Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don Giovanni

Although I'd heard arias from the opera, and even listened to a broadcast of it, I'd never seen it until yesterday. Being able to understand what's going on makes a big difference in appreciation. I hate to admit this, but the music doesn't always give me a good clue as to whether the soprano is out for vengeance, falling in love, or about to kill herself. She's emotional about something, but I don't speak Italian. Perhaps I have to work backwards: cued that she is angry I can learn to look for musical clues.

The show was well done, btw; and the cast managed minor technical glitches with perfect aplomb. The fights suffered the usual problem of having to match the action to the music: if Ottavio really wanted vengeance he'd have done a slash and lunge and the opera would have been over an act too early.

The first time I was introduced to any of the characters was in Shaw's Man and Superman, in the Don Juan in Hell section. Not an endorsement. I reread it last night after 40 years. I was buoyed by remembering that the section was short. The references to a statue confused me then, but I didn't get around to looking it up because there were more plays in the collection and then something else to read, and... The characters, aged by 70 years of heaven, hell and motherhood, debated Shaw's pet notions about Life Force. I prefer Mozart.

At the opera's end the survivors sing of what they will do now, and the twice-gulled Donna Elvira says she will spend her life in a convent. The audience laughed. The segment was supposed to be somewhat comic, but the punch line was the next one, as Zerlina sings that she and her new husband will go home to supper.

Were the characters real I'd not advise Elvira to try for a convent, but within the story her situation is painful enough to demand a little respect for her cry. She has discovered that she can't trust herself to stay away from a man she knows will betray her, and has even tried to, in effect, betray her new friends by asking mercy for a man she knows will try to prey on them. And we laughed at her shame and penitence.

Narcotics detectors

Perhaps you heard of James McCormick and his amazing bomb detectors:
McCormick had claimed the devices could bypass "all forms of concealment", detecting drugs and people along with explosives, the court heard.

He claimed they would work under water and from the air, and would track an object up to 1km (3280ft) below the ground.

The bomb detectors came with cards which were "programmed" to detect a wide array of substances, from ivory to $100 banknotes.

Kenya police announced that the bomb detectors they have work fine.

They carried out a public demonstration in the capital, Nairobi, in which the detector seemingly located narcotics.

Draw your own conclusions.

IceCube events

The New Scientist has a good description of what IceCube found that looks like it might be extra-solarsystem neutrinos. And... (drum roll) they included the caveat about uncertainty in atmospheric production! I don't have to correct anything.

I should clarify one point, though. We expect that charm particles will be created when cosmic ray protons or nuclei smash into the upper atmosphere. There's no good way to tell when it happens, because there are so many particles in the resulting shower. So what we do is extrapolate the curves we find from fixed target and collider experiments (where we can usually tell) out to the cosmic ray primary energies.

Backing up a bit: the cosmic ray primary is the one that comes from where-ever and hits the upper atmosphere: usually a proton, sometimes another nucleus. The primary has the highest energy, of course. The secondary particles share that energy, and then they interact with other atmospheric nuclei to produce more (lower energy) secondaries and on and on until they range out, are absorbed in nuclei, or decay. The stuff that hits the ground is almost all muons from the decay of particles produced in the showers.

If the extrapolation is wrong, our estimate for how many high-energy muons we should get from that initial primary-cosmic-nucleus hitting a nitrogen nucleus will be wrong, because we won't have the rate of charm quarks in the first generation of secondary particles and subsequent decay into relatively high energy muons right. And the decay of one of those very high energy muons would generally produce a high energy neutrino.

But, as Halzen points out, if we discover that we have the wrong rate, that tells us something interesting about charm physics.

I am not leaking anything by saying that Bert and Ernie are not the only interesting events, but they are (so far) the highest energy, and the first ones discovered.

You might wonder why the group gave the events names. It is in the culture, in a manner of speaking. There are 86 "strings" with detectors (DOM) strung on them: a total of 5160. OK, quick: does DOM number 54-02 need to be rebooted, or was it 54-20? Early on (before I arrived) someone (Krasberg?) figured out that people remembered names better than strings of numbers, so each DOM has a location (string and position on the string), a serial number, and a name (Cayenne_pepper, Porter, Chardonnay, Demophobia, Thalassophobia, Claestorp, Apache_tribe, and so on). The extension of this idea to rare and interesting events I leave as an exercise to the reader.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Probability and the news

Suppose that the news producers guess that stories A, B, and C are going to be the most interesting stories of the day.

