Topic Tuesday #164 2015/09/08 "Fear Pressure"

Topic Tuesday #164 2015/09/08 "Fear Pressure"

Today, one of my daughters came home with a sad story. She had been coerced into believing in God through her "friends" claims that if she didn't she would go to Hell, whatever that is. This is not informed consent, this is peer pressure and fear. It is despicable. 

For disclosure, I am an atheist, a secular humanist. a non-believer. I run a secular household. We don't pray. We don't attend church. This doesn't mean I keep my children sheltered from the concept of the super natural and gods and goddesses, far from. Once the question comes up, I have plenty of knowledge to share. I want them to have a strong knowledge of world religions so they are informed. I told her today, "You can believe in whatever religion you want, with one caveat. I want you to be able to explain to me why you do. I want you to know why you believe something." This concept is called epistemology, essentially, why you know what you know. 

I don't believe in any particular religious tradition, because I do not find any of them convincing. I have investigated almost all of them in more depth than the average church goer knows their holy text. I'm open to more knowledge, but I am not a blind believer and I require evidence for my beliefs. Facts serve us all rather well. 

So, I'm mad. I'm mad that little kids, under 10, would be afraid of a fairy tale place like Hell. That this would be the stick to the carrot of Heaven. I have a great distaste for indoctrination, and especially before the age of reason. You don't threaten a child with eternal torment! What kind of monster would do that?

Of course... there is the flip side. Let's assume that the majority regionally followed faith tradition is true. Is 100% correct.  Then the followers would be doing a great wrong to others by not sharing the good news. I understand that. I understand that proselytizing is the right thing to do for the true believer. I also understand that I should be stoned to death for speaking against it.  There are a great number of things that if you are the true believer you would be arrested for should you follow the letter and spirit of your faith. The social contract that you have found yourselves to be a part of, along with pluralities of believers, does not allow you to fully unleash your righteous belief.  There are many things in your tradition that are unacceptable to modern life. 

I would like you to keep your fear to yourselves. Think of the nightmares that can be caused by telling a child they are going to hell... Let them figure it out for themselves. If your religion is worthy, you have nothing to worry about. If it is not, perhaps you've been sold someone else's fear.


Topic Tuesday #163 2015/09/01 "Sick Rituals"

Topic Tuesday #163 2015/09/01 "Sick Rituals"

No, not twisted and horrible "sick" rituals. I mean things you do when you are getting sick. It appears that I have a runny nose and sneezes and sniffles and a sore throat, either allergies are really affecting me, or I have a cold. The good ol' rhinovirus. 

Yeah, This thing kicks our butts.

Yeah, This thing kicks our butts.

I know many people have traditions around what to do when they get sick. Bundle up and sweat it out. Herbal tea, vitamin C, and honey. Hot showers. Sleep. and the list goes on and on. Everyone has some ritual they go through when they get sick.

So me, when my nose gets all stuffed up, I eat spicy food to clear my nostrils. Works great for a while. Then I pound dayquill until my liver says uncle and I feel better. Today, right after I write this, I'm eating my spicy soup, drinking a tall glass of water, and drugging myself to sleep. Hopefully I can knock it out early, but in all likelihood, I will be sick a couple days and it just has to work it's way through. With real luck, I won't suffer any ride along bugs known commonly as opportunistic infections. If I get bronchitis, I'm down for the count for a while and no one's got time for that!

And with that, I'm out. What rituals do you do when you start to feel an ick coming on?

Topic Tuesday #162 2015/08/25 "Musings on Transience and the Meaning of Life"

Topic Tuesday #162 2015/08/25 "Musings on Transience and the Meaning of Life"

Greetings readers. My brain seems to be short on contemplativeness this evening, so I will bring up one that tends to haunt me. Transience. 

As a human being, it seems in our nature to want to make things that last beyond us. We are all inherently afraid to die. The psychology behind this need to continue existing is long and extensive and fairly well understood academically. It stems from the basic self preservation instinct that exists in all living things. Live as long as you can to continue the species. We have our big brains to out think our biology and we can consciously choose to not produce offspring, but I have to wonder if that choice is enough. Perhaps our subconscious will always spur us forward to make something that will outlast our own pathetic life spans. Perhaps the more artistic types will give birth to a painting, novel, sculpture, a piece of music, even a simple poem. The more technical minded may create empires of technology; stone, steel, silicon. Others will create businesses that may do nothing but perpetuate themselves, constantly reinventing themselves to adjust to market forces. It seems that as a human, we are driven to create a legacy of some type, be it biological, intellectual, or something firmly tangible. 

There seems to be another component to this inborn trait: we can never really stop. We are so programmed that we will always create something. We can't help it, and perhaps those that do have the self control to say enough is enough are the broken ones, as the vast majority can never relent.

So, I often sit and ponder my legacy. I write this blog every Tuesday, as a kind of legacy; one for my daughters to read through when they are old enough to be on their own but still need to listen to their dad drone on about this or that in hopes of imparting some tidbit of helpful insight into our human condition. I still have a lot to do, and often I feel stifled. I want to write that great american novel. I want to build my dream house. I want to travel the world to see it all. I want to play though that video game and binge watch all the popular TV and movies I have collected. I have issues... I have to eat. I have mouths to feed. I have responsibilities. So my desires to curtail my own transience on the good Earth, are held in limbo among other cognitively dissonant conundrums. Metaphorically, I am on hold - doodling on the corner of an envelope, wishing I were somewhere else doing something else, while the voice of my father rings in the back of my mind.

"Be present. Be here. Here is all there is. Find happiness in the moment, for the moment will never come again."

So I smile. I listen to the hold music and feel the fan's discordant buffeting against my face. It feels good, like the physical expression of white noise. I clear my mind. I take stock. Life is pretty good when you slow down to realize you are alive and amidst a great number of perfectly improbable things. Live in the now with the aim at a better tomorrow, for yourself and others. That is your legacy, and mine.  

