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Craig Conley's Blog

GANYMEDE'S MAGNETIC FIELDS

03/26/15 at 04:34 AM

Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field. The magnetic field causes aurorae, which are ribbons of glowing, hot electrified gas, in regions circling the north and south poles of the moon. Because Ganymede is close to Jupiter, it is also embedded in Jupiter’s magnetic field. When Jupiter’s magnetic field changes, the aurorae on Ganymede also change, ‘rocking’ back and forth. By watching the rocking motion of the two aurorae, scientists were able to determine that a large amount of saltwater exists beneath Ganymede’s crust which was affecting its magnetic field. This means that, at 3,000+ miles in diameter, Ganymede might be a potential place where humans can live. We need a magnetic field to block the dangerous radiation produced by the Sun. The Earth has one and that’s why we can exist here…without it, we’d fry. Scientists estimate the Ganymede ocean is 60 miles thick – 10 times deeper than Earth's oceans – and is buried under a 95-mile crust of mostly ice. Scientists first suspected there might be an ocean within Ganymede in the 1970s, based on computer models of...

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THE DEPTHS OF DEPRAVITY

03/24/15 at 04:02 AM

Perhaps you’ve heard about a startling tragedy which recently occurred here in Colorado. A woman who was 7 months pregnant went to answer an add offering to sell baby clothes. When she arrived at the address, another woman attacked her, beat her and used a knife to cut her baby from her womb. The police later said that the incisions were very precise; apparently the attacking woman had been studying c-sections in medical journals. When the police responded to the cries of help from the stabbed woman, they immediately rushed her to a local hospital where medics were able to save her life. At about the same time, a woman arrived at the same hospital carrying a baby which she claimed she had miscarried. Doctors put two and two together and realized that this was the baby which had been cut from the mother’s womb. The police were notified and the woman was arrested. She now faces a string of charges and is in jail on $2 million bond. The final charges haven’t been filed yet because under law the infant had to have been alive for murder charges to be filled; it was dead when it got to the hospital, and the autopsy hasn’t been returned on whether or not the child actually drew one breath yet...

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SOME PEOPLE'S KIDS

03/22/15 at 04:21 AM

I’ve been working at my brother’s auto detail shop recently. Last week, we got in a car to recondition. It was a Volkswagen mini-van. When it arrived at his shop, we all took a look at it to see what kind of job it would be. The car dealer who had given it to us had made several ominous references about how bad it was. When we opened the doors, the sight which greeted us was unbelievable. In the back seat area, there were half-eaten candies, wrappers, miscellaneous corn-nuts and snack chips…again, half-eaten. One back door had some frightening brown-colored stuff smeared on the vinyl side panels…I hope it was chocolate, but other possibilities came to mind. Lying in the open back of the van was a large pink empty box with the word, ‘Barbie’ on it. Suddenly I was struck; what kind of people were the previous owners? Who could live in such squalor? They say that the way you keep your car is the way you keep your mind. Wow! A vision popped into my head. Here’s this woman driving down the road; a cell phone jammed up against one ear, knees doing the steering, and...

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BODY SHOPS AND COPS

03/20/15 at 04:53 AM

Someone came up with a really great idea the other day. In Pueblo, Colorado, body shop owners are being asked to assist the police in identifying hit-and-run vehicles. This makes such good sense. When a vehicle is brought in to a body shop with blood or skin or clothing imbedded in the dented area, if body shop owners would call police and report it, it might help the cops find these cowardly bastards who hit and run. There’s so much of that nowadays; you read about one almost every day. Usually, the driver had no license, or was under suspension, or just didn’t want to pay the increased insurance rates his actions would’ve required. But that’s no excuse for leaving someone injured beside the road and not stopping or accepting responsibility. Most of those drivers will be heading to a body shop straightaway to try and erase the evidence of their crime. If the police coordinated with the body shop owners and sent them a list of possible vehicles to look out for, then when one showed up for repair, the body shop guy could notify the police and...

