The year 2020 had been a wild roller coaster of a year; world wide nuclear war had just barely been averted as political and religious violence came to a head in a land that had seen millennia of conflict.

The synergy of constant political upheaval, religious conflict and ethnic violence had finally been given access to the planets most destructive weapons technology. The horrific outcome had very nearly been preordained.

Nuclear warheads had been detonated over six targets. Two other warheads did not reach a target. Most of them exploded over high tech cities in the Middle East, one had exploded accidentally while it was being loaded into an airplane and one detonating in a remote corner of China after being launched by North Korea. A mistake certainly, but China had not been amused.

China, despite the insane ranting of the North Korean government, had invaded and took over North Korea in just a few days with very little fighting. The North Korean military had folded almost immediately, the military leaders of the DPRK had long grown weary of the frequent purges, executions, wide spread hunger and despotism of Kim Jong-un. The military, using the crisis as an opportunity, had surrendered almost without resistance. Now, much to the world’s surprise, the Chinese were negotiating a unification of the Koreas under the banner of South Korea.

Many unlikely things had happened this year. After the dust had more or less settled in the Middle East, people began to understand the destruction that had been wrought, even in that limited war was unacceptable. The countries involved had centuries of conflict and hate to motivate them. But, the horrors of modern cities obliterated, billions of dollars of high tech engineering marvels, millions of lives swept away like feathers in a hurricane was heady motivation. Enough motivation to force a change in thinking from the inherently violent, often inhuman conquest in the name of religion and politics mind set toward a state that was at least tolerant of each other if not all out cooperation.

Israel was the country that lost part of a city and an airbase to the accidental detonation of a nuke as it was being loaded on an aircraft, supposed to be impossible but this year was full of impossible events that didn’t seen to know they were impossible. As a couple of destroyed mega cities, built by oil money, were being mourned and clean up was being planned something truly improbable if not outright impossible had occurred.

On December 19th as many people were trying to calm back down and live a bare two kilometers from the international space station, an alien space craft seemed to simply pop into existence. No one on board the space station had actually seen it appear. An automated camera system had been looking almost directly at the spot where the alien craft had suddenly materialized. A two kilometer long space craft that looked amazingly like a famous science fiction space craft, in the video the space craft had appeared but what looked like an after image had receded into the distance. Two people on the ground had been looking at the space station with small telescopes noticed this as well. In the coming months why this after image had appeared to recede into the distance was a popular point of discussion among both scientists and laymen alike.

Sadly this was one of the few things that could be discussed about the alien craft. It hung in low earth orbit for several weeks as humanity tried desperately to communicate with the aliens.

The spacecraft, now called Star Ship by nearly everyone, could be seen with the naked eye and after seven weeks odd little metallic balls started to appear around the planet. The initial metallic spheres were about a meter in diameter. These large globes were seen disgorging smaller balls about the size of golf balls. These smaller spheres gave birth to even smaller BB sized specks. Floating through the air these metallic balls showed up nearly everywhere on the planet as days rolled by. Giving one more oddity to be debated fruitlessly.

In the North Pacific an American Navel Task Force was on routine maneuvers when an object appeared on the radar approaching fast. Before planes could be scrambled or any measures taken the elongated diamond shaped craft was hovering, then landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford.

The military had been given orders not to interfere with any of the strange spheres for fear of provoking some sort of destructive response. This craft was obviously not one of the spheres but the aircraft’s speed was such that no response was in actuality possible The craft sat on the deck as people scrambled to do something, anything. No one in fact, had time to do much as the craft off loaded a large metallic box and subsequently rose and speed away into the air over the empty ocean.

Waves of patterns and colors passed over the strange looking bodies of the aliens. Waving their antenna which were amazingly like moth antenna and clicking popping several pairs of forelimbs together with a release of pheromones completed the communication they were sharing while they watched a holographic representation of the vicinity of the box as it was passed into the innards of the Aircraft Carrier:

“Ghastly diminutive creatures don’t you think?”

“Yes” answered his companion with a similar display of colors, patterns, clicking noises and chemicals. “Yes they are pitiful looking creatures, so simple, yet primitive in a peculiar manner notwithstanding in sentient life forms!”

“Agreed” replied his fellow, “Do you want to bet on how long it takes for them to figure out what the box does?”

“Despite their appearance they do seem to have a propensity for solving puzzles, I’d say it won’t take more than a few of their planetary orbits”

“I am not so sure, the rules of contact do state they must figure out how to communicate with us with no help. Giving them a communications terminal is stretching the letter of the law well past what should be its’ breaking point!”

His partner hesitated, patterns of colors flowed over his lower half and his communication limbs clacked in a nervous manner. “Face it if we are going to make a profit off annexing this planet into the Empire we need to stretch the rules as far as possible!” He topped off his reply with a powerful burst of chemicals that made his friend draw back slightly.

“Look at the image! They are taking the Cbox into their moving colony; make sure we are recording this! This will be our first look into one of their nests!”

“Not nests! The data we have mined from their communications net indicates they do not nest in groups like most social beings do, they are individuals, not a collective!”

