Historical happenings

6/21/1621 Twenty-seven Czech leaders are executed on Old Town Square in Prague following the Battle of White Mountain.
The mass execution comes as the the Catholic Habsburgs take their revenge on the leaders of the Protestant Bohemian Revolt by the Austrian Habsburgs, which has resulted in the Thirty Years’ War.

6/21/1915 ~ Germany uses poison gas for the first time in warfare in the Argonne Forest.

6/21/1939 ~ Baseball legend Lou Gehrig is forced to quit baseball because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–a disease which wastes muscles.


Idiot’s Corner

Given the levels of comprehension shown by the ejectees from the educational institutions, The lede on this article really isn’t surprising.

Americans grapple with recognizing facts in news stories: Pew survey

Only a quarter of U.S. adults in a recent survey could fully identify factual statements – as opposed to opinion – in news stories, the Pew Research Center found in a study released on Monday.

The survey comes amid growing concerns about so-called fake news spread on the internet and social media. The term generally refers to fabricated news that has no basis in fact but is presented as being factually accurate.

Facebook Inc , Alphabet Inc’s Google and other tech companies have recently come under scrutiny for failing to promptly tackle the problem of fake news as more Americans consume news on social media platforms.

The main portion of Pew’s survey polled 5,035 adult Americans aged 18 and above in February and March. The study was intended to determine if respondents could differentiate between factual information and opinion statements in news stories.

Participants were given five factual statements such as “spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up the largest portion of the U.S. federal budget,” and five opinion statements such as “democracy is the greatest form of government.” They were asked to identify which ones were factual and which were opinions.

Only 26 percent were able to correctly identify all five factual statements. On opinions, about 35 percent were able to correctly identify all five statements. Roughly a quarter got most or all wrong in identifying facts and opinions, the research showed. [snip]

“There is a striking difference in certain Americans in distinguishing what are factual statements and what are not and that depends on one’s level of digital savviness, political savviness,” Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at Pew Research Center, said in an interview.

The study also found that when Americans call a statement “factual” they overwhelmingly also think it is accurate. They tend to disagree with factual statements they incorrectly label as opinions, Pew said.

The research showed Republicans and Democrats were also more likely to think news statements are factual when the statements appeal to their side, even if the statements were opinions.

The largest part of this problem arises from the fact that most younger persons are taught what to think not how to think. Regardless of our political biases (we all have them) one needs to know the difference twix beliefs and reality. Leaders in the military learn rapidly to discern between what someone would like to do and what they actually CAN do.

To quote Dirty Harry, “A man has to know his limits”.

Obstructing Justice

Ponder this

Ponder this

Better is the enemy of good.

~ Voltaire


The changing face of Mars.


Want to see Mars with your own eyes? It’s easy to do. Just wake up an hour before sunrise; step outside and look south. Mars is blazing brighter than any star in the sky. You might be surprised, however, by the color. The dust storm now enveloping Mars is gradually hiding the planet’s rusty surface, giving the Red Planet an increasingly yellow complexion. Take a look and let us know what color you see! [sky map] [photo gallery]


Mars rover Opportunity is in trouble. NASA engineers attempted to contact Opportunity on June 12th, but did not hear back from the nearly 15-year old rover. The problem: A huge dust storm is blanketing Perseverance Valley where Opportunity has been working. This sequence of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter shows the progression of the storm:

The huge dust cloud is highlighted in red. Soon after it appeared on May 31st, the cloud swirled south to engulf Opportunity. Right now, the dust is so thick in Perseverance Valley, day has been turned into night, depriving the solar powered rover of the sunlight it needs to charge its batteries.[snip]

Other data and photos from Solar Dynamics Observatory.


Much has been made of the planned trip to Mars in the near future. there is a trip planned for a manned voyage to the Red Planet. Mars has to small moons orbiting it. Since the two orbits are not equidistant from the surface, it is possible for both to appear in the Martian sky at the same time.