Bad news for NASA from the Augustine Commission. Under the current budget through 2015, we can’t even get out of Low-Earth Orbit. What that means is we can only go to the ISS. We can’t even get back to the moon, let alone send people to Mars or beyond. The commission’s recommendations are best summarized in a cool graphic that I found on Universe Today yesterday. See below.

Image via Universe Today

Image via Universe Today

Obviously Obama has to allocate more money to NASA if we are to even think about achieving the current set of goals. (Those being: retiring the space shuttle, developing the new Ares rockets, Orion Crew Module, and Antares Moon Lander, and getting back to the Moon around 2020.) In these times that will be tough, and sadly NASA could get put on the backburner for a few years until we have more economic stability. Let’s hope for the best, though.

In some much better NASA news, the newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope is working like a charm and is taking better pictures than ever before. Check out some of the gorgeous new images at NASA’s website. You can even download super hi-res versions. Eye. Gasm.

Who knew that we’d be able to build an actual, real-life antigravity device so soon? Scientists have found a way to levitate small creatures as big as mice. We’ve all seen the classroom science experiment where they use a superconductor in liquid nitrogen to levitate a tiny disc. But you can actually do that with almost anything. They key is getting the magnetic field to the right strength. AND there’s a practical goal of this research other than “Holy Shit! We made a mouse float in mid-air! Cool!” The practical goal is to study long-term effects of microgravity on the mice’s bodies, the results of which can be applied to astronauts in space and help NASA plan for missions to Mars and beyond. (Via LiveScience)

Here’s one of those awesome Hubble images:

Image via NASA

Image via NASA

Obviously the most important thing for me to do today is promote my band’s show tonight at the 5 Spot. TCQ is playing with Mean Tambourines and Dixie Whiskey, and it’s guaranteed to be the best way to start off your Memorial Day weekend! Please do come out for the show around 930… and don’t be alarmed if there’s some other band you’ve never seen playing, because there’s an earlier separate show that will be ending around 9 or 930.

JEFF the Brotherhood got another good mention on Brooklyn Vegan yesterday, as they’re heading back to NYC for another round of shows this weekend along with Turbo Fruits. I also learned in that blog that Turbo Fruits have signed with Fat Possum Records, also home to Andrew Bird, Crocodiles, and WAVVES. Pretty damn cool! I forsee them opening for WAVVES in the near future.

This Nashville Cream post really makes me feel old. It’s crazy to think that some of the shows mentioned on there happened 5 years ago. Of Montreal at the End (both times) were amazing.

We’ll obviously be at the 5 Spot tonight, but as far as other weekend activities, I’ll be shooting the Alcohol Stuntband show Saturday at the Basement, and I have no idea what we’re doing Sunday & Monday. Anyone having a pool party? I really just want to hang out by a pool and have a margarita.

RunPee.com tells you the best times during recent movies to run to the bathroom, and what you missed. They even scramble the part that tells what you missed, in case you’re just checking out the site, but don’t want any spoilers. Hilarious. Be sure to stay there long enough to watch the animation of the type-graphic at the top of the page. Via Kottke.org.

The Atlantis astronauts get an extra day to hang out in space due to bad weather in Florida. They were originally scheduled to land today at 10am, but it’s now been delayed to tomorrow. If I were an astronaut that would be music to my ears. I’d want to spend as much time up there as possible. Speaking of space, I found another awesome image from the mission:

Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA

Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA

Have a great extended weekend!

Before you do anything else, watch this amazing time lapse video from a star party in Texas. It was taken over a whole night and shows the Milky Way rising. Nerd-gasm! Sorry, I still haven’t found a way to embed Vimeo videos on WordPress.

