Posts Tagged ‘the’

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 31): Transcript

December 14, 2014

Many thanks to Linda for supplying this transcript!

[0:00] Ray Comfort: “Behold the atheists’ nightmare.”

[0:07] Steve Sanchez [?]: “Now, your nickname is “The Banana Man”.”

Comfort: “Yeah . . . Evolution comes from the imaginations of man. It’s very nebulous. It’s as big or as small as the imaginations of man, and you can see it by the language they use, the language of speculation: “we believe”, “perhaps”, “maybe”, “could’ve”.”

[0:21] Thunderf00t: Well, you see, this is where you and I fundamentally differ, Ray. My understanding of reality is contingent on reality; whereas yours is not.

[0:31] Yup. Given the right observations, I will correct my views to make them congruent with reality. And if that involves jettisoning the theories of Newton, Einstein, and Darwin, then so be it. Now let’s compare this to Ray.

[0:45] Ray’s understanding of reality is not contingent on reality because he already deems himself to have divine insight.

[0:53] clip, “The Thunderf00t – Ray Comfort discussion”: “I’m gonna stop you there because I know what was in the beginning. You don’t know. I know what was in the beginning. In the beginning, ‘God created the Heavens and the Earth’. You don’t know, I do.”

[1:03] Thunderf00t: That’s right—there is NO evidence that could be presented to Ray to make him change his mind because HE KNOWS. The irony is of course is that Ray, who is so proud of his absolute knowledge of the origin of the universe, has a less than impressive track record when it comes to the origin of—oh, I dunno, let’s pick a subject at random. Let’s say the origin of BANANAS.

[1:28] Comfort: “pointed at the top for ease of entry. It’s just the right shape for the human mouth. It’s chewy, easy to digest. It’s even curved toward the face to make the whole process so much easier. Seriously, Kirk, the whole of creation testifies the genius of God’s creative hand.”

[1:43] Thunderf00t: (Heh) Yeah. Ray initially used his absolute knowledge to say that ‘bananas speak to the glory of God’s creation’. Then Ray released a video saying that he was ‘misquoted’ and that he accepted that bananas were selectively bred by man.

[1:59] clip: ““Banana Man” is a reference to an illustration presented by Comfort, in which he compared the complex design elements of a Coke can to the complex design elements of a banana in order to demonstrate that thoughtful design by a designer is required for both examples. However, atheists removed the Coke can from the video version and sent it across the internet saying that ‘Comfort believed that the banana was conclusive proof of God’s existence’, missing the point of the illustration completely.”

“They also said that the banana had been modified over time by man to fit in the palm of the hand, and not by God.”

“Comfort apologized for his mistake about the banana saying, “My apologies for not explaining myself more clearly. I was not aware that the common banana had been so modified through hybridization.”

[2:46] Thunderf00t: And then in his latest interview he says that there is ‘no evidence that bananas were genetically engineered’:

[2:52] Comfort: “Especially the guy that made that banana video and using a modern, weird shaped banana and saying it was genetically altered when there was NO—absolutely no credibility to his claims at all. It’s bogus.”

[3:05] Comfort: “I know what was in the beginning. ‘In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth’. You don’t know. I do.”

[3:10] Thunderf00t: There’s a famous quote from a famous scientist that adequately sums you up here Ray: “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence, than it does knowledge” (Darwin). Yep. That’s right, Banana Man, your bitch ass just got served by Darwin.

[3:24] I guess these are the differences that make me a scientist devoted to building a better understanding of reality, whereas Ray is verbatim, repeating a script that he prepared some three years ago.

[3:35] Comfort: “You can see it by the language they use, the language of speculation: “we believe”, “perhaps”, “maybe”, “could’ve”.”

““We believe”, “perhaps”, “maybe”, “could’ve””

[3:44] Thunderf00t: And even back then his ace-in-the-hole was asking a bunch of, well, with all due respect, greasy high school students on what their understanding of evolution was, and then crowing when they couldn’t give a cogent explanation of something they didn’t understand. Braavo Ray, bravo. Truly showing the caliber of your creationist arguments thereby quote mining teenagers. I mean, I’m surprised you didn’t ask these, uh, experts about long division as well. Then you could’ve disproved mathematics at the same time.

[4:16] Now, Ray recently staged a cheap publicity stunt where he put a creationist’s introduction into the seminal work of Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species.

[4:27] Sanchez: “How many Origin of Species books did we get onto the university campuses last Wednesday?”

Comfort: “170,000.”

Sanchez: “170,000. And how many campuses?”

Comfort: “100 top campuses across the U.S. That was the main point of the whole thing. I don’t wanna turn people AGAINST evolution. I want them to doubt evolution enough to reexamine or examine the claims of the gospel.”

[4:49] Thunderf00t: What are you on, Ray? Evolution at its simplest is that in iterative self-replicating systems more successful patterns, by definition, propagate better than less successful ones.

