How do hurricanes get their names? | EarthSky.org

For those of you who may be wondering how they come up with names for hurricanes and tropical storms.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1. Here are the hurricane names for the 2016 season.

Source: How do hurricanes get their names? | EarthSky.org

Mars closest to Earth on May 30 | EarthSky.org

This is a great time to take a look at Mars in the night sky! If you can find the constellation, Scorpio, which is one of the easiest to spot, Mars is just above it.

We passed between Mars and the sun 8 days ago, on May 22. Yet Mars is closest on May 30, 2016. Why?

Source: Mars closest to Earth on May 30 | EarthSky.org

Interview with Author/Historian, Augustine Kobayashi

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Augustine Kobayashi

What better way to commemorate Memorial Day than with a history lesson?

Tokyo-born Augustine Kobayashi, author of “Japan’s Pacific War”, earned postgraduate degrees in modern international history and Byzantine history at Leeds and London Universities in the U.K. In the following interview he shares insights that convinced me that what’s needed in politics today is more attention to historians and less to lawyers, businessmen and career politicians. Historians possess a perspective that could work through differences in a diplomatic fashion while never forgetting the fact that future generations will be affected by those decisions. Most of what we see today are those seeking only to expand their own wealth and power. The few who know anything about history only use it to further their own agenda, not improve the human condition.

MF: What motivated you to research and subsequently write your book, “Japan’s Pacific War”?

AK: I had been writing some historical articles for Historical Quest ezine, and I got some responses from readers for my article explaining how Japan’s war in China in the 1930s and the Pacific War were linked. Many reacted saying that they had no idea how the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) directly led to WW2 in Asia. I felt that we have a knowledge gap in this area of 20th century history, and thought that I could make some contributions to fill it. As for the American side of the story, there are many excellent books out there, so I decided to tell Japan’s story, from a Japanese perspective. When I was a student back in Leeds University, UK, I did research on Anglo-American relations in the 1920s, including some naval strategic discussions, such as how Japan’s stance in the world stage might affect international politics. In a way, this current book of mine is the fruition of my past historical studies.

MF: What surprised you the most regarding Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor? Do you think they were realistic in their expectations of the outcome?japan_for web

AK: In hindsight, Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor is incredible, but, having gone through Japanese history of the 1930s, I have found that it is not really so surprising. Given the pre-WW2 American isolationism and Eurocentric tendency of the USG(overnment), giving strategic and diplomatic priorities to the solving of European situation, if they didn’t think that the USA would react by mobilizing the whole economy for war to crush Japan no matter what, it is understandable that they miscalculated this way. This is the time before TV or the Internet. People were not well informed and the Japanese public knew nothing about the outside world. The Japanese military basically thought that the US would be too busy fighting Germany or even be defeated and all they had to do was to immobilize the US Fleet a while, pick off Western colonies in the Western Pacific one by one and hold out until the European war was settled in favour of the Berlin-Tokyo Axis. If Germany had won, these expectations would have been deemed as quite realistic. Ironically, they attacked Pearl Harbor just when Germany tasted her first defeat in front of Moscow.

MF: As a student of Byzantine history, what is the most important lesson you believe it holds for those of us living in modern times?

AK: Things change. The secret of longevity of the Byzantine Empire was its ability to reinvent itself every now and then after crises. So much so that, even though it’s real designation should be the ‘Roman’ Empire, modern historians, who are so fond of the Classical image of Imperial Rome, feel uncomfortable with the designation ‘Rome’ and use ‘Byzantine’ instead for the empire after the 4th or 5th centuries. But this is precisely the point: it changed its shape and cultural characteristics so much to cope with the changing political, economical and military environment surrounding the empire, after several centuries, it was almost unrecognizable. So, the lessons for us are: be flexible and accept changes. Rely on your ingenuity rather than muscle power.

MF: A common saying is “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” What is your favorite example of a culture or country failing to learn from previous civilizations?

AK: There are so many, it is difficult to single out a favourite one. As I live in Japan now, I’m concerned with China at the moment, as she seems to be in danger of repeating Japan’s mistakes in the 1930s and the 1940s. Given that China was the chief victim of Japan’s aggression in those decades, it would be so ironic. Hope the Chinese are capable of learning from others’ mistakes.

MF: The world today has a lot of problems. Based on your studies, what do you think is the most important thing world leaders should do to avoid another World War?

