5-Stars for Scott Skipper’s “A Little Rebellion Now and Then”

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If you’re not afraid of the truth, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book. It’s brutally honest, somewhat raw, and loaded with sarcastic wit that had me laughing out loud. Yet, its story is far from pretty because it depicts a little too accurately what has become of the 1st Amendment. At this point, we can hardly tell what’s true and what’s not. If you’re wondering who’s telling the truth (or perhaps suppressing it), this gripping story can probably enlighten you.

As a Baby Boomer myself, I could relate to this book in multiple ways. For one thing, I remember the Nixon era, the Vietnam War, the California drug culture, and ’60s protests including the Kent State shootings all too well. This book recounted them all in vivid detail, its first-person narrative style gripping and authentic. You can’t help but love its main character, Kate Baker, who is truly a rebel at heart. The kind of rebel we need more of these days, one who isn’t afraid to speak up and confront injustice and hypocrisy, regardless of how powerful its source might be.

Back in the ’60s, Kate was vocal regarding the Kent State incident, where students peacefully protesting the Vietnam War were shot by the Ohio National Guard. The government has never taken kindly to criticism, and the Nixon administration was no exception. Good ol’ Tricky Dick was a real piece of work and ultimately quit upon being caught and impeached for the Watergate Scandal.

As Kate writes a variety of scathing articles relative to what really happened at Kent State, she encounters harassment of all varieties. Of course she paints a target on herself in some ways, given she was into pot and recreational drug use, providing numerous excuses to get busted. She was also what I would consider pretty loose on the sexual morality side, yet as I remember that era of “Make Love, Not War” it fits the character. No one ever said you have to be a saint to be a hero. Courage and an adventurous spirit can often lead off the beaten moral track.

One thing that comes to mind about this story is the old adage “You finish like you start.” That, and the fact that people don’t change who they are.

So Kate’s misadventures in the ’60s and ’70s are only half of this thoroughly entertaining story. The chapters alternate between her youth and later years, when she’s a successful novelist who’s written a best selling book entitled “Satan’s Angel” where the president is assassinated by a genetically engineered fruit that combined figs with oleander. Similarities between the characters in Kate’s book and the current administration are noted and the powers-that-be immediately try to silence her through a litany of harassment techniques such as hacking her computer to steal her passwords, placing her on the “no fly” list, freezing her bank accounts, unpublishing her self-published book as well as black-balling it with major publishers, following her every move with a drone, and numerous other devious tactics.

Let me say here, that Kate is definitely not politically correct. If you’re offended by such individuals, then you’ll undoubtedly get so mad you won’t be able to get through this book. (Liberals, I’m talking to you. More than likely you’d be siding with the antagonists and demanding this book be banned.) On the other hand, if you’re sick of all the PCBS, you’ll get angry as well, but you’ll be behind Kate and sympathetic to her situation every step of the way. The sad thing is that we all know that this type of harassment and brutal silencing techniques happen. Oddly enough, they’re often depicted on TV shows.  True “free speech” is a thing of the past and Big Brother is not only alive and well, but now armed with modern technology which enables him to be even more devious than Orwell ever dreamed in his worst nightmares.

The author has done incredible and accurate research that makes this story come alive. It is shocking and chilling. It doesn’t read like fiction, it reads like a news report–a blood-chilling and accurate news report, of which we see few, if any, these days. This story is an outstanding commentary on what our society has become and where it’s probably headed.  And it does it with style, humor and wit, to say nothing of sustained suspense that makes it extremely hard to put down. I gotta say, when Kate mooned the drone I about fell over laughing. And of course, she wound up in jail as a result. I’m definitely going to adopt her penchant for saying “Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot” for WTF.

Be warned, however, that there’s a generous dose of what some would consider offensive language. It’s not over-done or gratuitous, but definitely in-character; Kate does not behave or speak like a nun. All that aside, we need more Kates in this world. If she were real, she’d probably resurrect the Grey Panthers, which at this point I’d join in a heartbeat. If you’re as disgusted as I am with what used to be a rather nice country, past presidents like Nixon notwithstanding, don’t miss this articulate voicing of how bad things have become as seen through the eyes of Kate Baker. IMHO, she absolutely rocks.

The selective reporting and bias of the media is no secret and it’s gotten progressively worse.  Democracies tend to fail and, at this point, the USA is headed in that direction. The scariest thing is that there are those out there who WANT it to fail. Why? Because it’ll be to their advantage and they’re carefully positioning themselves to take control. In case you’re not aware, failed democracies are always followed by a dictatorship. There are lots of opinions out there with regard to who that aspiring dictator might be. After reading this story, you should have a better idea who that might or might not be. Hint: It won’t be the one network TV or major newspapers are pointing at.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Magnetic pole reversal ahead?

If this occurs, it could cause some serious problems. But it goes along with all the other apocalyptic stuff going on these days.

What’s magnetic north would become magnetic south. Is Earth headed to a pole reversal? A look at the archaeological record in southern Africa provides clues.

Source: Magnetic pole reversal ahead?

