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Craig Conley's Blog

COLLOIDAL SUSPENSION

01/29/15 at 04:44 AM

The term colloidal suspension is referring to a substance that has a solid permanently suspended in a liquid. In order to determine if a substance is a colloid or merely a solution you can check for Brownian movement, the constant motion of particles in solutions and colloids. This movement and its constancy are true both of solutions and colloids, yet if the substance is a colloid the particles will resist settling to the bottom. The particles in a colloidal suspension are a certain size which will typically be from ten to ten thousand angstroms. Another characteristic of a colloid is that the particles within its composition are not easily filtered or taken from the solution by any normal means. Gases don’t form colloids, but they still may contain particles mixed within them; fog, smoke, hair sprays, ice clouds, etc. Some examples of liquids which are colloids are; whipped cream, milk, blood, hand cream. Some examples of solids which are colloids are; pumice, jelly, cranberry glass, Styrofoam. A colloidal crystal is a highly ordered array of particles that can be formed over a very long range (typically on the order of a few millimeters to one centimeter). One of the finest natural examples of this ordering phenomenon can be found in precious Opal. Brilliant regions of pure spectral color...

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DAWN ON CERES

01/27/15 at 04:04 AM

On January 13th, the NASA spacecraft DAWN reached a point 238,000 miles from the dwarf planet Ceres in our asteroid belt. That’s just about the distance Earth is from the Moon. On March 6th, the spacecraft will assume a close orbit around Ceres and begin sending back data on the nature of this strange celestial world. The two largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, are round objects…in contrast to most of the bodies in the asteroid belt which are irregular shaped chunks of rock and ice. These two “dwarf planets” grew big enough through accretion to take on a spherical shape. There may be more of these type bodies, most likely out near Pluto (Pluto itself became reclassified as a ‘dwarf planet’ a while ago), but we haven’t discovered them yet. This DAWN spacecraft approach will be exciting. We’ll find out what these ‘junior’ worlds are composed of – ice, or rock? The spacecraft will send back detailed photographs of the asteroid world’s surface, as well as searching for a trace atmosphere, and providing temperature readings and...

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STAND FIRM

01/25/15 at 04:42 AM

Recent events within the Islamic world have been very hard to handle. Here in the Western world, we value life highly and we understand that our principles go along with life – they are one and the same. When Islamic terrorists demand millions of dollars in ransom under the threat of killing hostages, our first inclination is to pay…save life above all. But, that’s unfortunately not the right way to do it. I know someone would say that I would think differently if it were my family under the knife – and I’m sure I’d weaken and press for the ransom to be paid – but hopefully, in that situation, someone stronger than me would demand that we stand firm and not give in to them. We cannot allow these isolated terrorists to alter the way we live; no matter how horrific their efforts. In fact, they’re beginning to piss me off – I think we ought to start using our massive military superiority and begin surrounding the terrorists’ locations. Drive them in front of us. Compress them. Reduce the land they occupy to a smaller area. Then get into an old-fashioned military engagement with them and use our military advantage to wage war against them…a real war; not some stupid terrorist one at a time sneaky cowardly crap like they’re doing. Condense the extremists into a knot and then blow them all into Allah’s hellish lower regions (which is where they’re going to wind up anyway; they’re just too stupid to see that’s their final destination). We have to remember...

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NON-NEGOTIABLE FREEDOM

01/23/15 at 04:51 AM

The response to the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s cartoon of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad stirred up quite a fuss. Riots, church burnings, demonstrations in Muslim countries…some of them violent…have cropped up as a result. But I have to admire the French President. He publicly stated that ‘freedom of speech is non-negotiable’. What a great thing to say. I can’t help but wonder at those Muslims who try to insist that freedom of expression won’t be allowed. They are seriously deluded. It’s most probable that they are misinterpreting their scriptures or religious tenets. No prophet or messenger from God would ever want to constrain the free expression of intelligence…that is inimical to life itself. I sincerely believe all these noises being made are merely the excuses for a few miserable twits to go on a rampage. They’ve been waiting for any reason to loot and murder for a long time…frustration and fury at their station in life. Miserable that they don’t have all the nice things those more talented or harder-working or gifted individuals have in their lives. And rather than take the long way and work hard to get them, it’s much easier to just go berserk for some cause and steal and loot to get them. We don’t want a religious war…we already did that back in the Crusades and it didn’t work out…so let’s not get ourselves all wound up over these isolated instances, even if they seem suddenly more prolific, and start some fight nobody (except a few fame-seekers and/or capitalistic corporation owners and/or deluded power hungry lunatics) actually wants. As the Frenchman said, freedom of speech is non-negotiable...