[5:02] But how on earth in your mind do you get from expecting people to question what is true by definition, to examining the claims of some 2,000 year old stories about goat herders and magic men in the Mediterranean? Stand back, Banana Man is about to try logic:

[5:21] Comfort: “Richard Dawkins says I’m an ignorant fool, so what I’ve written must have been ignorant foolishness. So why was he telling them to ‘rip it out’? He should be saying, ‘READ the ignorant foolishness of Ray Comfort and see what an ignorant fool he is and, well, strengthen your faith in evolution.’”

[5:36] Thunderf00t: Uuuh, no, Ray. Reading junk constitutes a waste of time. Yes, it’s true that by reading your introduction you can come to this stunning conclusion that a man who thinks he knows—with absolute certainty—the origin of the universe (something that has eluded the minds of the smartest people on the planet) that doesn’t know where bananas come from, is, mmm, intellectually challenged.

[6:01] But DAMN, that bastardization of logic makes me cringe.

[6:04] Comfort: “‘READ the ignorant foolishness of Ray Comfort and see what an ignorant fool he is and, well, strengthen your faith in evolution’.”

[6:11] Thunderf00t: No. Determining that Ray is a moron does not impact on the veracity of evolution any more than it impinges on the credibility of atomic theory. And Ray, faith is belief in something without evidence. Evolution stands on its ability to describe the facts. You know, the evidence that we have in reality.

[6:32] Comfort: “-strengthen your faith in evolution’. But he’s afraid of the gospel that it contains.”

[6:37] Thunderf00t: Hmm. That’s an interesting conjecture, Ray. But where are my manners? Let me let Banana Man field the answer to that one:

[6:44] Comfort: “-blog to hundreds of atheists each day who are waiting for anything that comes out of my mouth so they can rip it to shreds. But they hang around me like—someone says, ‘why do you call those atheists centralists?’ Because atheists hang around me like bugs hang around a campfire. I can’t get rid of them! I slap ‘em and say, ‘go away’. ‘No, we’re staying here’. It’s like a train wreck. ‘We wanna see what’s gonna happen next.’”

[7:03] Thunderf00t: Yep, that’s right, Ray. This is the reason why people hang around you; because you’re a clown. It’s not because they fear anything you have to say. They hang around you for the LOLs.

[7:14] Dawkins suggests that you rip the introduction out because Dawkins ISN’T in it for the LOLs. He’s an educator. And your introduction is comparable to putting an introduction in a book about leprosy, saying that it’s nothing to do with bacteria and that god describes how to cure leprosy in the Bible by killing a bird, and then dipping another bird in the blood of the first, and then letting it go. And then getting all surprised when healthcare professionals of one sort or another kinda get pissy at you.

[7:43] Comfort: “I wanna thank that lady that put the “Origin of Stupidity” video on. They got over well over a million views advertising the book.”

[7:52] Thunderf00t: By ‘that lady’ I assume you’re referring to the fiery sex-bomb goddess of ZOMGitscriss. Yeah, I’d like to thank her too. Nice one, Crissy.

[8:04] Comfort: “I really appreciate it ‘cos that was free publicity, and they’d done a great job.”

Sanchez: “So in an essence, the atheists have catapulted Way of the Master—your ministry about Evangelism, Jesus Christ, God—to the next level, haven’t they?”

[8:18] Thunderf00t: Yeah, right. I love the desperate attempt to put a positive spin on it. But face it. It was free advertising for, as you put it, ‘a train wreck’.

[8:27] I guess another fundamental difference between us Ray, is, I would not be happy for free publicity as ‘Banana Man’ or, Mr. Moron-performs-another-unintentionally-funny-intellectual-train-wreck. However, you have stepped up to the plate, and in this role both of us seem to be happy.

[8:45] Regrettably, we lost PCS. But I’m perfectly happy for Banana Man to succeed him in all of his offices.

[8:52] clip: “But in their efforts to make him look foolish, atheists gave Ray Comfort an international platform for his message.”

[8:58] Comfort: “Behold³ the atheists’ nightmare.”

[9:02] Thunderf00t: Yeah, that’s almost right. Ray is famous for being an idiot. But even if this did somehow transfer as publicity for the Bible, ANYONE in product promotion or brand image would projectile vomit exorcist-style at the idea of having this sort of promotion. You know, it would be kind of like having a lead paint manufacturer endorsing a line of toys for children.

[9:27] Ray is aware of his train wreck persona too. And you have to look no further than his attempts to rewrite history to realize this, firstly claiming that his banana argument was ‘valid but misquoted’:

[9:40] clip: “However, atheists removed the Coke can from the video version.”

[9:44] Thunderf00t: And then, of course, acknowledging that bananas were selectively bred.

[9:47] clip: “Comfort apologized for his mistake about the banana saying, “I was not aware that the common banana had been so modified through hybridization.”

[9:55] Thunderf00t: But not wanting to disappoint his loyal fans, train wrecked Tim then gives us this gem:

[10:01] clip: “However, the truth remains that God gave man the knowledge and ability to modify it so that it perfectly fit into his hand. He did the same with big dogs, so they can fit into his car.”

