Roots of ‘Easter’ Myth Adapted For New Testament


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This time of year Christians focus on the narrative of Jesus Christ and his life, death, and resurrection. It is detailed in the New Testament from the viewpoints of multiple authors. For a Christian, the ‘Easter’ story of hu’s* death and resurrection is the foundation of the deification of Jesus. The reality is that the Bible is a collection of stories, most of which predate Judaism and Christianity.

[ADVISORY:  The following information may be disturbing to Christians and other faiths that believe in the divinity of the Bible/Tora. This information is based on historical data that is available to the public and is not intended to dissuade anyone from hu’s faith or beliefs.]

Origins of the Easter Story

Those who believe in the divinity of the Bible accept that the stories are original; however, there is a clear connection between the myths of the previous cultures. These myths developed over centuries with each culture making revisions while keeping the root of the myth.

The Easter myth is a good example of this process. The roots of the myth can be traced back through the Roman and Greek cultures; however, the beginnings of the story go back to at least the Phrygian culture. This area is now considered to be the southern Balkans in Europe.

Mother of the Gods of Phrygia

The Mother Mary aspect of the Easter story would seem to be a version of the Phrygian myth of Cybele (a.k.a.; Kybele.) Cybele was known as the Mother of the Gods. Very little is known about the nature of the goddess Cybele, except that she is the only known goddess of that culture.

Androgynous God of the Greeks

The Greeks adapted Cybele into their mythology but changed the narrative. In the Greek version, Zeus impregnates the Mother God, Gaia who bore the diety, Agdistis. This diety had both male and female organs and the other gods feared this dual-gendered diety. The mythology is that a god tricked Agdistis while hu* slept and tied a rope to hu’s penis. When hu awoke the rope pulled the penis off as Agdistis stood up. It gets worse.

Now a woman, she became Cybele. [NOTE:  Some say that Cybele and Agdistis were separate beings.] Hu’s blood from the castration fell to the ground. On that spot, an almond tree grew and later an almond fell into the lap of Nana. That almond impregnated Nana and she bore Attis, a beautiful boy. Nana abandoned Attis who was found among some reeds, (possibly the root of the Moses myth,) and raised by foster parents.

When Attis became a man, Cybele was infatuated with hu. Attis was to wed the daughter of a King, but at the wedding, Cybele appeared to them and drove Attis and the King mad with love for her. They both castrated themselves, (I said it would get worse,) and Attis died. Cybele could not bear the loss of Attis and hu asked Zeus to keep hu’s body from decomposing.

Roman Easter Celebration

The Romans kept much of the Greek version of the myth. They transformed the Cybele and Attis story into a multi-day Spring celebration. The Roman calendar began each year in March. Spring was celebrated based on the Moon phases near the Vernal equinox. The first day of March was the marked by the New Moon. The ides of March fell on the Full Moon and the celebration consisted of the following observances. [NOTE:  The following has been copied, with editing, directly from a Wikipedia page.] 

Ides of March (Full Moon)

Canna intrat (“The Reed enters”), marking the birth of Attis and his exposure in the reeds along the Phrygian river Sangarius.

Ides of March + 7 days (First Half Moon)

Arbor intrat (“The Tree enters”), commemorating the death of Attis under a pine tree. The dendrophores (“tree bearers”) cut down a tree, suspended from it an image of Attis, and carried it to the temple with lamentations. A three-day period of mourning followed.

Ides of March + 8 days

The tree was laid to rest at the temple of the Magna Mater (the Great Mother.)

Ides of March + 9 days

Sanguem or Dies Sanguinis (“Day of Blood”), a frenzy of mourning when the devotees whipped themselves to sprinkle the altars and effigy of Attis with hu’s own blood; some performed the self-castration of the Galli. The “sacred night” followed, with Attis placed in his ritual tomb.

Ides of March + 10 days

(Vernal equinox on the Roman calendar): Hilaria (“Rejoicing”), when Attis was reborn.

Ides of March +11 days

Requietio (“Day of Rest”).

Ides of March + 12 days

Lavatio (“Washing”), Cybele’s sacred stone was taken in procession from the Palatine temple to the Porta Capena and down the Appian Way to the stream called Almo, a tributary of the Tiber. There the stone and sacred iron implements were bathed “in the Phrygian manner” by a red-robed priest. The quindecimviri attended. The return trip was made by torchlight, with much rejoicing. 

Ides of March + 13 days

Initium Caiani, sometimes interpreted as initiations into the mysteries of the Magna Mater (the Great Mother) and Attis at the Gaianum, near the Phrygianum sanctuary at the Vatican Hill.

Easter of the New Testament a Developing Story

The Christian story of Easter is a story that began centuries before the myths were written into the New Testament. The Virgin Mother, the Mother of God, the death and resurrection of Jesus are all part of the myth of Cybele and Attis. The reason that Easter is a floating holiday traces back to the original Roman calendar that was based on the phases of the Moon.

(*’Hu’s’ is a neutral pronoun replacement meaning his/hers. ‘Hu’ is a neutral pronoun replacement for him/her or he/she.)

Saint Patrick Wasn’t Irish and Other Facts?


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Saint Patrick. The grand man of the Irish! Green beer, green clover, green Puritan-style hats, green beer, wearing green…did I mention green? All the great Irish traditions as we celebrate the anniversary of his death on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Except, he wasn’t Irish.

Chicago takes the green of St. Patrick’s Day to a new level.

The Real Saint Patrick

Patrick lived sometime during the 5th century (400-499 A.D.) in Roman Britain and his father was a deacon in the Catholic Church and was a decurion of Rome, (member of the City Senate.) His grandfather was a Catholic priest, but Patrick was not a believer in the church at first.

When Patrick was sixteen he reports that he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland where he was made a slave. It is during his enslavement that his religious beliefs grew. After six years he said God told him that a ship awaited him. He escaped and traveled 200 miles to a port and convinced a captain to take him back to England.

Once back, he claims that he and the crew of the ship wandered for 28 days. Then desperate for food, he encouraged the group to have faith and they then came upon wild boar and the group feasted. He eventually returned to his family and studied the Bible and the Church’s teachings.

Patrick the Profiteer?

Patrick then returned to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity. In his writings, he defends himself against accusations made against him for apparently receiving money and gifts for religious favors (baptism, ordainment, etc.) He doesn’t specify what the accusations were, but he does deny receiving money or gifts.

As a Christian and a foreigner, he wasn’t well received by the wealthy and powerful of Ireland. He was apparently successful in converting some of the sons and daughters of significant Irish families, which likely added to his poor reputation among the royalty of Ireland.

Legends of St. Patrick

The Clover

Over a thousand years after his death, (appeared in a writing of 1726,) Patrick was said to have used the three-leaf clover to represent the Holy Trinity during his teachings. There is no earlier written evidence of this and it is unlikely the story is true.

Snakes, I Hate Snakes

The story that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland is false. They were flown out in modern times. Maybe you saw the movie, Snakes On A Plane.

The Truth Doesn’t Matter As Long As There Is Beer

Historians even question St. Patricks own writings. Some don’t buy his kidnapping story. Some suggest that he was a con man that used religion to make money. All that doesn’t matter today because Patrick is our excuse to drink beer. Cheers to you St. Paddy!

Three Steps For Solving the Assault-Type Weapons Problem


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Some people are saying that assault-type weapons genie is out of the box. Their belief is that the ban on assault-type rifles can never be reinstated. They fear that collection of assault weapons may involve violent confrontations with gun extremists. There is a way out of this mess caused by letting the assault weapons ban expire. It involves three steps.

Designed to Kill Without Aiming – Semi-automatic Mossberg-MMR

STEP ONE:  Reinstate the ban on assault-type rifles

All future sale, trade, and/or gifting an assault-type rifle, including all rifles with an automatic and/or semiautomatic firing function, would be banned in the United States of America. These weapons would not be allowed to be imported, nor purchased outside the United States and brought into the country.

STEP TWO:  Voluntary Surrender of Assault-type Rifles

Any current owner of an assault-type rifle would have the option of surrendering hu’s* weapon to local law enforcement. Those guns would need to be secured or destroyed.

STEP THREE:  Conditions of Ownership of Assault-type Rifles

Condition One:  Registration

Anyone with peaceful intent should be willing to comply with the registration of all assault-type weapons. Those that fail to register their automatic and semi-automatic weapons shall be considered to have a violent intent. They will face stiff fines and possibly prison. Registration will also consist of a background check, regardless of whether one was done when the owner purchased it.

Assault-type weapons cannot be sold to anyone else without approval from the local law enforcement agency. That agency will be required to perform a background check.