Now suppose that their "customers" only pay attention to the news in short bursts: maybe 2 minutes here and there. In that random 2 minute interval the producers want to update the viewer on the top stories.

In particular, if story A (e.g. the Boston massacre) is really big they'll worry that if the viewer doesn't hear about story A first, he'll flip channels. So if they want to maximize the probability that the viewer will hear information about story A, they saturate programming with virtually nothing else.

Suppose the situation isn't so dire, and they expect the viewer to be interested in any of A, B, or C. Now in the same way, to maximize the probability that the viewer will hear information about the stories A, B, and C, they can loop stories A, B, and C and virtually nothing else.

It goes without saying that there are plenty of important news stories that don't make the short list. And the Big Events don't always look like reportable news. Even so, if the viewers aren't expected to be systematic in collecting information, the producers are going to provide shallow and repetitious content.

The result is hard to distinguish from deliberate distortion.

I'm not a typical news "consumer", nor would I expect any who read blogs to be. But in the homes of acquaintances I've seen TVs on as background with nobody paying much attention.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Senate and NRA

I’ve heard (even from some near and dear) the claim that the Senate was bought by NRA money. That’s vanishingly unlikely. What the NRA can wield is a large and loyal block of voters, many times their own membership. Trying to figure out how unpopular the bill was is hard because the media were staunchly in favor and only reluctantly report contrary opinions. Gun and ammo sales make for an interesting proxy, though.

So why would there be such opposition to simple measures like extending mental health background checks to private sales? It seems innocuous enough, though it does add lots of extra paperwork and annoyance to someone who wants to sell his shotgun to his neighbor. It added extra tracking. Potentially the information would accumulate in a federal database of owners.

Such tools can be misused. New York or Chicago have rules that nominally allow people to buy handguns, but in practice you don’t get permission. But who trusts New York or Chicago anyway?

I think the answer to my question about opposition is simply that a large fraction of us don’t trust the federal government to do the right thing; that we expect it to abuse any power we give it.

At one level that’s quite reasonable. The nation was designed with the principle that you can’t trust any group very much.

But on another level it could mean that a large fraction of us don’t think the federal government is working for the common good anymore. That’s edging pretty close to losing the consent of the governed. That’s not a good direction.

We’ve a little ways to go before we get that far. Most people still trust and respect the police and the firemen. But the more we go down the "Chicago Way" the less even that will be true. Although I wonder how bad things have to get before Illinois gets rid of their government. Maybe it now reflects what they want. That would be even worse.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The wise and the foolish

I can't recall any sermons going into much detail about the parable of the 10 virgins. Maybe my memory is taking a long lunch, but the most that comes to mind are assertions about having faith and "being ready." Whatever "being ready" means.

So, context, context, context. The parable is part of a response to a question about the end of the age. The first two parables in the set warn of unexpected judgment and then compare alert and lazy servants surprised by the master's return (judgment of discovery). The third (the virgins) compares thorough and incomplete preparation. The fourth (talents) says our lives can be judged by what we did with what we were intrusted with. The last parable (sheep and goats) gives a clue as to what kinds of preparation and service are expected.

So perhaps the context gives a little color to the story. When the virgins "woke" some found that the light they'd had before was no use. What they had been entrusted with was taken back; what had they created with it, and how had they helped Jesus with it? They'd had the lights of knowledge, godly friends, intellect, good digestion...

We see only the results which a man's choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man's psychological make-up is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man. the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.

Jesus talked a lot more about doing things than a lot of preachers I grew up hearing.

Update: Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Most of us need to be prodded, some of us are over scrupulous. Jesus had words for both.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston and us

It seems a little odd to have posted humor at a time like this, but in one sense it is always "a time like this" in this fallen world. Pick any moment; somewhere hate is making its bloody self felt. We just don't know those stories. This one we share.