[10:13] Thunderf00t: Yeah, sure, Ray. 30,000 or so years ago when man first started selectively breeding the domestic dog (Wikipedia, ”Origin of the domestic dog”) he thought, ‘you know, we should breed a small dog such that in 30,000 years’ time when we invent the car, our dogs would fit in them.

[10:27] Anyway, sometime later Banana Man gives up trying to justify his ‘bananas prove God’ argument as ‘valid but misquoted’, and happily performs the routine as ‘legitimate humor’:

[10:40] Comfort: “The banana and the hand are perfectly made, one for the other. You’ll find the maker of the banana, Almighty God has made it with a non-slip surface. And as out would indicate inward contents: green, too early. Yellow, just ripe.”

[10:56] Thunderf00t: Yeah, this is the champion of creationism performing his argument for god as ‘legitimate humor’. Way to fill PCS’s shoes, Ray. I mean, to make a “Why do People Laugh at Creationists?” video you need someone of the caliber of PCS. But to make a ‘Why do Creationists Laugh at Creationists?’ video, that requires a Banana Man:

[11:20] Comfort: “Notice the pointed top for ease of entry, just the right shape for the human mouth. Chewy, palatable, good for you, and the Maker has even curved it toward the face to make the whole process so much easier. That’s if you get it the right way around.”

[11:43] Thunderf00t: Way to represent, Banana Man. Way to represent.

IF men acted like Feminists (Part 2): Transcript

July 12, 2014

[0:00] Thunderf00t: Now, many would think that Anita Sarkeesian has said some pretty dumb stuff over the years, and that therefore no one would take her seriously. Well actually, this year, 2014 she got an Annual Game Developers Choice Award. Specifically,

“The Ambassador Award, honoring someone who is helping video games “advance to a better place” through advocacy or action, is going to media critic Anita Sarkeesian, creator of Feminist Frequency, a video series that deconstructs representations of women in game and pop culture narratives”.

[0:38] Woow, that’s impressive! I mean there really aren’t many towering intellectuals who could lay claim to the title of a “media critic”.

[0:47] But what would it look like if men acted like feminists in “deconstructing the representations of men in pop culture narratives? Well I think it would look a little something like this:

[0:59] “So I got a lot of feedback from privileged women on my last video about why men shouldn’t be used as sword practice by females. This was mostly from women in denial about the serious, social-ableist-oriented, neo-gendered boundary-integrity issues that this problem causes.”

[1:20] “Firstly, they need to educate themselves on that it’s possible to both enjoy a media while simultaneously being critical of its more pernicious aspects. That’s why I always ensure that ratings and comments are disabled—for your comfort and convenience. After all, I AM telling you the truth. And only man-haters would want to allow those telling man-hating lies to confuse the clarity of what I am telling you.”

[1:48] “This is why we need BrotherlyBroadcast videos to be taught without opposition in schools, classrooms, and even universities. It’s only fair.”

[1:59] “In this sense, it’s good for us to remember that we are ALL influenced by the media we watch in a way that closely resembles homeopathy.”

[2:08] clip from Feminist Frequency, “Women as Background Decoration: Part 1 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games” : “While it may be comforting to think that we all have a personal force-field protecting us from outside influences, this is simply not the case. Scholars sometimes refer to this type of denial as a “third-person effect”, which is the tendency for people to believe that they are personally immune to media’s effects, even if others may be influenced or manipulated.”
“Paradoxically, and somewhat ironically, those who most strongly believe that media is just harmless entertainment, are also the ones most likely to uncritically internalize harmful media messages.”
“In short, the more you think you cannot be affected, the more likely you are to be affected.”

[2:44] Thunderf00t: “That is, the less you think you are affected, the more likely you are TO be affected. I mean, check out the extensive citations below, and you’ll see that I’m telling you the complete, academic, honest truth. But maybe that’s not enough for some people. Maybe there are some out there who say, ‘I’ve watched Star Wars a hundred times. I’ve never even once thought about turning into a Dark Lord of the Sith’; or, ‘I’ve watched The Matrix a thousand times. And no matter how much I think that it’s a fantasy, I still can’t dodge the bullets!’”

[3:20] “Well, facts really aren’t relevant here, because I’m citing feminist research. Specifically, over $30,000 of feminist research.”

[3:30] clip from Feminist Frequency, “Women as Background Decoration: Part 1 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games”: “In short, the more you think you cannot be affected, the more likely you are to be affected.”

[3:36] Thunderf00t: “The first thing that you have to realize, is just how much these games OBJECTIFY men. Again and again, the men in these games are just portrayed as objects to be acted on.”

[3:50] clip from TEDxYouth, “The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman . . .”: “We’re thinking about the object-subject dichotomy. Subjects act. Objects are acted upon.”

[3:57] clip from Feminist Frequency, “Damsel in Distress: Part 1 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games”: “is via what’s called the subject-object dichotomy. In the simplest terms, subjects act, and objects are acted upon.”

