A Planet Blacker Than Coal

Imagine a planet so black that it would appear to be a hole in the sky.  If you were approaching TRes-2b in a spaceship, you would see nothing until you were able to discern faint red cracks in the eerie deep black of a hot gas ball one-and-a-half times the size of Jupiter.  If you were foolish to fly closer still, you would see that those red cracks are glowing and undulating as they traverse the planet.  In an atmosphere as hot as lava, storms whip across this planet at unimaginable speeds.

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Barbara Karnes and The Grief Experience

If you are experiencing grief (as we all will at some point), I would recommend Barbara Karnes’ pamphlets.  They are simple, practical, short, and easily digestible.  Reading them feels like talking to an old friend or a wise counselor who offers heartfelt advice—but not more of it than you want or need.

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1,500 People Killed in Attack on Hawaii

1500 people killed in attack on Hawaii in picture

This stunning proclamation was the headline on the front page of the December 8, 1941, edition of the Pueblo Star-Journal. I inherited the old newspaper from my wife, who discovered it in a collection of piano music her mother left her. The Star-Journal was far larger than today’s newsprint. At more than 16 inches wide and 23 inches tall, the yellowed, tattered paper impresses more like a billboard than a daily newspaper. Its bold headlines command attention, not merely inviting you to read the stories below but virtually insisting that you do.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Use the “F” Word

No, I don’t mean that F word. No one these days seems afraid to use it. I mean this F word:  fascism. We have heard this word more often lately, mostly to describe the current state of the Republican Party after and under Donald Trump.  Is it accurate to describe Republicans like Trump, Boebert, Greene, Hawley, Cotton, Lee, and others as fascists?

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The Fifth Law of Influence

The fifth law of influence in the picture

The fifth law of influence is that ethical influence is consensual and often bilateral. Every act of influence is an attempt to persuade another to agree with you or go along with what you want.  But some influencers don’t want to take “no” for an answer, so they resort to various forms of threats, intimidation, or manipulation to impose their will on others.  By anyone’s definition of right and wrong, these means of influence are unethical.

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The Fourth Law of Influence

The fifth law of influence in the picture

The fourth law of influence is that influence is cultural. To influence cross-culturally you need to be adept at understanding and adapting to all kinds of cultural differences.

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Reflections on the Premature Death of Ellika Larsdotter

Life blog on premature of Ellika Larsdotter

Ellika Larsdotter was born on April 25, 1703 in Nysund, Sweden, a small farming community.  Most of the details of her life have been lost to history, but it is likely she lived all of her life in Nysund.  If she travelled at all, it would probably have been within Orebro, the county where Nysund…

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Banned Books and Movies

Censors, many government-appointed and others elected to school and library boards have long found reasons to ban certain books or films because of their themes, their portrayal of people, or language or because they somehow offend the political or religious sensibilities of the censors. 

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Social Media by the Numbers

Different mobile phone social media applications

In two decades, social media has become a mainstream global phenomenon. How many people use social media? What are the most popular platforms? How much time everyday do people spend on social media?

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America’s Most Vexing Issue

Addressing the issue of abortion in the picture

With its recent ruling on abortion, our conservatively stacked Supreme Court has poured gasoline on the flames of a culture war that began with Roe v. Wade and escalated after Donald Trump became president. Like many people who try to view the question of abortion with a clear lens, one not distorted by religious dogma or the liberal fervor of women’s rights advocates, I feel caught in the great divide between the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the debate.

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Durango PlayFest’s 4th Exciting Season

Durango Play Fest Logo with white background

Durango PlayFest is a week-long, annual play development festival where both established and up-and-coming playwrights workshop new plays with seasoned directors and actors before presenting staged readings to see how live audiences react to their plays.  This year we were privileged to see plays by Richard Dresser, Dan Lauria, Lia Romeo, and Blossom Johnson.  The…

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My Evil Washing Machine

The washing machine depicts Who knows what goes on in there

I noticed something disconcerting several months ago after doing my wash and putting my wet underwear in the dryer.  Nearly every pair of underwear was turned inside out when I removed them from the dryer.  I wasn’t counting how many were turned inside out; I just became aware that most were not right-side out, as I would have swore they were before I washed them. 

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Images from the Webb: The Cartwheel Galaxy

Anaglyph of the cartwheel galaxy picture

The James Webb Space Telescope is a significant advance in our ability to discern details about the universe that even the Hubble Telescope was unable to render.  The Webb, which is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, records light in the infrared part of the spectrum, so it…

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Haunted Woman

It was a dark and stormy night.  October 31st.  You’re prepared for an evening of trick or treaters.  There’s a bowl by your door filled with the kinds of treats you enjoyed when you arrived at people’s doors in your costume.  A ghost perhaps.  Or a monster.  Or something more light-hearted.  A fairy or a hobo, your face smudged,  a crooked hat on your head.  Or a nurse in your white uniform, but with blackened eyes and too-red lipstick.  Or a superhero wearing a black cape and an eye mask.  Then comes a knock at your door.  When you open it, expecting children in comically scary outfits, you instead see this young woman.  She doesn’t speak, and you wonder if she’s come to the wrong house.  It’s dark outside.  Maybe she can’t see the house numbers and needs directions.  Then you notice her eyes.  There’s something odd about her eyes.

Video credit:  Haunted woman:  Video 40417254 © Lario Tus | Dreamstime.com

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Can Science Be Trusted?

Reflections

Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic philosopher and the last of Rome’s Five Good Emperors.  He reigned from 161 to 180 and is known for his Meditations, a philosophical treatise in which he wrote, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”  Science as we know…

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Update: On the Inevitability of Social Liberalism

Reflections

The progress toward social liberalism may have been impeded since Trump took office, but it is inevitable, despite those who oppose it.  Had Rush Limbaugh had been on the radio in 1918, we can imagine him loudly denouncing the women’s suffrage movement.  “Women should not be allowed to vote,” he might have argued, “because their role is in the home.  The fairer sex is concerned with children and local issues.  They don’t understand the loftier matters of state, government, war, or politics, nor should we ask them to.”  He would have been joined in his opposition by Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon, Laura Ingraham, and other firebrand conservatives who would use their media platforms to impede social progress.

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