We're none of us really safe anywhere, and never have been. A fellow brought and lit a bucket of gasoline on a bus in Madison. He had no political or economic motive. (Two of the burn victims wed a couple years ago.) I don't worry when I ride the bus to work, but I do look at the faces. (It isn't a very reliable method, but some people's problems show easily. If you see them you look for other oddities.)

This kind of resignation is no comfort to the wounded or their families, and I hope none of them are reading this. (If you are, you are in my prayers: just skip the rest.)

Most of us aren't family or friends of the victims; they have special duties right now. For the rest of us it is prayer and readiness; prayer for those we now know of, and for the tens of thousands that didn't make the news. And readiness: When disaster comes near me, am I ready? Checklist time: Do I know first aid, have blankets and a place to sleep after a fire, a reserve I can dig into for neighbors in trouble? Do I have encouragement left unsaid, anyone left unforgiven, or favors postponed too long?

Music theory and experiment

In science (except for string theory and AGW) the test of theory is experiment.

In one site in Dr. Boli's publishing empire, he points out what was effectively an experiment testing twelve-tone music.

Friday, April 12, 2013

History lessons

Lewis said we needed the perspective of other eras and other cultures in order to see the problems in our own. Things we find self-evident might be quite hard to argue to a Spartan or even to someone as recent as George Washington. Just imagine trying to explain the US political system and debates to Socrates. I'd love to see that tried; I suspect the result would resemble Weston's address to Oyarsa. Who else remembers Steve Allen's "Meeting of Minds?"

Not knowing much history to begin with makes this rather hard, and viewing it all through deconstructionist glasses makes it worse--if I understand Cicero better than his fellow Romans, I have nothing to learn from him.

Sometimes what we learn from the past is that we're not doing anything new. Most people know enough about kings to know that the US president is, by now, a king in all but name; complete with royal tasters. If you've read much about the Louis the Sun King, you understand that Washington DC is full of courtiers jockeying for attention and access. And you can recognize aspects of sumptuary laws in debates about guns and nature preserves and the proper price of energy. Sequestering the royal lands from the lower classes has a similar shape to trying to sequester parks from mere middle-class tourists. (Similar in more ways than one; both can be persuasively argued on the basis of preservation and good stewardship.)

There are plenty of useful old lessons: price controls make things worse, trying to buy off an opponent doesn't work for long, cultures matter, and so on.

But even when we know these things, we also know that we're sui generis: nobody else has ever had a Federal Reserve managing the interest rates to deal with monetary problems so we can safely do things that destroyed other nations. Give the old tool a new name ("fairness") and we forget that confiscation doesn't play out well in the end.

The old rules don't have to apply to me; I'm unique. Some say I am not the center of the universe, but wherever I go, there I am.

We're doomed to repeat history not just because we don't know history, but because we refuse to recognize ourselves there. Which is just human "nature;" we detest vices in others that we cultivate in ourselves.


I heard of the Feast of Divine Mercy, and when I looked it up found a mix of good reminders and jarring claims. The "Hour of Divine Mercy" is supposed to be 3pm (the hour Jesus died), an "hour at which mercy is best received." Clearly we need another 23 St. Faustinas for the rest of the clock. And on the Feast day participants in confession and communion are "assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins and punishments." So maybe we need another 365 of her.

On the other hand some of the topics were more than reasonable--reiterations of Jesus' warning that we need to show mercy; suggesting that if we can't do we should speak comfort, and if neither we should pray--for everyone we meet in trouble. I get a little distracted and overlook a lot. Not good.

And when we "overlook a lot" we let the default works of the world act:
"Charge the hungry, Bill the thirsty, Photograph the naked, Shunt aside the homeless, Bury the sick, Forget the imprisoned, Vote on behalf of the dead"

I've said "when I get around to it" too much. There's not much we can usefully (and not harmfully) do for the homeless around the square, but I don't always even want to.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Saturnian rain?

I couldn't pass up this story about rain from Saturn's rings.

Apparently we've known for a while that Saturn's upper atmosphere doesn't glow as brightly as expected. Solar wind hitting the molecules there should ionize some and make them glow; and they do--but not quite enough.

It was proposed some time back that water from the rings might quench the interactions that make the infrared glow, but it was hard to prove.

This team got a detailed look at the IR glow, and found banding that has some resemblance to the bands of the rings.

