Employee Ownership? Does Business USA Own Its Employees?

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Employee Ownership?

It was a chance encounter. Juli Briskman was out riding her bike on a Saturday in October. Trump was just leaving from playing another round of golf. Trump’s motorcade passed Briskman and she saluted the Resident of the White House with her middle finger. Had a photographer not caught the act it would have just been another typical day. This day, it would get Briskman fired. The company’s position:  it owns its employees.

Trump’s Single Digit Approval Rating

Quid Pro Quo

It’s important to note that Briskman was not identified in the photo, nor could she be identified as the photographer was behind her. She voluntarily told her company that she was the one in the photo. The company then fired her.

Employment is a quid pro quo environment. An employer agrees to pay compensation and benefits in return for certain specific tasks and responsibilities. Employment is not servitude, nor does it allow an employer to govern the employee’s actions 24/7/365. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States forbids indentured servitude along with slavery.

In the social media age, businesses have attempted to expand their authority over employees and govern hu’s (her/his) non-work activities. The problem is that if a company is allowed to govern free speech outside of the work environment they are essentially making a demand on an employee’s time, expression, and choice without compensation. Again, employment is a Quid Pro Quo environment and both parties must agree to the terms of what is offered in return for compensation and benefits.

Is the Reverse True?

The test of this situation is to reverse it. If the company can claim it can govern employee behavior during non-work hours for no pay, does that mean all employee non-work activity is a liability for the company? If an employee kills someone, can the victim’s family sue the company? The point is that a company cannot arbitrarily decide what non-work activities it governs. If it governs some non-work activities, shouldn’t the company assume responsibility for all non-work activities?

The reality is that business has failed to be reasonable in its limitations on employee rules and policies. It is now time to reestablish that quid pro quo relationship and stop attempting to ignore the 13th Amendment.

Tactical Parking: Backing In to Save a Toddler’s Life

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Four years ago I wrote a piece on tactical parking. It’s time to revisit the subject. Tactical parking is when a driver backs into a parking space or garage, rather than front-in parking. In 2014, people were making fun of tactical parking. The joke is that it is a ‘guy’ thing. It’s not a joke. It’s about saving children from injury and death.

Tactical Parking: For the sake of every toddler

50 Children a Week

It is estimated that 50 children a week are injured or killed by someone backing hu’s (his or her) car or truck. Two children die every week. Most of these children are about one year old. Backing up a vehicle puts children at risk, and often the victim is the child or the grandchild of the driver.

In 2014, auto manufacturers had until May of this year to install back up cameras on every vehicle, but that does not completely solve the problem. Camera’s have blind spots and cameras require the driver to be focused on the dash, not on what is going on around the car.

Advantages of Tactical Parking

The major advantage of tactical parking (or backing in parking) is driver visibility, both backing in and pulling out. When backing in, the driver has to drive past the parking spot, driveway, or garage allowing a visual inspection of the area through the windshield and side window. This makes is safer for a driver to back in coming from the street or parking lot lane.

The real benefit is that as they pull out, the driver is viewing the area through the windshield, not craning hu’s head around to look out the back window, looking through the rearview mirror, or watching the small screen on the dash. Tactical parking also has the advantage of placing the driver closer to traffic lane when pulling out of a parking space, driveway, or garage.

Backing into a parking space can be a challenge for the inexperienced. It is not something to do when the parking lot is busy and cars are held up; however, tactical parking is only ten to twenty seconds longer that front-in parking.

If a driver can avoid backing completely, that is the optimal situation. In parking lots were two rows of cars park head-to-head, finding a parking spot where the two spaces are empty and the driver can ‘pull through’ is ideal. This allows safe parking and leaves the car facing traffic when it’s time to leave.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I use tactical parking every day and I still don’t do it on the first try. Part of the issue is that I’m anal about being in the middle of the parking space. I also fail to take the time to lower both side mirrors so I can see the parking space lines. The easiest place to practice is usually your own driveway and/or garage. If you live on a busy street, then going to an empty lot to practice is another good option.

The goal is to reduce the amount of backing up a driver has to do. Every hurt or injured child hit by a car backing up is a case of a momentary lapse, or a distraction, or an unexpected move by a child. We can’t eliminate those situations. We can work to have the car facing toward traffic when it moves from a parked postion. That will save a toddler’s life.

Breathe: Inhale to Breakdown Fat, Exhale To Lose It

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Fat is not all bad. In fact, it is absolutely necessary as a body regulator and protects the body from injury and heat loss. It is basically an organic, cushy, multiuse storage unit in the body. The problem is that most of us don’t need all that storage, so we attempt to rid ourselves of it. To accomplish that we need to remember to breathe.

BEAR: Do I look fat to you? Think before you answer.

[NOTE:  This article is based on an article from Live Science, What’s in a Fat Cell?”]

Fat Has a Purpose, Many Actually

If we ate the same food, and the same amount on a consistent schedule, fat would be less relevant. Fat is a buffer, retaining surplus compounds and releasing them when the body lacks those compounds.

Most people know fat is storage unit, but it is also a hazmat locker when the bloodstream has can’t process toxins in the blood. Fat also is necessary to process certain vitamins so the cells can use them. In addition, fat has two functions that many people overlook. Fat cells are a shock absorber for the body, and certain fat cells break down and generate heat to help regulate the body temperature.

The Big Three of Fat

Fat has three main elements. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When fat is ‘burned’ it is a chemical process caused by oxygen interacting with the carbon and hydrogen. The outcome is water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2.) The water is removed from the body through sweat or the digestive tract (urine and feces,) but the carbon dioxide is expelled when we exhale.

