New Worlds – The Trappist 1 System

How cool is that, the discovery of, not one, but seven new worlds around a dwarf star that is just 30 light-years away, and one or more of those planets could have Earth like conditions. When NASA made the announcement back on February 22, 2017 I did a search on-line once I got home to browse their website for all the information I could get. This was great news, a star with possible Earth like worlds, only 30 light-years away–wow. But I was so busy with work, and home projects that just now, that only this weekend I have been able to sit down and do some serious reading about the Trappist-1 system. I am blown away with all the data I see about this star system. 

A few cool things about the Trappist-1 system is that the star is an “ultra cool dwarf star,” which sounds weird and unappealing, but even with such a small star, the planets are close enough to it that they may sit in “inhabitable zone” for life as we know it to exist on. The dwarf star will out last our Sun, in terms of life expectancy becuase Dwarfs Stars burn their fuel more slowly. And something that I found really interesting, becuase the planets are really close to each other, all seven planets’ orbits would fit inside Mercury’s if compared to our Solar system, so you would be able to see the other planets really well if you stood on any one them. They would appear very large in the sky from your vantage point because of the small distance from one another.

On the down-side, becuase of the planets’ size and close proximity to the star and one another, all seven planets maybe “tidal locked” which means they would all have one side permanently facing the star. Read the Wikipedia page for more information.

The astronomers who made the discoveries, never actually seen the planets themselves becuase they are just to far away. They used the dimming effect of the objects passing in front of the star to spot them. So the images of the seven planets are artist’s who just guest at what these worlds would look like. Though, it helps to sparks the imagination.

Please visit the NASA webpage about the Trappist-1 System.

Politics

It is about 2:00am, and I am ready to end the day (I work afternoons by the way). I just thought I would type a few words about today, and what is going on South of the border from my perspective. I try hard not to get too involved in other countries’ political affairs, but today is different as I see the voting U.S. results have yet again shocked me. Yup, it looks like Trump is in; will the world as we know it—end?

So, Trump. Well… what will this mean? My first thought is, will the world economies collapse and take us all with it. But then this probably will not happen right-a-way. Like our Rob Ford here in Canada, Trump maybe all talk and no action on matters that will affect us around the world, and with his record of “foot-in-mouth” and flip-flopping, I can see many issues going off in weird directions, which would probably amount to the same old State that has always been. Though I kind of ponder at the idea of the U.S. building a wall around itself. I think if the “Iron Curtain” from the Russian-Soviet era when I heard Trump talk about the “Wall” between it and Mexico. Walls are the opposite of two-way streets, as they not only stop what comes in, but block what goes out too. And what will the U.S. do without all that cheep labour? I can see everything getting more expensive, especially with charging high taxes on imported goods from China.

I noticed the shock in the Stock Markets as the Eastern markets start to open. The CBC news is saying that markets are jolted with the U.S. elections results, and the reaction is very negative. We will have to see how far this goes. Hey, maybe gasoline prices will come back down! Sweet!

I just watched Trump’s victory speech. I am some what surprised. He actually sounds “presidential,” as opposed to a man flailing insults, shooting from the hip with his words. Words from his Teleprompter I bet.

Tom’s Movie Review: West World 2016 TV Series.

It is not often that I get hooked into a movie, or television series for that matter, that I spend some time researching it even before I actually see it. Well, West World got to me, and I was counting down the seconds until it aired. Why? Well, it is simple, West World is based upon the original West World from 1973, and the Television series picks up after thirty years since. So, being that I was a somewhat fanatic of the 1973 version (yes, it is creepy and hits the right notes for me as a Sci-Fi buff) who could not resist robots that go all artificial intelligent like, and start killing everyone they see, following that philosophical argument that if you make a machine that is as intelligent as we are, you treat it the same way you would want it to treat you—right. Right? Not so fast; we build the machine to serve us, no matter how messed up we used them for.

So, I had just seen the first episode. My first reaction is, “Very cool”! I was focused, ready to have my mind blown, ready for the twists and turns that the plots were going to take me on as I spend the next nine weeks waiting for next nine episodes to finish the story. This first episode did what it had to do; I am hooked! I even watch the 1973 version, just to prepare myself for it. The 2016 version is way better. In fact, I was glad that the movie was not overly done with CGI and far out video effects. The actors did what they had to, too sell it to the viewer, and I think they did a pretty good job. So two thumbs up.

