Monday, August 3, 2020


The secret storm namers
   
     The secretive people whose job it is to assign such commonplace names to hurricanes as Fran, Bertha, Charlie, Irene, Floyd, Florence, and Dorian, all of which (and more) I’ve experienced to greater or lesser degrees of expense and chagrin, living in the Hurricane Hook of eastern North Carolina as I do, must have gotten bored this season. They apparently decided to assign some names that will be a challenge to pronounce, Isaias being one they likely giggled over. “Let’s see those pompous, spotlight-hogging TV weather guessers try to pronounce this one.”

     I have some suggestions of other potential names that should send the namers into happy tearful paroxysms.

     How about Andrze (Polish). Or Zariyah or Aksiniya or Fimochka or Kotyusha, all of which are Russian? Or Eiichi (Japanese)? Or Xiaoice (Chinese)?

     The Irish have some especially good ones that the namers could use. Saoirse, for example, or Seanán, Líadain, or Aoibheann.

     The ultimate in names that could tie square knots in a newscaster’s tongue, though, are African. Examples: Achieng (not a Tanzanian sneeze), Tafadzwa, Sithembile, Nosizwe, Onyekachukwu, or better yet Oluwafunmilayo.

     If they do a perplexing enough job, some of the storm namers might even graduate to the ranks of those charged with assigning creative names to thousands of new drugs.

     Then there are those anonymous six-year-olds who are given different colored chalks and cut loose on a big floor map to scrawl those various predicted hurricane spaghetti tracks . . .

Phil
www.philbowie.com
Please mask up in public and keep a six-foot distance from other people in public. Together we can beat this virus that’s sickening and killing way too many of our fellow Americans.


Monday, July 27, 2020


UFO’s again, really?

    It’s long been a favorite subject of those less principled supermarket tabloids. Spine-tingling and ultra-mysterious sightings of Unidentified (and possibly nefarious) Flying Objects. Usually such sighting are associated with some secret government agency site near Roswell, New Mexico, reputed to be hiding and studying an alien space ship that crashed in 1947. A Roswell UFO museum and research center draws flocks of tourists.

    Without doubt both civilian and military pilots and crews have sighted strange phenomena over the decades. Many sightings can be explained as the bright planet Venus or unusual cloud formations, or even high-flying birds. During years of piloting my Cessna I occasionally spotted a bird as high as 3,500 feet. The bald eagle can soar at 10,000 feet. The Andean condor with its ten-foot wingspan can glide at 20,000 feet, and the endangered Ruppell’s griffon vulture has been spotted at an astonishing 37,000 feet, which is also the frigid realm of airliners. So, birds might easily become mysterious UFOs in marginal meteorological conditions like fog or haze or twilight. But there are always a few sightings that have remained inexplicable by any known natural causes, keeping the UFO story alive.

    But the leap to objects of possible extraterrestrial origin is one so giant as to be nearly impossible for several reasons. The nearest star other than our own sun is over four light years away, meaning it takes that long for light zipping along at 186,000 miles per second to reach us across those almost unimaginable 26 trillion miles. That’s 26 thousand billion miles. At some significant fraction of lightspeed, it could take alien vehicles hundreds of years to make that journey. For what? It’s illogical on several levels.

    Our government has been investigating UFOs for many years within agencies limping along on annual budgets of only ten or 20 million dollars, relatively insignificant line items in our budgeted multiple billions.

    Recently a secretive Navy program buried within the Office of Naval Intelligence has come to light in the news. They’ve been studying these phenomena they’ve renamed Unexplained Flying Objects. They don’t quite believe it could be aliens. More like the Chinese or North Koreans or Russians up to insidious shenanigans.

    I suppose that could be possible, although it also seems an absurd stretch, considering that most anything they’d want to observe can be done quite well with satellites these days.

    But it’s yet something else our government can spend money on, so I guess that’s good news.

Phil

Please, people, let’s mask up in public and keep our distance. Together we can beat this virus. Japan is a great example. Nearly the entire population has been politely masking and distancing and their resultant per capita case counts and deaths are a small fraction of ours, which are by far the worst on the planet among developed nations.