[4:03] clip from lacigreen, “SEX OBJECT BS”: “-the subject. Subjects act, while objects are acted upon. Now I know you’re thinking, ‘crazy Laci, what’s this got to do with sexuality?’ And the answer is: everything.”

[4:15] Thunderf00t: “Because, once something has been turned into an object, violence against that object becomes intrinsically permissible. Now I know there will be many out there who will say, ‘that’s absurd. I mean everyone knows that the streets are full of cars, which are objects. But if you try to smash those objects up, you’ll get arrested for vandalism; because, just because something is an object, that doesn’t mean that violence against it is acceptable’.”

[4:42] “Well, once again—facts are really not relevant here; because I’m citing feminist research. Specifically, over $30,000 of feminist research.”

[4:54] clip from Feminist Frequency, “Women as Background Decoration: Part 1 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games”: “Once a person is reduced to the status of objecthood, violence against that object becomes intrinsically permitted.”

[5:01] Thunderf00t: “The pattern of having men turned into objects by women such that they can be dehumanized and objectified such that the protagonist women in question can shoot them, hack them, or simply throw them to their deaths, is widespread in popular culture. It even encourages females to throw both old men and young male children off towers.”

[5:27] “Now, the more observant among you might say, ‘but the video you just showed, showed a man throwing a young boy off a tower’. Yes, that’s right—a man being puppeteered by feminist theory. Indeed it’s SO widespread now that almost ALL games are [oriented] to fulfill this deeply seated female need. Women are meant to derive this perverse sense of pleasure from having males desecrate the bodies of unsuspecting male victims. It’s a rush streaming from a carefully concocted mix of sexual arousal connected to having the subservient gender trait of males controlling and punishing representations of other males.”

[6:11] “In my previous analysis, I came to the CLEAR, academic conclusion that MEN killed by women is actually due to the influences of feminist theory in the mainstream media such as movies and interactive media such as games. And now we find that feminist theory is actually ALSO responsible for all men being killed by MEN.”

[6:34] “That is, feminist theory is DIRECTLY responsible for ALL the violent killings of men in the world. This is clearly a very serious issue, and requires IMMEDIATE action—not just sitting around and talking about it, but to take action. I mean, we could all sit around here whining all day and it won’t achieve anything.”

[6:57] “This requires something serious, not just talk—something radical, something totally different from complaining; something dramatic. I don’t know, maybe as severe as a hashtag. Or better still, we can get this subject unpacked and deconstructed by a pop culture critic such as myself; because we all know that pop culture critics are the intellectual gods of our time. And we all know that if you want something done properly THAT’S where you should go.”

[7:28] “I just want men to be whole, complete, non-disposable characters in movies and not to be shot, stabbed, or disposed of by women; or by men who have been subverted by the detrimental normalizations of feminist theory. Is that really such a big thing to ask from the movie and gaming industry?”

[7:52] “I mean, I don’t care that people say this would make a really dull game, and that no one would want to play it. And I don’t care that people say that it would be an economical failure; because we all know that “economic viability” is just another one of those buzz-words that is used by feminists so that they can continue making these computer games with their erotic fantasies about getting men to kill other men. You just don’t know what it’s like to be a MAN, knowing that any woman out there might use you for sword practice. And yet women still pretend this is not a big social problem.”

[8:29] “Well, I think we should end this. Don’t tell ME not to dress like an interchangeable target. Teach women not to kill. Or better still, don’t tell me to sleep with one eye open. Teach women not to stab people to death in their sleep; like in the film, Basic Instinct.”

[8:47] “Now, I know there will be many women out there who will try and distance themselves from this saying, ‘that’s absurd. I would never stab you to death in your sleep because I saw it in a film’. Well that’s exactly the sort of denial you would expect BECAUSE”:

[9:00] clip from Feminist Frequency, “Women as Background Decoration: Part 1 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games”: “Paradoxically, and somewhat ironically, those who most strongly believe that media is just harmless entertainment, are also the ones most likely to uncritically internalize harmful media messages.”
“In short, the more you think you cannot be affected, the more likely you are to be affected.”

[9:18] Thunderf00t: “That’s right. The ones who say that they are least affected are the ones who are most likely to stab you to death in your sleep. Remember, this is what $30,000 of feminist research looks like. So it must be true.”

[9:32] “Women simply can’t understand what it’s like to be used for sword practice because of their privilege. Women have the privilege of being able to express their sexuality while feminist theory has prevented men from expressing theirs; sometimes, physically.”

[9:49] “Now many women who have been brainwashed by this feminist theory will say that women don’t have privilege. Well yes, of course you can’t see your privilege. That’s like being raised your whole life in a red room, and then being taken out of that red room and being asked to describe what the color red looks like.”

[10:08] “But just because you can’t SEE your privilege, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, and you doubling down and denying your privilege—or even worse, asking me for evidence for it—is simply making the issue worse.”

[10:23] “And this is the reason why I make these videos on manlyism. And BrotherlyBroadcast Videos have been used in classrooms, high schools, universities, and even presidential speeches. Many a times, I received thank-you notes from parents who’ve used this material to educate their daughters, how stabbing a vulnerable man to death in his sleep with an ice pick, is BAAD. Remember, don’t teach ME to take precautions with MY safety. Teach YOUR daughter not to stab people.”

