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Friday, December 28, 2018

Wiffle Ball and Idiot Politicians

     A Wiffle ball is a perforated, light-weight, resilient plastic baseball. It allows play of miniature baseball in small confined places such as indoors. 
    The ball was invented by David N. Mullany at his home in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1953 when he designed a ball that curved easily for his 12-year-old son. It was named when his son and his friends would refer to a strikeout as a "whiff". 
     The classic trademarked Wiffle Ball is about the same size as a regulation baseball, but is hollow, lightweight, of resilient plastic, and no more than 1/8 inch thick. One half is perforated with eight .75-inch (19 mm) oblong holes; the other half is non-perforated. The approximate weight of a Wiffle ball is 0.7 ounces (20 grams). This construction allows pitchers to throw a tremendous variety of curve balls and other odd trajectories. 
     The game became popular nationwide by the 1960s and is played in backyards, on city streets and anywhere there isn't a lot of room. There is also an official Wiffle ball site
     In April 2011, the government of the State of New York proclaimed that Wiffle ball, as well as kickball, tag, red rover and dodgeball were "unsafe" and a "significant risk of injury" for children, and declared that any summer camp program that included two or more of such activities would be subject to government regulation. 
Ready for some Wiffle ball

     Parenting.com sarcastically commented that surviving these games was like cheating death. Understandably, Wiffle ball executives originally thought it was a joke. The company has never been sued over safety issues in its 50+ year history. 
     Included in the legislation were provisions that would have required camps in many smaller towns and villages to add staff such as nurses and pay $200 for a state permit. 
    Public ridicule and disapproval of people from across the nation pressured the New York legislature to remove Wiffle ball and many other entries from the list of high risk activities. 
     It's to their credit that public ridicule worked on members of the New York...it's too bad that it doesn't work on most other public officials; ridicule rolls off them like water off a duck's back.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Silliness...Bollard Fences Becoming Walls

    Long Fence, a commercial and residential fence company, sells bollards and defines them this way: “Bollards are upright steel posts mounted in or alongside roads and parking lots to control, direct or obstruct vehicular traffic or impact.” 
     They're the stubby, concrete-filled barriers that protect office buildings and shopping malls across the U.S. The bollard's sole purpose is to prevent vehicles from crashing through. Wildlife and people can easily pass through. Examples of bollard fences:

     President Trump has redefined the bollard fence as a wall. It sounds silly, but it's true. But before being too harsh on our President, it seems everybody is doing it...renaming things that is. See the article, Donald Trump's obsession with renaming things 
     President Trump is not alone. See the article about how India’s ruling party’s penchant for renaming things is un-Indian HERE
     According to an article in the New Yorker, There's Power in Names.
     There is also and article titled How to Overcome Anxiety: The Power of Renaming Emotions 
     Then there are people trying to erase history by removing monuments and renaming things. See this article
     Businesses do it.  Philip Morris changed its name to Altria, ValueJet became AirTran and Blackwater became ACADEMI.  Why? The article 6 Reasons Why You May Want to Rename and Rebrand Your Business explains. 
     It's an interesting phenomenon.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Race Is On!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Staff Sergeant Bernice Frankel, US Marine Corps

     Bea Arthur, as she is now known, used to be on Broadway stages before she became one of the Golden Girls named Dorothy Zbornak on the once popular television sitcom.
     Records buried in the Official Military Personnel Files in the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri tell another story about Frankel, or Arthur, if you prefer. She used to be a U.S. Marine. 
     On February 13, 1943, the Marine Corps issued a call to women, “Be a Marine . . . Free a Man to Fight.” The Corps had established the Women’s Reservists, making them the last branch of the military to allow women to enlist. 
     Corps Commandant General Thomas Holcomb had his reservations, but in spite of that, the Corps began a program to put women in as many positions as possible, enabling male Marines to join combat units. The public wanted to call them something like Glamarines or Femarines, but the salty old General Holcomb wouldn't hear of it. “They don’t have a nickname and they don’t need one. . . . They inherit the traditions of Marines. They are Marines." It turned out he wasn't quite on the money with his remark. In my day, twenty years after the War, they were officially known as WMs (Women Marines), but were more popularly referred to as "BAMs." That stood for "Broad A** Marines." We weren't politically correct in those days. 
     More than 20,000 enlisted by the end of World War II and though they served in noncombat roles, they played a vital role in the Marine Corps during the war. Just five days after the call went out, on February 18, 1943, Bernice Frankel enlisted. 
     The daughter of immigrants (her mother was Austrian and her father Polish), she was born in in New York, but the family moved to Maryland, where Arthur graduated from high school. After high school, she attended Blackstone College in Blackstone, Virginia for a year, then returned home to Maryland where she worked for several months as a food analyst testing products for mold and bacteria. 
     Later, she moved to New York and worked various jobs and volunteered in the civilian war effort as an air-raid warden. Two months before her 21st birthday, she had to obtain her parents’ consent to enlist.  Times have changed!
     The enlistment process was a long one for women. The Women Reservists were so new that the Marine Corps hadn’t even created the necessary paperwork and enlisted women using Navy paperwork. 
     She became Private Frankel on February 20, 1943. She attended the first Women Reservists school at Hunter College in New York and spent 1944 and 1945 at the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina where she worked as a driver and a dispatcher. She was discharged in September of 1945, after having reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. After her discharge she attended dramatics school and the rest was history.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Why Some People Believe Their Own Lies

