Amoeblog

Ceres - Dwarf Planet

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 19, 2008 09:01am | Post a Comment
Dwarf planets are objects with sufficient mass to assume a roughly spherical shape but yet too small to get picked for the starting lineup in the solar tee-ball match. There are currently four planets designated as dwarf planets. Before 2006 they were also known as minor planets, planetoids and (my favorite) subplanets.

  

Although there are currently only four designated dwarf planets, there are at least 41 known objects which may qualify when we get around to it. And when the Kuiper belt is fully-explored, there may turn out to be another 200. Beyond that there may be another 2000 subplanets in our solar system.
Ceres is named after the Roman goddess of cereals (a word which is itself derived from her name) and motherly love. She was both the sister and wife of Jupiter. Her worship was adopted by the Romans in 496 BCE, during a particularly severe famine. Her followers were mostly plebes who controlled the grain game in antiquity. For some reason, their rites included tying burning sticks to fox's tails.

The original name for the planetoid was Ceres Ferdinandea but that got shot down as not everyone was so keen on brown-nosing Spanish royalty. The dwarf planet is the smallest of the currently designated subplanets. It was actually discovered way back in 1801 by Giuseppie Piazzi who wrote, "since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet." Even further back, Johann Elert Bode, in 1768, had suggested that there may be a planet between Mars and Earth. And lo, Ceres is situated within the asteroid belt. It's actually the largest  object in the belt --making up a third of the belt's mass. Its surface is made up of water ice (more than the total amount of water found on Earth), carbonate and clay. The weather on Ceres isn't that bad, reaching -38 degrees Celsius, which is warmer than some Midwestern winters I've experienced.

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Hispanic vs. Latino & Hollywood Brownface

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 15, 2008 02:24pm | Post a Comment

Hispanic Heritage Month


September 15th to October 15th is officially recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month in the USA.The dates of the observance were chosen due to the timing of El Grito, the "cry" that brought the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua's independence (followed closely by Mexico and Chile.).
 

Some fellows celebrating "El Grito"


"Hispanic" vs. "Latino"


I suppose it's kind of interesting that whoever named the month chose the term "Hispanic" instead of, say, "Latino." Hispanic sounds old-fashioned to me, but then again, I know people younger than me who refer to themselves as just that. I still think it's like calling February "Colored History Month" or May being "Oriental Heritage month." The government's choice of "Hispanic" probably owes to the fact that the term "Latino" was in less common usage forty years ago when the observance was instigated by Lyndon B. Johnson (initially as Hispanic Heritage Week). Both terms are considered offensive by some indigenists since they disappropriate Native Americans from their origins and languages by defining people with sometimes no European ancestry with Eurocentric terms.

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An Amoeba with a blog?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 12, 2008 10:36am | Post a Comment

The punchline includes the phrase "...an amoeba with a blog?" Seinfeld, or "Jer" as I call him, is a loyal reader of the Amoeba Blog.  ...and since I know he's among the dozens of loyal fans out there I just wanted to say "Thanks, B."

And now, if I may, I'll scratch your back, Mr. S...

Jerome Allen (as he used to be known) was born in Massapequa, a hamlet which was also home to Steve Guttenberg, the Baldwin Brothers, Neil Diamond and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider.

His big break came on the television series, Benson, as a mail delivery boy.

Throughout the '80s he appeared on late night chat shows peddling his humorous observations that invariably began with the question, "What is the deal with..." Allow me to have a go... "What is the deal with sporks? Are they spoons or forks? And what's the deal with skorts?" Guaranteed to bring the house down!


He became known for his influential sartorial sense as much as his humor. Frequently he would wear a billowing denim longsleeve with jeans, a suit jacket and high-top sneakers --a look which says, "I mean business, but I'm a kid at heart!" His hair, swept back and bushy, was de riguer for comics of the '80s, from Richard Lewis to the aforementioned Guttenberg and loads of others.


In 1984, he landed a part in the comedy The Ratings Game (available exclusively on VHS).

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Today's holidays

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 9, 2008 09:00am | Post a Comment


St. Ciarán of Clonmacnoise Day - Catholicism



Kiku no Sekku (Chrysanthemum Day) - Japan 

  
Republic Day - North Korea



Independence Day - Tajikistan



Admission Day - California



Synaxis of the Theopatores Joachim and Anna - Orthodox Christianity



Father Laval Day - Mauritius

Senegalese Film

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 5, 2008 01:08am | Post a Comment




During the Colonial era, cinematic images of Africa and its people were entirely the work of Western filmmakers. The Tarzan movies, African Queen, King Solomon's Mines and others were usually filmed on soundstages half a world away from Africa and made little to no effort toward authenticity, instead trading in exoticism aimed primarily at exploiting Western tastes.



Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960. Like most West African countries, Senegal is highly diverse. The Wolof, Peul, Halpulaaren, Serer, Lebou, Jola, Mandinka, Moors, Soninke and Bassari are all long established in the country. There are also substantial populations of French, Mauritanians, Lebanese and Vietnamese. Three years after independence, the first Senegalese film was made by Ousmane Sembene titled L'empire sonhrai, which would set the standards for a uniquely African cinematic language that would establish Senegal as the capital of African Cinema.

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