Topic Tuesday #161 2015/08/18 "The Ethics of Kiddie Porn"

Topic Tuesday #161 2015/08/18 "The Ethics of Kiddie Porn"

I'll be brutally honest here, I'm exhausted. I cam home after working for 12 hours and my creative juices are about tapped out. I scroll though the social media feeds in search of the rare gems for the Friday ORly Radio Show, and find a few here and there but the story that has dominated my feed is the guy from the Subway commercials that lost all the weight, he's pleading guilty for kiddie porn possession. I don't care. Seriously, this is just tabloid news to me and deserves to be next to Loni Anderson's liver spots and Bat Boy's new lady love in the super market checkout. I DON'T CARE. This is what the news cycle is though, light on issues, heavy on sensationalism. Sure, I like sensational news too, so maybe it's the topics they choose?

Kiddie porn. It's not something anyone wants to talk about except to demonize. I for one, and only one if you judge by the news, don't care about it and in fact I think that it falls under the auspices of censorship, which I am wholly against. It's not a nuke. It's not drugs. Possession of it either makes you a fed, a scumbag hustler taking advantage of children for profit, or what would commonly pass for being a sick minded person, or some combination thereof. However...  really... It's none of my business... That business is none of my business. What makes people tick is always going to be a weird malaise of possible perversions and ideas. Really, the only thing I can find fault with it is the exploitation of minors. That's it. The line gets fuzzy on the who did the exploitation and who gets off on it. Maybe you are a twisted person that needs that kind of kink to get you going... but maybe you are also the kind of person to never do it yourself, but you will look at what has already been done.

Sure then we have the argument on the supply side economics of it. If there was no one that wanted it, then it wouldn't happen... Sure. And those iPhones are just going to make themselves. There are plenty of things in this world that we take advantage of the product without considering where it came from. Meat. Clothes. Electronics. Whatever is in perfume to make it smell the way it does. And pornography.  This has always struck me as a bit of hypocritical cherry picking. This does not sanction the demand for kiddie porn, I find it vile, disgusting and many other words that mean revolting.  But, I can only judge for myself and have strong opinions about the subject. That doesn't inherently make it wrong for someone else. 

Personal autonomy means a great deal to me. You may have noticed in my posts about abortion and women's right and the right to die. You may have also noticed that these are all hotly contested subjects. So... I'm tired, and I don't want to repeat myself, so I will ask this of you, my esteemed and intelligent reader: Why? Why is it so bad? Am I wrong? Does the history of censorship and prohibition tell us nothing of the real underbelly of supply and demand for things that are taboo? Should I care about the headlines of a pseudo famous guy that got busted for child pornography? 

All I know is I don't care about the story, and I need a nap.

Topic Tuesday #160 2015/08/11 "First Day Of School"

Topic Tuesday #160 2015/08/11 "First Day Of School"

It is that time again. Back to school. My oldest will be going into second grade tomorrow and her little sister will be going in Thursday for an evaluation and starts kindergarten next Monday. I have spent the last several hours gathering and labeling and sorting school supplies for each of them. It was a lot of stuff! I'll have to drop some of it off with the teachers personally so they don't have to lug reams of paper and other sundry goods. See, the school board, no matter what school you are a part of, doesn't buy enough supplies for the teachers. Invariably they will be forced to dip into their own pockets to provide for the children. This is terrible and we should feel ashamed that we don't treat our teachers better. They are crucial to the kind of people we grow up to be. They empower us with knowledge. They love us. In return we don't pay them enough and treat them like they are glorified babysitters that ask the children to do too much homework and ask the parents to subsidize the education by sending in supplied for the whole class! Whoop ti do... 

Parents, Get over it and support your teachers. If you are strapped for cash and barely have enough to keep the youngster with a roof over their head, swallow your pride and tell the teacher what your situation is. It will help them understand the child and better respond to what is needed, and they will understand if you simply can't help more. Communication is key. 

Teachers, send home those progress notes. Let us know how they are doing and what you need from us to help. Email us, call us, whatever you have time for. There are parents that care about how things are going and want to know. You will never know if you don't reach out. It could mean a lot. 

Enough of all this, I have to pack some tissue for when I send my babies back to school.  

Topic Tuesday #159 2015/08/04 "Moving my cheese"

Topic Tuesday #159 2015/08/04 "Moving my cheese"

I have dove straight into Windows 10. This is not a post about Windows 10, but about migration habits. We have so many things that we use on a daily basis that having it readily at hand is both paramount and sometimes surprisingly difficult. Being an I guy... I have, to be quite frank, too many machines in my armada. I have multiple computers used for my day job, including multiple servers that I log into all the time. I have multiple android devices like phones and tablets that are both for work and play. I have a couple laptops and desktops at home that are for the children and myself as well as development and testing of my skills. I can't even give an accurate number to the mass of hardware I could go through on a day to day basis. So how do I have all the things I need with me? It's not an easy solution, so I have any options and use them all to varying degrees of success.

The cloud is wonderful! Wonderful for small documents and notes and pictures. Anything above 20MB and it becomes a pain because of internet performance, and if you are on a WiFi hotspot and paying for data... FORGET IT. Also there are security concerns. Data breeches are a valid concern in this day and age, so security must also be a component of any solution.

What I end up with is a hodgepodge of solutions. Some in the cloud, some on portable drives that I can take with me, some that are always going to live on a server and network drive that will be accessed by remote control. And many syncing solutions between all of these to ensure everything is up to date and consistent.

Certainly, I am an "edge case". So, I ask you... How do you do IT?

Topic Tuesday #158 2015/07/29 "Windows 10, Part 1"

Topic Tuesday #158 2015/07/29 "Windows 10, Part 1"

It is the eve of a new dawn, or something poetic and fanciful like that. Really, it is a calendar event for us geeks out there, as Microsoft releases Windows 10 - for free to those with a current genuine copy of Windows 7 and later. 

There will be some changes to what you have come to know about Windows. For one, updates for Pro and Home versions are mandatory. You will be able to postpone the install, to backup and save files etc, but you will have to install eventually. Enterprise customers, well you will have other solutions with your versions, that you have to pay full price for. The upgrades are part of the new Microsoft direction, SaaS (Software as a Service) model. 

Also, the menus should be familiar to both Windows 7 and 8.1 users. Charms are taken away. And the operating system will customize the interface based on certain criteria about the hardware. Like if there is a physical keyboard attached, if there is a touch screen, how large the screen is, and so on. These are the things I know before getting my mitts on the bits. I've been busy.