     A few weeks back one evening we had some light rain that changed to snow overnight. The next day it was sunny and the temperature was in the low 40s. In the morning someone posted a warning on Facebook informing people that the city streets were snow and ice covered and it was a slow commute to work. 
     One reader posted a comment that the conditions of the streets were the mayor's fault and a couple of people agreed. It was the stupidest thing! Our mayor is a Republican and the comments, at least the original one, came from a known staunch Democrat. Evidently they thought the mayor was calling the streets department telling them to plow and salt this street, but not that one.
     Our city has long had a pdf download prepared by city council outlining what streets will be plowed and salted and the order in which they will be done. Additionally, the guidelines specify the conditions that must prevail for the work to be done and if it is to be delayed or not done at all. It's up to the superintendent of the streets department to follow those guidelines. The mayor has absolutely nothing to do with it. Blaming the mayor is part of the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” that we live in.
     Whether we realize it or not, most of us harbor at least some false beliefs. But, deliberately pushing peoples' hot-button on political issues is harmful. Ultimately, our beliefs influence the way we vote, whom we elect, and what policies are enacted. 
     So, why do people so easily believe such blatant falsehoods? Psychologists have shown it is explained by a relatively small amount of cognitive biases or mental shortcuts. People routinely use mental shortcuts to understand what happens around them because we don't have the time or gumption to sit down and research the facts. Sometimes those shortcuts are just plain wrong.
     One such shortcut is called conformation bias. If the "facts" appear to support something we already believe, we will accept them as true.
     The availability heuristic is another reason. It's a mental shortcut that relies on examples that come to a person's mind when evaluating a topic, concept, method or decision. It operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternatives which are not as readily recalled. Subsequently, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward that latest news. 
     Another factor is emotional reasoning. It is a cognitive process by which a person concludes that their emotional reaction proves something is true, regardless of the evidence. Emotional reasoning amplifies the effects of other cognitive distortions. We are all swayed by emotions, but emotions aren't always driven by logic and reason, particularly when it comes to many of our beliefs. As a result, we sometimes end up using our reasoning to justify or defend a conclusion that we’ve already drawn based on our emotions. 
     Did you know there is a study (recently published in the journal Brain and Cognition) which suggests that in as little as 45 minutes older adults can come to believe a lie they tell is the truth? 
     In the study, the subjects aged 60-92 proved significantly more likely than the 18-24-year-olds to accept as the truth a lie they had told less than an hour earlier. The study claims older adults have more difficulty distinguishing between what's real and what's not; telling a lie scrambles older people's memory so they have a harder time recalling what really happened. The conclusion was lying alters memory and creates a new memory for something that didn't happen. 
     Now you know. Old geezers really believe their own lies. That explains a lot.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

When Ohio Was The Wild West

     If you live in Ohio, or have ever been to Ohio, you'll probably find it hard to believe that at one time it was the “Wild West.” Europeans viewed Ohio as the frontier before they began to explore the area in the seventeenth century. 
     The first explorers were French In 1670, Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle is credited with being the the first European in the Ohio Country and it was he who discovered the Ohio River. The British soon followed. By the middle of the 1700s French and British traders arrived in the region, trading for furs with the local Indian. Tensions quickly mounted between the French and the British, resulting in the French and Indian War which took place from 1754 to 1763. Both sides had Indian allies. The British won the war and drove the French from the Ohio Country and the rest of North America. 
     British settlers soon moved into Ohio Country, despite British attempts to prevent it from happening. After the American Revolution the newly independent states controlled what is now Ohio and the government arranged for the surveying and sale of the land. Tensions between whites and the Indians quickly developed as more and more whites entered the region. The federal government, as it was to do many times in the future, secured the land for the whites through wars and “treaties.” 
     Today, there are no federally recognized Indian tribes in Ohio because most Native were forced to leave Ohio during the Indian Removals of the 1800's. The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy. None of these tribes are extinct, but except for the descendants of Ohio Indians who escaped from Removal, they do not live in Ohio anymore. They were moved to Indian reservations in Oklahoma. 
     As early as 1779, four or five hundred Shawnee had moved to Missouri. Other independent groups of Indians had also moved without waiting for their organized removal. Among them were the Kickapoo, Shawnee and Delaware, whom the Spanish had permitted to settle in the Missouri area in the 1790s. 
     On March 8 and 9, 1782 one of the blackest deeds ever committed against the Indians occurred when a group of Pennsylvania militiamen under the command of Captain David Williamson attacked the Moravian Church mission founded by David Zeisberger at Gnadenhutten. The militia attacked the American Indians in retaliation for the deaths and kidnappings of several white Pennsylvanians, although this particular group of so-called "Christian Delaware" had recently returned from their new outpost at Upper Sandusky to forage for crops and were not responsible for the Pennsylvania attack. The militiamen attacked the Christian Delaware, although these peoples had not been involved in the previous incidents. The Christian Delawares had abandoned Gnadenhutten the year before, but some of them had returned to harvest crops that were still in the fields. 
     On March 8, the militiamen arrived at Gnadenhutten. Accusing the American Indians of the attack on the Pennsylvania settlements, the soldiers rounded them up and placed the men and women in separate buildings in the abandoned village overnight. 
     The militiamen then voted to execute their captives the following morning. Informed of their impending deaths, the Christian Delawares spent the night praying and singing hymns. The next morning the soldiers took the Christian Delaware in pairs to a cabin and murdered them. In all, Williamson's men murdered twenty-eight men, twenty-nine women, and thirty-nine children. There were only two survivors, who informed the Moravian missionaries and other Christian American Indians as to what had occurred. The Moravian church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the world.
     General Anthony "Mad Anthony" Wayne’s campaign of 1792 through 1794 against the Indians ended forty years of war and border raids in the Ohio valley. In August of 1795, General Wayne and the Indians signed the Greeneville Treaty thereby in which the Indians gave up about 2/3s of present day Ohio. They continued to occupy the northwestern 1/3 of the state, but land speculators, settlers and developers began moving in and squatters began trespassing on the Indian reservation. 
     As early as July 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made an official proposal for the removal of the Indians to the west. The argument was that there the Indians would be free from white interference and would never have to face loss of their homes again. 
     In 1825, President James Monroe came up with a removal policy and in 1829 President Andrew Jackson and other political leaders wanted to ship the Indians west of the Mississippi and the Indian Removal Bill was passed in May of 1830.
     By 1803 a sufficient number of whites lived in what is now Ohio for the region to become a state. When Ohio was admitted to the Union a sizable portion of the state remained unsettled by whites, but settlers continued to move in for the next forty years. By the late 1840s, the federal government had removed the last sizable group of American Indians from Ohio and the frontier had moved on. 
     The name "Ohio" is an Iroquoian Indian word that came from the Seneca name for the Ohio River, Ohiyo, which means "it is beautiful." The Senecas were not the original inhabitants of Ohio. The Indian tribes of the Ohio Valley were decimated by smallpox and other European diseases before the Europeans had even met them. Algonquian and Iroquoian tribes from neighboring regions moved into Ohio as European colonization forced them from their original homes. Only a few of the tribes who were living in Ohio before 1492 still survive today. 

