Closed Minds For Closed Borders

A recent post by WordPresser nobodysreadingme – – weakened foundations of my “will not to ponder Trump” tower. As the title suggests, “How To Be An American and Confuse a Brit”, details point by point observations of American absurdity, laugh out loud nuggets lampooning American hubris. No big deal, had a good chuckle. Settle down Notes, you can do it, steady, breath, willpower, happy thoughts – don’t create a foundation for Trump out of unrelated bat shit.

Willpower prevailed for 24 hours, a day of Trump free bliss ambushed by nobodysreadingme latest post – Screw it! I’m freaking reading you, now look what you’ve done! Not 5 minutes later I’m watching this video. Subjecting myself to a harsh reality – Trump talk isn’t enough, we have to diagnose this disease.

Ready To Harmonize Time?

Named after Pope Gregory XIII, the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582 – six years after the death of Luigi Lillio, Italian doctor, astronomer and philosopher credited with conceptualizing replacement of the Julian calendar. Julian, a hail to Julius Caesar, dominated the known world from 45 BC until the Gregorian revolution in 1582.

On average, Earth takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds to complete one orbit around the Sun. Julian and Gregorian years are 365 days divided by 12 months. What to do with leftover hours, minutes and seconds – both embraced the leap year solution, vastly different implementation exposed Julian’s greatest flaw. Julian added an extra day to February every 4 years, a system resulting in a mathematical gain of one day every 128 years. That’s 3 days every 400 years, 28 days by the time Gregorian reform took hold in 1582 – close to a full month out of sync with astronomical observances of solstice and equinox.

Gregorian leap year resulted in an astounding improvement of 1 day gained every 3,226 years. Following 10 days dropped from October 1582, leap year occurs when a year is evenly divisible by 4, never when evenly divided by 100 unless that year happens to be evenly divisible by 400.

Despite advantages, transition from Julian to the Gregorian civil calendar took centuries. Russia ( in 1918 ) and Greece ( 1923 ) were two of the last countries to formally acknowledge Gregorian passage of time. Pockets of Orthodox church goers aside – Gregorian became the global standard in 1930. The Gregorian calendar put an end to Julian’s sloppy housekeeping, instead of sweeping time under the rug, we had a place to store it properly. Perfectly acceptable until Richard Henry and Steve Hanke asked us to consider Gregorian’s unpredictable meandering. A calendar of irregular months favoring financial institutions – rent, lease and loan payments due regardless of 28, 30 or 31 day spreads. Holidays floating about from year to year, the first day of school swinging by a week, dependent on the first Monday after Labour Day.

Ponder a calendar where Christmas always falls on a Monday. Year after year, same dates falling on the same day. Suspend familiarity and consider a world without time zones – genesis of the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar.

Astrophysicist Richard Henry and Economist Steve Hanke, both of John Hopkins University, used mathematics to tweak Bob McClenon’s concept of simplified time keeping. Positioned in reference to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), time zones fluctuate plus or minus 1 – 12 hours from UTC – in theory. The trouble being, time dabbles in politics and regional interpretation. China spans 5 time zones but functions under one, every watch set to the same time. Daylight Savings applies to all Canadian provinces except Central Time Saskatchewan – one day Saskatoon is an hour later than Vancouver, the next day two. The following is taken from an earthsky article written by Shireen Gonzaga, full article linked at end of post –

“What if there was a simpler way to define the months, days and hours? In a December 2011 press release, when the Hanke-Henry calendar was first announced, Richard Henry said:

Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays. Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits.

His collaborator, Steve Hanke, added:

Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the ‘rip off’ factor. To determine how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions.

In a nutshell, these are the new features of the Hanke-Henry calendar:
* The same day always falls on the same date, year after year.
* It maintains a 7-day week to preserve a day of religious observance (like Sabbath).
* All months would have 30 days, except March, June, September, and December that are 31 days in duration.
* Every 5 to 6 years, an extra week, a “mini month,” is added to the end of December to bring the calendar in sync with seasonal changes on Earth.

In a February 12, 2016 interview with the Washington Post, Henry and Hanke discussed why they would like to abolish time zones in favor of using UTC time everywhere in the world. The Post asked them why they were strongly advocating one universal time zone. Wouldn’t it be better to regulate time zones with local solar time?

Because from a physics point of view, there IS only one time! And this principle of physics lines up perfectly with the principles of economics….

