Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Take a Look at Paul McCartney's Letter to John Lennon

Well, since I had a blog entry earlier today about the Fab Four, it seemed appropriate to add another one that was in my reserve entries for too long. I meant to publish this when the article first came out, but obviously did not. 

This story obviously has a lot more credibility than that first one did, and it offers a glimpse into a letter between McCartney and Lennon.

Take a look:

McCartney's Letter to John Lennon Posted by Rock Hall, November 23, 2014:

Did Ringo Admit That Paul Really Died in 1966?

Photo by Luiz Fernando Reis (Bealtes cor 36 on Flickr) 
Creative Commons License -https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So, I ran into an article yesterday with what at first appeared to be huge and shocking news regarding the Beatles. According to the article, with screaming headlines, Ringo Starr had acknowledged that the "real" Paul McCartney had indeed died in 1966, and that the group had replaced him with a look alike who stepped in, so that fans would not be bitterly disappointed.

It was one of those stories that sounds a little too unrealistic, as you probably guessed. But the article looked professional, and I began to wonder if, indeed, Paul had died in 1966, and the guy that had replaced him became the "new" Paul McCartney. Of course, this would have given a whole new meaning to the notion of a "fifth Beatle."

The way the article was written sounded more convincing than I expected. Here was a quote from a sober Ringo Starr:

“We felt guilty about the deception. We wanted to tell the world the truth, but we were afraid of the reactions it would provoke. We thought the whole planet was going to hate us for all the lies we had told, so we kept lying but sending subtle clues to relieve our cousciousness (sic). When the first rumors finally began about the whole thing, we felt very nervous and started fighting a lot with each other. At some point, it was too much for John and he decided to leave the band.”

This article, written by Barbara Johnson, then suggested something that, if true, would indeed make a lot of sense:

"Neither Paul McCartney nor anyone from his entourage have commented Ringo Starr’s declaration yet, but the interview has already provoked a lot of reactions around the world. Journalists and paparazzis from around the world have surrounded the residence of the musician only minutes after the interview was broadcasted and are awaiting for the star to comment the allegations."

By that point, my eyebrows were raised, and I was wondering about the possibility that the Beatles legacy could and would be completely transformed after such a bombshell.

Apparently, this story was told in other places as well, and with some additional quotes:

“When Paul died, we all panicked,” he reportedly declared. “We didn’t know what to do, and Brian Epstein, our manager, suggested that we hire Billy Shears as a temporary solution.”  

Starr then continued, “It was supposed to last only a week or two, but time went by and nobody seemed to notice, so we kept playing along. Billy turned out to be a pretty good musician and he was able to perform almost better than Paul. The only problem was that he couldn’t get along with John, at all.”

I did not have the time to look into the matter more at the time, but had that opportunity a little earlier, and found, predictably, that this "news story" was essentially full of crap. It was from the World News Daily Report, which I had been unfamiliar with, but which a friend of mine compared to the National Enquirer.

First of all, news that huge would surely have dominated the internet. Yet, nothing was on it regarding The Beatles, or either Ringo Starr or Paul McCartney. Then, I finally did get the opportunity to research a little further, and found some links specifically rejecting the story as false, which makes sense.

Still, I figured it was interesting enough that it was worth sharing here. If you encountered this story, and have not figured it out yet, there is no truth to the notion that Ringo Starr finally admitted that the "real" Paul McCartney died and was replaced.

No, Paul McCartney did not die, and is still very much alive today. Ringo Starr never said those things, implying that he actually died.

No, Ringo Starr Didn’t Just Confirm Paul McCartney Died In 1966, March 2, 2015:


Beating the Cold Weather Blues With Warm Winter Memories

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Photo courtesy of Morgan Flickr Page -  Picture 067

I wrote this article for Take Off/Set Sail, and so offer the link to the article on the site below. There are plenty of other interesting articles from talented writers there, so I definitely recommend checking it out. Please take a look!

Beating the Cold Weather Blues With Warm Winter Memories by Charles Bordeau, March 30, 2015

Beating the Cold Weather Blues With Warm Winter Memories  

This winter was a long and cold one for much of the northeastern United States.  There were brutally cold temperatures and no shortage of snow, particularly if you lived in places like Boston or Buffalo.  Now that it is late March, and winter is at least officially over with, we can hear many grumblings about it still being so unseasonable cold, and many are wondering when the weather will actually warm up.  Most people seem to just want winter to end.

You might think that this is true for all cold weather areas, and particularly those regions that see some of the most extreme winter weather. However, that is not necessarily the case. Many cities have famous winter carnivals, which include enormous ice sculptures – even some ice castles – as well as rides, food, and music. This can help to make a rough winter not only bearable, but downright fun!
Of course, we all know of some fun winter activities that can be had. There is skiing, ice-skating, hockey, and other winter sports. You can build snowmen and make snow angels with children in your life. And, of course, there is the obligatory snowball fights!

Yet, some communities pull together to make sure that winter is fun, and can draw tourists. In Sakkoro, Japan, there is a major winter carnival each year that attracts up to two million people! This snow carnival has a lot to offer, but it is far and away most famous for the enormous snow and ice sculptures  on display. This year, perhaps the most famous sculpture from this particular carnival has a Star Wars theme, with a huge Darth Vader, among others, looking down upon the gathered admirers.

Japan is not the only place where you can enjoy winter carnivals, however!  There are numerous winter carnivals all across both Europe and North America. In Europe, the most famous winter carnival is in Venice, although there are some other major winter carnivals elsewhere, including in Scheveningen, where tens of thousands go to test the frigid waters of the North Sea every winter.  In another part of the Netherlands, Zwolle is famous for elaborate ice sculptures on display for all to see.  If you like to drink, try the XtraCold IceBar in Amsterdam, a bar made entirely of ice!

In southern France along the Mediterranean coast, where the weather is warmer, there is the annual Fête du Citron in Menton, which draws hundreds of thousands each year. There may not be ice sculptures in such a warm place, but you will find sculptures and parade floats made entirely of citrus fruit! On the other side of the Mediterranean, in Greece, is the largest winter carnival in all of Europe – the Patras Carnival. It dates back more than a century and a half, and it offers tons of activities for both kids and adults. This carnival grows more active the closer it gets to Lent.

On the North American continent, on both sides of the border. Some of the biggest can be found at Anchorage, St. Paul, Saranac, New York, and Ottawa. In Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is converted to the largest ice rink in the world, and there are also many ice sculptures to admire in Canada’s capital city, as well. The biggest winter carnival takes place each year in Québec City. It is famous around the world, with a tradition dating back to the nineteenth century, and offering not just huge ice sculptures, but rides, food, fireworks, arctic spas, dog sled races, and parades, among numerous other activities. You can even stay in an ice hotel for your visit, and it remains open well after the winter carnival ends.