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FREDDIE MERCURY

03/18/15 at 04:57 AM

Freddie Mercury, lead vocalist of the band Queen, was born Farrokh Bulsara in the British protectorate of Sultanate of Zanzibar, East Africa (now part of Tanzania). He died of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS on 24 November 1991, one day after publicly acknowledging he had the disease. He died at the age of 45 at his home in Kensington. He had a four octave range with his voice and an incredible sense of tempo, making him one of the most impressive vocalists on record. He wrote many of the band’s hits, including; Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Killer Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now, and Somebody To Love, just to name a few. He was a showman on stage, but something of an introvert in private, especially around people he didn’t know. He was married to Mary Austin and she figured prominently in his life, even though he left her and formed several gay relationships with men, but he and Mary remained friends. In his will, he left her...

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Pi IN THE SKY

03/16/15 at 04:58 AM

Saturday was March 14, 2015. When written as a numerical date, it is 3/14/15, corresponding to the first five digits of pi (3.1415) - a once-in-a-century coincidence! Pi Day, which would have been the 136th birthday of Albert Einstein, is a great excuse to eat pie, and to appreciate how important the number pi is to math and science. Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. Any time you want to find out the distance around a circle when you have the distance across it, you will need this formula. Pi is what’s known as an ‘irrational’ number. Pi's digits extend infinitely and without any pattern, adding to its intrigue and mystery. Pi is useful for all kinds of calculations involving the volume and surface area of spheres, as well as for determining the rotations of circular objects such as wheels. That’s why pi is important for scientists who work with planetary bodies and the spacecraft that visit them. You can also use pi to think about Earth's rotation. Think about the nature of a day, as Earth's rotation on its axis carries you on a circle 21,000 miles in circumference, which you can calculate using pi and your latitude. NASA's Spitzer Science Center at...

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ISIL MADNESS

03/14/15 at 04:29 AM

This business of the Islamic extremists destroying archeological history is madness itself. Bulldozing archeological ruins which are thousands of years old into rubble; smashing ancient artifacts with sledgehammers and pickaxes; this is not the work of sane men, not in any way, shape, or form. They must be stopped. I don’t care whether it’s in Iraq or wherever; destroying ancient ruins is a crime against intelligence, a crime against the history of humanity. Good Grief, those relics have stood for centuries…they give us vision into our ancient heritages and cultures, allow us to see how humanity came to be what it is today. To have them so callously and recklessly destroyed by a bunch of maniacs and lunatics blathering nonsense about how they distract people from true Islam is sheer insanity. I know the Middle Easterners are a frothy bunch to begin with; if they don’t have an excuse for fighting and killing they’ll find one, but we need to put a stop to it this time. Those objects and treasures are irreplaceable. Irreplacable! During World War II, the Nazi regime, nasty though it was, didn’t damage important artworks and relics. They had respect for the histories they represented. Sure, some were destroyed by the intense bombing, but by and large the Nazis sequestered the important works and hid them safely out of harm’s way. The ISIL idiots are just the opposite. They’re going out of their way to...

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SOCIAL SECURITY FAILURE

03/12/15 at 04:55 AM

Here in Colorado Springs recently, we had a sad incident. An 80 year-old man placed a 911 call saying he had tried, but he just couldn’t live on Social Security and he was going to be evicted from his home and had no family and he was going to commit suicide and burn down his house. He did it. Officers arrived to find the house engulfed in flames and the man lying dead on the ground outside. This really hit me. Here’s this guy, 80 years old, probably born around 1935, started working full-time in the early fifties, most likely a blue collar worker, raised his family, did all the expected things for an American living during our “Golden Age” (the fifties and sixties!) when everything was bright and chrome-shiny and bullish market…and now, years later, he has no family, and the Social Security he paid into all those years doesn’t even come close to providing the ‘Security’ he was promised. It gets hard. There are property taxes, medical insurance, car insurance, sales taxes…all mandated by the government and required by law...