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PARIS KILLINGS

01/21/15 at 04:21 AM

The recent killings in Paris were so appalling. Absolutely senseless. Over a cartoon of a long-dead seer-of-visions who became labelled as a ‘Prophet’? Killing someone because of what they say undermines reason and education. The freedom to express oneself, even if it is contrary to accepted form, is essential not only to growth intellectually, but also is necessary as a type of checks and balances regarding established dogma. By denying freedom of expression, you are effectively saying, ‘We cannot question what someone tells us…we must blindly believe it.’ I suggest that the disgusting ‘blind belief’ here came from those ignorant killers who never questioned the dogma they had been fed by their religious leaders. If they had questioned it at all, they would have realized that killing people could not possibly have been mandated by any kind of God or Prophet. Someone used their frustrated anger and rage for their own ends – sending them in to assassinate cartoonists (cartoonists, of all people?!), financing them, supplying and organizing them, to serve a purpose that was distinctly not Godly or even humane. The unfortunate situation in the Middle East resembles the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s feud we had here in the US back around the time of the civil war...

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MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY

01/19/15 at 04:23 AM

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is traditionally celebrated on the third Monday of each January, which is around the time of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, January 15th. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. The holiday was met with fierce opposition when it was first proposed. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office). Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East (both North Carolina Republicans) led opposition to the bill and questioned whether King was important enough to receive such an honor. Helms criticized King's opposition to the Vietnam War and accused him of espousing "action-oriented Marxism". Helms led a filibuster against the bill and on October 3, 1983, submitted a 300-page document to the Senate alleging that King had associations with communists. New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan declared the document a "packet of filth", threw it on the Senate floor and stomped on it. President Ronald Reagan originally opposed the holiday...

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BACK-UP QUARTERBACK

01/17/15 at 04:06 AM

As I write this, I’m thinking back to the devastating loss (to me and others here in Colorado) of the Denver Broncos last weekend. They had climbed all the way to the top – number one in their division; only slightly eclipsed by the New England Patriots from being number one overall in the AFC. But on that playoff day when it should have been a snap for Peyton Manning to defeat the Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos collapsed into dismal failure. Manning just wasn’t on that day and they lost embarrassingly. In hindsight, I had a thought. To you coaches out there; what if you didn’t pin all your hopes on just one man…usually the quarterback? No one man can be perfect 100% of the time; every single day. We all have our bad days. But just think. If the Broncos had had a back-up quarterback who was just as good as Manning waiting in the wings, then they could have sent him in when Manning began to show signs of faltering and he probably would have saved the day. The team was good…bunch of talented players…if they’d had a quarterback who could connect with them, we would have won. So, instead of spending all your first round draft picks on linemen...

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OPEN LETTER TO MUSLIMS

01/15/15 at 04:43 AM

Hi there. Lately you boys (and girls) have been pulling off some pretty sorry stuff in the name of your God; Allah is it? And Muhammad is the dude who is his messenger, I take it? From the style you’ve got going there, I’d guess this Allah must be a downright bloodthirsty God. I thought Gods were supposed to be peace-loving and kind-hearted, but ol’ Allah seems to have somethin’ wrong with him there. Unless you’re reading him wrong. That could be, I suppose. Does he really tell you that if somebody draws a picture of him, that you’re supposed to kill them? Why is that? Does he not like his own likeness? Damn, mirrors must make him incredibly infuriated. How come you aren’t out smashing all the mirrors in the world? And I guess his dislike of cartoons drawn about him comes from that, too. Or does he just not have much of a sense of humor? A God without a sense of humor must be a pretty sad sort of fellow. Nothin’ to laugh about. Nothing to smile about? Hmmm…unfortunate. It also seems ol’ Allah doesn’t care much for women and children, either. You guys have been slaughtering them in huge numbers using Mister Allah’s name as the justification for their murders...

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NEARBY WORLDS

01/13/15 at 04:30 AM

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has studied more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study. All candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets. The 1,000th of those was recently verified. Using Kepler data, scientists reached this milestone number after validating that eight more candidates spotted by the planet-hunting telescope are, in fact, planets. The Kepler team also recently added another 554 candidates to the roll of potential planets, six of which are near-Earth-size…and three of them orbit in the habitable zone of stars similar to our Sun. Those three newly-validated planets located in their distant Suns’ habitable zone sit within the range of distances from the host star where liquid water might exist on their surface. Of the three, two are likely made of rock, like Earth...