The original inhabitants of the Ohio area included: 
The Iroquois Nations - Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas and the Senecas. In 1712, the Tuscaroras were admitted to the tribal union, and the confederacy of the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations. The home of the Iroquois was in New York, but they were a very warlike people and their conquests extended from New York to the Carolinas and from New England to the Mississippi. 
The Delaware, or Lenape - were once the formidable enemies of the Iroquois. The Delaware were conquered by the Iroquois in 1617, and became submissive in their dealings with the Iroquois Confederacy. At the time of the Pennsylvania charter to William Penn in 1681, the Delaware occupied New Jersey, the valley of the Delaware River and the entire basin of the Schuylkill. Subsequently they moved west to the Ohio Country. 
The Shawnee - were described as a restless people, who were constantly engaged in war with some of their neighbors. The tribe originated near the Suwaney River in Florida. Around 1698, they first appeared in Pennsylvania, six miles below Pittsburgh. In 1728, they moved west and settled near the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. In 1732, of seven hundred warriors in the State of Pennsylvania, 350 were Shawnee. They had several villages within the limits of the present counties of Allegheny and Beaver. 
The Mingos - were an independent group in the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and were mostly made up of Senecas and Cayugas. The Mingos were noted for having a bad reputation and were sometimes referred to as Blue Mingos or Black Mingos for their misdeeds. The people who became known as Mingos migrated to the Ohio Country in the mid-eighteenth century, part of a movement of various Native American tribes to a region that had been sparsely populated for decades but controlled as a hunting ground by the Iroquois. 

     In 2017, Ohio had a population of about 11.66 million, of which only about 25,300 were listed as Native Americans. 

Scalping: Fact and Fantasy

Surviving A Scalping

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Here's the Scoop On Cat Pee

     Humans, most anyway, are repulsed by urine, but for animals it's different. Cats, for example, communicate with their pee. They mark their territories with it and males announce they're available for mating and to warn other tomcats to back off. 
     Urine starts with water which regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells and flushes out waste. 
     Cats in the wild get much of their fluids from prey, but for domestic cats who are fed dry food, it's only about about 10 percent water, so cats need to drink a lot of water. Canned food is around 80 percent water, so cats who eat this type of diet will likely drink a lot less water, because they’re getting it in their food. Our cat supplements her need for water by drinking out of the toilet. 
     Drinking water doesn’t directly produce urine; water mammals drink goes through the digestive tract and is absorbed into the bloodstream, then the kidneys filter the blood. 
     Cat urine contains about 95 percent water and 2 percent urea, a waste product resulting from protein metabolism. It's advised that cats should be taken to the vet if you notice that its urine is any other color than amber/yellow and perhaps because it's concentrated, a little on the dark side. Who checks their cat's pee? Although I suppose you'd notice it when scooping their litter box. 
     A urinary blockage or ruptured bladder can cause urine flow to stop. If a cat produces too little urine in a 24-hour period, it could indicate dehydration, kidney failure or a urinary blockage. If a cat produces too much urine, diabetes or other illness might be the cause. 
     Cat urine has a unique order because of the high levels of protein in their meat diet. It contains an amino acid called felinine. Although felinine is odorless to humans, it breaks down into stinking sulfur-containing compounds that produce pungent odors. Males cats that aren't neutered produce about three times more stink producing chemicals than neutered males or females, because they have more testosterone. 
     The odors serve as territory markers and attract females. If a cat pees on your carpet or furniture, the odor is difficult to remove. Cats have a superior sense of smell, so they will be able to pick up on the pheromones left behind even if we humans can't detect it. And, the sulfur-containing compounds are not eliminated by regular cleaners. You have to use cleaners with certain enzymes that break down cat urine compounds, even those only detectable to the cat or else they will continue to mark the spot. 
     The Cornell Feline Health Center reports that more than 30 percent of cats will get kidney disease in their lifetime. Older cats, half over the age of 15, have a form of kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease has no cure, but veterinarians today can detect the chronic form early and slow its progression allowing the cat to live a quality life with proper diet and treatment. 
     Just like humans, cats like a clean bathroom so if they’re peeing outside the box, something is wrong. If a cat takes a whiz outside the box it might have health issues, they might be upset about something that changed in their environment or maybe the condition of their litter box displeases them. 

Some possible causes: 
1) Pee on vertical surfaces – there are other cats are around and your cat is communicating with them. 
2) Nervous pee - usually happens when the cat becomes anxious and can’t make it to the litter box. It's usually on horizontal surfaces. 
3) Normal peeing - they have a clean litter box and a home they perceive as safe. 

Here is an interesting article on the effects of breathing cat urine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Physics of Baseball

     Everything you want to know about the physics of baseball is available from the University of Illinois HERE.