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CONTRAST

03/10/15 at 04:07 AM

Consider the concept of contrast. Generally, this means a thing’s opposite. For example, light and dark; near and far; hot and cold; big and small. It is by comparing one opposite with the other that we can know something. As a matter of fact, each thing’s opposite is absolutely necessary in order to know the first thing. You wouldn’t know what light was if you didn’t have dark to compare it to; you wouldn’t know what large was if you didn’t have small to compare it to. And so on for all the opposites. Our minds are able to discern intermediate states of things by comparing the opposites, i.e., different shades of light or dark (or big and little). This fundamental necessity for contrast has plentiful implications. Take for example, good and bad. It seems they are both necessary – you can’t have one without the other. The Christian idea of seeking the all-good Heaven being promised them (if they follow the appropriate rules) suddenly comes crashing to the ground. The bad is essential to knowing the good. Where this takes us (in this respect, anyway) is to search for the balance…the right balance between good and evil. Both are necessary. There is no lopsided imbalance anywhere; it just doesn’t exist...

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THE ONE DOLLAR BILL SEAL

03/08/15 at 04:43 AM

In 1782, Sam Adams created the third Congress and appointed a design artist, William Barton of Philadelphia, to bring a proposal for the national seal. For the reverse, Barton chose a pyramid design with the Eye of Providence on top. The pyramid has 13 levels, representing the 13 original colonies. The adopting resolution provides that it is inscribed on its base with the date MDCCLXXVI (1776, the year of the United States Declaration of Independence, in Roman numerals). He added two Latin phrases; Annuit Cœptis and Novus Ordo Seclorum. They translate as ‘He Favors Our Undertaking’ and ‘New Order of the Ages’ respectively. They were originally portions of a Latin poem by Publius Vergilius Maro (usually shortened to Virgil in English) who lived from 70 BC to 19 BC. He was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid. There are many other items within the Great Seal which number 13. On the obverse, the eagle is holding 13 arrows; the olive branch he is holding usually has 13 leaves and 13 olives, and the blue field above...

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BIRTHDAY TIMES TWO

03/06/15 at 04:39 AM

Today is auspicious because within my family there are two birthdays which fall on March 6th. My Sister-in-Law and my Mother. This situation became particularly gnarly once my mother, in her unpleasant way, tried to run my sister-in-law’s life. This is actually quite a common occurrence…mother’s-in-law don’t want to let go of their sons and almost every one of them believes that they know best how to manage the boy’s affairs. Of course, when a woman takes a man for her husband, then they are beginning a new life (just like the one the mother originally started herself, but she conveniently forgets about that) and the one thing the new wife doesn’t need is someone telling her how to do it. There’s an old saying; ‘There’s only room in the nest for one hen’. I don’t understand why so many women can’t figure that out. My own wife, who was a very intelligent woman, was sorely rebuked by her daughter-in-law when we tried to help the new couple out financially after they were first married. The girl exploded and said “Stop trying to...

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BEEF OVER NOODLES

03/04/15 at 04:46 AM

The other day it was snowing here in Colorado and I decided that since I was going to be housebound anyway, I’d dive into cooking something. I chose Beef Stew. Now that’s not a really difficult thing to do, especially if you use the pre-prepared seasoning packets you can buy for a dollar or two at any grocery store. I got one and followed the directions meticulously as I’m a bachelor and generally only eat whatever I can fry up or scrape out of a can. Complex dishes requiring even minimum cooking skills elude me; too bad because I adore them. Anyway, as I was doing the first phase (according to the directions on the seasoning packet), I noticed that browning the stew beef chunks in a little oil after covering them with flour and then adding the contents of the seasoning packet and the 3 cups water it called for made a rich brown gravy which smelled excellent. I let the mixture simmer for an hour and was about to add...