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IF GUNS WERE KILLERS...

01/11/15 at 04:14 AM

Perhaps you’ve heard about the recent tragedy up in Idaho? A 29 year old mother was shot by her two year old child. The mother was a registered gun owner with a proper concealed-carry permit and she had her pistol zipped up in a pocket inside her purse. She and her kid went shopping at a local Wal-Mart, and while she was involved with reaching for something on a shelf, the child unzipped the purse and pulled the trigger of the gun, killing his mother dead. Now I’m thinking about how the NRA continually spouts one of its favorite catch-phrases: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Well, I just don’t see how that’s the case here. That child didn’t kill its mother; that gun did. This wasn’t a case of ‘people killing people’. There was no motive, no murder committed, no anger, no momentary lapse of reason…it was just plain and simple; a device designed for killing people went off accidentally. There is no other way to describe it. If she hadn’t been carrying a loaded pistol, this never would have happened. This is a case of ‘guns killing people’ – all by themselves...

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POWERFUL SEX

01/09/15 at 04:34 AM

The human race continues. For thousands of years so far. That’s impressive (given our proclivities for self-destruction in wars and such). So, how do we do it? We have reproduction. New human beings are constantly being manufactured. Every man jack among us has the ability to make new ones. And that process is driven by, you guessed it, sex! The sex drive has survived a phenomenal number of attempts to suppress it or thwart it. But it is so powerful, all those efforts haven’t deterred it one iota. In the big picture, sex is more powerful than death. If it weren’t, the human race would have died out long ago. We often speak of conquering death; everyone sees it as an impossible goal, but in truth, we’ve already done it. Otherwise, you and I would not be here now. Death is indeed formidable, but sex is more powerful - in the grand scheme of things. You all remember how absolutely overwhelming the sexual urges became as you matured into adolescence…

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HARNESSING

01/07/15 at 04:35 AM

A harness is a device used to control. Throughout history, we have employed such devices many fold. Harnessing the brute energy of animals was probably our first use of such things. When we made fires with wood or coal, we devised pots and pans for cooking or boiling water; smelting metals in forges, and of course, mankind’s favorite pastime, making weapons of war. Electricity came upon the scene and we found ways to harness its power – laying out grids and wires, discovering ways to make electric motors to spin a wheel, etc. Then the internal combustion engine arrived and it was essentially a device which could harness the energy derived from the combustion of explosive fossil fuels chemical mixtures and use it to turn a crankshaft which in turn would drive wheels. Again, harnessing that energy. Now, we have discovered nuclear energy. In our Universe, there are two primary kinds of energy; electromagnetism, and nuclear. Those two power everything…forget wind, hydro, fossil fuels…all those are the result of the two prime energy forces. We’re making progress on harnessing electromagnetism, but the awesome power of nuclear remains unusable; mostly because of the tremendously high temperatures it requires to initiate a nuclear fusion reaction – on the order of millions of degrees (like in the interior of the Sun...

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VANISHING CASH REGISTERS

01/05/15 at 04:55 AM

I see a glimmer of change on the horizon. As more and more people are using cards to pay for things, there’s obviously less cash in circulation. If this trend continues (and I see no reason to think it won’t), then soon we may have to say goodbye to the traditional cash register. Not that that’s a bad thing. Wouldn’t there be less robberies if there was no cash to grab? I wonder if that isn’t already the case. Surely our prolific card use must be having that sort of impact. Of course, there are still holdouts – some older people who don’t trust the plastic cards (y’know, the old girl who holds up the line behind her while she rummages around in her purse for her checkbook and then meticulously fills in the check and does the math to update her balance in the back of the checkbook while everyone waits); kids who haven’t reached ‘plastic’ age yet (if there is such a criteria), and those folks with such rotten credit no one will issue them a card (again). Using cash for every transaction has advantages, I suppose, and lots of folks still do it, even with good cards in their wallet. I guess the government can’t keep track of you and your money quite so easily if you use cash, so there’s that. You can be robbed with a wallet full of cash, but you can be hacked with a bank full and a card, too. There’s no perfectly safe way to avoid the creeps and thugs out there. Maybe take all your money out of the bank and bury it in your back yard? Somebody’d notice when you went out to dig up a couple bucks to go buy a hamburger probably...