So, consider this part one. I'll come back with more Windows 10 trivia and guides later, but in the meantime, tell me if you are going to upgrade, and what do you think about SaaS?

Topic Tuesday #157 2015/07/21 "Home Automation - Part 3 - Amazon Echo and Wink"

Topic Tuesday #157 2015/07/21 "Home Automation - Part 3 - Amazon Echo"

My quest for a Star Trek home experience has led me to Amazon has released a fascinating device, the Echo. It is an amazing gadget! It is a black cylinder with two high quality speakers, seven microphones, wireless networking, and a brain in the cloud. You wake the device by calling a keyword. It is defaulted to "Alexa" and thanks to that cleverness and a pleasant feminine voice, it is a she, and she is pretty slick.  

Heavy on facts and the occasional dad joke sense of humor, Alexa doesn't have the personality of Apple's Siri, but it doesn't need to be snarky, I have enough of that within my walls. The microphones are pretty sensitive and can listen for the keyword (which can be changed from Alexa to Amazon - but why do that?!) even over music at high volume, and it is very loud when you want it to be. The Echo, just 'Alexa' from here on, has some other tricks up its sleeve- er.. cylinder...

Back in #148 2015/05/19 "Home Automation - Part 2" I wrongly said that Wink was limited to lighting. I was looking at only one of their products lines, the Wink Link, after getting that deal on their z-wave light bulbs. Now that I have been playing with Alexa, I found out that she can talk to the Wink Hub and also another product I am playing with from Wemo.

Wink is rather well equipped for all manner of devices. and has 1GB of storage and 512MB RAM to be ready for the future.

Wink is rather well equipped for all manner of devices. and has 1GB of storage and 512MB RAM to be ready for the future.

The Wink Hub can communicate with Z-Wave+ (version 4 of the standard) as well as ZigBee protocols, just like the SmartThings Hub. The Wink Hub is also half the price and about 4 times the size of the SmartThings hub. GE, the makers of Wink, are also actively promoting and advancing their product Wink line, with a focus on high end consumers. I am just getting my Wink Hub connected to devices but it promises similar functionality to SmartThings at half the cost with integration to Alexa.

From left to right: The Wink Hub, The SmartThings Hub, Amazon Echo (muted to show the red ring)

From left to right: The Wink Hub, The SmartThings Hub, Amazon Echo (muted to show the red ring)

WeMo Insight Switch + Bunn Coffee Pot = GLORY

WeMo Insight Switch + Bunn Coffee Pot = GLORY

To give you an idea of what the end game is looking like, just imagine Star Trek or Iron Man. This morning I said, "Alexa, turn on the coffee pot." And she did. I had configured the WeMo Insight Switch to be named "Coffee Pot" and after Alexa scanned the network and found the little guy it was able to turn it on or off.

I am not going to lie, I felt like a badass. I was a technomage bending the will of technology to do my bidding by just offering a phrase! Magic. (see Clarke's 3 laws)

Below is a video I found that shows a teardown of the Wink Hub - SO WE DON'T HAVE TO. Crazy informative and in-depth.  Thanks to TheHouseBlog for the research and effort.

Topic Tuesday #156 2015/07/14 "Pictures of Pluto!"

Topic Tuesday #156 2015/07/14 "Pictures of Pluto!"

With the blue Atlantic Ocean as backdrop, smoke and steam fill the launch pad, at right, as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft roars into the sky aboard an Atlas V rocket. (NASA)

New Horizons launched January 19th, 2006 at 14:00 hours atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Launch Complex 41, after being manufactured in Maryland. It is roughly the size and shape of a baby grand piano weighing half a ton. Its mission was to complete the initial human survey of the solar system’s planets. There are 7 scientific instruments on-board (See Below), a nuclear decay power generator, the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto in 1930, a CD ROM with 434,000 names, another CD ROM with pictures of the New Horizons Team, a chunk of Space Ship One, 2 state quarters, 2 little American flags, and a US postage stamp from 1991, that says "Pluto Not Yet Explored" (29 cents).

The instruments, because I know you are curious:

  1.  Ralph: Visible and infrared imager/spectrometer; provides color, composition and thermal maps.
  2. Alice: Ultraviolet imaging spectrometer; analyzes composition and structure of Pluto's atmosphere and looks for atmospheres around Charon and Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs).
  3. REX: (Radio Science EXperiment) Measures atmospheric composition and temperature; passive radiometer.
  4. LORRI: (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) telescopic camera; obtains encounter data at long distances, maps Pluto's farside and provides high resolution geologic data.
  5. SWAP: (Solar Wind Around Pluto) Solar wind and plasma spectrometer; measures atmospheric "escape rate" and observes Pluto's interaction with solar wind.
  6. PEPSSI: (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation) Energetic particle spectrometer; measures the composition and density of plasma (ions) escaping from Pluto's atmosphere.
  7. SDC: (Student Dust Counter) Built and operated by students; measures the space dust peppering New Horizons during its voyage across the solar system.

Today, New Horizons made it! The spacecraft did a fly by, 7,800 miles from Pluto, at 30,817 mph, to take the best pictures we have every had of the dwarf planet, before heading for the next phase of its mission, the exploration of the Kuiper Belt.

Pluto is 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) miles from Earth (at this time in it's elliptical 248 year orbit around the Sun.

That's Pluto and Charon nestled to scale between Earth and our Moon. (Copyright Walter Myers)

It takes radio signals (traveling at the speed of light) a little over 4 and half hours to reach us, at a staggeringly slow 1 kilobit per second. At that data rate, the images take almost an hour to download on a 200 foot dish antenna. 

Pluto, Hubble Image, 2010, NASA

Previous to this mission the best image we had was the second round of pictures from Hubble, seen here.

Yesterday, 7/13/2015, New Horizons gave us this image from its LORRI instrument.

More even higher resolution images and readings will be downloaded over the next days and weeks. I can't wait!!!

Pluto, New Horizons (LORRI), taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. (NASA)

To sum up how far we have come, the fine folks at VOX lined up these images, the one on the left is the earliest photo from Hubble, maybe before it got its glasses. 