AK: Do not let others fear you too much. A cornered beast tends to lash out, which was the case for Japan in 1941; and I suspect that that is what is happening with the Islamic militants right now. The Byzantine Empire fought a devastating war with its rival, the Persian Empire in the 7th century, which in turn led to the Islamic Arab conquests. The Persians started this war as they were so worried over the reviving power of the Byzantine Empire (in 476AD, they had gleefully been watching the fall of the West; but now alarmed by the Byzantine reconquests of North Africa and Italy in the 6th century).

Christianity as soft power of Rome, its spread among small countries and ethnic groups geographically surrounding Persia frightened her leaders. Persia attacked Rome when internal power struggle at the capital Constantinople momentarily paralyzed the Byzantine war machine as a heaven-sent and only opportunity to strike. In modern times, in WW1, both Germany and England were motivated by the need to weaken their rivals before they became too strong. Japan’s war in China in the 1930s was partly due to a resurgent China and thus Japan’s fear of losing their top dog status in Asia. As for solutions to this problem of power imbalance, I don’t really know. Probably we have to find out by working patiently through diplomatic effort.

guscropMF: What are you finding in your current research into Syriac Christianity and its spread into Persia that relates to modern tensions between Christians and Muslims?

AK: Persia’s state religion was Zoroastrianism at the time, but Christianity was gaining ground. It seems that Jesus’ saying that he came to fulfill old religion applied to Persia also! When you realise that Judaism had also been strongly influenced by Persia, which released Jews in captivity and allowed them to return to Jerusalem, you can see that Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were not that very different. And Persia can be a very tolerant place for different religions.

But inevitably, religion and politics cannot be separated completely; conflicting socio-economic and political forces often clashed along religious lines, causing internal instability and external wars. As in my answer to question No.5, as Rome’s power grew, Christianity was seen as a threat by the Persians. At this stage, Roman Christianity became a political religion, which forced a political response from Rome’s rival(s). I think that today’s problems we have with Christians and Muslims are fundamentally the same: they are not really in conflict in terms of religion, but, whenever communal tensions arise and political conflict develops, they unfurl their respective banners and try to protect themselves by rallying around them. Some hotheaded young men often employ rhetoric of religious mission etc., but they do not really represent what should be the majority view.

MF: Do you think it will ever be possible for those two religions, which actually have similar roots, to make peace with one another?

AK: The answer should be yes. Different religious communities usually live in peace side by side most of the time anyway. It is a time of political tensions when religious communities are pitted against one another. The Coptic Egyptian Christians, for example, had lived in a relative calm for nearly 2,000 years until very recently. They should be able to go back to that, normal state. In Syria, sadly, the Christians appear to be being exterminated or displaced permanently, but, once a politically stable Syria could be achieved, Christians and Muslims should be able to live side by side again. But so long as political forces exploiting religious differences remain too strong, it might be a while before that could happen.

Pick up your electronic copy of “Japan’s Pacific War” on Amazon here.

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/6222626

Read more about Augustine: http://www.quest-publications.com/authors/kobayashi/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15168533.Augustine_Kobayashi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/augustine.kobayashi

Publisher’s Book Link: http://www.quest-publications.com/books/japans-pacific-war/

Half-Acre Challenge Update: Encroachment

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My lot is on the corner, which has a few advantages. For example, I have a back gate that works well for the propane truck or when I want to unload something directly into my shed. If I ever wanted to build another house or sell it as a building lot, there’s no problem with road access. It also makes my little piece of Texas look bigger, though sometimes that can be intimidating.

Not so advantageous is having a dirt road skirt half your lot’s perimeter. That means dust kicked up by every passing vehicle, particularly garbage trucks and all those massive pickups that are so popular here in Texas. Furthermore, they all tend to cut the corner, such that over the years the encroachment resulted in the corner of my lot actually being in the middle of what has now become the road. Obviously, the beneficiaries are my neighbors, across the street, where the road’s supposed to be.

Most of this happened before I owned the place, but when I saw the land survey I decided that was crazy and it wasn’t going to continue on my watch. First step was a chainlink fence. No, we didn’t take it all the way to the middle of the road, but we definitely pushed it out there enough to send a message.

