Volume 1-2019

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The RCJ provides RSS feeds from well-respected news organizations, giving our readers a convenient portal through which to stay abreast of world events and issues. Use the links provided. The following are on the RCJ Front Page Report homepage (scroll both columns to the right).

The New York Times

The Huffington Post

The Economist


These are provided on other pages within this site:


Politics Daily

Wall Street Journal

Ezra Klein's WonkBlog - Washington Post

Nuclear Threat Initiative




Rolling Stone


Other sites worth visiting:

Political Punch (ABC News Blog)


9-11 Liberals and Salman Rushdie

Police Force "Bombing" in Iraq

Anatomy of a Screwing

Fix America Now

Iceberg Economy: How the Supply Siders are Sinking the Ship of State

Bloomberg Illustrates Dodd-Frank Regulations for Investors

DAVOS WEF Points Out Single Points of Failure in the New Global Economy

Soulless Possession of Santo Niño

What Keeps NBC's Chuck Todd Up at Night?

"King of Bain" - Documentary on Mitt Romney's Private Equity Firm Bain Capital

Robert Smigel's Lost Ode to the Evil of General Electric

Riddle This: Do Our Governmental Systems Hinder Mitigation of Harmful Influences to Our System of Government?

The Achievement Metric - Time for a New Way of Determining Public Policy and Positioning Revenue Spending

Hide Your Brains! Matthews from the Left! Gingrich from the Right! Blowhard Attack! Or, more to the point...book reviews of "JFK Elusive Hero" and "Valley Forge"

Art Sampler - An RCJ Review of Art in the Modern Period

Benicia, California Case Study in Traffic Engineering and Growth Management

Everyday Heroism - The Penn State Debacle

How to Keep Things Lousy in the USA

How Being a Socialist Became a Negative

Are You A Slave? A Brief History of the Subject Suggests "Probably"

Moses, Wall Street, Human Nature and Grover Norquist

Concepts of Resistance - The RCJ Provides a Road Map for the OWS Movement

Lance Henriksen - World's Greatest Actor in Reflective Mode

Conspiracy - A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the New World Order

Elections 2012

What Does it Take to be President?

Rating the U.S. News Readers

The Antidote to Michelle Bachman

Ship of Fools - Why Won't We Save Ourselves?

White House Solar Bomb

What Is Happening to Us?

The Cloud - What It Is

Background on Afghanistan

Economics 101

Global Economic Risks

Islamic Definition

Middle East

Second Amendment Remedies

Sam Broussard - Republicans


Why All the Zombies?

Gun Rights

Leadership Chronicles


Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel











I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves at NOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.






Exploring the Moon with Google Earth

NASA's Snapshot of the Universe



Lunar Eclipse 2010



Solar Flare (NASA)

2013: NASA anticipates large solar flares, possibly as large as the 1859 flares that fried telegraph lines throughout the U.S. and Europe






Space Migration

Why Would We Go There?

Exoplanet: a planet orbiting a star somewhere outside of our own solar system


Recent discoveries of planets in "the habitable zone" - and these now seem to be coming at an increasing rate - have been focused on specific swaths of space, specifically that within an orbital distance from a star where an Earth-like planet can maintain liquid water on its surface and Earth-like life. The habitable zone is the intersection of two regions that must both be favorable to life: one within a planetary system, and the other within a galaxy. Planets and moons in these regions are the likeliest candidates to be habitable and thus capable of bearing extraterrestrial life similar to our own.

Life is most likely to form within the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ) within a solar system, and the galactic habitable zone (GHZ) of the larger galaxy (though research on the latter point remains in its infancy). The HZ may also be referred to as the "life zone", "Comfort Zone", "Green Belt" or "Goldilocks Zone".


That bit of Wikipedia information is all very interesting, but as awareness of these heavenly bodies from the Goldilocks Zone grows by leaps and bounds, how do we measure the value of the information?

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was put into orbit above earth to establish a stable platform from which to measure distances to Cepheid variable stars, which has given scientists greater insight into the rate of expansion of the universe. It turns out it is expanding at an accelerating rate, which is an unexpected and unexplained discovery that may be linked to "dark energy".

Dark energy, scientists explain, is a theoretical energy that permeates all of space and for some reason accelerates the rate of the universe's expansion, which when you think about it sounds like double-talk, but may allude to an aspect of the fabric of space itself. Maybe the whole universe rides atop a giant oil slick that tends to accumulate and focus the momentum of expansion. I made that up, but people who know what they are talking about haven't come up with anything much better, which again begs the question -

What is this all worth?

