Jan 212015
 

Yesterday, I wrote that there is a possibility (but certainly not a probability) that there exists two dark, icy super-Earths somewhere beyond the Oort Cloud of our solar system.

There could be at least two unknown planets hidden well beyond Pluto, whose gravitational influence determines the orbits and strange distribution of objects observed beyond Neptune. This has been revealed by numerical calculations made by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge. If confirmed, this hypothesis would revolutionise solar system models. [Daily Galaxy].

I hypothesized that the first of these potential planets is Korriban, home world of the Sith of the Star Wars saga. But I have also come to believe that if the second super-Earth exists, it is none other than Gallifrey, home world of the Time Lords of the Doctor Who series.

Gallifrey

Gallifrey Returns… Again?

Since the resumption of the series, there have been two instances of Gallifrey nearly coming back, so to speak.

From the Tardis Wikia article on Gallifreyan History:

During the Eleventh Doctor’s timestream, he and all of his prior incarnations (as well as his successor incarnation, unbeknownst to him) came together to freeze Gallifrey and the surviving Time Lords in time; and transferred Gallifrey to a pocket universe where it was safe from the Daleks, who destroyed themselves. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) Due to the memory of these events being wiped from every incarnation before the Eleventh Doctor, the Ninth Doctor believed himself responsible for the destruction of both the Time Lords and Gallifrey. (TV: The End of the World, Dalek)

Also:

The Time Lords began reaching out through a Crack sending the message “Doctor who?” on the planet Trenzalore in order that the Eleventh Doctor might speak his true name and return them to the universe. Rather than restart the Time War, the Doctor refused for hundreds of years. The Time Lords did save the dying Doctor’s life by granting him the a new cycle of regenerations, allowing him to regenerate into the Twelfth Doctor before closing the crack and sealing themselves away in the pocket universe, possibly forever (TV: The Time of the Doctor).

It’s safe to say that Gallifrey wouldn’t be trapped in the pocket universe forever. The materialization of Gallifrey near Earth was clearly a mistake by the Time Lords. In their madness and desperation, they got the timing and location wrong. But now after we know that Gallifrey was whisked away into the pocket universe, leaving the Dalek’s to (mostly) destroy each other in the crossfire, its reappearance as a wayward super-Earth in the Oort Cloud makes sense.

The Time Lords of Gallifrey, chief among them Rassilon, may be corrupt but they aren’t dummies. Surely they will have learned from their mistake during the last days of the Last Great Time War as well as when they tried to force The Doctor’s hand on Trenzalore.  The Doctor simply will not allow innocent populations to suffer just to see his home world restored to the universe, to say nothing of whether it would restart the Time War. Better in his mind, to keep Gallifrey locked away for now, than to see others suffer.

But if the Rassilon and his ilk can restore Gallifrey to the universe without endangering a native population and thereby forcing The Doctor to intervene, the Oort Cloud would be a prime region to re-materialize. Lying out in that desolate region of the Sol System, they would probably go unnoticed by The Doctor, at least until such time as they were prepared to face him and make their presence again known to the universe.

Related Articles:
Are Scientists on the Verge of Locating the Sith Homeworld?

(We’ll discuss the implications of having both Gallifrey and Korriban in the Sol System at another date)…

Jan 202015
 

From the Daily Galaxy:

There could be at least two unknown planets hidden well beyond Pluto, whose gravitational influence determines the orbits and strange distribution of objects observed beyond Neptune. This has been revealed by numerical calculations made by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge. If confirmed, this hypothesis would revolutionise solar system models.

Ok, let’s back up a bit. Last March, scientists discovered a dwarf planet, 2012 VP-113, orbiting in a region in between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. There are only two objects in this inner-Oort cloud, the other being Sedna.

The orbits of 2012 VP-113, nicknamed Biden, and Sedna suggest, “the possible presence of a dark and icy super-Earth, up to ten times larger than our planet.” [emphasis mine]

oort-cloud

I think we can theorize that this monster planet is in fact our galaxy’s Korriban, the home world of the Sith. We all know that the historical documentary series, Star Wars, takes place a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. What the documentaries (or mockumentaries, as Episodes I-III are known) never tell us is how far away and how long ago.