This makes the respiratory system critical in the elimination of fat cells. The oxygen inhaled is the oxidizer needed to break down the fat cell, and the carbon dioxide is exhaled. When we lose weight, the waste product is liquid and gas, not solid.

So, just breathe…and exercise…and eat healthily.

Eulogy For Donald Trump

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We are here to celebrate the passing of Donald Trump. Let us not dwell on the life of a man who was a failure as a human, but focus on what his life taught us. Donald Trump was more than a prime example of the baseness of human nature. He was the darkness that exposed the darkness of others. We need no deity to judge other people when a person like Trump can readily draw out the perverseness of others.

GOP all smiles

Donald Trump:  Hero of the Darkness

The Donald Trump Effect

Without Trump we would not have known:

  • How feckless Republicans are, and how impotent they are as leaders. Repeatedly, Trump embarrassed the Republican party and they all smiled and accepted it. When they did contradict him it was tentative and short-lived. They were clearly subservient to Trump and demonstrated a fear of his wrath.
  • The perverse nature of Christian evangelicals that claim freedom of religion as long as it is their religion and not any other version. Trump mocked the Bible on a daily basis and they loved him for it.
  • How racists and paternalistic conservatives are as they manufactured issues that just happen to target non-whites and women. We suspected that race and gender were the underlying motives, but Trump ‘said’ what they were thinking and now we know for sure.
  • The depth of the greed of the powerful and wealthy in the United States. If there is a deity, She has no need to judge them. Their sins are self-evident, thanks to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump was a person that drew out the poison of our society. Trumpsters felt that with Trump, they no longer needed to hide the ugliness inside them. These people would have been able escape notice had it not been for Donald Trump.

So as we celebrate his death, let us celebrate the what he did for our country. Trump divided us into Constitution loving, respectful, compassionate people…and Trumpsters. Let us rejoice! 

Murder Mystery: Did the Kremlin Kill Yuri Gagarin?

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Fifty years ago Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space and the first to orbit the Earth, died in a plane crash. Hu’s (His) body wouldn’t be found until the next day. The crash was a mystery. How did a seasoned pilot, a test pilot, and a cosmonaut crash a plane on a routine flight? Was it murder? One person had the motive and the means to kill the Soviet space hero, but was it just a strange coincidence?

Yuri Gagarin portrait

Yuri Gagarin: Soviet Hero. Brezhnev enemy?

Yuri Gagarin:  Hero of the USSR

Yuri Gagarin was a Russian hero by any standard. Hu’s parents worked on a collective farm. During World War II, Gagarin’s family was driven out of their house by German soldiers and had to live in a small mud hut for over a year. After the war, hu (he) trained at a vocational school and attended evening classes. According to the Soviet narrative, hu took every advantage to improve himself, including volunteering on weekends to learn to fly with the Soviet Air Cadets.

Gagarin was drafted and sent to Soviet flight school to learn how to fly the MiG-15 jet. In 1960, hu was one of twenty men selected to become the first Soviet cosmonauts. When it came to selecting the first person to go into space, Gagarin stood out among his peers. One evaluator wrote this about Gagarin:

Soviet Doctor’s Evaluation

Modest; embarrasses when his humor gets a little too racy; high degree of intellectual development evident in Yuriy; fantastic memory; distinguishes himself from his colleagues by his sharp and far-ranging sense of attention to his surroundings; a well-developed imagination; quick reactions; persevering, prepares himself painstakingly for his activities and training exercises, handles celestial mechanics and mathematical formulae with ease as well as excels in higher mathematics; does not feel constrained when he has to defend his point of view if he considers himself right; appears that he understands life better than a lot of his friends.

From Wikipedia on Yuri Gagarin

Gagarin stubbornness to defend hu’s point of view may have led to hu’s death.

High-Risk Gamble

The mission to be the first human in space was inherently dangerous. From the launch, a controlled, directed explosion, to entering into the unknown environment of space, to reentering the atmosphere, the journey was filled with first-time events.

In addition, the Soviets didn’t know how to land a human back on Earth. The USSR’s plan was to touchdown on land rather than water. The problem was that parachutes can’t slow a spacecraft to a speed that won’t injure or kill the crew.

The solution was to allow the capsule to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, slow it down with parachutes, then have the cosmonaut jump out with his own personal parachute. It was risky, but it was a simple solution that allowed the Soviets to put a human in space before the United States. On 12 April 1961 Gagarin overcame the odds and made history.

Unacceptable Risk

Six years later the Soviets were still ahead in the space race. Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev wanted to keep it that way. For the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Brezhnev wanted to introduce the world to the new Soyuz capsule. He pushed to have two Soviet launches, one day apart, followed by a space rendezvous of the two spacecraft with an exchange of cosmonauts.

Soyuz 1 was to be piloted by Vladimir Komarov with Yuri Gagarin as a backup pilot. The two cosmonauts were close friends.

Months before the launch of the two rockets, the Gagarin and others inspected the Soyuz craft and found 203 structural problems. Gagarin wrote up a ten-page memo detailing the problems and demanding a delay in the program. He gave it to a friend who was a KGB agent to pass up the chain-of-command.

Allegedly, those that read memo were demoted or removed from the space program. It is unclear if Brezhnev actually saw the memo, but it was clear that no one wanted to challenge Brezhnev’s orders.

Death of a Friend

On the day of the launch, Gagarin demanded to be suited up, apparently to replace his friend, Komarov on the mission. Komarov did not want to go, but he also wasn’t willing to sacrifice Gagarin’s life. Komarov declined his friend’s offer and flew the mission.

