Space – The Final Fronteer

So, Space is the last real place that mankind is engaged in real pioneering exploration right. So does the idea of space inspire you enough to want to get involved in this exploration? Does the idea of being involved in the discovery of something new, unique and completely unknown make your juices flow enough to make you excited enough to want to take part in making some amazing discovery?

Meh

That all sounds too expensive, difficult, time consuming, and frankly Mr Yettie, I have no intention of joining the space program I hear you muttering.

:lol:

No Fear, I’m not asking you to expand on that childhood dream of becoming an astronaut or going out and buying some really expensive kit to explore the skies. No way Hosea! What I am talking about is taking part in a project that was started a few months ago, and promises to make 2013 a pretty special year in the exploration of the Red Planet, our next door neighbour Mars.

This is an image of fan like structures that have been observed on the face of Mars by a satellite in orbit of the Red Planet that has for the last few years been photographing every square foot of the planet over and over again. This has resulted in the production of literally millions of photographic images of the planet in various stages of the season, and it is now known that these fans appear every year in the Martian Spring, what scientists suspect are gaseous eruptions much like geysers here on earth. It is believed that there is a warming of ice below the surface in the spring as the planet warms, and this is what leads to the formation of these structures that can be seen on the planet.

The thing I found amazing about this discovery is that it was made by a Joe Blogs like you or me, who had registered on a website to take part in a project to help map and explore the pictures taken from the surface of the Martian surface. And this, spurred me to go and have a look, and suddenly become really enthused about taking part.

It is simple really. You visit www.planet4.org where you can join over 55,000 other every day explorers who are given a piece of Mars to explore and classify to help scientists catalogue abnormalities on the surface and discover new and interesting formations on the surface. In this way, over 2 million images have now been classified, helping scientists to zone in and focus on findings that are leading to new and exciting ideas, theories and discoveries about our next door neighbour. The amazing thing. You could be a part of all that, and from the comfort of your over stuffed chair.

It is not just Mars that these guys are exploring either. The main program, Zooinverse, located at www.zooniverse.org/projects has all manner of projects on the go, from exploring the moon, to helping to classify cyclones or explore the ocean floor. If you really want to, you can even help to classify cancer samples.

It’s nice to feel that in some small way, maybe something I did to help will be used to make some sort of breakthrough or fascinating discovery, and while maybe that is me being just a little bit delusional  it is still a good feeling to be a part of something that is charting the exploration of parts of our universe we know nothing about. It also felt pretty amazing in that while I was working on the pictures I helped to classify, I couldn’t help but think to myself that just maybe I was looking close at a portion of the Red Planet that had never been studies or looked at in such detail before. That is quite a remarkable feeling. I guess it’d be even better to be the first man to stand on the same spot and see it visually, but for now, this small effort on my part is as much as we can do, and yes, I can say that a Yettie was a part of that.

2013 will in many ways be a pretty remarkable year as spacial events go. On the 15th February 2013, the largest object of recent history will pass a mere 35,000 miles from our surface, the asteroid 2012 DA14 a chunk of rock 45 metres wide. Make sure your valentines day is a special one this year. :p

And then, come November December 2013 the mega comet Ison will come within 800,000 km of the surface of our sun, meaning we could have a feature in the sky that could be even brighter than a full moon in daylight hours. If that does indeed happen, surely it will be one of the most dazzlingly spectacular astronomical features of our night sky in our time. No wonder they are coining the term Comet of the Century for Ison’s pass through our system.

Two big events in a great year for star gazing if you are so inclined. Anyway, enough of me babbling on about something I’ve really enjoyed checking out, and I hope that in some ways, just maybe you’ll be able to get as much interest out of it as I did. Hugs to you all and hope January is not treating you too badly.

Thought for today – “Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die today.” – James Dean

Song for today – Fill My Little World by the Feeling

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Who is your all time Queen of Pop?

Ok so I couldn’t help but think to myself the other day while I was driving, listening to the radio as the radio DJ made a statement referring to a certain female artist as the all time pop goddess on the air waves, who I’d consider to be the ultimate queen of pop!

An interesting question I thought, as in all honesty I think that the term King or Queen of pop is an over used, hollow and meaningless phrase used to depict someone that we cannot quite put into one box or another. Take for example Michael Jackson, a real icon of the pop industry. All too often we hear that significantly irritating term, “The all time King of Pop!” used by radio DJ’s, news readers and so many other people who take a talent far superior than royalty and coin a term that they feel puts the person they are describing on a pedestal of adequate comparison. I for one find this habit quite irritating as royalty are most certainly not individuals to admire. How many Kings and Queens through history have been criminals, tyrants, villains and complete failures as leaders and men and women of power? So why then compare the genius and talent of someone like John Lennon to a status in society that is not always necessarily looked up to as being of iconic regard?