Anyone owning a weapon in question must obtain and maintain a one million dollar liability insurance policy. This is similar to the liability policy required to own a car. Failure to do so will require forfeiture of the gun and a significant fine and possibly prison.

CONDITION THREE:  Compliance With the Second Amendment

Per the Second Amendment, an owner of an assault-type rifle must join a State National Guard and submit to regular training and duty as long as they own the weapon. Use of the weapon shall be regulated by that State’s National Guard, including the determination of mental and physical qualifications of use of such weapon.

(*’Hu’s’ is a pronoun meaning ‘his’ and/or ‘hers.’)

The Ides of March is Really About the Moon


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Thanks to William Shakespeare, the Ides of March is associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar (15 March 44 B.C.) Most people know the Ides of March to be on the 15th. The Ides of a month is often referred to as the middle of the month, which is true, but there is more. The Ides of March is about the Moon, not Caesar.

The Greek and early Roman calendar:  New Moon began each month (kalends) and the Full Moon was the middle (ides)

The Growing Pains of the Months and Years Concept

The concept of a month and a year was in a transitional phase during the rule of the Romans. Early calendars simply followed the phases of the Moon. A New Moon started each month and the Full Moon was the middle. This meant that the cycle of the seasons and the months were not in synch.

Each month included three reference points associated with the phases of the Moon. They were the  kalends (New Moon), nones (first half Moon,) and ides (Full Moon.) Every other day of the month was a number based on how long before the next named phase of the Moon (March 12 would be ‘3 days before ides.’)

However, there were only ten months in a year so they added Winter as an unnamed time period between the years to match the Spring, Summer, and Autumn. The New Moon prior to the Vernal Equinox would begin the new year. March was the first month of a new year and celebrations were held between the kalends and ides of March. For example, in 2018 the New Year (kalends of March) would be 17 March so the ides of March would be 31 March.

Back to J.C. …Julius Caesar

Cavete Idibus Martiis

Beware the Ides of March (in Latin)

The situation of Caesar’s death is interesting considering the current political environment of the United States. Caesar had won the support of the lower Roman classes and was named dictator for life. His assassination threatened the rise of a civil war led by the lower class. Antony used this threat in an attempt to take Julius Caesar’s place, but Caesar had named his 18-year-old son, Octavius, as his successor. In the end, the conspirators in the Senate were all killed and Octavius ruled Rome.

NRA is Not a Gun Safety Organization


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I obtained a National Rifle Association (NRA) card in 1967 (updated in 1975.) Actually, it was a hunter’s safety card. It was a new requirement for a Colorado Department of Natural Resources hunting license for anyone born after 1949. I earned it by attending a hunter’s safety course sponsored by the NRA. I was nine years old, and as I recall, I was among the first children to go through the course. That was when gun safety was important to gun owners and to the NRA.

Today’s NRA:  Put Guns In the Reach of Children

Now the NRA is a nonprofit group with a focus on increasing the profits of weapons manufacturers. Safety is in conflict with its primary mission. Now its goal is to propagandize weapon ownership and instill fear in the mind of the public. The concept of promoting safe use of firearms has been replaced with promoting unsafe firearm practices. Protecting the sale of assault-type weapons and putting a gun in a room of children, for example.

In 1967 good gun ownership included making sure guns were unloaded when coming back into town. Guns and people are never a good combination. In 2018 the NRA philosophy is driven by one concept…How can gun manufacturers sell more guns? The new philosophy can be seen in every aspect of NRA activity. Guns in schools, guns at home, assault rifle for everyone, no background checks, etc.

… the NRA is a powerful political organization that lobbies for gun rights and opposes the restriction on firearms by gun laws … the National Rifle Association has become one of the most powerful organizations that has great influence at the political level.

The National Rifle Association website

Voice of Common Sense

Today at 10 am, students around the country will remember last month’s mass school shooting that killed 17 people. Gun extremists are quick to focus on the minor transgression of students walking out of class and ignore the murder of children by a man with a gun that no one should own. If this protest was for the NRA, gun extremists would be voicing the right of Free Speech, but only a fool would protest for the NRA.

Voices of common sense about gun ownership are always seen as a threat to gun extremists. I once spent over an hour discussion common sense gun ownership with two gun extremists who were on a campus seeking to recruit more gun extremists. My debate with them became pointless. It was the same NRA indoctrination over and over. They have to defend themselves against an imaginary enemy. When I asked them what allows them to be judge, jury, and executioner, their retort was, “I have a right to defend myself.”

Assault-type Rifles Are To Kill People 

One of the demands of today’s student protests is to reinstate the ban on assault-type rifles. Anyone who has hunted knows that an assault-type rifle is not compatible with shooting game animals. The first step in discharging any firearm is to aim at your target, and be sure there is nothing in front or behind that might be hit by the bullet. Once fired, a gun will jerk and require it to be aimed again. An assault-type rifle is designed to spray bullets in rapid fire, and if configured with a ‘bump’ stock, or illegally retrofit to be an automatic rifle, aiming is not possible.

The comments I have heard from owners of assault-type rifles is that they are ‘fun to fire.’ This leads me to believe that the man who committed the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas was on a ‘thrill kill’ that was triggered by having so many weapons of mass murder available. He simply wanted to use them for their intended purpose.

The NRA’s position is that assault-type rifles should be available for anyone who can afford one. Their reason is simple; more weapons instills fear in others, which in turn sells more weapons. There is no downside to mass shootings in regard to the NRA’s goals.

Am I Safe?

After finding my Hunter’s Safety Card I contacted one of the Colorado Wildlife offices and asked if my card from 1967 or 1975 was still valid. They are, but that doesn’t make me a safe gun owner. A card doesn’t make you a safe gun owner. Nor does a gun make you a safe gun owner.

Why Are Conservatives Anti-Society?


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The conservative agenda is not society friendly. It is designed to benefit few and ignore the rest. The ideology of conservatism is based on an idea of keeping what is perceived to be good and avoiding risk-taking in the future. It assumes that there will be winners and losers so life is about making sure they are the winners.

Fear and Hate are the Entrees for Conservatives

Religions As Safe Harbor For Conservatives

Religions are typically conservative because most religions are built on a paradigm of preserving past traditions. Even the Christian religion is filled with rules and rituals that preserve the thinking of the past and are resistant to change. This is why so many Christians identify themselves with conservative thinking.

The idea that everyone is worthy and equal is usually rhetoric in religions mixed with a condescending effort to help those less fortunate. Often religions and conservatives blame the less fortunate for their own problems. They are the losers and a conservative often consoles hu’s* conscience by making offerings or volunteering to help the less fortunate.

A Liberal Perspective is in Direct Conflict with a Conservative

A conservative, by definition, is focused on preserving what they believe with the assumption that any other belief is irrelevant. It is easy to understand why anyone who has a liberal perspective is worthy of ridicule to a conservative because liberals tend to have a less cynical view of humanity.

Conservatives are driven by fear and self-preservation, while liberals are driven by hope. Conservatives need to believe that they are under threat. Examples of conservative thought consumed by selfishness and fear are:


All efforts in a society should be of direct benefit to the person paying taxes. Any money spent for the welfare of others is a target to conservatives and considered a waste of money. Conservatives often use rare examples of waste to ridicule spending for the benefit of less fortunate.

Gun Ownership

Conservatives use their fear of humanity to base a belief that a system of laws and impartial judgment are not effective. Conservatives believe that they should have the right to judge the actions of another person and execute them without trial. To the conservative, the term ‘defense’ justifies the instant execution of an unarmed person based on hu’s fear of that person.


Conservatives typically interchange hu’s racists beliefs with issues that target a particular race. Even though there is no significant immigration problem in the United States, conservatives manufacture a fear that immigrants are a threat. Immigration enforcement targets non-Caucasian races and typically ignore Caucasians.


Historically women have endured a subservient role in society. Conservatives want to preserve that subservient role and consciously and unconsciously act as if women are a lesser gender. In religion, a fear of women has pushed them into a role of service to men and the church.

Conservatives Anti-Society

The problem with conservative ideology is that the fear and hate of non-conservatives places them as the adversary of society. It divides the population, often along the lines of race and power. In their mind, everything is an ‘us-versus-them’ battle regardless of a lack of evidence.

This attitude impacts the effectiveness of our society as the concept of a few winners is at the expense of the rest of the population. 

(*’Hu’s’ is a pronoun meaning ‘his’ and/or ‘hers.’)

Are We Ready For Gender Neutral Language?


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In an age where gender issues are rising to the surface, language demonstrates the depth of gender discrimination. In centuries of the spoken and written word, a division between male and female became part of communication. The only logical reason for creating this division of masculinity and femininity in language is to create bias.

