Is this 2017 Eclipse Picture Real? NO. Here’s Why.

Making the rounds on Facebook is a picture that is receiving a lot of praise as one of the best 2017 solar eclipse pictures..

(backup screencap)

Except it isn’t one. It was made in 2011 with the program After Effects, by DeviantArt user ObsidianDigital. The version pictured above is rotated 90-degrees to look more like a Jesus-cross shape, but the original is horizontal.

One possible explanation of why so many people were fooled into believing this were an actual photo, might be because thousands of people in the spectrum of religions that esteem Jesus as an important figure (Christianity and Islam, to name two) might be fooled into sharing it because the alternately-oriented version looks like a cross.

It should have been obvious that it were fake anyway, because you would not be able to see any of our side’s surface of the moon due to such massive contrast of the sun compared to any earthshine, and how light doesn’t bend around a celestial object at that severe of a curve. There would have to be a second light source shining at the moon from a different angle, and bright enough to win out the sun’s light, in order to be able to see the ridges of the moon as such.


Frankenscrabbards: DIY 9-board Cooperative Scrabble

Several years ago I invented a 9-board (3×3 grid of Scrabble boards) Scrabble that operates on cooperative rules, as opposed to player-vs-player. It didn’t really catch on among my friends I tried it on, but after mentioning it a few times online, several people have asked me to put the rules online somewhere.. here ya go =)

(caveat: “Scrabble” is a property and trademark of Hasbro, of which I have no connection.)

I started buying old Scrabble board game sets from garage sales, and actually physically cut (gasp!) these boards so that their edges would line of suitably to each other, leaving the borders only on the exterior of the 3×3 grid, and then mixed all of the tiles together, and collected the racks, etc. You need to be familiar with the/your traditional Scrabble rules first, although many of those rules are suspended for this version (such as scoring).

The object of the game is to connect all 9 boards’ center stars to a single branching shape in the fewest total plays. After setting up the boards in their 3×3 configuration:

1. Players each draw (via the standard Scrabble method of selection) 15 tiles for the making of words. Letters may be visible or hidden from other players at the individual player’s discretion.

2. The first nine plays must be played across one of the 9 center stars of each board (and no certain order for which star). Each play is recorded on a separate tally sheet of which word is played, but only scored as 1 for each word (irrespective of the tile value). Only the single word play is counted; for example if POORLY is played horizontally, and EDITED is played horizontally with the first E below the Y (to form YE going down) only EDITED is scored as the 1 for that play.

3. After the 9th play, players may choose whichever board they wish to play a word off of in traditional Scrabble connection style and their words documented as before.

The person who makes a word that connects on board to another becomes the Frank, and the “Frank” figurine (which I made of a picture of Frank Sinatra) is placed before them to indicate their status, and the first two connected boards become the main cluster.

If desired, another tally with a tic-tac-toe shape drawing is kept indicating which boards are connected, as a quick reference.

If someone else makes a word connection between a board and the main cluster, that person now becomes the Frank and is granted ownership of the figure and title.

4. When the final move is played which connects all boards into a single 9-board cluster, the title of ‘Final Frank’ is awarded to that player. The list of which words were played, the date of the game, the names of the players in that match, which player was the Final Frank, and how many words total were played, is kept with the game set in storage between games (and optionally, a photo/drawing of the final layout of the match) for future glory.

Subsequent attempts at this game seek to connect all 9 boards in fewer total words played, but, must be played with the same number of players as before. The title of Final Frank may be upset by a tie on total word scores, as being the most recent Final Frank on that game set.

An example of a tally sheet and game in progress is as follows (but arrange however you wish)..

Was a 13-year-old Mexican Boy Given 20 Years For Defending His Mother? Doubtful. Here’s Why.

On June 16, 2017, a petition was created to advocate for the reduced sentence for a boy who supposedly used his father’s gun to shoot someone he believed was assaulting his mother, in her self defense. According to the petition, the boy received “20 years” in prison for his heroism.