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RIP BFF

03/02/15 at 04:09 AM

The other day I was web-surfing and I decided to look up my old buddy “Sonny” in the little town of Schertz, Texas. We had moved there as a military family in the late fifties and as Sonny was our neighbor and about the same age as me, we hooked up as friends. We became really tight over the next few years, sharing a love for fireworks (which were legal then in Texas – including the excellent ‘Cherry bombs!) and fast big-block cars and our beloved motor scooters. We rode all over southeast Texas, dated girls (got my first feel of a boob in the back seat of his daddy’s ’61 maroon Chevy Impala), and gave the local sheriff hell with our shenanigans. Well, I found him on the internet; his obituary was posted there. He had died in October of 2014. Of course, we hadn’t stayed in touch after my dad was reassigned...

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BYE SPOCK

02/28/15 at 04:02 AM

It had to happen. Mister Spock is dead. Leonard Nimoy, who played the Vulcan First Officer aboard the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek, passed away at his home in California on February 27th, 2015. All his shipmates from the series sent acknowledgements and condolences to his family. It happened once in the movies, and he came back, but this time it’s for real. I was a huge Star Trek fan myself. I don’t think there has ever been a character with such an incredible hold on so many people. The idea of this supremely logical, unemotional, super-strong, green-blooded alien who was half-human traveling side-by-side with his Earthling counterparts through the stars, exploring new worlds…it was just what every science-fiction aficionado (myself included!) dreamed of. Unfortunately, I believe it somewhat overwhelmed Nimoy; the success took him by surprise. He wrote two autobiographies; ‘I am not Spock’, written in 1975, and ‘I am Spock’, written in 1996. Makes me wonder if at first he didn’t like his own identity being subsumed into the TV...

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FIFTY SHADES OF RED

02/26/15 at 04:18 AM

The movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, came out the other day and, predictably, there was a contingent of ladies marching out front in a picket line. They carried placards proclaiming that the movie promoted pornography and violence to women. I have no ready rebuttal to that, but I will point out something that I’ll bet those girls missed. In my years of unofficial and unsponsored (but enthusiastic) sexual researches, I have come across a surprising number of women who actually seek these moderately painful punishments as a part of their sexual nature. Why? I believe it dates back to Victorian Era Christian repression (farther back than that, actually, but let’s use that date as a starting point). When our parents and grandparents promoted the Christian beliefs that sex was bad and never to be engaged in purely for pleasure, what did that do to our minds? On the one hand, we are driven by that most powerful of urges, the sexual desires (key to reproduction and therefore the continuance of life); and on the other, the unwillingness to disobey or go against the teachings of our respected parents and elders. Caught in the middle between these two (almost) irresistible forces, we are given over to feelings of guilt when we follow the path we must (the sexual desire path is the strongest of the two!). That guilt makes us crave punishment for our misbehavior...

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THINKING ABOUT THE HIGGS BOSON

02/24/15 at 04:17 AM

I hear CERN is tasking up to do another search for the Higgs Boson; this time with twice the energy they had at their disposal when they supposedly spotted it the first time. If they succeed, and do actually confirm the existence of this boson, then I’m thinking there could be some interesting side-effects of the discovery. First of all, the Higgs Boson is the force-carrier for mass. That means the Higgs Field is the field that imparts mass to objects, with this boson being the transmitter of that force (like the Gluon transmits the Strong Nuclear Force or the Photon transmits the Electromagnetic force). That is, the Higgs Field creates weight. Now, if we can figure out how this thing works, there are some fascinating implications. Purely science-fiction speculation, of course (which is what I do…), but if we could manipulate the mass of something, we could make it heavier, or conversely lighter, than it was to begin with. If we got good enough at it, maybe we could…say…make an aircraft carrier so lightweight that we could drive it across the sea with one of those little handheld AA battery fans blowing off its stern. Or…how about making a spaceship so lightweight that a single small rocket (or better yet…an ion drive) could push it to incredible speed?...