To top it off, my favorite contractor gathered some rocks, which are plentiful in this area, so I could build a rock garden, but it wasn’t until this spring that I finally got around to doing so. Until a week or so ago, the rocks were overgrown with weeds. Not anymore! I’m happy to report that 500 lbs of dirt and a fair amount of sweat later, that my message to encroachers is complete. It’s populated with a desperado sage, golden sword yucca and mountain laurel, all of which will grow to be 5 – 10 feet tall, can tolerate winter temperatures down in the teens as well as summer heat and droughts. And a few vincas for color, of course.  My rational in using native plants was that once they’re established they’ll do fine on their own so I don’t have to drag a hundred foot hose down there to water them.

Of course building a rock garden can easily be associated with another situation, when people encroach upon your personal space. In that case, the solution is much the same. Building a stone wall and setting boundaries are your best bet, but it doesn’t have to be ugly. Sometimes it may have to be, but in most cases setting the boundaries, albeit doing so with a smile and kind but assertive words, will cause less resistance. I shudder to think what my neighbors would have done had I placed my fence, much less my little rock garden, out in the middle of the road, even though my lot reaches that far legally. The main point is to defend your right to privacy and what is yours.

Remember, what you allow will continue.

EWG’s 10th Annual Guide to Safer Sunscreens

If you’re planning on getting some Sun this weekend, be sure your sun screen is safe and effective. Only about 1/3 of those tested met EWG’s strict criteria! Make sure yours is on their list.

EWG’s 9th annual analysis of sunscreens comprises safety and effectiveness ratings for more than 1,000 sunscreens. Find the best rated beach and sport sunscreens here.

Source: EWG’s 10th Annual Guide to Safer Sunscreens

Spotlight Author Blog Tour: Meet Kim Cox!

I’m excited to be a part of RRBC’s Spotlight Author Blog Tour! This week’s featured author is Kim Cox, who writes in several genres, one or more of which is likely to be on your list of favorites. If you’re a fan of the TV series, “The Ghost Whisperer”, then her Lana Malloy series is just what you’ve been waiting for! Keep reading to learn more about Kim and this intriguing series.

Lana Malloy Paranormal Mystery Series

In the LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY SERIES, Lana Malloy is a psychic, private investigator who is on a mission to help the dearly departed even when they don’t realize they need help. With each book, Lana’s psychic abilities grow. As she’s pushed to new limits, she learns she’s capable of much more than she knew.

In book one, HAUNTED HEARTS, Lana sets out to solve her first case—the twenty-year old cold-case and double murder of her great aunt and her great aunt’s fiancé. If she succeeds, they’ll spend eternity together; if she can’t, they’ll be stuck as Haunted Hearts. With the help of the ghosts and a new love interest, she is able to find the murderer.

In book two, GET OUT OR DIE, the success of Lana’s first case has spread throughout the local Charleston area and her business is booming. At one pro-bono job, Lana helps a widow communicate with her late husband where she learns of a frightening new ability—an ability that could give the next spirit, an angry ghost, the upper hand if she’s not careful.

In book three, THE WEDDING CRASHER, Lana is on her honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when she learns that a recurring vision about an abducted woman took place in nearby Knoxville. This case takes her hiking up mountainsides and trekking through rough terrain to find a madman before he can harm this young woman.

In the fourth book, CHRISTMAS CRUISE, Lana boards a cruise ship haunted by dead women who were brutally murdered. While aboard the ship Lana has an experience that mentally injures her. Once she recovers, she’s more determined than ever to find the murderer.

Coming up next, book five, HAUNTED BY HER PAST: Lana is faced with the task of helping, Jena, a domestic abuse victim escape the ghost of her dead, abusive, ex-boyfriend.

Other Books Coming In This Series

In book six, DEMI’S SERIAL CASE, the town of Charleston has a serial killer and Demi requires Lana’s assistance. Demi is Lana’s best friend and a police detective. Lana helps Demi profile the killer who is believed to be a copy-cat killer (copying another serial killer’s modus operandi) of the man who has been in jail for about five years.

In book seven, DEATH COMES CALLING, Derek, Tony’s brother has moved back to Charleston after living in the middle east and Africa, treating serious injuries while associated with the organization, Doctors Without Borders. A ghost that died in his care begins to haunt him.

Book eight is of yet untitled, but the idea is that shortly after Demi is promoted to Police Captain, she will be involved in a shootout that leads to her being charged with murder. Lana will need to find the truth in order to save her friend. The problem, the dead spirit isn’t talking and he’s the only one that knows what truly happened.