One of the largest spreaders of the story was this tweet:

However, the petition and thereby tweet uses the photograph of a kid from a different story. The kid in the photo was actually from a “Bronx bully” story by this NY Daily News article.

The petition’s source article is in Spanish, but a google search for the photo of the dead assailant from the petition’s source is actually from yet another article reported by this article about someone named Iván Salgado Quintín, who was killed during a bar robbery.

A search for Spanish keywords about the story, brings up this story, which doesn’t cite any sources and has more ads than sentences. This article also comes up, but both of these only suggest the sentencing will happen in the future, not that it has happened.

This English-translated article seems to be written by a writer named La Polvorita, possibly “Jessica Sanchez” who also uses the same Bronx boy and dead bar thief as images.

This Veobook article, and this Mundo Y Salud article repeat the same basic story, although the latter gives a few more details, but still continues to republish the same fake images.

If such a self-defense shooting did actually occur, and a 13-year old was actually sentenced, then story isn’t very well researched or documented, since it uses 2 different photographs pulled from 2 unrelated articles, perhaps using the cover of Spanish-language translation to thwart fact-checkers. No Mexican officials are listed as announcing results, no national-media journalist articles, no broadcast media articles, no particular court listed, etc.

While I would say it’s entirely possible this /might/ have happened, every reference that I can find to the reporting of it doesn’t really meet genuine journalistic standards and seem to be entirely from gossip sites. Signing the petition wouldn’t do any harm, necessarily, and if true, could do some good if effective toward a real story which I can’t confirm to suit my personal authenticity/fact-checking standards.

Did Bernie Sanders Impose a Religious Test? NO. Here’s Why.

Making the rounds is a video about Bernie Sanders, who attempts to apply a line of questioning to a nominee for a government position. Bernie’s question involves whether the nominee’s writing of the Christian concept of a final judgment, is “Islamophobic” and many sites are reporting the line of questioning as a “religion test” as if Bernie is demanding the nominee renounce his faith.

Watch the video for yourself:

I am a Christian, and I believe there will, at some point in the future, be a throne-judgment of the peoples of the world to separate those who have trusted in Christ’s merit on their behalf rather than their own merit, differentiated from those who insist on their own merit or another non-Christ’s merit for worthiness.

However, I do NOT believe Sanders was imposing any kind of religious test, NOR requiring the nominee to renounce his faith — but rather was posing a religion-related which sought to be preventative of persecution, to ensure the nominee’s equal application of the law once in authority. Bernie’s question isn’t unconstitutional, but addresses whether the nominee’s application of the law could become unconstitutional because of his faith.

Imagine if you had the opportunity to add a credible voice of your approval or disapproval, of someone who would take office, who might use their faith as a scapegoat for applying the law unfairly to certain groups that their religion frowned upon — before they were able to take office and abuse their authority. This is what Bernie’s line of questioning seeks to establish to me. He’s not imposing a test to see whether the nominee will renounce his faith — it has nothing to do with whether he entrusts his own worth to Christ’s worth, but whether his belief about the members of Islam will be an excuse to unfairly treat members of Islam once he had gained office.

Bernie, to me, is asking essentially, “would you use this idea, of the condemnation of a certain type of person, as a basis to apply the law unequally or unfairly to members of that group, using your faith as an excuse?” The need to find out whether the nominee is making an Islamophobic statement is necessary, to ensure equal protection of all citizens, constitutionally, and to ensure the nominee will not abuse the authority granted to him, using his belief of condemnation as scapegoat.

I think the nominee answers to the question Bernie is asking, and also tries to point out that Bernie’s reference to the statement is out of context and attempting to re-assert its original context, but I think ultimately Bernie’s line of questioning is appropriate.

I disagree with Bernie’s final remark, because the nominee did assure the equal respect of all persons but Bernie seemed to fail to realize it.

It was a tense moment, and I think it could have been handled better by both people, but it’s difficult to form the words on the spot and under such pressure.

Is The MSM Distracting The Public From Other News? No. Here’s Why.