Now that you’ve gotten your fill of star-porn, some great news from the U.K…. Blur may be hitting the U.S. on some dates in and around their string of U.K. festivals. Yes, please. Though the chances of them actually coming to Nashville are pretty small, I’d go to Atlanta to see them easily.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

The Atlantis astronauts took an IMAX 3D camera with them on their mission to service Hubble, and the footage will be turned into an IMAX movie set for release next spring. I can’t effin’ wait to see it. Wow, this is turning into a really geeky post… sorry.

I tweeted earlier today about the iPhone coming to Verizon, which would make me jump for joy. Unfortunately further research has revealed it’s still just in the negotiation phase, and nothing’s confirmed. But from what I can tell from this article on USA Today, the prospect is looking fairly good. I refuse to switch to AT&T because their service coverage SUCKS. I’ve been in many buildings (including my own) where AT&T users can’t even get a signal, and I cannot recall ONE SINGLE TIME that I’ve experience coverage issues with Verizon. About a year or two ago there was some bizarre hiccup with their Nashville service, but that lasted only a few hours and wasn’t a coverage issue. If Verizon gets most of their network upgraded to the 4th generation (4G) LTE system by next year, I don’t see why Apple wouldn’t go for the deal since their 5-year contract with AT&T will be up. I’ve already been pissed at AT&T for even having exclusivity with the iPhone in the first place, and if they manage to sucker Apple into extending it, they can kiss my sweet ass.

Some bizarre links for your enjoyment today:

Oddee spotlights 8 strange subcultures.

io9 has a clip from 2000’s What Planet Are You From? in which Ben Kingsley’s character teaches his race of alien men how to achieve penis insertion with human females. It’s not as NSFW as it sounds, trust me.

Tonight I can be found at Foobar checking out Totally DJs, a new Wednesday night DJ gig started by my friend Spice-J. He’s already had some pretty awesome guests, including Pimpdaddy Supreme and Makeup & Vanity Set. I should be making an appearance there in the next few weeks as DJ Burgers. I’ll keep you posted.

So Heypenny was the final band to win the “Road to Bonnaroo” series at Mercy Lounge last night. I’m sure you’ve already read this in 5 different places by now. What’s interesting is the apparent bitterness about the whole thing as evidenced by the commentary at the Nashville Cream thread. As I say in my comment, I don’t really see how their gimmick/flair is any different from that of the Protomen… or De Novo Dahl for that matter. It’s really just a good marriage of the right image/branding with their music. The pastel marching outfits and slightly theatrical stage presence compliments their sound well. They certainly aren’t my new favorite band or anything (last night was the first time I’d seen them), but I don’t think their winning was in any way tragic or unjustified. Honestly I think every single band that played last night deserved to go to Bonnaroo. Well… I have my hesitations about Elle Macho. They’re all great musicians in their own right, but there’s absolutely nothing memorable or interesting about their songs in my opinion. I’m just really REALLY happy that the promoters of Bonnaroo were awesome enough to do this, and I sincerely hope it becomes a yearly tradition. Kudos to A.C. Entertainment and Superfly Productions.

Good news from the Obama Administration on the environmental front- by 2016 all new vehicles will be required to have an average of 35.5 MPG. I take this to mean that each car company’s fleet will have to average 35.5 MPG. This is great news, as hopefully it will quell some states’ desires to set their own, higher fuel economy standards. I think there should be one federal standard because it will make it easier for the car companies to comply. Why make it more complicated than it needs to be? The only catch is that the federal standard has to be high. I think 35.5 will do for now, though. Via Live Science.

The STS-125 astronauts released Hubble this morning and are now drifting away from it while doing more inspections of Atlantis’ heat shield. Keep up to speed at NASA TV.

I don’t know whether to be happy or depressed about the new Sherlock Holmes movie. It stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law… so it can’t be that bad. But still… one must be careful when doing re-makes these days as so many of them turn out to be horrible. The trailer in HD:

The last “Road to Bonnaroo” 8 off 8th is happening tonight at Mercy Lounge. I definitely think this one will be tough to call, and could be a very close race, much like the first one in which The Features won by 1 fan vote. So be sure to come out to Mercy tonight and cast your vote. You never know, it could be the deciding vote! Nashville Cream has more on the lineup/order, etc…

Speaking of local music, the Magic Wands got another mention on RCRD LBL, this time for a Crystal Fighters remix of their breakthrough single “Black Magic.”