     I mean everything: areodynamics, knuckle balls, bat-ball collision, high speed videos, bat performance research and much more!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Wakuneco, An Amazing Japanese Artist

     I have heard of crafting with cat fur, but there's also a craft called Needle Felting that isn't quite so gross. There's a Japanese lady named Wakuneco has taken needle felting to a whole new dimension using wool. Actually, when you think about it, wool is not too different from cat fur; they are both animal hair.
     Wakuneco uses wool to craft unbelievably realistic hand-felted 3-D cat faces. She begins with pictures of real cats and after a long and delicate process she ends up with a realistic looking cat face. 
     Using a needle, she pokes wool into a piece of felt until it forms a solid shape that looks like a cat then adds glass eyes and whiskers. When completed the face is mounted inside wooden frames. The results are amazing. Wakuneco sells her work via Yahoo Auctions and currently only ships to Japan. You can see more of the artist’s work on Instagram and Facebook.

Wakuneco on Facebook
My Modern Art
Learn How to Needle Felt

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What Powers Does the President Have?

     It may surprise people to know that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 gave very little attention to the executive branch of government. 
     They argued at great length over what power the Congress should have, but when it came to the president it didn't take them long to specify what he can do. In fact, a clear understanding of the scope of the authority they intended to give the executive branch is not clear. 
     The framers of the Constitution never envisaged the president would become as power as he has in modern times. They erroneously assumed that the legislative branch would be much more influential. James Madison wrote that it would "rarely if ever happen that the executive constituted as ours is proposed to be would have firmness enough to resist the legislature." Only Alexander Hamilton strongly advocated an executive with the power to match the monarchs of Europe. 
     Over time power has been increasingly usurped by the Executive Branch. Besides power hungry men who have occupied the office, there has also been a realization that Congress, when compared to the president, acts too slowly to make timely responses to national security threats. 
     In just one example, in the 1952 case of Youngstown (Ohio) Sheet and Tube Co. vs. Sawyer, President Harry Truman, responding to labor unrest at the steel mills during the Korean War, seized control of the mills. A six-member majority of the Court concluded that his action exceeded his authority under the Constitution. However, seven justices indicated that the power of the President is not limited to those powers expressly granted in the Constitution. Had the Congress not implied approval of Truman's seizure of the mills, the action would have been upheld. 

Basically Articles I and II give the president the following powers: 
# Every Order, Resolution, or Vote of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary...shall be presented to the President...and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be re-passed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives.... 
# Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices 
# Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. 
# Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur 
# Nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for...but Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments. 
# Power to fill all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate 
# He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and...he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper 
# He shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers 
# he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States. 

Executive Orders 

     Executive Orders have been used by every president since George Washington. Most of these directives were unpublished and were only seen by the agencies involved. To implement or execute the laws of the land, Presidents give direction and guidance to Executive Branch agencies and departments, often in the form of Executive Orders.
     Executive Orders (EOs) are legally binding orders given by the President, acting as the head of the Executive Branch, to Federal Administrative Agencies. Executive Orders are generally used to direct federal agencies and officials in their execution of congressionally established laws or policies. However, in many instances they have been used to guide agencies in directions contrary to congressional intent. 
     Not all EOs are created equal. Proclamations, for example, are a special type of Executive Order that are generally ceremonial or symbolic, such as when the President declares National Take Your Child To Work Day. 
     Another subset of Executive Orders are those concerned with national security or defense issues. These have generally been known as National Security Directives. 
     Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress.
     The President's source of authority to issue Executive Orders can be found in the Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution which grants to the President the "executive Power." Section 3 of Article II further directs the President to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." 
     Executive Orders are controversial because they allow the President to make major decisions, even law, without the consent of Congress. This, of course, runs against the general logic of the Constitution -- that no one should have power to act unilaterally. Nevertheless, Congress often gives the President considerable leeway in implementing and administering federal law and programs. 
     Sometimes, Congress cannot agree exactly how to implement a law or program. In effect, this leaves the decision to the federal agencies involved and the President that stands at their head. 
     When Congress fails to spell out in detail how a law is to be executed, it leaves the door open for the President to provide those details in the form of Executive Orders. 
     If Congress does not like what the executive branch is doing, it has two main options. First, it may rewrite or amend a previous law, or spell it out in greater detail how the Executive Branch must act. Of course, the President has the right to veto the bill if he disagrees with it, so, in practice, a 2/3 majority if often required to override an Executive Order. 
     Congress is less likely to challenge EOs that deal with foreign policy, national defense, or the implementation and negotiation of treaties, as these are powers granted largely to the President by the Constitution. 
     As the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the President is also considered the nation's "Chief Diplomat." In fact, given national security concerns, some defense or security related EOs (often called National Security Directives or Presidential Decision Directives) are not made public. 
     In addition to congressional recourse, Executive Orders can be challenged in court, usually on the grounds that the Order deviates from "congressional intent" or exceeds the President's constitutional powers. 
     As mentioned above, in one such notable instance, President Harry Truman, was rebuked by the Supreme Court for overstepping the bounds of presidential authority. After World War II, Truman seized control of steel mills across the nation in an effort to settle labor disputes. In response to a challenge of this action, the Supreme Court ruled that the seizure was unconstitutional and exceeded presidential powers because neither the Constitution or any statute authorized the President to seize private businesses to settle labor disputes. For the most part, however, the Court has been fairly tolerant of wide range of executive actions.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Federal Reserve Scam

