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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 6-27-16: Inevitable Robot Uprising

Google’s holding company, Alphabet, has a new robotic dog from its Atlas-making Boston Dynamics subsidiary capable of clearing up after its human masters.  The new small robotic dog has a articulating arm on its back, which is capable of lifting and holding objects as fragile as a glass. Robots cleaning up after us. This is literally exactly how the First Cylon War started in Battlestar Galactica.

A restaurant owner fired the bartender for insulting a customer on a credit card receipt as “fatty.” It was a significant move, because the bartender was his own son. He’s gone as far as banning him from the property altogether.

The Battlecreek Bombers minor league baseball team decided it was a good idea to hold a “bring your gun to the game” night. They officially called it “2nd Amendment Education Night.” As my colleague Garry Meier says, “timing and good lighting are everything.” Maybe they should have rescheduled that after the Orlando terror attack. That reminds me of the time I won a gun rack at a Huntsville Stars game… I was 11 years old at the time.

Last week, I mentioned the story of the guy who was released from prison after years when it was proven he did not do it. I somewhat tongue-in-cheek asked if you’d take the $30 million he’s asking for in exchange for spending 13 years in prison. This week there is a guy who has served 20 years in prison for a murder he apparently didn’t commit. Rather than having the charges against him thrown out, he wants to stand trial again to prove in a court of law that he did not do it and the prosecution did not do its job. That’s strange, because it leaves the murder conviction in place until the trial proves his innocence. He’s that set on making a point about the job the prosecution did in his trial. Also, at this point is there anyone in prison who is actually guilty?

Say what you want about special interest groups, but a new poll says Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are less popular than the NRA and Planned Parenthood.

In science news, NASA has authorized five more years for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Gabatron Morning Briefing – 6-21-16: Go Directly To Jail; Collect $30 Million

A Colorado man is suing the City and County of Denver and the Denver Police Department for $30 million. He was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 14 for a murder he did not commit. You have to feel bad for the guy, since you know he was saying he was innocent all along and there were people who just refused to believe him. However, that having been said I can’t not make some sarcastic comment about it, so here’s my question to you, oh reasonable Internet reader: If someone comes up to you and offers you $30 million in exchange for spending 13 years in jail, do you take that deal? You could pump some iron, get in shape, maybe do a lot of reading or even finish that novel you’ve been working on. (I swear people, it’s going to get done one day…)

The latest sensation sweeping the Internets? Dads are seeing how many Cheerios they can stack on their sleeping newborns nose. Some have managed to get as many as 20.  Unfortunately, since it’s an Internet competition, you don’t win anything, like money to pay for future therapy when your child learns what you used to do to them for your own amusement while they were too young to know what was going on. Original Cheerios seem to work better than Honey Nut Cheerios. Just FYI.

Donald Trump fired his controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Monday, unleashing a major shake-up as he comes under pressure from his closest advisers — particularly his family members — to urgently reset his struggling presidential campaign. Oh yeah, he also has virtually no money to run in the general election, because instead of fundraising like a normal candidate, he just said crazy stuff on TV.

Parts of the Orlando shooter’s 911 calls that were originally redacted by the Justice Department are now available, including the moment when the shooter pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Speaking of Orlando, a Florida assistant state attorney has been suspended after allegedly writing controversial Facebook posts slamming the type of people in downtown Orlando and those who go to nightclubs. He posted that downtown Orlando is “a melting pot of 3rd world miscreants and ghetto thugs.” Things went (even further) downhill from there.

Sick of hearing about “Brexit”? You’re not alone, but at least it looks like our long, international nightmare will soon be over. Voters head to the polls in a couple of days and it looks like the UK will stay in the EU. It looks like there wouldn’t be a whole lot of an advantage for Britain to leave the EU, aside from the fact that a lot of Brits like the idea of giving the rest of Europe a giant middle finger.

Interesting Stat of the Day: A new study shows that astronauts who fly to and from the ISS aboard a Soyuz spacecraft and spend six months there have a threat of mortality comparable to those of U.S. infantry combatants on D-Day and New York City firefighters on 9/11.

