Batteries Not Included

Popular Mechanics magazine was a staple in my life for many years. It was always loaded with do it yourself projects that were easily handled by amateurs like me. Somewhere along the line, however, the magazine became a replica of Popular Science. Probably because in this modern world of plastics, and electronics, home-made seemed blasé. I gave up reading Popular Mechanics when that happened.

Recently, I received a solicitation from a young lady named Grace Ann Jean age eleven who was working a school project to raise money by selling magazines. I looked over the list and bought a subscription to Popular Mechanics.

The very first issue I received showed a flying car on the cover. Oh no I thought, not another one. Sure enough the author showed the history of flying car articles in Popular Mechanics since 1957. Up to this point there have been five, and this issue makes six. The article is titled The Future of the Flying Car (For real this time maybe) features a car based on drone technology. It is perfectly plausible. The company that is promoting the car says it will have a twenty-three minute flying time. I guess that is progress.

This morning I spent time catching up on the week’s e-mails and found one from my retired Air Force pilot buddy with a video featuring a lady who remarkably resembles Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I am still laughing. Watch it, and tell me if you don’t react the same way.

A Revolutionary Concept: Earth Revolves Around the Sun

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Finally, I finished reading a book called Galileo’s Telescope. It took a month, but I did it. Whenever it takes me that long to read something it is because it is a difficult read. Three author’s were required to tell this short story of how Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons became known to the world. The time frame was 1590 through 1620. That alone gives a clue about how hard it must have been to research the events that unfolded.

A Dutchman who made eyeglasses for a living  invented the telescope. The novelty of the device spread quickly across Europe and ultimately landed in Galileo’s lap. The early telescopes were crude devices with poorly made lens but had a 3:1 magnification. People were astounded by being able to see things far away come close. Galileo was a mathematician and immediately recognized the value of studying the heavens with a telescope. He took it upon himself to improve the device. He didn’t believe anyone else but he could do the job. He learned how to grind lens, and sent to Venice for the finest glass available. His math skills enabled him to calculate the lens curvature needed to yield a 30:1 magnification.

He first examined the moon. He learned the surface had mountains, valleys, and desert. He made the first pencil sketches of the moon’s surface. Then he focused on Jupiter and realized that four moons spiraled the planet. He published his findings in a book titled Sidereus nuncios.

The story told focuses on how the world rejected Galileo as the inventor of the telescope which is correct. He never claimed he invented the device. There is a short discussion on how he used the scope, and the rest on how he spread the news.

During that era, the Catholic Church taught that the universe revolved around the earth, and they excommunicated scientist Copernicus for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun. Many people of Galileo’s time warned him to present his findings as a mathematical phenomenon, and not as a Philosophical one for fear of being rebuked by the Church. Jesuits were the renowned philosophers of the time, and they still are today. They set up the Inquisition to keep people from deviating from Holy Doctrine. The current Pope Francis came to mind throughout this reading. He is a Jesuit and has the same stubborn stance on Global Warming as the Jesuits of the sixteenth century had about Earth being the center of the universe.

Anyway, this book  told the story in two hundred and forty-six pages. I would have condensed it into ten (The words in this post are enough for me). The story contains too many difficult Italian names, dates, and places. We won’t see a movie on this one for sure. As hard as it was to read, I enjoyed the story.

Read the Book, Or See the Movie, Not Both

Last week I did it again. I watched the movie after reading the book. The Men’s book club chose Ender’s Game as the month’s selection. I had never heard of it, but what the heck why not? It is science fiction and I am in the throes of writing a book which is fantasy, science fiction, so I thought it might be a great read. As always I began with the Introduction. The copy of the book I had is a new edition, and the author added an introduction. I suffered through it, and thought if this is what the rest of the book is like I am in deep trouble. Thankfully, it was not. The author had me hooked within a few pages, and I couldn’t put it down.

Ender’s Game takes place one hundred and fifty years from now. An alien civilization attacks Earth, and nearly wins had it not been for a courageous warrior who saves the planet. To avoid another attack, Earth’s rulers search for another commander who can take out the aliens in the future. They do so by monitoring little kids from age three on. By the time they are six, Big Brother has an idea of what characteristics the kid will have. Ender is one of those kids. At age six and a half he is taken from his family to go to Battle School. The school is a huge ship in orbit around Earth. Educators teach the tactics of war as a game. To cut this story short, Ender is in command of the entire army by the time he is eleven. The school put him through a relentless grind of battle after battle with little time between, and Ender continues to come up with winning strategies.

I described this scenario to my son and he told me that there is a movie of this story. I found it in the library and thought I would really enjoy it. Although, the movie is well done, the story is way too big to tell effectively in two hours. The author Orson Scott Card wrote the screen play so his story would be told accurately, but he had to cut so much the movie lacked. The visual effects were as good as those in Star Wars, and the action scenes were exciting, but it left me wanting more of what I read. This is one case where reading the book is the better choice over watching the movie. Both stories are good, but I preferred the book version over the film.

Visualize This

It took me a long time to discover the power of visualization, and when I did I kicked myself in the ass for not doing so sooner. I learned how to play tennis in high school, and loved the sport. My biggest problem, I choked in a match. I was so worried about hitting the ball into the net, and losing a point I did just that. In my mind I saw the ball hitting the net. When the visualization thing came to me while listening to a positive thinking lecture my tennis game popped into mind. If only I had visualized the ball going over the net instead of hitting it. Oh well, it was too late to improve my game.