Language begins the division of the genders

Implied Gender Embedded in Language

English has shed most of the masculine and feminine constructs; however, pronouns remain a roadblock to gender-free writing or speech. Many other cultures face an almost impossible task of removing gender from their language. Masculine and feminine are embedded deep into the language of Spanish, French, Italian, German, and many other languages.

In many of these languages, not only the pronouns are gender defined, but the definite article (the, a) is gender-linked to the noun, which is also gender-linked.

Table 1.0 Gender Differences in Different Languages

Gendered Language Creates Social Issues

There are many studies that consider the issues of gender in languages. Most demonstrate an insidious bias caused by using words to define a person or thing as male or female. One significant issue of gendered language involves people who are transgender. Defining a person as male or female is offensive and harmful to a person whose physical form does not match her or his internal perception. It also creates undo awkwardness with people who are androgynous in physical appearance.

Gender is an unnecessary problem as there is almost never a need to establish masculinity or femininity using language. The reasons for using gender in writing and speech were attached to a patriarchal society where men were assumed to be dominant. Keeping gendered language is a failure to let go of the past and move forward.

Introducing ‘Hu’

I can’t change how people use language but I can experiment using a non-gendered pronoun in my writing. Because the he/she/him/her/his/hers pronoun is unnecessary, I am going to use the word ‘hu‘ for a non-gendered pronoun and ‘hu’s‘ as a non-gendered possessive pronoun.

Are we ready? We will never know unless we start somewhere. I’ll be interested in your reactions.

Time To Stop Changing Time? Why We Need Daylight Saving Time All Year


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Many people dislike the two days of the year we go to or revert from Daylight Saving Time (DST.) It requires changing the clocks and adjusting to the new rhythm of our activity related to the rise and set of the Sun. It is annoying and, as a species, annoyance is a prompt for finding a solution. Perhaps it is time to stop changing time.

A Problem of Degrees

We should recognize that the length of day is only an issue for those living between 30° and 70° latitude. The length of day within 30° of the equator doesn’t radically change from summer to winter. Above 70° latitude, the Sun sets for weeks or months during the winter and there are not many people living that close to the poles.

For those living between 30° and 70° latitude, there is an undeniable problem. Reno, Nevada, USA is at 39° north latitude. At the summer solstice, the day is almost 15 hours long and sunrise is at 5:30 am under Daylight Saving Time. If we did not have DST, the sun would rise at 4:30 am.

A Diurnal Vespertine-Adapted Species

In an agrarian economy, working in the field is easier during daylight hours. In that situation, time is relative to a solar schedule; however, in an interactive urban economy, working in shops and offices is more suitable for a common clock schedule.

After artificial electric light became the standard, and after the population moved into cities, we became a diurnal, vespertine-adapted species. Most of our country’s population works during the daylight hours and participates in non-work activities in the evenings. Today, most people are not active before six in the morning, but they remain active until 10 pm or later.

Sunrise before 6 am disturbs the typical sleep patterns of humans, and light later into the evening is more suitable for evening activities. Daylight Saving Time creates a favorable environment for a later sunrise and more sun in the evening. 

Daylight Saving Time Year Round

Standard Time was traditionally based on the position of the Sun at High Noon. That approximately divided the daylight into Morning and Afternoon. We no longer use High Noon as the foundation of Standard Time; however, it is an artifact of a primarily agrarian economy. Daylight Saving Time was used to adapt the clock to human behavior as we moved from the farms to more urban living.

Time is a human invention. It should serve the needs of humans. It would seem it is time to stop punishing humans with Standard Time and remain on Daylight Savings Time for the entire year.

Magnetic Pole Reversal: Will It Turn Our World Upside Down?


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The magnetic north and south poles are up to something. It looks like Earth’s magnetic poles are about to swap. It usually happens every 300,000 years or so but it’s been 780,000 years since it last happened. What does it mean for humans? Is this the end of human civilization?

Earth magnetic normal magnetic field (left) and during a swap (right)

Pole Reversal:  Another Y2K?

To answer this question let’s go back to 1984. That is the year that Jerome and Marilyn Murray published a book called Computers in Crisis, changed to The Year 2000 Computing Crisis in 1996. They laid out a problem of computer code that handled dates using only the last two digits of the year. The crisis was that at the moment the year 2000 began, they said all the computer networks around the world would crash. This was known as the Y2K problem.

The Y2K problem was a significant issue; however, because computer codes are constantly being changed, updated, and replaced, it probably would have been resolved without the hyper-scare stories in the media. Computer codes were changed and Y2K came and passed without incident.

That Y2K problem is a good comparison to the North/South magnetic pole reversal issue. There is a problem, but it is a problem that will unfold over hundreds to thousands of years. Most will not notice the effect in the next decade, but there is a significant change coming as soon as the next solar minimum.

Your Magnetic Field is Temporarily Out of Order

The problem is not about the reversal of the magnetic poles. The problem is about the process of the reversal. The magnetic field around Earth deflects cosmic and solar radiation from reaching Earth’s surface. Without this field (or shield) life, as we know it on Earth, would not be possible.

As the poles begin the process of swapping the magnetic field it becomes less organized. This results in the magnetic north and south pole fading and that causes cosmic radiation to come closer to Earth’s surface.

In addition, the magnetic field becomes weaker during solar sunspot minimums. This is when the Sun has few, if any, sunspots and generates less solar flares. This lull in solar activity approximately every eleven years is matched with a similar lull in the strength of Earth’s magnetic field.

Captain! Our Shields Are Down!

Scientists have discovered that the magnetic field is weakening much faster now than in the past. They believe the process of pole reversal, which is overdue by about 400,000 years, has now begun. We are also in the beginning stages of the solar minimum, which will result in an anemic magnetic field for the next two to three years.

Projections of the radiation dosage for this upcoming solar minimum were about 20% above the last solar minimum; however, actual rates are closer to 30% so far.  This is not a major concern, but it does mean that satellites may encounter more radiation that could damage or disable them. It also means that an astronaut only can spend about 700 days in space now than the 1,000 days they could spend in the 1990’s.

Oh Where, Oh Where Will Our North Pole Go?

The poles are on the move thanks to a liquid layer of iron in Earth’s Core.  Earth is already experiencing a strange phenomenon of magnetic weakening across the South Atlantic stretching from Africa to South America. Since we have not experienced this change before, no one can be absolutely sure what odd side effects may occur during the process; however, the only significant concern is increased radiation in Earth’s atmosphere and in orbit.

It’s important to remember that in geologic time frames we are the equivalent of lightning. As problems develop we’re pretty good at responding.

Three Myths That Gun Extremist Believe


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Gun Extremists have been fed a steady diet of misinformation by the NRA. Decades of crafting a lie have resulted in gun owners being one of the most misinformed groups in the history of the United States. When you talk with an NRA gun extremist you hear the following statements:

1.  Gun Extremist’s Myth versus FACT: 

The Second Amendment gives me a constitutional right to own an assault rifle and the government can’t take away my guns.

False. The Second Amendment begins with “A well regulated militia…” That is the focus of the amendment. Everything that is stated afterward is subject to the topic of a well regulated militia. Well regulated clearly means that the government is expected to regulate gun ownership. 

Guns are not trophies

2.  Gun Extremist’s Myth versus FACT: 

The Supreme Court ruled that the government can’t take our assault rifles away.

False. The Supreme Court ruled in The District of Columbia v. Heller that the government can’t ban handguns in the home, providing the person meets the qualifications required to own a gun. The Supreme Court specifically stated that more dangerous weapons could be banned from public use.

In fact, a ban on assault rifles existed from 1994 until 2004 when Congress failed to renew the ban. The ban was constitutionally legal.

3.  Gun Extremist’s Myth versus FACT:

I have a right to defend myself with a gun.

False. If you use a gun to injure or kill someone it must be proven that it was in defense. It is true, that in many states if someone enters your home it is considered allowable for a homeowner to shoot that person even if they are unarmed. The law does not give a person the right to be judge, jury, and executioner.

However, it is rare that a gun death is a legitimate ‘defensive’ act. In 2013, of 33,636 deaths due to “injury by firearms,” 21,175 (63%) were suicides and 11,208 (33%) were homicides, 505 (1.5%) were deaths due to accidental or negligent use of a gun. We are the most well-armed nation in the world and over 97% of all gun deaths were not because someone killed the bad guy.

Leadership Madness: Time To Check Trump’s Urine Color


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King George III was an odd man in his later years. Sometimes talking without stopping for hours. He had a vengeful hate for the United States and hoped to war with our country incessantly until our spirit was destroyed. King George had episodes of odd behavior and his urine was allegedly blue. He was the focus of the American colonies desire to gain independence, and he was considered ‘mad.’ Maybe it’s time to check Donald Trump’s urine.