The team didn't actually detect water, but they modeled how ionized water (solar wind hits the ring material too) would stream from the rings down to the surface along magnetic field lines and make certain regions glow less, producing the patterns they see.

Of course this isn't "rain" in the sense of drops of water. In fact it would either have to be extremely rarefied or else there's some recycling mechanism that sends water back out to the rings somehow (and I haven't a clue how that would work).

The rings are supposed to be 3x10^22 g of ice (mostly), and the area being hit on Saturn is (conservatively) about 1x10^20 cm^2. A million years is about 3x10^13 seconds, so if the rings aren't going to evaporate in a million years then they can't lose more than 10^9 g/second. If they're flying at about 1000m/sec (to be very conservative) then the "rain" has to have a density less than 1x10^-16 g/cm^3.

Unfortunately I don't have the time to estimate how long water would stay present in the upper atmosphere or how much you need to produce the quenching they see. You could use those numbers to get a rough estimate of how much water they need falling in to produce the effect they see, and then we could see how much the rings would be losing each year, and whether this made sense.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Facebook reminds me of a car plastered so thickly with bumper-stickers that you wonder if the driver can see out the rear window.

No, I do not want to play Farmville. You not have my birth date. Accepting those cute little "gifts" requires registration with a third party I've no reason to trust. I can't be bothered to redo my picture. And however persuasive you may find them, your emotional slogans don't seem quite eloquent enough to overthrow my own judgments and rush me to your political/social banner.

On the other hand, I'm sorry to hear about your dog, I hope your daughter does well in the audition, and that looks like a terrible accident and I'll be praying for you. My better half says Facebook is the only way to keep in touch with some remote friends and family, so she endures the political rubbish. I swore off Facebook for Lent on the grounds that it was bad for my temper. Perhaps I should have taken it on daily as a mortification instead.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


Crown him with many crowns;
Cement and octocaine.
Feel how the dreaded grinding sound
Itself brings deeper pain.
Lament the broken tooth,
Bewail forgotten brush,
Count breaths Lamaze-like carefully
And leave arm-rests uncrushed.

This will be number 8 (not counting repairs)--not the sturdiest teeth in the world. The vibration of that drill seems to shake nerves the injections don't reach (sort of like the dispersed sensations of tickling, but painful). And yes, I've tried those Lamaze exercises that my better half and I practiced together, but I tend to get distracted. I have not transcended dental medication.

But I'd hate to be without modern dentistry; the alternatives are so much worse and tooth repairs work almost as well as the originals.

Thursday, April 04, 2013



I assume a few things.

  1. The intrinsic value of a person has nothing to do with their IQ or any secular measure of success.
  2. The law of supply and demand means compensation for jobs anybody can do will be lower. But see Point 1 above.
  3. A man needs to work, if at all possible. His nature is to need to be needed and appreciated.
  4. Godel's Unprovability Theorem can be applied to legal and regulatory frameworks. There will always be one more problem the system can't solve.

Getting in the door

I'll ignore the dishonest ways of making a living. They're all predatory or parasitic, involving clubs and dark alleys, lying labels, crony government policies and similar destructive tools.

To do a successful job, you have to get the job somehow, and here is where all the usual problems of the world come in. It is easier and more reliable to hire people you know you can trust because they're family, or friends, or trusted by friends. Notice how children of actors seem to have an in in the movie business, and how Ivy League people hire each other?

If you're a Hutu businessman, do you worry that a Tutsi might (feeling no tribal loyalty) be more likely to help himself from the till? Maybe that's prejudice, and maybe it isn't. Tribal loyalty isn't overwhelming, but it can tip the scales when choosing between two men you don't know and don't have good references for.

That seems unfair, and it is; but personal connections, tribal affiliation, and political pull are huge around the world, and even here in the USA where we like to think we're evenhanded. We do a better job being fair, even leaning over backwards sometimes, but some problems are very hard to get rid of; and multiplying regulations eventually replaces personal bias with political favoritism. Before you assume I'm bragging on the US ("better job being fair") without cause, ask how many Germans are professors in US colleges, and then ask how many Americans are professors in German colleges. Or French. Or Italian. Or Swiss.