Is the mainstream media (MSM) conspiring to distract the attention of the public from other more important topics? No, it isn’t, and here’s why you’re an idiot if you think so: your knowledge of the event does not affect the event. You are not Superman, and therefore do not need to know immediately when something happens so that you may swoop in and affect it, in a way that matters one event to another. If you know about one news item sooner than another, those news items still transpire the same, with or without your knowledge of them.

Is there some shadowy cabal of news agencies bent on trying to distract you from one enormous government scandal, with constant updates about some missing airliner? No, Tom Clancy, there isn’t. That would just be you, making excuses, for your own failure to realize that (a) you have direct control over which news items you personally encounter, and (b) your knowledge of any given news item matters approximately zero to the outcome or fallout of that news item.

Imagine two individuals: Person 1, a little girl playing with her teddy bears at home; Person 2, some plumber listening to an AM-radio host yammering endlessly about the mainstream media’s failure to disclose x-y-z details about a top government official’s ties to another country. Both individuals are not focused on some school shooting or whatever, happening at that very moment.

Whether either individual is aware of the school shooting, does not affect the school shooting. The level of impact, for both individuals about the school shooting, toward the school shooting, is the same. The ability for Person 1 to voice her opinions about Justin Bieber to her teddy bears gathered for a tea party, and the ability for Person 2 to post their official emoji reaction on Facebook to any given news item, impacts the news items the same amount.

There is no reason for a shadowy cabal of news agencies to conspire to divert the attention of your nation’s viewership away from a given topic, because the nation’s viewership of it impacts that news topic approximately zero, if not absolutely zero. Because it’s not like, you can’t look it up a few hours later, or maybe the next day, the next week, year, or decade. The timeliness of your response to knowledge of a particular news event is unimportant, because you are not part of it. You are not needing to know it, because you do not affect it.

Also, you, yourself, uniquely control what access to which news articles you personally consume. You possess that ability to change channels. You are not tied to a chair with your head in a restrictive clamp being subjected to specifically one news agency. Your own distraction from any given story is arguably your own fault. Who was it that tuned into that station? Who was it that didn’t walk out of the room, or picked up that specific newspaper?

Was this shadow-media telekinetically making your face scowl at the burning of a church in Atlanta, so you would be distracted from the white officer shooting a black handicapped man in LA? Or was this same shadow-media mind controlling you to view the officer shooting instead of the burning church?

Your inability to realize you cannot possibly perceive all media outlets simultaneously, nor all processes of all editing rooms spacing/timing decisions, is on you.

Your child’s preoccupation with whether he placed in Diamond or Platinum on competitive matches in Overwatch when he should instead be studying for the spelling bee, is the same level of his own fault, as is yours toward having viewed one news agency’s offerings from another. Overwatch isn’t to blame for distracting him from the spelling bee, as much as one agency’s coverage of topic A isn’t to blame for your own having-been-unaware of another agency’s coverage of topic B, or neither’s coverage of topic C.

You are to blame for your own knowledge of any given news item. You don’t affect it anyway, so there’s no inherent need for you to know it one second sooner or one second later, either. Click your heels together, people who blame the mainstream media for distraction; you’ve had the power to direct your own attention to one topic or another, this whole time — not that you could affect the outcomes of either meaningfully to begin with.

New Type of Fiction Writing: Pit-Fic, or Pitch Fiction

I have been struggling to write a novel I’ve had in the works, for coming on about 20 years. I’ve tried a zillion different angles, bunches of false starts, thought of even trying it entirely in haiku at one point, but I kept wanting to go back and set up an even cooler foreshadowing, or having something specific happen for a really awesome callback, surprise twist, better dramatic motive later on by having someone die early on so having to change the dynamics of mourning early on instead of happy hobbiton-like beginning, etc.

I had gotten so bogged down in trying to figure out the way that I wanted to tell it, and recalling how I had set up with so many other people to read over it to see what they thought, that I really most enjoyed pitching the story itself to people in summary, rather than the writing of the story itself.

One day I came up with a completely separate idea, of a fictional race whose existence hinged on a not-quite-scientifically-accurate premise, and I pitched the idea to Ask Metafilter in 2006.

