Rings of Saturn

A Year Later – After the May 20 Tornado

Last year in May, one of the most destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma history struck Moore and several surrounding communities, rivaling the May 3 tornado of 1999. According to the NOAA, this tornado registered as an EF-5 (the highest), was on the ground for 40 minutes, and grew to 1.1 miles at its widest point. It is considered to be the costliest tornado in Oklahoma history, and the fourth deadliest with 24 fatalities.

tornado funnel cloud

A funnel cloud from a tornado that would touch down in Edmond, OK on May 19, 2013

I had been traveling back and forth through Texas frequently at the time for events like BlogCon, and unfortunately the passing of my grandmother. In fact, I was on my way to her funeral when the tornado struck. The day before, another tornado actually passed about a mile or two north of my house, close enough for me to get a picture of the funnel from my front yard. I guess I was a little desensitized to the severe weather, so when I first heard that another outbreak was in progress, I didn’t think too much of it, especially being hundreds of miles away at the time. But as the afternoon went on, and national news  converged on the heart of the place where I call home, I soon realized this would be a much bigger event. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Said Selfies Are For The Birds?

Standard Excellence Rings of SaturnWho said selfies are for the birds? Only a recent social phenomenon, the selfie has fast become just another part of everyday life in the 21st Century. In fact, last year Oxford dictionary named “selfie” their word of the year.

And now it seems this viral trend has spread to other species on the planet.

This happened when some Aboriginal rangers in Austrailia were attempting to capture video of fresh-water crocodiles. Their cameras kept disappearing, and nobody knew why, until one bird failed to cover his trail. As can be seen in the video, a young sea eagle quickly acquires its target and makes off with the loot. After fleeing to a safe distance, the suspect – er, I mean eagle – inspects the stolen cargo, then proceeds to take “selfies,” and leaves the camera behind to spread on social media.

So, not only is there a delinquent bird problem going on down under, they’re obsessed with their own persona, too! But don’t let this young millennial fool you, the adults are much more viscous in their pursuit of criminal activity:

“This one was still learning because he just took it near the cliff-side and he never dropped [it], he just put it down and started picking at it. An adult one would have flown it right up the top and yeah for sure it would have smashed that camera.”

The rangers say they will be bolting down their camera in the future.

Reported by the Australian Broadcasting Company. Heard through TheBlaze.

For more Oklahoma, Texas, and national news and opinion that matters for Liberty, visit the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and my Twitter profile @FoaRyan.

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Some Things Never Change – Russian Nationalism

Did you watch the Opening Ceremony yesterday? I know Americans for the most part did not see it live, but I found myself forgetting the ceremony was delayed while watching it on NBC last night. Mainly thanks to Twitter.

Olympics Opening ceremonies failrI didn’t tune in until the exact moment the Russian choir started singing their National Anthem, so I actually missed the big gaffe people are talking about (though I have now seen the pictures, and yeah, that’s a pretty big gaffe). In case you’re blind and reading this through a text-to-speech device, one of the five Olympic “O’s” didn’t deploy, in a manner of speaking. It sort of looked like the Olympic logo got a black eye or something.

So what do you think would or should happen to someone overseeing such an event? Should he be fired? Fined? Put to public shame? Well, I guess we’ll never know, because the man responsible for this unfortunate production failure is already dead! All right, actually that’s not true. But there’s a great article on The Daily Currant that sounds believably plausible, at first glance anyhow. Those Russians sure have a lot of national pride, don’t they? Some things never change.

Murderous kidding out of the way, the ceremony was a worldwide tribute to Russian nationalism. The program ran through the nation’s history from what I find to be a unique perspective. I’ve always found Russian history fascinating, but I’ve also always learned about it from a distinctly American perspective, so my attention was held to the very end. The Russians are very proud of their heritage.

