Trump’s Tariffs Are For Putin

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Everyday Donald Trump proves his actions are guided by, or primarily for, Vladimir Putin. Anyone asking why is Trump pushing for tariffs on steel and aluminum against China should really be asking, “What’s in it for Putin?”

Vladimir Putin’s Trump Card

It should be noted that Vladimir Putin’s motivations are better understood if a person understands his background.

Vladimir Putin:  A Soviet KGB Agent With A Grudge

Space Race

The USSR launched Sputnik 1 three days before Putin’s fifth birthday. He was six when Luna 1 became the first human object to leave Earth’s orbit. On his seventh birthday, Luna 3 transmitted the first images that human’s had ever seen of the far side of the Moon. He was almost eight when the Soviets put the first animals into space and safely returned them on Korabl-Sputnik 2 (known as Sputnik 5 in the USA.) He was eight when the Soviets sent Venera 1 to Venus followed by the first man in space on Vostok 1, followed by the first human to spend over 24 hours in space on Vostok 2.

From age nine to age fifteen, Putin saw his country continue to beat that United States in space with the following achievements:  [Source:  Wikipedia]

USSR Space Race Achievements

It was the Golden Age of the USSR.

When Putin turned sixteen his country’s leadership in space was suddenly lost to the United States. The world cheered as Apollo 8 took the first men around the Moon in December of 1968. Then the world held it’s breath as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon in July of 1969. Everything Putin’s country had accomplished in space exploration in a decade was eclipsed by the United States of America in less than a year.

Vladimir Putin’s 1975 Thesis

Vladimir Putin studied law in college, but his thesis was focused on economics. The title of his thesis was, “The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law.” In his thesis, Putin clearly establishes the importance of USSR’s raw materials:

Mineral and raw materials represent the most important potential for the economic development of the country.

Translated from Vladimir Putin’s 1975 Thesis

He noted the need for Soviet extraction industries to compete with the Western world:

…which could compete as equals with the transnational corporations of the West.

Translated from Vladimir Putin’s 1975 Thesis

And the need for the government to do everything necessary to help the extraction industries compete:

…the state must assist the development of processing industries based upon the extraction industries in every way.

Translated from Vladimir Putin’s 1975 Thesis

Putin knew in 1975 the critical role the Soviet natural resources would play in the advancement of the USSR. The world trade of raw material is central to Putin’s plan for his country.

KGB For Life

Vladimir Putin KGB

Putin:  KGB for Life

Immediately after he graduated, Putin joined the KGB. He was taught German and his cover was to be an interpreter. Putin had a front row seat to the fall of Communism from his station in East Germany. For the second time in his life, he watched his country be humiliated while the West celebrated.

He continued to work as a KGB agent after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He moved back to Russian and joined the University he graduated from to scout for new KGB recruits. While he claims to have resigned his position in the KGB, he has never done anything in his life that hasn’t been directed in some way to defeating his enemies. Putin is not a politician, he is a tactician.

Trump’s Tariff Fixation

It is clear that Donald Trump is under the influence of Vladimir Putin. Putin groomed Trump for decades and now it’s paying off. Russia cannot compete with its raw materials in the world market unless something drastic happens, such as a major trade war. Trump’s behavior on tariffs is leading to exactly what Putin desires. 

For Putin, it’s a perfectly staged economic and political win for Russia. It advances the sale of Russia raw materials and humiliates his arch enemy, the United States. It is payback for the space race and the fall of the USSR. All thanks to Donald Trump. 

Saturn V’s F-1 Engine: The Monster That Made USSR Cry

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When Vladimir Putin was a young man he was witness to his country’s space program being eclipsed by the United States. There are many reasons that the United States won the space race with the USSR, but Rocketdyne’s Saturn V F-1 engine was the element that the Soviet space program couldn’t replicate. It was a rocket engine that has no practical use for piddling around in Earth orbit. The F-1 is the top shelf engine of space exploration.

Apollo Saturn V

The massive F-1 engines of the Apollo Saturn V first stage booster.

Who Are Those Guys?

If there was a moment when the Soviet engineers said in wonder, “Who are those guys?,” it was when they saw the first massive Saturn V blast off using only five engines. They were working on a heavy-lift rocket that used 30 rocket engines in the booster phase. The idea that a Moon rocket could be designed using only five engines was laughable.

