Monday, March 16, 2015

Solar sheathing for power transmission and cable / telephone lines

I am not an engineer or an electrician, but I have been thinking lately and have come up with an idea that I would like to put out there for consideration, and if it might be workable, someone in the solar industry, or power utilities industry, or in government may proceed to do something with it.

There are between 150,000 and 200,000 miles of power transmission lines which distribute electricity in the United States. There are as many or more miles of television cable wires distributing cable TV signals in the U.S. For the wires that are strung between towers and poles, sunlight or daylight strikes most every inch of these lines for an average of 12 hours every day. If these lines were sheathed in rollable (flexible) solar panels the U.S. would suddenly have a huge source of clean electricity on already existing space that would be basically invisible -- unlike the clumsy eyesores shown below which are currently being installed all over New Jersey.

Telephone pole solar power panel
If an output of 1 watt per foot of solar panel on the wires is estimated, which is a conservative estimate, this is roughly 1,056,000,000 watts of new electricity production (1.05 Gigawatts) or about the energy produced by one nuclear power plant or large coal-fired power plant. This number could be doubled if both the high-voltage transmission wires and cable television wires could be used.

I am not sure how a solar panel would react on a high-voltage transmission line, and if the solar panel wouldn't work on a high-voltage wire due to the leak of voltage out of the wire and into the panel, then the cable television cables would do well enough at providing the power. But power companies could also consider insulating the transmission wires to prevent the voltage leakage and thereby allow the solar panels to function. Or, perhaps the rollable solar panels can be made with the insulator already on it so that it could function in the high-voltage environment.

Benefits of the plan:
  • Invisible
  • Extensive
  • Clean, no pollution
  • Distributed
  • Create jobs
  • More electricity
  • Doesn't take more land space out of use as for solar panel farms

In a world where we are always looking for new ways to generate cheaper, cleaner, more abundant energy, I think this is one way that we can do so.

PowerFilm Rollable Solar Panel

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gas Cheap Now, But Not for Long

Filling up at the pump is less painful than in the recent past.
I saw gasoline for $1.69 per gallon for Regular (cash) yesterday on Route 1 in New Jersey. It has been a long time since we have seen gasoline that low and the relief to the consumer's wallet is a welcome one indeed. It is tantamount to a tax cut on the citizens or even a pay raise. The bottom line is that it gives people more money to spend on other important things and can even increase household savings rates and encourage on-the-road travel vacationing. The low price of oil and the resultant low price on gasoline and diesel fuel are boons to the economy in many ways.

So why are prices as low as they are? It's because of the extra oil on the market from U.S. oil production which has seen a boom in recent years, due in part to hydraulic fracturing and increased oil drilling on private lands.

But my point with this post is not to talk about why there is so much oil, or the benefits of fracking. There are many articles and blog posts addressing these issues. The point of this particular post is to throw a wet blanket on this low-price enthusiasm.

The price won't be low for long. And the past would be the indicator of future performance.

In 2009, the price of gasoline dropped below $2.00 a gallon for a brief time and then continuously rose back up to $3.50 to $4.00 a gallon for Regular in New Jersey. The chart below shows the price per barrel which the price per gallon of gasoline follows in its movements.


The message? Get it while it's hot, because very soon it's going to shoot back up to $3.50 per gallon and probably higher.

What are the causes of oil price movement? Supply, demand, political unrest and government regulation. Right now supply is greater than demand, so the price is lower. But there are so many political hotspots in the world today that any one of these tipping points that tips could cause oil futures to shoot back up to $120 per barrel.

As examples, Russia's designs on Ukraine and its trouble-making around the world have the potential for causing oil prices to rise, and this is a country that wants oil prices to rise back up because so much of their economy and budgetary income is based on the sale of oil and natural gas. So for Russia, instability on the world stage which causes higher fuel prices is exactly what they want and need.

Daesh or ISIS, is militant Islam rampaging through the Middle East and threatening terror everywhere else. They are currently in control of half of Syria and much of Iraq. It won't take much for that particular march of evil to cause an oil price spike. If they were to succeed in taking over Syria or Iraq, or cause mayhem in Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Israel, these are just some scenarios that would be catalysts for crisis leading to an oil price rise.

Al Qaeda, the original Islamic terrorist group is still a very real threat and actively trying to bring terror killings to the next horrific level. There is no restraint as to the kind of murder and destruction that they would like to perform and if they had a weapon of mass destruction they would have no hesitation in using it, as we have seen on 9/11 and in other events. Hamas and Hezbollah are the more localized but just as dangerous militant Islamists of the Middle East. Any of these groups could and would bring economic chaos that could result in sky-high oil prices.

Iran is a country that wants to see Israel and America (the great Satan) destroyed. It is progressing in its efforts to become a nuclear power with Russia's and North Korea's help. It could very soon succeed in its efforts to make a nuclear weapon. If that happens Israel may bomb Iran's nuclear facilities causing a regional war. This would spike oil prices.

The Taliban is still killing people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and seems intent on continuing to cause death and destabilization, also through the spread of terror.

The Communist-led, police-state of China always takes the side of the bad actors on the world stage as shown by its support of Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Russia. And it is intent on destabilizing Taiwan, threatening the U.S. and Japan, and throwing its weight around the region and the world. And China never seems to lend its growing military might to world security threats that other civilized countries fight against. Their belligerent actions could be the cause of any number of scenarios that could cause an oil price spike.