Enablers Surround Donald Trump

Destroyer of Nations:  Diarrhea of a Leaders Thoughts

The final analysis of King George III’s reign is that he didn’t have the disease (porphyria) that turns urine purplish but rather had a bipolar disorder possibly caused by arsenic poison. His behavior towards the American colonies was a major factor in the cause of the American Revolution and his need to express himself verbally and in written words inflamed the situation.

A sentence containing 400 words and eight verbs was not unusual. George III, when ill, often repeated himself…

Historically, when a leader of a country becomes aggressive and vengeful, it often creates the devastation of that nation. Hitler, Mussolini, and even the Emperor of Japan took an aggressive stand that destroyed their countries. Aggressive and vengeful political leadership is a dangerous sign in for the well-being of its citizens.

Donald Trump is out of control, much like King George III. He is randomly lashing out and leaving his closest supporters desperately trying to explain his actions. We have never had a leader of the United States so out of balance in his words and deeds. He is a man who believes that he is unstoppable.

Leadership Madness:  Raiding the Vault In the Chaos

The problem is that the Republicans in Congress are using this as an opportunity to take outrageous steps motivated by greed and ideology. They have no motivation to intercede and bring back stability. Our government was designed to have checks and balances but we are in a situation where that concept has become impotent.

Civility is a delicate balance of a conscious effort by a society. When that balance is destroyed there is no easy way to restore it. It is a crime for which everyone is punished.

Trump’s Trade Deficit Talk Proves Lack of Knowledge


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Trade deficits are bad. Everyone knows a trade deficit is bad. So when a person goes to a store and buys a product they have a trade deficit with that store. That’s bad, correct? They have the product that has value but they don’t have the money. The person has less money and the store has more. That is a trade deficit. So why don’t we build, mine, and/or grow everything so we don’t have a trade deficit?

Tariffs and Trade Wars Kill an Economy

Kai Ryssdal of American Public Media’s (APM) Marketplace had Ryan Kailath explain this on Tuesday using a sandwich shop. The point he made with his report was that we don’t ‘lose’ money in a trade deficit. It’s a point that Mr. “Art of the Deal” Donald Trump should understand, but his words and actions indicate he that he doesn’t understand the basics of international trade.

Trade Deficit:  It’s Not Just About Jobs

Many people focus on jobs when discussing the trade deficit. When other countries make stuff that we buy they create jobs for people in their country. It’s easy to argue that when they have the jobs, we don’t. That’s not necessarily true, nor relevant.

We are the 362.874 kg gorilla in the room when it comes to buying goods. We don’t need menial jobs that pay low wages in this country. We have spent a lot of money to educate people so they don’t have to work menial jobs for low wages. We need jobs that challenge workers and the pay living wages.

Buying inexpensive materials and goods from other countries we put those types of jobs there and have the products to use and raw materials for final manufacturing at a lower cost than if we did the work in this country. We save money and resell those products at a profit, but lower cost.

We create jobs in the secondary outcome of trading with other countries. That system may create a trade deficit, but that is a good thing. Trade deficits mean that a country is saving money because let’s face it, why would a company pay for a product that they could build here for less cost?

Managing a Trade Deficit

Protectionists believe that the United States is the center of the universe. They want to create a trade war with other countries because they believe our country doesn’t need them. It is driven by a racist point of view. Protectionists believe that our economy would be perfect if we didn’t interact with any other country. It is a childish mentality that is fatal in an adult world.

A trade war using taxes and tariffs to prevent trade doesn’t create jobs in the United States. A trade war makes businesses import products at a higher cost and makes other countries angry. A trade war is akin to telling your local grocer that you are going to charge them to allow you to buy food.

Trump is about to ignite a fuse that will blow our country up. The “Art of the Deal” guy isn’t artistic, and he’s giving our country a bad deal.

Pence’s White Greed National Space Council


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Mike Pence, who is Donald Trump’s Number 1, but acts like he’s a Number 2, has recreated the National Space Council in his own image. The purpose of the group of is to channel taxpayers money out of government space program projects and give to the wealthy corporations. He seems blissfully unaware that the 29 member Council has the scientific qualifications, and diversity of race and political ideology of Republican fundraiser in Mississippi.

Pence’s Space Council of Non-Diversity

Mike Pence:  The No Science Guy

Pence, who has less charisma and intelligence than former VP Dan Quayle, has put together a Council of primarily investor-owned corporations. No current NASA staff is included, and the former NASA employees on the Council have been retired from the agency an average of over 19 years.

In order to make sure the Council does not get caught up in any science issues, Pence has added five people who were selected because of their politically conservative resume, but devoid of any scientific qualifications.

However, there is one science teacher on the Council. No one seems to know who she is or what her qualifications are, but she is a “Board Certified Science Teacher.” 

The National Space Kangaroo Council 

The qualifications and interests of the National Space Council members are as follows:

Current NASA Staff (0)

None included

Current FAA Staff (0)

None included

Former NASA Staff (7)

Buzz Aldrin, (Retired from NASA 46 years ago)

Walked on the Moon in 1969, retired from NASA 1971, retired from Air Force 1972, a proponent of space exploration, punched faked-Moon-landing-conspiracist Bart Sibrel in the face (Sibrel had it coming.)

Eileen Collins, (Retired from NASA 12 years ago in May)

Flew Space Shuttle four times, speaker at 2016 Republican National Convention

Homer Hickam, (Retired from NASA 20 years ago)

Former NASA engineer and author

Pam Melroy, (Retired from NASA 9 years ago)

Space Shuttle astronaut, former Lockheed Martin staff, former FAA staff, former DARPA staff.

Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, (Retired from NASA 42 years ago)

Apollo 17 Astronaut and former conservative U.S. Senator. Believes climate change is natural, not human-caused

David Wolf(Retired from NASA 5 years ago)

Space Shuttle astronaut and physician

Pete Worden(Retired from NASA 2 years ago)

Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director

Minor Space Background (1)

G.P. Bud Peterson, Served as a visiting research scientist for NASA during summers of 1981 and 1982. Chairperson of the National Science Council and President of the Georgia Institute of Technology

Private Corporations Seeking Taxpayer Money (15)

Conservatives Appointed For Their Political Ideology (No space industry qualifications) (5 + 2 Former NASA)

  • Dean Cheng, Political conservative working for the Heritage Foundation, a politically conservative organization
  • Eileen Collins, (See former NASA staff)
  • Steve Crisafulli, Former conservative politician, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
  • Newt Gingrich,  conservative politician and former Speaker of the House
  • Governor Kay Ivey, Conservative Governor of Alabama
  • Fred Klipsch, Conservative promoting the defunding of public schools, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education
  • Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, (See former NASA staff)

Unknown (1)

  • Pamela Vaughan, Science Teacher

Maybe we didn’t win the space race after all.

Breaking News: Trump Loses Control of Hotel in Panama


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For several weeks there has been a battle at Donald Trump’s vagina-shaped condo/hotel in Panama City, Panama. Trump employees have been attempting to keep control despite orders by the majority owner to leave. Today, ABC News has reported that the employees were met with Panamanian police and judges and peaceably removed. Almost immediately the ‘Trump’ name was removed from the exterior. This effectively ends Trump operations in the hotel/condos, though legal battles are expected to continue in both Panama and the United States.

Formerly the Trump Ocean Club Hotel in Panama City, Panama

Trump Team Poor Management Style

Orestes Fintiklis obtained a majority of the units in the hotel/condo last year and has claimed that the Trump organization has mismanaged the property. He has been attempting to end the contract with the management organization led by the Trump organization.

Trumped No More?

A recent attempt by Fintiklis to fire the Trump organization and remove the employees resulted in his removal; however, today he returned with the full force of Panamanian law and successfully ended the Trump occupation.

If the takeover is not struck down in court it will mark a vindication of Fintiklis and his claim of mismanagement. The Trump organization has apparently not disputed Fintiklis claim of mismanagement, but rather has attacked Fintiklis claiming that he agreed to the Trump management contract and its fees and he acted in bad faith.

Trumpless Ocean Club in Panama

Trump To Use Position To Retaliate?

There is now a growing question of whether Trump will use his power as President to retaliate on Panama for the support of Panamanian authorities in ousting his management team. That would be a clear violation of U.S. law; however, it a real concern about a man who has manipulated markets to benefit his allies as he did last week with an announcement of a new tariff on steel and aluminum.

Maybe North Korea can breathe easier now.

Could David Brooks Be Correct About Being Wrong?