By Charles Bordeau for Take Off/Set Sail
Snow Star Wars

Photo courtesy of redlegsfan21 Flickr Page – Snow Star Wars

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Photo courtesy of Morgan Flickr Page -  Picture 095
Creative Commons License -  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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Photo courtesy of Morgan Flickr Page -  Picture 094

Winter Carnivals, From the January/February 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine

8 Exciting Winter Festivals published by Lissa Poirot of Family Vacation Critic, 2015:

Europe's Coolest Winter Festivals by Cecilia Rodriguez, December 8, 2013:

Site for Québec City’s Ice Hotel:

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale

Okay, so, what did everyone think about The Walking Dead season 5 finale?

As we know, the group has found a bit of a respite from the excesses of being on the road, as they have been admitted into a walled and, frankly, sheltered (in every sense of that word) community that is still blessed with first world luxuries in Alexandria.

The finale, (season 5, episode 16) was an hour and a half long, and the show was titled Conquer. The only thing particularly predictable about The Walking Dead is that everything eventually falls apart, and at the end of the episode last week, it sure seemed like Rick was about to be evicted from the community.

So, the big question that I had following last night's episode was whether or not we finally saw Negan? One coworker of mine has read all of the comics, and mentioned the inevitable appearance of this mysterious, and very sinister, character. The way that he mentioned him, however, suggested that Negan was still quite far off, even though he also said that the show has been taking pains to show signs of Negan's imminent arrival, such as a baseball bat wrapped with barbed wire. He is supposed to be the leader of The Wolves, a new, dark rival gang that will give the group possibly as many headaches as The Governor and his group did a while back, although that coworker said that, at least according to the comic books, The Governor was still far worse.

It would be strange if either of the two guys shown in last night's episode were Negan, since both of those members of The Wolves were tricked into believing a little too easily in Morgan's helplessness, and then in getting their asses kicked while doubleteaming Morgan. That would make it hard to believe that either one of those two guys could be the next truly fearful enemy and ruthless leader that the group will have to face. Morgan leaves the two of them inside a car, unconscious and facing one another lying in the back seat. He then honks the horn, and presumably, leaves them for dead. Yet, the do show up later in the episode, so they somehow managed to get out of their own predicament, even though that is hardly explained to us.

The big event for this episode that everyone knew was coming was the town meeting to determine whether or not to kick Rick out. Before we reached that point, however, there was plenty of drama that still needed to unfold.

Nicholas tried to kill Glenn, and the two of them played an alternating game of cat and mouse, chasing one another through the woods, aiming for an ultimate, lethal showdown between the two. Nicholas actually show Glenn, and later, made a point of exacerbating his injuries before leaving him to confront a bunch of Walkers on his own, and seriously injured.

Yet, Glenn somehow managed to walk away from the ambush by the Walkers. Considering how seriously injured he was, and that the Walkers were already on top of him, it seemed unrealistic that he managed to escape, frankly. They just cut away before he was about to be torn apart by the Walkers, and then, he shows up again rather suddenly, and it is, by then, fully dark.

Towards the end of the episode, we see Gabriel essentially having a breakdown. We know he is having issues, but having betrayed the group by telling Deanna that they are not good people and do not deserve to be in Alexandria, giving Deanna some pause for thought. Gabriel goes for a walk, and we see him violently confront a Walker, as well as brutally kill the Walker's victim. He breaks down crying, then returns to Alexandria, and apparently leaves the gate opened intentionally, which ultimately allows Walkers to get in.

Sasha finally acknowledged her own breakdown, and it coincided with Gabriel's breakdown. Sasha had sought Gabriel's help, but he refused, choosing to deal instead with his own demons. Things got heated between the two of them, and ultimately led to a conflict in which Sasha ultimately is about to pull the trigger and end Gabriel's tormented life. Maggie was presumably going to fetch Gabriel for the meeting, but walked into the confrontation between Sasha and Gabriel. She calmed Sasha down and, the next thing we know, they are all kneeling and praying together, in what seems, frankly, an unsatisfying conclusion between them. Given Gabriel's Judas-like treachery, when will be held accountable for all of his actions?

Michonne looked like she had turned against the group, or at least Rick, at the end of last week's episode, knocking him out when he was giving his bloody speech. But rather surprisingly, she was not very confrontational with him in this episode, and she remained silent, holding her tongue in almost every situation. We do not get to know what she thinks about Rick's scheming should the meeting turn against him, and we never hear her testimony for or against Rick's staying during the actual meeting. But she seems to be leaning towards remaining loyal to him, even if reluctant to do so.

Carol's false passive front for the Alexandria community continued through this episode, and we even see her doing an act before members of the group, this time, clearly unsure who she could trust. She sides with Rick, we know that. But she admonishes him for stealing a gun (when she was actually the one who stole the guns) in front of Abraham, Michonne, and Glenn. Later, however, she gives Rick yet another gun and, ultimately, this is what he uses to kill Pete, the abusive wife and child beater. Carol continues with her false soft approach during the meeting, as well.

Deanna's been in charge for quite some time and, ultimately, flirted with taking a dictatorial approach as such, making a point of outright saying that she was in charge, and that the decision of whether to kick Rick out or not would be decided by her. It seems for most of the episode that Deanna is leaning towards kicking Rick out, but the unanimous testimony in support of him by the group

Eugene and Abraham finally talk, and seem to make up, Eugene apologizes for lying, and Abraham apologizes for beating Eugene unconscious. I did like Eugene's response "Yes, there's that." to Abraham's admitting that he almost killed Eugene.

Daryl and Aaron were out recruiting for possible prospects to bring into the Alexandria community, but they happened onto a trap set up by The Wolves. They managed to get out of trouble, although ultimately, just as they were about to go on their own, personal suicide missions to get out of a car surrounded by walkers and make a break for it, they were helped just in the nick of time by Morgan, who it at least appears will not play a bigger role (at least for a while, anyway).

When they brought Morgan back to Alexandria, they arrived just in time to see Rick blowing Pete's head off. Given Morgan's statement about all life being precious, it remains to be seen how he will react to Rick's brutality, even if we rather understand and accept it as viewers, given all that is going on.

That is how the season finale ended, and with a lot of questions. While the group's future in Alexandria still seems secure, there are numerous questions now left. Will Glenn and Nicholas manage to come to terms and make up? They have not even made it back to the community yet. How will Morgan's reaction to what he saw Rick doing (which probably looks like cold-blooded murder) play out? When will we see the full threat of The Wolves, as last night's episode clearly showed that they are not only merely close, but here, for the group to deal with now.