Even if it isn't a national political action that causes the problem, it could be a crucial break in the supply chain, perhaps a few oil refineries going down, a natural disaster or a massive oil spill like the one in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago. The anti-hydraulic fracturing movement could also put a political chokehold on oil derived from this process especially if countries regulate against the process as many individual states in the U.S. have done.

So, sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud, but enjoy the lower cost of gas for your car and fill up your fuel oil tank now because inevitably the low price we see now will soon disappear to be replaced again by the signs we are so used to.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Blood-Dimmed Tide: The Battle of the Bulge by the Men Who Fought It - A Book Review

by Gerald Astor

This book was created by weaving together the individual stories of the men who participated in The Battle of the Bulge near the end of World War ll. The German military offensive was a last ditch attempt by Adolph Hitler to recapture territory that had been lost to the Allied armies and the term “bulge” refers to the resultant break in the Allied front lines. Early on, the German operation had some success due to the operation’s surprise factor, and the strength of German force thrown behind it, not to mention the subterfuge.
Astor helps us to get to know the men of all ranks and from both sides of the conflict and then brings the stories from these men to us as they relate to the battle in chronological order for the six or eight weeks of the military engagement.

The first few hours and days especially come across as very tense and exciting moments. If you want to learn how grueling and terrible the battle was you will certainly learn that from this book. War can often be viewed with rose-colored glasses when looked at from many decades removed from the action. That is not the case here. It is gritty, cold, wet, and pain and hunger filled. You could almost sense that some of these men would have wished for a quick battlefield death compared to the ordeals that they ended up having to go through.
The book is the story of heroes and villains on both sides of the conflict and a portrait of the ugliness of war and of humanity. It is a story and a book that should be read in every history class because it makes the war more tangible.

We learn that the Battle of the Bulge ended up being the nail in NAZI Germany’s coffin, but it was a very costly battle to both the Allies and Germany in terms of lives lost and wounded.

Before reading A Blood-Dimmed Tide, I had known next to nothing about this battle of WWII, and thanks to this book I now know more about the battle, the war, and a little more about the good and bad of humanity.

Roar: The New Conservative Woman Speaks Out - A Book Review

by Scottie Nell Hughes

Scottie Nell Hughes is a smart, ambitious, successful, and caring conservative woman. She is a loving wife and mother as well as a daughter with a large amount of respect for her parents and her larger family who we are introduced to in the book to some extent. This book’s target audience is supposed to be conservative women, but the wisdom here is applicable to people in general, not just women, and not just conservatives. She talks about parenting issues, so parents will benefit. She talks about career and employment and what she says would benefit job hunters or people working their way up the career ladder. But books aren’t always about the benefits you can take away from them. There are some engaging and inspiring stories here.

Of course, the main point of the book is that she wants conservative women to find their “roar” – to speak out for their ideals and to become more active in bringing about their desires for a better community.

Ms. Hughes highlights the problems with the Obama administration including the incredible debt, the burgeoning welfare class, and the sub-par employment picture in the United States.

One area that she talks about with heartfelt conviction is a woman’s right to self-defense. She delves into the ever-present and ever-expanding efforts to control guns from a uniquely female point of view.
"For the woman walking to her car down a dark alleyway or the mother of two who keeps a .38 snub in her dresser drawer, a firearm can serve (and has served) as a last line of defense between her and a criminal who does not care about law and order. If we’re going to talk about a War on Women, we should address the real war on women: the disarming of women. Guns are tools. Firearms do not only help the nefarious; they help the law abiding. They serve as an equalizer."

Ms. Hughes also discusses women’s roles in society such as in front line combat (which she is against), the workplace, at home, and regarding “reproductive rights,” birth control, and abortion. She doesn’t mince words and takes a firm stand on all of the issues she presents, all to be expected in a book titled “Roar.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Stop the Ebola Free Trade Agreement

I sent out the tweet below to my followers on October 22 and it kind of went unnoticed, where I thought it would stir up some retweets or negative responses.
"There isn't much difference between not stopping terrorism & not stopping flights from Ebola countries. It's basically a way to ramp up fear"
It was the best I could do in 140 characters to express the thought, but in light of the latest imported Ebola case by a doctor in New York City, it needs expanding on.

Ebola is fatal in 25 to 60 percent of cases according to the charts at the link below from Dr. Ian Mackay. There are not too many diseases which spread person to person in which the outcome is as grim as this. And that's not to mention the incredible suffering the disease causes. The growth of this disease in the population where it takes hold is not linear but is exponential in the way that the flu blossoms in the fall and winter in cool climate countries. So while there are more deaths from HIV/AIDS, malaria, cancer and even the flu, Ebola has the potential to be an efficient, worldwide spreader of death. That's the cause of the enhanced fear people have of this disease. It is not blown out of proportion, because if it gets out of control here as it did in West Africa it would be many times worse.

As an aside, imagine if ISIS or al Qaeda decided to weaponize the Ebola virus. All they'd have to do is get someone or somemany infected and fly them on airlines to any country in the world. Even if it weren't as effective a weapon as a bomb initially, as a weapon of fear it is right up there with beheading and suicide bombing.

Maybe the way the disease has progressed in Sierra Leone and Liberia, where it has killed thousands of people since April of 2014, would not be the model for its progression if it gains a foothold in a country like the United States, but who is to say it won't be worse? It's in New York City now and the doctor who brought it back went bowling and rode the subway. Our only hope is that it is as hard to get the disease as the CDC and others tell us. But the evidence isn't reassuring.