The USSR attempted four launches with their version of the Saturn V rocket called the N1 rocket. All four attempts failed. The Saturn V rocket had 13 successful launches in 13 attempts. One rocket (unmanned Apollo 6) had vibration issues and failed to make the desired orbit, but the launch was successful. NASA and its contractors crushed the Soviet Moon rocket in performance and reliability.

Comparing Watermelons To Sour Grapes

The Soviet N1 Moon rocket used the NK-15 engines on the first, or booster stage. Compared to the Apollo Saturn V F-1 engines, the USSR effort was similar to strapping a bunch of bottle rockets together to lift a person off the ground.

Each of the 30 NK-15 engines could lift about 1,500 kilonewtons or kN (1 kilonewton equals 224.81 pounds of force) compared to a single F-1 engine thrust of 7,000 kN. The total thrust of the first stage of the Soviet N1 Moon rocket was 45,400 kN, which was significantly greater than the Saturn V’s booster thrust of 35,100 kN and the N1 Moon rocket was 215,000 kg (480,000 lbs.) lighter.

USSR N1 Moon Rocket

The USSR 30 NK-15 engine design

However, the N1 required four stages compared to the Saturn V’s three-stage rocket, and the N1 booster stage could only burn for 125 seconds, while’s United States booster stage burned for 168 seconds. The big difference was the size of payload that the Saturn V could deliver to the Moon. USSR’s N1 could only put a 23,500 kg payload (51,800 lbs.) out of Earth orbit to the Moon, while the Saturn V could send a 48,600 kg (107,100 lbs.) payload.

The Rocketdyne F-1 engine was responsible for powering everything needed for a Moon landing and safe return off the surface of the Earth and it did it better than any other rocket engine in the history of space exploration.

GOP Disease: Say It, Then Apologize

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Republicans have a consistent problem. They first say what they are thinking…and then they apologize for it. It’s the GOP disease. In incident after incident a Republican office holder, or a Republican candidate will say something that is completely inappropriate and then smirk. They are proud of it. Then when it becomes national news, they suddenly grow a conscience and apologize for the remark…some of the time.

Former CIA Turned GOP Candidate Jokes About Killing Opponent 

The most recent incident to make national news is when a Republican candidate for Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Carl B. Nett, office suggested in a tweet that he could use an anti-NRA pin for a target if his opponent would move the pin closer to the center of his body.

The tweet itself is disturbing. What is more disturbing is that Nett is a former CIA and Secret Service agent. He was one of the people that our country entrusted with the use of deadly force because he supposedly was trained to control his impulses. As a former agent, the expectation is that he knows that killing someone is not a joking matter.

Nett has caused the world to question the training and discipline of our country’s CIA and Secret Service agents. He has made all of them look like cowboys out for a party with little or no self-control.

Trump As A Model

Donald Trump has been the model for Republicans in breaching intellectual and civil boundaries of behavior with his practice of saying anything that comes to his mind. Trump reveals his inner thoughts and expresses them in a diarrhea-type flow of violent, subhuman, and racist comments.

Unfortunately, Trumpsters love Trump because he says what they are thinking. That, in itself, is also disturbing.

Qualifications To Be a Public Servant

When someone says what they think, that is honesty. Honesty is good; however, when honesty reveals that the person is of a vile nature, they are not qualified to be a citizen of this country, let alone elected to public office. An apology is not the measure of a person. The person is measured by hu’s* actions.

Nett’s apology was a self-serving statement that he’s just a normal human:

Nett is not a normal human. Hu is representative of the nature and character of the Republican party. Hu’s values are Putin-like values that belong to a society of corruption and terror. We don’t need the excuses of people who can’t respect the ideals our country. We need people of character. Republicans are not those people. Carl B. Nett is a case in point.

[*Hu’s: a gender-neutral pronoun for his/her. Hu: a gender-neutral pronoun for he/she.]

100 Consecutive Days of Writing

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On 13 December 2017, I published an article titled, “Send Our Trash Into Space.” That began a streak of 100 consecutive days of posting an article. I had no grand plan to start publishing daily, but after a week it became addictive. I decided to go for two weeks, then a month. Now it’s been over three months, and I’ve discovered something about writing every day. It’s about me.