We have now visited all the planets of the Sol System.  But there is much work still left to do. Stephen Hawking commented on this latest historic mission  and his words say it all. 

"The revelations of New Horizons may help us to understand better how our solar system was formed," Prof Hawking said. "We explore because we are human, and we want to know. I hope that Pluto will help us on that journey. I will be watching closely, and I hope you will, too."

In case you were curious, These are the years we did reconnaissance on our planetary neighbors. 

  • Mercury - 1974
  • Venus - 1979
  • Mars - 1962 Soviet, 1965 Mariner 4
  • Jupiter - 1979
  • Saturn - 1980
  • Uranus - 1986
  • Neptune - 1989
  • Pluto/Charon 2015

Take a moment, Think about the task and really applaud the team of scientists and engineers that made this happen. Remember, Space is hard. #Penny4NASA

Topic Tuesday #155 2015/07/07 "Run up the flag pole"

Topic Tuesday #155 2015/07/07 "Run up the flag pole"

Flags have been in the news quite a bit lately. You can't peruse the news without stumbling over a veritable plethora of people weighing in on South Carolina and the Confederate Battle Flag. Since that has been covered to death, (TL:DR-The flag still represents slavery and continued oppression, not Southern Pride, deal with it and put the flag in a museum next to the Nazi Party flag from WWII.)  I'm not here to talk about the Confederacy or racism or the politics behind mandating the flag be mounted at the top of a 30' pole for all time (hopefully changing soon).

No, today it is about a North Carolina Pastor who has decided to show his distaste for the progressive direction the country has taken by flying the Christian Flag (yes it is a thing) above the United States Flag, Old Glory Herself.

The Christian flag flies above the American flag at a NC church (WJZY/screen grab)

The Christian flag flies above the American flag at a NC church (WJZY/screen grab)

This story was brought to me by RawStory, and you can view it's contents here.

The narrative goes that Pastor Rit Varriale, long-time anti-gay activist of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, NC is claiming this action as part of his own "God Before Government" group. On Sunday he unveiled that he had the pole installed specifically to run this up and see who saluted.

He has been met with criticism from unexpected sources such as Fox and Friends and even the Baptist Press, who reported, "Varriale is among an increasing number of pastors who believe government is trying to coerce Christians to live in ways that violate Scripture." To editor K. Allan Blume's credit, the The Baptist Press writer was rather good about just reporting and not taking a side. Varriale knows he is against proper defined flag etiquette, something taught in grade school and to every scout I have ever encountered. If you need to see what it is, Wikipedia has an outstanding rundown of the United States Flag Code (Yes, there is such a thing)

He said "...from a Christian perspective, our flag etiquette is completely improper, ...we should be flying the Christian flag above the American flag." Varriale is an Army veteran as a Ranger and officer with the 82nd Airborne Division and graduate of The Citadel, Campbell University Divinity School, Duke Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary. He certainly has his credentials in order and is at least walking the walk and talking the talk.

I have one rebuttal to him - Romans 13: 1-10 (New American Standard Bible Translation)

  1. Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
  2. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
  3. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
  4. for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
  5. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.
  6. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
  7. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
  8. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
  9. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
  10. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

I am for free speech. I am not into nationalism at all and think such is as destructive as religious division. I count this among those that would burn the US flag in protest. I don't have to like it, but I do respect the free speech and holding to your values in spite of how much of a jerk it will make you appear. At the end of the day, the public court of opinion will settle this one out, as is being done with the Confederate flag.  It makes me wonder what the opinion would be is the local Mosque decided to do the same with the Islamic flag. Food for thought.

Topic Tuesday #154 2015/06/30 "Leap Second"

Topic Tuesday #154 2015/06/30 "Leap Second"

Long ago, I wrote about the origins of the calendar. #24

But what I didn't discuss was corrections to timekeeping.
See the calendar that we eventually landed on is not perfect, by a long shot. This is why every 4 years we add a day (24 hours) to February. This keeps the calendar in sync with the planet's seasons. Today, June 30th, the last minute of the day has 61 seconds as we add a leap second in order to keep the time of day close to the mean solar time, or UT1. Without such a correction, time reckoned by Earth's rotation drifts away from atomic time because of irregularities in the Earth's rotation. Since this system of correction was implemented in 1972, 26 leap seconds have been inserted, including today's. Ideal implementation adds a positive leap second between "second 23:59:59" of a chosen UTC calendar date (the last day of a month, usually June 30 or December 31) and "second 00:00:00" of the following date.

Peter Whibberley, senior research scientist at the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL), said: "Because they depend on measurements of the Earth's rotation, which varies unpredictably, leap seconds occur at irregular intervals. Leap seconds are announced only six months in advance. This means computers and software cannot be supplied with leap seconds programmed in, and they must be inserted manually," he explained. "Getting leap seconds wrong can cause loss of synchronisation in communication networks, financial systems and many other applications which rely on precise timing. Whenever a leap second occurs, some computer systems encounter problems due to glitches in the code written to handle them. The consequences are particularly severe in the Asia-Pacific region, where leap seconds occur during normal working hours."

Due to these complications many would like to do away with the practice of adding leap seconds. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is set to discuss the topic at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva this November.

There was some jargon in there, like "Mean Solar Day" and "UT1". Let me do the work for you and tell you what those are.

The duration of daylight varies during the year but the length of a mean solar day is nearly constant, unlike that of an apparent solar day. An apparent solar day can be 20 seconds shorter or 30 seconds longer than a mean solar day.

UT1 is the principal form of Universal Time. While conceptually it is mean solar time at 0° longitude, precise measurements of the Sun are difficult. Hence, it is computed from observations of distant quasars using long baseline interferometry, laser ranging of the Moon and artificial satellites, as well as the determination of GPS satellite orbits. UT1 is the same everywhere on Earth, and is proportional to the rotation angle of the Earth with respect to distant quasars, specifically, the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF), neglecting some small adjustments. The observations allow the determination of a measure of the Earth's angle with respect to the ICRF, called the Earth Rotation Angle (ERA, which serves as a modern replacement for Greenwich Mean Sidereal Time). UT1 is required to follow the relationship
ERA = 2π(0.7790572732640 + 1.00273781191135448Tu) radians
where Tu = (Julian UT1 date - 2451545.0)

Around the world, we try to use UTC, (oddly acronymed for Coordinated Universal Time, because French.)
UTC is an atomic timescale that approximates UT1. It is the international standard on which civil time is based. It ticks SI seconds, in step with TAI. It usually has 86,400 SI seconds per day but is kept within 0.9 seconds of UT1 by the introduction of occasional intercalary leap seconds. As of 2015, these leaps have always been positive (the days which contained a leap second were 86,401 seconds long). Whenever a level of accuracy better than one second is not required, UTC can be used as an approximation of UT1. The difference between UT1 and UTC is known as UT1. 
For most purposes, UTC is considered interchangeable with GMT, but GMT is no longer precisely defined by the scientific community.