As predicted, the spacecraft had major issues from the moment it reached orbit. After the Soyuz 2 launch was scrubbed, allegedly because of thunderstorms, Soyuz 1 was given the okay to return to Earth. Everyone knew that the capsule was unlikely to land safely. Komorov cursed his fate as his spacecraft plunged to Earth after the parachutes failed. It was a needless loss of life to satisfy the arrogance of Brezhnev.

Yuri Gagarin Poking the Bear With a Stick

Three weeks after hu’s friend’s death, Gagarin gave an interview that was published in Pravda. Hu blamed the people who allowed the launch of an unsafe capsule and indicated their complicity in Komarov’s death. Gagarin wanted to meet with Brezhnev and confront the man that everyone feared. It is unclear if this happened, but there was a rumor that Gagarin did have an encounter with the General Secretary and threw a drink in hu’s face.

It is clear that Gagarin was angry with Brezhnev, and it is also likely that Brezhnev was made aware of the situation. For Brezhnev, this had to be a potential political embarrassment and potentially dangerous to have a Russian hero question hu’s decisions.

Gagarin’s Mysterious Plane Crash

Gagarin’s anger at Brezhnev would be shortlived. About a year after Komarov’s death, Gagarin died in a mysterious plane crash. Among the odd aspects are:

  • Gagarin was a highly qualified pilot.
  • The crash was during Gagarin ‘recertification’ as a fighter pilot, deemed a formality.
  • The investigations found no exact cause for the crash.
  • Gagarin had completed the training maneuvers of the flight and had radioed that they were returning to base.
  • The plane disappeared without further contact.
  • Gagarin reported no issues of problems or crisis.
  • Searchers found the crash site later that day, but they didn’t find Gagarin’s body until the next day a short distance from the crash.
  • Another plane reportedly passed close to Gagarin’s plane before the crash.

If Brezhnev ordered Gagarin’s death it would have to look like a plausible accident. The most likely ‘accident’ for a pilot would be a plane crash. If not a deliberate act, Gagarin’s ‘accident’ benefited Brezhnev significantly by silencing a high-profile critic.

Another Coincidence

The circumstances of Yuri Gagarin’s death are strange enough, but there is one more coincidence. Gagarin’s death occurred just under two years from the release of the British movie, The Blue Max. A story about a German flying ace that had fallen out of the grace with hu’s superiors and died when flying a plane that was known to be unstable.

SpaceX’s Magical Block 5 Booster is a No Show

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Today is 6 April 2018. That deafening roar that you DIDN’T hear yesterday was the SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket. It didn’t launch yesterday. Nor did it launch in February…nor in December. SpaceX plans fall short of reality again. The trademark of Elon Musk’s and his companies are their ability to fail to live up to their claims.

SpaceX One Trick:  Wasting Money to Reland Junk Boosters

Block 5 Falcon 9 – The Grand Promise

Block 5 is the made-up name for SpaceX’s final version of the Falcon 9. It is critical to their hope to be NASA’s go-to company for the manned space program. There is a catch. SpaceX has to fly the Block 5 booster seven times without making any upgrades or changes before NASA will put humans onboard.

There is another catch. SpaceX entire company has been built around one concept: economical space flight. Their method is reusability, and the centerpiece is the reusable booster. Musk has made grand claims that the SpaceX booster will be used ten times. In addition, some people have been suggesting that the booster will only need an inspection and will be able to be reflown in a matter of days.

To date, the maximum any booster has been reused is once (F9 Boosters B1021, B1023, B1025, B1029, B1031, B1032, B1035, B1036, B1038, B1039, B1041.) Of the eleven reflown boosters, six were relanded after the second flight, but then they were ‘retired’ or junked. The rest were ‘expended’ or destroyed. None of these boosters were Block 5 types.

The Snake Oil of Spaceflight

Any cost savings of the reusable booster have been eliminated by the waste of expending, relanding, and recovering junk boosters. The delays of the Block 5 are costing SpaceX money, and the idea that a booster can be landed, inspected, and reflown in days was the boast of NASA with the Space Shuttle. NASA found out the hard way. It is not possible without endangering lives.

The other aspect of this is that only SpaceX knows how much these launches really cost. They are not making the cost per launch available to the public. They could be charging much less than the actual cost to hide the fact that the reusable booster doesn’t actually save money.

Space Customers Are Watching

The first Block 5 flight is now scheduled for 24 April. The first SpaceX crewed flight was scheduled for December. It is improbable, and likely impossible that SpaceX will be able to have seven successful Block 5 flights in time to meet the December deadline.

This delay comes after a five-year delay in the launch of the Falcon Heavy. The first one was a spectacular success, but there are two more scheduled launches of the Falcon Heavy this year. Both have to be on time and successful, or SpaceX will face increasing doubts about its reliability.

My First and Final (gulp) Imaginary Interview With Terry Gross

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[NOTE:  5 April 2038. This imaginary interview with Fresh Air’s host Terry Gross took place in the cafeteria at the National Public Radio (NPR) Senior Care Facility in Washington, D.C., about five blocks from the NPR headquarters.]

Terry Gross WHYY

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, 1987

Interview with Terry Gross:  Part I

Me:  This is a special guest-host edition of Fresh Air. My guest today is Terry Gross. She has been on radio for 65 years. For over six decades she has been the host of this weekday interview show produced by WHYY in Philadelphia and aired across the nation through National Public Radio stations. She has a degree in English, and a Masters degree in Communication. Among her many honors are a Peabody Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, a Columbia Journalism Award, a 2015 National Humanities Award, and in 2012 she was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. Terry, thank you for allowing me the honor of guest hosting your show, and the honor of interviewing you.