Suppose you had an ethnic minority that were more skillful in some field than the rest, and came to dominate not just the rank-and-file but also the management, solely on merit. Now the thought experiment: how do you tell the difference between that situation and one in which that minority were selectively hiring only their own tribe?

The problem--not solvable as far as I can tell--is that whatever measurements you try to make to show that the hiring is purely by merit, they will not satisfy the envious counterclaim that "They're biased and if you just gave me a chance I could do as well." The politically expedient solution is to enforce injustice with quotas or penalties--and it isn't just a modern solution.

Raw Talent

I wanted to be an astronaut, of course, but I never had a shot at it. Vision, reaction time--not good enough. I could have worked on being in better physical shape, but I'd never have been one of the chosen pilots.

No amount of training would have made me a pro basketball player--I have neither the height nor the build for speed.

In math, though, I was fast. Some classmates mastered things almost as well, some eventually got it, and some didn't understand in time (by the end of the semester). That last group included some who, if you gave them another semester, would eventually master the material, and others who were so slow that I think by the time they mastered B they'd have forgotten A, and so would never be able to finish.

Just as there are physical gifts, there are mental ones, and there's no substitute for having the raw material.

I gather that twin studies put the hereditary component of IQ at about .8. IQ seems to correlate very well with college board tests, and with a host of other tests designed to eliminate cultural biases. The distribution is sort of like a bell curve, but not quite: nobody is below 0, and on the high end the tester is trying to estimate the intelligence of somebody smarter than him.

So this raw material for analytical skill is distributed in the population more or less like this familiar curve, with most people near the average and a few in the very dumb and very smart tails.

But success doesn't always line up with IQ, even in controlled environments like college. The talk linked by AVI tells us that there's a threshold IQ/SAT below which you typically don't succeed at all in college, but even above that the correlation between grade and SAT is only about .4.

The raw IQ by itself isn't the whole story. The difference isn't hard to find: perseverance and self discipline make up a lot (maybe all) the rest. Anybody around a college can quickly find some bright slackers and some hardworking ordinary guys.

Just as an example, college students more or less divide into the mostly partiers and the mostly studiers. In terms of perseverance you might get a distribution sort of like this.

When it comes grading time, the distribution would look more like the second plot than the first, blurred a bit. OK, blurred a lot. This is a toy model, given just to illustrate the point, not to describe College U.

Putting it together--what's missing?

I'm taking college success as a model for success in the rest of what you attempt. This isn't because college guarantees anything, but because it is a simpler model. In the rest of life accidents and the connections/tribes I mentioned above start to play bigger roles--college is a more controlled environment. Getting cancer isn't as large a risk in college life as it is in middle age careers, and college departments don't usually go under because of cheap Chinese imports.

Despite the differences, the similarities are significant. A job that requires more mental horsepower than you have will not be done very well. If you don't apply a lot of perseverance to your job, you probably won't keep it.

We try to make the playing field level by looking for discrimination, and we try to provide opportunity and encouragement. Despite lots of efforts there doesn't seem to be any way of providing mental horsepower from environmental stimulation; you have what you have.

What remains is for you to use what you have. But to do that requires some disciplines that we don't usually try to encourage. We demand that athletes and music students exercise self discipline, put aside pleasant distractions to focus on the goal, and persevere through bleak times. Athletes especially we demand courage of. We don't ask much of that from the rest.


Perseverance and self control are among the virtues; signs of a good character. Justice, courage, balance/temperance, and fortitude/perseverance are one set of classic virtues, to which you can add humility, good will, and plenty of others.

It isn't that hard to see how these traits develop our innate skills and make us better people; I'd say it takes a willful blindness not to notice. But it seems these don't emerge spontaneously; they require training and practice. They didn't develop spontaneously in the kids I've known (ours and others), and they certainly don't grow spontaneously in good old me. I need lots of reminders, lots of reminders.

It's a bit hard to ask our children to develop virtues that we don't try to use ourselves. Easier to go along with whatever the culture's favorite trends are. Justice would mean evaluating ourselves--not fun. It is more pleasant to avoid situations that demand courage. And why not indulge myself a little more--I still have some checks left.

I'm trying to think of which of virtues we celebrate. We deprecate self-control. Vast expanses of advertising are designed to get you to lose that self-control in favor of buying something they want you to want.