I watched my Twitter feeds while the first episode was playing out in real time, and the only real criticism was mainly regarding the “suggested” rape scene by the man in black with the black hat (Ed Harris) as he dragged the main character Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) in to the barn. Sure, I can understand how and why there are some who would think this should not be presented on public broadcasts, but I like to think that for the greater majority of humans, we can see into the narrative and deduce fantasy from reality, fact from fiction. I did not see anyone commenting on the lesbian scene where the female technician sneeks a kiss at one the prostitute androids after she had a good look at its breast. So, here in lays the argument that if a theme park of this type and scope were to become real, and allowed to run, I am sure the protesters would be out in full force to shut it down. But then again, this is an exclusive theme park, only for those who have lots of money and time on their hands.

I was a little weirded out about the nudity at first, but then came to the conclusion that we the viewer were to look at the “hosts” as just machines, or pieces of property. They get shot up full of bullet holes, pumped up full of sexual pleasures, and then they are hosed down with water, and fixed up good as new, ready for another day to entertain. I get that. But still, I think the line of nudity was crossed too many times for my liking in that it stepped on the real acting and storytelling—in my humble opinion. I will see how episode two goes, then make further comments on this.

As a Canadian, I laughed out loud when I read that Anthony Hopkins character’s name is Dr. Robert Ford. For those in the rest of the world, Rob Ford was the controversial Mayor of Toronto a couple of years ago. I should also point out that Anthony Hopkins was another draw for me to see this television series. He is a very good actor, one that gets my respect.

The one liner in the show that seems to be relevant and may have significances comes from Dolores, who repeats the phrase, “these violent delights to (or “and”) violent ends,” that her father told her, just before he went all short circuited, and had to be put off-line. Maybe theses words are what sets off the inevitable? Perhaps this is the queue of things to come? Why not, thirty years later since the 1973 rampage, perhaps we are over due.

So, I give this show 9 out of 10, and a good review. If you are into the Sci-Fi, thriller, (and a Western to boot) style of show, then this is it.

Good Bye Rosetta, RIP on Comet 97P

The Rosetta Spacecraft ended its mission around comet 97P today by (trying to control land) crashing into it. Back in 2004, Rosetta (and Philae, the lander) was built and lunched by the European Space Agency, with the goal of studying in great detail the weird “duck shaped” comet. Like the little lander Philea, Rosetta landed on the comet’s surface, with the intent of learning more about the comet as Rosetta had more instruments that would capture more data than the lander could. The engineering accomplishments alone puts this mission at the top with so many firsts that this may set new standards for future space mission to come.

The ESA Website: ROSETTA

Charlie’s Tree Along the Trans Canada Highway

I remember the first time I seen the tree, and how the three lane East bound portion of the Trans Canada Highway moved around it. It was not until back in 2006 when I reading a short story from Reader’s Digest, that I learned more about Charlie’s Tree near the border of Surrey and Langley Township. Then seeing the road as it swerved in ward, that it dawned on me why it was, and how the road builder’s left the tree alone, as the highway was right in its path. Last month I drove down that stretch of highway, just before the 200 Street Interchange, and saw the tree standing there. I made note of it, since reading that story from Reader’s Digest, as I always did. I knew of Charlie, who was a World War One pilot, and how he created the monument for his war buddies and other’s who served once he got back. The tree was always alive with fresh monuments and flags. It was not until I read the CBC News web site today that the 300 year old Douglas Fir tree fell down to the ground on the of evening of July 31st, 2016, with part of it laying across the highway.

I have posted a link from the CBC News story about the tree, and a little more about its history, and the man who created it.

Source:  “Charlie’s Tree, a fighter pilot memorial, falls after 300 years, Experts say the tree died too soon, perhaps doomed by ivy planted at its base.”

The BC Day Holiday

Oh yes, it is Long weekend time. Just enjoying the time off, sitting at home, in the heat, on a Monday. It is so nice out. We need more long weekends like this, with mandatory Mondays off. Aught to be a law, eh? Well, needless to say, I deserve having today off. I know I am going to pay for it at my work for the rest of week as they like to cram five days into four, but for now, I am not even going to thing about that. Yes, the official patio thermometer is saying, 28C out. Sweet!

HAPPY BC DAY in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada!

Oh Mike – The Senate, The Cons, The Court of public Opinion

I cannot hold my tongue no longer. After hearing the results of the Mike Duffy trial, that threw out all thirty-one charges put against him by the Crown, the RCMP and the Steven Harper PC Government of the day, I laughed out loud. “We are all fools” I told myself, after the day long event, covered in segments on CBC News as they peppered us with details of the deliberations (one by one) by the Judge somewhere in Ontario. With the full exoneration of Mike Duffy, the fools from all of this are the people of Canada. Sure, the Happer-Cons were the cause of all of this, as I see it clearly now from the Media. The questions I ask myself: do I still like the Senate afterwards from all of this? Ahhh, all of this has cemented even harder my lack of heart felt “value” of why do we still have this unelected level of government.