Topic Tuesday #153 2015/06/23 "A Climate for Writing"

Topic Tuesday #153 2015/06/23 "A Climate for Writing"

Ladies and Gentlemen of my readership, we have had quite the week since I have conversed with you on topical matters. The news has been rather heavy, week over week and it has taken its eventual toll on me, thus I am unable to fully articulate the gravity of the activity on the world stage. I am not silent on it, as you can tell by my other posts and the continued activities of the ORly Radio Podcast. The news has hurt me and has moved me to alternative action. In as much as we have seen through time - adversity, even if it seems tangential to this writer, fosters creativity. This last week it was not the news of the Charleston murders that hit me the hardest. Though they are certainly shocking and deplorable, I have been desensitized to the bigotry and violence to those of color by those with a far paler character. No, what has moved me to some sort of action and kept me awake is the future.

I would consider myself a rational person and a man of facts and perspective. I have grown to trust the scientists that work in their chosen fields and have come to know many of them. They value the same things I do. Facts and the truths that they describe. The recent news that the figures were wrong and corrected on the so called pause in global warming was a hammer blow. I didn’t expect it to be so, as I had a feeling that this sign of climate change was not up for taking a vacation, but still, I had hoped that nature had a trick or two that would explain it and it would not be a miscalculation. Sadly, the results indicate that we were incorrect with initial findings and that the world may have warmed much more than was anticipated in other models and it was not getting any better.

Credit: NASA.

Credit: NASA.

The data that they used to make these statements came from a big data project, NASA Earth Exchange (NEX). It’s data is available to the public.

“The NASA climate projections provide a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provides daily estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe.”

I have concerns. I am a future minded person and they are painting a rather hot picture of the future, a future that if I am not a part of, surely my offspring will be. So I have to prepare them for the reality of climate change, rising oceans, hotter summers, colder winters, floods and droughts, and the people that deny it could happen. This is the tall order that keeps me up at night, and I figure if I am going to be kept up, I might as well be creative and productive with it.
This is the inspiration for a story I am going to write. It may be horrible and completely un-entertaining and worthless to some, but I will learn a lot along the way about how to write and communicate a narrative of discovery and adventure - one of surviving a changing world.
National Novel Writing Month is approaching you know.

Time to get to it. Let me know what you think.

Topic Tuesday #152 2015/06/16 "Software-Curses, foiled again!"

Topic Tuesday #152 2015/06/16 "Software-Curses, foiled again!"

Okay, get this: my oldest daughter has been recording herself (with my help of course) doing how-to draw sessions. I was using the cheap cell phone that I got to keep tabs on her (and entertain her) but I am not as steady as a sniper, so the video production quality blows. I'm a techie, so I figure I can do this better than a cell phone. I attached a 1080P webcam, the Logitech C615 to a tripod (it has the mounting built in) and positioned it above her desk.

Awesome!, looks great! but it's upside down... and the angle I have to get things at , it would be over her shoulder and it would be a mess logistically. I don't have another boom that I can incorporate into this, and now it is becoming a huge hassle. I figure I will fix it in software, just flip the image.  

An hour later, and many software trials and failures later, I "think" I can manage it with the Open Broadcasting software ( I was originally using to stream the podcast. But that is less than intuitive to use, so what the hell am I missing?

This would be a problem on pretty much any platform, save smart phones...  The absolute easiest, not the best quality for sure but easiest, is to mount the cell phone to the tripod with a $7 accessory , manipulate the orientation by just rocking it until the gyroscope kicks to the right angle, maybe give it a charging cable and make sure it has enough space to record, and hit it. Seriously... 2 minutes to setup. Then even if I screw up there was a free app to flip the video. Then just go to the Youtube app and upload the video. No stress, it just works. 

WHY CAN'T MY COMPUTER DO THIS? I love my beast of a desktop and the power of my laptops, but seriously, for simple versatility and functionality a smart phone is absolute champion. Add a couple adapters, and send the video to a big screen and it will function for 90% or more of all you ever do on the web. If you are clever, you can use it to remote to another system, like your power house desktop, and crunch away at the heavy tasks or acquire files you need. 

Life these days is played out in the palms of our hands. It's no wonder everyone you see is looking down at their phones, they are actually living their life on that little screen, falling through the looking glass of untapped potential. I swear once I get my augmented reality glasses, I simply won't know what to do with myself. One day... One day at a time... 

Topic Tuesday #151 2015/06/09 "Mobility - The Urge To Travel"

Topic Tuesday #151 2015/06/09 "Mobility - The Urge To Travel"

Do you ever have the urge to do something that you haven't done in decades? I have found myself day dreaming. I want to travel. I want to see the country and meet fascinating people. I do not want to fly, that has become too stressful and expensive. I don't want to stay in hotels, though they are often fabulous, they are also too costly and inflexible in many ways. No.. I have a somewhat crazy idea to buy a travel trailer. 

I have a van that can tow 3,500 lbs. I'm not buying a truck just for this idea. I will use what I have and make it work. I have 2 children. If I plan on taking them, which I certainly do since camping is an American family tradition, I need room for them to sleep. If I want to take my significant other, then I have more berths to allocate with more offspring. I essentially need to look at a sleeping capacity of 6. The criteria of tow weight and number of bodies narrows down what I can look at significantly. A nice, snug fit: 184BH | 2015 JAY FLIGHT SLX  

There are a plethora of options out there, including the styles that pop out beds on the sides. Those models have more space, but have more moving parts. I grew up playing around in an old Winnebago (Brave Style). I have fond memories of that experience, but more than that, I see more potential. Should I go down this route, I want it simple, no setup beyond stabilizing. I want to open the door and be in a little home, or an office. This is not just a camper, this is a mobile command center, at getaway, a den, a club house - with a kitchen. I like this model because of the flow.