     The Federal Reserve Board has cheated the Government and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the national debt. 
     The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve or simply the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, after a series of financial panics (particularly the panic of 1907) led to the desire for central control of the monetary system in order to alleviate financial crises. 
     Congress established three key objectives for monetary policy in the Federal Reserve Act: maximizing employment, stabilizing prices, and moderating long-term interest rates. Although an instrument of the US Government, the Federal Reserve System considers itself an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government. 
     Government spending is always a tax burden on citizens and is never equally or fairly distributed. The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer the most from the deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing. - Congressman Ron Paul
     If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. - Thomas Jefferson 
     Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall have the power to coin (i.e. create) money and regulate the value thereof. In 1935 the Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot Constitutionally delegate its power to another. 
     The London banker Rothschild wrote that a Central Bank gives the National Bank almost complete control of national finance. The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favors, that there will be no opposition from that class... The great body of the people, mentally incapable of comprehending, will bear its burden without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical (contrary) to their interests. 
     It's important to understand that the Federal Reserve Bank is a private company which controls and profits by printing money through the Treasury, and regulating its value.  
     The FED began with approximately 300 people or banks that became stockholders purchasing stock, which is not publicly traded, at $100 per share.
     The FED banking system collects billions of dollars in interest annually and distributes the profits to its shareholders. Congress illegally gave the FED the right to print money (through the Treasury) at no interest to the FED. The FED creates money from nothing, and loans it to the public through banks and charges interest. The FED also buys Government debt with money printed on a printing press and charges U.S. taxpayers interest. 

Who actually owns the Federal Reserve Central Banks? - 
  • Rothschild Bank of London 
  • Warburg Bank of Hamburg 
  • Rothschild Bank of Berlin 
  • Lehman Brothers of New York 
  • Lazard Brothers of Paris 
  • Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York 
  • Israel Moses Seif Banks of Italy 
  • Goldman, Sachs of New York 
  • Warburg Bank of Amsterdam 
  • Chase Manhattan Bank of New York 
 These bankers are connected to London Banking Houses which ultimately control the FED. 

     How did this fraud happen? After previous attempts to push the Federal Reserve Act through Congress, a group of bankers funded and staffed Woodrow Wilson's campaign for President. He had committed to sign this act. In 1913, a Senator, Nelson Aldrich, grandfather to the Rockefellers, pushed the Federal Reserve Act through Congress just before Christmas when much of Congress was on vacation. When elected, Wilson passed the FED. Later, Wilson remorsefully replied (referring to the FED), "I have unwittingly ruined my country." 

     Today, if the government runs a deficit, the FED prints dollars through the U.S. Treasury, buys the debt, and the dollars are circulated into the economy. In 1992, taxpayers paid the FED banking system $286 billion in interest on debt the FED purchased by printing money virtually cost free. Forty percent of our personal federal income taxes goes to pay this interest. The FED's books are not open to the public and Congress has yet to audit it. 
     The U.S. Government can buy back the FED at any time for $450 million (per Congressional record). The U.S. Treasury could then collect all the profit on the money instead of the 300 original shareholders of the FED. The $4 trillion of U.S. debt could be exchanged dollar for dollar with U.S. non- interest bearing currency when the debt becomes due. There would be no inflation because there would be no additional currency in circulation. Personal income tax could be cut if we bought back the FED and therefore, the economy would expand. 
     According to the Constitution, Congress is to control the creation of money, keeping the amount of inflation or deflation in check. Clearly, Congress isn't doing their job. Why? 
     At election time the banks financially back sympathetic candidates and most of these candidates are elected. The bankers employ members of the Congress at lucrative salaries and the FED started buying up the media in the 1930's and now owns or significantly influences most of it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Cell Phone Addiction

     Cell phone dependence syndrome cause some mobile phone users to exhibit behaviors related to substance use disorders. These include preoccupation with cell phone usage, spending excessive money or time spent on them or using cell phones in socially or physically inappropriate situations such as when engaged in social interaction with other, in classrooms or similar settings and when driving. 
     According to a growing number of studies, cell phones are addictive and this addiction is linked to some serious mental health risks. 
     An early study in the U.S. had young people give up their phones and found that they performed worse on mental tasks when they were in withdrawal and felt physiological symptoms like increased heart rate and blood pressure. They also felt a sense of loss, or lessening, of their extended self—their phones.
     Another recent study looked at the rise in depression and suicide in teenagers which according to the Center for Disease Control has risen in the rates over the years 2010-2015. It found that girls were particularly at risk; their suicide rate rose by 65 percent in five years and the number of girls with severe depression rose by 58 percent. 
     They found there is a correlation between mental health issues and a rise in “new media screen activities.” About 48 percent of those who spent five or more hours a day on their phones had thought about suicide or made plans for it. For those who spent only an hour a day on their phones the figure was only 28 percent. Authors of the study couldn't positively say that the use of cell phones caused the increase in mental health issues, but that was by far the biggest change in teens' lives between since 2010. Researchers also found that teenagers who spent more time doing sports, homework, socializing with friends face to face or going to church had a lower risk for both depression and suicide.
     Instagram and snapchat are dangerous pastimes because they give the appearance of social interaction, but the problem is that looking at other people’s lives online is often misleading because often their posts have been edited or are scripted to make things look better. 
     Cell phone addiction functions very similarly to gambling addiction. The internet, twitter and texting can give instant gratification. Cell phones, like slot machines, operate on a variable reinforcement schedule which means every once in a while you get a reward… a piece of information, a text, an email, an update or something that is pleasurable. Like gambling, you don't know when or how much. This is highly addictive because the idea and the neurobiological expectation it sets up is you are going to get a reward, you just don't when how how much. 
     These little rewards trigger a dopamine release. Dopamine controls the pleasure centers in our brain and when it's released, it feels good and makes us want more. 

Addiction is a combination of two things.  
1) an abuse or dependency on a substance or behavior that is beyond our control and outside the realm of reasonable use.  
2) it must be impact our life in some negative way. 