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Damn him! Just when David Brooks seems to be defending a position on gun control that blames liberals for not being warm and fuzzy with gun extremists, he turns around and reconsiders his position. This is unacceptable! How can we establish a clear line in the sand when he says, “Maybe I’m wrong.” THE NERVE of that man!

David Brooks on Gun Control:  Let Red Be Red 

David Brooks has at least twice indicated that gun users should have a significant role in determining the parameters of gun ownership. Most recently he suggested that liberals should let the gun owners lead the discussion.

So if you want to stop school shootings it’s not enough to just vent and march. You have to let Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at every point. 

David Brooks – 19 February

His position was to let gun extremists continue to do what they’ve been doing and maybe…maybe, someday they will let common sense return. For me, that position is a nonstarter. I know these gun extremists. They are from small towns like where I grew up. For at least 40 years they’ve been on a steady diet of “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” (I saw that bumper sticker on a truck in the 1970’s.)

Gun extremists have not been rational for decades. The constant statements that “they’re coming to git your guns” is oxygen to gun extremists. These are not gun owners, they are gun cultists. They have no business being part of a discussion about guns, let alone lead it.

He Said What??

But last Thursday David Brooks took a different perspective on the issue. He said:

Continued school shootings could be just the thing that persuades the mainstream that conservatism is vulgar and socially illegitimate, somewhere between smoking and segregationism.

David Brooks – 1 March

This is an understatement. Slaughtering seven-year-old children with an assault rifle should never be compared to smoking or segregationism.

However, his realization is something that our country hasn’t heard from conservatives in a long time. It is not likely to be shared by many gun extremists, but if it were, we would have the assault weapon ban reinstated in a matter of days.

The rest of the country is watching the trainwreck of conservatism. The lead engineers of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnel, and Paul Ryan are putting more power to the engine even as it falls off the trestle. The Trumpsters onboard are laughing and whooping with joy.

Conservatives have used a desperate tactic of building a coalition with racists, religious extremists, gun extremists, and corrupt people of wealth. An idea is growing among people of common sense. The question is not just asking how do we stop the madness. The question is how do make sure it never happens again. The answer to that question should have Trumpsters soiling their underwear. There is a cost to arrogance, and arrogance is only temporary.

My Diagnosis of David Brooks

I believe I know why David Brooks is able to consider different points of view on issues as divisive as gun control. First, he was born in Canada. (I’ll take a moment while most of you slap your forehead and say, “Of course!”)

Second, I believe that David Brooks has used,…please, hear me out,…I believe he has used LSD at some point in his life. Recently I read about a study where subjects were tested after they were given LSD and the results indicated that they were more open-minded.

So, my theory is that the combination of being born in Canada and taking LSD at some point can cause a conservative to consider issues from multiple viewpoints. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that our country has many conservative Canadians who have taken LSD.

Nobody said this would be easy.

(NOTE:  David Brooks comments are published in the New York Times. Because this source uses a paywall to prevent sharing I have not linked to his full article per normal.)

Urban Coyotes


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I grew up in a small town in northwestern Colorado. It was in a rural area surrounded by sagebrush and dirt roads. As I grew up I heard coyotes often, but rarely did I see one. I knew what they looked like, but they had plenty of jackrabbits, bunnies (not the same thing,) and other small creatures as food outside of town. They didn’t need to come into town and it was a dangerous place to be with a gun rack in every truck. The idea of an urban coyote was contrary to common sense.

Coyote on our driveway last May

Urban Coyotes:  A Different Animal

For the last 23 years, I have lived in Reno, Nevada. Our house is two blocks from the University of Nevada. It is about a mile from the nearest open field and the slopes of Peavine Mountain. We have coyotes on our street on a regular basis. We live with a new type of coyote that is urbanized and we are in its hunting ground.

Until recently I didn’t understand that Reno is surrounded by packs of coyotes living off a human community. I knew pets often disappeared, blamed on a mysterious coyote, (NOTE:  The evidence contradicts this belief,) but I assumed it meant the pet had wandered too far out in an open field. My eyes were opened on the morning of 31 January 2018.

Coyotes Galore

Early that morning I went out to see the total lunar eclipse. At 4:30 am I drove to one of the highest subdivisions in Reno, built on the slope of Peavine Mountain. As the eclipse ended and Earth’s shadow left the Moon, the area exploded with coyote calls in every direction.

The volume of calls and the fact that they came from multiple directions forced me into a new realization. These were not a few random coyotes that wandered too close to town. These we part of the ecosystem of Reno. These are urban coyotes.

Last week this was concept was brought home to me, literally, when we had three sightings of a coyote in five days on our street. It is likely that we live in a corridor between the open space and a park that is overrun with squirrels. These are stupid squirrels, so I can understand the interest of the coyotes. I accidentally killed one with my bike a few years ago when it ran under me as I was riding down the pathway.

Human Attacks by Coyotes

Coyotes tend to avoid humans at all costs; however, under certain circumstances, coyotes will attack a small child. There have only been two recorded deaths by a coyote(s,) but in the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, there is an animal known as coywolf that some say is more aggressive and others say is timid like the coyote. 

What I find interesting is that coyote and coywolf behavior seems to be evolving in a relatively short period. Most coyotes hunt at night and can easily be chased away, which has kept them as a low threat to humans; however, as they become more adapted to human environments they may begin to lose some of their shyness.

Urban Coyotes Do’s and Don’ts


  • Be on the lookout for coyotes.
  • Yell at them and spook them away.
  • Keep a close eye on small children and pets, especially in unfenced areas.
  • Report any aggressive act by a coyote to the local wildlife authority.


  • Try to lure them to you.
  • Feed them, nor leave food out, nor allow a food source to be available.
  • Let dogs chase them. (coyotes have been known to lure dogs away.)
  • Let cats out at night.

Is There a Planet Nine or Not?


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Is there a Planet Nine in our solar system? After Pluto got kicked out of the planet club most of us woke up to the reality that there were only eight planets. There was no reason to believe that some mysterious Planet Nine out there that met the requirements of the club. We would have seen by now, correct?

Planet Nine and other orbits looking from above the solar ecliptic

Nothing New In Planet Discovery

All the planets except Uranus and Neptune were discovered by Babylonian astronomers, although the six innermost planets were most likely noted by humans before writing was invented. Uranus was discovered in 1781, and Neptune was found in 1846. Despite all the advances in telescopes and space exploration no other ‘planet’ has been discovered in our solar system. So, why would anyone think another planet might exist?

Odd Ducks Out There

If the Sun and the planets were formed from a disk of debris, then most objects would be aligned in that disk or solar ecliptic plane, or the plane that the major planets are on as they orbit the Sun. Collisions between asteroids can send them off in unusual orbits that don’t align with the solar ecliptic.

However, there are a group of objects beyond Neptune that have unusual orbits. These objects are called trans-Neptunian objects. These are on a different plane and defy easy explanation. In addition, the Sun itself is a bit odd in its rotation. The Sun seems to rotate slightly off the ecliptic plane that all the planets follow.

Doing the Math

Two astronomers, Chad Trujillo and Scott S. Sheppard, tackled the odd orbits of the trans-Neptunian objects and discovered that some of the orbits of the objects could be explained if there were a large planet farther out in the solar system. That didn’t sit well with other astronomers so they decided to prove them wrong.

Planet Nine’s likely orbit and the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects

Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown from CalTech decided to re-do the calculations of Trujillo and Shepard. They eliminated some of the objects studied because they might be influenced by Neptune’s gravity. That left six objects to study. To their surprise, they discovered that a planet ten times the size of Earth in an off-plane orbit much farther out than Neptune explained the orbits of the six objects to a 99% degree of certainty.

Is There a Ninth Planet?

Despite the mathematical support, there is no Planet Nine…yet. An analogy would be that if someone picked a date ten years in the future, say 3 March 2028, and was asked if that day would fall on a weekday. Without a calendar to look at it would be hard to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It is very likely, but it is not certain until there is proof.

We currently have no proof of another planet, and spotting Planet Nine will be difficult at best. It would be a relatively small target with almost no sunlight reflecting off of it. It couldn’t be seen with today’s telescopes in either the visible or infrared spectrums. Even if we could determine where it is in its orbit, it would take a probe as many as twenty years to get into the Planet Nine neighborhood.

So the answer remains ‘no.’ There is no Planet Nine…but stay tuned.

Trump’s Family: Keepers of the Big Liar


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Yesterday, (1 March 2018) I listened to a few minutes of On Point, hosted by Ray Suarez, discussing Jared Kushner’s security clearance downgrade. A caller had talked about the issue of having family members as a political adviser to the President. Suarez responded by defending Donald Trump’s use of family members into positions for which they lacked the qualifications.

