Category Archives: Andromeda Galaxy

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Evolution is fascinating to watch. To me, it is the most interesting when one can observe the evolution of a single man.” — Shana Alexander

TINY

Just a reminder, you can broaden your visual horizon up to a trillion-fold tonight — for free.

Each Wednesday night, the astro-geeks who run IU’s Kirkwood Observatory, throw its doors open to the public. They’ll actually let you peer out at the universe through its main telescope, a 12-inch refractor, and they’ll show you tons of other cool, geeky things.

If you ever want to feel infinitesimally small, try sneaking a peek at some celestial landmark (or should I say spacemark?) sometime. Say, for instance, the Kirkwood astronuts point their device at the Andromeda Galaxy, the first cosmic structure to be identified as existing outside our own Milky Way Galaxy. The Andromeda is approximately 2.6M light years away from Earth.

M-31: The Andromeda Galaxy

That is, if you picked up your hyper-strong flashlight, pointed it at the Andromeda, and flicked it on, it would take the its light more than two and a half million years to reach that galaxy.

Or, putting it another way, the Andromeda we’re looking at today actually existed when Australopithecus first started using stone tools in Africa.

Great-Great-Great-Great… Great-Great-Great Grandma

Not even your grandfather walked that far to school in the middle of winter.

BTW: that trillion-fold reference I made earlier? Just a breezy estimation. It’s said that when a six-foot tall person stands at sea level, the horizon appears to be about three miles away. In other words, that’s pretty much haw far your horizontal vision range is on Earth.

Now, a light year is 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles. Let’s put that in English: that’s more than 5.8 trillion miles. Not million. Not billion. Trillion.

Now do you feel small?

JOE THE SHOVELER

Do you want to feel even smaller?

Great-great… great-Grandma’s (pictured above) progeny — us, Homo Sapiens sapiens — includes within its ranks one Joe the Plumber.

That’s right, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher gained international fame when he confronted candidate Barack Obama on the campaign trail during the 2008 race for the president.

At Least One Of These Guys Isn’t Telling The Truth

Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was planning to buy his boss’s plumbing business and would probably make more than $250,000 a year after doing so. Therefore, Obama’s proposed tax hike on quarter-plus-millionaires would harm him or at the very least make his dream harder to achieve.

Obama responded by saying, in part, that some wealth ought to be redistributed.

Oh, did the Republicans jump on that! Next thing you knew, Obama was painted as the depraved spawn of Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, and Son of Sam all rolled into one.

Obama’s Dad

Not only that, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher was rechristened “Joe the Plumber” and became the darling of the Right and eventually a standard bearer for the Me Party.

Only Joe the Plumber was not what he said he was. The Toledo Blade did some digging and found that, although J the P said he worked under his boss’s plumbing license, he was not legally permitted to do plumbing work in the state of Ohio. “He is… not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio,” the Blade reported, “which means he’s not a plumber.”

Oh.

Turns out his “plan” to buy out his boss’s operation was casually discussed during his hiring process six years previously. In other words, J the P’s grand design was part of the normal bullshit bandied about during any job interview.

Additionally, a close examination of J the P’s finances revealed that he had precisely zero chance in the foreseeable future of buying out his boss’s successful firm.

So, at least J the P was revealed to posses one requisite talent for a plumber — he is expert at shoveling shit.

Joe Can Do This

But wait — that’s not the end of the story. J the P is still with us. In fact, he may be reporting for work in the US Capitol come January. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher is running for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District. He faces long-time House Dem Marcy Kaptur.

And guess what — he has an awfully good chance of winning. Right-wingers and Me Party-ists from around the country are contributing to his campaign.

Darwin had it right: we didn’t ascend from the apes, we descended from them.

DIMON IS A BOWL’S BEST FRIEND

I’m not a violent man so when the revolution comes I won’t be in favor of chopping off the heads of the greedy hyper-capitalist no-goodniks who’ve turned this holy land into a tin-horn banana republic.

I do have an idea for how we ought to deal with Jamie Dimon, though.

We, the new bosses after the overthrow, will force him to earn his daily bread by scrubbing public toilets. Those in parks, say, or in non-profit cultural institutions.

Why not? It’s good, honest work. Somebody has to do it. Why not Jamie?

Why Not, Jamie?

In fact, what with his vaunted rep as a brilliant business strategist, he’d probably be able to form a very efficient operation employing hundreds or even thousands of people.

All of them doing real work that would benefit people.

But no matter how busy Jamie might be setting up his new biz empire, he would be compelled to personally scrub at least a half dozen porcelain princesses a day — we’d hate to have him lose that hands -on experience.

Ain’t I a dreamer?

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