Years later (appx October 2015), after trying to think of a way to tell that story in a way that worked to my liking, I decided that I liked the discussion about the future written work more than the actual writing of the written work, that I created an extremely short story based on the discussion itself: a writer and an editor are discussing the writer’s idea for a story, with its potential greatness or potential flaws, and the story is told within that framework of a narrator and an observer of the narrator.

“I can’t figure out how to write this story. The physics of it are highly questionable.”
“Like what?”
“There’s a creature that makes first contact with mankind in present day, but they’re not aliens necessarily.”
“Do they live underground?”
“No, they travel by temperature degrees, like how we travel second by second forward through time.”
“I don’t think that’s possible.”
“And the creature didn’t think that time travelers like us could exist either, because since it defies all boundaries his science understands. He artificially extended his temperature age to reach one we can comprehend.”
“Well, there’s at least one way to tell this story.”
“Oh yeah? How?”
The End.

(and the answer to the final question, is the story itself)

Think a little how the film The Princess Bride is framed around a grandfather reading a story to a grandson, where the grandson periodically interjects questions about the story. Or, consider how the film The NeverEnding Story is centered on a boy reading a book, also observing his responses to what happens.

I was satisfied by this short discussion-of-the-story being the actual story, also partly because I had written another short story called Apology, in which the narrator describes the plight of someone who kept coming up with great ideas for a story, only to discover that someone else had beaten them to it and published/filmed/etc their version, and that he decided to write his own autobiography reasoning that surely no one else could beat him to that story — except I, the writer who invented him, beat him to it.

So, a pit-fic, or pitch-fiction, is a story that is framed within critique, troubleshooting, or otherwise discussion of a yet-non-existent story, but the discussion itself of the story is the story. It could be a great exercise to build how you want to write your story, by writing out the actual brainstorming process of the story as if it were dialogue between characters, and expressing doubts of the story’s coherence, addressing continuity issues, and other damage-control topics about the writing of the story, as an outer orbital launch vehicle transporting the payload of the story idea itself.

I would like to imagine that a publishing company could make a contest for submissions of actual novelized versions of a given pit-fic’s discussed story, and then choose, say, 1-4 winners, and publish all of those winners, with each being their own distinct universe that the original pit-fic established, using the discussion within the pit-fic as the official canon, embellishing otherwise as desired but staying true to the original pit-fic.

This pitch-fiction method is what sets the stage for my best example of one, and a set-in-stone version of the novel concept I had been agonizing over for so long — Pitching Vanguard.

Foods to Eat Without Teeth, and General Eating Tips Just After A Procedure

I recently lost most of my teeth from an oral surgery, and awaiting a two-month healing process before I get a full set of dentures. In the meantime, that’s two months of having to eat things without chewing them like I normally might. I’m actually less than a single week after my “e-day” and I’ve already come up with some weird ways to eat the foods I used to be able to, but without chewing, even while my gums are still sore, so here is my growing list (which will be updated as I add more) —

Obviously the list would include things like yogurt, gelatin-desserts, oatmeal, mashed potatoes or other mashed/strained veggies, but I was hoping to make a list better than just that kind of thing.

These items are just from my personal experience as working, so trying them yourself is at your own risk.

Snack cakes. I was able to pinch a corner of the softer snack cakes (like Little Debbie Zebra cakes) and mash them to the roof of my mouth with my tongue in order to make them small enough to swallow. I haven’t tried any of the ‘sharper’ cakes yet like Nutty Bars.

Hamburger meat. Instead of the usual chomp out of a patty, I tried pulling the cooked patty apart by hand (with napkin handy, because it gets messy), into the teensiest pieces I could manage, and then scoop the tiny hunks up with a spoon or fork, perhaps mixed with tiny blobs of favorite condiments. I was able to eat what totaled a single regular hamburger by hand-separating each ingredient into very teensy pellet-sized pieces and mixing them together like a bowl of cereal, and it tasted pretty much the same, just minus the ability to savor the flavor as well a I might by chewing them. The condiments made the drier texture shreds much easier to swallow. Make sure you get each little burger meat piece very very tiny, like VERY tiny.