Korriban_TOR_new

If the Force exists in our galaxy, and one presumes that Human Beings are not force-sensitive, then there must be both a light and a dark side. And so I posit that one of the dark super-Earths could very well be a version of Korriban, cut adrift from its home system, drifting past Earth.

Related Posts
Gallifrey Returns in the Oort Cloud?

Jan 072015
 
karma

ou… la liberté d’expression est non négociable.

The offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper which has attracted controversy for lampooning Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, were attacked today, resulting in the deaths of 12 people and injuries to 3 others. From the New York Times:

Among the dead were four prominent cartoonists who have repeatedly lampooned Islamic terrorists and the prophet Muhammad, leading to speculation that the attack was the work of Islamic militants acting alone or in concert with extremist groups. A police guard assigned to protect the newspaper was among the first victims. A second police officer, who responded to reports of the shooting, was killed on the sidewalk outside the offices by the fleeing suspects, the Paris police said. The shooting of the second police officer was captured in a widely-seen video.

Speech has consequences. Sometimes it can get you in hot water with your bosses or friends and family. It can get you fired. Freedom of speech does not constitute freedom from criticism. If you say something stupid, you may deserve to be called out on it. If you say something offensive, you may deserve to be criticized. Criticized. Not to be murdered or even have your life threatened.

I care not for those who will point out the crimes of the West against the Middle East. As if that is justification for this barbarism. Firstly, the offenders-in-chief at Charlie Hebdo are just writers. Their weapons are words, not bombs. Words must be met with words. Not violence.

freedom-of-speech

Secondly, I would venture to say that no one gets to throw stones because all of our houses are made of glass. I would wager that those self-styled jihadis have also laughed at jokes about Christianity, Judaism, Christ, Moses or the Dark Lord Cthulhu.

We make fun of everything – religion, sexuality, sports, gender, etc. We laugh, we get offended and then we go home to bed. Continue reading »

Dec 302014
 
Lefty and Proud!

…or Soon the Southpaw Revolution Will Come!

Lifehacker has a post about switching to a RTL (right-to-Left) orientation which should make using one’s smartphone easier with the Left hand. Less strain to reach when using your Left hand.

If you’re like most people, you use your right hand on your phone. And that’s fine. Because you’re probably one of those people. The right-handed. But if you’re a Lefty, you probably use your phone in your right-hand as well. You’ve probably trained your right hand to make those sorts of movements as quickly and efficiently as possible. Because that’s the world we inhabit. A right-handed world. I even the play guitar right-handed because a Left-Handed guitar would’ve been more expensive to purchase.

Switching to a RTL orientation is actually a little weird so far. It’ll take some retraining because I’m so used to the right-handed-centric orientation. But it’s worth it. Because LEFT.

The Leftorium

Dec 242014
 
Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet

Recently, Azealia Banks has gotten into a huge battle with the white Australian rapper Iggy Azalea over Iggy’s cultural appropriation of blackness, calling it a “cultural smudging”. As we have moved further and further away from the founding of the genre, as the older heads recede from the game, hip hop risks losing its sense of history.

I came in to hip hop in the late-1980’s through mid-1990’s when political rap was at its popular forefront – Public Enemy, Ice-T, NWA and its solo member offshoots Ice Cube and Dr Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Doggy Dogg, even Arrested Development. A suburban kid can’t really relate to those conditions but the music was authentic, real, harsh, raw and sometimes funny. And did it ever sound great, lyrically and sonically.  Dr. Dre’s Ain’t Nuthin’ but a G Thang still ranks among my favorite songs of all-time. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s The Message was jarring, to say the least.

Thomas Rice as Jim Crow

As such, Iggy Azalea and folks of her ilk, who willfully disregard hip hop’s socio-political history, are the new minstrels. To simply mimic the very vocal patterns within which hip hop was established, when that is not her modus operandi, and to make an exaggerated fetish of some behaviors is to disrespect the genre. It is profoundly inauthentic. No one who truly cares about the genre and isn’t just looking to make a buck (or an aussie) should applaud it.