All in the Family: Trump’s Lie Keepers

Suarez said that Trump needed loyal advisors and that Trump saw his family as loyal. It was the most absurd defense of Donald Trump I have heard from a normally reasonable person.

Trump Family Not the Royalty in USA

Presidential advisors are not dogs. They are responsible to the people of the United States of America. Feckless Trump is not the King of America and he is not allowed to use family members to keep his dark secrets. Trump is a servant of the public.

When did we forget this? When did the idea that political office is NOT to serve the people of the United States of America? Trump doesn’t get to keep secrets from the public and he isn’t allowed to use unqualified family members to keep his lies. Trump and his administration are accountable and answerable to us.

Media Accepting the Alt-Reality

There is a growing problem in the news media succumbing to the version of our country’s political dysfunction as normal and acceptable. Trump has demeaned the Office of President. The President is responsible for the welfare of our country and as President-elect he spurned security briefings that are part of being a well-informed leader. Even before taking the oath of office he refused his responsibilities and put our country at risk. This is a refusal to accept the responsibility required by the position.

Since he has taken office, Donald Trump has led our country farther away from who we are and it is unacceptable. Journalists should not be his accomplices. They shouldn’t be making up excuses for him that redefine the responsibilities of the Presidential administration.

Pigs In Space: Discrimination on the ISS


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For the last 17 years, the International Space Station (ISS) has been the great achievement of the United States, Russia, and other nations working together to maintain a human presence in space. People around the world can look up and see the shining star of the ISS crossing the evening or predawn sky. Yet, ISS has a dark shadow that NASA and the other nations involved don’t talk about publicly. Space has a glass ceiling.

International Space Station not above discrimination

Man Cave In Space

Women have spent less than ten percent of the cumulative days on the ISS since the first crew came on board in October of 2000. In over 17 years, only 12 women have served on an expedition crew. One woman, Sunita L. Williams, served twice, and one, Peggy A. Whitson, served three times.

As of today, (1 March 2018,) women have logged only 2,527 days on the International Space Station compared to 23,493 days served by men. Most of those women have been from the United States with only two women serving from other countries. The problem of discrimination against women is bigger with Russia, as cosmonauts have spent the most time on ISS (47% Russia versus 40% USA) but only have allowed one woman to be part of the crew.

The irony is that women make up 63% of the population of Russia and yet women have had less than 7% of the days served on ISS compared to their male counterparts. The United States has also failed to utilize women as crew members, but at least in the case of the U.S., women have been 21% of the Expedition crew.

Discrimination Station

Jeanette Epps barred from ISS

The problem with the crew discrimination goes beyond gender. ISS has yet to have an African American crew member. Last year NASA announced that Dr. Jeanette Epps would be the first African American crew member before Donald Trump was sworn into office. This January NASA rescinded that decision without explanation. They replaced her with another woman, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who was scheduled to fly in November.

Epps has been completely removed from the ISS crew rotation even though NASA claims she is still under consideration. It has been confirmed that she was not ill, nor were family issues a reason for removal. NASA has not explained whether Trump’s administration was involved in the decision, nor whether Russia has demanded that the African American woman be barred from serving as a crew member.

However, it is clear that women and minorities are shockingly underrepresented on the space station. The unexplained removal of the first African American crewmember, who also is a woman, reflects a continuation of the ongoing discriminatory behavior of the program.

Gender-Based Crew Selection

NASA has demonstrated that it has a plan for the crew assignment based on gender assignment. Jeannette Epps has a Ph.D in engineering. She was replaced by Serena Auñón-Chancellor who is a physician. Dr. Aunon-Chancellor was pulled off an ISS Expedition scheduled to begin in November 2018, and she was replaced by Anne  McClain who is a West Point graduate, Major in the Army, and a pilot with Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering and International Relations.

It is obvious that these three women were not shuffled around on the basis of skills, education, nor experience. Epps, and Dr. Aunon-Chancellor were selected to be an astronaut in 2009. McClain was selected in 2013, and completed her training in 2015. None of them have been in space. The only rational explanation is that NASA was replacing a woman with another woman. NASA’s 90% male to 10% female crew assignment is intentional.

Five Versus One

Another issue is the male dominated crew Expeditions. Typically only one woman is assigned to be with five men for six months on ISS. Only twice have two women served at the same time on ISS. For three months in 2010, and three and a half months in 2014-5, two women were on board at the same time. For the rest of the 200 months of occupation, ISS has either had an all-male crew, or only one woman on board.

Lack of Qualified People?

Is it possible that NASA can’t find enough qualified women or minorities? The number of people who dream to be an astronaut may have diminished since Apollo, but the dream hasn’t died.

When less than ten percent of the ISS crew time is served by women, and no African Americans have served in over 17 years of operation it’s clear there is a problem. ISS shouldn’t be the icon of white male discrimination.

SpaceX 2018 Launch Schedule Is PR Gold or PR Nightmare


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SpaceX is dependent on its reputation of success and reliability. There is no room in SpaceX’s 2018 launch schedule for major failures. The successful launch of the Falcon Heavy with a Tesla Roadster as the payload has repaired the long delays of the program, but in the business of space, you’re only as good as your last mission.

SpaceX’s Starman in Earth orbit

SpaceX’s reputation will be determined by the successful implementation of three critical elements of their program. Failure of any of the three elements and SpaceX could be facing a public relations (PR) nightmare; however, success will prove Elon Musk’s lofty visions for the company might be more than just talk.

SpaceX Must Do No. 1 – Consistency in Payload Delivery

The Falcon 9 program has moved out of the novice phase and into the professional phase. The question remains as to whether or not SpaceX can consistently put payloads into orbit.

Landing the booster after these launches dazzles the public, but has no impact on the effectiveness or cost efficiency of the program. Most of the boosters are the previous Block 3 or 4 versions and will not be reused. There is an issue with the booster landings. How long will paying customers accept SpaceX’s waste of resources on the ‘reusable’ PR parlor trick?

The other issue cropping up is the reliability of the fairing on the nose of the rocket. There are persistent issues with the fairing and while SpaceX absolved themselves of the loss of the super secret Zuma satellite, questions still remain as to the role of the fairing release after launch. 

SpaceX Must Do No. 2 – Prove Falcon Heavy is Reliable

The inaugural launch of the Falcon Heavy was a spectacular success for SpaceX. The PR kudos continue to pour in with every new sighting by astronomers as the alternate human, Starman, drives his Tesla out further in the solar system.

All that could be lost if the next two 2018 scheduled launches of the Falcon Heavy experience problems. Failed launches of the Heavy would erase much of the PR boost of the first launch and call back into question the wisdom of a 27-engine booster. SpaceX has to duplicate the home run first launch at least twice more before customers will feel warm and fuzzy about the Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX Must Do No. 3 – Success of the F9 Block 5 Version 

Block 5 is the final version of the Falcon 9 booster and it goes into service in 2018. It is the booster that will be rated for human spaceflight and much of SpaceX’s future as a commercial space program depends on proving it answers all the concerns of the four previous versions.

NASA is requiring seven successful booster flights of the Block 5 version of Falcon 9 before it will be rated for humans. That means SpaceX has to successfully launch the same version of the booster, without significant redesigns, seven times.

SpaceX has scheduled the maiden and second flight of the Block 5 version for April. It then has to fit five more successful flights between May and November. Once achieved, SpaceX can be approved to send astronauts up on the Block 5 booster in December of this year.

2018 A Year of Glory or Humiliation

Elon Musk has a reputation for promising more than he can deliver. He is a master of overconfidence but now results matter. He knows how to carefully craft a situation to amaze the public.

The Falcon Heavy launch was one of those moments. When they see the video of Starman orbiting Earth in a shiny red Tesla with the top down, people don’t remember that the Falcon Heavy was supposed to be ready in 2013. When they see the first stage of a rocket magically land on the pad, people don’t care that the booster was never going to be reused again.

2018 isn’t going to be a time when showmanship is going to cover up glaring issues. If there are problems meeting this year’s critical goals, people will see the man behind the curtain.

However, if SpaceX manages to achieve these milestones with minimal problems, SpaceX will be the shining star of space exploration.

My Imaginary Interview with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal


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Me:  He’s a man who is all business when it comes to business. Kai Ryssdal is the voice of Marketplace, and for the unenlightened, it is a half-hour business news radio show produced and distributed by American Public Media on public radio stations five days a week all over this country. He has been in his current role for 13 years. A graduate of Emery University, then eight years in the Navy, a Navy pilot, worked in the Pentagon, MA from Georgetown, U.S. Foreign Service in Canada and China, even a stint with California Public Radio…tell me, sir, you are a Renaissance Man are you not?