Except for the blood of one doctor who received an experimental cure, there is no cure right now, and he can only give so much blood.

If health care workers who are generally careful and suited up against the disease can get the disease then it is only stating the obvious to say that it is easily transmitted.

Why does the Obama administration not do what common sense dictates vis-à-vis the Ebola crisis? That is, why are he and his administration resisting the banning of flights from West Africa when 27 some other nations have already done so and when it is apparent that our only reason for having these cases thus far is because we have imported them from West Africa. Every person that comes here, potentially harboring the virus, goes around interacting with hundreds of people, some of whom won't even know it. The stupidity of the administration's course of action here is staggering. The safety of the American people is the job of the president of the U.S., and Obama is apparently not fulfilling that function, rather he is endangering the citizens of this country, not to mention the world - that is until the world starts banning flights from the United States.

There should be a cordon around Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and every country in the world should ban free flights in and out of West Africa, with only tightly controlled charter flights in and out. At the same time every effort should be made to help the people suffering there and to end the disease there where it "started". I don't know if President Obama wants the disease to terrorize America, but it sure seems like he wants America to participate in a coming epidemic - or at least not be separate from the problem. Nothing else makes sense. Any rational leader would have implemented the ban by now (and many have). And if Barack Obama is rational (as the Left likes to say he is), then he does not have the U.S.'s interest at heart with this policy and indeed the world's because his policy will cause the disease's spread around the world and not just here.

Additionally, I hope that the FBI, CIA and others are on watch for what radical Islamist affiliated nut-jobs may be planning regarding this virus, because they may turn away from axes, knives, guns and bombs and achieve their objectives through infection as well.

See the website for some detailed charts on the Ebola numbers as they stand now.

Monday, July 28, 2014

America: Imagine the World Without Her - Film Review

America: Imagine the World Without Her

This documentary film by Dinesh D'Souza and Gerald Molen features, firstly, excellent cinematography. You'll see historical scenes and battles, grand American landscapes, monuments, and impressive (and stark) cityscapes. The musical soundtrack of the documentary is wonderful and adds to the majestic feel of the film. So America looks beautiful and it sounds beautiful - a good start.

But the content here is important as well since it's a documentary and it is the meat that the people are coming for. The producers spend the first part of the film presenting some of the left's most radical and die hard critics' distorted arguments which have been working their way into the mainstream consciousness due to distortions of truth taught by liberal historians and college professors since the 1960s. After the left's "Indictments" against the U.S. are presented, the producers go on to respond to all of these indictments on many levels and from different angles. What you end up with is a regrasping of American history and a cogent and well-argued case for the fact that the United States, overall, has been a force for Good in the world and not for Evil. It is a positive message, not delivered through rose-colored glasses, but with realism and fact.

The film also highlights the fact that great and successful Americans can be of any race or creed and that as a land populated by immigrants, legal immigrants have just as much chance at success as people who have been here for generations.

Unfortunately, the indoctrination of students practiced by the liberal left into America hating, capitalist hating, sometimes race bating, government expansionist, wealth redistributionists is begun in kindergarten and carried through to the last year of college and then beyond by a compliant mainstream media. Films like America are like buckets of sand thrown against a tide of lies, but the efforts are certainly appreciated by patriots and freedom lovers everywhere. Hopefully the tide can be turned in some small way by films like this and by people like Dinesh D'Souza.

I also want to give a big shoutout to AMC Theaters in Brick New Jersey for the choppy playback of this film as if it were playing on an underpowered 300 dollar HDTV with insufficient screen refresh. Hopefully you don't present all your movies this way.

Go see this film and get the DVD when it comes out. There is much to learn here and you may not be able to absorb it all in one viewing. D'Souza has a book which this film is based on which you can see here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Are You Crying About? - New Book

What Are You Crying About? Defeating Grief for Christians (and Other Believers)
Grief sabotages happy, productive lives. Some grievers waste months or years of their lives in crippling grief which sidetracks them from school, career, positive and healthy parenting, or other fruitful endeavors. People mired in extreme grief may become sick, angry, vengeful and may even take their own lives. It doesn't have to be this way.

Sadness when someone leaves our lives is normal. Overpowering grief need not be.

Grief can be controlled, even defeated and conquered. You just need the right tools, and you don’t need to go anywhere but within you to find relief. Defeating grief takes a change of perspective, a change that everyone can make.

What Are You Crying About? gives you the tools to help you take control of your grief and help you to get on with and enjoy your life.

What's Inside the Book...
  • Death and Dying - The Common View
  • Grieving - The Common View
  • Anger with God
  • Religious and Philosophical Views on Death
  • Suicide
  • Got Faith?
  • Ten Faith Enhancers
  • What Is a Human?   
  • The Afterlife, the Spirit World, Heaven and Hell   
  • Where the Hell Is Heaven?   
  • Our Family Among Us - Spirits Present   
  • What to Say to the Bereaved (and Dying)
 You can get more information and purchase the book at this link.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Crazy Generous Amnesty - A Presidential Press Conference

If the United States of America had a strong president interested in upholding the laws and constitution of the nation, the following is the amnesty that he or she might put forward and its success would be assured. Here is the text that has just leaked from that president's upcoming press conference on the matter.

