Mar 31 2010

Who writes these scripts, anyway?

Category: media,societyharmonicminer @ 6:43 pm

I was watching an episode of “The Good Wife”, a CBS series in which a district attorney is caught cheating on his wife and is convicted of some corruption in office, and goes to jail, amidst scandal and embarrassment for his family, including his “good wife,” who has to go back to work as a junior attorney at a law firm owned by her old friend.

I’ve seen it from time to time, and it hasn’t always been that bad, though I confess that I don’t usually watch that closely, since when I watch TV I’m usually working on some composition or arrangement in my home studio.

The episode I watched deserves a little commentary, however.  It features a character very closely modeled after Glenn Beck, whose voice even sounds like Glenn Beck (an obviously deliberate decision), broadcasting a daily hour news/commentary show, who is being sued for slander by a client of “the good wife’s” firm.  The Beck character has accused the client, on air, of murdering her missing young daughter, even though he has no evidence of this.  It also appears that the Beck character has called an un-named African-American president a “terrorist” on air.

Now, I know that CBS News is desperately jealous of the fact the FOX NEWS actually has an audience, and, unlike CBS, is expanding its line up and bringing in new talent all the time.  Does that justify thinly disguised deadly insults aimed at CBS’s competition?

For the record:  I know of no FOX show, including the ones that focus on these kinds of stories, that would simply come out and make such an accusation in the absence of evidence.  And, more to the point, Glenn Beck does commentary on the macro-issues of the day, not crime commentary.  He has not, and would not, refer to Obama as a terrorist, nor would any FOX commentator…  though I believe Keith Olberman came pretty close to calling a sitting president a terrorist, on MSNBC, during the Bush years.

So what we have here is simple.  We have scriptwriters who either knowingly mischaracterize people just to pander to leftist sentiment, or we have scriptwriters who have never actually watched Glenn Beck (or probably FOX news, for that matter) and are willing to tell lies about him (by implication, at least), or have simply believed lies someone has told them about Beck.

Maybe Beck should sue them for slander.

This has not been a good year for television.  I continue to wonder why the scriptwriters don’t understand that it’s the characters and plot that matter, not the political references.  And I continue to wonder why the grownups at the network aren’t supervising the sandbox.

As their ratings drop.

Mar 31 2010

Get ready to duck… but don’t bother to cover

Category: science,spaceharmonicminer @ 8:43 am

Dark, dangerous asteroids found lurking near Earth

An infrared space telescope has spotted several very dark asteroids that have been lurking unseen near Earth’s orbit. Their obscurity and tilted orbits have kept them hidden from surveys designed to detect things that might hit our planet.

Called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the new NASA telescope launched on 14 December on a mission to map the entire sky at infrared wavelengths. It began its survey in mid-January.

In its first six weeks of observations, it has discovered 16 previously unknown asteroids with orbits close to Earth’s. Of these, 55 per cent reflect less than one-tenth of the sunlight that falls on them, which makes them difficult to spot with visible-light telescopes. One of these objects is as dark as fresh asphalt, reflecting less than 5 per cent of the light it receives.

Many of these dark asteroids have orbits that are steeply tilted relative to the plane in which all the planets and most asteroids orbit. This means telescopes surveying for asteroids may be missing many other objects with tilted orbits, because they spend most of their time looking in this plane.

Fortunately, the new objects are bright in infrared radiation, because they absorb a lot of sunlight and heat up. This makes them relatively easy for WISE to spot.

“It’s really good at finding the darkest asteroids and comets,” said mission team member Amy Mainzer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas, on Thursday.

WISE is expected to discover as many as 200 near-Earth objects – but astronomers estimate that the number of unknown objects with masses great enough to cause ground damage in an impact runs into the tens of thousands.

Richard Binzel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the dark asteroids may be former comets that have long since had all the ice vaporised from their exteriors, leaving them with inactive surfaces that no longer shed dust to produce tails. He points out that many comets have very tilted orbits, and comets visited by spacecraft have been observed to have very dark surfaces.

I think I’ve met some people with tilted orbits lately.  Hey, ease up, it’s a joke.  But you can only seem to spot some of them with infra-red…

I’m glad there is Somebody watching over us.