Personal View Writing is Historical, Not Instant Analysis

Writing on a frequent basis is not great for the reader. There is a saturation point at which I passed a long time ago. To keep someone’s attention over the long-term usually requires a mystery, sensationalism, a serial-type plot, or some other device to capture a reader’s mind. I write in an episodic style that is observational. My readership numbers ebb and flow depending on the topic, but I’m not writing to attract an audience.

Our world has become obsessed with instant analysis, interview the person on the street, report the story before we have the facts, and/or assess the pulse of our society based on what is trending on social media. That is not necessarily bad, but it is not news. That is ‘entertainment.’ Its focus is attracting a bigger audience.

News organizations have always fought for market share, but in the days of Watergate and before, journalistic integrity was the foundation and audience size was secondary. Now all the media organizations are investor-owned and viewer/listener/reader body count is the center of the news world. When the goal of ‘news’ media is based on the size of the audience, the focus turns to the most outrageous, most shocking, most disgusting stories.

We have made the news into a for-profit business, and that means its primary focus is to entertain, not report. What is needed is an alternate view that is not about trying to entertain to attract an audience. The perspective of the individual writer, devoid of concerns of the accountants, is the last remnant of what was called journalism.

Witness To a Calamity

I am convinced we are in a time of crisis. We are the frogs in the pot that the heat has been slowly turned up to a boil. Many are in a state of denial, but no one can deny that our society is in upheaval with a severe conflict in process.

I am not the one who can judge the effectiveness of my writing but I hope that by offering my perspective, not for entertainment or market share, that it will give the sense of the time of this crisis. Our country has made horrible mistakes that the future needs to understand.

I’m sure people in the future will wonder at how we allowed these Republicans and this President to rise to power. In part, my political writing is to give my viewpoint in how and why that happened. Writing is a recording of history and the United States in 2018 is a time of dire history.

My Method

Not all my writing is about politics. I also try to interject subjects that interest and/or amaze me. I’m not sure I can claim to have a method in my writing. Most of the time I create a working title for the topic a few days in advance. Usually, that is all I have to start with when I start writing. I don’t plan out, nor outline my articles. If I have multiple points to make in an story I will sometimes write draft headings to remind me.

Typically, I do some research on the issue, but sometimes that doesn’t occur until a reach the point in the article that I’m trying to say something that should be backed up with a fact or source. I link to my sources rather than footnote the source. If I’m writing a reaction piece to an event or act I will link the article or include a quote.

I’m not held to any standard of truth, but my own. There have been times I have started writing about a topic and changed my opinion about the issue during my research. As a liberal, I know I have an opinion, but I it also means that I have to support my opinion. That doesn’t make my opinion correct, but it is absolutely required in a decent society.

The Score

In 2016 I wrote 40 articles using 22,085 words (an average of 552 words per article.) In 2017 I wrote 53 articles using 23,954 words (an average of 452 words per article.) So far in 2018 I’ve written 82 articles (including this one) using 47,337 words (an average of 577 words per article.)

I don’t know if I will keep going on the streak. I have other writing projects that I would like to finish and I find that writing at this pace is difficult to maintain. Regardless, this has been very rewarding for me. I hope it has been of some benefit to you.

Looking Back

Here are the articles I’ve published during the last 100 days (and more):

DECEMBER 2017

DATE TITLE WORDS
13-Dec-17 Send Our Trash Into Space 271
14-Dec-17 The End of the United States of America 225
15-Dec-17 School Vouchers Are About Religion and Racism, Not Choice 625
16-Dec-17 Journalists Using Uneducated, Uninformed Opinion As Fact 237
17-Dec-17 Government Regulation Makes USA Business Great 412
18-Dec-17 Redacted Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi 477

[NOTE:  Articles from 19 December 2017 to 28 February 2018 are not currently linked. This is being corrected.]