"I'd like to thank you all for joining me here today. As you know, there's been a great deal of political turmoil in this country recently over many issues: Syria, the budget, the Affordable Care Act, the IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, NSA spying on citizens, Global Warming, the country's debt, poor economic growth, fewer people in the job market despite a larger population, and finally the illegal immigrant amnesty debate. We as a country and my administration in particular can't solve all of these problems today, but I promise you that each and every day my administration is doing all it can to address every challenge facing this exceptional country in an effort to solve these and other problems.

"Today I stand before you with, not only a proposal to solve a political/societal issue that's been plaguing this country for decades, I stand before you with a resolution to solve said problem. With this issue being worked on and then placed behind us, we'll then as a nation and as a government be able to devote more time to other important issues that need attention.

"The issue that my administration has made a decision on is that of amnesty for illegal immigrants. This has been a hot-button issue for too long, especially so over the last six years. It is time to put this one to bed. Our solution is going to be received with mixed reviews as every solution to a political or societal problem in this country is. It is a fact that we are deeply divided over how to do many things in this country of 310 million people. That said, I was elected to lead, to serve this nation, and most importantly to uphold the constitution of the United States of America. And that is what we are doing with this solution to the illegal immigration problem. We will do no more than uphold the laws of the land and the constitution. No more will government look askance at any law nor give short shrift to the foundational document that undergirds each and every law in the land.

"This administration has crossed every T and dotted every I with respect to the policy which is being announced today. Congressional leaders have been consulted and partnered with, the supreme court has been queried for guidance, constitutional lawyers have been empaneled, state governors have been partnered with, other nations' leaders have been informed and their complaints ignored.

"I and my administration fully expect the cooperation of each and every person in this matter. It is not an edict from on high that requires your cooperation but rather the laws of the land which are already in effect. Compensatory and illegal edicts by former administrations will be struck from the books and the law followed in all cases concerning the handling of people who are in this country illegally. Whether you have been here for five minutes, five years, or fifty, if you are here illegally you are subject to arrest, detention, and deportation.

"Nations make laws for good reasons, and all nations do so. Anarchy doesn't work, it's just not a good system for people who have to live together and get along. To paraphrase James Madison, If we were a nation of angels, we'd hardly have a need for government. Ninety-five percent of all nations on earth have immigration laws and most enforce those laws with a zeal that is unmatched in our enforcement of immigration law. But we have more reason than most nations to be zealous about enforcing our immigration laws. The U.S. is the focus of much of the terroristic threat in the world today. Porous borders and undocumented residents are suicide time-bombs waiting to happen.

"With that said this administration does this day announce and set to writing, Executive Order 2013h Immigration Compliance Amnesty which states "All persons residing within the borders of the United States or illegally entering therein will, after a grace period ending six months from this day, be arrested, detained, and/or deported in accordance with immigration law as pursuant to statute duly passed by the Congress of the United States of America and upheld by the United States Supreme Court. This grace period, or Amnesty will not extend beyond six months and another such grace period will not at any time be afforded.

"Such a grace period, or amnesty will give all undocumented people a sufficient period of time to make plans for their orderly return to their legal countries' of citizenship, where people may take advantage of applying for visa in the United States as if they had never come to this country and arrived or stayed illegally. Certain government assistance may also be sought and for details and more information on the law you can check out Amnesty2013 dot gov.

"This is a very generous amnesty and was arrived at in a bipartisan way through discussions with all the parties I mentioned earlier.

"The U.S. celebrates its immigrant past and wants to progress to a bright future in partnership with legal immigrant residents from all over the world. America is stronger for its immigrant diversity and an orderly, transparent, and fair immigration system which upholds the laws of the land will further strengthen and enrich America just as it will offer fair opportunity to anyone who wants to participate in the economy and social life of this great land.

"Thank you for your attention on this matter today and may God bless the United States of America with the unity and strength that she so needs going forward."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Read Chapter 1 of The Devil's Assassin

Halloween is almost here and The Devil's Assassin, a creepy horror/thriller is always available for your Kindle e-reader for these chilly autumn nights ·

Kindle books can be read on PC, iPad, iPhone, and smart phones too with Kindle software and Apps.

Read Chapter 1 of The Devil's Assassin now.

In a dark, fog laden forest in Ontario, Canada sits a dimly lit cabin. Hundreds of crickets and as many tree frogs create a cacophony of noise in what should be an otherwise bucolic location. A couple of owls, one nearer and one more distant add their more baritone notes to a post-meridian symphony. A bat flies in irregular patterns around the perimeter of the cleared area where the house sits, dashing silently in and out of view. Fireflies wink on and off.

The sound from a television in the cabin wafts weakly out into the noisy night and after a time disappears. A light in the house goes out followed by another. The house is plunged into darkness and silence as the nighttime symphony continues. A slim crescent moon rises over the cabin while the fog ebbs and flows around the cabin.

Something has been lurking in the woods outside the cabin for a couple of hours, watching the moon's rise and the billowing fogs ebb and flow and now this lurker moves toward the darkened house. The fog billows as the lurker moves through it. It moves slowly and steadily toward a window which is slightly opened.

Finally, it reaches the window and begins to try to push it up. It doesn't move easily, but the lurker takes his time, working slowly and confidently. A couple of times the window squeaks and the lurker stops pushing to be sure it hasn't woken the house's sleeper. After about ten minutes of work on the window it is open enough for the lurker to climb through.

Once inside, and without hesitating, the lurker moves toward the bedroom. It is as if this prowler has prowled this cabin's interior before this night.