Also Available at the following book sites:

HAUNTED HEARTS – Book 1 – Available now in print and ebook through Amazon KindleAmazon Print24Symbols, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

GET OUT OR DIE – Book 2 – Available now in ebook through Amazon Kindle24Symbols, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY (Box Set 1)  2-Book Set – Available now in ebook through Amazon Kindle24SymbolsBarnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry. Save $2 by purchasing the box set.

THE WEDDING CRASHER – Book 3 – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKoboiTunesPage Foundry, and Scribd.

LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY (Box Set 2) 3-Book Set – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKobo, and Page Foundry. Save $3 by purchasing the box set.

CHRISTMAS CRUISE – Book 4 – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKoboiTunesPage Foundry, and Scribd.

Read more . . .

SM - Book CoverallthistimeKCcoverIf you like romantic suspense, be sure to also check out “Suspicious Minds” on Amazon here and “All this Time” on Amazon with this link.

About The Author

KC - Author Photo

Kim Cox is an author of Paranormal, Mystery, Suspense and Romance. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her chain saw artist husband, their West Highland White Terriers–Scooter and Harley, and a Yorkie mix, Candi. Kim is published in novels, short stories and articles.

Sign up for Kim’s Readers List for exclusive information, new releases, contests, giveaways, and free books.

Visit her at the following sites:

Author’s Website: http://www.kimcoxauthor.com

Blogs: Kim’s Musings, Kim’s Author Support Page

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/kimcox

Social Media locations:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimcoxauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimCoxAuthor

Google: https://plus.google.com/+KimCoxAuthor/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kimcox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimwrtr/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimwrtr

 

Half-Acre Challenge Update: Armadillogeddon

This morning I went outside and found a massive array of holes around the base of my biggest oak tree. The last time I saw such a mess was a few years ago in which case the perpetrators were a bunch of wild hogs. Now I have a chainlink fence, far too high for hogs to scale, and all the gates were closed. So, the only logical conclusion was that it was a massive party held by armadillos rooting for whatever it is they eat. There must be a couple dozen holes with several a foot deep! In some cases, rocks the size of baseballs had been removed! Needless to say, I’ll need to fill them in before the next time I mow.

It’s still unimaginable that dillos made such a mess, compared to the usual holes I find that are about an inch or two in diameter and about that deep.  Maybe this was courtesy of ET.  Wish I had the event on video. Either way, it would have been tremendously entertaining!

Jonesey, the Cat from Alien

I don’t even remember the cat in “Alien” so I guess I’ll have to watch them again. This was an interesting bit of “cat lore.”

The Capricious Narrator

Ever have a cat look past you over your shoulder and hiss, whether or not there was actually anything there? There’s a reason why I prefer birds, dogs, and pot-belly pigs in that order before considering a cat as a suitable pet while aboard a spaceship.

Jonsey the cat from Alien (and Aliens) did everything a creepy feline could within its power to make sure that the crew of the Nostromo got murdered by the Xenomorph. This included distracting them, sending mixed signals as to the local threat level, and even leading one crew member to his death. It’s as if the little bugger had some kind of pact with the alien, an unwritten agreement to get back at the crew for bringing it along into space aboard a ship that seemed damp and unpleasant. Cats remember these slights.

Jones from alienAlien filmed with five cats cast in the same role…

View original post 198 more words

Geeks Make the World Go-Round

albertIf you’re a fan of the popular TV show, “The Big Bang Theory” you probably think you know what constitutes a geek. However, like most depictions of stereotypes, they’re often inaccurate. As a physics major, I’m qualified to define geekism. I can relate to what they’re trying to say, but it’s not on my favorites list. We had moments in college that were similar, but in most cases, like they say, you had to be there. True geeks aren’t impressed by “The Big Bang Theory.” They live it. I, personally, think it’s boring. I much rather watch “Ancient Aliens” or something on PBS.