Other things are also necessary in order meet the criteria for addiction. 
1) Increased Tolerance: Needing more time on the phone, updated technology or new apps to get the fix. 
2) Withdrawal: Feeling ill at ease or anxious when away from the cell phone. 
3) Mood Altering: Using technology to alter one's mood or change their state of mind. For example, sending texts when feeling a bit depressed or turning to an iPhone game when feeling anxious. 
     For those wanting to break the addiction or use their cell phones less there are even an apps for that! They monitor phone usage then give you a daily score and even notify you if you have been on the phone too long. 
     Addicts are advised not to sleep with their phone. Using the phone within an hour of bedtime leads to poorer sleep quality and more insomnia. Also, checking the phone upon awakening reinforces the habit for the rest of the day. When people want to cut back on cell phone use, they have to stop using apps like addictive games. Scheduling time throughout the day to go phone free will also help. 

7 Scary Things You Never Knew About Cell Phone Addiction

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sylvester Graham And His Crackers

     Graham crackers originated circa the early 1880s and today are eaten as a snack food and used as an ingredient in some foods. They were inspired by the preaching of Sylvester Graham who believed a vegetarian diet along with a lot of home-made whole grain bread was necessary as part of a lifestyle that involved minimizing pleasure and stimulation of all kinds, including masturbation. 
     The Reverend Sylvester Graham (July 5, 1794 – September 11, 1851) was a 19th-century Presbyterian minister and American dietary reformer who was known for his emphasis on vegetarianism, the temperance movement and his emphasis on eating whole-grain bread.  His preaching inspired the use of graham flour, graham bread and graham cracker products. 
     Graham was born in 1794 in Connecticut, to a family with seventeen children; his father was 70 years old when Graham was born and his mother was mentally ill. His father died when Graham was two, and he spent his childhood moving from one relative's home to another. One of his relatives ran a tavern where Graham was put to work and his experience with drunkenness there led him to hate alcohol his whole life and forswear drinking. 
     He was often sick, and missed a great deal of schooling. He worked as a farm hand, cleaner and teacher before deciding on the ministry as an antidote for his poor health. He entered Amherst Academy in his late twenties to become a minister as his father and grandfather had been, but was forced to leave when his schoolmates created a scandal by claiming he had improperly approached a woman. 
     Graham suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of his expulsion and moved to Rhode Island to recover, where he met a woman he married who nursed him back to health. 
     He studied theology privately, and in 1828 began working as an itinerant preacher in New Jersey. In 1830 Graham was offered a position at the Philadelphia Temperance Society and accepted it, but quit after six months to focus his preaching on health. 
     When the European cholera pandemic struck in 1829-1851, he converted to vegetarianism. Americans were terrified that it would reach their shores and the accepted medical opinion at the time was that eating plenty of meat, drinking port wine, and avoiding vegetables was the best way to prevent contracting cholera. People also believed that cholera was a plague sent by God to punish people. 
     The Philadelphia Temperance Society was led by doctors who were concerned about health effects of alcohol. Graham moved in their circles and may have met William Metcalfe, an English minister who established a vegetarian church in Philadelphia and William A. Alcott, a Philadelphia doctor who wrote extensively about vegetarianism. 
     Graham taught himself about physiology and apparently arrived at the conclusion that meat was just as bad as alcohol. Graham's interest was also captured by the books written by the German chemist, Friedrich Accum, in which he denounced the use of chemical additives in food and especially those used in bread. 
     Like other members of the temperance movement, Graham viewed physical pleasure and especially sexual stimulation because they lead to behavior that harmed individuals, families and societies. He believed that people should eat only plants, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and believed that plague and illness were caused by living in ways that ignored natural law. From these views Graham created a theology and diet aimed at keeping people healthy:
  • Drinking pure water
  • Eating a vegetarian diet anchored by bread made at home from flour coarsely ground at home so that it remained wholesome and natural, contained no added spices or other "stimulants" 
  • A rigorous lifestyle that included sleeping on hard beds and avoiding warm baths.  
     Graham believed that adhering to such diet would prevent people from having impure thoughts and in turn would stop masturbation which he thought lead to blindness and early death.
     In 1834 he published On Self-Pollution which contributed to the masturbation scare in antebellum America. He believed youthful masturbation was dangerous to children's health because of the immaturity of their reproductive organs. 
     His sermons centered on patriotism, theology, diet, lifestyle and temperance outraged bakers, butchers and even the medical establishment. When the cholera epidemic reached New York in 1832, people who had followed his advice appeared to thrive and his fame was enhanced and he lectured in New York and Boston that year. 
     As his fame spread, "Grahamism" became a movement, and people inspired by his preaching began to develop and market graham flour, graham bread, and graham crackers. He neither invented nor endorsed any specific product, nor did he receive any money from their sale. 
     In 1850, Graham and several other founded the American Vegetarian Society in New York City. He died the following year at the age of 57 at home in Northampton, Massachusetts. Graham influenced other Americans including Horace Greeley and John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


     Crawdads, also known as crayfish, crawfish, crawlfish, crawldads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs or yabbies are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters. 
     Some species are found in brooks and streams where there is running fresh water, while others thrive in swamps and ditches. Most crawdads cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species are hardier. They feed on animals and plants, either living or decomposing, and detritus. 
     The greatest diversity of crawdads is found in southeastern North America, with over 330 species in nine genera. In 1983, Louisiana designated the crayfish, or crawfish as they are commonly referred, as their official state crustacean. 

     Louisiana produces 100 million pounds per year with the red swamp and white river crawfish being the two most popular species to harvest. Crawfish are a special part of Cajun culture dating back hundreds of years. 

