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South Park may have pulled off the impossible: putting Kayne West’s ego in check. This Billboard.com article reports that last Wednesday’s episode “skewered the famously self-important rapper… painting him as a narcissistic figure so out of touch with reality he couldn’t even take a (very politically incorrect) joke.” Well done, South Park. Check out Kayne’s blog post here.

Stephen Colbert is a smart guy. The most brilliant thing he’s done recently is rally his fans to vote on an open NASA poll for the name of their next node to be added to the International Space Station. They had some suggestions- Serenity, Earthrise, etc… very typical-sounding names for stuff like that. But they had an write-in option, which Colbert exploited. The result was that the name “Colbert” won the contest for naming the node, and NASA has been scratching its head as to what to do about it ever since. Tomorrow night we’ll find out their decision in a clever way- astronaut Sunita Williams will be on the show to unveil the name. Will it really be Colbert? Only time will tell. It’ll be an interesting episode for sure…

The CIA and USAF have finally declassified a project that was based at the mysterious Area 51 base in Nevada. The LA Times interviewed 5 former employees of the facility who disclosed details on a top-secret spy plane code named OXCART. This plane allegedly has an odd shape, and was capable of flying at Mach 3. This could explain a HUGE number of the UFO sightings in that area, because according to this article there were 2,850 test flights of this thing, all conducted from Area 51. This is a bigger deal than it may seem, because up until now, the government didn’t even acknowledge that Area 51 existed. By declssifying this project they’re now admitting that it does exist. A big step forward if you ask me. I’ve always been fascinated by the place, and really want to go out there just to walk up to the signs telling you that you’ll be shot if you try to break in. I’m quite sure that there are some crazy things going on there involving technology that we haven’t even dreamed of yet, but I won’t say or believe that they’re reverse-engineering UFO’s and keeping aliens in freezers until proof of such a claim exists. Via io9.

Friday’s tornado outbreak was pretty devastating, though the vast majority of the damage was from an EF3 twister that hit nothern Murfreesboro. The official NWS survey has determined that a total of 4 tornadoes hit middle TN on friday- three EF1’s and one EF3. The report actually says “at least EF3,” so there’s a chance it may be upgraded to an EF4. One of the things that made this particular tornado so devastating was the fact that it was a multiple-vortex tornado. I will leave you with this absolutely amazing video footage shot from a tall building in Murfreesboro. (Probably the bank building.) You can easily see the smaller funnels inside the main vortex. The first few seconds are jittery but he sets the camera down and you get a long, clear look at this monster. Watch closely at about :45, 1:15, and 1:30 where you can clearly see a smaller vortex to the right of the main one.

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January 14, 2009

I have a theory about Microsoft’s Songsmith software. If you haven’t read this blog in a while, read the last couple of posts, which mention this new software and how awful it is. Click the links, watch the ad, hear the David Lee Roth’s Runnin’ with the Devil run through it, then come back. Ok… I think that Microsoft intentionally made the software sound so cheesy, and the ad so ridiculous and un-ironic, that people like me (and most real musicians) would want to take their dry vocal tracks and run them through it as a joke, just to see how ridiculous it would sound. Just go read the comments in the Nashville Cream post about it. See how everyone is saying, “hey run this song through it!!!” ??? You know I’m right….. Just wait. In a few months some band will re-release a whole album “Songsmith’d.” I can see it now… Metallica’s Master of Puppets… SONGSMITH’D!

USAF

Credit: USAF

Obama has asked retired USAF Maj. Gen. Scott Gration to be the new NASA administrator. As mentioned a few posts back, current administrator Michael Griffin will be stepping down on Jan. 20th, as will the rest of the Bush-appointed NASA positions. I learned this from a Space.com post today, and the info contained in that article is all I know about the guy. He’s a decorated fighter pilot, and does have some experience working with NASA, but he’s mostly an outsider. Apparently many former NASA administrators have been outsiders, though, so this is really nothing new. What NASA needs is someone with good leadership skills and who can manage an organization that large and important. He also needs to be very good at managing budgets, as NASA will likely see further budget cuts due to the economic crisis and monstrous national debt.

And finally, I’ll leave you with this awesome image of the Aurora Australis from Universe Today. Click the image to get to the hi-res version. One of my goals is to see the aurora before I die. Right now is not a good time to try to see it, either, since the Sun is at solar minimum (the low point of its 11 year cycle of sunspot activity). That means that the solar wind isn’t as packed with charged particles as it is during solar maximum, thus the aurora is confined to the extreme north and south; you’d probably have to go to northern Alaska to see it. BUT if the upcoming solar maximum (coming in 2012 to a sky near you) is as powerful as some scientists think it will be, us southerners may even get a glipse or two of the aurora from our own backyards. Unfortunately a coronal mass ejection big enough to cause auroras visible from our latitude would also cause major disruptions with communication satellites, and possibly even power outages.
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