19-Dec-17 What Happens In Sixty Years 304
20-Dec-17 Senator Dean Heller is Still a Stockbroker 298
21-Dec-17 A New Year’s Earthquake? 386
22-Dec-17 Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi 217
22-Dec-17 Failure to Diagnose: Right Hemisphere Strokes 482
23-Dec-17 SpaceX and Mars: The Illogical Strategy 453
24-Dec-17 GOP War on the Spirit of Christmas 326
25-Dec-17 Can Venus Be Made Habitable? 475
26-Dec-17 Illogical: Commercial Real Estate Price Boom in an Internet Economy 183
27-Dec-17 Religion Controls Equality For Women 398
28-Dec-17 Dear Republican: Your Party Left Without You 345
29-Dec-17 1929 is Coming 216
30-Dec-17 Are You Not Breathing When You Sleep? 670
31-Dec-17 Understanding Global Warming and Cold Weather 530

JANUARY 2018

DATE TITLE WORDS
1-Jan-18 Why a Bigger Government is Being Fiscally Responsible 507
2-Jan-18 Need a New Plan for Gaining Political Support 285
3-Jan-18 Nevada’s Pot Business About to be Smoked 401
4-Jan-18 Telsa Powerwall Has Product-Killing Questions Unanswered 1000
5-Jan-18 Trump Corrupt Public Relations: Using Business PR as the Model 393
6-Jan-18 12 Days in 1968 956
7-Jan-18 1968 Mystery: Four Subs Lost In Four Months 626
8-Jan-18 To Sleep, Perchance To Dream 327
9-Jan-18 Panamá versus Oklahoma: Transportation 457
10-Jan-18 Zuma Fail: Why Space Is No Place For Private Business 509
11-Jan-18 Rapid HR Hiring Process Required In Professional Environment 477
12-Jan-18 ICE Solidifies Itself As Trump’s SS Police 555
13-Jan-18 About This, About Writing 412
14-Jan-18 Panamá’s Caribbean Afterthought 805
15-Jan-18 Why You Won’t See A Tax Cut 338
16-Jan-18 Why Trumpsters Don’t Understand Anti-Trump Reactions 377
17-Jan-18 Should the Nuremberg Code Be Applied to Internet Data Collection? 1212
18-Jan-18 Government Shutdown An Opportunity 416
19-Jan-18 NASA’s Orion Capsule: A ‘Look Busy’ Project? 1067
20-Jan-18 Total Lunar Eclipse January 31…Western United States 243
21-Jan-18 Popes That Damned Women, Choice, and Humanity 708
22-Jan-18 An Indictment Against NPR Journalism Standards 745
23-Jan-18 SpaceX Falcon Heavy-Lift Rocket: A Soviet-Style Disaster? 865
24-Jan-18 Why the Stock Market is Like a Strip Club 316
25-Jan-18 Trump and GOP Causing Emotional Numbness? 455
26-Jan-18 Employee Relations: The You’re-Not-Getting-a-Raise-Letter 342
27-Jan-18 Why We Elect the Wrong People?: #1 Business Wants Dumb Politicians 428
28-Jan-18 The Day Business Killed The NASA Space Program 1246
29-Jan-18 The State of the Union of the United States of America 1069
30-Jan-18 Why We Elect the Wrong People?: #2 We Don’t Understand the Purpose of a Republic 592
31-Jan-18 2018 Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse 499

FEBRUARY 2018

DATE TITLE WORDS
1-Feb-18 Zuma Mystery: It’s Classified and Invisible…Apparently 777
2-Feb-18 Should You Become a Parent? 789
3-Feb-18 The Plantar Wart and HPV 385
4-Feb-18 Housing Prices Edge Closer to Catastrophe 419
5-Feb-18 Stock Market Symptom of Great Depression, Not Cause 629
6-Feb-18 GOP Memo is Last Straw 343
7-Feb-18 SpaceX Falcon Heavy Defies the Odds 484
8-Feb-18 66 Years Ago: A Princess in Africa Becomes Queen 392
9-Feb-18 North Korea Bizzare Olympics Stunt 382
10-Feb-18 Snowpack is No Longer a Viable Water Supply 583
11-Feb-18 500th WordPress PAULx Post: Milestone of Words 553
12-Feb-18 Forget Stock Market & Bitcoin, Invest in Mendadent Toothpaste 329
13-Feb-18 Reno Nevada Mayor Schieve Declares She is Uninformed 804
14-Feb-18 To Love Your Child, Be Honest With Them 652
15-Feb-18 Corp USA: “The Stock Market Requires We Underpay You” 312
16-Feb-18 Space Exploration Isn’t Profitable, It’s Transformative 707
17-Feb-18 McDonald’s Shake Machines Legendary Unreliability 551
18-Feb-18 Mass Shooters Not Criminals Before They Picked Up A Gun 341
19-Feb-18 Are These People the Next Mass Shooter? 353
20-Feb-18 Center of the Milky Way: Update 608
21-Feb-18 Second Amendment: A Well Regulated Militia 501
22-Feb-18 Victims of Major Mass Shootings Since Sandy Hook Elementary 709
23-Feb-18 David Brooks is Wrong Again on Guns 473
24-Feb-18 Five ‘Facts’ About the Equinox? 529
25-Feb-18 Trumpster ‘Hillary’ Excuse Proves Russian Influence 1701
26-Feb-18 Hiding Journalists Behind the Paywall 527
27-Feb-18 My Imaginary Interview with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal 499
28-Feb-18 SpaceX 2018 Launch Schedule Is PR Gold or PR Nightmare 681