Gabatron Morning Briefing – 4-18-16: Alexander Hamilton Duels Andrew Jackson

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has had a change of heart and will leave Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill and replace Andrew Jackson with a woman on the $20 bill. Hamilton is enjoying a new surge in popularity thanks to the hip hop musical about his life. Meanwhile, Jackson was a slave owner who wasn’t very nice to out Native American neighbors. No one will shed any tears over Jackson. That is until someone makes a smash hit musical about Andrew Jackson.

The CTU tipped their toes in the strike waters and apparently liked it. Now they are saying the countdown to a strike has started.

Scare in the Air: A drone reportedly struck a British Airways flight on Sunday just before it landed at Heathrow Airport. This would be the first incident involving a major commercial airline. Engineers later inspected the plane, found no damage, and cleared it for continued usage. Nobody was hurt on board. Police are still investigating who was operating the drone.

According to a new poll, no one out there trusts the news media anymore. Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress. But if the media are the ones reporting the poll, can we actually trust it?

SNL brought back Larry David for another run as Bernie Sanders. There are some great moments, including when Elaine Benes shows up and Sanders “yada yadas” his way thought policy. But then they ruined it by bringing Friends into the skecth for some reason.

SNL is also taking some flak for their parody ad for “Heroin AM”. It’s for heroin users who still want to get things done.

The campaigning has come to an end, and the votes have been tabulated. No, it’s not the New York Thunderdome, that’s on Tuesday.“Boaty McBoatface” has officially won the contest to name a new arctic research ship. Now it’s in the hands of the Natural Environment Research Council to let the will of the people stand.

Someone put a bag of air from Kobe Bryant’s last game up for sale on eBay. Eventually it was taken off the site, but the bidding got up to $15,300. For a ZipLock bag full of air.

Geek/CounterGeek – #49: The Battle Of The Stormtroopers and The Red Shirts

The first Ghostbusters trailer has finally dropped. Keith thought it was a little paint-by-numbers, but loved the special effects. He and Elliott are both excited to see the latest iteration.

Scott Kelly is back from serving a full year on the International Space Station. The mission paves the way for humans to one day go to Mars. If we ever decide that we actually want to do that, of course.

Plus, Elliott and Keith tackle the thought experiment to end all thought experiments: If stormtroopers and red shirts were fighting each other, who would win? Is it possible for either of them to win?

Each week Keith Conrad and Chicago’s Top Geek Elliott Serrano debate a controversial topic in contemporary geekery: Kirk vs. Picard? Was Douglas Quaid dreaming in Total Recall? No topic is off limits.

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Geek/CounterGeek – #47: Katrina And The Gravitational Waves

Scientists have confirmed the existence of gravitational waves. It proves a theory that was proposed by Einstein around 100 years ago.

The Russians have announced that they will do their best impression of a Michael Bay movie, and try to blow up the asteroid Apophis as it passes by the Earth in 2036.

Speaking of Michael Bay movies and blowing stuff up, Transformers 5, 6 and 7 have their release dates, just in case you’re still interested in that kind of thing.

Plus, there was big news in the Star Trek universe. Bryan Fuller has been tapped as the showrunner for the new CBS Star Trek series that will headline their new streaming channel. Fuller is a life-long Star Trek fan and former writer for both DS9 and Voyager so the news has Keith and Elliott both more bullish on the project.

Each week Keith Conrad and Chicago’s Top Geek Elliott Serrano debate a controversial topic in contemporary geekery: Kirk vs. Picard? Was Douglas Quaid dreaming in Total Recall? No topic is off limits.

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What Are We Going To Call This Thing? – (The Lost Episodes) #11: Ethiopians Screwed Up My Laptop

Keith explains why there hasn’t been a podcast in a few weeks. It’s an amazing and bone-chilling story.

If you’re looking to make a career change, NASA is taking applications for a new crop of astronauts. Dave and Keith worked on their applications.

Plus, Dave had one hell of an adventure at the dentist, which brought on some medication-induced fever dreams.

Dave Stripling and Keith Conrad are producers for rival Chicago morning radio shows, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get along. This forbidden friendship is a lot like West Side Story, except with less finger-snapping.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 2-5-16: Grocery Store Lecturing

Jewel-Osco stores here in Chicago have taken to lecturing people when they don’t bring their own reusable grocery bags with them. First cashiers ask people if they brought their bags, then they ask them if they want to buy some high-quality Jewel-brand bags which just happen to be for sale nearby.