"Tolerance" is a current favorite; but it is at best only a half virtue compared to its adult relatives justice and humility.

Any others? We're big on self esteem, but that's not exactly a virtue. We like heroes, but prefer them flawed.

We try to inculcate the civic virtue of respect--unless the reproof is likely to result in being accused of racism, in which case we just pretend nothing is wrong, or else the disrespect is understandable because of the child's problems. Of course a child who doesn't learn at home all the more desperately needs the rest of us to instruct him, but ... I got all kinds of static for reprimanding some black kids whose rudeness on the bus was escalating.

I don't have a clear suggestion here, just the observation that virtue plays a huge role in what we are eventually able to do. Not everything, as I pointed out at the start

Work world and the lower IQ

I keep hearing the same sorts of "We need to become a knowledge-based economy" punditry. Think about it a minute. If the only people working are the ones with lots of knowledge and high IQs, what do the rest of us do: Lounge and rot? Without something useful to do we get restless, and worse. (Sometimes even when we do have useful work...)

Ideally, except for the very lowest IQs, there should be something each person can do, however simple. Just looking around at the streets I think there is still plenty of room for unskilled labor. (It seems that more than half the time the leaves are damp enough that a leaf blower is no faster than a broom or rake.)

Parenthetically, children need to learn the work-related disciplines by doing simple jobs. But when all the simple lawn jobs are taken already by cheap imported labor, where do our children go to learn what it is like to be responsible for a job?

The simple jobs are not going to pay well, quite possibly not enough to live independently. The adverb "independently" seems critical here. Unfortunately I don't have any good schemes for encouraging mutual support or family support. If it isn't there I don't know how to make it appear. And we have a nasty tendency to value the person by how much money or equivalent they can earn.

I'm not brimming with wonderful solutions here. It is easy to say "teach the children about virtue and good character" and "take care of your family" but not so easy to do--though it is probably easier than bucking the vested interests who are importing cheap labor and cheap votes.

But for starters I think we should try a little "rectification of names:" call things by their real names and understand the things that are lacking.

Dark matter hype

Strassler has a good analysis of the results announced by Sam Ting about the AMS results. Jester also wrote about it.

The IceCube journal club talked about it this morning too, and the conclusion was the same.

The paper was billed as evidence for dark matter, as shown by odd features in the ratio of positrons to electrons hitting the AMS detector in orbit around the Earth. The notion is that the features are due to dark matter decaying into electron/positron pairs.

Unfortunately the structure shown doesn't really suggest much of anything, because nobody has a clear enough model of what to expect. Something is odd, but whether this is something like the knee in ordinary cosmic rays or something different is hard to tell yet. The most interesting information was left out (the highest energy region), probably because the uncertainties are much harder to determine.

The detector uses two methods of calculating energy: bending in a magnetic field and measuring how much light is produced when the particle smashes and "showers" in the "calorimeter". The problem is that at very high energies the track in the magnetic field is very nearly straight, and it gets harder to tell positive from negative then. And the shower of particles and light becomes large enough to leak out the back of the "calorimeter." So there are larger and more complicated uncertainties on the really high energy electrons.

The hoopla is fake and annoying. However, the work they did is quite good. They had to figure out which particles were electrons and which were the far more common protons, measure their energy two ways, and do all this in a satellite. It would be easy (relatively) to do this kind of thing with a ground-based machine where you don't have to worry about weight and can just plug into the wall for electricity. To do it in orbit is a tour-de-force.

But it says nada about dark matter. I can't blame the reporters for getting it wrong this time, the press release is full of enthusiastic hints.

BTW, if you look at the low end of the spectrum in their plot, you see a huge difference between the AMS and the Pamela data. That turns out to be easy to understand. What's plotted is a ratio between positrons and electrons hitting the detector, and the Sun has been acting up lately and slinging out a lot more electrons, so the ratio changed.

Monday, April 01, 2013

New Mars Mission?

Apparently comet 2013-A1 is headed in the general direction of Mars, and has a 1/2000 chance of hitting it with nearly dino-killer energy.

All in favor of a NASA emergency mission to nudge the comet to the bulls-eye, raise your hand.

Thought so.

Yes, I thought April Fools too, but this one is dated 26-Mar.

And yes, I read Protector too.