[10:56] “And with all this female privilege, is it any wonder that they’re incapable of understanding how hard it is, to be a man? In short, if you’re a woman, you are unqualified to tell a man what his oppression feels like. And no matter how much you feel the need to ‘femisplain’ why using men as target practice is just ‘harmless fun’, you just need to shut up and listen. You need to educate yourself on what it’s like to be a man. I mean, this is manlyism 101 here. We need for you to become manlyists, the radical belief that men shouldn’t be used for female sword practice; because if you’re not a manlyist, then you’re a bigot. A sexist bigot. I mean, there is nothing in between.”

[11:43] Clip from “Gloria Allred: If You’re Not a Feminist, Then You’re a Bigot”: “I often say that if you’re not a feminist then you’re a bigot. I mean there is nothing in between.”

Many thanks to Linda for providing the transcript!

It’s NOT The-End-Of-The-World as we know it!

October 21, 2011

    So 6 months ago, on May 21st 2011 a guy called Harold Camping kindly predicted the end of the world, universe and Draw Mohammad Day based on his decades of scholarly studying of the Bible. Oddly enough the world did not appear to end as Camping had predicted, and so he was forced to conclude that the world had ‘sort of ended’ and ‘God’, being a sporting fellow had elected to end the world in a way that no-one would notice for 6 months, then it would REALLY end on 21st Oct 2011. Now the great thing is, Camping engaged in some massive billboard campaign about the end of the world, and while touring the US in the summer of 2011 I actually came across one of his billboards boldly proclaiming that the Judgement day actually happened MONTHS ago!  Guaranteed by the Bible no less!

Harold Campings 'End of the World MAY 21st 2011' photographed outside Rock Springs WY on Sept 26th 2011.

   Sadly when I went through California, ‘Family Radio’ was still going strong, seemly un-phased and un-bothered by the world hadn’t ended their ministry had claimed ‘the Bible ‘Guaranteed’.

The Cirque of the Towers

September 27, 2011

What a hell of a few days!

When I staggered out of the wilderness last night, in the dark, exhausted, without any food, or drinkable water and with a broken plane, I had only one thought. What a fantastic couple of days!

Panorama looking down on Jack Ass Pass near the Cirque of the Towers

Panorama looking down on Jack Ass Pass near the Cirque of the Towers

     The story starts with wanting to go see the ‘Cirque of the Towers’, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. However I wanted to get some video of it from the air! Now the story of my failure is long, and surprising short of predators, although, for some unexplained reason it has a llama in it!

     Now getting into the Cirque is a bit of a chore in that you have to drive some 30 or so miles down dirt roads (which can require a LOT of attention if you are in a low clearance 2 wheel drive car). However once you get to the Big Sandy trailhead, it gets interesting! Getting to the Cirque is a hard days hike, but easier as a 2 day trip. Its about 8 miles in, and about 2-3000 feet of ascent. However I was packing in a plane and all the kit to go with it too! Not to mention a tent, enough to stop me freezing in the expected well below freezing temperatures, and enough emergency kit that I could make it back to the car in a tight pinch.


     The first thing I noticed was:- no mosquitoes! That was such a blessing. Previously when I’ve been here they make your life a torment in that whenever you stop, great clouds of them descend on you, and bug spray and nets or not you get peppered with bites. Same goes for when you pitch the tent, you basically have to throw up the tent and get in it asap just to escape from the bugs. This time, NOTHING, nada, not even a hint of a mosquito. That made the walk through the dry piney forests of Big Sandy incredible pleasant, but in the back of my mind I was fully aware that the reason there were no mosquitoes was that a hard frost had killed them all. It was likely to be cold that night.

     I left the car at 2pm, not out of any great plan, I just knew that was plenty of time to set a ‘base camp’ of sorts. There are also significant wildcards about heading out this time of year. Thankfully it’s too late for nasty thunderstorms, but snow is more likely to be the real hazard. First sign of bad weather and I would have to abort. No way was I prepared for harsh weather, and even getting back to the car would only be half the battle. However the cirrus cloud which I wasn’t quite sure if it was a front coming in (in which case I would be screwed) or was just some weather created by the mountains, burned off, and the rest of the day was as beautiful, pleasantly ambiently warm as a man under a deep blue sky could hope for.
The place was near deserted (the crowds of summer gone!), and I only passed maybe 5 people heading up to Big Sandy lake. Then came the first choice, to head up to Temple or into the Cirque? (right or left at Big Sandy lake?) I opted for the Temple, a giant triangular looking granite monolith. Merely to sand under Temple is an intimidating experience. I pitched camp in the last trees under Haystack. In this case it primarily wasn’t for fear of lightning, but in the full knowledge that it would be several degrees warmer in the trees, and given that I really wasn’t sure how my sleeping bag (‘rated’ to below freezing) would actually perform. As it turns out it did just fine, however my pillow was a pair of boots with a pair of pant (trousers) and fleece thrown over the top, prove more troublesome in getting a good nights sleep. Also there is the latent fear of the night predators. I’d hoisted the food into a tree, but you know that you are ALONE. There is no help. That sort of exposure sharpens the mind, and gives on a very light sleep. Was up about sunrise, although no direct light filtered down into the valley.