Radio host Kai Ryssdal

Kai Ryssdal: Host of Marketplace

Kai:  I’ve done some things, but I’m not sure what the test is for qualifying as a Renaissance Man.

Me:  Fair enough. Since you’ve been in the big chair at Marketplace the show has won some awards. Edward R. Murrow Prize, an Emmy, awards from radio news directors, and some 12 million listeners. What defines the success of your show?

Kai:  What defines the success of the show?

Me:  When people say Marketplace is a great show because….

Kai:  What we do, or at least is our goal, is to make the issue understandable. If we can’t get someone in her or his car listening to our show to have an a-ha moment on the topic we are discussing, we’ve missed the mark.

Me:  You’ve said the term ‘Marketplacey’ in other interviews. You’ve described it, I believe, as a type of rhythm, a style that is unique that defines the show. Why does it work?

Kai:  I’m not sure I can answer that question. I can tell you that I think it is a style that expresses a serious, but relaxed treatment of the subject matter. It’s not too formal, nor too casual. We try to keep out the political agenda and focus on what is the structure of the problem.

Me:  Might some say you trim down the problem too much? Interviews on Marketplace tend to be short and include the view of only one person, correct?

Kai:  We try to do a mix of viewpoints, but we don’t try to do the point/counterpoint interviews. We try to break issues down into small components and cover them in several segments.

Me:  Is it investigative reporting?

Kai:  Not in the sense that we are digging up a secret and exposing it to the world. Our mission is more to educate and illuminate, not uncover.

Me:  But doesn’t that mean you control the process?

Kai:  I’m not sure I understand your point.

Me:  Do you decide what people learn about an issue? Do you shape the issue for the listener?

Kai:  Not with a nefarious intent, but we do clear away the clutter of the issue so a person with little or no experience in the subject can understand the details of the problem.

Me:  Okay, we’ll have to leave this here. Kai, thank you for your time.

Kai:  Thank you.

Hiding Journalists Behind the Paywall


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Several news organizations have blocked their website content behind paywalls. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post are noteworthy examples. Paywalls are an attempt to force the reader to pay a subscription to access the news articles of the day. The question is what kind of a journalist wants her or his work held captive from the public?

Paywall News Organizations: The Road to Irrelevance

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, and Irrelevant

The thinking of these organizations is that the value of the content behind the paywall will create a desire for the reader to open a wallet and pay them money. The problem with that theory is that information is not ‘owned’ by a news organization, it is only packaged. News is what happens in the world and is reported in the raw on Twitter, Facebook, and all the other free sources on the Internet.

What investor-owned news media attempts to do is make the reader pay for their packaging of the news, not the product itself, and in an age of the Internet, someone else can offer the same product in a different package for free. 

For the writer or journalist that creates the packaging of the news, it means that the public can’t see her or his work…ever. If people can’t see your work, you become irrelevant. The best writer in the world risks becoming invisible when all his or her creative efforts are on a pay-to-read basis.

Even those who are willing to pay for the subscription can’t share an article with others when it is behind a paywall. The benefit of readers discussing a journalist’s work is limited to the subset of those who pay-to-read and in a ‘Share’ world, that is a critical shortfall.

Paying Journalists For Their Work Myth

The organizations that inflict a paywall on the reader and the journalists defend the decision by saying:

Someone has to pay for quality journalism!

But that is a lie. The truth is closer to the statement:

Our investors have to suck as much money out of the work of the journalists!

Note the list of news organizations and, according to Forbes magazine, who owns (as of June 2016) the controlling stake in them.

Behind Hard Paywall (all articles pay-to-read)

  • Wall Street Journal – Billionaires Rupert Murdoch and Lachian Murdoch
  • The Washington Post – Billionaire Jeff Bezos

Behind Soft Paywall (limited free views)

  • New York Times – Billionaire Carlos Slim Helu
  • Wired – Billionaire Donald Newhouse
  • The New Yorker– Billionaire Donald Newhouse

No Paywall

  • Bloomberg Businessweek – Billionaire Michael Bloomberg

The people who control these news organizations don’t need to find new ways to pay journalists. They are just using journalists for greed.

News As Entertainment

Journalism is a philanthropic duty. It is not created to generate profit for investors, it is created to provide information to citizens. The transition from journalism to entertainment is strictly about greed.

Few great journalists become wealthy, but great journalists become the keystone to a great society. The fall of our country can be traced, at least in part, to the fall of journalism. If journalism is about making money then journalists are just prostitutes of news.

Trumpster ‘Hillary’ Excuse Proves Russian Influence


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Evidence of the Russian influence on the outcome of the Presidential election is readily available. People who voted for Trump make it obvious that they voted based on fake and false information, and even today they maintain the same belief in the misinformation put out by the Putin Troll Farm.

Here’s the statement I see social media from people who voted for Donald Trump:

When are liberals going to understand that we weren’t voting ‘for’ Trump, as much as we were voting ‘against’ Hillary Clinton.

On Quora by Jason Whitehurst (original question 25 AUG 2017)

Russian Influence For a Feckless Man

The statement itself is lacking in logic. It is akin to saying, “I didn’t want to eat dog poop as much as I wanted to avoid eating broccoli.” The person who makes the excuse that his or her vote for a feckless man like Trump was forced by his or her aversion to Clinton is either stupid, a liar, or under the influence of Vladimir Putin.

Fake News of Russian Trolls

‘Crooked Hillary’ is a common term by Trumpsters, but what is it based on? 

Congressional Investigations

Clinton was investigated by bloodthirsty Republicans in Congress EIGHT times regarding the Benghazi attacks, the security beforehand, and the response afterward. The results? She did nothing intentionally wrong, and they could find no charge to file against her.

That is not the story promoted by the Russian trolls.

FBI Investigation-Private Email Server

The FBI began two investigations associated with Hillary Clinton in 2015. The first investigation was regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server. Also in 2015, the FBI began an investigation into donations made to The Clinton Foundation. The investigations coincided with the Democratic Primary campaign season.

The email server investigation was closed on 6 July 2016 by the Justice Department after FBI Director James Comey delivered a fiery news conference the day before. Comey admitted the FBI could find no intentional wrong-doing, but took the opportunity to scold the former Secretary of State for not following suggested protocol by using a private email server.

James Comey: Supported Russian Fake News

Less than a week before the election and after early voting had already begun, Comey made a sudden announcement that new evidence had been found in the email server case. The announcement by the FBI just prior to the election had the effect of a declaration of guilt by the FBI Director. Two days after the election, Comey announced that nothing found in the new evidence would change the decision to close the case.

FBI Investigation-The Clinton Foundation

There have been multiple accusations of people and countries ‘buying influence’ by making donations to The Clinton Foundation. The implication is that someone who knows almost every significant political and powerful person in the world might use a gift to her charitable foundation as a bribe to do special favors for that person.

To date, no charges have been filed even though the Trump administration has worked hard to use the investigation to throw off media attention on probes into Russian influence on his campaign and administration. One source close to the investigation said:

It was never a great case, but it’s still being worked…

What We Have Here is a Failure of Evidence

What is consistent in all of the accusations is that none of them are based on evidence, nor on truth. Regardless of what anyone believes about Hillary Clinton, there is nothing that supports any evidence of wrongdoing, and it is not for a lack of investigating. In 2015, it was reported that over $7 million dollars had been spent on the Benghazi investigations. Add to that all the FBI work, Department of Justice work, and other investigations, the cost of the fruitless chase of fake accusations is likely over $20 million. 

Republicans have now opened additional investigations including an investigation of the investigators as to why the FBI couldn’t prove the fake charges against Clinton.

Still, Russian trolls gave a different version of the outcome.

Under Russian Influence?

In comparison to Clinton, Trump was guilty of real character issues before, during, and after the elections. Based on a summary by The Atlantic, voters knew:

Sexual-Assault Allegations

Based on a summary of sexual allegations compiled on Wikipedia, Donald Trump has had three cases filed in court, New York Times story interviewing 50 women revealing unwelcome sexual attention from Trump, and 13 accusations of unwanted sexual contact.

Donald Trump has denied all of the accusations, entered into a paid agreement of silence with some women, and accused all of the women of being liars.

VP Mike Pence: “I’m with Comrade Trump”

The Beauty Pageant Scandals 

Donald Trump has been accused of using his authority as the sponsor to make an unannounced entrance into women and girls dressing rooms during beauty pageants. Wikipedia compiled this list:

Allegations of pageant dressing room visits:

  1.  Miss Teen USA contestants
  2.  Bridget Sullivan (2000)
  3.  Tasha Dixon (2001)
  4.  Unnamed contestants (2001)
  5.  Samantha Holvey (2006)

Trump University

Trump announced that he would never settle the lawsuits against Trump University, then paid $25 million to settle under a condition he didn’t have to admit wrongdoing. Trump University was closed in 2010.