Finally, one personal observation: it is getting colder in Alexandria. Literally, it is growing cooler, and winter clearly seems to be on the way. How will that play out when it comes to making runs, and having enough food for the community to get by? Just my personal opinion, but I think the rougher, northeast winter might play a strong role next season.

Anyway, that is it for now. This was the season when I finally got into The Walking Dead. I caught up on all of seasons 1 and 2, and good parts of season 3 and 4, and watched all of these episodes this season from the beginning. So, I guess I'm hooked.

Still, I am not as distraught as some others, since the final episodes of Mad Men start on AMC next Sunday night. That is another television series that I enjoy quite a bit, and look forward to seeing the new episodes, even if these signal the end of the series.

Also, it was revealed in The Talking Dead that a new series that a spinoff will air over the summer. It is called Fear the Walking Dead, and will feature an entirely new cast of characters, and a new location - Los Angeles. Here, evidently, we will finally be able to watch the actual zombie apocalypse unfold, and see how it grew to the point of ending civilization as we know it. Should be interesting!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Other Andre Moments (originally published December 16, 2014)

As I stated in that last article, Andre was my favorite wrestler during that era, and has remained so since, as well. For the most part, my memories of him were always positive, and when I think of wrestling back in those days, I think of the WWF, and of Andre. I guess also of that match in general, since it was so huge, it kind of took on a life of it's own.

In any case, it seemed like a good idea to add some other memories from those times as well. So, here were some of the most memorable moments (at least according to me) in the WWF career of Andre the Giant.

The biggest one early on was the long standing rivalry between Andre and his main nemesis back on those days: Big John Studd.

WrestleMania Slam Challenge:

This one stood out especially in my memory, and my brother and I spoke about it one time a few years ago, and agreed that, at the time, we both found it very upsetting. In any case, here is when Ken Patera and Big John Studd attacked Andre in the ring and ultimately gave him a haircut. My father mused at the time that Andre probably was just tired of having his hair that way, and wanted a haircut. He might not have been far off, either.

But Andre got revenge:

Here is a really cool documentary on Andre's life, which I have seen a few times, but thought would definitely be worth sharing:

Reflecting on the Anniversary of Wrestlemania III


Later today, Wrestlemania will take place yet again.

It has become the big annual event for pro-wrestling, the Super Bowl, if you will, for the sport, or entertainment, or whatever you want to call it. In the decades since it first came into being, Wrestlemania has had numerous huge, iconic faces and personalities take part, including Andre the Giants, Hulk Hogan, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, the Undertaker, Mr. T,, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Chris Jericho, and John Cena. A few of those names are quite famous outside of wrestling circles.

So, I thought that this day, which also happens to be the anniversary of probably the biggest Wrestlemania of them all - Wrestlemania III - would be an appropriate time to discuss the biggest match from that biggest of all Wrestlemanias. I am talking, of course, about Andre the Giant versus Hulk Hogan.

I know that so-called professional wrestling is not real, so please do not think that that is beyond my understanding as I write this.

However, my family (at least the males) followed it regularly when I was a kid. That included my grandfather (although I am not sure the extent to which he actually followed it, although he was familiar with some of the major wrestlers of the WWF at the time), my father, my brother, and myself.

There were some wrestlers that I enjoyed more than others at the time and, looking back on it now, there were some wrestlers that I would appreciate much more when older than I did at the time, just in terms of sheer entertainment value.

One example of this was "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. At the time, being a kid, I enjoyed wrestling and accepted the story lines. Yes, I understood then, as now, that it was fake and staged. However, each weekend, it was relatively easy to suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the show, and I believed in Piper's character. He was an arrogant loudmouth, which seemed like a big no-no at the time, even if he did back it up in the ring (usually, anyway).

But the talent that went into his persona, the work behind his seeming lack of likability as a "heel", actually betrayed a lot of talent. At the time, viewing him as a bad guy, I did not fully appreciate his "Piper's Pit." Yet, some years ago, when nostalgia for all of those WWF memories came to me, one of the first things that I made a point of watching were those "Piper's Pit" episodes. I found them actually more enjoyable as an adult than I had as a child, ironically.

Another character that I came to appreciate more as an adult than I ever did as a child was Don "The Magnificent" Morocco. My father certainly appreciated that guy's talents (particularly with talking), because he mentioned him numerous times, and that is the one wrestler that I remember my father and grandfather having a conversation about, with my father saying that he was unbelievable and talented. There was also a clip many years later of another wrestler, Glenn  Foley, who spoke about how he had intensely disliked Don Moroco as a child, but did not know exactly why he disliked him. Only later, as an adult, did he recognize how much talent went into that act of being a heel like that, and he came to appreciate that man's talent later in life. Same here. I did not like him as a kid, but as an adult, I definitely came to appreciate him.

There were other wrestlers that I enjoyed now much more than I did back then. Another was Rick "The Model" Martel, who was the obligatory resident, arrogant and obnoxious Frenchman (actually, he was Québécois, but that did not seem to matter so much in the WWF). There came a point when every French wrestler was a bad guy, and being from a Franco-American family, that was both a source of humor and mild annoyance (more of a rolling of the eyes kind of thing).

Another wrestler that I came to appreciate in terms of their entertainment value later on in life, rather than when I actually watched wrestling, was Mr. Perfect. His wrestling persona came across as just such over the top arrogance, that it is actually quite amusing to watch all of these years later. This was quite typical of the entertaining acts that wrestling had, and perhaps still has (again, I no longer really follow it).

My favorite wrestler of all, then and now, was Andre the Giant (his real name was André René Roussimoff ). As his name suggests, he was truly a giant, although he was probably not quite as big as he was billed in the WWF.

By the time of the big match with Hulk Hogan in 1987, Andre was officially 520 pounds, according to the WWF. It is worth noting, however, that after slamming Andre, a feat which many believed impossible, Hulk Hogan said that Andre had felt like he had weighed around 700 pounds.

Now, the sad part of this was that his weight actually worked against him. When you look at clips of Andre in the seventies and early eighties, he is athletic, and can move very well for such a big man. But he slows down, his back clearly bothering him. By the time of that big match with Hogan, his back is clearly bothering him. There are clips of him from just a few years later where Andre is essentially bent throughout, his back pains clearly recorded in his movements and posture.

Andre the Giant had been the most iconic wrestler of the 1970's, and he remained one of the most famous faces of wrestling in the 1980's, as well. Still, it was Hulk Hogan, and not Andre, that became the WWF Champion, and held the title for most of the decade. Hulk Hogan was the new face of wrestling, but Andre, at least officially, had never been defeated.

Really, the story line was just too appealing, and it was just a matter of time before those two men locked horns.

Inevitably, they did. But the story had to fit, and so Andre went from being a "face", having always been a likable, gentle giant of sorts, to a "heel". Like all of the Francophone wrestlers, he was a bad guy.