Aamer Rahman takes the significance of this appropriation a step further:

A white rapper like Iggy Azalea acts out signifiers which the white majority associates with black culture – hyper sexuality, senseless materialism, an obsession with drugs, money and alcohol – as well as adopting clothing, speech and music – as a costume that they can put on and discard at will. It’s a cheap circus act.

Continue reading »

Oct 202014
 
middle-east-oils

In a provocative essay in Foreign Affairs, Shashank Joshi lays out the reasons why India has, by and large, stayed out of Middle Eastern affairs. Of particular interest to me are the ideological reasons:

New Delhi has deeper ideological reasons for its opposition to intervention in the Middle East. Indian policymakers tend to view recent Western intervention in the Middle East as comparable to the U.S.-funded and Pakistan-led effort to support opposition forces in Afghanistan after the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979. In the Indian view, it was the West’s intervention that primed Afghanistan for the growth and spread of radical Islam. Suhasini Haidar, strategic & diplomatic affairs editor of the Indian newspaper The Hindu, summarized the feelings of many Indians in a July 2014 op-ed: “Each of the countries today at the center of the world’s concerns over extremism is, in fact, a country that has seen direct or indirect Western intervention, not Western absence — Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Iraq.”

Well, imagine that! You mean to say that Western action in the Middle East (ostensibly usually led by the United States under both Democratic and Republican regimes) isn’t a magical panacea to what ails that troubled region?!

foreign-policy-word-map

It’s true that India has enough on its regional plate with rather ornery neighbors in Pakistan and China. Regardless, I don’t consider it an isolationist move to stay out of Middle Eastern affairs. It just pragmatic. There is little to be gained by wading into the morass of complicated, centuries-old grudges, alliances and enmities that tangle Western Asia.

Continue reading »

Oct 072014
 
Angela George [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Or… Infidels Have No Place at the Table

By now you’ve probably heard of or seen the clip of Ben Affleck angrily defending Islam against the invectives of Bill Maher and Sam Harris. Here’s the clip in case you missed it:

Did you watch it? I confess that I haven’t watched it, nor am I likely to do so because I can already tell it’s just… too much. I generally enjoy the rantings of my fellow Irishman Bill Maher on sundry topics but I have to hit mute any time he starts railing on Islam. I’ve watched Bill for years and he has consistently blanketed all Muslims with the same characterizations. That there may even be a portion of the population pushing back or that there may need to be more nuance than a single characterization of one billion people’s faith doesn’t pass muster with him.

Harris penned a defense of his appearance on his blog. It’s definitely worth a read. A couple excerpts of note:

Kristof made the point that there are brave Muslims who are risking their lives to condemn “extremism” in the Muslim community. Of course there are, and I celebrate these people too. But he seemed completely unaware that he was making my point for me—the point being, of course, that these people are now risking their lives by advocating for basic human rights in the Muslim world.

After the show, Kristof, Affleck, Maher, and I continued our discussion. At one point, Kristof reiterated the claim that Maher and I had failed to acknowledge the existence of all the good Muslims who condemn ISIS, citing the popular hashtag #NotInOurName. In response, I said: “Yes, I agree that all condemnation of ISIS is good. But what do you think would happen if we had burned a copy of the Koran on tonight’s show? There would be riots in scores of countries. Embassies would fall. In response to our mistreating a book, millions of Muslims would take to the streets, and we would spend the rest of our lives fending off credible threats of murder. But when ISIS crucifies people, buries children alive, and rapes and tortures women by the thousands—all in the name of Islam—the response is a few small demonstrations in Europe and a hashtag.”

Harris is right, of course, that there are dangerous people and interpretations of Islam that must be dealt with. I think he underestimates the degree to which ‘other’ Muslims cry out over atrocities committed in our religion’s name, in no small part because it’s not as sexy to cover on CNN or Fox News.

