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

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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.

Asteroid to pass between Earth and moon

Yikes! It’s just a matter of time, folks. Even the Universe is protesting these days.

It’ll be Tuesday night or Wednesday, depending on your time zone. Asteroid 2017 BX – found just days ago – is maybe about as big as a house.

Source: Asteroid to pass between Earth and moon

Why Democracies Fail

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Whether or not you have any belief in metaphysics, it seems the severe weather plaguing the country today serves as an interesting commentary on protests that spanned the nation and even the world this past weekend. The winds of change are seldom a gentle breeze.

While some were sipping champagne in celebration of the events associated with Donald J. Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, others were crying in their beer. Of course, for the past eight years of the Obama administration, these sentiments were reversed. Thus the pendulum swings again.

It’s been said and proven throughout history that the average lifetime of a democracy tends to be right around 200 years. The USA has currently survived for 240. Beating the odds? I doubt it.

Unlikely as it may sound, the insights I’ve gained as a professional astrologer have helped explain why I believe this is so. Here’s the Readers’ Digest version of the stages I’ve recognized, without the astrologese:

  1. A nation is founded on the principles of freedom by a group with common standards and beliefs which unify them. Unifying factors often include religion and a common language. A set of governing laws are set in place to keep society protected and under control.
  2. Over time, freedom results in a proliferation of beliefs, some of which are contrary to those on which the nation was founded and possibly its laws as well.
  3. If these factions are tolerant and peaceful, coexistence can be achieved. If not, protests and demonstrations ensue. Diversity in many cases eventually turns confrontational and combative, particularly if those involved feel oppressed or violated.
  4. When protests become disruptive, violent or destructive and are contrary to the rule of law, it’s the government’s job to restore order. If leaders don’t do their job, protests continue to escalate until they can no longer be tolerated. At that point, they either prevail and effect an overthrow of the status quo, or they are squelched.

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  1. If a heavy hand is required to restore order, then a dictatorship, the usual successor to a democracy, assumes power, silencing the dissenters by whatever means necessary.

Not a pretty picture, is it? I see Donald Trump taking over this country somewhere between Stages 4 and 5.

There is such a thing as too much freedom when either tolerance is absent or extremism is present, thus causing some factions to want to eradicate or control those with opposing beliefs. In a country that has polarized into a two-party system, extremism is particularly likely. As these ideologies become farther and farther separated, both eventually abandoning country’s the founding principles, the populace is forced to choose one or the other, even though in many cases their true beliefs may lie somewhere in the middle. I can see positive aspects of both prevailing parties, but cannot endorse either 100%. However, when election time rolls around, I’m forced to make a choice. I can remember more elections in which I voted against someone as opposed to for. That, in itself, is a sad commentary.

For a while, as one party gains power and the pendulum swings their way, its opposing factions will be quite disenchanted. After a while, this discontent reaches critical mass and the opposition wins the next election. Then the pendulum swings the other way. The more antithetical beliefs and values become, the stronger the desire to gain complete control and annihilate the other, which inevitably leads to corruption. Or as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This cannot go on forever.

Sadly, both sides accuse the other of hate. That is what disagreement evolves into when issues are volatile and so extreme that compromise and/or mutual understanding become impossible.

The United States is at a very critical stage of its evolution as a country. Ironically, it was never intended to be a democracy. It was designed as a Constitutional Republic. But given the freedom granted to its citizenry, it’s no wonder it has trodden the same path. Those original laws set in place by the Founding Fathers to maintain order were gradually repealed as they offended the masses. And here we are.

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There are too many factions, some easily given to violence, too many languages, too many religions, special interests and various other issues that divide us. Some revere Old Glory, others desecrate her. Some believe the environment should be preserved, others that it’s expendable. And this doesn’t even consider the corruption and corporatism that has sullied the entire system. This begs the question of who’s organizing the more violent protesters and in some cases even paying them? And why? To drive us more quickly to stage 5?

Thinking America can be put back together is like upending a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and expecting it to land on the floor assembled. Astrology shows the USA’s evolution quite clearly. Interestingly, it’s course is entirely independent of who’s in the Whitehouse. Either way, the future does not look bright.

J.M. Smucker Company Recalls Select Lots of 9Lives, EverPet and Special Kitty Canned Cat Food | petMD

J.M. Smucker Company is voluntarily recalling select lots of its 9Lives, EverPet, and Special Kitty canned cat food due to possible low levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1).