When I saw this image sent by my friend Mike, the visualization process came to mind. This diagram lays out an administration dream team. In my opinion this team would do two things for the USA: first it would set the country back on the correct track to economic recovery, liberty, and all the while staying within the Constitution. Second, the team would set back the Progressive movement about three hundred years.

DSCN4971Let me know what you think, I know what I’m seeing in my mind. The only change I would make is to get the photo of Scott Walker correct, I don’t know whose picture that is, but it isn’t Scott Walker Governor of Wisconsin.

Wonders in Perspective

As usual I got another really great video from a friend. I never heard of this presenter before, but I thoroughly enjoyed his video and audio. The man is Louie Schwartzberg. Watch this seven minute video the time will seem like seven seconds, it is that fascinating and educational. He presents an interesting perspective of the world around us, both big and little.

Confessions of a Public Defender | American Renaissance

This is an excellent essay written by a Liberal Public Defender. I cannot believe he hasn’t been branded a Racist after writing his very candid thoughts about the many blacks he helps. He exposes himself near the end of the piece when he lists what blacks cannot do well.

Confessions of a Public Defender | American Renaissance.

Another Nightmare From Obama

To finish my year I spent a few hours reading the book The Hot Zone by Richard Preston to reach my goal to read twenty books in 2014.

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What I didn’t know when I began this story was that it is in the horror genre. Even Stephen King, renowned author of horror stories commented that “The first chapter of The Hot Zone is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read in my whole life . . . and then it gets worse.” The problem is that King writes fiction, and The Hot Zone is fact. After hearing about Ebola on the news, and the firestorm of controversy the virus caused in the USA, I thought it appropriate for me to learn the facts. All I can say is that if Ebola hits Illinois, I’m putting on my running shoes, and I will run away not to stop until I reach the North Pole.

What we don’t know is that in the nineteen eighties Ebola invaded the USA, and took residence in Reston, Virginia within sight of the Washington Mall. The virus hit a  group of monkeys in the inventory of a company that supplies monkeys to labs for research. They had five hundred or more monkeys on hand with more coming in a steady stream from Africa. The monkeys were dying and the caretaker did not know from what. His assessment was that they were hit with a Simian hemorrhagic fever. Eventually, the problem became known to the US Army. At the time, the US Army was among the few organizations that could identify the virus. What they found was beyond Simian hemorrhagic fever, they found Ebola. They also recognized Ebola as a threat to the safety of the country, and took necessary action to protect us. Unlike our current President who believes the virus is just another few days off with the flu.

Those who worked in the labs dissecting monkeys described the inner organs of victims looking like they had been dead for a couple of weeks. A flu virus does not eat you alive. The typical survival rate for Ebola is around ten percent. In other words, if you get this virus, there is a very good chance you will die from it in a very short time.

Another thing we don’t know is that the Ebola virus is very adaptable and shows up in different places with slightly different symptoms, but with the same result. There are already three different strains known, Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, and Ebola Reston. Because it is so adaptive, it makes the virus more dangerous than we can imagine. The adaptive part is confusing, because Ebola-Reston was ultimately discovered to have infected several people who worked with the monkey population dying from it. Yet, these people survived without any harm.

Experts who work with these diseases claim Ebola makes AIDS look like a piece of cake. Aids is not a piece of cake. Aids kills, and had we not developed medicines to deal with HIV and AIDS the world population would be smaller by a large percentage.

There is a lot of argument about whether Ebola is airborne. If a person dying of Ebola vomits, sneezes, defecate, or coughs he sends droplets of virus laden blood, sputum, and moisture into the air. If any of it lands on you, and makes contact with your eyes, nasal passages, mouth or any open wound there is a very good chance you will catch the disease. If it lands on your skin it is also highly likely the virus will find its way into your body. As long as you are living, the virus multiplies in vast numbers feeding on your cells. Remember, the pores of your skin are openings into your body.

No one knows where the virus originates. They do know that if it gets one person sick, it spreads from person to person rapidly by contact. The original virus itself may already be in hiding as it spreads from person to person. That is why it is so important to keep it from spreading. To date, the origin of the virus is still unknown.

I often wonder why the Ebola scare in the news died as suddenly as it arose. After reading The Hot Zone, I can only surmise that our government froze all news to prevent panic. I am grateful that they did so, but I admonish them for the blasé treatment of people coming from African countries.

It is my opinion that we must keep Ebola out of the country at all costs. The word quarantine should become a household word as it was in the days of scarlet fever, and small pox. Quarantine should also be imposed on those unfortunate enough to come into contact with the virus. It is sad to have to treat people with more discomfort, but better safe than sorry.

I am also grateful for Vice President Dick Cheney who saw Ebola as a terrorist threat and convinced Congress to pass legislation to spend money on research to develop vaccines and medicines. I abhor the CDC and NIH under this administration for spending that money on frivolous research instead of on Ebola cures. Remember, that one of the very first laments of the CDC was that it did not have money to fight Ebola. I guess 5.6 billion dollars is just not enough these days to satisfy the lust of a government gone wild while the rest of us spend our days fearing a disease worse than the plague.

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