MARCH 2018

DATE TITLE WORDS
1-Mar-18 Pigs In Space: Discrimination on the ISS 744
2-Mar-18 Trump’s Family: Keepers of the Big Liar 335
3-Mar-18 Is There a Planet Nine or Not? 553
4-Mar-18 Urban Coyotes 609
5-Mar-18 Could David Brooks Be Correct About Being Wrong? 664
5-Mar-18 Breaking News: Trump Loses Control of Hotel in Panama 321
6-Mar-18 Pence’s White Greed National Space Council 710
7-Mar-18 Trump’s Trade Deficit Talk Proves Lack of Knowledge 522
8-Mar-18 Leadership Madness: Time To Check Trump’s Urine Color 373
9-Mar-18 Three Myths That Gun Extremist Believe 350
10-Mar-18 Magnetic Pole Reversal: Will It Turn Our World Upside Down? 620
11-Mar-18 Time To Stop Changing Time? Why We Need Daylight Saving Time All Year 425
12-Mar-18 Are We Ready For Gender Neutral Language? 355
13-Mar-18 Why Are Conservatives Anti-Society? 558
14-Mar-18 NRA is Not a Gun Safety Organization 719
15-Mar-18 The Ides of March is Really About the Moon 381
16-Mar-18 Three Steps For Solving the Assault-Type Weapons Problem 375
17-Mar-18 Saint Patrick Wasn’t Irish and Other Facts? 461
18-Mar-18 Roots of ‘Easter’ Myth Adapted For New Testament 946
19-Mar-18 Why Are There 360 Degrees in a Circle? 376
20-Mar-18 First Day of Spring is Fake News 506
21-Mar-18 Ten Reasons There is Life on Earth 965
22-Mar-18 100 Consecutive Days of Writing 828
23-Mar-18 GOP Disease: Say It, Then Apologize 477
24-Mar-18 Saturn V’s F-1 Engine: The Monster That Made USSR Cry 445
25-Mar-18 Trump’s Tariffs Are For Putin 775
26-Mar-18 The Sad Life of a Russian Troll (Печальная жизнь русского тролля) 697
27-Mar-18 Journalism Ethics: Interviewing the Reporter As a News Source 507
28-Mar-18 Falling Sky: China’s Tiangong 1 Space Station Last Hours 355
29-Mar-18 Novice Directors Make Theatre Painful 536
30-Mar-18 Trump’s Soviet-Style Government 409
31-Mar-18 Our Roving Intelligent Life On Mars 427

APRIL 2018

DATE TITLE WORDS
1-Apr-18 April Fool’s Day is Donald Trump Day 368
2-Apr-18 Tax Breaks Don’t Work When Everyone is Giving Them 502
3-Apr-18 Should Federal Dollars Go To States With Low Taxes? 451
4-Apr-18 The Dichotomy of Small Towns: Good People, Small Minds 608
5-Apr-18 My First and Final (gulp) Imaginary Interview With Terry Gross 833

Ten Reasons There is Life on Earth

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As scientists are finding more planets orbiting other stars it is becoming more of a reality that we are not alone in the universe. We may never be able to contact or observe life on other planets, but no one can deny the possibility that life might take root these islands in space. Still, it is important to remember that life on Earth is due to special circumstances.