His partner hesitated as his mind collected the right scents to form an answer. “The data does suggest they are not a collective mind. But I resolve to wait for conformation of that idea before I make any assumptions. It’s difficult to see how such a simple being could be intelligent and social with out some collective thought processes.”

“I agree it would be a rare thing but the beings we subjugated in grid 1086 x 232 x 16,108 were equivalent. And they were individuals and not much more advanced biologically than these… humans…”

The second alien hesitated as his mutualistic symbiotes crawled over his body slowing down from their normal near blurring motions as they sensed his discomfort in the discussion. The small creatures consisted of several different species of arthropod appearing animals that assist in the bodily functions of the aliens. Transferring waste and food in and out of the body through special orifices, clearing the tracheal tubes, even moving food from one part of the digestive system to another. As the symbiotes calmed down and resumed their tasks the other aliens symbiotes relaxed from their defensive posture, in an argument the symbiotes of the two creatures fight each other and the damage, if any, done depends on the severity of the disagreement. Generally only a few of the little animals would harm each other but in extreme cases the damage could be extensive…

Both aliens assumed a more relaxed stance as the question was mulled over finally resulting in agreement. “ These humans may indeed be unique but all intelligences are unique in some manner, these are just a bit more so than most”

With a quick succession of pops and ticks followed by a spray of pheromones the discussion was resumed:

“We stand to gain a considerable amount of wealth from these humans if we can exploit them before anyone else happens upon our operation. The exotic foodstuffs alone will be worth several more resuscitations for our entire group. The biology on this planet is amazingly compatible, fully 10% of the empire can make use of them as a food source and if we are able to use them as workers, the profits make me giddy, the Empire will have to grant us full ownership of these simple beings!”

His partner hesitated, “we will have to cull them ruthlessly, I can’t see how more than 5% of the current population will be necessary for operating the farms and processing factories, we will need much more land than we need workers…”

“How soon until you can write up a proposal to the Throne? We have to get out ahead of this to avoid and competition! So far every animal we have tested will be desirable as food for one or more of the races of the Empire!”

“I have almost completed a formal prospectus, two maybe three standard turns should be enough time to complete my estimates.”

Turning back to the hologram being displayed in the middle of the room they both watched as the sailors on the Aircraft carrier moved the Cbox into an open area as the people stared almost dumbfounded at the apparatus.

“How much time do we have?”

“About 1000 of their planets orbit will be plenty and as short lived as they are none of them will realize what is happening until they are in too deep to stop it!”

“What about their weapons, they do have nuclear weapons you know!”

Yes but by the time they realize they need them we will have eliminated the threat!”

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Polarization of American Politics

Ah politics… fun fun fun ‘til Daddy takes the T-Bird away, the polarization of America is getting out of hand. Everyone can buy a gun? State religion? No taxes? Unbridled Capitalism? Socialism? Libertarianism? Communism? Extremism! Oh My!

Has everyone lost their collective minds?

We live in a society, supposedly a free society, governed by rule of law… Not rule of “hey I don’t think you should be able to do that so stop it” What any one person or group of people think you should or should not do is irrelevant, doesn’t matter if God is your basis for living or Thor or Apollo or if the fling spaghetti monster rules your world we have freedom of religion which by definition has to include freedom from religion… Yeah I said it now for the part the non-religious won’t like. That doesn’t mean anyone can say that religious displays offend me so you can’t put Jesus or Santa on the courthouse grounds. You do not have the right not to be offended as long as someone’s expression of religion doesn’t include infringing on your rights as an individual (no that doesn’t mean you have the right not to be offended) just shut up and walk past any religious displays you don’t like. This also means that if you are a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim you must give the same amount of tolerance to others you enjoy and yes that includes Pagans, Sun Worshipers, and Wicca.

All you can say for sure is that the Government cannot support one of these over the others so if your local government pays for the Christmas decorations then you have be willing to have the local Government pay for the holiday decorations of the other religions too… If that offends you please see the paragraph above. Just the way it is but it doesn’t mean the government cannot pay they just have to be even handed about it.

Generally, at least in my estimation, it’s best for the government to stay out of these things and avoid wasting taxpayers dollars frivolously but that’s just me.

We seem to want to grandstand on the most silly things, “in God we trust” on our currency? It was put there in the 1950’s in a wave of religious patriotism to show the evil commies how serious we were going to defend “Capitalism?” Hmmm makes it sound a little silly to fight over now doesn’t it? Same for the pledge of allegiance, the under God part is an artifact of the fight against communism not some affirmation of this being a Christian nation. Either deal with it or stop it completely but it’s not worth polarizing the nation over.
Socialized medicine (he said with a sneer) Communism sneaking in by the back door… say it 20 times and see how silly it becomes. We, supposedly the richest nation on Earth, cannot take care of our peoples medical needs? Most other first world nations seem to do a pretty good job of it. Do we really want to let Capitalism get in the way of social programs? If it galls the insurance companies, so what? Do insurance companies rule the government? And speaking of Capitalism… Yes Capitalism “Caveat emptor” do we really want to run a society based on buyer beware? A society where anyone can sell or buy anything, do business in any way they want and let the people who buy from them suffer? And no, corporations are not individuals, they don’t act like individuals, they are not by any realistic measure people and the only reason this is proposed is so they can get around laws that should govern corporations because… they are not people… If you are Republican or conservative or both and think this benefits you then you are either very wealthy or you own a company or both, the rest of us do not gain anything but hardship from corporations being allowed the rights of individuals.