In her bedroom, a forty-seven year-old woman lies sleeping in bed, covered with a quilt. She is alone in the dark room and in a deep, restful sleep. A click disturbs the silence in the room, but the woman continues her slumber. The door knob, which is what made the click, begins to turn slowly, almost as slowly as the minute-hand of a clock. The prowler has a great deal of patience and caution, knowing too well the price of carelessness. In this bedroom, in this cabin, in these woods, the lurker has all the time in the world.

Finally, the door begins to open. Again, to avoid door creaks and squeaks, the lurker allows the door to open very slowly. He can smell his victim long before the door is open wide enough to see her. When the door is open enough to admit him into the room, the lurker moves softly over the wood floor until he stands near the side of the bed. As he regards the sleeping woman, noting the position of the quilt draping her body, a white needle suddenly jumps into view, stiletto-like, in front of the lurker. He considers the woman for a moment more and then drives the needle into the sleeping woman's chest. She shudders. The lurker draws the needle out as quickly as it was driven in and turns to leave the room.

Before moving out of the room the killer pauses to lick the needle, cleaning it of the blood which now stained it. He then walks out of the room, closes the door behind him and finds his way to the victim's kitchen. There he opens the refrigerator door and places all the fruits and vegetables he can find into a plastic shopping bag he finds on the kitchen table. The killer then stands up, leaves the kitchen and heads toward and through the window that he had entered the cabin through, closing it quickly behind him. He takes a bite out of an apple he had taken from the woman's refrigerator as he disappears into the forest.
It is a bright, sunny morning as a young woman leaves the front door of a farmhouse. The farmhouse is adjacent to a field of wheat. A couple of crows caw noisily to each other while a song bird sings. The young woman waves her hand at the door as she leaves. "Tsai jien," Miss Sung says brightly, which means goodbye in Chinese. She continues walking toward her car, gets in and then drives it away as she does every morning on her way to work in a nearby factory.

After a few hours have passed at the same Chinese farmhouse, the birds are quiet and few other sounds break the peaceful day beyond the passing of an occasional diesel truck on the nearby road. Inside the house, a radio softly plays Chinese music as an old woman sits sleeping in an easy chair with knitting in her lap.

The doorknob begins to turn slowly. It is minutes before the door opens enough to let someone in the house. A small form steps through the door and advances directly toward the easy chair in the living room. The intruder stands in front of the woman's chair watching her breathe and snore softly. He tilts his head to regard her face, matching the angle of her head. In the midst of this almost soft moment, a long white needle suddenly appears in the intruder's hand and is immediately thrust into the sleeping woman's chest. She shudders and dies instantly.

The killer pulls his bloody needle out of his victim, leaving no visible wound on the old woman. As he turns, he licks the needle clean of the blood of his victim. He then finds the kitchen where he fishes around in the refrigerator, taking as many fruits and vegetables as he can find in a bag he finds there. After he has his unusual booty, he leaves by the front door.
A campfire burns under a dark, star-studded sky on the plains of Argentina. There is popular Argentine music playing and two grizzled gauchos sit near the fire on camp stools listening to a boom box. Cattle can also be heard, horses are tied up nearby, and tents are pitched. Coleman lamps throw a little light on the campsite in addition to the fire's light.

Another gaucho is in a nearby copse of trees relieving himself. He hears a stick crack in the darkness to his left. He looks in that direction and sees something coming toward him. "Quien es?" he asks.

His answer comes in the form of his brief surprise and fear as, in the moment before he dies, he sees his attacker driving a white needle into his chest before he can utter a sound. With his pants still undone, the gaucho crumples to the ground. The killer licks his needle clean and escapes unnoticed through the grass and into the Argentine night.

At the campfire, the other two gauchos are smoking and listening to the music. Hearing or sensing something, one of the men stands up and calls out, "Roberto!?"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Steve Lonegan for U.S. Senate?

New Jersey will hold a special election to fill Senator Frank Lautenberg's United States Senate seat on October 16.

If change is going to take place in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Congress, someone should be elected to that Senate seat who is more than a rubber stamp for failed Obama administration policies. The strength of the minority party in the Senate will be buoyed by the election of Steve Lonegan making the Senate that much less likely to be an automatic cancellation of everything which the House of Representatives puts forward, and the body will also be less of a rubber stamp for Obama administration policies (though the Senate will still retain its Democrat majority for the time being).

Electing Cory Booker will continue the Congressional status quo of dysfunction, inaction and voter discontent with the U.S. Congress.

A Senator Lonegan will fight for reduced government spending, attacking wasteful government spending, finding solutions for the debt and deficits, and be a loud voice for lower taxes on overburdened citizens. He has shown himself as an effective leader in New Jersey and on national issues.

Please vote for Steve Lonegan for U.S. Senate on October 16 in New Jersey.

You can also Vote by Mail

Monday, September 23, 2013

Same-sex Marriage

I would like to offer my feelings concerning same-sex marriage, such as they are, and hopefully some readers will see something of value in the words that follow. Many people are going to be against what I say here and many for different reasons. But the thoughts are offered as an addition to a discussion which is already going on and comes at the problem from a slightly different angle than I have seen elsewhere. I ask only that you think outside the proverbial box.

The discussion of same-sex marriage is based on the foundation that religion has a problem with first homosexuality, and second that the marriage of two people of the same sex is against God's will, and third that the institution of marriage (which is purportedly sanctioned by God) will suffer degradation. If viewed from an areligious (or atheistic) point of view, the opposition to same-sex marriage would come from the supposed degradation of the institution of marriage (which is based on tradition that is in turn based on religion), and on the deleterious effects it would have on the family unit and on the proper raising of children.

