Do you refer to the local TV news as “the local murders”?

Bad politicians, terrorists, and the Zika virus will collectively wipe out the human race in the very near future, or at least sometime within the current news cycle. These introductory words might be funny if there weren’t so many people who find some truth in it.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing humanity today is not that the world is increasingly becoming a bad place to live but that we think that the world is becoming a bad place to live.

And why do we think this? Because that’s the perspective we are most often given (and we don’t choose to find alternative, more truthful perspectives).

Speak for yourself. With internet access, alternatives are only a click away.

To illustrate my point in a simple way, think of how a typical evening newscast is structured: Out of 30 minutes airtime, approximately 28 minutes is filled with stories of tragic events around the world, stories of tragic events in our country, reports of threatening diseases, politics, and the commercials in between that suggest you can’t be happy without their product or service. The other two minutes, which always comes at the end of the newscast, is a heart-warming, human interest story.

Therefore, on the so-called “news,” you get more than 90% of disturbing stories and illusory advertisements and less than 10% of what is a much more accurate reflection of humanity…

To arrive at a meaningful number for discussion purposes, let’s say that the total number of the world’s worst politicians, the terrorists, the most violent criminals, the terribly corrupt corporate types, and the just plain evil people in the world totals 7 million. That’s probably an incredibly high number. But for perspective’s sake that’s one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population.

In our quick unscientific observation, we can say that at as much as 99.9% of the world’s population are either good human beings or at least ones who don’t cause real problems for the others around them…

Perhaps the real problem that exists in the world today is not bad human beings but the ignorant ones. When people can’t recognize illusion, or they simply prefer it to reality, the illusionists will remain the most powerful.

This is the point where I plug in what I call the standard internet question, e.g., ignorant or stupid. You needn’t be intellectually damaged, mentally ill or severely impaired and incapable of thinking. Just plain unwilling for whatever reasons to examine evidence, fact-based data to draw conclusions. All that is required is the kind of brainwashing many cultures embrace – which rejects the redirective thought process. You aren’t supposed to draw conclusions from fact especially if it contradicts superstition.

You can walk around and function well through the trivial aspects of your day and still be stupid about serious decisions. Like voting. Like volunteering for war. Like making life miseable for a new neighbor because of the color of their skin or their religion.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Obama said he’d let science – not ideology – dictate policy — [except for the so-called War on Drugs]

On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Agency formally refused to reconsider its classification of marijuana, which is officially regulated as a dangerous substance with no medical value, alongside drugs like heroin and LSD. Despite a growing body of scientific evidence and changes in public opinion, the federal government has refused to budge on a 46-year-old stance borne out of the War on Drugs.

According to the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 61 percent of Americans support legalization. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws reports that eight out of ten Americans support medical marijuana legalization…

As public opinion moves in favor of legalizing pot, the DEA is clinging to the past — with little scientific evidence to back up their position.

Research has shown that pot has a multitude of medical benefits. And by reaffirming its position, the government has set back patients who relied on it for treatment for years.

Thursday’s announcement means pot will remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having “no medical value and a high potential for abuse.” That means the federal government believes marijuana is just as harmful as heroin and less harmful than cocaine. It also bars scientists from receiving federal funding and forces them to jump through hoops to conduct their research. Insurance companies are banned from covering marijuana treatment, so patients have to rely on the black market for treatment.

As of 2013, 78 percent of physicians in the world support the use of medical marijuana. In May, Ohio became the 25th U.S. state to legalize it. Even Congressional Republicans who have long opposed pot legalization recently vocalized support for more medical marijuana research.

And Republicans are more afraid of science than they are of democracy, non-white voters and women. More or less.

If Obama persists in saying he prefers science over ideology, how about opting for backbone over election year-opportunism.

Star Trails Over the Tower Oinoe


Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

If you climbed to the top of this 13th century stone tower, it looks like you could reach out and touch the North Celestial Pole, the point at the center of all the star trail arcs.

The well-composed image with scattered meteor streaks was recorded over a period of five and half hours as a series of 45 second long exposures spanning the dark of the night on July 7/8. The exposures were made with a digital camera fixed to a tripod near Marathon, Greece, planet Earth.

Of course, the graceful star trails reflect the Earth’s daily rotation around its axis. By extension, the axis of rotation leads to the center of the concentric arcs in the night sky. Convenient for northern hemisphere night sky photographers and celestial navigators alike, the bright star Polaris is very close to the North Celestial Pole and so makes the short bright trail in the tower’s central gap.

Thanks, Ursarodinia