Remember that epic Danish band Mew from 2006? Well, they’re back in action, and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of their next album on August 25th. Leave it to them to use a whole effin’ poem as their album title… You ready? Here it is:

No more stories
Are told today
I’m sorry
They washed away

No more stories
The world is grey
I’m tired
Let’s wash away

Yep, that’s it. A whole poem. More deets at Stereogum.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

The astronauts of STS-125 have been hard at work repairing/upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope, doing a spacewalk every day since Thursday, and today was their last. Click the image or here to see more eye candy from the mission at Universe Today.

Speaking of great photography, the New York Times started a new photography & video blog called LENS. It has a great interface and allows you browse through several photo essays and great video clips.

I did a short preview of Wolfram:Alpha on here once before, and now it’s actually here. Head on over to check it out, but be sure to read about how to phrase your input before you just start typing in questions. We’re not quite to the point of a computer simply being able to correctly answer any question regardless of phrasing/syntax. But this is a damn good start… Is it better than Google? You tell me.

It should be no secret that I’m a HUGE Mythbusters fan. (In fact, the only good thing about LOST being over with is the fact that I now get to watch new episodes of Mythbusters.) Apparently I’m the last one to know this but Kari Byron, the red-headed geek-girl of the cast, is pregnant! It should also be no secret that I have a huge celebrity-crush on her (as does just about every male fan of the show). I didn’t even know she was married! What’s really cool about the whole thing is that she’s taking this opportunity to bust some common pregancy myths. She did an interview with Pregnancy Magazine in which she busts the top 5. Go Kari! Via Bad Astronomy. Also- watch this unedited clip on Discovery.com of her subtly announcing the news.

Hope you didn’t miss me yesterday. I just didn’t really have anything to blog about. But today I bring you this:

Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

Yes, that is space shuttle Atlantis, and the tiny dot just below it is Hubble, just before the shuttle’s robotic arm grappled it yesterday. This is the first time the space shuttle AND Hubble have been photographed transiting the sun. It’s really an awesome achievement. Yesterday the astronauts successfully installed a new camera into Hubble, and today they will tackle the task of replacing all 6 of Hubble’s gyroscopes and installing new batteries. While we’re talking about astronauts and space and whatnot, I might as well show you this TOTALLY AWESOME airstream astrovan in which they ride to the launch pad to board the shuttle. How cool is that? They get to ride in a vintage airstream!

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

In other NASA news, Obama is expected to appoint former astronaut Charles Bolden as the new NASA chief administrator on Monday. FINALLY. I agree with Phil Plait (of Bad Astronomy) that he took way too long to make this decision. But with the economic issues, the war issues, and having to fight the GOP tooth & nail to achieve any of his goals, I can understand how this kinda got put on the back-burner.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has posted a collection of stunningly beautiful aerial photographs by photographer Jason Hawkes. Go have yourself an eye-gasm.

We still don’t have any concrete plans for this weekend, but I’m hoping to include Shoot The Mountain’s EP release show at the Basement Saturday. I highly recommend it, as the Protomen and Totally Snake are also on the bill. This will indeed be one EPIC show. Then there’s also Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele with Kindercastle and the Winter Sounds tonight at Mercy Lounge.

One more quick link- Pitchfork did an interview with Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Only 12 more days till their Mercy Lounge show!

Have a great weekend!

The White Stripes. Via Awkward Family Photos. Seriously, go to this blog and thank me later.