Terry:  You’re welcome.

Me:  You have had a front row seat to the some of the most influential and creative people for over sixty years. Does it ever become boring?

Terry:  Not usually. There is a routine we follow, but each interview is a potential Pandora’s box. We never know what we’ll find until we start talking to the guest. It keeps things edgy.

 Me:  You could have retired decades ago. What has kept you going?

Terry:  A lack of a retirement program. It’s public radio, not “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”

[Me:  Pause.]

Me:  So you keep working for a paycheck?

Terry:  Not a paycheck. I get to stay here. Woo-hoo.

Me:  I should tell our listeners, that by ‘here’ you mean the NPR Senior Care Facility.

Terry:  Again, woo-hoo. Look over there. That’s Steve Inskeep eating his oatmeal. They still wheel him over to NPR six days a week.

Me:  To record NPR’s Morning Edition.

Terry:  And to clean the bathrooms…and he’s talking to Cokie Roberts. She’s probably explaining to Steve once again why he can’t have prunes in his oatmeal and prune juice. Here, you get one or the other, not both. That man at that table is Kai Ryssdal. He’s so hot. Oh, and over by the coffee machine is Don Gonyea….oh, wait, he’s trying to snort the artificial sweetener again. Excuse me.

Interview with Terry Gross:  Part II

Me:  We’re back talking to the host of Fresh Air, Terry Gross. Is Don okay?

Terry: He’ll be fine. We’ve told them that they can’t keep the artificial sweetener by the coffee. He finds them every time. Now, where were we?

Me:  I think we were talking about your amazing history on the radio. You have connections to generations of well-known people. How do you keep finding the next ‘Tom Hanks.’

Terry:  It’s not that difficult. After so many years, people come to you. You can usually tell they want to be on the show when they start inviting you to their parties.

Me:  But isn’t it exhausting to come up with high-quality interviews every weekday?

Terry:  Not really. We get at least two shows after each interview.

Me:  You mean re-airing the interview with the person releases a new book or movie?

Terry:  Yes, that, and when they die. We discovered long ago that the interview has a bigger audience just after they die.

Me:  Does that make an original interview less meaningful knowing that it will have a smaller audience, than after the person dies?

Terry:  Of course. But it means my show is easy the day after they’ve died. A little intro. A few edits. Bingo, new show. We call the first interview premorties and the final broadcast postmorties. Premorties is the salad, Postmorties is the entree and dessert.

Me:  Uhm…I see. Lately, it seems that most of your shows are postmorties.

Terry:  Yes. We’ve changed our strategy in the last few years. Now we do the interview just for the postmorties. We interview, he or she dies, we broadcast.

Me:  But what about days when no one significant has died?

Terry:  We have a guy.

Me:  What do you mean?

Terry:  Have you ever noticed that a celebrity dies almost every day except Fridays and Saturdays?

[Me:  Choking a little.]

Me:  You don’t…

Terry: Yes, we do.

Me:  So this interview…

Terry:  You’re a postmortie. You didn’t really think you were important enough for me to have on my show.

Me:  I’m going to …die?

Terry:  Spectacularly. It will be a self-driving car hit by California’s high-speed train. We’re trying to get a Tesla, but they’re really hard to find. Jay Leno used to have one, but it caught on fire. I was hoping we could have you also hit by that Tesla Roadster SpaceX launched twenty years ago, but they said the orbit was all wrong.

Me: oh…that would have been nice…I guess. I think I should head home now.

Terry:  Sure, but be careful. Don’t do anything dangerous before Tuesday.

Me:  okay.

The Dichotomy of Small Towns: Good People, Small Minds

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Small communities are two kinds of special. A small community can be a place of good people who would do anything for each other and will help out a stranger if needed. They also can have a darker side of illegal activities, whispered gossip of secret knowledge, and a narrow view of the rest of the world. It is the Jeckle and Hyde personality of a small town that is never discussed, but almost always there.

Roosevelt, UT

Small towns: The Pretty

Ruts of a Small Town

Change happens in small towns, but it often follows a counterintuitive logic. If the change is rational, involving a relatively workable plan of implementation, it is often viciously opposed by some people in the community. If the change is a Music Man-type (see video clip below) change consisting of unproven goals with lofty promises, a small community often embraces it.

Small town in Utah

Small towns. The Ugly

What that means is that small communities often don’t change significantly over time. The ‘BIG’ change that is going to reinvent the community typically falls flat. That results if a fear of change. Without change, life becomes a rut that everyone falls into.

Aging and Small Towns:  The ‘Comfort Zone’

Growing up in a small town is an interesting window into human development. Ask high school students what they want to do when they graduate and often the response is, “Get out of this hick town as fast as possible.” Small towns often don’t have enough jobs for high school graduating classes. College is often the best way for children to break out of the small town cycle.

But even those who go off to college sometimes return because there is a ‘comfort zone’ in living where hu grew up. As people grow older, the desire to ‘get out of Dodge’ is replaced with the fear of living somewhere else. That fear is eventually replaced by an intense loyalty to small-town life. Usually, older the person, the more defensive they are about living in a small town.

Small Towns and Confirmation Bias

In a small town, everyone knows everyone. As people age, they have a select few friends that they have significant contact. In some cases, daily contact. Unlike cities, people in small towns may see the same people at work, at school, at the grocery store, at church, etc. This immersion with other people creates intimate friendships that are as close, possibly closer, than marriage relationships.

People in small towns have limited experiences with people outside of their community and intimate friendships. They tend to develop a groupthink about the world and people outside their community. When all your close friends have the same lack of knowledge and experience with the rest of the world, people are exposed to ‘confirmation bias.’ This bias occurs when friends confirm a person’s beliefs, and other information that might counter those beliefs are ignored or unknown by the group.