Check out the North Carolina suspense novel series Guns, Diamondback, Kllrs, and Deathsman in print or Kindle on Amazon for some distracting pandemic reading. People seem to like the yarns.

Monday, July 20, 2020


Pandemic Pastimes and Masking Up

     There’s so much bad news permeating the media these days we sometimes need a break. Naomi and I mask up and take daily walks during which only positive conversation is allowed.  She’s exploring crafts and the other day we made a sea glass wind chime together for our sunroom. She researches and fixes healthy meals. I’m learning Spanish through the excellent site Duolingo; the goal is to emerge from the current darkness with something positive gained. We’re doing maintenance and improvement projects in and around our cottage by the river.

     I’m at work on another novel, and I try to post something of interest each week to this blog.

    Still, there’s no ignoring for very long the dire pandemic situation we all find ourselves facing. Here’s a recent post I’m repeating because every day it’s more relevant than ever. In fact, the subject is critical to our collective well being. I hope you’ll please pass it on:

Americans Unmasked

    Many people among us refuse to wear masks because they perceive it to be an infringement of their personal freedoms.

    But if that’s true there are quite a few other strictures that could also be considered to compromise our freedoms. We’re not allowed to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We can’t cruise the Interstates at 100 mph. By law we must stop for school buses. We must wear seat belts. I’m a lifelong motorcycle rider and in my state of North Carolina I’m compelled to wear a helmet or face a stiff fine. Do these laws compromise our personal freedoms? I don’t think so. Without such laws we’d have far more needless deaths and injuries, higher insurance rates for all of us, and higher health care costs. I don’t believe any thinking person wants a lawless society in which anybody can do whatever they want in the name of freedom.

    A recent study by the Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research found that mask wearing and social distancing can cut virus deaths by two thirds, and statistics in areas that have observed those easy, simple precautions would seem to bear that out.

    At least if a motorcycle rider chooses to not wear a helmet, or somebody refuses to wear a seat belt, flouting laws which are intended to save those same people from severe injury or death, it’s only their lives that are in danger.

    But people who drink and drive or text and drive or speed or don’t stop for school buses are putting others at grave risk, which is of course why we have strict laws preventing such behaviors.

    As near as I can find out no other nation in the world protests the required or suggested use of masks to help fight this current common enemy of all humankind. Anthony Fauci, respected director of the National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases, spoke out recently about people congregating without any recommended precautions. “They’re not physically distancing and they’re not wearing masks, and that’s a recipe for disaster.” We’re seeing that disaster playing out all around us now.

     In our current circumstances, those who flout the rules and the best advice of pandemic experts like Fauci and refuse to wear masks in public or to social distance because it compromises their sense of freedom are not only risking their own lives but also potentially exponential numbers of other people’s lives as well.

    And they have no right to do that. Even in free America.

    Please be safe and help protect our fellow Americans. Shun unnecessary gatherings and mask up in public. Together we can beat this thing.

Phil

Check out the suspense series Guns, Diamondback, Kllrs, and Deathsman in print or Kindle on Amazon for some distracting pandemic reading. Descriptions and easy buy links at: www.philbowie.com


Monday, July 13, 2020


Dishonest Headlines

A recent online headline shouted Goodbye Walmart: Every Store Closing This Year (the delite.com)
You might think by this the entire wildly successful Walmart chain is going out of business. It clearly says that every Walmart is closing, does it not?
But the article goes on to talk about other chains that are pulling back from brick-and-mortar stores and instead doing more business online. A few chains indeed are declaring bankruptcy and apparently going out of business. Walmart is not one of them, although they are increasing their online sales.

NASA’s SLS Rocket Tore Open Like a Tin Can 
Good heavens. Was anybody killed? Did NASA royally screw something up?
No and no.
Turns out this was only an intentional test to structural failure to determine maximum allowable stress.