Capitalism needs rules, it cannot be allowed to operate unchained, unchained Capitalism will eventually destroy a society just as surely as communism, all stable societies are a mixture of various philosophies, it has to be that way because as much as we would like to believe it to be true all people do not start out with the same chance as all others and there is no reason to allow some to get to the top just because they had a head start or because they are bigger bastards than everyone else. Without rules Capitalism will fail just as badly as communism did. In fact take a look at China pure communism? Not hardly, they have generous dollop of Capitalism they have in recent decades mixed into their political make up, it made sense, it helped them survive and prosper when other communist regimes were falling like flies. Now pure communist states can be counted on one hand and few of them are places anyone would choose to live, take North Korea… no really take it please…

Libertarianism ah the free breath of a free man, free to go about his life unhindered by the doings of mere mortals, wait, that highway needs repair, who is going to remove that body from the ditch, I need to call the “police” no those privately owned prisons need more inmates to make a profit they might pick me up just to make their quota and the privately owned police work for the prisons… maybe I could use a little bit of restraint as well in my completely free breathing?

As usual no one political system works perfectly, only a blend of various policies can be sustainable over the long haul.

So I have some advice, Atheists stop moaning about religion, it’s always going to be here, never going to go away, you do not have the right to not to be offended all you have the right to do is ignore them.

Theists… ah yes theists, in this country overwhelmingly Christian, can you throttle back a few notches? You do not have the right to not be offended either but you do not have the right to dictate what everyone else does as well. Refer back to that annoying little document called the constitution, freedom of religion, it’s quite a concept, every man free to follow his vision of god… well unless your vision of god requires that you make others follow your vision but refer back to that document called the constitution for further reference… Yes this includes you creationists, you do not get to have your religious views taught as science, it’s not science it’s religion… deal with it but deal with it without forcing your views on others…

Gun control… take lessons… no really, if you want a gun get training, we don’t let people drive cars without training why should we let people have guns without training?

We live in a society that allows people to drive cars, some say it’s a privilege and that is true but it’s one that allows people, very nearly everyone, to drive a car but it also requires that those drivers be reasonably able to drive their cars (I know imperfect system), some people just can’t drive or choose to drive while intoxicated we try to limit the damage they do by requiring training, insurance, licenses, restrictions and we still end killing something like 90 to 100 people a day.

Deaths by guns is comparable and by 2015 they are projected to be very close and this is because gun deaths are going up, abet slowly, while death by car is going down. Shouldn’t a gun owner be expected to be able to show some proficiency at “driving” his gun?

Is a background check to insure a perspective gun owner isn’t bat shit crazy too much to ask? As for ammo clips, if large magazines are illegal then carry more of the smaller clips, seriously that is a small point to dwell on while people die due to people having guns that have no clue as to how to use them.

Sanctity of marriage, we live in a society that allows game shows where several men or several women compete to marry a stranger…yeah sanctity of marriage… I have some severe doubts that homosexuals can screw that up any worse than we straight people have already but lets take the bull by the horns and ask why…

Why are homosexuals second-class citizens? They’re not you say? I call bullshite, in my state they cannot even get a civil union much less get married and why is that? Religion, religion, especially the dominant one here seems to have a special place for homosexuals, I believe it’s right in the center of the pit of eternal flames… ok where does that come from? The Holy Bible… fine let’s follow that Holy book, are we going to stone adulterous women to death as well? How about those unruly teenagers, death for them as well and those horrible abominations that walk around flaunting clothing made of cloth woven from different fibers… get a clue why do you have such an erection for homosexuals?

No one is suggesting that your church be forced to allow homosexuals to marry within it’s hallowed walls where I am sure none of Gods’ rules have ever been broken. Many Churches are already marrying homosexuals… not real churches you say… no true Scotsman???

Birth control, don’t want to use birth control, don’t use it, yes there is a large faction of theists who think it’s their sacred duty to stop the use of birth control, sex must have consequences… right? Hard for me to see their point of view, I can’t quite get my head that far up my ass…

As for abortion, I wouldn’t have one, I wouldn’t want my wife to have one (I can’t imagine she would but it should be her choice) but I know that the idea that life begins at conception is invalid and shows a lack of knowledge of how reproduction works, many fertilized eggs never attach and are shed, in fact the process can go quite far and happen for numerous reasons, are we going to charge any woman who is pregnant and loses a zygote with murder? Involuntary manslaughter perhaps? Stop being unreasonable, read the bible… no really read it don’t let someone else tell you what it says but God sure seems to be fond of killing and yes I mean children…

Jesus came to change all that… read your bible, don’t let someone else tell you what it says or means… read it! (hint: Jesus said exactly the opposite, no I’m not going to spoon feed it to you, read it for your self…)

But back to abortion, if the child comes to term, who is going raise an unwanted child? Your taxes? It seems to me the winning idea here is to make birth control freely available, not to mention sex education, many adults seem to sorely lacking in that area of education as well, in fact birth control pills result in fewer lost zygotes than a woman who doesn’t use any but is still having sex. Should abortion be allowed, I would say yes with some reasonable restrictions but conflating birth control with abortion is insane since one prevents the other.