Not everyone seems to share my fascination with multiculturalism, though, as I found out online:

On the other hand, the American entry was quite a site to see… not in a good way:

It’s too bad the granny sweater style is what our team chose to represent American fashion, but I suppose it was better than a bunch of beards and flannel jackets. All in all it was an amazing production. I wish I could have been there to see it in person.

And if you didn’t catch it, that last tweet about sums up the show.

For more Oklahoma, Texas, and national news and opinion that matters for Liberty, visit the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and my Twitter profile @FoaRyan.

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The Kids Aren’t Alright

What is going on in this world? Because everywhere I look it seems like it’s on its head – all year, even.

I mean, there has been a little bit of crazy happening all over. Just look around, bombs are going off while drones fly overhead, and local murder cases are spawning national protests. But that’s not all, do you remember back when there was no Pope? That’s pretty rare. Do you know who the last people to say “I remember when there was no Pope” were? People who lived 700 years ago, that’s who!

A brief history

I have on many occasions pointed out the upside-downedness of the things our planet is going through this year. In January America went off the dreaded fiscal cliff and into the depths of the sequestrial ocean. Then in February, no sooner than Carnival could rescue the more than 4,200 passengers and staff aboard its drifting cruiseliner from certain destruction in the Gulf of Mexico, Kim Jong-Un pointed his nukes across the Pacific and threatened to improve his technology enough to actually fire them sometime around March.

Mysteriously, when the tragic act of terrorism happened in Boston a few weeks later, North Korea completely vanished from the world news scene, and before anyone had time to get a new grip on the world, West, Texas exploded!

I could go on to review the many uprisings in Africa and the Middle East, talk of tornadoes and meteor explosions over Russia, or walk you to the world of Weiners and scandals, but I think by now you get the idea that 2013 is turning out to be a crazy year.

They come in threes…

Before I break down into a well thought-out conspiracy theory, there’s one more bizarre series of events to convince you of just how much this whole year has gone off its tracks.

I’m talking about the train wrecks.

There have been three people hit by a train on the same railway system England in one week. No word on whether it was the same train each time, but I’d be sure to look both ways before crossing the tracks in North Staffordshire. On top of that, there was the high-speed derailment in Spain last week, and a head-on crash in Switzerland this week.

In addition, and this one is the kicker – as in kicked off the edge into the sci-fi abyss – coming in as the third train incident in a matter of weeks, less than one month ago, several people were reportedly vaporized in a train accident. What in the name of Heisenberg Compensators is going on here?!! I really, really feel bad for the victims of this horrific accident. But think I’m more overwhelmed by the thought of news reports including such a thing as “death by vaporization.” This is the future, people. We are in the future, right now.

What will we hear next? That the UN lunar colony’s power facility was damaged by a plasma conduit leak? That Vulcan has been destroyed by a freak drilling accident and Kahn woke from cryo-sleep 8 years early?

The only explanation

saturn at different phases of ring tiltFor a while I thought perhaps I could blame the planets, that maybe this was one of those times when five or six of them line up in a row, and crop circles turn up all over the place. All I was able to come up with was Saturn. Yes, the one with all the pretty rings.

Saturn reached opposition on April 28th, meaning at that time it was directly opposite the Sun, and visible all night long from planet Earth. It also means the gravity of the planet was pulling in precisely the opposite direction as the Sun at that time, and I’m telling you, that’s the closest thing to an explanation I can come up with for why the world has been so upside down.

Is this a real theory? No, but it did help me come up with a name for a new(er) section on ye olde Standard Excellence.

So welcome to Rings of Saturn, that dark corner of the room where we take a look at the insane goings-on in humanity’s lonely place in the galaxy. There have been a few posts already, and there will be many more to come. This is a column where when new technology promises to solve all your problems, you’ll find out how it will also turn you into a mindless automaton and control your life. When the next Gangnam Style comes to whoop ’em, you’ll be ready to raise your shields and escape the insane memes to follow.

Enjoy your stay as long as you’d like, there’s no shortage of lunacy in this solar system.