He played the part very well, too. He never smiled anymore, even though his smile had always been iconic, and a symbol of how well-liked he tended to be.

In the meantime, Hulk Hogan, who was already phenomenally popular, became even more so, due to the enormity of the sudden rivalry with such a behemoth. The WWF story line incorporated a subtle nationalistic aspect to the rivalry, as the "real American" Hulk Hogan aimed to become the first ever to slam Andre in the ring, as well as the first to ever defeat Andre, at least by pinfall. Technically, Andre had lost by disqualification before, although the WWF billed him as undefeated.

The match took place on this day, March 29, 1987, in the Pontiac Silverdome. According to official estimates, 93,173 people were in attendance on that day, a record for an indoor sporting event in North America that still stands today. I remember that it made the news on every major regular station (cannot speak for cable, since we did not have cable back then).

So, I wanted to both remember and honor the memory of that huge match, as well as the memory of Andre the Giant, still my favorite wrestler, on this occasion of the 28th anniversary of that epic event. Maybe wrestling got huge in the nineties and beyond, but I was not really watching it as consistently as I had in the eighties, as a kid. But it had an effect on me, and I remember enjoying it immensely as a kid - enough to write about it now, as an adult, obviously! So, here is something that I wrote just a few months ago about the build-up to that match, which also includes some videos.

The Build-up to WrestleMania III Epic Match Between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan
 (originally published on December 15, 2014)

I know that it is not real, and I stopped following it a long time ago. And I knew it was not real as a kid, too.

But back in the eighties, wrestling was really a lot of fun, and my family (at least the males) followed wrestling, and enjoyed all of the drama and back stories.

It seems that our favorite wrestler was Andre the Giant, which is not a surprise, since he, like us, was French.

He was not often seen on the Sunday morning wrestling shows. Nor was Hulk Hogan, for that matter. They rarely wrestled on this shows, although they made some guest appearances and interviews every now and then.

Andre had been billed as unmovable and unbeatable over the years, and the claim was that he had never been defeated in the ring - at least not by being pinned.

Of course, Hulk Hogan was the WWF Champion, and had been for a long time. Andre had never had a shot at the title, because they were both good guys. They were allies and friends, and so never had a chance to wrestle against one another during that era when they were both, in their own way, the kings of the ring.

All of that changed, of course, in 1987. Andre became a bad guy, and turned oh Hulk Hogan. In a series of steps, the two had episodes that, ultimately, let to their huge match at WrestleMania III, in Detroit, Michigan, in late March of 1987.

The build-up lasted several weeks, and anticipation grew. Wrestling may have done a solid job of propaganda before, an surely has since. But I do not believe that they ever did as good a job of it as they did leading up to that match. Everyone wanted to see it. Everyone wanted to know what would happen. These were the two biggest icons in wrestling!

I remember that I made a bet with a few kids, because my father had expected Andre the Giant to win, with Hulk Hogan probably winning his title back in a rematch. That sounded like an attractive and plausible storyline, and so I placed the bets.

Foolishly, in retrospect.

Of course, we did not have cable, and that may even have been on pay-per view.

I found out the results the next morning, at the bus stop to school. Heard that Andre had lost, and felt crushed. Betrayed, even.

Andre had been slammed, which sounded impossible. After inquiring whether or not he was badly hurt, I was told that Andre had gotten up, eventually. Bu only after several minutes.

As it turned out, that was not true. He rolled out of the ring fairly quickly after being pinned, although his back was surely screaming in pain after being body slammed like that.

Eventually, they had a rematch. And, yes, Andre won the rematch. I actually suspect that the WWF could have drawn out the drama, and perhaps had two huge matches like that WrestleMania III if, indeed, they did have Andre win that first match. Even though the rematch was big, being the main match on Saturday Night's Main Event, it nonetheless paled in comparison to WrestleMania III.

Even though I am now obviously fully an adult now, it is fun sometimes to go back and revisit some of the things that seemed so important back then. And I ran into this article (see link below) that got me on the topic, and made me want to revisit some of those big events that led to the historic match, which was probably wrestling's highest point ever. After that, there are some video clips of the drama that led to the big match, then the big match itself, and then the eventual rematch.



Andre appears with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, the first sign that he has become a bad guy (what wrestling terms used to be called a "heel"):

Andre attacks Hogan

Finally, the match itself, which set an attendance record for largest crowd for an indoor sporting event (unless you consider wrestling entertainment, rather than a sport):

After the historic match, Andre and Hogan clashed once again in 1988, starting with Andre attacking Hogan on Saturday Night's Main Event:

That incident led to this title match on Saturday Night's Main Event, where this time, Andre took the title, but then immediately gave it to the Million Dollar Man:

Hogan discusses the match years later:

Andre did not stay a bad guy, as he slapped Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and returned to his customary role as a good guy:

Here is a clip going way back to when Andre and Hulk Hogan allegedly first met:

An old match between Hogan and Andre from 1980, held at Shea Stadium:

Sadly, the announcement of the death of Andre the Giant in January of 1993:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

King v. Burwell: A Surprisingly Huge Supreme Court Case

So, apparently the opposition to Obamacare has finally landed on something that might stick.

You know what that means. Their plan to keep millions of people from having any health insurance might actually work.

These are parts of what seemed like a technicality, but which opponents, unable to defeat Obamacare in any conventional sense, are turning to minor little points like this in order to dismantle the whole system, so that they can make sure that people already down can be kicked still a little more.

It's the American Way, at least according to neocons.

Here we go again.

The problem with the American healthcare system is, of course, that it prices far too many people out. Prices are staggeringly high, many times the price of healthcare found in all other industrialized nations. People did not lose their homes or careers because of enormous medical bills following unforeseen medical emergencies in other advanced nations, the way that people did here in the United States.

Want to fix a problem with healthcare? We should all agree that this would be the place to start.

Instead, we have self-serving corporate entities in the area of healthcare literally making a killing, reaping huge profits off of the pain of so many. And instead of a powerful government intervening to fight for the best interests of the people that they represent, we have cynical and self-serving politicians who promote the interests of the crooked healthcare industry that richly compensates them to do so.

It is the exact opposite of the way things are supposed to work. This is corruption in action, and at the very highest levels. Impacting you and me. The little guys, in other words, get shafted, all so that the rich can get even richer, and the poor get poorer. Also, to make sure that there are more people who will enter the ranks of the impoverished.

In other words, it is everything that's wrong with the United States right now.

I am not saying that Obamacare is the answer. Far from it.

In fact, as far as I am concerned, Obamacare does not go far enough towards resolving the longstanding crisis that we call our healthcare system, which has failed the American people for far too long.