Typically, confirmation bias fosters negative attitudes about people who are not like them. That leads to a conservative mindset that is easily exploited. It is not a coincidence that rural environments are ripe for politically conservative influence because they focus on telling rural communities exactly what they want to hear.

Small Town Black Holes

All of this is a generalization of small town people. To be fair, problems of larger communities, such as traffic, noise, pollution, homelessness, etc. are not the ideals of any community; however, small towns have an environment that generates the same patterns over and over. Children in a small town will often grow up to be like hu’s parents. People living in a marginal society disjoined from the world.

Should Federal Dollars Go To States With Low Taxes?

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Nevada has no income tax, no corporate tax, no inventory tax, and no capital gains tax. Should the rest of the country be taxed to give money to Nevada? The idea that some State and local governments can avoid taxing their citizens, but expect to receive federal tax dollars is a question of fairness and equity. Perhaps the federal government should base allocations to States based on their willingness to act fiscally responsible?

Virginia State Line

Some States Pull Their Weight

Low Taxes Myth

There is a myth that low State taxes attracts businesses, that in turn, attracts jobs for the citizens. In Nevada, the tax haven does attract companies, but only those that seek to dodge taxes. The Sierra Nevada Corporation is a prime example. They are a private defense contractor that, among other things, seek to become the next privatized NASA.

The Sierra Nevada Corporation sounds like it would be a major employer in Nevada. It is not. Currently, it claims to have over 3,500 employees in 33 locations around the world.  In 2014, about one-third of its employees were in Colorado and the potential job growth is at its Colorado facilities.

However, its corporate headquarters is in Nevada. The company was founded in Nevada; however, the State does not have the caliber of workers needed for the high technology jobs. So why not move the company to Colorado? Because the corporate staff and the company enjoy the tax immunity of Nevada.

Freeloader States

According to WalletHub.com, the ten State governments that are most dependent on federal money are as follows:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Mississippi
  3. Arizona
  4. Kentucky
  5. New Mexico
  6. Montana
  7. Oregon
  8. Tennessee
  9. Missouri
  10. Alaska

These States are the top ten with the lowest taxes on their residents, (with the ranking of federal dollar dependency,) according to USA Today (Taxes on corporations are not included):

  1. Alaska (10)
  2. Wyoming (20)
  3. South Dakota (14)
  4. Tennessee (8)
  5. Louisiana (1)
  6. Texas (21)
  7. New Hampshire (31)
  8. Nevada (36)
  9. South Carolina (29)
  10. Oklahoma (26)

Three of the top five having the lowest State taxes are also among the top ten State governments most dependent on federal money. The residents of another three of the top ten States with low taxes are in the top fifty percent in dependency on federal subsistence.

Five of the top ten States (Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas, and Nevada) with the lowest taxes have no State income tax.

Pulling Their Weight

Many States use federal money to supplement their own tax revenue. It is only fair that they should. It is unfair that some States tilt the tax revenue field and expect federal money to replace State revenue. Perhaps it’s time that federal money should be restricted from States that do not have an adequate local and State tax structure to provide a foundation for services for their citizens before federal money is given to them.

Tax Breaks Don’t Work When Everyone is Giving Them

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The United States of America has a tax problem. We have too many local and state governments using ‘fire-sale’ tactics to attract business through tax breaks. It is a problem caused by conservatives. They have created the myth that taxes hurt business so lower taxes will increase business. The irony is that the strategy that conservatives inflict on government is a strategy that they would laugh at in the business world.

Panama’s strategy of low or no taxes brings in the wrong business

What’s Bad For Business is Bad For Government

When a business puts their products on sale, they do so with the expectation that it will increase business and volume will make up for the lower price. If the sale price is too low the business loses money. In addition, the customer might think there is something wrong with the product when the price is too low. If a company’s competitors match or beat the sale price, everyone loses except the customer. It is not good business.

The same is true for governments. Tax breaks reduce revenue for the maintenance and improvement of local communities. When tax breaks are overused, the community suffers from the lost revenue. The myth is that less tax revenue is more money for everyone only works if the tax break has no significant impact on the quality of the government. In addition, if competing governments are giving the same or better tax breaks the strategy fails for everyone.

In Nevada, the State has no income tax, no inventory tax, no corporate tax, and no capital gains tax. When the state or local government gives a tax break to a business, it is automatically a net loss for the community. Any business moving to Nevada is already coming for the low tax rate and any other break is just giving away money.

Panama’s What Not To Do

Panama has about the same population of Oklahoma. That is not a lot of people for tax revenue purposes. In 1994, Panama passed a law that basically gave a tax break to a property owner for 20 years. It was more complicated than that, but it attracted a lot of foreign investors. What happened?

It attracted people of modest wealth that were looking for only for the tax break. The jobs created were minimal, but it dramatically increased the value of land and property. Citizens of Panama suddenly found that home prices skyrocketed and because many were living as tenants, they had to move when the landlord sold the property for more money.

The end result was no one benefited from the tax strategy but wealthy developers.

Tax Breaks Always Fail

The reality is that tax breaks always fail. Despite thousands of tax breaks being given by local and state governments every year, there is no evidence that they actually have a positive impact on the citizens of the community. Tax breaks for companies don’t create more jobs, increase worker pay, or improve a dying economy. They make rich people richer.

April Fool’s Day is Donald Trump Day

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On the third Monday of February, our country celebrates the great Presidents. For Donald Trump, we have a different holiday. For this day the western world can join in a celebration that even predates our country. We used to call it April Fool’s Day, but now we have the poster child of April Fool’s Day as our President.