Local solar time was fine, when almost all activity was local! Today, much activity is global, and ONE time is called for. You’d quickly get used to the new reading on your watch and your clock. I (Henry) recall when my elderly mother in Canada said to me, oh, it was hot today, 30 degrees! If she could change [from measuring temperature in Fahrenheit to measuring it in Celsius], everyone can change!

The reason all the airlines in the world use, today, now, Universal Time (Greenwich time), is so that planes don’t crash into each other. Every pilot and navigator knows what time it is.  As it stands now, we passengers don’t have what the pilots do have and we miss flights because of clock issues and time zones and Daylight Saving Time …  and it’s not just airline flights, it is conference calls as well.”

February 2016 calendar with Gregorian days crossed off. Numbers in red show dates in the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar.

February 2016 calendar with Gregorian days crossed off. Numbers in red show dates in the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar.



This Is What Courage Looks Like

The courage of Tommie Smith and John Carlos exemplifies the civil rights movement. I’m not going to explain why – take 5 minutes out of your life to watch a snapshot in time, a moment in history when  Olympics’ sacred line was crossed, when damn the consequences ruled over “tow the line”. Smith and Carlos managed to define injustice without uttering a word.

I often write of protest; specifically my dismay at society’s screwed up priorities – our spoon fed cult of celebrity, gun toting, fundamentalist, reality television, someone else’s problem world. For those too young to understand the optimism, hope and determination of people who believed they could make a difference, I wish I could roll back time. When coffee shops and campuses burst under the weight of collective purpose rather than suffocating taps of MacBook keyboards in an otherwise silent Starbucks.

This ponder isn’t about “world peace”, I’m talking about back yards and dark alleys. Poverty, education, injustice taking place in front of our eyes – corporate greed, “stand your ground” nonsense, environmental atrocities, civil rights violations – reduced to a Tweet or cooked into poppycock by Fox News wingnuts.

This Olympic moment reminds me of a time when purpose out weighed lucrative endorsements, a time when we believed change was a matter of determination, a time when seizing  Olympic glory for peaceful exclamation of injustice was not only thinkable, it was possible.

Live From The Flight Deck

Several years since my friend first enthused over his fascination with cock-pit videos, I find myself pondering flight deck images. Had I bothered to be a good friend, one who acknowledged a close friend’s interests, mutual captivation might have found me ages ago. Forget video from the International Space Station, dismiss Google Earth – put yourself on the flight deck of an airplane.

SDO For A Moment

SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) changed how we ponder our Sun. Launched on February 11, 2010, SDO became NASA’s first solar observatory. No larger than a minivan, purposeful and dedicated, SDO’s singular objective is to understand how solar activity impacts Earth. Instruments measure the Sun’s interior, magnetic field and plasma of the solar corona simultaneously – one mission, to understand space weather in relation to Earth and near-Earth space.

Space weather refers to the effects of solar wind on Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere. Conditions attributed to constant flows, punctuated by violent eruptions of solar plasma – charged particles, flung outwards from the Sun at speeds up to 1 million mph. Auroras, mesmerizing spectacles driven by clashes with solar plasma appear innocent enough – space weather has far greater ramifications.

Solar wind driven plasma is responsible for bending or obliterating radio waves, disrupting navigation systems, forcing airplanes to change course, decayed orbits of satellites, temporarily knocking out cell phone service and complete failure of power grids.During an intense geomagnetic storm in October of 2003, 46 0f 70 spacecraft failures were attributed to space weather. In March 1989,  3 minutes after impact of a severe solar storm, Quebec’s power grid was annihilated for 9 hours.

Over the next few weeks I’ll dissect space weather into digestible bites. Meanwhile, take a moment to witness one of SDO’s greatest gifts –

Seven Black Widow Spiders

Statistically this is my most viewed post. Since original posting, I’ve learned my black widow house spiders are actually False widows – still doesn’t explain why this of all my 1,000 plus posts is the most read.


I spotted Black Widow spiders number six and seven in my laundry room. One through five appeared last summer. I managed to wrangle most of them, unfortunately six and seven eluded capture. This is not good. Laundry is in the basement, fingers crossed black widows like basements.

Growing up in rural B.C. we were taught to be on the lookout for two things – rattlesnakes and black widow spiders. Not once did I encounter either. Here I am 40 years later, encased in urban sprawl with black widows everywhere. Hard to call it surprising – I never saw a coyote, skunk, or raccoon either, and all of them are regular occurrences in my city yard.

This leads me to ponder evolution and adaptation of species. Why my house in the middle of a city is besieged by an infestation of spiders remains unanswered. Not just any spider, but black widows with potential to deliver a…

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