Obamacare, for all of it's flaws, was beginning to address some of those inequities. It was a step in the right direction, although to say that it is imperfect is an understatement. While it does address some of the most outrageous and offensive excesses of the old system, the premiums seen in Obamacare are ridiculously high.

As I just stated, what we really need to do in this country is address those lingering problems, to actually make progress towards fixing some of the many problems that the nation is faced with.

Instead, rather predictably, I might add, the focus is on trying to turn back the clock, on not being able or willing to let go of things that are not worth hanging onto in the first place.

In the words of that American neocon demigod, Ronald Reagan, "Here we go again."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But I am getting ahead of myself here. This case has not yet taken place, and the outcome is still not certain. We shall see if it is just another hurdle that Obamacare has to overcome, or if it serves to essentially stall the process of greater fairness in the country that badly needs it, yet again.

It seems unbelievable that we are still talking about this in 2015, many years after the passage of Obamacare, and after plenty of exposure to the downright criminal and corrupt aspects of what passed for the national healthcare system beforehand. As such, it serves as yet another reminder, as if we needed one, that this country is going in the wrong direction.

King v. Burwell: A Quick Take on a Crucial Case FEB. 25, 2015

Stephen King Sharing Tips for Writers

Some pictures I found recently of chalk sketches of the great writer himself.

Stephen King is obviously a very accomplished writer. In fact, he has reached the level almost of a legend, and has contributed enormously to American letters as one of the most successful and prolific writers in history.

But he is much more than that, of course.

He is also a very generous spirit, who seems to want the very best for his community, for his country, and for his world overall.

Not surprisingly, he has an upcoming book, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which will be a mixture of short stories and other new writings, as well as some insights on writing. In that regard, it will have similarities to On Writing, a book that he wrote shortly after his accident, and which combined aspects of autobiography with some tips for writers, as the title suggests. It is set to be released in early November.

Before that, however, King has another novel, Finders Keepers, set for release. The cover art is very reminiscent of his recent novel from last year, Mr. Mercedes. Indeed, there will be other similarities between these two books, although this new one will feature an individual completely obsessed with a writer. This will be the first time that he has written a novel about an obsessed fan since Misery, which means it has been many years. That will be coming out in June.

Plus, there is all sorts of other news concerning King with movies and the Under the Dome television series, which I already posted about not long ago.

Looks good, and I already appreciate the writing tips, which have already given me some considerable pause for thought as a writer.

Here are some pertinent links concerning news on Stephen King:

King talk nets $100,000 for his lifeline – libraries By Susan L. Rife, January 29, 2015


Stephen King to share writing tips in new short story collection by Allison Flood, March 18, 2015:

22 Lessons From Stephen King On How To Be A Great Writer MAGGIE ZHANG JUL. 15, 2014:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Drones Replicating Star Wars

Drones have been making some news headlines in recent years, and pretty much for all of the wrong reasons. They are relatively cheap and can access places that are difficult for humans to reach, and often can do so without worrying about being detected. Of course, with our society being what it is, that means that they are inevitably going to be used for spying and surveillance. Going further, with the society being what it is, that also means that these drones will be used excessively, and in an increasingly intrusive manner, as the illusion of freedom and democracy - two things that we were all taught were good and strongly in place in the United States many years ago - continues to unravel.

Yes, drones were developed by researchers, most likely funded by corporate interests on some level or another, and so it was only a matter of time that they would be utilized in such an unfortunate manner.

Indeed, the appearance of drones over the horizon, both literally and figuratively, signals the ushering in of a new era - one in which we are coming ever closer to a modern day version of the Orwellian "Big Brother" dictatorship, with advanced technology being employed to serve the interests of the corporate state.

In other words, they are bad news, by and large. It seems inevitable that those things will soon populate our skies tremendously. After all, drones are small and relatively cheap to make. Really, it just seems like a matter of time.

That said, there are some cool aspects to them, as well. It is only natural that these things, like most other things, can be either good or bad. It really depends on the manner in which they are being used. Some disabled people use them in order to be able to travel, in a sense, with a measure of freedom that they would otherwise not have.

Also, they are pretty fun to have, surely. People can often buy them and fly them. With the cameras on the drones that you can view from the ground, you can see things and get views that would never happen when stuck on the ground. It seems to me only a matter of time before such drones begin to carry human beings up there with them, sort of like the jet packs that many of us expected would someday be commonplace.

How cool would that be, you ask?

Well, it sounds pretty cool. But I worry about some things, such as the pollution of the skies in every sense, as well as greater levels of intrusion. Also, there will likely be increased injuries and deaths, at least initially. I wonder what these things will do to birds and bats, who previously pretty much owned the air, having it all to themselves.

Still, again, these things are inevitable. I can hardly think up any reason short of an apocalypse or some such tragedy (if tragedy is what it would be) where these things will not become significantly more common in our everyday lives.

Whether we like it or not, they are here, and here to stay.

That said, they can also be used by some people in an entertaining and impressive way. Most likely, they will start to become more inspired by art and such.

When it comes to mixing art with the intrigue of modern technology, we can hardly do better than Star Wars, which combined traditional aspects of Greek Mythology with the impressive technology that we can imagine for the future.

Some people have already created such models. A guy in France has converted drones into smaller, but fully flying models of the Millenium Falcon, the Tie Fighter, and most recently, the Imperial Death Star.

And as you can see below, another guy (I don't think it's the same guy, but I could be wrong) has converted a drone into a miniature Endor Landspeeder, with an Imperial Speed Trooper at the helm. It is being flown through the trees, and just looks really cool. At some point, you can see what the camera on board sees, and it looks indeed like something you would see from Star Wars!

So, yes, drones can be good fun, as well! I just wonder how long it will take before we actually get full-sized versions of these things, and before people themselves can begin to be on board, to take Star Wars themed flights personally, physically.

Just a matter of time, really.

Here is a video of one such session and, below that, an article on the guy from France who has built impressive models of iconic Star Wars ships.

Imperial Star Destroyer drone patrols the skies above France by  Anthony Domanico, March 25, 2015


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nazi Hideout Discovered in Argentina

I have said it before, but it is amazing that things dating back to Nazi Germany still continue to make active news headlines today, almost fully seven decades after the final collapse of Hitler and his Nazi empire. But every now and then, we hear about someone being charged for war crimes dating back to those days, or we hear about some other odd piece of related news.

The most recent now is that an apparent hideout for powerful Nazis has recently been discovered in Argentina, near the border with Paraguay. The border could be reached within ten minutes, and this proximity to another country offered additional potential escape routes.

According to some reports, this house may have been designed for high-ranking Nazi Martin Bormann, one of Hitler's right hand men.