Pringles chips. I haven’t tried many other chips yet, but I figured out that I could put about 5-7 pringles chips into a mug and use a spoon to crush them quite easily into almost powder, spoonful a heap into my mouth, and then let them sit in my mouth momentarily while saliva built up enough, just moving the spoonful around in your mouth away from the gums. Once it becomes mushy enough, swallow. Be very careful not to swallow too early while the spoonful is still too dry, because it can really scratch going down. Savor the flavor a bit, and mash it to the roof of your mouth to saturate the spoonful thoroughly. May help to take a very tiny sip of water to help move things along.

I chose Pringles to try first specifically because of how brittle they are normally even with teeth, so I assume if I can find some way to break up the tougher chips into basically crumbs, the same principle would work.

Dry cereal. I’m already a fan of using water instead of milk for my dry cereal, and cereals like Kellogg’s Fruit Loops are still manageable with no teeth, if you spoon yourself a small heap dry, and then take a tiny sip of water or milk, and holding it in your mouth until it becomes mushy enough to comfortably swallow. I haven’t tried rougher things like Raising Bran, but consider lots of caution before swallowing anything that isn’t already super mushy, otherwise you might really scratch something on the way down.

Well-cooked pasta. Pasta that is well-cooked, to the point of being very easily cut with a fork, works well for me, especially if something else is added to it that makes it super slippery, such as a cheapo chicken-noodle soup. I typically boil mine on max natural gas stove heat for about 16 minutes, and then draining it with a metal colander, and letting it set aside for several minutes to cool down. If you’re pretty fresh out of e-day, you need to be super careful about anything very hot to drink, so make sure it is well cooled enough. I’ve been able to swallow small spoons of small-elbow pasta directly, because it is a small enough and flexible enough, and is made slick enough to go right on down with minimal fuss. Avoid adding something like breading or crumbs that would make the pasta dry out too much.

I’ll add more as I think of them, or add your ideas in the comments =)

If you’re trying to eat things with little or no teeth, especially right after the procedure, I have a few general tips.

Dump, don’t slurp. In the first few days after your e-day (extraction/procedure day), avoid making any kind of suction action in your mouth, such as slurping soup or Jell-O from a spoon, and especially avoid drinking with a straw. Variation in pressure inside your mouth can possibly break the very fragile clotting in your gums necessary for healing and reduce you back to the bloody gauze stage all over again.

Instead of slurping off a spoon, practice tilting your head back a little, or opening your mouth wide, if you can, and letting the food slide off the spoon into your mouth. Re-enacting the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene will have to wait until you’re healed up better.

Train yourself to swallow with your lips parted. It can be done as practice without any food right now: try to swallow, with your mouth open. For those of us with super-sensitive gums right after the procedure, the very act of swallowing can put unnecessary pressure on them. If you can make the “knocking” or “tsk” sound by pulling your tongue off the roof of your mouth, then just keep your flattened tongue in the initial position for those sounds by pusing up on the roof of your mouth just inside the gum line away from any damage, and try to swallow. Your gums will hurt way less when swallowing this way, and will help to avoid disturbing any delicate healing built up.

Invest in an eyedropper. Just a very tiny amount of water will go a long way to help moistening food better like your own saliva does. In lieu of an eyedropper you can just sip tiny bits of water, but for more flavor from each mouthful, just a very tiny amount of water can help greatly, whereas if you take a big gulp, it can reduce the flavor of what you’re trying to eat substantially.

You could also take a drinking straw, dip the bottom end into a glass of water, plug the top end with your finger, raise the bottom of the straw to your mouth, and release the finger plugging the top so the water falls into your mouth (not sucking on it), and that will act like an eyedropper.

Aside from the flavor enhancement element, the addition of the small amount of water will assist you in preventing ‘dry socket’ since your saliva glands can be better prepared to maintain moisture for when you’re not eating.