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SUNFLOWER SOLAR POWER

02/22/15 at 04:15 AM

I had a thought the other day while contemplating my solar-powered LED kitty-cats out on my picnic table. I was thinking how they would charge better if they could be turned to follow the Sun as it moved across the sky. A motorized gadget would work, but that would eat up too much of the solar energy. Then I thought about Sunflowers. Those great big Russian ones with the giant heads. Those things turn and follow the Sun as it moves across the sky. An amazing flower. Then it hit me. What if we could make a tiny little transmitting device and attach it to the head of one of those Sunflowers? Then have its signal be relayed to a bank of instruments which would read it and magnify the motion a thousand-fold for a whole field of solar panels? Drive a series of servo motors to rotate the panels to keep them in direct line of sight with the Sun...

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CHINESE NEW YEAR

02/20/15 at 04:13 AM

For the year 2015, yesterday (February 19th) was the Chinese New Year. There are many traditions associated with this occasion in countries having a large Chinese population. Homes are cleaned meticulously on the days before the holiday as it is thought that it is symbolic of cleaning out all the old bad luck to make way for the new good luck. Red paper cutouts are hung in doorways and windows (red is the predominant color used in New Year celebrations…red is the emblem of joy, and this color also symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor) and firecrackers are lit off in an effort to drive off the evil spirits. According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn't attack any more people. One day a villager decided to get revenge of the Nian. A god visited him and told him to put red paper on his house and to explode firecrackers. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People set off firecrackers to frighten away the Nian...

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LOTTERY WINNERS

02/18/15 at 04:54 AM

I’m one of those people who play the lottery. Every Wednesday and Saturday I buy my ticket. Recently, the prize went up to 500 million dollars here in Colorado. Even after the government took its tax cut (half, more or less) that still would leave the winner with $250,000,000! I always think I’m going to win, but, of course, the odds are so fantastically high against me winning it that I never do. Still, hope springs eternal. But what an idiot I am! What would happen in the unlikely event that I did win it? All of a sudden, I’d find myself buried under a new range of problems, things I hadn’t imagined when I was so eagerly buying my lotto ticket. Within days of my winning, I’d discover that every beggar, whining sad-case freak, person needing an expensive medical procedure, hater of the rich, scam artist with an idea to make millions, phony lover, and charity promoter within a thousand miles would arrive on my doorstep. Holding their hands out for a free stack of money and then cursing and spitting on me when I didn’t give it to them. Relatives would appear out of the woodwork…distant cousins or step-uncles who suddenly have taken it upon themselves to become close family to me...

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MORE BAD NEWS FOR E-SMOKERS

02/16/15 at 04:33 AM

E-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals which could damage the lungs and immune system, scientists have discovered. Experiments carried out on mice found that e-cigarette fumes harmed the animals' lungs and made them more susceptible to respiratory infections. Chemicals generated by the nicotine devices also weakened the immune system's response to viruses and bacteria, causing some mice to die. Researchers found e-cigarette vapor contains ‘free radical’ toxins similar to those found in air pollution and cigarette smoke. Although the study said they generated just 1% of the amount of free radicals in tobacco smoke, these molecules can damage DNA and cell membranes. The study was carried out by scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore...

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THE ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE

02/14/15 at 04:07 AM

On Saint Valentine’s Day in 1929, seven members of the ‘Bugs’ Moran gang were executed in a garage on Chicago’s North Side. George ‘Bugs’ Moran was the boss of the long-established North Side Gang and was a long-time rival of Al Capone. Moran's muscling in on a Capone-run dog track in the Chicago suburbs, his takeover of several Capone-owned saloons that he insisted were in his territory, and the general rivalry between Moran and Capone for complete control of the lucrative Chicago bootlegging business were probable contributing factors to this incident. The plan was to lure Moran to the SMC Cartage warehouse on North Clark Street. Contrary to common belief, this plan did not intend to eliminate the entire North Side gang – just Moran, and perhaps two or three of his lieutenants. On St. Valentine's Day, most of the Moran gang had already arrived at the warehouse by approximately 10:30 AM. Moran was not there, having left his Parkway Hotel apartment late. When he arrived at the back entrance, he saw a police car patrolling and went to a coffee shop instead. Out in front, witnesses outside the garage saw a Cadillac sedan pull to a stop. Four men, two dressed in police uniform, emerged and walked inside...