‘In Front of TV Camera!’ Buzz Aldrin’s Moon Landing ‘Simulator’ Confession Revisited (#Express)
“I knew it,” some might say from this headline. “I knew they never did go to the Moon. It was all faked.”
Not so, though. Neil and Buzz did indeed make that historic 1969 trip. The article is only about how surprised Buzz was to find out how easy it was to get around in gravity one-sixth that of Earth, even burdened by his bulky space suit. By hopping about he demonstrated that ease for the vast TV audience spellbound by the astonishing successful achievement, a milestone unlike any other in man’s continuing explorations.

Michael Collins Moon Landing Admission Exposed
What?
No big admission, except he feels highly privileged to have been a part of that mission, even though he had to wait 21 hours alone in the moon-orbiting command module Columbia, the trio’s lifeboat for getting back home, while Neil and Buzz gathered rocks and all the glory down on the surface.

Scientific Red Flag Spotted in Milky Way’s Dark, Dusty Center—Oddity Moving Toward Earth (SciTech Daily)
Good Lord, what now? A global pandemic, paroxysmal worldwide protests, a political quagmire, a big recession, now on top of all that something insidious is about to collide with our planet, for Pete’s sake?
Nope. There’s just a curious patch of ionized hydrogen gas so many light years away in Sagittarius (each light year is six trillion—that’s six thousand billion—miles) it’s of no threat to us whatsoever and never will be, although it does appear to be drifting our way.

Supernatural forces the reason this city has dodged hurricanes for nearly a century?
Hardly. Some people do think the few ancient burial mounds of the extinct Tocobaga tribe near Tampa that have survived the frenzied local development might be protecting the city from hurricanes because they have not suffered through a major storm for a century. But a far more likely reason is the natural tracks hurricanes take in that area due to well understood meteorological conditions.
I understand a reporter’s strong compulsion to power up, slant, and shade headlines to hook readers, to stand out a bit amid the avalanche of news stories, but I think there’s a dark side to untruthful headlines. We’re all seeing at best confusing and at worst outright untruthful statements coming from our leaders at several levels every day, with a constant proliferation of blatantly fake news on the Net, and that makes us all increasingly skeptical of all our news in general. What and who are we supposed to believe?

There was a time such headlines were reserved for the worst kind of journalism as evidenced in supermarket tabloids. Elvis sightings. UFO testimonials. Scandals of every kind, a few true, most made up. Now this stuff sadly seems to be bleeding over into our broader news.

It’s critical in dire times such as these that we at least have the truth we can all cling to. An honest base on which we can make wise decisions. Let’s hope more journalists will reduce the seedy hype and do their jobs objectively and honestly.

Phil
Check out the acclaimed suspense series Guns, Diamondback, Kllrs, and Deathsman in print or Kindle on Amazon for some distracting pandemic reading.

Please wear face coverings when out in public or inside sharing space with strangers. It's one of the only ways we have that is proven to help fight this terrible pandemic that threatens us all.


Monday, July 6, 2020


Spain Goes Rad Vegan

In Barcelona they put on a concert in the ornate Opera House to an audience of plants.


The audience reminded me of Congress.

Only the Venus flytraps clapped but at least no audience members got up to leaf.
The daisies and the roses gave a blooming ovation.
The whole audience experienced an hour of growth, really.
However, kudzu is expected to reach into the balconies by the end of the week.
Management is considering providing takeout salads to Barcelonans at considerable discount.

Phil
www.philbowie.com
Check out the new novel Killing Ground in print or e-book.

p.s. Americans are still refusing to wear masks even in dense crowds despite the out-of-control numbers of new cases in many states. Please reconsider this behavior. Masks can save lives, as evidenced in countries around the world. Spread the word.


Monday, June 29, 2020


Americans Unmasked

    Many people among us refuse to wear masks because they perceive it to be an infringement of their personal freedoms.

    But if that’s true there are quite a few other strictures that could also be considered to compromise our freedoms. We’re not allowed to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We can’t cruise the Interstates at 100 mph. By law we must stop for school buses. We must wear seat belts. I’m a lifelong motorcycle rider and in my state of North Carolina I’m forced to wear a helmet or face a stiff fine. Do these laws compromise our personal freedoms? I don’t think so. Without such laws we’d have far more needless deaths and injuries, higher insurance rates for all of us, and higher health care costs. I don’t believe any thinking person wants a lawless society in which anybody can do whatever they want in the name of freedom.