Our Biggest April Fool

Donald Trump Day isn’t just for the man who became the Resident of the White House, but it recognizes all Trumpsters who adore hu and hu’s foolish ways. It is a day that the new Soviet Republican party can be remembered for their Collective Closed Mind. This is a holiday that has been in search of its people and now its people have been found!

On this special day let’s remember how special Donald Trump and the Trumpsters are as Fools of Humanity. To be a Fool:

  • One must believe that freedom of religion means a Taliban-like State where Christian extremists inflict their made-up racist-based mythology on everyone.
  • A person must accept that gun deaths are caused by non-Trumpsters, and the solution is more guns.
  • One should know that a man has the obligation to rule over women as subservient beings.
  • A person must believe that a book of mythological stories of life written over 2,000 years ago. They should think that it is how we should govern all citizens of the United States of America in the 21st century.
  • One must ignore all facts that contradict what you want to believe.
  • One must read the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America without the words “militia” and “well regulated.”
  • One can declare that all non-whites are illegal immigrants and that nullifies all laws prohibiting racism.

We Look Forward to the Day

There are many more, but this is a day for Donald Trump and hu’s Trumpsters. Let them speak for themselves. For the rest of us, we look forward to the day when the holiday only reminds us of Trump reign. Remind us of when Soviet Republicanism briefly took over our country. Remind us of why we celebrate April Fool’s Day only once a year, instead of suffering through it all year.

Our Roving Intelligent Life On Mars

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For over 2000 Mars-days* the Curiosity Rover has been strolling across the landscape of Mars. The Mission is known as the Mars Science Laboratory and the star is Curiousity. Google defines intelligence as, “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” Under that definition, Curiosity and its predessors certainly qualify as intelligent life on another planet.

[*Mars-day or sols = 24 hours + 37 minutes of Earth time]

Mars = Soviet Humiliation

To date, humans have attempted to send 55¹ missions to Mars and over half of them have failed. Soviet Russia tried to launch 20 missions and none of them were a complete success. Two misssion were mostly successful, and three of them were mostly failures. The other 15 missions were complete failures.

Russia seemed to give up sending missions to Mars after 1988. Since the fall of Communism, Russia has attempted two probes, both failed. Russia’s only successful probe to the Red planet is a joint orbiter mission with the European Space Agency (ESA) that is still in operation.

In comparison to Russia’s single success out of 23 attempts, India has sent one mission to Mars and the orbiter is now on an extended mission.

[¹NOTE:  An orbiter/lander mission is counted as two separate missions.]

What We Know About Mars, Thank NASA/JPL

NASA and its partners like the Joint Propulsion Lab (JPL) have been responsible for putting intelligent life on Mars. Five out of the current eight operational missions are NASA/JPL missions. The Mars Odyssey mission was launched 17 years ago (April 2001) and is expected to be operational until 2025.

The United States is the only country to successfully have a rover on Mars and it has a perfect record in four attempts (SojournerSpiritOpportunity, and Curiosity.) The Opportunity rover was launched in 2003 and is still operational.

Curiosity takes a selfie on Mars

Curiouser and Couriouser

The Couriosity rover was on a two-year mission after its successful 2012 landing. It is now on an extended mission without an end date. It continues to explore and offer new insights; however, it is a mission that has almost been too successful. As it continues to wander around Gale crater, one has to wonder how much more can our rover-on-the-ground learn in one location?

As it rolls beyond 2000 sols will its constant poking, prodding, and picture-taking result in more knowledge, or bias our understanding based on the massive data from one region? Perhaps we will find out in 2020. Three new rovers are scheduled for launch that year. The United States will send Mars 2020, ESA will send ExoMars 2020, and the yet to be named 2020 Chinese Mars Mission will also be sent.

Trump’s Soviet-Style Government

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Soviet Russia (1917-1991) had an oppressive government where one party ruled with complete authority. Soviet offices were all held by loyal communist party members and corruption was rampant. Donald Trump is creating his own Soviet-style government using the Republican party. They are not concerned about disenfranchising a majority of the citizens, but rather, treat opposing voices as disloyal elements that are to be ignored.

GOP all smiles

The United Soviet States of America?

Lenin’s Vision of His Soviet Party

Vladimir Lenin held the belief that a government could only be run by one person or a small group of people. He also believed that there were only two kinds of people in the world: friends or enemies. Obviously, friends believed what Lenin believed and everyone else was an enemy.

Like Lenin, Donald Trump sees only two kinds of people. His adoring supporters and disloyal people who are his enemies. Trump seems to see himself as a heroic figure in a tragic situation, besieged by his enemies. His inability to accept any responsibility for his failings and poor judgment is part of his leadership style.

Soviets and Republicans:  One Party, One Mind

Lenin divided his party when he demanded that membership must consist of only loyal followers. His groupthink party rejected all other ideas and discussion that contradicted his will. Those who were not loyal were not allowed to participate in his government.

Trump has followed a Lenin-like path with a constant stream of changes in his administration. He has reduced his White House staff to yes-people who do not offer different points of view and seek to please Trump with constant praise and admiration.

Like Lenin, Like Putin, Like Trump

The United States of America defeated Communism by being a nation of diverse ideas and opinions. Debate and compromise have been the strength of our country’s political system. After the fall of Soviet Russia, the idea of open discussion led to chaos in the new Russia. In less than a decade, Vladimir Putin rose to power and built a system of government that was a return to Soviet Russia in all but the name.