Oh and by the way, if your church or organization employs someone and you provide health insurance there is no valid reason why you should get to say the insurance can’t pay for birth control, religion has to be voluntary, you cannot force your religious values on others… For reference see constitution… More to the point health insurance with birth control is cheaper than health insurance without birth control…

You live in an amazing country founded by men who were wise almost beyond comprehension (judging by today’s standards) stop trying to change it to suit you personally, let other people live and let live as well…

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A walk by the river.

River Walk

My Wife and I walked our dogs down by the river this afternoon, a warm February day, the sky was covered by high fleecy clouds and jet contrails. Spanish Moss, driven out of the trees by a recent winter storm had drifted up into small piles while real moss and lichen covering the ground in small scattered mounds were almost glowing from the sunny day and warm rain that had fallen a day before.

The River was dead calm, the tide was in and the still water supported rafts of vegetation, usually swirling around in the tidal flux, but now the rafts of water plants were still, almost appearing to be islands but really only ethereal floats waiting for the next tide to drive them back toward the ocean. Large dead logs along the bank, also covered by moss, seemed to reach into the water as though taking a drink while the water was high enough for them to reach.

No alligators today, I like seeing the large reptiles but while the winter has been mild even by southern standards the archosaurs are too cold sensitive to be out and active this time of year. A large Gar, an animal with even more primitive roots, could be seen hiding at the edge of a vegetation raft looking no doubt for some small bream or other fish to fill it’s ravenous maw.

As we walked the dogs, my three Basset hounds, out onto a small pier and my Wife and I were rewarded by a reflection of sky on the dark water that made the water look like a metal mirror, the clouds and jet contrails reflected in perfection on the completely still water. The swamp trees that made up the edge of the far bank, Cypresses and Water Tupelos, were reflected as well making it look like we were looking into some other world, just out of reach but real as the one we were in.

At this distance it is difficult to see the real complexity of the tidal swamp, a great many normally terrestrial trees, intolerant to growing in water take advantage of the swamp trees. They grow attached to the trunks of the swamp trees, a natural hydroponics system, the slowing rising and falling tides keeping the trees bare roots alternatively wet and dry allowing them to breath at low tide.

The Bassets, oblivious to anything that didn’t have an interesting smell, kept their noses to the ground, stopping every few feet to signal any dogs that might come by that they had been there. The three stooges, as I often call them, love to smell new things as much as I love to see new things. Their perception, not limited to smell but dominated by it as much as my perception is dominated by sight, must be an interesting way to see the world. While I am oblivious to the other dogs and animals that might have happened by recently they are as aware of them as I am of the trees and refection of the sky.

The Coast is a great place to live, natural wonders abound if you know where and how to look for them….

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I’m a Theist!!!!

Recently I realized that far from being an Atheist as I had thought, I was a Theist, quite possibly even a Fundamentalist! I came to this realization after listening to a theist describe how they worship and how it helped them in their lives.

The realization first occurred to me when the theist told me how God comforted them, he told me that when he went to bed he visualized god to help him relax and go to sleep. He told me how that visualizing god watching over him made him feel comfortable enough to go to sleep, he went on to tell me how that god and the allegorical messages he thought that god brought gave him hope for the future and made him feel like life had a purpose. Writings that told him how to treat people, how he was special and how god would punish those that did not believe. This god and the writings this god had inspired people to write gave him what he needed to live his life firm in the knowledge that the future was worth living so he could see the wicked punished.

Suddenly I realized I did the same thing! Every night as I lay down I visualize The Starship Enterprise, the visualization of that beautiful Ship and what it represents always makes me feel secure and the message it represents, a message told through the medium of video in this case, but an inspired message none the less, a message that was told by allegory, stories of the future, a future where life had meaning and the stories told of how we should treat each other and how important it is to treat others as you would be treated and how important it was to believe that the future would be a great place to live because the United Federation of Planets was going to protect us all and how the elimination of poverty and greed would make punishment unnecessary, the Starship Enterprise is a symbol of the promise the future will hold if we stay true to the messages contained in these videos.

Yes the Starship Enterprise, the UFP, and the Prime Directive, my Holy Trinity delivering me from the fear of a dystrophic future and the meaningless life that fear of punishment brings….

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Friendship and religion

Yesterday I lost a friend, that is always a sad thing to me because friends are big part of every ones lives and loosing one due to a disagreement over something as profoundly subjective as religion doubly so. Asserting that some one is wrong by simply repeating that they are wrong over and over is in it’s self difficult to justify, at least for me. I am intelligent enough to know I am not all knowing, my current avatar is my way of poking fun at myself not a declaration of knowledge and a way to show that only a fool thinks he is all knowing, Bullwinkle was of course a fool in the most sever definition of the word.