The HST has been around to view astronomical events from somewhere near the beginning of time, owing to its extraordinary depth of field. It has revealed information about black holes and dwarf planets, and revealed other mysteries, astronomical bodies of unknown type, such as SCP 06F6, which may have been a supernova burning bright, possibly outside of the Milky Way Galaxy, but may also have been tidal destruction of a CO white dwarf by an intermediate-mass black hole, a "Type Ia" supernova exploding inside the dense stellar wind of a carbon star, an asteroid that was swallowed up by a white dwarf, or, less likely, a core collapse supernova. Whatever, it isn't there any more, at least not as far as we can see.

Does it make any difference?

Purely scientific curiosity and a desire to understand the universe in which we live is probably value enough to support most of these scientific endeavors, however minimally their findings may trickle down as intellectual benefits for the masses.


The one thing we do get about the exploration of space is the growing awareness that the universe is likely teaming with life, and with that comes the almost certain knowledge that we will eventually cross paths.

The questions a layperson might naturally have about the value of this type of scientific investigation may begin to come into focus when we consider the practical applications of discovery, the way Magellan imagined the discovery of the "Spice Islands".

Humans have explored for only a handful of reasons:

  • Discovery - mapping unknown territory
  • Research - investigating organic and inorganic matter
  • Survival - need to discover required resources
  • Diplomacy - desire to communicate with other groups
  • Exploitation - desire to develop commerce

  • Invasion - desire to occupy and claim territory


Humankind has history in all of those regards, and they serve as the only models we have for what we might expect from an alien race visiting our own planet. What if the shoe were on the other foot and it was our territory and resources being, pardon the expression, probed?

Discovery and Research: If an alien race had the technology required to traverse the vast reaches, they would likely know a great deal about Planet Earth before ever showing up here in person. Based on human space exploration, it might seem reasonable that they would first send scientific data gathering probes, though we have only done that when exploring celestial bodies that are not apparently inhabited by organic life. We have discovered planets in the habitable zone and may imagine one day sending our own probes to these distant places. Would we do that, however, if we had the capability of going their ourselves? Doesn't that seem unlikely?

If we had the technology to travel 36 light years to HD85512b, for instance, aren't the chances even better that we would have also developed the technology to have a pretty good idea of what we would find there prior to ever sending a probe? And certainly we wouldn't mount a manned mission to a planet about which we hadn't already developed a significant body of knowledge.

Conversely, were an alien race to make a site visit to Earth, it seems unlikely that it would be for either Discovery or Research purposes. Those early phases of engagement would likely have taken place without we Earthlings ever being aware of it having happened. Those UFO reports that have been coming in since the beginning of time, for instance, could be discovery and research drones doing the preliminary work.

So what happens after that?

Engagement: If an alien race has anything in common with the basic instincts of humans, the aliens will act in their own self interests. One wouldn't mount a galactic mission without feeling a certain entitlement to the rewards.

When Cortes showed up in Mexico, for instance, looking for gold and silver, he discovered the Aztec Empire, which he summarily attacked, destroyed, and plundered. He felt that he could do that because he had a commission from the King of Spain to bring home the bacon, and the presence of Montezuma and his Aztec nation notwithstanding, he did just that, claiming Mexico for Spanish domain.

You got similar atrocities committed by Columbus and other explorers of the new world.

Of course, an alien race may engage Earthlings in a diplomatic way, as humans have often done when their was a perceived benefit. Diplomacy, of course, is closely aligned with treachery, and one can imagine the dynamics in trying to understand the protocol of relations with an alien race for which one has no blueprint for behavior and action. Trust is built slowly, over time, and Earth history is made up of failed efforts to create collaborative relations with disparate groups, each competing in their own interests. Detente is typically preceded by an extended period of upheaval.

So what is left? Survival, Exploitation and Invasion, all bearing unfortunate consequences for all parties involved.

Perhaps the worst of all possible scenarios would be an alien race migrating through the universe in a struggle to survive. They would almost certainly marginalize any competing force they may encounter. And who knows what survival requirements might be for such a gypsy contingent. Do they gobble resources so voraciously that they are sentenced to an ongoing travail of hunting and gathering and confrontational engagement?

Exploitation of Earth and its resources, possibly including humans, seems like an entirely plausible scenario based on how we Earthlings have behaved with one another. Alien life forms may not even be carbon based, as life as we know it is, so we may encounter behaviors outside of our wildest imaginings.

We can hope that an alien race arrives with enlightened intentions, providing benefits that are mutual and shared broadly, but that would indeed be a horse of a different color versus the Human experience.

Invasion seems most likely among the four engagement scenarios. Hannibal didn't move across the Orient looking for new friends. A galactic trip, particularly if it involves any number of vessels, would almost certainly be a military exercise, and militaries, being large and expensive things to move, don't make any trips without doing so for a purpose, and military excursions really only have the one: Invasion.