Source: J.M. Smucker Company Recalls Select Lots of 9Lives, EverPet and Special Kitty Canned Cat Food | petMD

5-Stars for “Rarity from the Hollow”by Robert Eggleton

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At first I didn’t know how or where to begin to categorize this story. Two sitcoms, “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Third Rock from the Sun”, come to mind.  It’s clearly in the Sci-Fa genre, a mixture of science fiction and fantasy, always effective for establishing an environment ripe for just about anything to happen. I must say that once I got past the first third of the book, which could be a bit troubling due to the horrific living conditions and home environment of the young heroine, Lacy Dawn, that I laughed–a lot.

The author’s style is unconventional, which I consistently admire, at least when it works, which it did. Written in an omniscient viewpoint, it took a little while to get used to the inner dialog of all the characters. Each individual’s spoken statements were typically followed by an italicized blurb of what they were really thinking. While at first it was confusing, it was nonetheless effective in getting to know the characters.

The story itself is definitely unique as well. It centers around a young girl named Lacy Dawn who lives in poverty in a dysfunctional and abusive rural environment. This is not ever expressed in a horribly graphic manner and does a great job of setting the tone and setting, though there were times I was worried about whether it would get worse. Much to my relief, it didn’t. Her father, Dwayne, is a Gulf War vet with a severe case of PTSD. Her mother, Jenny, continually reminds her daughter (as well as herself) that Dwayne “used to be a good man.” Their neighbor, Tom, is a good friend of the family with a “secret garden” that he pays Lacy Dawn to tend.  The produce involved is not so much mystical as illegal, given that its marijuana.  Needless to say, numerous joints are rolled in the course of the story.

Lacy Dawn believes that it’s a child’s responsibility to fix one’s parents. This is certainly different than the usual practice to blame one’s parents. She’s not only highly intelligent, but has been chosen to save the Universe, a task for which she is being groomed by DotCom, an android who has arrived from elsewhere in the cosmos and lives in his spaceship on a nearby hill. At first it was difficult for me to figure out whether DotCom as well as Lacy Dawn’s conversations with the trees and her deceased friend, Faith, plus her ability to float “Roundabout” to visit her spacey friend, were simply part of a child’s vivid imagination. Either way, it was believable and contributed to the mood of the story.

I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so won’t say anything further about the basic story, other than to say that the remainder is entertaining. It’s loaded with plenty of raw humor along with interstellar jaunts to strange new worlds populated with numerous aliens. The characters were definitely well fleshed-out by their hilarious inner dialogs, reaction to various situations, and crude honesty.

Underlying all this, however, at a deeper level, is a rather sad, even tragic, commentary on our society. The fact that such situations exist is no secret. Otherwise, the story would not have been so believable. Neither is there any magical or interstellar entity out there to rescue those caught in the trap of poverty, need and abuse. So often the thought patterns of those living in such conditions revolve around sexual satisfaction, a good cannabis harvest, and whether the food stamps will last until the end of the month.

My only criticism of the story itself, at least at the superficial level, is that toward the middle it felt a bit disjointed. The plot broke down somewhat with too many “shopping trips” to “The Mall” where momentum was lost. The ending, while satisfying, was slightly less than I’d hoped for.

Thus, you may wonder why I awarded this story five stars. That’s because it made me think. Very few stories I’ve read recently manage to do that. There’s sufficient symbolism to place this story soundly in the literature category. What better disguise for difficult topics than humor?

There’s Lacy Dawn, the child who’s been exposed to and seen things no ten year old should, who has genius potential and wise beyond her years. Fixing her parents versus blaming them, what a concept. Then there’s DotCom, the android from another world, who’s there to help Lacy Dawn achieve her destiny, yet he begins to evolve and become a bit too human under the influence of people who would best be described, albeit rudely, as white trash.

The materialism of The Mall, principles of capitalism, what constitutes a celebrity or inspires human motivation to excel or achieve can all be found lurking beneath a raw and sometimes vulgar look at the human condition. Even the ending holds a powerful message when looked upon more deeply. Who’s really in charge and is it a higher or lower lifeform? The answer to that is definitely politically incorrect, a term invented to cover up that which will ultimately destroy civilization if we continue to yield to its misguided allure.

If you want a cleverly orchestrated story saturated with sci-fi and fantasy and packaged with plenty of crude, bathroom humor, you’ll enjoy this book tremendously. If you can’t deal with coarse language, don’t even bother. If you enjoy reading stories at a deeper level and analyzing what they’re really trying to say, you’ll likewise enjoy it, probably even more. Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ecopy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.