If you declare someone to be wrong, you should be able to point out why, if for no other reason than to correct ignorance, we are all ignorant in some way, no one knows every thing about anything and of the things we do know about there is always a certain amount of error. I have no problem with being told I am wrong, I have been wrong many times in my life and often this resulted in paying a steep price for the knowledge I was ignorant of. But due to this if you assert that I am wrong, I will almost certainly pursue your assertion with some vigor and do my best to find out why you assert I am wrong, more assertions of “wrongness” will not convince me. I require either verifable evidence or an admission that your assertion is simply based in belief.

I should say here that belief does not equal knowledge, no amount of belief equals even a tiny amount of knowledge. But then again every one is entitled to their beliefs as long as your beliefs don’t include forcing some one else to believe your way. If I see you assert something I feel is incorrect I will generally tell you and then back it up with evidence, if I have no evidence I will keep my mouth shut and go on but since I do appreciate new knowledge feel free to point out my mistakes if you have real verifiable evidence I am wrong. Do not bother to simply shout you are wrong, it will lead to a serious disconnect and we may as well not be friends and go our own way to avoid an unproductive argument to begin with.

Personal attacks are also non demonstrative of knowledge, I am I think far more than just some one who keeps paddlefish or for that matter keeps fish in a glass box although I think I am pretty good at after close to 50 years of doing it I guess I should be. I have a wide variety of diverse interests and I display many of them on my face book page. One thing I am not is arrogant enough to assert my belief as knowledge or to assert some one is wrong simply because their beliefs do not coincide with mine. When it comes down to the wire we all have separate beliefs and while some are more similar than others we all live in a world we make up as we go along inside our heads. I doubt anyone’s total belief system is exactly the same as anyone else’s which brings me to this…

My very strong belief that separation of church and state protects us all and is of fundamental importance in our society. A Secular government is necessary for there to be true freedom of religion, if you think that your religion is so beneficial that the government should support it then we have a problem, yes I mean a personal problem. I cannot support that assertion, I am member of several fora, with well over 10,000 posts in several hundred threads and many of them deal with this very thing.

The only conclusion I can draw from all the evidence of both sides is that separation of church and state prevent MEN, from distorting the word or idea of GOD into something evil that serves only to empower and glorify MEN. Men use religion to justify some of the most horrific atrocities the world has ever seen, it is very important to understand it is MEN who do this not GOD.

It is also important to understand that freedom of religion is a concept that came from men, not God or more properly religion because they are often not the same thing. It is this separation of church and state that allows all of us to live together in a relatively peaceful society despite real differences in religious beliefs. One only has to go back a few years to find Protestants and Catholics killing each other over who worships god the correct way. Back a few decades and you’ll find Protestants and Catholics killing Jews, millions of them, I see no reason to keep going back but this sort of thing has happened routinely and regularly the further back you go between and inside all sects of religions world wide the worse it gets, yes Muslims, Hindus and others are not innocent either, all MEN have at one time or another have been guilty of using the concept of GOD as an excuse to persecute their fellow man often in a horrible degrading manner.

Secular governments have at least attempted to put an end to this and inside the USA this has been relatively successful in at least recent history although you don’t have to go back very far to find it even here. I think it of vital importance that this is not allowed to occur any longer and that all of us allow others to have their belief systems in private but in the world of the government secular is the only way we can live together reasonably peaceably. And so the Earth rotates, the Sun still fuses hydrogen into helium and shines it’s light down on us as we go about our daily routines, all I ask is that you do something helpful or kind to someone today even if they don’t know, because you will know and be a better person for it.

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Night Flight

Night Flight

The wind rushing over the windshield of the motorcycle was cool that night, invigorating, with just a touch of moistness. The road was empty all along this stretch at one am, nothing but black pavement and white stripes. I twisted the throttle and watched the tach climb rapidly. The speedo said I was doing 90 mph but the smooth road made it feel like I was just drifting along. The exhaust note was a mild drone, the ride was smooth almost like a sewing machine but when I tweaked the throttle, again the bike surged ahead almost instantly driving the speedo up to 110 mph.

The pavement had areas of mist lying in low places and the occasional patch of fog added to the almost supernatural feel of the night. The moon had been a round full white lantern floating just above the horizon when I started out but now it was high in the sky and at my back. The moons glow made the landscape visible but stole the colors from the long needle pines that thickly grew along the highway turning them into black and gray parodies of their daytime selves.

Ahead was a steep curve with a strong banking that opened into a low rise before becoming flat and straight. Rushing straight at the curve at 110 mph, I hit the front brake at the last possible instant. Sparks flew from the pipes and center stand as the shocks compressed from centrifugal force at the apex of the curve. Loosing 40 mph to the curve I dropped to third gear and whacked the throttle hard to regain my speed. When I came to the rise at the end of the curve I was accelerating so hard the front wheel skimmed above the pavement for a few yards before regaining contact softly. The road was at least two miles straight ahead from here so I accelerated hard and up shifted at red line twice before settling for fifth gear and 120 mph. The stripes on the road began to blur as I continued to accelerate, finally hitting top end at 150 mph. Still the motorcycle seemed to float along, rock steady.

I enjoyed the feeling of power the engine transferred to my loins and body. My peripheral vision was just a blur and the road came to me so fast that I could only focus on objects at the limit of my headlight. Suddenly out of nowhere and seeming to come at me was an another motorcyclist on the shoulder of the road. No lights or flashers just an instant of bike and rider dark and still, barely registering in my mind as I flashed past. I hit the brakes hard, decelerating with a vengeance to a complete stop. In the rear view mirrors, could be seen the glint of chrome in the moonlight and a figure leaning on the bike.