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Oklahoma tragedy becomes Piers Morgan’s climate change opportunity

This is not the kind of news story I like to follow, especially when it involves families and friends that I know personally. I live in the Oklahoma City metro area, about 30 minutes from Moore, where yesterday an EF-4 (preliminary measurement) tornado destroyed homes, businesses, and even lives for 20 miles as it tracked through the Heartland. At least four of my friends and their families have lost their homes.

The only good thing I have seen so far is that the death toll has been lowered from a number released last night. The number I saw on national television was 51 deaths, but that has since been reduced to 24. A press conference is scheduled for noon today, in which a new number may again be released.

UPDATE: After a 12PM presser, the death toll appears to remain at twenty-four, nine of which are children. This number could change as more homes and businesses are searched for survivors. 237 injuries have been reported at this time.

tornado funnel

Funnel cloud just north of Standard Excellence headquarters, AKA “My House”

Fortunately, and by God’s providence, I left Oklahoma Sunday night to attend the funeral of a family member, but not before a tornado on that day just about grazed my own house!

This one touched down briefly a few minutes before I snapped the picture, and eventually regained strength, running through Edmond on its way toward Arcadia Lake.

Oklahoma is no stranger to devastating tornadic events, even tornadoes tracking through populated areas. In fact, the tragic tornado which swept through Moore, OK, Monday afternoon followed a path nearly parallel to the May 3, 1999 tornado which caused so much devastation 16 years ago.

Enter the crazy left

But for some reason, Piers Morgan and Bill Nye saw the tragic deaths of my neighbors as an opportunity to promote their environmental agenda. All they were doing was speculating, but speculation is enough to plant ideas in the minds of viewers, who then treat those speculations as facts.

I mean, if climate change actually had something to do with this, that’s one thing, but the May 3rd tornado prior to this 10 years of “the warmest years recorded.” Never mind that we’ve had tornadoes long before that as well. Somehow because this fits into their agenda, our lives and property are now agents of their speculation.

Just stop it, Piers Morgan! Mr. Nye, I loved your show as a kid, please go back to being a scientist, not a pundit. You made science so interesting and exciting for me. If climate change science is real, then keep inspiring children to be scientists, and the theories will take care of themselves.

There is as of this moment zero science to link Monday’s tornadoes to climate change. In Oklahoma, we call this phenomenon “weather.”

That is all. May God be with those affected by this horrible event.

Be sure to check out the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and my Twitter profile @FoaRyan for more Oklahoma and national news that matters for Liberty!

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Goodnight, Twitter – Apple’s Support Model

Goodnight, Twitter. The slightly-longer-than-a-tweet end of the day thought from me, @FoaRyan. Tonight’s topic: Apple’s Support Model. And it’s a little longer than the standard “Goodnight” message.

Apple’s support model is successful: they intimidate you to the point you don’t ask for support. No, seriously – have you ever been to an Apple store? It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, the place is packed to fire code. There’s a bouncer at the front who gets to decide if you’re worthy to talk to a ‘genius,’ who likely has less education than you do yourself, and most of the time the problem is your fault or not their concern. (In my case my 10-month warranty was 3 days expired, otherwise they’d be happy to fix their manufacturer’s defect – who has a 10-month warranty, anyway?!)

Think you’ll bypass the line and check out the support forums instead? Think again! It’s even more likely to be something you’re doing wrong, and not their amazing impeccable product. When I do actually find my issue addressed, it’s usually 20 pages of a high-ranking forum member attacking the validity of the asker’s question, as opposed to addressing the possibility that something could be wrong with Apple.

I used to be a huge, big-time Apple fan. But times are changing, I suppose, and all good things must someday come to an end. Just like this day, which is now over. I hope Apple regains some of what it has lost, even before we all lost Steve Jobs. The world needs a successful alternative to Microsoft, if for no other reason than healthy competition.