The view of 'Haystack' from the tent in the morning

     After a breakfast of ‘instant noodles’ I headed up towards the cirque of Temple, taking only the plane and some food. It was a pathless bushwhack, but not difficult. The sharp spike of Steeple rising steeply over the lake making for some excellent views before coming into the presence of Temple. And YES, I went to Temple on a Sunday!

View of Steeple over Clear lake

I was completely alone in this cirque.

     The condition for flying were as good as one could hope for up in the mountains. Scarcely a breath of wind, with giant mountain shadows littering the landscape. Bummer was the voltage regulator had fallen off the transmitter side of things on the plane, and I assumed my wiring was regularly color coded. Well anyway, I plugged in the battery, and theres this futt sound and a smell of burning electronics. I’ll wager that’s smells not graced the presence of Temple before! So that was the end of the possibility of remote video, however, I could still just record with the camera on the plane. It’s SOOO much easier to fly without the Helmet of Magnetar! Sure you can’t fly out of line of sight, but you only have to worry about flying the plane. Flight was fantastic!.

Best flight EVER! 🙂

     I then decided to head up onto the unnamed mountain in the middle of the cirque (the mountain of broken planes?). By the time I had gotten up there, there was a random wind blowing up to 15 mph, but the view was phenomenal!

Random un-named mountain (Plane Destroyer Mountain?) near the Cirque of the Towers

-The location of ‘Plane Destroyer’ mountain

     But a 15mph wind that’s tricky. The plane is already heavy (almost 1kg) which means it has to fly faster to maintain its lift. Further I was already at almost 11000 feet which means that in order to get stable flight you need to fly faster due to the thin air. Getting into the air proved trivial. Getting it to land, that was difficult. You see I probably only had 10ft or so of uneven granite to land on. I was ontop of the mountain, to overshoot means the plane falls off the cliff on the other side. To undershoot means flying into a granite block! In the end, after several aborted attempts where the plane, due to its slower speed and the irratic wind had almost been tipped over, pretty much out of desperation, I bought the plane in ‘hot’. Sure it was fairly stable, but on ‘landing’ the camera and motor broke off. In many ways it was a relief, in that there was now no way I could do aerial video of the Cirque of the Towers (meant I didn’t have to take all this kit up to the pass). I packed up and took the short way down. Risky to be sure as I had no surety that the path wouldn’t end in an impassible cliff. Thankfully it didn’t and I saved myself about a mile of  bush-whackin’ down to Temple lake and back again. On the way down, of all the bizarre and unexpected things, I found a llama with no apparent owner. WTF?

Random Llama!

     It took to its heels as I approached. Dropped down to base camp by about midday, packed up and cooked what food I had left (more raman noodles!). Then the trek down to Big Sandy lake. Got to the path up the Cirque of the Towers by about 2ish. Took basically all the water, wine and food I had left, and headed up towards the cirque. I was very tired by this point, and to make matters worse, lost the trail just before the first lake and ended up in a giant boulder field. There was many a hole you could have fallen into and never been seen or heard from again! I reached an overview of Jackass Pass (my target) by 4pm, but I was a spent force. I could go no further. It was a double blessing that the plane had crashed, for there was a steady 30 mph wind gusting higher near the cirque, all but impossible to fly in. I hung around on the pass till 4:30, full in the knowledge that I would be walking out in the full dark. Going down was fast, aided by the fact that I kept the path the whole way.

Defeat at the Cirque

     Got back to my pack at 5:45pm and began the weary trudge out. I was all but out of food, all but out of drinkable water. Now its true that I had both water treatment and a water pump, but was reluctant to risk using them if I could avoid it. (theres a really nasty bug in the water around here called giardiasis). By 8pm it was near full dark and I was walking on a head lamp, so tired that I could only walk for 10 or so minutes at the time. Turns out the headlamp was fantastic, as not only did it free up both hands, but periodically you could sweep the local area looking for glowing eyes! However it could only penetrate the murk for 20 or so feet, and I was ever fearful of losing the path. I eventually managed to get onto the flats near the trail head, but was lost in what turned out to be the campground. It was both a delight and a nightmare to find those park benched. I knew I was REALLY close to ‘home’ but had no clear idea which way to go. I then found a road. Again, great, but which way to go when you can only see 20 feet? Turns out it was the one way loop around the campsite, and if I had known I was probably only a couple of hundred feet from my car. I guessed good and as I came over the gentle rise, what do I find on the other side, but my ‘little blue New Yorker’! Dumped everything asap, tanked up on water and chocolate before crashing for the night, having to run the engine periodically to stave off the cold of the night freeze.

A Night looking at Uranus!