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TAKING DOWN THE DECORATIONS

01/03/15 at 04:59 AM

Time to say goodbye to Christmas and New Year’s for another year. For those of us with the necessary energy, it is time to get out the ladders and take down the decorations. Dismantling the tree is always kind of poignant. Carefully re-packing the delicate little ornaments into their boxes; unwinding the tinsel and the strands of colorful lights, until finally nothing is left but the bare tree we started with. Those families which put up real trees have it a little worse than those of us who’ve switched to the artificial ones…there’ll be thousands of needles in the carpet and disposing of the dry fire-hazard tree itself can be quite a task. You’ll see tons of them in garbage dumpsters or even just lying in a back alley, glittering with the last remnants of silver icicles hanging listlessly from their branches. Within a few weeks, all the inflatable Santa’s and reindeer will be folded up and boxed away for next year. And those dutiful homeowners who aren’t so lazy as to leave all the lights stapled to their roofline for the duration of the entire year will...

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RESOLUTIONS

01/01/15 at 04:49 AM

In keeping with the spirit of the New Year, I hereby make the following resolutions: I resolve to drink only what’s required to keep me comfortably inebriated and never to start drinking before four in the afternoon (except on Sunday’s when it could be three). I resolve to quit claiming that two chili dogs smothered in onions is a nutritious dinner. I resolve to think less about sex…not much less, but maybe a little bit…maybe. I resolve to wash my car more often. I resolve to consider moving the furniture when I vacuum at least once during the calendar year of 2015. I resolve to quit calling my mother a bitch as much…maybe. I resolve to win the lottery. I resolve to stop going to little out-of-the-way restaurants in partially-empty shopping malls and trying their Mexican food (for health reasons). I resolve to avoid McDonald’s whenever possible. I resolve to be quicker with the mute button when commercials come on. I resolve to continue to boycott the Two and a Half Men shows that have Walden in them...

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YEAR 2014

12/30/14 at 04:16 AM

Well, 2014 is almost over. It’s been fun. Lots happened. We managed to land a spacecraft on a moving comet…that was cool. President Obama got tired of watching Congress bounce the ping-pong ball of immigration reform back and forth and not getting anything done so he took his paddle and smashed the ball flat on the table, much to the consternation of the Congressfellows. The entire year passed without any significant effort to thwart the climate change we’ve foisted upon ourselves – mostly because big corporations have enough money to buy the noise about it quiet. Bad news for our kids, but it keeps the purses of the corporate owners full. The oil industry is producing scores of ads hailing fracking as an environmentally-safe practice (even tho’ it isn’t!). We lost a few much-loved stars; James Garner, Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall, Harold Ramis, Richard Kiel (Jaws), Maximilian Schell, Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, Anne B. Davis, Mickey Rooney, Jack Bruce, Johnny Winter, Pete Seeger, Phil Everly, Joe Cocker…RIP at the big concert in the sky, music guys. Russia made (and continues to make) trouble for freedom-seeking Ukrainians. Israel took another swipe at Palestine – no news there, just a few thousand killed. A Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared into thin air. Around the world, numerous bombs were detonated by numerous idiots killing numerous innocent people. Children were shot up by...

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THE SICK TALIBAN BASTARDS

12/28/14 at 04:49 AM

The attack on schoolchildren earlier this month which left 141 people dead was one of the most repulsive things I’ve ever heard about in my life. The leader of the Taliban, in claiming responsibility for the atrocity, said that “the attack was in retaliation for the attacks which killed wives and relatives of Taliban members…we wanted them to feel our pain.” Well, guess what, you stupid piece of shit, they didn’t feel your pain; they felt their own pain when your bullets tore through their tender young flesh. You inflicted the pain. The same pain your loved ones experienced at the hands of the fighters in that war! Now you are the ones who have inflicted that pain on innocents! As much as you hated those who caused your loved ones pain, now you are them! The same as them! Do you even realize that you are identical to the murdering bastards who hurt you? Identical? Just like them!! The same!! You’re monsters; don’t talk to me about your cause – you are wrong and that’s all there is to it! No God…no cause…no struggle for a political ideal can ever justify the murder of children. By armed men? Armed with military automatic weapons? Against defenseless children...