    A recent study by the Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research projected that mask wearing and social distancing can cut virus deaths by two thirds, and statistics in areas that have observed those simple rules would seem to bear that out.

    At least if a motorcycle rider chooses to not wear a helmet, or somebody refuses to wear a seat belt, flouting laws which are intended to save those same people from severe injury or death, it’s only their lives that are in danger.

    But people who drink and drive or cell phone and drive or drive like NASCAR contenders or don’t stop for school buses are putting others at grave risk, which is of course why we have laws preventing such behaviors.

    As near as I can find out no other nation in the world protests the required or suggested use of masks to help fight this current common enemy of all humankind. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases, spoke out last Friday about people congregating without any recommended precautions. “They’re not physically distancing and they’re not wearing masks, and that’s a recipe for disaster.”

  In our current circumstances, those who flout the rules and the best advice of pandemic experts like Fauci and refuse to wear masks in public or to social distance because it compromises their sense of freedom are not only risking their own lives but also potentially exponential numbers of other people’s lives as well.

    And they have no right to do that.

    Even in free America.

    Especially in America, where we’re supposed to care about each other.

Phil
www.philbowie.com

Monday, June 22, 2020


The New Social Revolution

    Two serious issues far too long embedded in our society have of course become increasingly clear in recent events. We still have an endemic racial bias against minorities—blacks, native Americans and others. And law enforcement in our country needs overhauling on basic levels. Hard to dispute that when certain cops blatantly use excessive force and commit murder after murder on video. Citizens by the hundreds of thousands are demanding reform through massive protests, and millions more support those events that have peaceful intent. But as usual the protests have brought out a rogue element of extremists and destroyers and looters, casting a shadow over the whole movement and tending to swing the pendulum too far the wrong way.

     Recently there’s been a rash of statue-toppling across America.

    One day in San Francisco protesters tore down statues of Francis Scott Key, lyricist of “The Star Spangled Banner;” St. Junipero Serra, first US saint of the Catholic Church; and Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president who once bought a slave (whom he freed) but who led the Union with distinction against the slaver Confederacy. Nobody has yet attacked the imposing General Grant National Memorial in Manhattan. Another recent target has been Teddy Roosevelt, despite his many contributions including the preservation of wilderness areas and the establishing of our treasured protected national parks.

    Portland rioters even went so far three days before Fathers’ Day to attack and pull down a statue of George Washington, revered father of our whole nation. They wrapped a flag around his head and torched it because he was once a slave holder. We have a statue of him in Raleigh, so I suppose that will have to go, as well (protesters there have recently destroyed two other local statues, so they’ve had some practice). Of course, the name of our national capital will need changing. They'll also have to rename towns like Washington, NC, and any number of streets across America. It might be a bit too difficult to pull down the Washington Monument, but I suppose it can at least be defaced a good way up with graffiti using ladders. The history books will need to expunge George Washington Carver even though he was black. And what about Mount Rushmore? It’s not only racist because of Washington’s visage, it’s also sexist because none of the figures is female, although I heard there’s a plan to give George a dynamite nose job and some Sherwin-Williams makeup and rechristen her Georgina.

    We’ll have to be very careful about putting anybody up on a pedestal from now on lest the radical protesters come in the night with their righteous zeal, their ropes, and their spray paints.

    And if Aunt Jemima Syrup and Uncle Ben’s Rice represent racism, are Betty Crocker Cookbooks and Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal reverse racism? Col. Sanders’ Chicken and Granny Smith Apples must be ageist. And Mickey and Minnie and Daffy must be shameful symbols of creature denigration.
 
    Let’s hope the extreme elements on both sides of the racial and law enforcement issues will calm down and our country will see long overdue meaningful and lasting reforms emerge from the current chaos that will change our society for the better.

Phil
www.philbowie.com