Here’s what being a geek is really like. In college we had rituals at the end of every quarter, like having a pizza party and watching Monty Python’s “Quest for the Holy Grail”. We’d memorized the dialog and would quote key phrases at random times. Now that was funny. Or there was the time when four or five of us were holed up in our niche in the Utah State engineering building studying for finals in the wee hours. We were hungry so ordered pizza. Since we had a large variety of appetites and were all on a budget, we attempted to figure out how much everyone owed based on consumption. And there we were, deep into multi-variable calculus and orbital mechanics, but had a hard time dividing up the tab. And yes, we saw the irony and were laughing pretty hard, perhaps even bordering on hysteria.

sictrustatomWe had a professor who was so nervous lecturing that he not only would be visibly sweating, but he had a nervous habit of clearing his throat, after which he would always say “Pardon me.” This particular prof was a perfect fit for the very intelligent yet introverted nerd. So what did I do one quarter? Kept a tally, day by day, for an entire quarter, of how many times he said “Pardon me”. Then I graphed it by magnitude versus date, then analyzed the data with my fellow students. We discovered the rate went up right after he returned an exam, perhaps anticipating grading arguments. I still have the file labeled “Pardon Me Curves” in my file cabinet. I kid you not. It’s a college memory from the 80s that still makes me laugh.

Yes, I’m a geek. Always was, always will be.

A classic geek activity is astronomy. Not long ago I joined the Austin Astronomical Society, which conducts star parties a few miles from where I live. The vast majority of members live 50 – 90 miles away (in Austin, of course) so it’s a bit of an excursion for them to come up to the observatory, but I’m just a hop, skip and a jump away. While I had several quarters of astronomy and astrophysics classes in college, I never had any hands-on experience with telescopes before. So I’m a newbie with a lot to learn but it’s somehow very satisfying to stand around discussing the theory behind German equatorial mounts (no, they has nothing to do with sex) and remembering to select the solar, lunar or sidereal tracker during observation.

scithrillStar parties typically start while the Sun is still up so, with a proper solar filter, you can look at the Sun and its various sunspots. While it’s still daylight the geeks are pretty quiet, compared to the hobbyists. Unless they know you, they probably won’t say a word, preferring to busy themselves setting up their equipment or perhaps talking to someone they already know. Then it gets dark.

Obviously. It’s pretty hard to see the stars otherwise.

By the time your night vision peaks, they come to life, almost like vampires. It’s the original nightclub, fresh air under the stars and planets. Inhibitions evaporate. In a sense you’re invisible. No one knows who or what you are. They don’t know if you’re old or young, skinny or fat, only that you have the same passion for the night sky. I remember sitting in silence at one star party until it got dark, then finding two fellow physics majors, one around my age, the other a recent graduate, and sitting in the observatory swapping tales of school and work for hours. I hadn’t done so in years and can’t begin to describe how soul-satisfying it was. Like being with close family you’ve been away from for years. If I ran into them in the grocery store I wouldn’t recognize them. But that night we were soul mates, entangled by our love of what makes the world go round. Literally.

scigooutsideWhich brings me to what this blog is really all about. At last night’s star party I met a young woman whom I believe was still in high school. She had her niece with her, a young girl, probably around ten. She’d driven an hour to pick up her niece, then drove another three hours (for a total of four) to come to a star party. Her telescope, which she’d purchased herself with money she’d earned babysitting, was twice the size of the borrowed one I was using. She got it on sale for just under $1000. That’s a lot of babysitting.

It was not a good night for observing, lots of clouds and a Full Moon, with about the only thing visible Jupiter with his Galilean satellites high above our heads on the meridian. So after all that effort, that was all they saw, then turned around and drove back home. Eight hours of driving for a single star party.

If you’re not impressed, you should be.

knowledgegiftI would like to nominate that young woman as “Geek of the Year.” Someone who is enamored with our Universe, so much so, that she spent her hard-earned money on an eight-inch telescope instead of designer clothes or, heaven forbid, tattoos, then shares her passion with a younger family member; I think I was about ten when I discovered the stars. I would have given blood and paid money for an auntie like that. Maybe you find that behavior laughable; I find it admirable. And you know what? The world needs more people like that.

We didn’t talk long enough for me to get her name, much less find out her future plans. But she touched my heart. I hope our paths cross again. I would easily bet dollars to donuts she’s a future astronaut, astrophysicist or rocket scientist. She will obtain a good education, work for a living, and contribute to society.

Hail to geeks. Nerds, too, since I’m not sure of the difference between us. May you be lucky enough to have a geek or nerd or two in your life. They’re the glue that holds what’s left of our society together. Maybe instead of nerds they should be called gluons.

(Get it? Gluons? Never mind. It’s probably something only a geek would understand…)