Continue reading »

Sep 232014
 
"Pluto moon P5 discovery with moons' orbits" by NASA, ESA, and L. Frattare (STScI) - http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2012/32/image/c/. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pluto_moon_P5_discovery_with_moons%27_orbits.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Pluto_moon_P5_discovery_with_moons%27_orbits.jpg

… Or Pluto is a Ball of Rock & Ice, not a Cartoon Dog

A few years ago, the International Astronomical Union standardized the definition of a planet and as such declassified Pluto. According to the IAU, the current official definition of a planet is a celestial body that

1. is in orbit around the Sun, 2. is round or nearly round, and 3. has “cleared the neighborhood” around its orbit

Pluto was declassified down to a dwarf-planet. The international outcry was enormous. And STUPID. Because this:

pluto

I would contend that the outcry about Pluto being declassified would have been severely muted if not for the fact that Walt Disney decided to name his iconic cartoon dog, Pluto, after the Greek God of the Dead and Ruler of the Underworld.

Recently, for some inexplicable reason, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics decided to tackle the issue of Pluto’s planet-ness again.

Gingerich argued that “a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time,” and that Pluto is a planet. Williams defended the IAU definition, which declares that Pluto is not a planet. And Sasselov defined a planet as “the smallest spherical lump of matter that formed around stars or stellar remnants,” which means Pluto is a planet.

Continue reading »

Sep 162014
 
ukraine-russia

In his latest show, Common Sense podcaster Dan Carlin talked about how the actions of Russia are in large part an answer to NATO expanding its borders almost unto Russia’s borders and rubbing its nose in areas which the Russians considers to be their business, not the West’s.

For an old and powerful country like Russia, this is simply ‘poking the bear’. It’s an intrusion into what they consider to be their sphere of influence. Consider Ukraine, which Russia has always regarded as under its sphere of influence. And perhaps rightfully so, since it’s a border country. Previously, the Ukrainians had democratically elected a government which favored closer ties with mother Russia. Then that government was overthrown by a government which favored closer ties to the West. US diplomats had been recorded talking about what they would do to increase USA/western influence and decrease Russian influence. It is perhaps not unreasonable to expect that the Russians would think ill of such provocations.

Nor would it be unreasonable that the USA would think ill of countries meddling in the internal affairs of those within the its sphere of influence. The Monroe Doctrine, issued as far back as 1823, states:

The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

Essentially, the USA was telling the European powers to keep the hillel out of the Americas. The USA considers the Americas to be our backyard and quite simply, “get off all our lawns!” Continue reading »

Feb 252014
 
Jan_Brewer_by_Gage_Skidmore

The state legislature of Arizona recently passed a law allowing that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. The (potential) law has come under intense criticism across the country. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is considering whether to veto the measure.

Some economic conservatives have even come out against the measure because they fear it will hurt business interests in the Copper State. Even if Brewer does veto the legislation, it doesn’t speak well for Arizona’s tolerance that such a measure would pass in the first place. The measure has been framed as a way to ensure religious freedom. Religious freedom… to discriminate. So much for love the sinner, hate the sin amongst Arizona’s religious and social conservatives.

But this is not the first time that Arizona has run into social/moral controversy.

MLK Day Superbowl Controversy

In 1987, Republican governor Evan Mecham rescinded his predecessor’s executive order to recognize the day. Mecham also made his displeasure for the holiday widely known, saying that King did not deserve a holiday and that black supporters of the law should have been more concerned about getting jobs. In 1989, the state legislature approved the holiday but that was put on hold due to popular opposition.

Shortly after the Superbowl was awarded to Arizona, a 1990 ballot initiative to observe the holiday was defeated by the people of Arizona. Eagles owner Norman Braman had warned that if the MLK Day ballot initiative went against adoption of the holiday, the NFL would not hesitate to pull the game from Arizona and move it somewhere else.

flag_of_Arizona

The NFL did indeed remove the Super Bowl from Tempe and held another vote, choosing Pasadena instead. It took another 2 years but Arizona voters finally approved the MLK Day holiday in the 1992 elections, in large part due to the revenue lost from not hosting the Superbowl. The NFL responded by awarding Superbowl XXX to Tempe at their 1993 meeting.

Continue reading »