We all know the rumors and myths of scores of Nazis fleeing Europe as things were completely falling apart for them there. Many of them fled to the United States, Canada, or even South Africa. But a lot of them - perhaps the majority of them - fled to small dictatorships in South America, where they seemed to be embraced and admired on many levels. Look at footage of Argentinian military parades from the 1940's, and you will be hard pressed to differentiate these from Nazi military parades, except that the swastika is nowhere to be found. Otherwise, they look identical.

Also, South American countries, by and large, seemed to join the war effort quite late, once the outcome was already decided.

So, the suspicions definitely were there already, even if there was no definitive proof for some widespread effort to help escaped Nazis. It does seem, however, that these escaped Nazis generally had a relatively easy time of things once they managed to get to some of these South American countries, and perhaps particularly Argentina.

Here is a link to an article that I recently wrote on the subject about an apparent safe house for Nazis in Argentina, but very near the border with Paraguay, which was convenient as it offered yet another escape route if things turned sour once again. Some German porcelain and coins dating back to the era of Nazi Germany were also discovered at the site. Please take a look!

Nazi Hideout Discovered in Argentina

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Movie Rental Review: Stander

Thought it would be nice to share this, since it was a really good and entertaining movie, yet it also was about something.

Based on a true story, this is about a police officer that goes rogue during the days of apartheid South Africa. He finds himself on the abusing side of police action in the townships, and unlike most of his mates (such as the one that approaches him asking if they could expect overtime pay for their "work" during a massacre).

He begins to really be bothered about it in time, and this comes out in several ways: sexual, work-related, and finally, he robs a bank.

Slowly but surely, he begins to acquire a taste for robbing banks and, being a policeman himself, he understands what he needs to do to get away with it.

For a long time, he indeed does get away with it, although it tears his entire life apart. He loses his wife and and the life he had always known, and is shunned by society.

Yet, he keeps going.

This is a movie that is definitely worth watching, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in South Africa, race and a lingering sense of guilt, or just someone in the mood for a decent amount of action and sex throughout a film.

But it is more than action. it is a movie that, at least at certain points, makes the viewer reflect on issues of race, oppression, fundamental fairness and poverty.

Overall, it is definitely a movie worth watching, and I strongly recommend it:

Just as an aside, I thought this was an interesting enough article about the real life Stander, that it was worth posting the link for it here:

The police officer turned bank robber by Stephanie Snipes, August 11, 2004:


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Miss Bush Yet?

Some time ago, I saw that all-too familiar picture of a goofy looking President Bush with the message next to him reading:

Miss Me Yet?

Underneath that was the retort, which featured a picture of the now famous Grumpy Cat, with the caption:

Why Aren't You in Jail?

Imagine a president who the biggest domestic security collapse in American history, two illegal wars that dragged America's name through the mud in the international community, the opening of concentration camps, numerous corporate scandals, many involving his Vice-President, who shot a man in the face while in office, and the biggest economic crisis the nation has faced since the Great Depression.

Now, imagine his party, after such an embarrassing resume, having the gall to put up a picture of him (and not even a flattering one) all around the country with the caption asking Americans: "Miss Me Yet?"

Yet, the man who inherited a budget surplus, but who left office with over a trillion in deficits, plus six trillion extra to the national debt for his policies of tax breaks and incentives for the rich and major corporations is apparently supposed to represent good times and responsible leadership by way of comparison to Obama.

The thing is, all kidding aside, he was probably the very worst president in history. I mean, his approval ratings among his own party members was in the tank! As unimpressive and disappointing as President Obama's time in office has been, his approval ratings never sank too far down among members of the Democratic Party, his base of support.

Not that approval ratings are indicative of how good or bad a politician necessarily is. But in the case of George W. Bush, you can say that he definitely earned this pool poll showing.

He and his administration conducted themselves like arrogant buffoons while in office.  Bush in particular was compared to a cowboy in the manner in which he did things, and generally, that was not considered a compliment.

Yet, despite this show of bravado, it was under his tenure that the greatest economic collapse in the better part of a century followed just a few years after the greatest security letdown in at least six decades, and possibly in all of American history. Couple that with his administration's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina and his relentless efforts to engage in an unjustifiable war on false pretenses, coupled with the generally unpleasant character and excessive secrecy of the entire administration's approach to things, and you have a horrendous stretch of American history that began on January 20, 2001, and finally ended on January 20, 2009.

The United States is and was far from being a perfect country, but it was in a lot better shape when Bush first took office. The economy had been booming in the nineties, and there was a budget surplus. The name of the United States was respected around the world. It was not as strong as it once had been, but it was still undeniably the envy of the world as the only existing superpower, and thus had to be taken seriously.

Eight long years of the Bush presidency, however, and all of that changed. A complete economic collapse and subsequent recession were evidently a lot closer than we were told. The good name of the country had been dragged through the mud with the lies used to justify the case for the war that the administration clearly wanted and, to top it all off, the military had it's weaknesses on display far more than it's strength during the Iraq War.

All of that after making so many promises as a candidate for president. He promised to be the environmental president, although he cited "new research" just two months into his first term to justify gutting effective environmental legislation to the best of his ability. Later on, when he had to admit that the evidence suggested that climate change/global warming was real, he still did nothing. He also promised to bring integrity back into the White House. Whatever happened to that?

When you think about it in that manner, he truly could, and maybe should, rightly be seen as the worst president certainly in modern American history. Frankly, I think the case can easily be made that, given the stakes, he was the worst president in history.

Miss him yet?

Now, to be fair, Obama has not been nearly as much of a relief as I personally had hoped. in fact, he seems much more of the same.

The further on the Obama administration goes along, the more like George W. Bush's administration it seems.

That probably explained the disappointment that Obama's presidency has been to this point. After such a failed presidency, most people just wanted and, frankly, expected Obama to at least make a real effort to separate himself from President Bush in a real, meaningful way.

However, it should be said that Obama has begun to distinguish himself on several fronts in recent months, including opening the lines of communication again with Cuba, pushing his immigration reform plan, and reaching an environmental treaty with China. If Congress will only serve as an obstruction to progress, he seems to be saying, then it is time to do everything possible to circumvent the legally, if possible, and wherever possible.

In any case, despite the general disappointment that the Obama presidency has been, it will never come close to being on the level of failure of that of his predecessor.

And while America braces for the next presidential election, and yet another Bush is favored to win the Republican nomination, there really are questions that the nation should ask itself this time.

Since we can safely assume that a Jeb presidency would pretty strongly resemble that of "Dubbya", now is the time to truly ask if we miss him yet?

My own answer to that question matches Grumpy Cat's counter question: Why isn't he in jail?

Monday, March 23, 2015

More Unbelievable News on the Climate Change Front

You know, in the "Labels" section of these blog entries, it felt weird this time around to have to place "News Op/Ed", and especially "Political Op/Ed" next to "Science".