Ok, ok I hear you ranting that we compare these unique individuals to monarchy in the aspect of their indisputable status as sole and divine leader over all others in that space and time. In this way, we have come to use the expression “Queen of Pop” as a direct parallel to that indisputable place in time where that person held the sole position of power over all others within the world of pop. Yes I understand too the argument behind this train of thought, however would point out that Kings and Queens are human and finite. There are limits to how long their power or position may last, dependant on so many variations of scenario, that you can begin to see cracks appear in the direct line of thought when it comes to naming an all time “Queen of Pop!”, because the person I name today will only stand to be knocked off that pedestal in time to come.

So for that reason, I decided to rethink the question slightly differently. Who, do I consider to be the most iconic, phenomenal and memorable contributor to the world of pop, taking into consideration everyone that I know of and have heard. That has become no easy question to answer and one I have spent some time considering now.

While I think that there have been a number of masters of the art of pop, and have certainly stood the test of time, and consistently produced popular, timely music, there are few that leap out from the crowd and stand out as true trend setters of their era.

Some of the names I have considered include many infamous icons of pop through the years. Take for example Norma Jeane Baker or otherwise known to the masses as Marilyn Monroe. In the 1960’s when Marilyn Monroe was in the height of her fame, it can certainly be said that she had a massive impact on society and the world around her, but I do have to wonder if it was not the mystery behind her death that has lead over time to the iconic status with which Marilyn Monroe is now regarded. The public love nothing more than the idea of a conspiracy and the whole aura of mystery; uncertainty and intrigue have built an infamous status with which Marilyn Monroe has become regarded. Does this really set her aside as what we could possibly consider to be the all time matriarch of pop?

On the other side of the scale I did consider the multi talented pop icon that has become Lady Gaga. The 24 year old American pop sensation Stefani Germanotta has over a period of two years become on of the most powerful forces in modern pop music, having amassed herself a small fortune of US$62 million in that time, and has been listed by Forbes Magazine as the 7th most powerful celebrity in the world.

That is certainly an impressive feat to have accomplished within a two year time frame, but I have to ask myself if given time, memory of the current cultural sensation that has made Lady Gaga a phenomenon in the current chart will fair so favourably once the media hype and clever marketing that has been used to make her such a famous celebrity has exhausted its usefulness. I mean lets be realistic, it is Lady Gaga’s ability to break boundaries and consistently shock normal sane people that leaves much of the public in awe of her ability. When it comes down to pure talent, I certainly do not believe that it was by talent alone that Lady Gaga has become the sensation that she is today.

So while I allow credit to the likes of Stefani Germanotta of the pop world, and I do believe that there are a few, I believe that it is by their ability to be controversial and through powerful and clever marketing that they have become as popular as they are. A few examples of this would have to be the likes of Brittany Spears, Gwen Stephanie, Christina Aguilera, Cher and a multitude of other singers. While talented to a degree, and performers of notability, I’d not go as far as to say that they are the true description of an all time pop legend.

So let’s take a look at the power of facts and stats then. There are three big hitters that I think defiantly rule the roost when it comes to phenomenal accomplishments in terms of their contribution to pop. Shania Twain, Madonna and Celine Dion. Between these three ladies alone, they contribute to selling in excess of 500 million albums world wide. Now before you start shouting and screaming that there are other women who have sold incredible numbers of albums, I have discounted them as I do not feel that I regard them as pop icons. Credit where credit is due, this contest is just not for them.

So of the three I’ve listed, there are several key factors that come into play. Madonna has certainly sold the most number of records, contributing in excess of 300 million albums to that combined total on her own. Celine on the other hand has been singing and producing albums since she was 12, and many of her albums are in French and not taken into consideration when producing much of the available statistics. Shania remarkably has to be a firm contender having sold 45 million records across 5 albums and all within a decade, making her one of the most successful female recording artists in terms of the sheer number of sales in the shortest period of time.

But of the three there is one clear winner in terms of her ability to stand the test of time in her ability to reinvent herself, and have wide appeal across multiple generations of people. In terms of awards, the list of nominations and accreditations that Madonna has wracked up over her time in pop music, and recognition and respect in the pop world, Madonna stands out as a clear iconic symbol of pop power and achievement.