A family in Park Ridge is under a vicious onslaught from Big Government. They are being ordered by the city to tear down their children’s beloved treehouse. The city is saying that it’s not permitted, and people aren’t allowed to build such large, garish structures on their property in the prestigious hamlet of Park Ridge. The family on the other hand claims that when they were building said neighborhood menace, the city told them it was fine. Their neighbor even has a similar structure in their yard. Apparently one of their other neighbors, undoubtedly anonymously, complained about the size of the edifice.

Macy’s may have broken a lot of hearts in Chicago when they shed the Marshall Field’s name, but that doesn’t mean they want you using it. They’ve gone to court to block anyone from using Marshall Field’s or the names of any other brands they bought and decided to stop using in their villains scheme to homogenize the shopping experience in the United States.

Playboy has officially published it’s first non-nude magazine. They are confident that people will continue to turn to Playboy for the same hard-hitting investigative journalism that they’ve always provided.

Want even more proof that Bernie Sanders and Larry David are the same person? Bernie Sanders actually played a Rabbi in a romantic comedy back in 1999. The movie was called “My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception.” His character’s name was Rabbi Manny Shevitz. Since he’s a socialist, I assume he didn’t get paid for it.

The push is on to get Carly Fiorina in Saturday’s Republican Presidential debate on ABC. ABC’s criteria will basically include everyone except Fiorina and Gilmore, who is apparently still running. At this point there are only 8 candidates running, it’s not like they can claim it would be two crowded.

You know how gas has been so cheap lately? President Obama is going to propose a $10/barrel surcharge on oil. They estimate it would raise the price of gasoline about $.25/gallon. The Administration wants to use the money from the surcharge to invest in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. It doesn’t stand a chance in Congress, so is this really any more meaningful than repealing ObamaCare for the 64th time? Also, taxing people doesn’t change behavior. Ask smokers.

End of the World Update: Scientists say a 100 foot asteroid will pass very close to the Earth on March 5th. It’s called 2013 TX68, so we’ve know about it for a couple of years. They can’t say for sure how close it will come, but they are estimating about 11,000 miles. To put that in perspective, our communications and GPS satellites in geosynchronous orbit are at 20,000 miles. So it will pass between them and the earth. The big rock is about 100 feet wide, about the same size as a basketball court. It wouldn’t end life as we know it, but it would take out a city or create one epic tsunami if it hit water.

Maurice White, the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, has passed away at 74. Betty White has been placed in protective custody.

Geek/CounterGeek – #45: Is The Earth Really Flat? (Spoiler Alert: It’s not)

Elliott Serrano and Keith Conrad tackle the debate the captured the world’s attention this week: Is the Earth really flat? Believe it or not, this is actually an issue. Rapper B.o.B. went on a Twitter rampage during the week claiming that we’ve all been duped and he could prove the Earth is actually flat. Neil deGrasse Tyson quickly refuted the allegation, just in case you were worried about it.

Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow says that he would like to shoot part of the movie in space, which would be a first for a Star Wars movie. Wouldn’t that be a bit of a waste of time, money and effort though?

The X-Files are back, to some mixed reviews. Elliott and Keith shared their thoughts on the revival.

Plus, Keith found himself in the middle of a raucous debate over the weekend, with friends wondering who the superior spy is: James Bond or Jack Ryan.

Each week Keith Conrad and Chicago’s Top Geek Elliott Serrano debate a controversial topic in contemporary geekery: Kirk vs. Picard? Was Douglas Quaid dreaming in Total Recall? No topic is off limits.

Follow Elliott Serrano on Twitter
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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 2-1-16: The Joys Of Peeing Outdoors

The city of San Francisco renovated one of their parks and decided to add a brand new feature: An outdoor urinal so people would stop peeing on all of the buildings in the area. It just happens to be overlooking a light rail stop, and there is a playground nearby. Authorities and parents don’t seem to think having homeless people pee into an open drain in the middle of a public park will be a problem.

According to a new report, Illinois should actually be site of the first Presidential primary. They looked at five categories: race, education, age, income, and religion. Illinois was average in all of them, so if you’re looking for a good sample, it’s the best place to start. Considering the fact that Iowa is absolutely buried in Presidential politics for about a year before the caucus, would you actually want to be first?