So everyone knows that tonight is the season finale of LOST. I came across this post on io9 today with an excerpt from an interview with co-creator Damon Lindelof. He hints that the island will continue to exist after the series ends. This leaves open the possibility of a movie, or resurrection of the series somewhere on down the road. This leads to my next mention: the Empire Records tribute/cover night tonight at Mercy Lounge. Several bands (including Nite Nite, Armed Forces, Plex Plex, and my own, playing as “Damn the Man”) will be covering songs from the soundtrack. Mercy will also be screening the LOST season finale on a big screen/projector right before the show. (Which means the show will start just after 10pm.) I already had a LOST shindig planned with some friends at my place, so I will not be attending the screening, but will hop on over directly after it ends.

Hipster Runoff examines Sean Penn’s current and past relationships. Who is his soulmate?

The Bad Astronomer lists ten things you probably didn’t know about the Hubble Space Telescope.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. Sold.

Today Theory 8 Records released the new self-titled EP from Shoot the Mountain. So far I’ve only listened the 1st track “Invitation,” and so far so good. Actually, so far so AWESOME. I can’t wait to have time to check out the rest of it. Head on over to their Bandcamp page and purchase it for a measley $5. Yet another Nashville indie rock gem recorded and produced by Jeremy Ferguson at Battletapes.

In other release news, Those Darlins have announced the release date and album art for their debut self-titled full-length album. The vinyl version hits shelves on June 23rd, followed by those “other” formats on July 7th. They’ll be celebrating the album release on June 27th at Mercy Lounge with….. the Black Lips. Fuck yes. More details at We Own This Town.

Thank you to everyone who came out to my 8 off 8th last night. It was most definitely a success, at least as good as the last one I did. All the bands played great sets, and I was especially happy to hear some new stuff from The Nobility and Carter Administration. Mean Tambos killed it, and Ryan was really getting crazy on stage because my friend/bandmate/videographer Seth was taping the performance for their EPK. Hopefully I’ll do another one late summer/early fall. And who knows? Maybe I’ll book a full-on show.

It was really nice to have today off from work at Vandy. When you host an 8 off 8th you gotta stay till the end, and even a little after, so it was nice to be able to sleep in today. I’ve been sitting around with the doors open listening to the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Association on vinyl. It also gave me a chance to take the new kittens to the vet, where we discovered that Sebastian is actually a Sebina. But they’re in pretty good health, main concern was a little bit conjunctivitis in Sebina’s eye, which should be easy taken care of with some meds.

EcoGeek reported on an amazing new company that aims to create a Second Life-esque “video game” interface that will allow homeowners to control every energy-consuming device through a 3D animated program. The “game” uses avatars to control lights/AC/etc… So you would login and make your avatar turn down the AC, and in real-life your AC would be turned down by a computer that controls your house. Whatever you do, just don’t name your house’s computer H.A.L….

Space Shuttle Atlantis is now on its way to Hubble. They’ve completed the heat shield inspection with the shuttle’s robotic arm. There were a few dings found, but the initial opinion is that they’re very minor and not a threat. Detailed analysis is underway, however, to be certain. I’ll keep you updated daily. In the meantime, watch this kickass HD video of yesterday’s launch. If you have your computer hooked up to a sound system, I highly suggest turning the volume and bass waaaay up.

It’s pretty rare for me to instantly fall in love with a band/artist these days. I’ve just become so “Nashville” about everything- jaded/oversaturated/desensitized/insert-apathetic-synonym-here. But RCRD LBL posted some mp3’s from this dude named Evan Voytas on Friday, and I was instantly blown away. It feels good to be totally into something new. This guy’s stuff is a little bit of everything- the tracks I’ve gotten my hands on so far range from a shoegazy, fuzzed out slow pop jam to electro-driven rock with a touch of twee to a full on summery disco-pop groove. That last track I’m describing is called “Getting Higher,” and I have hereby proclaimed it to be the official jam of the summer 2009. Please, PLEASE go to RCRD LBL and download it now! Then go to the Hype Machine and you’ll be able to find several other great tracks. But “Getting Higher” is where it’s at. It’s an instantly love-able dancey track, complete with a 70’s funk bass groove, and straight-up disco beat, and uplifting sunny guitars and syths bathed in a healthy but tasteful dose of reverb.