For a moment, I almost decided to go on. Maybe the fellow biker had just stopped to admire the view or maybe he had stopped to rest. At last, I decided to go back and make sure there was no problem. After the rush of air at 150 mph, standing still was nearly stifling and the heat rising from the V4 between my legs was almost palpable. Turning around with one fluid motion, slowly I motored back down the highway to confront the lonely figure now standing in the middle of the road helmet in hand. As I approached the figure standing by the road it suddenly hit me this is a woman. In the back of my mind something was screaming, this is not what it seems, but I ignored it. Her skintight jet-black leathers didn’t gleam at all in the moon light like black leathers should, almost like they absorbed all the moons light and were darker than dark should be in the full moonlight.

I pulled up along side and asked the obvious question, “Do you need any help?”

Her answer of “No I am just waiting” was a surprise.

I took closer look at her, voluptuous in build, skin pale white in the moonlight with a long mane of black hair. Suddenly the dark misty road began to look even more like a dream. Fog was beginning to become thicker rising up all around us as I shut down my bike and asked. “What are you waiting for?”

The woman in black walked closer to me and in a low voice replied. “Waiting for you.”

Surprise must have been written all over my face as she said. “Follow me back beyond the curve in the road, I stay just beyond there.” And pointed back down the road from where I had come.

The woman walked with a deliberate sway back to her motorcycle and got on, pulling her helmet down over her long hair. Her bike started up with a roar and she turned to me with a gleaming smile and said. “I bet you can’t keep up with me!” so I start up my bike and we race away together. Faster and faster, she goes easily accelerating just beyond my own powerful machine, 90, 100, 110-mph. Now side by side she continues to accelerate towards the curve, I keep up determined to match her all the way. 125, 135, 150 mph, I am at top end. Still she leads me on, the curve is fast approaching but she does not slow. I begin to dread the curve, I know I can’t take it at this speed and I know neither can she but she continues steady on.
Suddenly I can see the curve in the headlight, I grab the brakes and start to feel the tires loose their bite on the pavement. I am fighting for control, sliding sideways as the bike tries to stay on the pavement. Sparks fly off my bikes lower reaches as I finally get the huge weight of my motorcycle back under control and on the road as I slide through the curve. At the other side of the curve as I ride out the woman in black is nowhere to be seen. No lights, no side roads, just me and the drifting white fog in the moonlight.

As I come to a stop in the highway, a cold chill runs down my spine. Slowly and deliberately, I ride back the way I had come searching for some sign of the woman in black. However, no sign of anyone else was reveled in the headlight glow. No side roads, no sign of running off the road and wrecking, nothing to tell the fate of the woman in black. Slowly after walking through the curve to make sure there is no sign of where the woman in black went. I get back on my bike and ride back to town.

At a pub frequented by motorcyclists that sits on the side of the road leading out onto the stretch of highway 17 I decide to stop and have a beer before going home. The bartender, a friend named Frank, who I have talked to many times before says hello as I step up to the bar and lay my helmet on the stool next to me. “Beer Please” are my only words. He looks at me in a strange way, fills a cold mug with draft, stands across from me, and watches me drain it with one long gulp. “Another” he asks with raised eyebrows, “yes” is my short answer.
As Frank sits the mug in front of me, he asks, “Is something bothering you?” I hesitate, I am not sure if I want to tell of my recent experience, finally after drinking down the second mug I nod my head. “Something very odd just happened at the double s curve down on highway 17.”

His eyes immediately light up with interest. “Now what would that be? You see a UFO?” His voice was not as condescending as his words.

“No I replied, something a little more odd than even an alien space ship.” His look was quizzical but he didn’t ask any questions, waiting I guess, to see if I would volunteer what I had seen. “Give me another mug and I’ll tell you what I saw tonight” was my answer to his questioning look. As he filled the mug, I thought about what had happened down the highway and wondered if I should really tell such a story. I had no evidence to back up my claims, and the memory was beginning to feel almost dream like. However, as Frank set the third beer on the bar I started my tale.

“Frank, you do know that tight S curve about fifteen miles south on Rt17 that everyone likes to see how fast they can fly through?” “Sure, replied Frank, everyone brags about how fast they go through that curve.” “Well tonight I almost didn’t make that curve but I had company when I went into it but not when I came out!”

Frank hesitated, looking at me intently his next words were a surprise. “ I’m betting your company in that curve had a few curves of her own, am I right?”

Immediately I blurted out, “How did you know that?”

Franks next words were even more unexpected, “Let me tell you what I think you saw before I tell you how I know. Just after the curve, you saw another biker on the side of the road, as though someone was broken down. You went back to see if you could help and it was a woman, pretty much what you would think of as the perfect ten.” The look on my face must have been enough to confirm he was on the right track. Frank went on, “ she said she was waiting for you, told you to follow her, and dared you to try and beat her through the curve, am I right so far?”

