Thursday, December 14, 2017

Must Visit Molokai Attractions

Molokai - Photo: Pixabay
Are you looking for an amazing, yet relatively private and peaceful destination for a Hawaii vacation?  If you are, you should examine the Hawaiian Island of Molokai.  Molokai and Lanai are two islands that are known for their natural beauty.  This is the beauty that seems as if it was left untouched from the common commercialization that takes place at many popular vacation destinations.

Despite the face that Molokai isn’t as popular of a vacation destination as the other Hawaiian Islands, such as Maui, Oahu, Big Island, and Kauai, it is still a great place to be.  Why?  Because there is so much for you to and see.  Many travelers are surprised to learn all that Molokai has to offer them, in terms of fun, relaxation, and entertainment.  To help get your planning starting, a few popular Molokai attractions are outlined below.

A hike through the beautiful Halawa Valley is one of the many must-visit attractions you will find on Molokai.  The area is also known as the “cathedral valley,” of Hawaii.  Here you will find amazing landscape.  This landscape includes distinctive and rare Hawaii plants and flowers.  Hidden throughout the valley are ancient places of worship and the Mooula Falls.  The double-tiered waterfall is a sightseers dream come true.  According to Hawaii’s Official Tourism Site, guided hiking tours are the only way to explore the Halawa Valley.

The Kalaupapa National Historic Park is another attraction that is rated as a must visit by past visitors.  It is located along the northern shore of Molokai.  Here, you are able to take amazing pictures and learn about the history of Molokai.  The Kalaupapa National Historic Park is only accessible by a guided mule ride.  The trial is just under three miles long and takes on average 90 minutes.  Along the way, you will see breathtaking views of the ocean and ride along the tallest sea cliffs in the United States.

The Waikolu Valley Overlook is another must visit on the Molokai Island.  The area is only accessible by hiking and a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  For that reason, it is advised that you take this into consideration when making reservations for a car rental.  When driven to by a 4-wheel drive vehicle, this great Molokai attraction is perfect for individuals of just about any age range.  At the main lookout point, you are able to look out into the ocean and see waterfalls and beautiful sea cliffs.

If you opt for visiting the Waikolu Valley Overlook, you will want to continue on the path to the Kamakou Preserve.  The Kamakou Preserve is not located far from Kaunakakai.  It has been said that the preserve is left exactly “the way Mother Nature intended.”  The Kamakou Preserve is situated on 3,000 acres of beautiful land.  Here you will find rare plants that are only home to the Kamakou area.  A visit to the Kamakou Preserve is only a small hike and ideal for individuals of most age groups.

Another must visit attraction is that of the Papohaku Beach, which is located on the western end of Molokai.  Papohaku Beach is also known as Three Mile Beach, as it is home to three miles of beautiful white sand beaches.  According to Hawaii’s Official Tourism Site, it is the largest white sand beach throughout all of Hawaii.  From numerous lookout points, you can see the neighboring island of Oahu.  Camping, picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing are all popular activities enjoyed on Papohaku Beach.  If you schedule your Hawaii vacation in May, you can participate in and witness one of the island’s biggest festivals.

As you can see, there are a number of great attractions that can be found on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai.  Although Molokai isn’t always listed as a popular Hawaii vacation destination, it should be.  In addition to the above-mentioned attractions, there are also many “hidden gems,” throughout the island.  In fact, after visiting some of the most popular and well-known attractions, you are encouraged to just explore the land and see where the road leads to next.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Legacy of Columbus

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus - Photo: Wikimedia
If you thought back to the first things you ever learned about the history of America, the one that jumps out is that Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America is 1492.  While the date is correct, we later learned when our study of history became more scholarly that there is some dispute about whether Columbus discovered America at all.  So what is the real legacy that this legend of Columbus has given to the American culture that has made him such a revered figure in cultural history?

So much of the Columbus story is approximate that, at first review, we would almost relegate the story of how Columbus discovered America to the level of a myth that borders on superhero worship.  But Columbus was not a myth.  There really was an explorer named Columbus who carried out three bold journeys across the ocean and during those journeys, he did indeed discover “the new world.”  His ships really were named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and he did indeed embark one of those three voyages in 1492.

The legacy of Columbus then is more than just the facts of his exploratory journeys and their outcome.  There is a reason to believe that Columbus’s fabled “discovery of America” did not occur on North American soil but somewhat further south of here, somewhere in the Bahamas.  But the legacy of Columbus lies in his spirit and the challenge he took on that is part of the American spirit and one we identify with so strongly.