August 24, 2011

Uranus is frequently overlooked and for many reasons.  Firstly, lets just say its name hasn’t phonetically aged well.  Secondly it’s small and faint, barely visible to the naked eye, and even the most powerful telescopes show little more than a tiny featureless grey-green disk.

Most powerful telescopes will show the five main moons of Uranus, Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon.  The innermost of these Miranda, has, if memory serves the highest cliffs in the solar system (due to being previously (presumably) smashed by an impact) and has an orbital period of about 1.5 days.  That means you should be able to easily see its movement over the period of a night.

Now I had tried this previously, and had been surprised that the planets movement was comparable to the movement of its moons, but that night had been scuppered by a flat battery.

Movement of Uranus vs background stars

The stars in the background are fixed. The two picture of Uranus are taken a few hours apart, and while the moons (relatively close to the planet) don't move much, the planet conspicuously moves against the background stars!) (click to enlarge)

So it was that I set out with my scope on the evening of 22nd Aug 2011 to see what could be captured.  I decided to head up to an observatory site that had previously seemed good up near the top of the somewhat active volcano, Lassen Peak.  The site is high, almost 2 miles up, but the seeing was less than perfect (a very constant ~ 5mile an hour wind, which was probably a blessing in that it bought warmer air from somewhere, but was also a curse due to the wind chill- I was surrounded by snow fields!).

Nonetheless, at prime focus of the 11in CPC1100 with ~1000 iso and 4 second exposure on a canon 60D seemed to bring out easily at least 4 of the moons of Uranus.

After that, I just had to maintain the kit for 8 or so hour.  A pain in the ass, as there were several pieces of kit that all need to work or the night would be ‘lost’.  So you basically have to periodically check all the batteries on the various time lapse and tracking kit are working functionally.  The bottom line is you can actually get quite a lot of sleep, but its horribly disjointed. The practical upshot of which was the next day I was wiped out to the point where I had actually planned to head up into Oregon to do something, but for the first time ever on a road trip I did something I’d never countenanced before.  I stayed a night in a motel!!  First time in 5 years!  A motel 6 I should add!  All I wanted was somewhere where I could get a shower, a bed for the night, and damn, just sit back for a moment, put my feet up, and have a glass of wine……ahhhhhh.

I was REALLY happy when I processed this, not really for what I had hoped to achieve, which was to get the motion of the moons, as while it was visible, it wasn’t that great.  But what was great was the motion of the whole Uranus system against the background stars.  I knew this MIGHT be visible, but I really didn’t expect it to looks as cool as it did!  Now it should be said that most of the motion you see here is probably not due to the motion of Uranus, but due to the motion of the Earth.  Nonetheless, its still really cool!

The finished results!

Watching Sunset on the Moon, and things that go bump in the night!

August 20, 2011

Well it’s a start.  Sunset on the Moon!

This is the time lapse of sunset on the moon, taken at prime focus with a cpc11 with a focal reducer and a canon 60D.  The conditions were less than perfect.  This was about 9 hrs all in, and really quite an infuriating 9 hrs.

Firstly, since my ‘run in’ with the mountain lion, I’ve become VERY twitchy about things that go bump in the night, and would periodically scan the torch around, looking for ‘eyes’.  There was also an amusing part when a piece of paper blew out of the car.  The ‘sudden noise’ in the dark elicited an immediate reaction from me, which to the impartial observer must have appeared quite funny and disproportionate! (twirling around ready to attack the piece of paper…… hmmmm….  time to switch to decaf!)

Not all bad though, amazing what the heightened senses can find!

For some reason the telescope is lousy at tracking the moon.  I think this is to do with the fact that the Earth axis, and the normal of the orbit of the moon are out by about 6 degrees.  Practically what this means is the moon not only moves at a different rate to the stars (that is it goes around the sky in about 25 hours, not 24 like pretty much everything else).  But even with lunar rate, the tracking is poor.  I think the moon is also moving up/ down due to the difference in the normal of the Earth rotation and the moons orbit, and the mount is not smart enough to work this out.  The practical upshot of which is the moon will drift out of the field of view over a period of about an hour, so I had to set the alarm to go off every 20 minutes throughout the night in order to recenter the moon.

Further recentering the frames, taken every 2 minutes in editing is also a pain in the ass.  Thankfully Sony Vegas now has a ‘motion stabilizer’ feature that takes a lot of the donkey work out of this.

This is the finished product!  Well actually, only part of it.  At prime focus the telescope can get the best part of the moon in the frame.  I just selected one crater, as it shows the shadows nicely.

Tracking on everything else is perfect, in that at the end of the evening I dialed up Jupiter, and it went straight to it.  Cute! Never seen Jupiter by the full light of day before!

Wedneday 27th July (It’s like sex!)