I have many aspirations. One day, I would like to just be mobile. Go wherever and setup and be home away from home. I fantasize about podcasting and writing from my mothership, being my own master. Wireless internet and cloud services have made staying connected an easy proposition. It could work. I could be doing it right now, and you would never know! 

Dare to dream.

But, as dreams go, this is quite an affordable option. Brand new, one of these is under $15,000. My van will be paid off soon, and this, this could be toddling behind me on my way to the next grand adventure. 

What do you think? Is camping your thing? Do you have dreams to escape the rat race? 

Topic Tuesday #150 2015/06/02 "Sick Day Stuff"

Topic Tuesday #150 2015/06/02 "Sick Day Stuff"

I'm sick today. I have the sore throat, fevers, aches and pains, dizziness, and general crud. My day job requires me to drive around a lot, and I was in no shape to be on the road. I'm in my later thirties and have pushed myself pretty hard over the years, even when sick. At this point I have achieved a more realistic plateau. Today, I'm not doing anything heavy, except typing, cooking enough for myself to not pass out, and keeping my fluids up.  A very good friend of mine insinuated that I take pretty good care of myself, and I do, but not everyone does. Should you have a sick friend or relative, they might benefit from your help. So, here is what I've been doing to take care of myself.

Hot Tea: Lemon & Ginger Herbal (As in no actual tea) with lots of honey. There is something about the combination that soothes the throat like nothing else. 

Over the Counter Pain Medicine, especially NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs) Not only will Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Naproxen Sodium (Aleve), and Aspirin (Ecotrin), help with aches, pains and fevers, but that anti-inflammatory can help with relieving moderate swelling. Abuse of these drugs can cause a variety of problems, like ulcers, liver and kidney failure - so don't do that... BUT, for a short time you can up your dose a little (speak to your primary care physician for what is safe for you). Also, having all these drugs in your kit will allow you to overlap the dosing schedule. Naproxen is a long lasting NSAID, one every 12 hours (see your package for dose). People metabolize drugs differently than others and some will find that it may work on a fever, but does nothing for an ache. Instead of having to wait a full 12 hours before you can make yourself less miserable, you can take something else after a few hours. (Again, talk to your doctor, I'm not a doctor and provide this as a conceptual view of taking care of the ill.)

It would be wise to make note of when you take what. Pain is a horrible thing and clouds perception of time and can be rather convincing in getting you to take too much of any one kind. Also be aware that many name brand drugs have the same active ingredient, so though you are taking two different things you are actually over dosing on the active drug.  Cough syrups, like Nyquil is mostly acetaminophen and depending on the variety you get it may also have a nasal decongestant, and then you want to avoid taking a similar decongestant as well. Read the labels and take your time. Don't make life worse by sending yourself to the hospital.

Food: For some reason, honey is so wonderful for the sick. It's sweet, it's a natural antimicrobial, it's sticky so it soothes your throat. My daughters love a spoonful of honey when they feel sick, and so do I. I also like honey on my toast, and usually add a little peanut butter too. This is nice, quick comfort food that's easy on my stomach and provides lasting energy when you need it. Soup is an old favorite and especially good since it is easy to digest and provides more fluids for flushing all the crud your immune system is taking care of. There is always the can of chicken soup in your pantry, but I find there is just too much salt in them. I like to make my own soup. This is not for everyone, and you can find lower sodium options in your store. If you want to try your hand at it while you are well to freeze for later, or you happen to be the friend tending to the ill, you can do a lot worse than recipes from America's Test Kitchen. They do charge for membership, but their recipies are the best you can find, without digging through grandma's dusty reipie box.

One thing you should learn to make is a basic broth. I tend to make turkey soup so I save the carcass from the turkey at thanksgiving and christmas and use them in making the broth. In a large stock pot, 3 quarts of water, the carcass, a coarsely chopped onion, a couple coarsely chopped carrots, a few cloves of garlic, a pinch of thyme, a bay leaf, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring it all to a boil, then drop it down to simmer for about 2 hours. Then you will run it all trough a fine mesh to get rid of the solids and have the  broth. Play with it, and you will find out what you like; then the sky's the limit on what you do. Try this turkey soup recipe next time you roast a bird.

Spicy. I like to eat very spicy things when I am stuffed up. It clears out my sinuses and scratches the itch of my sore throat. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce has pretty much changed my life. 


Take care out there, and get plenty of rest.


Topic Tuesday #149 2015/05/26 "Expectations"

Topic Tuesday #149 2015/05/26 "Expectations"

Look, I was promised flying cars and moon bases, okay..? I have a thing or two to say about expectations versus reality (as does everyone currently alive), but as I like to have a special relationship with reality by respecting it exists, I have lowered my aspirations to meet it. 

Recently a friend has had a run in with the intersection of reality and expectations at the crossroads where they diverge. It's hard on him to square this new aspect of reality to his pre-existing one. This is leading to a great deal of existential angst. I completely understand how it can be painful as I would wager we have all been disillusioned, of certain notions or had our noses rubbed in an unpleasant reality, from time to time. Be that as it may, reality doesn't care what we think of it. The universe, for all its wonders, is apathetic to its inhabitants. That quantum foam and fundamental forces don't care about what they look like on a macro scale is humbling. 

Long ago (in a galaxy not so far away), this revelation hit me pretty hard; it had ramifications and implications that my little mind had to grow to accept. This is my story and your milage may vary. I had to accept that there wasn't a guiding force behind me. That beyond my tribe, no one was going to care if I lived or died, succeeded or failed, lived up to expectations - or not. I was pretty much on my own in this big uncaring universe. It was up to me to be remembered or time would certainly forget me. The old saying goes, "Make hay while the sun shines." That seems appropriate a metaphor for life spent making legacies.  