WILD CARD: The wild card could be that an alien race who shows up on Planet Earth is just nothing at like us humans. We could hope that they were, in fact, superior to us and that their technological advancements were paced by their intellectual and spiritual enlightenment; that they came as emissaries and peace and understanding.

Now those, to Earthlings, would be largely alien concepts.

Other Worlds








Artist's rendering of an exoplanet



National Geographic News reported at the end of August (2011) that a new planet - HD85512b - has been discovered using the European Southern Observatory's High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, instrument in Chile. Situated 36 light-years from Earth, the new planet could be one of the most Earthlike worlds discovered yet, though there are other recent finds with similar dynamics.

The HARPS data show that the planet is 3.6 times the mass of Earth, and the new world orbits its parent star at just the right distance for water to be liquid on the planet's surface—a trait scientists believe is crucial for life as we know it.

"The distance is exactly the limit where you want to be to have liquid water," said study leader Lisa Kaltenegger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

"If you scale it to our system, it's a bit further out than Venus is to our sun." At that distance, the planet likely receives a bit more solar energy from its star than Earth does from the sun. (Explore an interactive solar system.)

But Kaltenegger and colleagues calculate that a cloud cover of at least 50 percent would reflect enough of the energy back into space to prevent overheating.

On average, Earth has 60 percent cloud cover, so partly cloudy skies on HD85512b are "not out of the question," she said.

Of course, clouds of water vapor depend on the presence of an atmosphere similar to Earth's, something that can't be detected on such distant planets with current instruments.

Models of planet formation predict that planets with more than ten times Earth's mass should have atmospheres dominated by hydrogen and helium, Kaltenegger said. Less massive worlds—including HD85512b—are more likely to have Earthlike atmospheres, made mostly of nitrogen and oxygen.

New World "A Strong Candidate" for Habitability

So far, the newly detected planet is only the second rocky world outside our solar system to be confirmed in its star's habitable zone—the region around a star that's not too hot and not too cold for liquid water.

The other contender, planet Gliese 581d, was previously discovered using the HARPS instrument. This world lies just on the cool edge of its star's habitable zone. (See "Most Earthlike Planet Yet Found May Have Liquid Oceans.")

Another promising planet, Gliese 581g, was discovered in 2010 and dubbed the most Earthlike planet yet. But controversy surrounds the claim, with some experts declaring that the entire planet is actually a data glitch.

Manfred Cuntz, director of the astronomy program at the University of Texas, Arlington, noted that more information is needed before anyone can speculate whether aliens are wandering around the newfound planet.

"It's not their fault no extra information [about the planet's atmosphere] is available right now," Cuntz said of the research team. "It looks like this is a strong candidate, in principle."

In addition to size and location, HD85512b has two other points in its favor for potentially harboring life, Cuntz said.

The planet's orbit is nearly circular, which would provide a stable climate, and its parent star, HD85512, is older—and therefore less active—than our sun, which would lower the likelihood of electromagnetic storms damaging the planet's atmosphere.

Not only that, but in principle, the age of the system—5.6 billion years—"gives life a chance to originate and develop," he said. By contrast, our own solar system is thought to be about 4.6 billion years old.

New Planet a Great Place for Yoga?

Given current limits on space travel, it's unlikely for now that humans will get to visit HD85512b.

But if we could get there, the newfound planet might seem like a fairly alien world: muggy, hot, and with a gravity 1.4 times that of Earth's, study leader Kaltenegger said.

On the bright side, "hot yoga might be one of the things you don't have to pay for there," she quipped.

The paper describing HD85512b appears online at arXiv.org and has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

NASA Rolls the Dice on Mars


NASA animation of the massive new Space Launch System designed to take humans to Mars


NASA announced, on September 14 (2011), the design of the Space Launch System, or SLS, a rocket that will carry humans to destinations that include asteroids and Mars.

"This new, heavy-lift rocket will be America's most powerful since the Saturn V rockets that carried Apollo astronauts to the moon," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a video released before the announcement.

From The Associated Press:

The idea is to launch its first unmanned test flight in 2017 with the first crew flying in 2021 and astronauts heading to a nearby asteroid in 2025, the officials said. From there, NASA hopes to send the rocket and astronauts to Mars – at first just to circle, but then later landing on the Red Planet – in the 2030s.

According to USA Today, the rocket will be 34 stories tall and take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA said that the SLS will initially carry payloads of between 70 and 100 metric tons with plans to later carry up to 130 metric tons. By comparison, the space shuttle that was retired in July could carry about 27 tons, the AP reports.

The SLS includes the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), which is designed to carry a crew of six astronauts. 

NASA said that in an effort to reduce cost, the rocket will use the same fuel system -- liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen -- for both the core and the upper stage propulsion.

PC Mag reports that the rocket will cost around $18 billion over the next five years.

Late spring on Mars (centered on roughly 305 degrees longitude)




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