July 28, 2011

It was a disheveled piece of human flotsam that crawled out of the mountains that morning.  I had spent a night fighting a losing battle again sleep, and had, in terms of results, very little to show for it.  I know I thought to myself, look the night might have been one long concatenated mess, but at least I can haul my carcuss down to town and get a thousand calorie breakfast from mcdonalds, and Im sure you will start to get a grip once you have  a full stomach.  Regrettably, by the time I got down to town Mcdonalds had JUST finished breakfast.  The moment was a cross between ‘Falling Down’ and that moment in ‘Evil Dead, Army of Darkness’ in the alternative ending where he oversleeps.  Oh yeah it was one of those ‘the world conspires against me’ type moments.  After a long deep sigh, the eyes snap open with regained focus: time to go on the offense!  Online I soon discovered that the reason the Orion Deepspace Video camera wasn’t working up to expectation is it has an integration function in the menus!  I laughed, when all else fails: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Spent a few hours rendering and uploading what I had.  Now the next problem, that damn screw!  I need a replacement for that damn screw.  Turns out Ridgecrest has a Home Depot, and I figured that was the logical place to try for a bizarre screw.  I was wrong- they had nothing!  Arse, thousands of bux worth of telescope crippled by a tiny screw.  Then it dawned on me, I could just drill and tap a hole myself for any screw I wanted.  Deep in my mind there was a spark, I had a drill and tap and a load of screws that would fit in the car, they were part of the stuff for the airplanes.

Picked up some supplies and headed back up into the mountains, same place at last night.  This time I was more seasoned on that grinding hill though and got up all the way without even a hint of overheating.

Up at the top of mountains, I sorted out firstly the backend of the telescope,

Then the webcam.

Come the test of first light, both performed admirably.  The sky wasn’t still enough for planets, but it was wonderfully clear.

The Deepsky video camera worked as expected! (~500 bux) 🙂

The stripped MS webcam worked admirably (~50 bux) 🙂

The video of the planets shot on by eyepiece projection onto the sensor of the D60 (~900 bux) was okay, but not as good as channeling it straight into a video camera.

The 60d I have to admit is a heinous machine for astro!  I got it primarily as I needed 2 DSLRS to do some of the projects I want to get done on this trip, to work with the 40D.  The 60D just idles circles around the 40D.  I think a lot of it is simply a better sensor.  More pixels, if they are not being used for resolution, mean faster light gathering, and lower noise.  The bottom line is the 60D goes up to iso ~6000, at least 2x what the 40D will do.  The 60D will also do video, which I thought might be useful, although thus far it hasn’t panned out, although this might just be teething troubles with the camera.  Just for an example, crank the ISO up to about 5000 and do a 1min exposure (unguided, bar the telescope tracking) on M51, and this is what you get:

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy, 1min exposure, iso 5000, canon 60d

After that, all you need is an intervalometer and deepskystacker.  In many ways it’s such a cheat.  When I was young, I improvised all sorts of devices for the tracking, and there was none of this ‘cap a test frame to see if it’s centered’.  You took the pictures, and after minutes of painstaking guiding, you had to wait till at least the next day to see how well you did when you got the film processed.  Many a time I chuckle at night as to how what used to be hours of work, and a day or two to see the results from can now be effortlessly superseeded by a minute of scope time.

Later in the night, after visiting many a deep sky object, I turned the scope to Jupiter, then Mars, then the very late moon, all using the same magnification, just so I could give folks the scale of these things, all on the same magnfication.  The seeing was abysmal!  Mars was a swimming ball!  However all on the same magnification I got Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the moon!


So yeah, I guess its like sex, in the dark, the first time is always a fumbled and inept experience.  However, having seen things in the broad light of day, and having had time to ponder on what went wrong and why, the second time can be more of the ‘tour de force!’ 🙂

Cool, I Haz it.

July 26, 2011
This Picture says it all!

This Picture says it all!

Thursday July 14th (Well paint me red and call me tickled pink!)

July 14, 2011

For the large part when I’m on the road I like to fly ‘under the radar’, keeping myself to myself.  Where travel’s involved, that mostly involves sleeping in the car: it’s just you just spend minimum downtime between getting to places that way.  You can find somewhere quiet before it’s fully dark, and be on the road in the grey dawn, well before sunrise.  Sure it’s SMALL, cramped and uncomfortable, I mean the car is so full of stuff that there is zero chance of putting the seats back or anything. But it also comes with some wonderful gems of moments that otherwise you just wouldn’t experience.  Really wholesome, beautiful moments, like putting your feet up with a near panoramic view of dusk moodily creeping over the San Juans in the Rockies,

Or waking up to the pregnant imminence of the oncoming sunrise on the high plains.

In that sense Vegas is somewhere I would normally drive through.  No one knows I came, no one knows I left.  However I put out a tweet earlier this week saying I was hoping to make it to TAM (still going to be a hard days drive though (~11 hrs)).  Wasn’t even sure what was going to happen when I got there.  So I got in touch with Ashley the other day, just to keep he up to speed that it was now likely that I would actually make it, only to be told that I was expected to the level where accommodation had been arranged!

That blew my little cotton socks off!  My plans had merely gotten as far as ‘get to Vegas!’, with everything after that falling into the ‘improvise and adapt’ category and it was just really nice to find out that someone had heard that I was incoming and was looking out for me.