#Mars hooey making rounds on #Facebook. Again.

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Since most people know more about astrology than astronomy (and, no, they’re not the same thing), this nonsense has been making the rounds on Facebook recently.  Needless to say (at least to anyone who paid attention in junior high school science class), Mars will not appear to be as big as the Moon.

The absolute closest distance the Earth and Mars can theoretically ever come to each other is 33.9 million miles.  We’ve never observed that, due to the elliptical nature of the orbits of planets. An approach that close requires a coincidental alignment of orbits that is exceedingly rare.  So rare, that it’s not been observed in human history.

For comparison, the orbits of Venus and the Earth can come within 24 million miles of each other.  The diameter of Venus is 3,032 miles, while Mars is 4,212 (not much difference in the grand scheme of planets).  Earth’s diameter is 7,918 miles. (give or take. It’s a bit more at the equator, less at the poles, due to the spin of the planet on it’s axis.)  Venus, even at it’s closest approach, 10 million miles closer than Mars ever gets, never appears as more than a bright star in the morning or evening sky, so the idea that Mars will look like our Moon is, simply, hooey.  Never going to happen.

If you ever do see something in the sky as big as the Moon (that’s not the Moon), we’re in deep shit.  That’s either the Death Star, or Gallifrey.

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Either one of those, and we’re screwed.

Even just standing around can get you in the newspaper!

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At Gay Porterville’s rally Tuesday, June 17, I got caught in the newspaper’s picture.  This image appeared in the Porterville Recorder’s print edition today.

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See my Alternating Currents blog for the story of the rally, here.

The entire photo after the jump.

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Resolution of Recognition by City of Visalia

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group_06_02_14Members of the LGBT and straight ally community were on hand for the 3rd presentation to recognize Pride Month in the City of Visalia, California.  Accepting for the entire community, Dr. Steve Palmer and Joan Palmer, co-presidents of Tulare-Kings PFLAG.

Text of the Resolution

City of Visalia Resolution 6-2-14
Resolution of Recognition of local Activities held in honor of LGBT Month

Whereas, Visalia has a diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communityy which includes individuals from all walks of life; and

whereas, the Visalia Pride Lions Club is holding a recognition dinner this month where they are presenting the second annual “HEART OF A LION” award; and

Whereas, scholarships will be presented this month to LGBT students, and to students who have LGBT family members; and

Whereas, LGBT month will also be celebrated with a fund raising dance to raise money to support future scholarships for LGBT students and their families.

Now, therefore, the City Council of the City of Visalia recognizes all the organizations that are supporting the local activities in honor of LGBT month including PFLAG of Tulare and Kings Counties, COS Pride, Gay-Straight Alliance at Visalia schools and the Pride Lion’s Club of Visalia; and

Furthermore, wishes these organizations every success with their local support endeavors honoring LGBT month.

June 2,2014

Steven Nelsen, Mayor
E. Warren Gubler, Vice-Mayor
Greg Collins, Councilmember
Bob Link, Councilmember
Amy Shuklian, Councilmember

USPS Honors Harvey Milk with a stamp

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Available May 22, Harvey Milk Day in California.

California’s Drought Spurs Watering Restrictions

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Visalia’s City Council recently invoked severe water use restrictions for landscaping and car washing.

Here’s the info on the rules, now in effect in Visalia, brazenly appropriated from the City’s own website:

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Odd = Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9)
Even = Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) 

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The ‘Trophy Wall’ has an addition

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On Saturday, September 21, 2013, the local newspaper, The Visalia Times Delta, published in the print edition an article I wrote on September 18 and posted to my blog “Alternating Currents” (where I post as one of three community bloggers on their website.  You can read “Hate in a small town” here).  Partially visible is another Times Delta article from 1996 that mentions me and other HAM radio operators as we were preparing for Field Day.  The two identical looking plaques are the 2012 and 2013 proclamations issued by the City of Visalia, proclaiming June LGBT Pride Month in the city.  These proclamations were signed by the Mayor Shuklian and the four other City Council members.   (Take that, Porterville!)  Also on the wall is my certificate from the Visalia Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy, issued in May 1999.  Down in the corner is my Starfleet Academy diploma, certifying my status as an officer in good standing in the Federation Starfleet.  Not visible are documents and diplomas that are work related, including POST training certificates, Dispatcher of the Year (2005), my HAM radio license, and other work related items.

A Tale of Two Cities

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

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What a difference a day makes!  On Monday, June 3, 2013, the City of Visalia‘s City Council issued it’s second LGBT Pride Month Proclamation.  On Tuesday, June 4th, the City of Porterville issued it’s first.  The two events could not have been more different.

Both cities provide online applications for proclamations, with instructions on how to turn them into the city.  Such requests are routinely handled by cities across the country, and are ways for cities to recognize citizens and groups.  Here’s Porterville’s “Request a Proclamation” page.

Visalia’s proclamation resulted in applause and friendly chatter in a standing room only crowd that overflowed into the hallway.  This year’s proclamation went mostly unnoticed by the greater community in Visalia.  Last year it provoked some media coverage and talk-radio interviews with the Mayor of Visalia, Amy Shuklian.  Porterville’s proclamation, in a meeting room at least twice the size of Visalia’s, also with standing room only and overflow into the hall, resulted in boos, catcalls, the arrest of a anti-gay protestor, and at least two calls for the death penalty for homosexuals.

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