(Okay, I had a very long rant going on here. I stopped, and thought about it, then decided to delete it. I felt I was going way over the top with most of my comments. Some of my critiques were, well, abrasive and heart-felt, and borderline on self incriminating myself in public–I stopped typing.)

I guess I see all of this as a media event, like a three ring circus show. I am not a fan of the Senate. When I first learned of how our government worked, I was always asking question as to why this level of Federal Government was appointed, and always stacked in favour of the ruling Party, making it a puppet show of the House of Commons. No one ever told me that this was a one hundred percent good thing. Why not have elections for our Senators, I would ask? Why not make public their expense accounts, and hold them to budgets? Why not have rules and laws that would throw out the bad apples when those rules and laws are broken? And hey, lets have Green Party and NDP Senators too?

Sure, keep the Senate; I do agree with the concept of “A Second Sober Thought,” with our law makers. But lets prevent this three ring circus from going on any further–let us make true and lasting change.

LINKS

Mike Duffy ruling could put brakes on expense cases against other senators” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Judge clears Mike Duffy of all charges and slams Prime Minister’s Office under Harper” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Read Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s ruling” April 21-22, 2016 c/o CBCNews.

Cutting The Cord – A How to Guide

As you may have read here on my weblog in the past, I hate the price gouging by my cable provider. The main reason is that they (my ISP) created this idea called “bundling,” which is code for “there no free lunch – you either eat the whole smorgasbord, or do not eat at all.” You have to have the cable-TV content, along with the Internet Service, and/or phone if you asked for it. You cannot have the Internet by itself. The end result, is much higher prices for content and services that are either poor, or not wanted. And worse,  those TV channels that you do want, are bundled with garbage channels that you do not want. It all adds up to one big cable bill. There is a solution here in Canada, but it takes a leap of understanding. You can watch all the TV you want, either for free, or for much less: you are doing it from off of the Internet! But you still need the cord. How?

3D Box with Key Hole April 2016 - Weblog Image

Step One – Where I live, I can call upon other ISPs that rents the infrastructure that is owned by my current cable provider. You really do not cut the cord, but you can change companies that you would deal with. In my case, I have ComWave, who rents the wires that connects my house to the web, and they offer Internet (and phone) only packages that are much cheaper than the cable companies’ bundles. The savings – two thirds cheaper. I can go from $160.00 per month (TV Cable, Phone and Internet) to $60.00 per month with the same internet connection I have now (just Internet and Phone).

Step Two – You may still want the TV you like. There are a couple of options. You can sign up for speciality channels from right off of the Internet from streaming websites created by those providers. You would watch them from your web browser through your computer, connected to your TV. Yes, high-def TV over the net! Another option is to buy a “Black Box” that connects to the Internet and acts like a cable TV box that hooks up to your TV. A good example is FreeTVBox that is offered here in Canada, and works by streaming TV content from off the net to your TV. The Black Box is a one time buy, and you get free TV content for life according to its creators.

This seems to be the biggest change in the media market to date as consumers flock away from the big cable gougers, to just having Internet as their only means of entertainment and social connection to the world. I would say it is partly convenience, and mostly costs that is driving this change. This is easily fuelled by the youth who can live with just their smart phones, who have cut the cord, and the middle class who seek better and more modern means of getting their TV content. The result, Cable is a sunset industry.

My Take on the Panama Papers

I almost fell off of my chair when I read the news article called the Panama Papers from CBCnews on their website. First, when they said that there are legitimate reasons for having an off shore account like and second, just how prolific these off accounts are among the rich and famous. But that is not all. When I read that part in the news article that our very own Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will not invest time and efforts to look into the Canadians on the list (who could be possible tax cheats) on the Panama Papers, this made me angry.

So, I am a big multi billion dollar corporation, and I ask my lawyers, “hey, how do we cut the amount of taxes we are paying in this county,” they would say, open an off shore account and there you can hid your money from the tax man. How could this be legal? I certainly see the benefit from the corporation’s point of view, and I just cannot wrap my head around how our government can legitimize this whole secrecy part about hiding money like this. Sure, there must be some legal reasons for doing this, (although I cannot see them at the moment) but in this day and age, when the number of people who have billions in their bank account is growing, and the number of countries and people who are corrupt grow, I can only see dodging and secrecy as the heaven against high tax jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies. So it would make sense to me that anyone who has lots of money (or property) would want to “hide” it, especially from government’s tax and legal departments.