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OUR ACTIVE BODIES

02/12/15 at 04:26 AM

Tongues flap, eyebrows curl,nose runs, joints creak, boobs sag, tummy rumbles, eyes wander, hair goes flyaway, feet get flat, balls drop, fingers snap, bottom spreads, teeth grind, ears perk, skin wrinkles, pimples pop, mustaches grow, lips pucker, lungs wheeze, dicks stand erect, sphincters tighten, saliva dribbles, knuckles crack, chins drop, eyelids blink, hips swivel, tongue lashes, cheeks puff, Adam’s-apple bobs, hair raises...

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POLONIUM-210

02/10/15 at 04:06 AM

Polonium is a radioactive element with 33 isotopes ranging from 186 to 227 nucleons in the nucleus. Of these, Polonium-210 has the longest naturally-occurring half-life, 138.376 days. It is quite possibly the most lethal substance on Earth. It takes less than one microgram to kill the average adult – some 250,000 times more lethal than Hydrogen Cyanide by weight. It was used to kill the Russian dissident and ex-FSB officer Alexander V. Litvinenko in 2006, and, following exhumation and analysis of his corpse, was in November 2013 suspected as a possible cause of Yasser Arafat's death also. Polonium emits alpha particles which are stopped within a very short distance in dense media and release their energy intensely. A single gram of Polonium-210 generates 140 watts of power and glows blue due to the excitation of the surrounding air. It is used in initiators for atomic bombs through its energetic reaction with Beryllium. Litvinenko ingested a very tiny amount of Polonium-210 in a cup of tea given to him by two Russian men in a hotel room and even though he only took two or three sips, by evening he was already undergoing the effects of severe radiation poisoning. The vomiting didn’t stop, foam came out of his mouth, and bits of stomach began coming up with the vomit...

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SUPERVISED SPANKING

02/08/15 at 04:44 AM

Last week here in Colorado, several little brats stood up on a bridge over a busy roadway and threw rocks down on the cars going by below. They shattered several windshields and did high-priced damage to paint jobs, as well as created high risks for accidents which could’ve resulted in injury to human beings. They were juveniles and the police did actually catch three of them immediately, and then a fourth when he got home after running away. Now, what should we do with them? Fine the parents? Make the parents pay for all the damages? Will that stop the kids from doing it in the future? Will it make an impression on the kids? What about grounding them? Take away their cell phone or TV or computer privileges? I have a different suggestion. I know that we, in our desire to make a more peaceful and humane society, outlawed spanking our children a while back. I sincerely believe that was a mistake. A red bottom after you do something wrong is instant recognition that you did something wrong. Physical pain…an impression you won’t forget or take lightly…it worked for me when I was a little shithead. It was excellent behavior modification. The reasons we quit doing it were because some parents beat the crap out of their kids...

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AUSCHWITZ

02/06/15 at 04:10 AM

Recently, an important date occurred in the history of man’s inhumanity to man. January 27th is recognized as a commemorative day representing the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland by the Russian soldiers during the close of World War II. The generally accepted death toll for the camp is 1.1 million. There were other camps, but Auschwitz was one of the biggies. Of those killed there, most were Hungarian Jews, with Polish Jews coming in at second place. Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Soviet POW’s and some peoples of diverse nationalities were systematically put to death in Auschwitz. Many of them were worked to death under starvation conditions as slave labor, but the majority were gassed using a Cyanide-based pesticide gas called Zyklon-B. Prisoners were led into sealed rooms resembling showers, having been told they were going to be deloused, and then gassed from overhead shower fixtures. It took about 20 minutes and there was lots of screaming. The SS guards enriched themselves by picking through the possessions...

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