There is a reason, of course. The reason? Only in America.

Yes, only in America would the expertise of learned and esteemed scientists with no agenda then to relay the truth be thwarted and discredited relentlessly in a modern political witch hunt by the very people who stand to benefit the most by denying the reality of climate change being caused by human activity! Is it not odd that the American public listens more to the denial arguments of Congressman who's main line of defense is "I'm not a scientist?", even while they are challenging the work actual scientists? Of course, we know that they are denying it so that the big, polluting businesses that fund them can save a pretty penny by not conforming to much needed environmental regulations. To put it another way, big corporations essentially can pay the equivalent of pennies (for them) to buy themselves elected officials to protect them from being forced to do the right thing, which costs a bit more money.

In this day and age, in this country (and more generally, the West), corporations rule the day. They increasingly hold more wealth, more power over the people (both their employers and consumers), and more ability to get away with outright crimes. Unfortunately, that certainly includes crimes against the environment, with massive pollution and illegal dumping and irresponsible, highly risky practices.

The American people seem to trust corporations and the ultra rich to an extreme level. I suspect this is because they have been force fed the notion of "The American Dream" of making it big someday, so that a hell of a lot of people expect to be rich someday. When you expect to be rich, it might seem to behoove you to vote like you already are rich. That is one way of voting against your interests.

Here's the thing, though: why such skepticism towards scientists in general, and particularly on something as huge as climate change? When these scientists, who are not looking to rake in massive profits, but are more often scrounging for pennies for funding, are warning us that our activities have a very detrimental impact on the Earth's environment, we should probably listen, and take what they have to say seriously.

Instead, as with most subjects, we turn the whole thing into a clown act, so that nothing can be taken seriously. Indeed, this is yet further illustration that we live in ridiculously cynical times. We make a big deal about a president getting a blowjob in the Oval Office (some even suggested that he should have been impeached and gone to jail for lying about this affair), but we let another president get away with murder in orchestrating a war for fabricated, truly trumped up charged. We make a big deal when a government official has a sexual affair, and the juicier, the better. But when it comes to corruption and corporate scandals, we do not want to hear about it, collectively. These never seem to make it to the "big time" news headlines, like slanderous stories seem always to manage to do. We make a big deal of a president allegedly not showing sufficient proof that he was born in the country, and suggest that the documents are fabricated when he produces them. But we hardly raise an eyebrow when politicians in the pay of big polluting corporations go to extraordinary lengths to try and discredit scientists on the subject of climate change, and make a mockery of a debate that we need to have in this country, probably more than any other country in the world.

Remember, even though China technically is a bigger polluter now than the United States, the United States held that title for many decades prior. Also, China has something close to five times the population of the United States, which means that on average, Chinese people produce less pollution than average Americans do.

So, yes, we need to have this debate. But there is no debate, really. First of all, the evidence is overwhelming that human activity is indeed responsible for climate change. Secondly, what debate there should be about appropriate measures gets stifled, time and time again, by the drive for excess greed in this country, which tends to outweigh everything else. This is what passes for the American Dream in this day and age, and it trumps almost every other consideration.

Again, however, we need to remember that the climate change deniers have already been proven wrong. They rejected any and all insinuations that climate change is real for many years, even decades. But as the data indeed showed temperatures steadily rising, and as storms and weather around the world increasingly grew in their levels of severity, some deniers had to concede that climate change was, indeed, real. That included the second Bush White House, following Hurricane Katrina.

They were already proven wrong.

Yet, these deniers have all sorts of audacity, and being wrong on something so huge did not humble them in the least. Why would it, when there are profits to be made?

So, they simply changed their arguments and tactics, and are now pursuing prominent individuals arguing that human activity created climate change. The mudslinging is no longer relegated to he election season. Now, it stretches to any and all walks of life when short-term profits are threatened.

What we need are stronger voices. Ones that can appeal to the wide public, and simply will not back down. We need someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who has considerable charisma, but also tells it like it is. Whoever does not like it has to deal with it anyway. The first link is about Tyson's Cosmos show finally taking on the topic of climate change.

The second link is about a scientist who has been attacked personally for arguing that, indeed, tremendous amounts of evidence exists to suggest that human activity is producing climate change. It is a depressing and sobering read, but we need to stay informed, now more than ever, on these all-important topics. We cannot combat ignorance, even as extreme as it has become, by simply refusing to educate ourselves, because it might be depressing. This is too important, and we cannot just walk away from this fight. It concerns all of us.

Even more important, it involves our children, and our children's children, and all future generations on this planet. Some things are bigger than us, and of there is any message that we need to collectively understand, that is the message that should resonate. This is too important to let go.

Here are the links:

Finally, 'Cosmos' Takes On Climate Change Climate Desk By Chris Mooney, 05/05/2014

The Relentless Attack on Climate Scientist Ben Santer The following is an excerpt from Merchants of Doubt by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes., May 16, 2014

Attacking 'Attacks' In The Climate Change Community Elizabeth Jensen, MARCH 17, 2015

Florida Suspends Employee For Saying ‘Climate Change,’ Orders Psych Evaluation Before He Can Return AUTHOR: JAMESON PARKER MARCH 18, 2015 

Geoengineering: A Techno-Fix Solution for the Climate? by Guy McPherson:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Last Snowstorm For This Season?

I wrote this yesterday, and thought it might be nice to publish it today. It is, more or less, about the last winter storm (most likely) for this season, as spring is now officially here, and surely right around the corner in any case.

So, here I am, early on a Saturday morning. Feeling incredibly tired, having not gotten a really great night's sleep, and having woken up early and cleaned two cars from the snow storm.

It was beautiful following the storm, with the snow still clinging this morning to the trees, as it has not yet warmed up, and the winds are silent. It looks like a winter wonderland.

Most likely, this is the last winter storm that we will see in the area this season, although you never know. I thought that a couple of weeks ago, when we started to have some very mild, almost warm, days. Yet, more snow came.

Still, this is the time of the year when I do not mind it as much, since the winter is coming to an end. This is when I, personally, can appreciate it more than earlier in the cold weather season, when it was tiring to see yet another winter storm, and you knew that it was still early, and there were plenty of chances to see yet more snow somewhere down the line.

I have to go shortly. For once, my procrastination is the writing, since I really should be in the shower and, quite possibly, already in the car and on my way. As I write this, the clock reads 8:03am, and my girlfriend is in bed, dead tired. She took a nap shortly after getting home from work yesterday, even though I tried to warn her that this would prevent her from sleeping well at night. She is complaining now this morning that her nap really did not help, and that she wished she had not taken it. Still, I myself feel dead tired, and would like nothing better than to go back to bed and sleep for a few more hours, at least.

Now, it reads 8:06am. I have to be somewhere by 9am. It is not a short drive, and the conditions are likely not that bad, although I cannot be sure.