I am just dumbfounded that in my own country (Canada) having an offshore account is perfectly acceptable; however, I did read my my tax return, and it asks if you have property and money outside of Canada, so I guess if you are honest, you would tell them. But, the CRA seems to not have any troubles if you decide to open an offshore account, and you kept that to yourself, they appear to have no interest in looking for it. So, if you are lucky enough to not have your offshore company’s records leaked to the world, then your money, assets and property (including valuable art) are perfectly safe in (from) Canada.

I say, Canada at least, should treat this like the “War on Drugs.” Liken it to drugs, say Cocaine for example. Cocaine is a highly additive drug, and it so happens that it is illegal to have possession of it, and to us it, other than for medial reasons by a real doctor. So, lets treat offshore banking the same way. Since greed for money seems to be associated with illegal activities, and common links can be drawn between the drug user and offshore accounts, why not set up laws and policing agencies to combat this scourge. If it is discovered that a person, or legal fiction, has an offshore account, then an automatic investigation should start. Heck, why not make it so that all money transactions have to go through policing body for some sort–say the CRA. in other words, if a Bank, like the RBC tells one of its customers that they should open an offshore account, then the first thing that must take place is a request by the CRA to grant the RBC to open this offshore account, while in that process, a copy of money and items must be registered.

Yes, I think this would fly like a lead balloon. Even in Canada, this would go too far. Yes, I would admit, if I could hid my money, I probably would. The best I could do is bury my cash, (LOL) if I had any to spare.

As Frogs Call – Is It That Time of Year All Ready?

My first full weekend in nearly four weeks, my, what to do with it? Well, lets write a blog post! So, what to write about…, lets see, there is the weather, that is messed up right now. Then there is the U.S. Election, as each major party chose their candidates to run in the Federal Election next year. I have lots to say about that. Then there is the price of everything. My poor pay cheque seems like it is worth nothing as I prices for everything climb out of control beyond my reach. I have lots to say about that too. Okay, lets get typing!

Thomasso Logo March 2016 Weblog Image

This is where I show my typical Canadainism–a rant about the weather. Spring has sprung, or has it? I am not sure, but Saturday was almost a day that would call something close to a late spring day. Yes, it was that warm out. Some of the flowers are popping up too that normally do not sprout for another few weeks, like the Daffodils, and of course the crocuses. Some of the Cherry trees are showing their blossoms, and even the Magnolia trees are sprouting them too. Along with the warmth brings the mosquitoes and other flying pests. You take the good with the bad, and so it is, my first mosquito bite–on March 5th–what’s up with that? I think this year will be an extra early spring. Heck, the frogs are going nuts, the croaking at night is loud, and all of this around the first week of March. I first noticed the frogs a couple of weeks ago, but last night must have been party night for them. Could we see a frog population explosion this summer? LOL!

Normally I do not write about U.S. politics, but today I will make an exception. Let me say a few things about the Trump Machine that seems unstoppable down South. We here in Canada had our own version of the freakishly out-of-bounds and embarrassing public figure, the Mayor of Toronto, back in 2013, that pushed the limits of how low you could go, and it seems you too in United States have your own case now. All I can say is “hang in there,” as I am sure that your Federal Election will set things straight, and Trump will be just a post scrip in the annals of time. I know the fear that there is a possibility of Trump becoming the Commander and Chief of the Super Power of the world, and yeah, it scares the crap out of me too just thinking about it, but I have faith in the American People to vote for the best person for the job, and I hope they, quite honestly, Dump the Trump.

The rising prices of stuff. I see it is not just me who sees the price crunch ramping up on nearly every purchase I make. I feel a little bit better when I read in the local media that the gouging and price increases are biting nearly everyone around–it is not just my in head–or something I am imagining. One price I keep my eye on is the price of gasoline. Where I live, the taxes are super high for gas, as compared to just a few kilometres away in the next township, and across the U.S. border. I save twelve to fourteen cents per litre just making that extra fifteen minute drive to any one of those locations.  Today, I notice that gas was selling for $1.10 per litre, while just in Abbottsford it is only $0.98. It does add up over time in the savings, making that extra trip across the line to fill up. Also on the rise are most foods I eat. I think the most expensive item that I use to buy is beef. The price of beef has climbed so high that I just stopped buying it. Instead, I found deals on fish and pork, and of course, a lot more poultry goes into my grocery basket. Next in the food department are veggies. I think I will be starting a little veggie garden this year. Over all, I noticed the food bill climbing, and that worries me. It is time to switch to more economical food types, and buy more local items until the Canadian Dollar bounces back up. I always wanted to get serious about food gardening–now is the time.

Phew. I am tired now. Okay, time to press “publish” and sign off for another day.