How to cook Cajun Crawfish

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Make Your Own Ice Melter

     Our front porch and steps are concrete so when they get ice on them it's impossible to to spread salt to melt the ice because of the damage it does to the concrete. 
     An easy and effective way, also cheap(!) is to make my own ice melting compound. First, I bought a 32 ounce (¼ of a gallon) Zep brand plastic spray bottle at Home Depot for less than $4.00. This spray bottle is great...it will squirt liquids 6-8 feet. Now that I think of it though, I should probably invest in a 2 gallon plastic watering can for about $5.00. 
     Put 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish washing liquid and two teaspoons of rubbing alcohol into the bottle and filled it with warm water. The original instructions said use a half gallon of water, but I didn't have a bottle that big. 
     One site I was on said this would not work, but it did. However, I have no idea as to how low the temperature has to be for it not to work, nor do I know how long the ice will stay slushy. I suspect it would be perfect for use where steps and walks are covered with freezing rain. 
     Of course, calcium chloride pellets are best because they are hygroscopic, meaning they draw moisture form the air and ice, which enables it to work when other deicers cannot. No other ice melter out performs calcium chloride pellets. It melts ice and snow down to temperatures of -25 degrees F. and it is safe to use on concrete and vegetation when used correctly. But it is expensive.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Pet Rabbits

     Dogs and cats are good pets, but each has its disadvantages. If you are looking for a pet that is as much fun as a puppy or kitten but not as demanding, doesn't make noise, doesn't shed and doesn't poop a lot, bunnies make wonderful pets. But, remember, rabbits live over ten ears and they are not low maintenance animals. 
     Bunnies are quiet; they make little to no noise. Rabbits have distinct personalities and they can be charming, affectionate and very interactive. Just like dogs and cats, some bunnies are rambunctious and playful, while others may be more shy and reserved. Like dogs and cats, rabbits bond closely with their owners and get to know them. They recognize them by voice and sight and will even come when called. They may even follow their owners from room to room. 
     Most rabbits don’t particularly like being held/picked up, but some will jump up on their owner's laps and even come when called. Like cats, some are aloof, some aren't. 
     Another advantage rabbits have is that they don't require much space...all they need is a couple of hours of exercise hopping around outside of their cage. They don't eat a lot, nor do the poop much...a litter pan in one corner will do. Yes, bunnies can be trained to use a litterbox, but it will take patience. They can also be trained to run an obstacle courses and to do tricks. You do it the same way as training other animals...positive reinforcement. It’s best to use treats that they only get during training though. 
     Vet bills. Rabbits. Like dogs and cats, should be spayed or neutered, so expect a vet bill. In addition, there are startup costs that can be a tad steep; actually pretty steep. A pen (dog pens are ideal), litter box, feeder and food dishes and rabbit-proofing materials for cords, etc, and you can end up spending a couple of hundred dollars. Litter, hay, vegetables and pellets can run $100 a month. Also, if the rabbit gets sick vet bills can be expensive. 
     One also needs to be aware that bunnies can be destructive! Even in a bunny-proofed your home, sometimes they can get into an off-limits area and wreak havoc by gnawing on your stuff. Rabbits are very curious and persistent and are ingenious when it comes to finding ways to gnaw on computer cables, wires, molding, couch piping, slightly frayed rug, etc. They also like to chew up paper. So, it's important to keep them from getting bored: empty toilet paper rolls, old phone books, and other paper products are a good way to keep them amused. 
     Being social animals they social interaction, plenty of exercise and a lot of enrichment activities, so can't be totally secluded although they do need a space of their own where they can go and relax. 
     Rabbits get stressed so be prepared for it when you bring one home. They don't like to travel, so you'll need a bunny sitter if you go on vacation. 
     While rabbits have a reputation for being cute and cuddly they can bite, scratch and kick. Aggressive behavior towards people can be the results of several factors. First you need to rule out health issues. Sickness is obvious, but raging hormones in rabbits that aren't spayed or neutered can also be a cause.
     Rabbits aren't exactly stupid. It's possible that they have learned that aggressive behavior gets them something they want. This is especially true if they don't like interacting with people. At some point they may have gotten scared and lashed out and the scary thing, like your hand, went away. So, the next time they tried it again and it worked again. It takes time to deal with their fear aggression and neither the rabbit nor the owner is going to like the process.
     Rabbits that are bored and frustrated tense up and that can lead to aggression. It could also be that the rabbit is fearful of people. In that case the best thing to do is sit quietly and let the rabbit investigate you. 
     Sometimes you'll run into a rabbit that is just plain mean and nothing you do will solve their aggressive behavior. In that case you can just Google “how to skin a rabbit” and “rabbit recipes.”

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Dealing With Some People

     The Book of Proverbs in the Bible has it right...Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Proverbs 26:4 The meaning is that we should not lower ourselves to the fool's level by answering his silly questions or arguing with him as if he were a sensible man. 

Darius Foutoux has an interesting observation on his blog. Another blogger summed it up...”We have no scale for stupid people. No measuring stick for stupidity. For smart people, sure. “She’s a genius. He’s a real Einstein. But what’s the measuring stick for stupid people? I mean who in history really stands out as the pinnacle of stupidity? It can’t be someone who’s merely narrow-minded, tunnel-visioned, and devoid of imagination”…READ MORE

13 signs your coworkers think you're dumb – an Business Insider article 
Five Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

Calculators of Every Kind

     The site is called Inch Calculator, but you can actually calculate just about anything. 