I was silent for a few moments, as bizarre as my encounter was the fact the Frank could tell me what I had seen stunned me. “Yes, you are right! A woman with long black hair, milky white skin and tight black leathers. How did you know?”

“I hear a lot of stories, lots of bikers come in her after riding that length of Rt17 and several have told me that story. The details are different for each guy, sometimes the girl is a blond , a red head, or a dark skinned beauty but the end is always the same. She rides into the curve at an insane speed and disappears. Always happens on the full moon at about the same time. As far as I know, it’s been going on for about 10 years. A few guys have tried to look for her again, most never saw her again two of them did. Neither of them made it through the curve and they crashed. One of them survived and he said he met the same woman and tried to catch her. The rider who crashed and died looking for her lived long enough to tell the EMTs that he had caught her. I haven’t heard about any more sightings of her until now. I had thought maybe that one death had satisfied her. You are the first to report seeing her since he died.”

My thoughts whirled around in my head. I was already planing to go back and try to find her again. The look on my face must have been enough for Frank to guess my thoughts. “Don’t go looking for her again, I can’t explain who or what she is but one look at her should be enough! Think about what you saw no one could have made that curve at her speed and where did she go? I don’t think anyone really wants to know where she went.” Nodding slowly I acknowledged the wisdom of Franks words but I knew in my heart I would have to look for her again!”
Michael Hissom

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What is that?

“What are you doing?”

“Checking out this planet”


“It’s got stuff on it”

“Stuff? What do you mean stuff?”

“Chemicals producing a localized decrease in entropy….”


“Yeah, I was collecting Boron for my project and I felt a localized decrease in entropy. I stopped to check it out”

“That’s odd, what are you going to do with it?”

“Look close, the stuff is covering the planet, it has started to use sunlight to power the entropy decrease.”

“WOW! That’s cool, wait hit it with a rock and see what happens!”

The asteroid hits the planet…..

“Look, it’s growing back! Even more complex!”

“That’s wild, I’ve never seen anything quite like that…”

“Now there are little things scurrying around, they eat each other!”

“Now that is weird, hit it again…. Harder this time”

“Ok, at least those yucky things have stopped crawling around!”

“Lets go check the core, the black hole is fun to throw stars into…”

“Wait the stuff is growing back! It’s different this time, smaller…”

“Wow just watch it divide and grow, really weird, WHAT WAS THAT?”

“A nuclear reaction, how did that happen?”

“The things growing on the planet did it!”

“What are they doing?”

“Looks like they are fighting, burning stuff and each other…”

“What are those things?”

“Looks like they are visiting the moon orbiting the planet”

“Now they are growing on the next planet out, this could be serious, they are spreading, nuclear reactions are being used all over the place.”

“Maybe we should make the star go nova, see what that does?”

“I don’t know, could they be alive?”

“No, I don’t see how, I feel no chinga waves or stunly particles”

“They make things, could they be intelligent?”

“No way, absolutely no communication between them, I feel no minds at all….”

“Lets destroy them all before they spread to the next star…”

“Too late, now they are growing on three nearby planet systems…. Four, no five and starting on that one over there, that makes six stars, this could be serious, I think we should stop them all.”

“They are fun to watch, they do decrease entropy, it feels good to be near that….”

“1000 planets now, they are all around us, we better go before they are starting to worry me.”

“Yeah, lets go to the next galaxy, they can’t go there…. Can they?

“I don’t know, lets think about it for awhile, we’ll check back in a couple billion years and see what they do, lets go to the next brane and see if we can soak up some chinga waves, I’m hungry…”

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Cool and wet, in the light of the cold white moon
Clothed only in the phosphorescent waters glow
Where am I? Only the night birds and the fishes know
Near by a gull, disturbed by my swim, sings his raucous tune

The water flows over me like a lovers caress
Onward I drift, with the tides salty stream
Unfettered, my mind begins an oddly familiar dream
A woman appears, standing, like me she is without dress

She dives into the shallow inlets flow
And reappears, glowing with an inner light
I give chase, swimming with all my might
When I arrive at her side, again she dives below

But instead of legs long and sleek
A fishes tail follows her into the brine
Mermaid! the thought rips into my mind
I hesitate, astounded, by this being that i see

Again she appears, this time not alone
Three more of these apparitions, appear in a wave crest
As glowing water cups their bobbing breasts
Their sirens song begins, and i become still as stone

The song, more beautiful than any mortal woman’s voice
Captivates me, holds me, unable to think or move
My love, it says, to have them i must prove
As I listen I realize I am being offered a choice

To join them in their home, wet and cool
To swim, and frolic, under the sea
Forever and ever just them and me
Just then a gull cries out, “death is what they offer, you fool!”

When I look back to where the water is dark and deep
Only a fading sparkle marks where sirens swam
I shout out, come back, only the gull reply’s “foolish man”
Then I realize, that their love had a price attached, far too steep!