Trump Institute

Like Trump University, the Trump Institute was largely a fraudulent scheme with video of Trump making promises about the quality of the program and that he handpicked the instructors. In the end, he had only sold his name to the program, offered the recorded video, and the curriculum was plagiarized from other textbooks.

Tenant Intimidation

Trump bought a building with the intention of tearing it down and building luxury condos. From 1982 to 1986 he attempted to squeeze the existing, rent-controlled tenants out using hardcore tactics. He turned off the hot water and the building’s heat, he refused to make required repairs, and he threatened to fill the vacant apartments with homeless people. He finally lost the battle.

The Undocumented Polish Workers

Trump-run operations do not demonstrate ethical management. Despite being tough on immigration as President, Trump managers have employed undocumented employees. In 1980, they hired 200 polish immigrants to demolish an existing property. The workers were paid substandard pay, and at times, not paid at all. They were threatened with deportation if they complained about the back pay.

Undocumented Models

Former models hired by Trump have said they did not have the required documentation when employed by his organization.

Antitrust Violations

In 1986, Trump attempted a hostile takeover of two gaming companies. He violated anti-trust laws and was fined $750,000 for failure to report his purchase of the stock in those companies as legally required.

The Four Bankruptcies

Trump-run companies have declared bankruptcies four times (1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009.) Trump suggests that it is just part of doing business, but it reflects a consistent issue with his financial management ability.

Refusing to Pay Workers and Contractors

Trump has hundreds of complaints against him for failure to pay for services rendered. Trump has offered excuses, but the volume of the complaints indicate a consistent problem and a lack of financial ethics in business.

Suing Journalist Tim O’Brien for Libel 

Trump had a libel $5 billion lawsuit tossed out regarding a Tim O’Brien book that stated that Trump was worth far less than he claimed. The Washington Post reviewed Trump’s deposition in the suit and determined that Trump lied 30 times under oath.

Refusal to Release Tax Information

Despite it being an informal requirement of every Presidential candidate, Trump has refused to release any of his tax returns. This is likely because his tax returns will confirm the book by Tim O’Brien that states that Trump is not worth what he claims.

Racial Housing Discrimination

In 1973, Donald Trump and his father were sued by the Department of Justice of multiple instances of racial discrimination. The Trumps countersued but settled out of court without admitting guilt.

The Trump Foundation

The Trump Foundation has violated rules on self-dealing. The Foundation is still under investigation and has been told to stop illegally accepting donations.

The Inauguration Fiasco

Trump’s Inauguration Committee received more money than was needed and said it would donate the extra money, and then didn’t do it.

Condo Hotel Shenanigans

Trump has been involved in multiple condo schemes that have failed or been fraudulent. In one case, his partners had a criminal past history. In each case, Trump has claimed limited involvement in the deals and has avoided admitting wrongdoing.

The Cuban Embargo

Despite laws against it, the Trump organization has been involved in commercial activity with Cuba since 1998. The involvement is still under investigation but appears to be illegal.

Breaking Casino Rules

Trump has been in trouble with gaming authorities and has been able to avoid any admittance of wrongdoing. He is no longer in the gaming business.

Buying Up His Own Books

During the campaign, Trump used donor money to buy his books. This illegally allowed money from the campaign to end up in Trump’s bank account and made his book sales look larger than they really were.

Mafia Ties

Multiple situations of Trump interactions with Mafia. No direct connection with Trump, but has been required to testify in court regarding the relationships.

Collusion With Russia

This Seattle Times article details twelve things we know about Russian involvement with the 2016 election and connections between Trump aides and Russian agents. It offers a clear connection between Trump and the Russian effort to influence the outcome.

The question is if it was successful. Based on the fake accusations made against Hillary Clinton and the known character issues of Donald Trump it is clear that those who voted for Trump to prevent Clinton from winning were influenced and continue to be influenced.

Or they are just stupid.

Five ‘Facts’ About the Equinox?


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At 9:15 am PDT on the 20th of March, we will reach the Spring Equinox, or more correctly, the Vernal Equinox. People in the northern hemisphere refer to this as the beginning of Spring. It is also referred to as:

  1. the date when day and night are equal
  2. the date when the Sun shines on both the North Pole and the South Pole
  3. the date when the Sun rises exactly East and sets exactly West at every location on the Earth
  4. the date you can balance an egg on its end
  5. the date you won’t cast a shadow.

Two of these ‘facts’ are false, one is “well, sort of,” fact, one is “mostly true,” and one is true.

Timelapse From Space:  Seasonal Progression of Sunlight on Earth

The Date of Equal Day and Night?

Nope. While the length of day and night are almost equal on the day of the Vernal Equinox, it’s not actually true unless you’re closer to the North or South Pole. At the poles and the farther away from the poles, the less this is true.

For example, in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, in the Arctic Circle, in 2018 the date that comes closest to being equal in day and night hours is the 19th of March (day = 11:58:51 hours long.) In Reno, Nevada, USA, the date day and night are almost equal  is the 16th of March (day = 11:59:28 hours long.) In Sydney, Austrailia that date is the 24th of March (day = 12:00:38 hours long.) In Bogata, Columbia it was the 21st of February (day = 11:59:59 hours long.) 

The Date the Sun Shines on Both Poles?

Yes, and on the North Pole, it spirals up from the horizon, around the viewer until the Summer Solstice when it begins to spiral downward, setting after the Autumnal Equinox in the Fall. The same is true for the South Pole, only the Sun rises at the Autumnal Equinox and sets after the Vernal Equinox.

South Pole sunrise

Sunrise on the South Pole

The Date the Sun Rises Dead East and Sets Dead West?

Mostly true. Its explanation makes my head hurt, but I’ve been able to use pencils on a globe on its axis with a single light source to prove it to myself. You can read multiple descriptions on the Internet but have pain reliever at the ready.

However, there’s a catch. The viewer has to have an unobstructed view of the horizon and be near or at sea level. The Sun’s trajectory is at an angle compared to the horizon and if the view of the true horizon is blocked the Sun will appear to rise or set at a location that is off from true East or West.  

The Date You Can Balance an Egg On Its End?

Long proven to be false…and stupid at the same time.

The Date of No Shadows?

Sort of true, but only if you’re on the equator at exactly high noon. Not many people want to do that…it’s hot at the equator. Who wants to stand out in the Sun at noon just to NOT see your shadow? Besides, the people who might want to do that are still trying to balance an egg on its end.

David Brooks is Wrong Again on Guns


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David Brooks is an intelligent and reasonable man…most of the time. For some reason, he is completely wrong again on gun control. Once again he has insisted that people of common sense should roll over and let gun extremists take the lead on the gun control debate. WE ARE EXACTLY WHERE WE ARE TODAY BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN NOT ONLY LEADING THE DEBATE, THEY HAVE BEEN TAKING THE DEBATE AWAY FROM INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.

Wayne LaPierre:  This is who has been leading the gun debate…and all the Trumpsters agree with him. We don’t have to respect that.

Can’t Compromise With Stupid

Most things are shades of grey. There are no quick and easy answers and some type of compromise is necessary. Trumpsters have changed that. Trumpsters are so far in the wrong that it is no longer an issue of coming to a compromise with them. The good citizens of this country have been driven back into a corner on major issues that are the foundation of our country and we are tired of being told that the corner is the only place to be.

Gun Control Debate Out of Control

Gun control is an issue that gun extremists have said so many stupid things for decades, that now they expect the rest of the country to just accept their stupidity.

NO! When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns? It was a stupid phrase fifty years ago, and it still is stupid today. Criminals have less opportunity to commit crimes when they don’t have easy access to guns. Gangs can’t commit as many drive-by shootings when they don’t have easy access to guns. Most guns are not used for crime, but rather, they are used to commit suicide. 

To be honest, if someone wants to take a chance that some family member will become upset and kill themselves, they can have a gun in the home. The moment you carry that gun out of the home is when it becomes my business. Weaponizing society gets people killed and that is not acceptable.

What Must Be Done

If you own a gun, fine. You are responsible for anyone that is harmed or killed by that gun. You should be required to carry the same liability insurance on that gun that is required on an automobile if it is involved in an accident and someone is harmed or killed.

And yes, you must license it, pay a yearly tax, and be limited to the number of guns and ammunition you own.

NO! The Second Amendment, nor the Supreme Court says that you can have any kind of gun you want and you don’t have to register them. In fact, they say the opposite. Gun extremists are wrong on the issue and you can’t let someone who is wrong lead the debate. It’s just stupid.