Donald Trump called Ted Cruz a “total liar” with “no heart.” George Stephanopolous was asking him about Cruz’s claim that Trump wants single payer health car. George asked him for specifics about his health care plan, but Trump would only say that he “wants to take care of everyone.” Which once again sounds like something a third world dictator would say.

There may or may not be a deal between the CTU and CPS to avoid yet another strike. They’ll vote on Monday. Teachers would get a raise for each of the next three years, but there is some debate over pensions.

According to more than one betting website, Mitt Romney has a better shot at becoming the next President than seven of the current GOP candidates. According to the Mittster, every day people ask him to run for President. He says that even one of the current Republican candidates told him that he might be needed. For his part, he still says “no dice.”

Brace yourselves, there’s going to be some outrage this week. On Wednesday President Obama will make his first visit to a mosque in the United States. This is his first visit to a US mosque as President? This guy is the worst secret Muslim spy ever.

The CIA has released hundreds of declassified documents detailing investigations into possible alien life. Of course, they actually posted them on the CIA blog, so I wouldn’t expect too many earth-shattering revelations. In other news, apparently the CIA has a blog. There are ten files posted in all. They were all released in the 1970’s, and were all incidents that took place from the 1940’s to 1960’s. I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

Speaking of space stuff falling to Earth, more than a dozen people saw a meteorite flying through the sky on Saturday night. It burned up in the atmosphere, so it didn’t blow up like the one in Russia. But it did make for a nice light show.

A Delta Airlines flight last week had to make an unscheduled stop because two of the flight attendants got into a fist fight. They were flying from Los Angeles to Minnesota, but made an unscheduled landing in Salt Lake City. A passenger tried to break up the fight and ended up getting hit. Unfortunately, beverage service was canceled.

Winnipeg Willow a groundhog has tragically died just days before Groundhog Day. That means she won’t see her shadow, right?

Gabatron Morning Briefing – 1-19-16: Skynet Will Work For Minimum Wage

4 in 10 young people around the world believe robots could take their jobs. If you decide on a career that can be automated, can you expect that once the robots can do your job, you can still be employed? Pick a career that’s completely robot-proof.

An Alderman from the west side wants to give every police officer a taser by January of 2017. That would be about 12,500 or so. They also want to mandate release of police shooting videos within 14 days of an incident. It would cost between $8.75 million and $12.5 million.

It’s happened. Gas is under $1 per gallon in places in Michigan. As a matter of fact, at at least one gas station in Michigan, it was as low as $0.47 per gallon. I think it might be time for a Big John Howell show field trip.

Britain is debating whether to ban Donald Trump from the country because of his hate speech. There are a couple of problems: People who support Trump generally hate every other country, so it either wouldn’t impact them much anyway or it might actually make them like Trump more. Plus, what would that mean for our British friends if Trump actually wins and is banned from the country?

For the next few weeks if you look up in the sky, five planets will be lined up in a diagonal line. It will be Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. All five bright planets will appear together in the morning sky from about January 20 to February 20. Also, the Moon will be in the area too for part of it. This is the first time that the five planets will appear in the same sky together since January 2005.

If you’re looking for something to do with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day that’ll probably get your divorced, White Castle is now accepting reservations for Valentine’s Day.

More trouble on the roads for the Oregon Patriots. One of the militia members flipped their truck on an icy road. He was fine, but when police arrived on the scene of the accident they noticed that he was driving without a license. So Big Brother wrote him a ticket.

A Florida man says that the image of the Devil has appeared in his driveway. About a year ago, his sister and some friends put a cross in his yard when he was going through some tough times. Suddenly an image of the Devil showed up. At least it might be the Devil. Some say it’s a clown, but he’s pretty convinced it’s the Devil.

Greatest headline in history: British man named George Bush sentenced for selling monkey body parts on eBay.

“American Pie” singer Don McLean has been arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence. In the mugshot he looks as worn down as I suspect he does when he’s finished singing “American Pie.”

Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey has died at the age of 67.  He reportedly died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. That completes your celebrity trifecta: Bowie, Rickman & Frey.