Michael Hissom

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Life, poem

Scattered across the sky, points of light to the naked eye
Fiery orbs of red to blue, storms of violence unimagined to the mind
Magnetic flames caress companions held in gravity’s bond
Creating colors of heat-less flame in the sky

Curtains of light shimmer and race
Evidence of magnetic defense from the companion’s heart
Allowing a strange twist of entropy to multiply, exist and expand
Defiance! Of the law that binds time and space

Order and arrangement, chemical reactions grow more complex
In spite of the necessity to become simple and scattered
Things that move and should not exist,
Mostly their form is no more than specks

Completion spawns in entropy’s mirror
Cooperation magnifies the mirror’s effect
Forming masses of pulsating beings with no sense of time
Neoteny allows the young to steal from the old, that which is superior

Complexity drives the defiance of law
Soon awareness of surrounding space
Drives the increasing awareness of self and others
The more aware leads the less to their maw

While others escape to new spaces the aggressive can’t pursue
Other less mobile forms raise antennae to absorb
All the energy of the glowing light from the sky
Competition is fierce between the motile and those that look to the blue

Competition and cooperation step up the pace
What will grow, multiply, dominate, or die
Soon the liquid that dissolves the chemicals from others
No longer surrounds those that have moved to the surface

The surface is dry most of the time
Requires sex cells to become motile
When the rain comes, unknown and unseen, sex covers the wet earth
Sex cells swim up the trunks of trees allowing growth to dizzying heights

The ones that move will not be left behind in this assault on the land
Hatched in the water but able to walk and slither
Animals join the plants in conquest of the land
Eating not only the tall forms that feed on light but each other as well

Eons pass neoteny makes the grade again and again
Animals revert to their larval forms again to hasten change
Soon warm beings rule the cool dry land
First four legs then two strut out of the forest and across the land

On of these tall neotenic beings walks into the morning sun
His mate and child walk with him
Large brains, opposable thumbs, reach for the ground
Pulling up a flower yellow as the sun
The man holds the yellow sex organ of the plant and sees beauty

His mate smiles, they turn to continue on towards domination of the world

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Paddlefish in the home aquarium!

Paddlefish in the home aquarium

Paddlefish are an ancient lineage of fishes whose origin predates teleost fishes by millions of years. Paddlefish are distantly related to chimeras and goblin sharks and more closely related to Sturgeons. There are two extant species of paddlefishes, the Chinese Paddlefish “Psephurus gladius”

And the North American Paddlefish “Polyodon spathula”,

The Chinese Paddle Fish has not been observed in the wild for several years and is suspected to be extinct. In the wild North American paddlefish can reach five feet long and weigh 150 pounds, its Chinese cousin can reach 23 feet in length. The two paddlefish exhibit two distinct methods of feeding, the Chinese paddlefish is a piscavore, feeding primarily on fish. The North American paddlefish is a filter feeder, feeding mostly on planktonic crustaceans, insects and the occasional small fish.

I received 12 North American paddlefish 10 weeks ago from a breeder who grows them for their roe that makes excellent caviar. In the fish breeding trade there sometimes occurs what are known as runts or dinks, these are fish which for some as yet unknown reason do not grow as large as the normal fish and usually do not live because they cannot compete with larger normal fish. My 12 fish were dinks and not expected to grow larger than a small fraction of the normal size of the paddlefish. Keeping paddlefish in the home aquarium has not been done extensively but the few dinks that have been kept have so far (4 years plus) failed to reach a size larger than 10”. Keeping these fish is an attempt by me to gather more information about these fish and to promote keeping them in captivity.

When I first received the fish two were DOA and in the next few days another two fish died leaving me with 8 fish total. Now, 10 weeks into this experiment, the paddlefish are doing great and have reached 4 to 6 inches in length while their normal hatch mates are in the 16 to 18 inch size range and growing fast, my fishes growth has slowed down almost to a stand still. These are tough fish, when I received the shipping box all the fish appeared to be dead but upon being placed in their tank all but two revived and the 8 that are left are doing great.

I feed my fish live daphnia I culture myself, live blood worms from the daphnia vats, powdered krill and the same floating pellets the fish at the breeders grow out ponds receive. Currently I have split the fish up into two groups of 4, one group is indoors in a 30 gallon (113.5 liters) aquarium and a 55 gallon (208 liters) aquarium. The outdoor group has a water temperature on average of 85 degrees, the indoor group has an average temperature of 72 degrees. The water was softened in a household water softener so I added some ions to make the water harder. One half cup of marine aquarium salt and two shot glasses of calcium chloride were dissolved in the water, an equivalent amount has been dissolved in the 55 gallon tank as well..

The outdoor aquarium is filtered by a 350 gallon an hour submersible pump pulling the water through a large sponge. The indoor aquarium is filtered by a Marineland 200 gallon an hour Penguin filter. The penguin filter intake is pre-filtered by a sponge to avoid pulling the live daphnia into the filter. The penguin filter also has a wet/dry rotating biological filter to help deal with ammonia by culturing a thin layer of bacteria at the air water interface that allows the bio-filter to operate more efficiently.

These fish are very messy, excreting wastes due to not efficiently digesting their food, much of their food goes straight through and would pollute the water if not for efficient filtration and scavenger fishes. I keep coolie loaches and cory catfish in the tanks as scavengers.

There were 7 adult black banded sunfish in the tank as well as 5 tiny baby sunfish but the paddlefish ate several of them and killed the rest by mouthing them. The paddlefish are truly pelagic and never stop swimming, here is a video of the paddlefish feeding.

More to come

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