Part of the legend was that Columbus embarked on this trip for the new world despite the prevailing “scientific” belief that the world was flat.  Now research in recent times has surfaced sufficient documentation to show that sailors of that time never did believe that teaching.  Their extensive knowledge of navigation and astronomy, which is crucial for any successful sea voyage, was sufficient for sailors to know that the earth was round and that they would never “fall off the edge.”  However, the image of those brave men launching out to sea, against the advice of popular opinion, to find something new and exciting so connects with the American spirit of discovery and adventure that this myth persists as part of the legacy of Columbus.

Christoper Columbus arrives in America
Christoper Columbus arrives in America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Americans do have a tremendous sense of discovery and adventure and a deep-seated need to conquer new lands, to reach out beyond their own grasp and to do the impossible.  This was the spirit of Manifest Destiny which gripped the nation long before there was any reason to believe that this meager band of colonists had the resources to settle a great nation.  Americans always have had such a firm belief in themselves and a core faith that they could do the impossible.  That part of the American spirit is what connects to Columbus’s setting out on these bold missions facing certain dangers so he too could discover new lands and have great adventures.

The legacy of Columbus also lies in the American desire to explore.  Even though the source of the quotation is only a science fiction show, the “mission” of the fictional spaceship “The Enterprise” sums up a deep desire in the heart of all Americans.

Space, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.  Her five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds.  To seek out new life and new civilizations.  To boldly go where no man has gone before.

For Americans, the mission of James Kirk is a perfect restatement of the mission of Christopher Columbus.  And it is the mission of America which has driven this country and its citizens to discoveries and achievements that have never been done before.  It is that spirit of Columbus in all Americans that is one of the things that have made this country great.

Click HERE for more information about Christopher Columbus

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On the Nature of the NAZCA LINES

Nazca Lines - Photo: Flickr
In my prior posting, entitled "Ancient Astronauts and Contemporary Skepticism," I challenged the skeptics (assuming they do not want to acknowledge that the Nazca Lines were made to be viewed by an ancient astronaut) to provide a credible explanation of those geoglyphs. I argued that the people of Nazca cannot be considered unique in human history and that the skeptics need to find parallels elsewhere. However, I imagine that, instead of trying to produce a mundane explanation of the Nazca Lines, the skeptics could simply argue that I have not proven the contrary case.

The basic facts of the Nazca desert are easy to comprehend. Those large geoglyphs cannot be grasped by humans from the ground; in most cases, the hills or mountains are too distant for anyone to even notice that they are there. The figures on the ground can only be recognized from the air. Since humans were unable to fly until relatively recent times, it is logical to consider extraterrestrials as a potential explanation. I have seen skeptics, in desperation, argue that the people of Nazca, in the sixth century, knew how to make air balloons, but I do not believe it for one second. 

For whom or for what did the people of Nazca make those ground drawings? Surely, they made those geoglyphs to be viewed by someone or something. That is unquestionable; it is not rational to believe that mass insanity could last the more than one hundred years it took to complete the project. If they made the geoglyphs to be viewed by an ancient astronaut, then where are their drawings of the ancient astronaut? Such drawings do exist. I provide one of them on my website, in a footnote to Gersiane De Brito's "Tiwanaku Alien and Evolution" article. That picture is not a geoglyph, however; it comes from Nazca pottery, but the timing coincides. This makes sense. They likely thought it might be offensive to the alien to draw a picture of the alien on the ground so they only put it on the pottery, where the alien could not see it. 

Beyond any doubt, the ancient astronaut depicted on the Nazca pottery is the same ancient astronaut depicted in the Tiwanaku engravings. In the Tiwanaku versions, the aquatic, alien nature of the creature is easier to spot. Also in Tiwanaku, with all that bird symbolism, it is apparent that this ancient astronaut could fly, freestyle, up and through the air.

Thus, the Nazca Lines have a viable explanation: the geoglyphs were made to be seen by an ancient astronaut that could fly like a bird with the aid of anti-gravity hand-held propulsion devices, without the use of aircraft or spacecraft of any kind. The people of Nazca drew diverse animal figures on the ground to attract the alien's attention and to entertain it, and they drew lines and directional arrows on the ground to lead the alien back to the people of Nazca.

I think it times for the world's scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists, psychologists, etcetera, to come to their senses and try to evaluate, objectively, the thinking behind the Nazca geoglyphs. The potential for uncovering an instance of genuine alien contact makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Aeromedical Evacuation during the Korean War. (U.S. Air Force photo)
From World War II, helicopters were largely insignificant in usage. While they were often used for supply and rescue missions in the China-Burma-India Theater, their limited design restricted their usage for greater depth. This continued in the Korean War, as helicopters were kept away from combat missions. Greater deployment for troop ferrying was disallowed by law, but on November 4, 1952, via an agreement signed by the Army and Air Force, the helicopter began its evolution in increasing roles played in combat zones. Significantly, before the Korean War ended, the 6th Transportation Company with Sikorski H-19s was deployed via helicopter to Korea.