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THE FUTURE REBIRTH OF TROPICAL VENUS

12/26/14 at 04:35 AM

I read the other day that the Voyager 1 spacecraft detected a ‘tsunami’ wave way far out in interstellar space where it’s currently travelling. The wave is a shock wave originating from our Sun, probably coming from a violent CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). I got to thinking; you know how the planet Venus is such a devilish place? It has 500 to 800 degree temperatures on its surface; rains Sulfuric acid droplets, and has such a dense atmosphere that it is like being deep in the ocean (92 times that of Earth). This hellish condition was caused by a runaway greenhouse effect long ago and makes the planet virtually impossible to inhabit (at least for our life forms). But, as a science-fiction nut, let me ask: What would happen if a gigantic CME were to erupt on the Sun and literally blow Venus’ atmosphere away? It could happen. Not outside the realm of possibility. What if it blew most of the atmosphere off into space, leaving a thin remnant like Mars has? Then Venus might become the tropical paradise that science-fiction writers used to speculate it was back when I was reading their stuff as a kid. I remember the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet books; there was this huge fellow named Astro who manned the engines on their rocketship and he was from Venus. I suspect he was the predecessor of Scotty on Star Trek. He loved his engines dearly and little else. But when his home planet was described, it was always listed as a tropical planet...

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'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

12/24/14 at 04:15 AM

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” The original poem was titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and was written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. It is one of the more famous pieces of literature written by an American author. It is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. According to legend, the poem was composed by Clement Clarke Moore on a snowy winter's day during a shopping trip on a sleigh. His inspiration for the character of Saint Nicholas was a local Dutch handyman, as well as the historical Saint Nicholas. While Moore originated many of the features that are still associated with Santa Claus today, he borrowed other aspects, such as the names of the reindeer. Four hand-written copies of the poem are known to exist, and three are in museums, including one in the New York Historical Society library. The fourth copy, written out and signed by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to a friend in 1860, was sold by one private collector to another and eventually was purchased for $280,000 by...

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DEUTERIUM RATIO IN WATER

12/22/14 at 04:56 AM

It seems that the Rosetta Comet landing has turned up a significant fact. The measurements of the water on the comet have come up three times as enriched in Deuterium as Earth’s oceans. Deuterium (also known as heavy Hydrogen or H2) is one of two stable isotopes of Hydrogen. The nucleus of Deuterium, called a Deuteron, contains one proton and one neutron, whereas the far more common Hydrogen isotope has no neutron in the nucleus. Deuterium has a natural abundance in Earth's oceans of about one atom in 6,420 of Hydrogen. Thus Deuterium accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all the naturally occurring Hydrogen in the oceans, while the most common isotope (H1) accounts for more than 99.98%. The abundance of Deuterium changes slightly from one kind of natural water to another. Because Deuterium is destroyed in the interiors of stars faster than it is produced, and because other natural processes are thought to produce only an insignificant amount of Deuterium, it is thought that nearly all Deuterium found in nature was produced in the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and that the basic or primordial ratio of H1 to H2 (about 26 atoms of Deuterium per million Hydrogen atoms) has its origin from that time. This is the ratio found in the gas giant planets, such as Jupiter...

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A MELLOW BOMB

12/20/14 at 04:57 AM

As I watched the Moon set the other morning, I was reminded of how fortunate we are to have another celestial body so close to us. We need to go back to it and do more exploring. That thought brings to mind an idea I’ve explored before. Jules Verne’s ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ incorporated a gigantic cannon drilled into the Earth and loaded with guncotton to fire a projectile to the Moon. Someone suggested we do the same thing, but use Hydrogen bombs in one of the deep salt tunnel formations found in the desert, and launch 250,000 tons of stuff into high Earth orbit. All sorts of flaws came to mind…not the least was the crushing acceleration the projectile would have to endure (not to mention being irradiated). But I had a thought. You know the gunpowder in rifle (or artillery) shells is not the same thing as the explosive charge in the warhead, right? They had to figure out how to lower the burning rate or it would blow up the barrel when they pulled the trigger. So they added stuff to make the gunpowder slower-burning. We could do the same with the Hydrogen bomb in the bottom of the salt tube. We already use neutron-absorbing control rods to limit the reaction speed in nuclear reactors. Why couldn’t we just mix in...