Now, let's be plain, I care a great deal about what my friends and whatever they are going through. My path is my own and I can not profess any special knowledge as to how all this works, only what I have found works for me. If you find that spirituality, religion, mysticism, folk remedies, chakra alignment of your subluxation energy aura something or other, works for you - That's grand! HOWEVER - I have a request. Please make sure your views have a strong basis in reality. Believe as many factual things and as few false things as possible. You are less likely to suffer the heartache of realizing that Santa is not going to bring your flying car so you can spend Christmas on the Moon, and more likely to build it yourself.

Topic Tuesday #148 2015/05/19 "Home Automation - Part 2"

Topic Tuesday #148 2015/05/19 "Home Automation - Part 2"

   Today I was thrust back into home automation with two things.

   The first was a bulb I was testing with SmartThings, the GE Link A19, Soft White (2700K), 60 Watt Equivalent. GE has an automation product line (, similar to SmartThings (but limited to lighting only), which they say is a MUST for the A19. The Link A19 and the entire Philips Hue collection (which I have not delved into, yet), are compatible with the SmartThings system and any controller capable of using ZigBee protocol that we discussed some of in Part 1. .  The A19 does not change colors, but is quite bright and can dim to a very cozy level. At this time, the GE Link A19 will set you back about $15 from either Amazon or Home Depot. They have a long life (22+ years 3 hours a day),  and at 12 watts max, they sip the juice. Even if they weren't capable of being controlled wirelessly, they make a great incandescent and CFL replacement.  And that brings me to the woe of why this bulb got my attention again today.

   There was a power outage and for the second time, the bulb lost connection to the hub and had to be removed and added back to the system. This is only a big deal because SmartThings will not allow you to delete a device if there is an "app" linked to it. I had this bulb programmed to slowly come on at dawn and then to come on at sunset. BTW, having a bright light near you when you are trying to wake up, does help. So that was a bit of a pain, and with the power situation I have here in Florida, brown outs happen quite a lot. I moved it to a UPS next to my bed so I have my alarm, my device chargers, and this on backup so I will never be late waking up (due to minor technical failures).  But this is impractical if I wanted to use it in a location that I can't slap a backup on... Still, it's a great bulb when it works and when it's not smart, it's still pretty good for the price. I will be looking at other bulbs soon. 

   The second thing that snapped me to attention was a tremendous sale on an item that I had my eye on. Amazon was running this beauty at 83% off. Aeon Labs AEDSB09104ZWUS Aeotec Z-Wave Smart Energy Monitor

Aeon Labs Aeotec Smart Energy Monitor

Aeon Labs Aeotec Smart Energy Monitor

"What does that do?" you might ask yourself, and that's a great question. It is an energy flow meter. It has two current transformer clamps the go around the AC mains in the house's breaker panel/load center to detect energy usage for the entire house. You could use the clamps around the hot and neutral power for other heavy equipment if you can separate them, but I will leave that hacking to your imaginations. For my use, it will be installed in the load center for my home, and will monitor and report the power habits of my household. I will be able to chart average usage, and them modify my behavior for greater energy savings. I will also be using it to figure out the exact amounts for when I install my generator transfer switch and can make the best use out of those watts in an emergency. This monitor is easy to install and will not require an electrician. From what I have found, it will operate on battery for about a year, but will provide rapid feedback if plugged into an external source. More on that and more in a later post. 

Topic Tuesday #147 2015/05/12 "Insurance…"

Topic Tuesday #147 2015/05/12 "Insurance…"

A contract whereby, for specified consideration, one party undertakes to compensate the other for a loss relating to a particular subject as a result of the occurrence of designated hazards.

Insurance has been a reason for many of us to start drinking heavily since before there was beer, way back in the Bronze Age about 2700 B.C.. A little known supposition, a bad insurance deal was the impetus to start brewing. Not really... Maybe.

It has become very important to have insurance. Car insurance, home owner’s insurance, health insurance, life insurance, even pet insurance… It seems you can insure anything. Lloyd’s of London offers insurance for models legs, for instance.  Fast fact: Lloyd’s reports €4.1billion (£3.2billion) profit for 2014. That leads me to my own recent experiences with insurance.

After the ACA has taken effect and the insurance companies have been taken to task over their practices, they did not take it laying down. They are a wily bunch of weasels and enforced changes of practices for certain plans that make having insurance a very frustrating experience. I used to have very reasonable co-pays. Should you be reading this in the future – a co-pay was an amount of money that you would pay based on the service, like seeing a primary care doctor or going to an emergency room. Now my plan, which I have through my employer, uses some strange percentage of overall negotiated service rate, which is a number that you have to be an astrologer to make any sense of. To make matters more complicated, they mandated the use of a Heathcare Spending Account, which takes money out of your employers pocket and your pocket and puts it on a credit card, that will be declined for most things that they say you can use it for, and then arbitrarily change what you can use it for and require approval and requests for payment through a website which you have to figure out without any real assistance. I’m an IT guy and used to the web, but even I would have liked to get some tutorials on what was even expected, yes, it is that bad. At this point, I am getting comfortable with the discomfort of this situation. I’m getting my footing and collecting receipts to send in approval scan or faxes… Then…

I got a bill from a specialist that my daughter had to see. It was a consultation. Aparently, this is not covered… or is it? I'm not sure… The total bill to just talk to this specialist for 5 minutes was $705. I was charged $72.82 before we were seen. That was over a month ago. Now I get the bill stating that I owe an additional $291.27… I wonder why. The statement states my insurance company “paid” $340.91 as a “Insurance Contract Allowance”.  So I go to the website for the insurance company…

Bill received by ********* on 04/06/2015 $705.00
Your ******* Member Rate $364.09
Not paid (excluded by plan) $0.00  
Amount paid toward meeting your deductible $364.09  
Amount paid toward your remaining coinsurance $0.00  
Your copay amount $0.00
Your total responsibility: $364.09
Total amount you can expect to pay out of pocket: $364.09

Again, this is not helpful as I don't know why I need to pay anything at all. What is this member rate? That wasn't mentioned anywhere… Yet it is being presented like they have done me a great service by providing me with such negotiation. I doubt very much that this is at all in my best interest. I have no idea what to expect going forward, and I bet neither do you, should you be in my shoes, or if something happened to you.