Top 4 keys to mastering moon phases

If you’re mystified by lunar phases this is a great article that explains it.

How can you come to know our ever-changing moon? The most important key is that it’s a world in space with a day side and a night side.

Source: Top 4 keys to mastering moon phases

Groundhog Day has roots in astronomy

What a fun and interesting look at Groundhog Day! Even as an astronomer and astrologer I didn’t realize this stuff.

Groundhog Day is tied to the movement of Earth around the sun. It’s the year’s first “cross-quarter” day.

Source: Groundhog Day has roots in astronomy

Challenges of Space Exploration: Have we Learned from Past Tragedies?

Reblogging from a year ago. RIP Columbia.

It was Saturday and I was home in the midst of a cleaning frenzy.  Since it was my grandson’s tenth birthday, my plans for the day included joining family members to celebrate that occ…

Source: Challenges of Space Exploration: Have we Learned from Past Tragedies?

Don’t miss the moon, Venus, Mars triangle

This is truly a beautiful sight that can restore hope and ease the stress everywhere these days.

As soon as darkness falls on January 31, 2017, see a beautiful triangle – the moon, Venus and Mars – gracing the evening sky. Look west!

Source: Don’t miss the moon, Venus, Mars triangle

A Right or a Privilege?

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Since when did coming to America, more specifically the USA, become a right instead of a privilege? When did the beckon-call of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” become license to come here to promote violence or expect to be taken care of without maintaining certain standards of behavior? Coming here to make demands is not how it was intended to work.

America was once known as a grand melting pot, a nation of immigrants, many fleeing tyranny, others seeking the “American Dream.” Unless you’re a Native American, your ancestors at some point were immigrants. A melting pot, however, implies blending in, becoming part of the whole in a harmonious way. A country is founded on common standards of behavior and beliefs enforced by the rule of law. A common language is another important feature.

Democracies fail due to too much diversity. Too many people demanding that everyone else bow to their demands. Too much criticism and intolerance on the part of many coming here. Too many expectations to be taken care of at the expense of the government which, of course, is funded by the taxpayers. This entitlement attitude has gotten out of hand and will destroy us morally and economically. The melting pot and American Dream were never intended to tolerate destructive, radical behavior. Today we are no longer a melting pot, but a lumpy, unappetizing stew of flavors that clash instead of blend.

Back in 1907 Theodore Roosevelt said: “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

This is the essence of the “melting pot” concept and in the early 20th century it worked. But it has been abandoned, resulting in the pigs’ breakfast we see in our society today. Sometimes to gain something, you need to let something go. Becoming a true American isn’t compatible with clinging to old beliefs that are probably why you left your homeland in the first place.

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Ellis Island

I am growing very weary of President Trump being criticized for his recent action stopping the inflow of refugees. Place the blame where it belongs: On terrorists and radical Islam, not the President trying to protect the USA from the chaos we see in Europe. Maybe “Making America Great Again” involves returning to the melting pot concept. Maybe those seeking refuge in the USA need to leave some of their beliefs and expectations behind.

Freedom of religion doesn’t mean imposing it, often violently, on everyone else. Tolerance and peaceful coexistence is required, two qualities antithetical to Islam. If the USA yields to their demands, it fits the old analogy of letting the head of the camel into the tent. As long as there’s a risk that those who wish to destroy us are among the refugees, as has been demonstrated in Europe, calling a time-out to assure such are not included is the logical thing to do. It only makes sense to learn from others’ mistakes. Unfortunately, many innocent people are caught in a snare intended for others. But when change is required, that isn’t unusual. It’s not easy to stop a train. Sometimes you just have to slam on the brakes, even though sometimes it results in derailment. How many have been students pursuing a college degree when the requirements change midway or farther through their coursework? Such is life.

Cities generally have clusters of communities where those who share a common heritage or ethnicity gather to live. It’s natural for human beings to want to socialize with those who share common beliefs and cultural roots. However, as these communities grow, they can lose touch with the fact they are just one faction in a nation of many. They develop views contrary to the well-being of the nation as a whole. Tolerance dissipates and arrogance takes it place, wanting to impose their will on others. They want to destroy the very principle of freedom that allowed them to come here in the first place and mold America into the nation they left behind. Rather than contribute to America’s strength, they contribute to her potential downfall.

I’m not saying there’s nothing wrong with America. There are many policies I don’t agree with, including many President Trump is promoting. I believe we should protect the environment and wildlife. I believe that corporations such as Big Oil, Monsanto, and Big Pharma have too much power and control, that the healthcare industry is horribly broken. Gutting regulatory agencies is definitely not the way to fix these out-of-control industries. I believe we should take care of our own working poor, military veterans, and Native Americans before those who would seek to destroy us. As a nation we are beset by a multitude of problems, but ignoring one does not solve the others.

I believe in common sense which, as has been said before, is not all that common. Rather, selfishness reigns. But we have to start somewhere and get on the same page. Those who believe coming to America is a right and not a privilege are the ones who have created the immigration crisis we see today. We need to return to the “melting pot” concept, which is what made America great in the first place. Diversity without cooperation is a recipe for disaster, thus that lumpy, unappetizing stew that will surely cause heartburn.