Ten Factors Required For Life On Earth

A planet orbiting a star does not necessarily result in the development of life. On our planet, we have at least ten factors that allowed life to develop.

1. Not Too Close to Other Stars (Location, location, location)

If our solar system was located near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, life probably would not have been able to develop on Earth. Stars are dangerous. They do bad things including spitting out radiation that destroys the basic structures of complex life. A planet in a solar system with other stars in the neighborhood is asking for trouble.

2. Our Sun is Special

Life on any planet requires a star, but not just any star will do. Size matters in the development of life. So do the qualities of the star. Our Sun is bigger than most, but still it is a relatively small, stable star and it’s been that way for over four and a half billion years. It will be stable for about another 5 billion years. It also has a treasure of heavy elements that are necessary for planet formation. Without planets, there is no life.

Life around stars of different sizes are possible, but our Sun seems to be about the perfect size for the development of life. In addition, our Sun is 85% brighter than the rest of the stars in the Milky Way, which has been vital in ‘powering’ our planet.

3. A Star’s Habitable Zone

Planet hunters and the media have made a major issue out of the concept of the ‘Goldilocks Zone.’ This is the area around a Sun where a planet is not too close, nor too far away. It is an important aspect of the potential for development of life on a planet, but it is only one factor of many. For Earth, we are resting in the orbit that is just right.

4. Moon

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Moon for the development of life on Earth. First, the Moon was likely formed in a collision when a small planet-sized object hit Earth and tilted our axis (more on this later.) In addition, the Moon has slowed the Earth’s rotation down (more on this later,) and helped enhance the tidal movement of the Earth’s oceans. The Moon has played an important role in human activity, but just as an important role for all our planet’s species.

5. Size of the Planet

Again, size matters. If a planet is too big and the gravity will inhibit the formation of larger, more complex molecular organic structures. Too small and there can be no atmosphere. Earth is in the zone.

6. Axial Tilt

If Earth’s axis was perpendicular to the plane of the solar system the Sun would heat up the equator creating a zone too hot for most life forms. The poles would have minimal solar heating and would be extremely cold. In between would be the combat zone between hot and cold. Constant violent storms and wind would batter the mid-latitudes.

The tilt of the Earth causes solar heating to warm one hemisphere and allows the other to cool down. Every six months the warm/cool cycle swaps hemispheres. This creates storm systems in both hemispheres, but they act to distribute the warmth more evenly. The tilt of Earth’s axis is almost perfect for nurturing life.

7. Length of Day (spin)

We take the 24 hour day for granted. We shouldn’t. Last year Takanori Sasaki, a planetary scientist with Kyoto University, pointed out that the Earth originally spun so fast that its ‘day’ was only four hours long. Multicellular life didn’t develop on Earth until the day was 23 hours long. It’s is not clear at what point a planet’s rotation makes it habitable, but it seems obvious that a planet’s spin is a factor in the possibility of life formation.

8. Atmosphere

It may be obvious that an atmosphere is required for the development of life, but there are qualities to an atmosphere that are also required. The atmosphere cannot be too thick or too thin. It has to consist of an oxidizer, such as oxygen, to promote chemical reactions in cell structures. There is more to Earth’s air than just air.

9. Liquid Water

Water is necessary for all life that we are aware of, even though it is more important to some species than others. Liquid water is even more important to life than water vapor or ice. It is not an accident that the development of life happened on a planet where 71% of the surface is covered with liquid water.

10. Continent to Ocean Ratio

It’s not obvious, but life on Earth has been helped by the ratio of land to ocean. Land tends to have more temperature variance than the oceans between summer and winter. Land that is not covered in ice or vegetation absorbs much more heat in the summer. If most of our planet consisted of continents, the temperature change from summer to winter would be more dramatic, and less friendly to life.

Earth is Unique, Not Rare

Life on Earth was not an accident, nor is it divine. The conditions that led to the development of life here must exist on millions of planets, but there are an estimated 100 billion planets in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. We are unique, but we cannot be alone. Give life an opportunity and it will seize it.

First Day of Spring is Fake News

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Today at 9:15 am Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) the Sun will be directly over the equator. For this reason, the news media will relentlessly remind us that Spring is here. They will tell us it is the return of warm weather! Yea! But, don’t be fooled by their fake news.

Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere. Bah!

You Call This Spring? 

The Vernal equinox may be the date that the Sun comes back over to our side of the equator, but let’s be real, warm weather doesn’t rush back the northern hemisphere. At least not to those over 35° north latitude. Some of us will be lucky to see our shadow on the first day of Spring. Forget about the stupid groundhog that never, ever is correct.

The northern hemisphere will continue to be smothered in cold air masses and bring snow down across much of the lower 48 states. (Don’t get smug Hawai’i. You can have snowstorms after the Vernal equinox, too. You just have to climb a really tall volcano to get to it.) The media calls them ‘Spring snowstorms’ as if that is supposed to make us feel better about them. News flash: It doesn’t.

And don’t get me started on those people who like to slip down a snow-covered slope while trying to stand on bent slats of fiberglass. They are all smiles when a new storm dumps more solid water in the mountains. After the third week in March, skiing and snowboarding should be done on ice and melting snow, as God intended. None of this ‘fresh powder’ crap.

Spring Reality Check

For the next three months, the axis tilt of the Earth will increasingly favor the Sun in the northern hemisphere. For those of us that are done with cold weather, we have to remember that warm and cold are like new lovers can’t get enough of each other.

As the lower latitudes of the northern hemisphere heat up, the cold air in the higher latitudes rushes down to embrace the warmth. Tornados in northern Florida are an indication that the Sun is heating up the northern hemisphere and the winter cold is rushing down to meet it. As we move from March to April to May to June, tornados will show up farther and farther north.

The Script

News media will still try to convince us that the weather significantly changes on 20 March. I’ve stolen an advance copy of the script that is to be used by local television weather people across the northern United States:

Weatherperson:

(Try to sound homey) Well, it looks like Spring is here, but we still have some Spring snowstorms hanging around for the next few days, weeks, or possibly months. These storms are Spring storms so the temperature will be one half a degree warmer than during the Winter. We should see only a trace of snow, up to two meters if your house is located within the area of snowfall. It will quickly melt off in May, so get out there and enjoy the Spring weather!

Why Are There 360 Degrees in a Circle?

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Everyone knows there are 360 degrees in a circle. Why? A circle could have a 1,000° which would make a half circle equal 500° and a quarter circle 250°. Who chose the number 360? Was there a vote? Who do we blame? Inquiring minds want to know!

Two circles getting in each other's way

2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Canyon City, OR

As it turns out there are at least two reasons we use 360° as the number to define a complete circle. One reason has to do with astronomy and the other with mathematics.

360 Degrees? Blame the Babylonians

The Greeks are partly responsible for defining the numerical value for a circle, but really it was the Babylonians. It may even be farther back than the Babylonians, but someone erased their hard drive and now we will never know.

Apparently, the Babylonians loved the number ’60.’ They created a number system using Base 60 (we use Base 10.) The number 60 is amazing because it can be divided into so many factors. 60 can be divided evenly by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, and 60. Since the Babylonians loved 60, the fact that a circle can be divided into six equilateral triangles made 360 the best option for defining the numerical value of a circle.

We don’t actually know if it was the Babylonians, but we do know that several prominent Greek mathematicians used 360° as the numerical value for a circle. It is written…in Greek of course.

Star Gazers In a 360 Days

But long before the Babylonians, it was obvious to anyone who looked up at the sky at night that the stars followed a circular pattern through the year. If one noted the position of a star or constellation on a particular night and time, next year that star would be in the same place on the same day and time.

The elapsed number of nights for a full circle? About 360. Anyone who tracked the stars would have noted that the circular pattern of the stars resumed after about 360 days.

The reason we have 360° is most likely because of the speed at which the Earth rotates, (once every 24 hours,) and there are approximately 360 rotations (days) in a year.

Metric Circles?

Believe it or not, there were attempts to make circles metric. It didn’t take. There are some uses for it, but the 360° value is more accepted ‘around’ (that’s a joke) the world.

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. They lived in what is now 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.

CONDITION TWO:  Insurance

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:

Taxes

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.

Immigrants

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.

Women

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 Panama Hotel Taken Over By Real Owner

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For several weeks there has been a battle at the Trump Panama Hotel, 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 Panama 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

Do

  • 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.

Don’t

  • 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.