This present discussion will take place in the presence of religious argument because most of the opposition to the practice comes from that quarter.

First of all, it is not my place to say that the relationship that involves same gender love between two adult people is right or wrong, just as I have no place to say that the relationship between an 80-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman is right or wrong. Nor, I would further contend, is it the business of anyone else. In the end, that relationship is between those two people and God is the only and ultimate judge over a person and their actions on Earth. I do know that God celebrates and encourages love between people and so this love between two people of the same gender is very probably blessed by God as any love is. Since physical love is a reinforcement of our spiritual love for our mate, I would think that this love would be in harmony with God and His laws as well (ie., not a sin). By physical love, I mean sex within a relationship of love between two adult parties where the love between the two is buoyed by the physical contact. Not sex for sex. Not friends with benefits.

So if God looks at love between homosexual partners with favor, then how does he look at marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman?

First we need to ask, How does God view marriage in general?

God is interested in the love between two individuals. Jesus has said over and over that God is Love. If these two people have committed to be with each other, then it is the hurt that one causes the other that is the sin. Adultery then is the break of the trust and bond of love within a couple's relationship and the pain caused the other party. That is where the sin of adultery is. God doesn't see the institution of marriage, He sees the relationship between two people and how they treat each other.

The institution of marriage is an institution created by man (secular society and church) to sanction the relationship between two people. That sanction of marriage offers benefits to the couple from society (tax benefits, insurance benefits, child-care rights, etc.). Benefits are also gained from the religious organizations that sanction marriage (acceptance of the couple that they are not living in sin). The church benefits because people are further bonded to the creeds, dictates and traditions of the church, and society benefits because people and families are easier to keep track of, regulate and dispense benefits to. The benefits that people receive from God by being in a marriage are the same as those that two people committed to each other in love receive but who are not "married by men".

There is no "living together in sin" if the partners are committed to each other in love. This is what God wants and it is better still if this person is your soulmate. In God's eyes it doesn't matter if you are married but only if you are loving.

If you are to follow this reasoning to its natural conclusion, then you must realize that marriage is a human construct and as such its definition is whatever we as humans want it to be.

If most humans want marriage to be defined as a loving committed relationship between two consenting people of adult age, then that is what marriage is. If most humans want to reserve the meaning of the word marriage to mean only the committed relationship between a man and a woman then perhaps another term could be looked for for homosexual commitments.

I am going to take what I surmise to be the point of view of God on this and say that what men say and their institutions require doesn't matter as regards this subject. As humans in charge of the human institution of marriage, that institution, that word, can mean and include whatever we want it to and broadening it to include people of the same gender is not much broadening at all and ought to be done in every country and every place, since God himself has nothing to say about it and man everything.

Let me also deflect the myriad quotations from the Bible that will be advanced in support of the traditional view of marriage. Everyone knows about the inconsistencies in the Bible. There are many, including those concerning homosexuality versus God's love and grace and in general Jesus' portrayal of His Father. Inconsistencies in a book that is supposed to be the word of an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect Being. These inconsistencies arise from (not only) the fact that humans, through the centuries and even to today, are responsible for copying, typesetting, typing, cutting and pasting, printing, and proofreading the Holy Book. For instance, Bibles are printed each and every day, in many countries, right now. Do you think the books leave those presses every day with no errors? Is it the word of God when words are dropped within those pages or pages left out of the bindings? Typesetters and typographers are not perfect. Printers and their machines are not perfect. Proofreaders are not perfect. Human beings are in charge of the printing of Bibles in this time period and people are as flawed now as ever. They are God's highest creation, but flawed still (due to the exertions of their own free wills). Errors are introduced by omission and commission.

So it is now, so it has been for thousands of years. There is much that is correct and in accord with God's law and love in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But there have been so many people and committees and councils involved that much of what is included in these books should be subject to careful and deliberate inspection, thought, and prayer as to its Truth. Blind obedience to a book shepherded through history by flawed men (men with agendas) and held as God's word because an ecclesiastical council said it was so is not the thinking that God gave us brains for. In fact, it is not thinking but agreement by consensus of the masses in the authority of the Church (or various churches).

Don't get me wrong, I love the Bible. It has many wonderful lessons and generally shows how to be a good person with respect for our Creator and in it can be found the path to Heaven if you look carefully. But if you want to know what God thinks about an issue, the Bible should not be your only source. Your heart, your mind, and your soul are not just supplemental resources when it comes to Truth, they are indeed the most important instruments.

Let every man and woman think for himself and herself. And in my humble opinion, let every man and woman marry the man or woman of their choice.

(When responding, please respond to the discussion of marriage. The discussion of the existence of God is not material to this present discussion because the argument against same-sex marriage generally presumes such existence. Someday we will have a blog posting concerning that topic. Thanks.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Technology Is Making Books More Engrossing for Readers

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Yuri Arcurs -
Books are becoming more interactive.
(StatePoint) Are you reading less than you used to? You’re not alone. Between our smartphones, endless cable channels and all those other forms of modern entertainment, it’s no wonder book-reading is on the decline amongst American adults.

In fact, the percent of adults who didn’t read even one book in the previous year increased from 12 percent in 1978, to 22 percent in 2011, according to Gallup surveys.

But new technologies and trends in the world of literature are making reading more entertaining and more interactive than ever before. And many experts predict this age-old pastime will grow in popularity as people catch on to the evolution of books.