For the record, I have pretty darn good insurance, or at least that is what was being advertised to me. This is a money shell game and what feels like absolute lies and trickery to get me to pay for everything and not be able to use the insurance that I have been paying for. Insurance companies only make money when they don't have to pay out the money they take in. This is their goal; to not serve you. Once you know that, dealing with them becomes slightly easier to take.

This is the continued state of the healthcare industry in the USA. Nothing is clear and you need a professional translator to tell you what just happened to you. At this point, even with this insurance, you can go headlong into disaster and have no idea if you will be able to pay for anything. I crave single payer simplicity and to not have this Flex Spending Account or Health Reimbursement Account, or both??? Why do I have both? And why are they different? How does any of this work? I need an adult.

Topic Tuesday #146 2015/05/05 "Cinco de Mayo"

Topic Tuesday #146 2015/05/05 "Cinco de Mayo"

After "May the 4th be with you" is "Revenge of the 5th," more commonly known as Cinco de Mayo. As I like to do with Topic Tuesdays is to examine a holiday that falls on or near the Tuesday posting. So today being the auspicious day of the 5th of May, the When, What, Where, Why, and How - will be examined.


When: Obviously the 5th of May, but it commemorates a battle fought in 1862.

Because American's don't know any better.

Because American's don't know any better.

What: It is the celebration of an unlikely victory over French forces by the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla the celebration is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: Battle of Puebla Day). IN the USA it is an immensely popular celebration of Mexican culture, and has little or nothing to do with the origin of the holiday.

Where: 19°02′N 98°11′W The battle occurred near enough to Puebla to garner its namesake. Puebla is located southeast of Mexico City and west of Mexico's main Atlantic port, Veracruz, on the main route between the two in Central Mexico.

Why: In short, a little thing called the French intervention in Mexico. After a new president was elected in 1861 after a civil war, which you can look up under the name The Reform War. The civil war had caused sever debt to the nation. The new president opted to suspend payment of the debt to Spain, France, and Britain. They were displeased and formed the Tripartite Alliance, with the main purpose of launching an allied invasion of Mexico, forcing the Mexican government to negotiate terms for repaying its debts and for reparations for alleged harm to foreign citizens in Mexico. The Tripartite Alliance fell apart by early April 1862, when it became clear the French had grander ambitions than simple debt repayment. The British and Spanish withdrew, leaving the French to march alone on Mexico City.

How: The Battle of Puebla delayed the French forces from making their way to Mexico City. The French expeditionary force was led by General Charles de Lorencez. Lorencez was led to believe that the people of Puebla were friendly to the French, and that the Mexican Republican garrison which kept the people in line would be overrun by the population once he made a show of force. This would prove to be a serious miscalculation on Lorencez's part.

Mexican Commander General, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, had earlier retreated to Puebla which was heavily fortified – it had been held by the Mexican government since the Reform War. To its north stood the forts Loreto and Guadalupe on opposite hilltops. Zaragoza had a trench dug to join the forts via the saddle.

Lorencez decided to attack Puebla from the north. However, he started his attack a little too late in the day, using his artillery just before noon and by noon advancing his infantry. By the third attack the French required the full engagement of all their reserves. The French artillery had run out of ammunition, so the third infantry attack went unsupported. The Mexican forces and the Republican garrison both put up a stout defense and even took to the field to defend the positions between the hilltop forts.

As the French retreated from their final assault, Zaragoza had his cavalry attack them from the right and left while troops concealed along the road pivoted out to flank them. By 3 p.m. the daily rains had started, making a slippery quagmire of the battlefield. Lorencez withdrew to distant positions, counting 462 of his men killed against only 83 of the Mexicans. He waited a couple of days for Zaragoza to attack again, but Zaragoza held his ground. Lorencez then completely withdrew to Orizaba.

Slowed by their loss at Puebla, the French forces retreated and regrouped, and the invasion continued after Napoleon III determinedly sent additional troops to Mexico. The French were eventually victorious, winning the Second Battle of Puebla on 17 May 1863 and pushing on to Mexico City. When the capital fell, Juárez's government was forced into exile in the remote north. With the backing of France, the Habsburg Archduke Maximilian became Emperor of Mexico in the short-lived Second Mexican Empire. - But that is a story for another day.

On 9 May 1862, President Juárez declared that the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla would be a national holiday, regarded as "Battle of Puebla Day" or "Battle of Cinco de Mayo". Although today it is recognized in some countries as a day of Mexican heritage celebration, it is not a federal holiday in Mexico.

Topic Tuesday #145 2015/04/28 "Pressure Cooker Satire"

Topic Tuesday #145 2015/04/28 "Pressure Cooker Satire"

I was going to talk about the SCOTUS and the opening arguments in what may end up as the key to full marriage equality for those that are not hetrosexual, but I was so enraged but the dialog and the logical fallacies in use, the worst of which was the slippery slope argument to incest posed by one of the conservative justices... No, I can't address that right now, no matter how much booze is sat in front of me, so rather I have another concept that I want to address before it flees my brainpan. 


Satire is a valuable element of free cultures around the world. It has been employed for all of recorded history, and therefore into prehistory. Satire, allows up to poke the bear without the bear tearing us to shreds; to provide commentary without the authority to do so. I value all free speech and satire closely. However, there is an affect that was only brought to my attention today that is disturbing.

Anyone that had cooked or been a student and heard the phrase, will know what letting off some steam means. A pressure cooker is the best example. If the regulator doesn't let off some steam, the cooking vessel will explode like a bomb, releasing all of it at once. If you let that steam off, and keep the heat on, the contents cook quite quickly. 

Satire is that pressure release valve to society. Take what has been happening in the United States around racial violence with the police force. Ferguson and the very recent Baltimore riots come to mind as pressure cookers. 
These "pots" have been on a low flame for a very long time. The populace has been brought to a boil time and again, but could it be that occasional humorous outcries of satire, the pressure was released and they didn't explode earlier?
Could we be so manipulated; sated by the heartfelt and frustrated humor that a comedian can deliver? Could the Daily Show not only deliver news, but as it is delivering it, defuse the bomb of the message?

It is a philosophical question, that may have some scientific merit to it, though I have not found a study on it. If you find one, please bring it to my attention.

Until then, stay reasonable.