Construction calculators: Estimate the Bricks and Mortar Needed for a Project, Carpet Calculator and Price Estimator, Plant and Flower Calculator – Estimate How Many Plants You Need, Plywood Calculator – Estimate 4×8 Sheets of Plywood Needed, Post Hole Concrete Calculator, Lawn Mowing Calculator – Estimate How Long it Takes to Mow a Lawn, dozens more. 
Math Calculators: Compare Fractions Calculator, Decimal to Fraction Calculator, Least Common Denominator, Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Statistics Calculator, Percentages of all kinds, Slope Calculator – Find the Angle or Equation of a Line, Solve For Unknown Fraction Calculator, Surface Area Calculator – Find the Surface Area of Many Shapes, Volume Calculator – Calculators for Several Shapes and more. 
Other Calculators: Electrical calculators, Density Calculator, Steps to Distance Calculator – Find How Many Steps in a Mile, TV Size and Viewing Distance Calculator, Video Aspect Ratio Calculator plus many others. 

Two calculators I found amusing were on that calculates how many Ping Pong balls would be needed to fill a swimming pool and a child’s height prediction calculator. 

There are also many articles covering such things as:
# Actual Plywood Thickness and Size, Choosing the Fence Style that is Best For You
# Choosing Brick vs Concrete Pavers for a Patio, Driveway, or Path
# How High Should You Mount Your TV, Top 
# 12 Warning Signs Your Asphalt Shingle Roof Needs to be Replaced
and more.

There are also articles on project cost guides based on 2018 prices: 
# How Much Does it Cost to Install a Brick Wall
# How Much Does a Concrete Block Wall Cost
# How Much Does a Concrete Driveway Cost
# How Much Does New Carpet Cost
and, of course, many more.

Unit Conversion Calculators: Convert just about any measurement you can think of (speed, distance, linear measurements, volume, anything!) to another unit.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Why Don't Big Ships Capsize?

     Looking at the picture on the left, the ship looks extremely unsafe. Many ships seem to be out-of-proportionally tall, perched precariously on a hull which seems incapable of safely supporting a structure towering hundreds of feet into the air. So, what keeps these giant ships stable in a roll and reduces their potential to list to large angles in bad weather to the point that they just roll over? 
     At one time shipbuilders built a ship then put a hotel inside of it, but now they build a hotel and then wrap the ship around it. One expert claims that in the past there was a safe ratio between a vessel’s draft (below the waterline) and the portion that's above the waterline, but modern cruise ships are no longer built that way, making them dependent on stabilizers not only to combat rough weather but to stay upright with only slight to moderate winds and seas.
     Back in 2010, the Louis Majesty, a cruise ship hit by 26-foot waves off northeast Spain didn't capsize, but it resulted in two passengers getting killed and 14 people injured when water violently crashed through the windows of some of the ship's public areas. Experts said waves like those that struck the Louis Majesty are extremely rare and should be of little concern to the average cruise ship passenger. Still, the incident raised questions by potential passengers about the safety of cruising, especially, “How likely would it be for a cruise ship to encounter a wave that might tip it over?” 
     A professor and chairman of engineering at the Maritime College of the State University of New York, said it's not very likely and he would be as worried about it as an asteroid hitting the Earth. A captain at the California Maritime Academy said the only way that it could happen is if the ship were in extreme weather and positioned sideways to a 70- to 100-foot wave that would have the potential of rolling it over. He added that it would never happen because cruise ships avoid bad weather like the plague. They don't want the passengers in peril, they don't want to risk any injury or accidents. 
      How far can a cruise ship lean over to one side and still recover? It turns out, pretty far. In extreme cases, a ship can actually list 60 degrees and recover. When a ship lists 20 degrees, you almost can't walk on the deck. If a ship heels more than that, the problem is that you're going to get thrown off your feet and a lot of equipment and furniture is going to break loose and fly around. So, that possibility of injury is very high, but the ship should right itself without any problem. 

     Cruise ships seem to be getting bigger and taller and the big question is, does that affect their stability? It may appear that cruise ships are top heavy, but naval architects design them in such a way that all of the heavy liquids, machinery and the main engine are positioned very low, so the ship's center of gravity is also low even though it looks like the structure goes up high. 
     Modern cruise ships also have very intricate anti-heeling systems. They literally blast water from one side of the ship to the other side so that you can take a ship that might be rolling 20 degrees and when the anti-heeling system is turned on the roll will only be 5 degrees. Thus, because of the anti-heeling system on state of the art cruise ships, it's very difficult to feel any kind of movement on board. 
     If there is a tsunami warning, a cruise ship is only in danger if it is docked in port. A tsunami would go by entirely unnoticed on the open sea. But if the ship were still at port, an arriving tsunami would be devastating. 
     Whether a ship capsizes or not has a lot to do with its center of gravity. We think of gravity as a force that pulls things downward, but it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes gravity can make things turn and topple over, especially if they are high up and unbalanced. Throw a ball in the air and gravity pulls it straight back down. Not everything moves like this when gravity acts on it. Ships are not nice, neat ball-shaped, so gravity acts on them in more complex ways. Even so, all objects behave as though their mass is concentrated at the center of gravity. 
     A small boat can swing from side to side pretty freely and because it’s light and it takes only a small force to make it move in the water. This makes a small boat relatively easy to capsize. By sitting down in a small boat, you lower the center of gravity and make it more stable; the lower the center of gravity the more stable boats are. 
     Large ships have heavy engines underneath the water level which gives them a low center of gravity and makes them more stable. They also have a big keel, the vertical board running underwater from back to front along the central spine. The keel helps stop boats rolling or capsizing because it means more force is required to push the boat sideways through the water or rotate it. 
     For a more technical explanation, see HERE.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Spot Crime Map

Crimes in Brooklyn, New York
     SpotCrime is a crime data aggregator that maps crime incidents, plots them on Google Maps, and deliver alerts via email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, RSS and a multitude of other platforms. 
     The data comes from police departments, news reports and user-generated content. SpotCrime crime maps help you find what the crime report in your neighborhood looks like. They also analyze crime trends in neighborhoods and allow you to search for crime near any address. Type in your city or zip code to check the crime in your neighborhood. 
Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada

Five Facts About Crime in the U.S.

100 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.