Trump is following the example of Lenin and Putin in his attempt to establish a Soviet-style government in our country using the Republican party as his version of the Communist party. If he is successful he will essentially be handing the defeat of the United States of America to Putin and Soviet Russia, 27 years after the fall of communism.

Novice Directors Make Theatre Painful

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For five years we ran a small theatre company. Between children plays and main stage adult plays we produced up to twelve shows a year. I had a BFA in Techincal Theatre; however, the experience as a teacher, director, technical director, actor, and executive director forced me to quickly improve all my skills.

Church and School Plays: How to teach young people to hate theatre

The Theatre Director’s Curse

I’m embarrassed to say how bad our first productions were but my skills I did improve over time. Now, I find watching a play is a constant effort to try and enjoy the action of the stage while suppressing my analysis of the work of the director. I deliberately avoid attending plays because I often can’t enjoy what is happening on stage.

My worst experience as an audience member was when I saw King Lear in Stratford-upon-Avon on a theatre tour in England. A Japanese director had violated several basic responsibilities of staging. While his work had been given high praise by many, I found myself looking for a nice pub after intermission.

What Not To Do

Here are some basic mistakes of novice directors:

Chaotic Blocking

An audience member cannot focus on the entire stage at once. It is the job of the director to guide the audience’s attention. Normally that is to the person talking, but it also includes key actions that give the audience information nonverbally. Blocking is the term used to describe how the director uses the movements of the actors to give focus (release the audience’s attention) and take focus (draw the audience’s focus.)

No movement on stage should be unplanned. If an actor is wandering aimlessly on the stage it is the director’s failure to give clear guidance to the actor. Blocking also requires that a director knows at least five ways for an actor to give and take focus. If they don’t know this, the audience will miss keys lines and action that establish the story.

Plodding Scene Changes

OH…MY…GOD! Any scene change that takes more than ten seconds is a failure. The play is a story and the scene change has NOTHING to do with the story. It actually breaks the concentration of the audience and the actors. The scene change is choreography. Everything must be rehearsed over and over with the lights down. Once the scene change is perfected, it must happen exactly the same way every time.

Bad Actor Management

During the rehearsal process, the director will begin to notice which actors may not be capable of handling their role. It is the job of the director to manage the actors and address performance issues. The director must either coach the actor, cut lines, transfer lines, or take other action to resolve the issue. A bad performance is the director’s fault.

Over Designing the Show

Scenic, costume, and lighting design enhance the play. They do not tell the story, and they can often be distracting. Actors are the alpha and omega of a play. Light them, dress them, surround them with a set to perform on, but never forget that a great actor can play a character on a bare stage, with a candle, in hu’s* underwear.

Falling Sky: China’s Tiangong 1 Space Station Last Hours

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Within the next 72 hours China’s first space station, the Tiangong 1, is going to end its life. It is already scraping the extreme upper atmosphere of Earth and the air resistance is slowing down the 7.7 metric tons (8.5 ton) spacecraft with every passing second. It is coming down somewhere, but scientists don’t know exactly when or where.

Tiangong altitude

The rapid altitude decline (in km) of Tiangong 1

Current Stats of Tiangong 1

The current speed of the Tiangong 1 (27 March 2018 at 12 noon PDT) is at 28,000 km/hr (17,400 mph) and it is at an altitude of just under 200 km (125 mi) at the lowest point in its orbit. Its orbit has lowered by over 60 km in the last two months. As Tiangong 1 approaches 160 km the air resistance will be too much for it to maintain orbit.

Statistically, Tiangong 1 will most likely fall into an ocean; however, there is a possibility that it could fall on southern Europe, southern Asia, Africa, Austrailia, South America, Central America, or the United States.

Lost Contact

Normally, objects like this are brought down in a controlled fall using thrusters to slow the craft down at a specific time and location. In the case of Tiangong 1, the Chinese engineers had planned to bring it down in a controlled reentry until they mysteriously lost contact with it two years ago.

China said they had shut down telemetry with Tiangong 1 in March of 2016. They didn’t admit they had lost control of it until amateur astronomers had confirmed the space station was tumbling in space a few months later. Without the ability to communicate with the space station, there is no way to command the thrusters for a controlled reentry.

Best Guess?

The experts are currently estimating that Tiangong 1 will come down on Easter Sunday (1 April.) Since Earth’s atmosphere expands and contracts with solar activity, the air resistance is not consistent. There is a critical point when the air resistance will win its battle with the space station and the orbit will decay exponentially. At that point, the spacecraft will begin a rapid breakup as it descends through the thicker atmosphere.

For what it’s worth, my guess is 7:42 am PDT on Saturday, 31 March.

Journalism Ethics: Interviewing the Reporter As a News Source

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News organizations have not evolved as much as they have devolved over the last sixty years. Journalism ethics have suffered the greatest. The priority in news organizations has shifted from high journalistic standards to gaining market share. The news anchor or primary news host now use the reporter as hu’s* news source.

I can't match the anchor's name to any of the CNN faces online

CNN news anchor interview CNN reporter Matt Rivers

How Did We Get Here?

Originally, the news reporter job was to gather the facts, confirm the facts, and organize the facts into a story. The myth of Superman’s girlfriend getting the scoop and landing a Page One, Pulitzer Prize article wasn’t how it really happened.

Good journalism was the verification of the facts, careful research, and exposing lies. In the end, the reporter’s name was the byline, not the storyline. Reporters needed the attention to detail of an accountant, the interrogation skill of a great attorney, the ethics of a great judge, and the knowledge of a college professor, in addition to the ability to write a compelling story.