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ELOCUTION

12/18/14 at 04:17 AM

This is something which needs addressing. Elocution is defined as ‘the manner of public speaking’, or simply, the way you pronounce your words. Too many times lately I have heard people slur their words; bury them in obscure mannerisms or local colloquialisms, with the result that they’re difficult to understand. That’s not a recipe for successful communications. Another pet peeve of mine is people who talk to you without projecting their words…they mumble quietly, only hearing what they’re saying inside their own head, and it’s almost impossible to catch what they mean. Some folks think they’re being ‘cool’ by shortening words or phrases, reducing them to the ‘texting’ acronyms (e.g., BRB, LOL, etc.), or utilizing symbols in place of words (e.g., 24/7 for ‘all the time’). The whole texting phenomenon is contributing to this breakdown of communication. In a previous blog entry, I wrote about how the black community distances itself from the larger white community by segregating itself; using its preference for its native black culture. This is especially true when it comes to speaking. Sometimes their laziness when it comes to pronunciation makes it really hard to follow what they’re saying…slurring their words, leaving out pronouns or articles, kind of mushing their speech together. If anyone wants to make a success out of their life in today’s business world (or elsewhere), they need to master the art of elocution. Speak clearly…cleanly…crisp and proper pronunciation of the words...

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RACIAL INEQUALITY

12/16/14 at 04:50 AM

This subject is touchy, to say the least. But perhaps it’s time to take a look at the basic inequalities of the races. On the one hand, from a higher perspective, all men are equal. There is no denying that…we are all human and all have the divine spark of intelligence in our eyes. Yet there are stunning differences in our behavior and our lifestyles. These differences work against us all living together as one mass. In every city in the US (if not the world) black people (and the other races as well) tend to congregate in one area. There is an old adage, “Birds of a feather flock together”, and that is a truth that has been tried and true down through the ages. When this racial ‘clumping’ occurs, cultural characteristics emerge which favor that particular race. These characteristics sometimes make it difficult to integrate with another race’s characters or behavior. This is not ‘racism’, this is variety. Right now, in the Western world, the white race is the dominant race. We don’t forbid the inclusion of other races – in fact we legislate and mandate that it be free for all to join in – but allowing other behaviors and characteristics to join us doesn’t mean we are going to change our style to suit theirs. If they want to join ours, then they can…but they must understand...

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NEW HORIZONS

12/14/14 at 04:49 AM

After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles - the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target - NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation recently for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system. Moving at light speed, the radio signal from New Horizons - currently more than 2.9 billion miles from Earth, and just over 162 million miles from Pluto - needed four hours and 26 minutes to reach NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia. Since launching on January 19, 2006, New Horizons has spent 1,873 days - about two-thirds of its flight time - in hibernation. Its 18 separate hibernation periods, from mid-2007 to late 2014, ranged from 36 days to 202 days in length. The team used hibernation to save wear and tear on spacecraft components and reduce the risk of system failures. On July 14th, 2015, the spacecraft will make its closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto. I, for one, am tremendously excited. I never cared much for the Astronomical Union authorities degrading Pluto from planetary status simply based on size considerations alone. It may be small, but at times it travels within the orbit of Neptune; i.e., it’s actually closer to the Sun than Neptune is for a fairly long time during its orbit around the Sun. That certainly should elevate its status to that of a full-on planet. Anyhow, this approaching spacecraft has several cameras onboard…one telescopic long-range camera and one compact multicolor camera...

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FAME

12/12/14 at 04:29 AM

I watched ‘The Queen’ the other night; it’s about what the Royals did in England when Princess Diana died. Good movie with Helen Mirren. But it brought to mind the incredibly high price that fame brings with it. Princess Di may have been taken with all the attention which came her way when she first joined the Royal family, but it soon got out of hand. Toward the end, she could not get a moment’s privacy. The dreaded paparazzi hounded her at every turn; waiting on motor scooters outside her hotel, following alongside her car, always with the clicking of cameras to catch her in every pose. The paparazzi were, of course, being paid…editors of magazines and newspapers would pay tremendous money for a hitherto unpublished shot of the lovely Princess, and all the picture-takers had to do was snap a shot of her with their camera…there was great competition for the best or most intimate pics. But no one apparently gave a damn about the horrid inconsiderateness they were causing to the lady. Maybe they justified their rude behavior by saying that ‘she wanted the fame so this is the price’, but I’m going to wager that she didn’t want all that fame all that much…especially near the end. I’m going to come down on condemning the paparazzi. I think they are loathsome weasels; scoundrels bent only on greed and selfishness, and every time I see them chasing...

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