So is this me saying that in my opinion Madonna is the all time mistress of the pop world? In many ways I do consider Madonna to be the principal icon of pop power around the world, and considering that she is now 52 years of age and is still producing music that challenges peers in the industry that are still in the teens and early 20’s I think is very remarkable indeed.

From Rock to Dance, Pop to Country, Classical to Contemporary Madonna has crossed every genre of music and nailed it to perfection along the way. Her concerts have become a performance not to be missed and her music will long into the future still be trend setting the way we dance, party and relax. Certainly Madonna is an icon to consider for that ultimate title of Pop Goddess.

But…

Yes, I have to admit that when it comes to popularity and affection, I don’t think that Madonna quite has it. Yes in much the same way that Princess Dianna out shone the entire Royal Family in the UK, I believe that there is a pop ambassador that stands far out in front of many of today’s celebrity icons.

So in finally answering my question, my vote and honest belief is that Kylie Minogue is our modern day definition of pure positive impact on an industry, society and the people who call themselves fans.

I regard Kylie as a complete woman. A role model, a pure professional, a real success story and someone that I regard with admiration. Not many people can say they know about the personal life of Kylie Minogue, a mark of a true celebrity in my opinion. Someone who is loved and admired not for her lifestyle, controversial performances or ability to stir up a storm in a tea cup, but merely for her ability to consistently produce quality and great entertainment. Kylie has resolutely been a true ambassador for woman in both success and in the face of peril. Through trials like breast cancer, stormy relationships and periods of uncertainty, Kylie has always managed to bounce back, invigorated, energised, reinvented, sensual and seductive, yet thoroughly lovely and lady like. She knows how to push the limit without becoming crass or cheap, and has turned herself into a remarkable role model for generations of young women the world over.

Yes I truly believe that what ever term you choose, Kylie Minogue is in a league of her own. She is a remarkable lady and one of our finest female artists of all time. To you I salute you and give you my vote as the most iconic female artist of all time, Miss Kyle Ann Minogue OBE.

Soap – A whole new world of Entertainment. Chamaleon

I have always been a connoisseur of great art, especially live performances. Be it theatre, poetry, live music, musical instruments, whatever it might be, great art has always been something that I yearn to with a passion. However having said that, I am quite certain that my opinion of fine art and fantastical performance is very different to what the main stream media and general public would call brilliant.

My tastes have always tended to be towards the unexpected, unique, tasteful, yet totally individual in that it is both controversial yet mystical in its production, presentation and performance. There is nothing as magnificent as coming away from a live performance that has both moved you, captivated your imagination and held you either in the grasp of its beauty or the thrill of its celebration of human ingenuity. In many of the things that I look at as art and very well thought out presentations, people will often look at me curiously and perhaps wonder what the hell my motivation is.

Let me try to explain. I love it when someone is willing to take the accepted boundaries and push them to the very limit. Maybe not in the way that most people would expect, but to perhaps increase the impact of the performance through its shear risk, design, presentation or unique ability to be totally different to anything else you’ve ever seen or thought about.

Let me give you an example. Lady GaGa. For many people a take it or leave it artist. For a young generation that thrive on the thrill of anything that is different, stands out from the crowd and sets trends no one ever considered possible, Lady GaGa has captivated a world of young people worldwide. She has totally pushed the limits in everything that is acceptable from fashion to performance, yet when you look at her, she is someone who seems pretty simple, straight forward and acceptable as a friend on a personal basis. Yet put her near a stage and invite her to perform and she totally seems to lose the plot, and through this inhabitation to be completely her own brand, regardless of your personal opinion, you cannot fault her in her dedication to shaping a place for herself in our modern world of artistic talent.

By being unique the world of art are forced to stop and either criticise or admire your abilities. For this very reason I believe that part of the way of making it in today’s world of persistent art, in the world of quality consistently setting the bench mark for acceptance and ability ever higher, and in a world where success can no longer be measured by the number of records that you sell or the number of tickets that you flog, true artistic success is found in those that challenge the boundaries of the performing arts.

I guess the real reason that I decided to write today, is that I came across a group of modern dancers/aerobacists. I mix the two for there are elements of the two combined into a complete tail and stage performance by a German theatre company that have taken a completely bizarre yet absolutely captivating and Brilliant look at the art. Soap by Chamaleon, a German production company use classical music with a completely modern take while telling an operatic story through song, dance and performance, with water, soap bubbles, dance, acrobatics and special effects. Such a fantastic use of the modern and controversial is in my view a spectacular rendition of what is possible when artistic minds think outside of the box and put imagination first and direction second. This in my humble opinion is a true mark of great entertainment and a valuable contribution of our modern world of modern art.