But when investors began buying up news organizations, money became the priority over journalism standards. Advancement was based who could attract a bigger audience. Women were brought into the newsroom, but the motivation was ratings, not equality. Money flowed to those that could produce shock and awe. The young, idealistic journalism graduate discovered that a reporter was underpaid, overworked, and disrespected.

And while the journalism standards fell, the news source wall went up. Organizations created ‘public relations’ experts to ‘control the message.’ Now a reporter is the person between the news organization looking for ratings and the news source that wants to be a shining star.

Corporate Public Relations Mastery of Orwellian Doublespeak

Not every company believes in lying to the public, but it does seem the bigger they are, the less responsive they are willing to be. The most recent major incident is Facebook’s initial response to the data of 50 million users being collected by conservatives connected to the Donald Trump campaign.

After the story broke on Saturday 17 March, Facebook ran silent for days before issuing any response. Journalists that attempted to obtain information and/or a response were ignored. Major headlines were running about the data breach and Facebook was on lockdown.

Corporate PR has made the company the least likely source of accurate, reliable, and/or truthful information. So now the reporter digs up whatever information they can and becomes the ‘expert.’ The news anchor often interviews the reporter as the sole news source because no one else will talk.

The problem with this is that the reporter can’t speak with authority. They are not privy to the inside information so they can only offer hu’s opinion. That changes journalism into gossip and guessing. No one can be sure of anything because no one knows the truth. That leaves it up to the individual to accept what they want to hear and reject what they don’t want to hear. That is never good for a democracy.

[*Hu’s is a gender neutral pronoun for his or her.]

The Sad Life of a Russian Troll (Печальная жизнь русского тролля)

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It is a statement of life in Russia when one of the best jobs to be had is employment to write fake news stories, deceive people, and attempt to create chaos in other countries. Russian Troll Farms, or Web Brigades, as they refer to themselves, tell us more about Russian life, than about Western gullibility. What follows is my own fake story of an interview with a Russian Troll.

Troll – a mythical creature in folklore living in caves or hills or under bridges as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.

Russia Condos

Living Large in Russia: Condos in St. Petersburg

Interview With A Russian Troll

[NOTE: Some language may be inappropriate for young readers.]

Interviewer:  What’s your job? (Кем вы работаете?)

Russian Troll:  I learned to speak English so I could be paid to agitate and influence people in the United States to vote for politicians like we have in Russia. (Я научился говорить по-английски, чтобы мне могли заплатить за то, чтобы агитировать и влиять на людей в Соединенных Штатах, чтобы голосовать за таких политиков, как у нас в России.)

Interviewer:  How does that help Russia? (Как это помогает России?)

Russian Troll:  It doesn’t, but it makes the Americans suffer like we have to suffer in this shithole country. (Это не так, но это заставляет американцев страдать, как мы должны страдать в этой стране.)

Interviewer:  Why do you do it? (Почему ты это делаешь?)

Russian Troll:  I live in Russia. How else can I pay the bills? (Я живу в России. Как еще я могу оплатить счета?)

Interviewer:  The economy of the United States drives the economy of the rest of the world. If you’re successful, aren’t you afraid of a worldwide economic disaster? (Экономика Соединенных Штатов стимулирует экономику остального мира. Если вы добились успеха, разве вы не боитесь мировой экономической катастрофы?)

[Language warning]

Russian Troll:  Don’t tell me about disaster until you’ve seen the crappy place where I live in the middle of winter. Fuck the Americans. Fuck the rest of the world. They all celebrated when Americans landed on the Moon. They all celebrated when the Berlin Wall fell. Fuck them! (Не говори мне о бедствии, пока не увидишь дерьмовое место, где я живу в середине зимы. Ебать американцев. Трахайте весь остальной мир. Все они отмечали, когда американцы высадились на Луну. Все они праздновали, когда упала Берлинская стена. Трахайте их!)

Interviewer:  What about your children? How will your work help them? (Как насчет ваших детей? Как ваша работа поможет им?)

Russian Troll:  Who cares? Did anyone care about me when I was a child? For the last twenty years no one cares, so why should I care? (Какая разница? Кто-нибудь заботился обо мне, когда я был ребенком? За последние двадцать лет никто не заботится, так зачем мне это волновать?)

Interviewer:  You mean the last twenty years when Vladimir Putin has led your country? (Вы имеете в виду последние двадцать лет, когда Владимир Путин привел вашу страну?)

Russian Troll:  Exactly!…No, wait. YOU TRICK ME! (Quickly looks around) No, Putin has been good. I mean Putin has been great. Great! Putin is a great leader! (Точно! .. Нет, подожди. ВЫ ТРЕТЬЕ МЕНЯ! Нет, Путин был хорош. Я имею в виду, что Путин был замечательным. Большой! Путин – великий лидер!)

Interviewer:  What does a Russian troll do after they leave the Farm? (Что делает русский тролль после ухода из фермы?)

Russian Troll:  First of all, we are not a Troll Farm. We are a Web Brigade! We fight a war against the Free Countries of the World! We will bring them to their knees! Second, when I finish here I will be rich! I will never have to work again! I will move to America and be a…how you say,…big?, BIG, yes?, I will be a big man! You will know me by my shiny red sports car! (Прежде всего, мы не Ферма Троллей. Мы – веб-бригада! Мы ведем войну против Свободных стран мира! Мы поставим их на колени! Во-вторых, когда я закончу здесь, я буду богат! Мне больше никогда не придется работать! Я перееду в Америку и буду … как вы говорите, … большой?, БОЛЬШОЙ, да ?, Я буду большим человеком! Ты узнаешь меня своим блестящим красным спортивным автомобилем!)

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.)