Restores Depraved Alex Jones To "X"

Far right wing self-described "free speech absolutist"(except when it comes to criticizing him) and narcissistic mogul Elon Musk has reinstated the "X" / Twitter account of the vile and sick conspiracy monger Alex Jones, after conducting a non-scientific poll. Jones' account was suspended in 2018 after multiple instances of hate speech and pushing his heinous "false flag" lie about the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. The parents of the murdered children won a massive civil case against Jones for those lies. From Reuters:

"Social media platform X on Sunday showed the account of U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to have been reinstated after a poll organized by owner Elon Musk backed his return after a ban of nearly five years.

'The people have spoken and so it shall be,' Musk posted in reply to a poll on Saturday on whether to reinstate the Jones account. Close to 2 million votes were cast by the time the poll closed, with about 70% voting in favor of Jones' return. [snip]

Since Musk's takeover of the platform, it has reinstated previously suspended accounts including that of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Alex Jones, who has promoted conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school shooting, was ordered last year to pay nearly $1.5 billion in damages to relatives of the victims for falsely claiming they were actors who staged the shooting as part of a government plot to seize Americans’ guns."  (our emphasis)

The unscientific poll that Musk used to cover for his desire to bring Jones back to the platform is an indicator of how the social media has become populated with hate-spewing right-wing, white nationalist and anti-Semitic users since Musk took over Twitter and lifted previous bans on them.

Musk's increasingly erratic behavior and permissive attitude toward hate speech has caused a flood of advertisers and users to leave, with monthly users down 19% since Musk took over the platform and with revenues from ads off 64% in the first 10 months of 2023. This latest depravity won't reverse those ominous numbers for Musk.


Shohei Ohtani's Yuuuge Contract


The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed unicorn superstar Shohei Ohtani to an eye- popping $700 million 10- year contract.  Paul Campos puts this in historical perspective:

"The first year in MLB baseball history for which there’s comprehensive salary data featured an average salary of $19,000. Converted to 2023 dollars, this $175,000. This means that a single year of Ohtani’s contract is worth approximately 70%, in real inflation-adjusted dollars, of the entire major league payroll in 1967.

"1967 was also the first season in which major league players had a certified union."

Someone owes a hearty arigato to the late, great union organizer Marvin Miller.

(Photo illustration: Axios Visuals/ Photos: Ronald Martinez, Sarah Stier/Getty Images)


Saturday, December 9, 2023

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)

(Mike Peters, Dayton Daily News)

(Walt Handelsman, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Pedro Molina, Counterpoint)

(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Brooke Bourgeois, @bro_bourgeois)

Tweets / Xeets Of The Day

Texas: the State of Torturing Women.  --



Believe Trumper Rep. Elise Stefanik at your own risk. --

It's President Biden's fault, cont'd. -- 

Fox "News": Covering the important issues of the day. -- 

Republican family values, part infinity. --


Slava Ukraini! --  

A fitting "In Memoriam" for departing Republican Congress critters. -- 


"Honey, why are my clothes on the bedroom fl....?" --


QOTD -- Apply Now!


Satirist Alexandra Petri has her hands on an application form for working in the next Trump administration!  We've selected a few:

1. What is your political philosophy?

(a) “It’s a republic, not a democracy”-anism

(b) Autocracy

(c) Thinking about ancient Rome *wink emoji*  [snip]

5. What do you think of the Constitution?

(a) Big fan of the boat; can take or leave the document

(b) I like the version of it that exists in Leonard Leo’s head

6. When should life begin and end, ideally?

(a) Conception; allowing a beautiful AR-15 to express itself freely in a public space

(b) Conception; doesn’t matter as long as it leaves behind an insupportable burden of medical debt

(c) Conception; of the complications of being forced to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term to delight a group of state legislators  [snip]

14. Racism?

(a) Has never existed

(b) Yes, please!  [snip]

17. What should there be more of and fewer of, respectively?

(a) Book burnings; public schools

(b) Tariffs; elections

(c) Forced births; immigrants

Go to the link for the rest.  Good luck! 

But, while this is offered as humor, there is actually a form that the Malignant Loser's merry band of fascists has put together to screen potential gauleiters.  Let's file that under delusions of grandeur for now.

Texas AG Interferes In Nonviable Pregnancy

A 31 year old Texas woman is the victim of Texas' medieval and cruel anti-abortion laws, as she tries to terminate a nonviable pregnancy. The woman, Kate Cox, petitioned the district court in Travis Co., Texas to issue a temporary restraining order to allow her to terminate the pregnancy, which threatens her life. The district court agreed, but Texas' vile and corrupt state Attorney General, Ken Paxton, decided to take the matter to the Texas Supreme Court, asking it to vacate the lower court order and apply penalties to Cox and any hospital that performed the emergency abortion. The Texas Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on Paxton's attempt to interfere in Ms. Cox's dangerous pregnancy.