In fact, let me take a bit of a leave now (although you will not notice it), and return to this post once all the morning's festivities are done.

Okay, I am back. This may have seem like a second to you reading this. But it is now a quarter to seven in the evening, and I feel utterly exhausted. It's just that I have not gotten all that much rest the last couple of days or so, and it seems to be catching up with me now. Despite it not being quite seven in the evening on Saturday, I feel ready for bed already!

However, there is still some writing to do.

The subject was on the unexpected snowstorm yesterday, which was, technically at least, the first day of spring. It was also the day that felt the least like spring in a good couple of weeks or so, roughly speaking. But again, there was a pleasant feel to this storm, as far as snowstorms go.

If it had been in January or February, when there is still a long way of winter to go, it likely would have felt entirely less pleasant, admittedly.

But March is different. It feels warmer, and the snow pretty much melted on it's own hours after it stopped snowing. I cleaned off the car of the snow, but by early this afternoon, all of the snow had already melted, and there was no trace left of any snowfall. In fact, in the part of suburban northern New Jersey that I was in earlier today (Lyndhurst), all of the snow had pretty much melted away by early afternoon.

This is pretty much one of my favorite times of the year, his very early spring season. It is right up there with the autumn, because the weather is great. The colors in the fall season are gorgeous, as the excess and heat of summer burns away, reflected in the maroon, orange, and gold of the foliage.

Spring is the other great season, and it is appreciated after the long and harsh winter season. We can enjoy the end of frigid, subfreezing temperatures and the head aches, back aches, and even hand aches from winter storms that force us to shovel a ton of snow. Warmth returns, and with it, new life. Yes, it sounds cliche, but spring is the season of new life. The grass is green, buds start to appear in the trees, and streams are full from the melting snows.

No, it does not feel fully like that just yet. Does not look much like spring yet, either, since there is still plenty of snow on the ground, too.

Spring is coming, though. Make no mistake about it. Official or not, spring will be coming soon. And it was with the promise of spring soon to come that I was able to enjoy this one last winter storm (I'm guessing that it will be the last storm, in any case).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How Small We Really Are

In the beginning of our global culture's existence, we rather understandably believed things that now seem rather childish and which, as we grew up, we eventually had to acknowledge was wrong. 

One of the most obvious examples of those things was that the Earth was at the center of the universe, and that everything revolved around us. 

Another was that the Earth was flat. 

Yet another was that human beings were made in God's image, and that He had made us the exception on this planet.

Much of the world already knew that the world was not flat, but round, well before Columbus set sail on the ocean blue, before "discovering" the New World, which was, of course, already inhabited by natives. Sailors had known this supposed secret about the shape of the earth, because the curvature was quite apparent when looking out to see, and how things disappeared out on the horizon. It would not quite happen that way if the Earth was indeed flat.

Copernicus proved that the universe did not revolve around our planet. Moreover, he found that Earth revolved around the sun, much like other planets. That theory was adopted and perfected further by scientists who took up this cause later on, most famously by Galileo, who encountered first hand the stiff level of resistance to this notion, this crazy idea, that Earth had not been made the center of the universe.

Hundreds of years later, another scientist, Charles Darwin, discovered that human beings were a species who had descended from apes, and evolved into their present form over the course of millions of years. This theory, too, met with stiff resistance. Ultimately, however, it proved a very strong "theory", to the point that it has stuck to this day, and has a long way from being disproven, despite countless attempts (particularly by the religious community) to prove otherwise.

Still, our global society seems to suffer from delusions of grandeur, which is something that many of the faithful for established religions buy into and foster. We are unique, special. Too often, this is translated to mean that we can do whatever the hell we want, whenever and wherever we want to. This belief appears to be the main ideological impetus behind, and intellectual basis for, climate change denial. Ironically, proponents for this argument have turned on it's head the traditional human beings as special and exempt argument as they see fit, suggesting that human beings are essentially too insignificant to make such an impact on the Earth that it would impact the environment. Of all the times to pick false modesty, doesn't it figure it happens when there are huge profits to be made?

Well, false and self-serving modesty aside, we really are much smaller and less significant than we often like to believe or admit. That goes for each of us individually and, yes, each society within our global culture. Hell, even our global culture is quite insignificant when you look at the world at large, including it's lengthy history prior to our global culture's roots during the agricultural revolution.

And this link might help you show just how much smaller we are overall, when we think of the enormity of this universe, and all of what it consists of. We all know that our planet is much, much smaller than Jupiter is, which is the largest planet in our galaxy. And we know that Jupiter, in turn, is much, much smaller than our Sun. But look at the comparisons in this link, and you will see just how small and insignificant even our own sun is compared with some of the other enormous stars out there, and those are just the ones that we know about!

We know about Betelgeuse, and how much bigger it is than our own Sun, but there are stars that we know about that make Betelgeuse look miniature by way of comparison. Look at that last picture, and the sun can barely even be seen in comparison to some of those other stars. Jupiter itself would be rendered invisible on that graph, and Earth would be like an atom by way of comparison. Just another grain of sand on a beach, at best. When you look at it that way, how foolish to make such a big deal about our little countries, our little religions, our little corporations, and our individual backyards and miniature kingdom residences.

Take a look at the link below to gain a truer perspective about just how small and insignificant we really are, in the grand scheme of things, and it will make you wonder how we ever could think, as supposedly rational adults, that an all might Creator would center His (assuming it is a He) thoughts and actions around us, and whether or not we are good practitioners of a given particular faith, and that we have some kind of exclusive personal relationship with that Higher Being. 

21 Pictures That Will Make You Question Your Existence rozin.abbas for Science Rules

Friday, March 20, 2015

Twenty Years Since Michael Jordan Returned to NBA - The First Time

That's right! I was thinking about this just the other day.

I remember it well, and it hardly feels like two full decades ago!

Part of the reason that I remember it so well was that I was happy. It was springtime (well, almost!), and I was at Tufts University near Boston, for the New England Environmental Conference, back when I was the Vice-President of the Environmental Club at Bergen Community College.

I was young (only 20 years old at the time!), and things felt on the up and up for me. I was in a relationship, really for the first time in my life (although it went nowhere and did not last much longer. I was obsessed with Pearl Jam and other alternative bands, and everything seemed to be laying ahead for me in the future. It was springtime in every sense.

Plus, to be honest, the nineties were just such a great time to be into basketball. Somehow, it felt more exciting, more intense.

Not sure what it is, but it is harder to get into basketball these days, because it feels like something is missing. Maybe team loyalty among star players?

I cannot say for sure. But I did remember this anniversary, although I also forgot to write anything about it here until running into this link to the event on Yahoo Sports, which definitely seemed worth sharing!