“Reading is often thought to be a passive activity,” says M.D. Kaczkowski, author of the new thriller, “The Seers, New World Order,” a book that is breaking new literary ground by including an interactive digital component. “But in the Internet Age, people are looking to truly engage and interact with creative content.”

In the pages of “The Seers” -- a fast-paced crime drama with supernatural elements -- Kaczkowski enhances his readers’ experience with Quick Response (QR) codes that are compatible with smartphones, illustrations and video links. Sprinkled throughout the book, these elements provide a fictional platform that goes beyond the pages of the book.

By accessing these elements, readers are taken to The Seers website at, where they are presented with videos, audio recordings, letters and other texts that expand on the narrative. They can even choose original songs to listen to while reading different chapters and to participate in an augmented reality game that draws on their own personal environment.

Other authors are even giving audiences control over content, using feedback garnered from modern “choose your own adventure” books and Internet forums for fans to help dictate future plotlines.

“If you’re craving a deeper engagement with your reading, you were born in the right era,” quips Kaczkowski. “For my new thriller, for example, it made perfect sense to integrate new technologies directly into the pages of the book, since the novel combines science with spirituality.”

And reading books electronically makes for a more interactive experience, too, as one can highlight text, search for key passages and look up words.

If the last time you picked up a book was for a school assignment, it’s definitely time to check out how new trends in literature can put some excitement into reading.

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Yuri Arcurs -

Monday, July 8, 2013

Progress Report on the Obama Presidency

Here is a brief progress report on the economic aspects of the Obama administration. Some of the numbers in the following graphic had to be updated as they didn't seem quite right, but they are still bad.

Number 4. in the graphic is wrong due to perhaps being outdated. The federal debt of the United States is now 100% of GDP. This means that the debt of all the citizens of the U.S. due to government spending is equal to the production (in terms of dollars) of the economy over one year. And as you can see in the chart below, that debt is growing by more than a trillion dollars per year. Who thinks that's sustainable? It is crippling, actually. What can we do? Elect people to Congress and the Presidency who want to tackle the debt.

An updated figure from the labor department says that Number 5. in the graphic is now 63% of the population is employed, which is up, but 8 million of these workers are working part time when they want more hours according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These people are often referred to as under-employed.

Additionally, according to Gallop, the home ownership rate is 62% as of April 2012, so I don't know where the number in Number 8. in the graphic above comes from, but 62% is still a lower home ownership rate than all of the Bush years.

In a country where we spend 1.5 trillion dollars more per year than we take in in revenue, how can the following chart be justified? Surely millions of these people on food stamps don't actually need food assistance. How many are illegal aliens? How many are employed citizens gaming the system? This administration has marketed the food stamp program like no other administration before it, in fact markets all of its assistance "products" like Coca-Cola markets Coke. No wonder the numbers are up.

Why didn't President Barack Obama get voted out of office during the last election if his economic numbers are so bad? Because the phrase coined by James Carville, "It's the economy, stupid" doesn't hold sway with a large portion the voting public anymore. Mr. Obama was re-elected by people who think a generous, big government that gives more than it gets and over-regulates big business is a good idea.

The numbers show that the housing market is still weak, unemployment is still high, gas prices are still high, electricity prices are up, health insurance costs are up, and the cost of food is up. It has taken many years for the slight improvements to the economy that we have at this point, which is worse than any other recovery from a recession.

Unfortunately, the economic policies of this administration (of which these examples represent just the tip of the Titanic crushing iceberg), if continued, will sink this ship. In the short term, the only relief on the horizon are the 2014 congressional elections, where fiscally responsible senators and representatives must be placed into office.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (Review)

NDE stands for Near Death Experience. Because of the advancements of modern medicine, many more people are having NDEs and writing about them than occurred in the past, according to the book's author, Dr. Eben Alexander. There are shelves full of books that deal with the topic of the NDE. This book is unique because of the individual (a brain surgeon) who had the NDE, how he got sick, what he got sick with, and how unlikely it was that he recovered. The doctor goes into great detail in the book about just how unlikely his chances were for his recovery. After reading the facts as laid out by the author, it certainly seems as though he was chosen by God to have the experience he had and to share it with the world.

Dr. Alexander does a very good job of explaining how and why he had his near death experience and just how close he was to death. He deftly brings us into his family and professional lives. His extended family's vigil at his bedside when he was in a coma and slipping towards death was inspiring. The doctor also gives us a view of the spirit world (heaven, hell, and purgatory) that we often don't hear about, even from other books that describe the afterlife.

In the end, it is amazing that he lived to tell his story and being a neurosurgeon, he is the perfect person to have had this experience and live to tell about it. Based on the totality of the details involved here and not just on one piece of evidence, the book should give most people confidence that life continues after our bodies stop working. The hardened skeptics will scoff at the book as they do at all things spiritual, but everyone will be welcomed into the afterlife whether they believe in it or not. I appreciate the fact that this man was courageous enough to share his story with the many people who want to know that there is more to life than eighty years on this toilsome planet and then nothing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why Independent Publishing Is a Win-Win Proposition for Author and Reader

Kindle Fire e-book Reader
Publishing independently is very fulfilling in many ways despite an author's increased chance for low sales numbers. Why fulfilling? For me, it's because I have been able to work on topics that I like and to get books that I am proud of out in the world for an interested (if limited) public to enjoy, despite the fact that dozens of publishers said no to the books.