This wanton cruelty was unleashed nationwide when the right-wing Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, permitting states like Texas, run by fanatical, reactionary forced birth hacks, to adopt laws forcing women to carry a fetus to term, often without regard to the woman's health or whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Although the last two cycles of elections have proven that policy to be wildly unpopular among voters, die hard Christofascists refuse to get the message.

Earlier this year, hardline Trumpist Paxton narrowly escaped impeachment by members of his own party in the Republican-controlled legislature in Texas over his corruption in office, but when Christofascists think they're doing the Lord's work, they'll take any charlatan and crook into their fold.

(photo: Forced birther Paxton and Ms. Cox. KWTX)


Saltmarsh House


Architect Niall McLaughlin takes us to Saltmarsh House, a minimalist capsule home on the Isle of Wight, and discusses its unique features and construction.  The 4- room home was designed and built to minimize impacts on the surrounding marsh and nature preserve while offering stunning views.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Scandinavian Unions Unite In Opposition to Musk


Anti-union egomaniac and crashing car mogul Elon Musk is having increasing labor problems in labor-friendly Scandinavia over his refusal to allow workers to unionize. Swedish workers from dock workers to electricians and warehouse workers are striking Musk's Tesla repair and service shops (Tesla doesn't manufacture cars in Sweden), and unions in Norway (Fellesforbundet) and Denmark (3F) are joining in "sympathy" strikes, according to The

"Danish union 3F and Norway's Fellesforbundet, the largest private-sector unions in their respective nations, both announced plans this week to get in Tesla's way.

3F, which covers multiple industries in Denmark, has limited its sympathy strike to its Transportation arm, which union chair Jan Villadsen explained will mean transportation workers at docks, including drivers, won't unload or transport Tesla vehicles bound for Sweden

"Even though Elon Musk is one of the richest people in the world and owns Tesla, he can't just make his own rules," Villadsen declared on Tuesday when announcing 3F's action. "We have some agreements on the labor market in the Nordics, and you have to comply with them if you want to do business here."

Fellesforbundet leader JΓΈrn Eggum echoed Villadsen's sentiments in a Wednesday announcement that his union will also launch a boycott aimed at stopping the transportation of Teslas into Sweden.

"In the Nordic countries, there is broad agreement about the importance of a well-organized working life," Eggum noted. "The right to demand a collective agreement is a natural part of [that], and we cannot accept that Tesla stands outside this."

3F and Fellesforbundet's sympathy strikes will begin on December 19 and December 20, respectively, if a collective agreement between Tesla and employees represented by Swedish automotive worker union IF Metall isn't in place."  (our emphasis)

As monumentally arrogant and selfish as Musk is, we doubt that he'll give in or compromise with the Scandinavian unions, allowing other electric vehicle manufacturers (e.g., U.S., Chinese) to get an advantage over Tesla. That will be good for the future of electric vehicles and for the eventual and richly-deserved comeuppance for the increasingly unstable right-wing Musk.


Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Chris Britt,

(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Michael de Adder, Washington Post)

 (Rob Rogers,

(Walt Handelsman, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

(Jack Ohman, Tribune Content Agency) 

(David Horsey, The Seattle Times)

(Randall Enos,;  context here)

(Kevin Kallaugher, The Economist, London)

(Ali Solomon, @alisolomain)

Tweets / Xeets Of The Day


Hunter Biden case:  judge- shopping and retribution --




Kate Cox's need for an abortion and "shameful" Texas Republican AG Paxton's threats --


The Republican-wired narrative that hasn't played out --


The media's latest "serious Republican" blows that cover --


Trump's ongoing plans to sabotage the 2024 election --


ICYMI, he'll have tested helpers --


Keeping Ukraine armed --


Help from Putin's Republican caucus --



Bootsie's internal thoughts revealed πŸ˜‚ (Happy Friday!) --




Weekend Music Twofer


Singer- songwriter Lydia Loveless (nΓ©e Ankrom) released her latest album, the well- received "Nothing's Gonna Stand In My Way Again," in September following release of her first single from that album, "Sex and Money."  It's been called an "anthem of desperate ambition," performed with tongue firmly planted in cheek (the vid's probably NSFW).

We also must note the passing on December 5 of Denny Laine, a founder and the original lead vocalist for the Moody Blues as well as a member of Ginger Baker's Air Force and of Wings.  Here's Denny taking the lead on the Moody Blues' first hit, "Go Now."  R.I.P.