In local news- Makeout With Violence, the locally made feature-length film starring several members of our music scene, pretty much owned the Nashville Film Festival, taking the best feature-length narrative film and best music awards, along with a few other smaller awards. It’s good to see these guys finally getting the recognition they deserve for their 3 years of hard work on this thing.

My love of science fiction is no secret. That’s why I’m quite pleased to know that one of my favorite TV series Eureka, has finally been scheduled to return to action on July 10th on the SyFy channel. (Yes, the SciFi channel is now SyFy…. go figure.) I read about this on io9, and I agree with their sentiment that moving the show to Battlestar Galactica’s old slot of Fridays at 10pm/9 central was a bad idea. That means I’ll end up watching most of it online because I’m normally out & about by that time on a Friday night…

So we all know that the dinosaurs were killed because of a giant asteriod hitting just off the Yucatan Penninsula in Mexico, right? That’s what they taught us in middle school science class, afterall…. Not so fast. As more and more new evidence is uncovered, that theory is starting to look more and more… extinct. Universe Today posted this morning about some new discoveries that date the actual impact at least 300,000 years prior to the mass extinction. At the same time comes the discovery of a supervolcano eruption (or even a series of supervolcano eruptions) called the Deccan Traps in India. Such an eruption could easily have thrown enough dust and ash into the air to block out the sun and cause a sudden massive cooling. My personal hunch is that the asteroid surely did have some degree of impact on the global climate, (pun fully intended) and obviously would’ve killed a ton of dinos in the immediate area, but ultimately it may have been the volcanic activity that dealt the lethal blow to our bird-like ancestors.

I’ll leave you today with this great image of the next space shuttle crew… I must say NASA has been doing a great job of marketing lately. First the whole C.O.L.B.E.R.T. thing, and now this:

Click to enlarge

Via Bre Pettis

Via Bre Pettis

Today’s post will have a lot of quick links. Let’s get right to it:

First of all, Kottke.org had some great stuff this morning. The image to the left is from a hilarious set of vintage 1930’s German illustrations about various ways to get electrocuted. Please do visit the flickr set and read the rollover comments. SERIOUSLY… read them all, you will laugh quite loudly at the very least, if not fall out of your chair. He also linked to this pretty interesting article on 13 things that science has yet to explain. I say “yet” because I’m confident that eventually we will be able to explain everything through science. That is, if we last long enough as a species. Some of these have been pretty well explained, however… especially the alleged “WOW signal” from a radio telescope in 1977. SETI scientists see signals very similar to this all the time, and all of them have been declared to have terrestrial origins.

Universe Today has an interesting article explaining the procedure of a rescue mission in the event that Atlantis is badly damaged on its mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Locals JEFF the Brotherhood and Magic Wands got some blog love today. JEFF was mentioned in this Brooklyn Vegan post about their upcoming dates in NYC with Screaming Females and Sisters. Then I found a post on RCRD LBL featuring a download of the Magic Wands’ Black Magic. Good to see these Nashville bands getting major blog love… though I’m pretty sure Chris and Dexie (Magic Wands) moved to L.A. a year or so ago. I would still argue that they have Nashville “roots” since Chris spent so much of his musical career here. Apparently they’ve got an EP coming out soon.

Tonight is the 2nd installment of the 3-part series, “Road to Bonnaroo” at Mercy Lounge. It’s a special version of the famous 8 off 8th series where audience votes, combined with a panel of judges, will determine which of the 8 bands will get to play at Bonnaroo. Tonight’s lineup and more info can be found on the Mercy Lounge website. I suggest you come on out and help decide the winner!

Finally, major kudos to Grimey’s for making the top 10 of SPIN’s 15 best indie record stores. They came in 8th out of 15. Awesome!