Thanks to reading appreciation sites like, print on demand publishing options like CreateSpace, and e-book publishing options like Amazon's KDP, NookPress, Kobo, GooglePlay, iBookstore and more, there is no shortage of ways for writers to publish their work to the reading public without the traditional long wait from a publisher just to receive the response "No" or "it doesn't fit our present needs" over and over again.

My first book, New Jersey 9/11 Memorials did not sell well by any measure (though it is still on sale) and all the queried traditional publishers may have gauged well the lack of market for such a book. Or maybe not. The book might well have sold much better with their marketing muscle and printing cost efficiencies which I didn't have and which made my book more expensive than I thought it should be for optimum salability. But despite the fact that no traditional publisher wanted to touch the photo book, I wanted to produce it. In fact, it was a joy to work on, to write and to be a part of. It is something I will always remember fondly. It isn't an earth-shatteringly important book, but it is a nice homage to the victims of 9/11 in New Jersey and the way towns remembered the people and events, as well as their attackers.

I wanted to publish that book because it was important to me. Twenty years ago I still would have been able to publish a book like New Jersey 9/11 Memorials independently, but it would have been infinitely more expensive and difficult to produce. Today's environment for independently publishing books, music, and even movies is so much easier than it used to be. And the pricing for the customer can be much better than what is offered through traditional publishers, especially e-book offerings.

Having been wrung through the publishing wringer three or four times, for my latest book, The Devil's Assassin, I decided to avoid the long, and somewhat depressing process and go straight to independent publishing where I have total control of what I want to publish and when. For me, I'd rather let the book reading public decide if they want to read a book rather than some recently hired, underpaid, editorial assistant in New York City. And having worked for two large New York book publishers as a production editor, I know the process and how unmeritorious it can often be.

With independent publishing you don't need to beg for a literary agent and then give them 10% of your earnings so that they can get you a contract with a publisher who will give you a dollar a book on a 30 dollar list-priced hard cover publication.

Being an independent book publisher and author is not a great way to make a living for most who do it, but it is a fulfilling way to achieve your goals without needing the imprimatur of some supposed authority. Now I just need to get me some marketing muscle. Carpe diem!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Devil's Assassin

by Brian M. Holmes
Linus Hather is content with his uneventful life as a prison guard in southern New Jersey. But his life is changed forever when he and his pet lemur are rudely awoken by Linus's unusual home security system. He is convinced that he's captured a killer, but it becomes his full-time job over the next weeks to convince anyone else of this dangerous fact. Meanwhile, the unexplained deaths keep occurring with the authorities attributing the causes of the deaths to anything but the right ones.

Linus teams up with an attractive, but stubborn, government scientist to get more information on the killer, and to try to convince the authorities of his "crackpot" theory.

Join Linus and June as they attempt to capture or kill the stealthiest killer that has ever walked this Earth, The Devil's Assassin!

Available in print and for the Kindle and Nook eReaders. The book will be available for more devices in the coming days.

Amazon Kindle $2.99

Print edition via CreateSpace $7.99

Print edition via $7.99

Barnes & Noble Nook $2.99

Print edition via Barnes & Noble $7.99

Kobo eReader $2.99

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Windows Keyboard Shortcut of the Day 2

Microsoft Windows Keyboard Shortcut of the Day

This awesome shortcut saves a lot of mouse clicking.

To open the System Properties dialog box...
Press the Windows logo key and the Break key. (the Break key will be up near the Scroll Lock key and the Print Screen key)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is for anyone who loves chocolate chip cookies, not just those of us who are gluten free. My thoughtful daughter gave it to me for Christmas in a Mason Jar with a bow tied around it. It had the ingredients in the jar on one side and the few things I needed to add on the other side. They rival if not beat the taste of the Toll-House cookie recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Give them as a gift to your Gluten-free friend or family member :-)

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (in a jar)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup of soy flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

(These were not in the jar and had to be added by me)
1/4 cup of butter or margarine (melted)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of milk

Mix it all together in a mixing bowl and dollop spoon-sized blobs of cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Missile Defense Is Insurance Against the Unthinkable

It would take 33 minutes at most for an intercontinental ballistic missile to reach the U.S. from the rogue or enemy state that it is fired from. Think North Korea, Iran, Hamas, Al Qaeda. This well produced and researched one hour video discusses why missile defense is important and the functionality of it in the United States at present. You will be surprised at how far the U.S. has come with missile defense since President Reagan started pushing for it in 1983.

Unfortunately, the current president of the United States has a different agenda than President Reagan did. In 2009, President Obama cancelled the deal the U.S. had with Poland and the Czech Republic to build an interceptor site that would have provided protection of the U.S. and its allies from ballistic missiles. The Polish president called it a betrayal. And now that he's been reelected the U.S. president "can be more flexible" with Mr. Putin of Russia concerning the neutering of allied missile defense. Mr. Obama wants to cut missile defense spending in 2013 in addition to all his other debilitating cuts to military spending.

In recent days, North Korea has been moving intercontinental ballistic rocket segments to its missile launch site in apparent preparation for launch. They have the bomb and are working on the means of delivering it anywhere in the world. Iran has been busy making nuclear fuel, and coordinating with North Korea on its bomb and delivery systems. And recently, Hamas has been raining missiles upon Israel. All of this activity shows the importance of staying vigilant when it comes to missile defense development and implementation and not letting political ideology abrogate the defense of the American people. This defense is Job One of our common government as mandated 226 years ago by the U.S Constitution.