It’s been said that democracies don’t work in families or prisons. They also tend to fail when a nation becomes a mass of screaming children, all wanting their own way. Unless someone steps up and draws the line, enforcing the law, history has taught us that what follows is usually a dictatorship. Common sense and compromise are required to save us. Tantrums and making unreasonable demands will eventually lead to an even less fortunate situation as the government is forced to restore order and safety to the populace at large, as is its responsibility.

Pardon another cliché, but those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Challenges of Space Exploration: NASA as a Government Bureaucracy

Reblogging this post from a year ago to once again commemorate the Challenger Accident.

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On January 28, 1986, the U.S.A. experienced a tragedy that has since faded into history. If you weren’t yet born at that time, you may not have even heard of it. I remember talking about the …

Source: Challenges of Space Exploration: NASA as a Government Bureaucracy

“Fantasy Patch”–Another 5-star Nail-biter from Stephen Geez

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Wow! What a ride! I’m still trying to catch my breath since finishing this fast-moving suspense thriller. In fact, sometimes it moved so fast, I felt left behind in the dust. The immediacy of the story is beyond gripping, told in first person/present tense through the eyes of protagonist, Danté Roenik. So “present”, in fact, you don’t even know his name for several pages. Kind of like meeting an interesting, good-looking, charismatic guy at a party who’s telling a good story. You really don’t care what his name is, you just want to be part of the excitement along with the other enchanted guests. This served as a very clever and effective writing tactic outside the mainstream, for which the author once again definitely earned my admiration.

This is the third Stephen Geez book I’ve read and this man must have multiple personalities because each tome’s style, at least the ones I’ve read so far, stands out as unique. Some authors can write in multiple genres with ease, yet the style is largely the same. I don’t think I’d be able to tell these were written by the same person, though they did share outstanding characterizations and vivid setting descriptions, plenty of suspense, lively dialog, and complex plots as well as strong writing, edited to perfection. No ruts or boring formula writing here! A random sprinkling of clever creative word plays are scattered throughout the narrative as well, which are not only entertaining but further characterize Danté’s artistic temperament. For example, “beeping blippers and blipping beepers” or “purse snatchers and snatch pursuers” or “fact takers and tacit fakers”, all of which add color and humor.

Poor Danté. An artist at heart, all he wants to do is draw, yet he’s sucked into a web of intrigue through his position as creative director at a public relations firm. He’s a nice guy, perhaps too nice, who adores the lively, old lady next door, Mrs. Moeroff, as well as the love of her life, another neighbor, Hank Barnahay. His attorney girlfriend, Cyn, is focused on an ambitious fast-track to partnership in her law firm, which is her top priority, much to Danté’s dismay. And that’s just his personal life. His professional life is what makes your head spin. The author places you firmly in Danté’s shoes in a busy, competitive, fast-paced, head-spinning and often risky environment, ripe with industry jargon. If you’ve ever wanted to work in PR, then this story is required reading for its excellent description of what’s involved, from the actual technical processes, to sales tactics, and competitors as trustworthy as piranha. By the time you finish this story, you feel as if you could put experience at Dellman/Roenik on your resume. I kid you not.

Of course any such firm is loaded with employees doing a variety of tasks, the boatload of characters adding to and authenticating the hectic pace. And then times it by two, by the way, because our hero changes employers, the original now his rather unfriendly competition. In fact, there were so many characters, I would have welcomed a dramatis personae to keep them all straight. They come at you fast, so unless you have a steel-trap memory, which I don’t, you might want to keep notes. Trust me, it would be worth it, because things get more complicated with every page.

The good news is that their names were not only unusual, but differed dramatically, reminding me at times of alphabet soup. Yet they were well-chosen and unique, which helped keep them straight versus unimaginative authors who call one character Bob and another Rob. Their physical descriptions were helpful as well, making them easy to envision, their personalities distinct and never lacking.  There’s no doubt this story would make an outstanding movie, or better yet, TV mini-series.

The story quickly evolves into a murder mystery, so the huge cast also serves as a collective red herring with regard to the identity of the guilty party. But actually, it’s not that simple, it’s Big Pharma and its cohorts covering their tracks with regard to lethal side effects of Parzilac, combined with rather vicious competition tactics as competitor, M-Slovak, prepares to release a potential competitor, the Fantasy Patch. Corporate espionage is in full swing as is appropriate security, courtesy of Flynn Durbett, a carryover character from “Invigilator.” I love it when characters live on!

If you’re looking for high-octane entertainment with surprises at every turn, grab a copy today and plan to stay up late reading. Same goes if you’re naturally suspicious of Big Pharma or are annoyed by those TV drug ads (which are illegal is most of the world besides the USA) where the side effects narrative takes 90% of the allotted time. Breathtaking action, nail-biting suspense, crisp dialog, and edge-of-your-seat narrative suck you in, all the way to the last page. Don’t miss it.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.