The Vietnam War saw the United States greatly increase the usage of air mobility in their war strategies. Troops from the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) were sent to fight Viet Cong guerillas in 1962 using helicopters. This enjoyed initial success before the guerrillas found ways to combat this during the crucial AP BAC stand. They were taught how to shoot down the H-21 and Huey helicopters, and the air threat was greatly reduced as a result.

In spite of this, the U.S. Army broadened their scope of ground attacks via airborne vessels (in the shape of helicopters). With their increasing involvement in the Vietnam War by the mid-1960’s, the Army’s helicopters now not only ferried huge troop forces but also larger fleets combined with bomb and rocket carpeting of opposing armies by fixed-wing airplanes.

Using the helicopter, the U.S. Army could engineer rapid deployment and withdrawal of troops into, and from, enemy territory, which was a far cry from slow engagement over ground forces. It could also launch surprise attacks on enemies with less reaction time. The Ch-47 Chinook and UH-1 Huey were widely used for such purposes with great success.

Armed helicopters evolved as well, providing cover and support for ground troops against enemy troops. Helicopter gunships such as the AH-1 Cobra featured wide-ranging artillery including grenade launchers and guided missiles. Before long, the helicopter as a weapon of war was as much a fixture as the tank, armored personnel carrier, and jeep. The Vietnam War had its greatest representative weapon in the Huey.

The number of air casualties was massive during the Vietnam War. There were a total of 4,869 American helicopters lost in the war zone over the course of 1962 to 1973. Curiously, forty-seven percent of the losses came from operational mishaps, which resulted from poorly maintained war-time helicopters. The thick Vietnam jungle landscape also proved an obstacle to damaged helicopters, leading to multiple crashes.

By achieving reasonable success in the usage of helicopters in war conflict, other countries like Great Britain and the ex-Soviet Union copied the U.S.’s lead. However, most countries limited it to troop deployment over combat zones against rebel groups, primarily using U.S. helicopters. 

With the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army continued to refine its combat aviation capabilities as they became less reliant on the U.S. Air Force. The looming threat in Europe of a Soviet ground offensive became their focus, and once again, the helicopter was the primary weapon.

The HueyCobra with heavy artillery was used against deep enemy targets. Utilizing greater American technology that facilitated attacks under night cover, such as “Nap of the Earth” (NOE) flying where helicopters could fly hidden amidst trees and hills and infrared and night imaging gadgets, the Army obtained an advantage over the larger numerical Soviet ground forces and bombarded them with missiles. Helicopters equipped with sophisticated laser-guided missiles to cripple tanks became a fixture in the 1980s.

The benefits of these strategic developments were shown in all their glories in the Persian Gulf War. Iraqi ground troops and artillery were crushed through tactical maneuvers that hinged on the mobility provided by U.S. attack helicopters. These results encouraged other countries to do the same.

Helicopters have not contributed much beyond infantry warfare, due to comparative disadvantages in speed, protection, and weight management capability to conventional fixed-wing aircrafts.

From its infancy, helicopters with greatly developed navigation capabilities have been a mainstay in Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions. Notable results were achieved during the East European wars such as the Bosnia crisis and the Yugoslavia bombing in 1999, while Vietnam offered more than its share of highlight reels. 

The helicopter has also proved to be the perfect tool in submarine hunting and anti-shipping missions, over-the-horizon targeting, and deep sea mine clearing. They provide a more mobile solution compared to ships and cannot be targeted by enemy submarines. Helicopters can also escape detection by ships’ sensors as they are sited beyond the horizon, providing ally ships with target data. They are also safe alternatives to deep sea mine clearing by keeping a distance above the water.

Despite increasing military usage, the helicopter still lacks in speed, range and lifting capabilities. However, with continued research and development by aircraft manufacturers worldwide to meld its attributes with the finer points of conventional aircraft, the helicopter could see an even wider future role and greater impact in the field.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny - Photo: Wikipedia
America is a vast country covering thousands of square miles of land that traverses tremendously diverse climate and landscape.  From high and majestic mountains, to wide deserts to vast fruitful plains that seem to go on forever, the sheer size of the physical landscape of America is breath taking.

Obviously, this was not always the case.  When those earliest settlers landed on the east coast and carved out their stark settlements, they had no idea of huge expanse of land that lay to the west.  It took the bold explorations of surveyors such and Lewis and Clark to report back how stunningly huge the amount of physical space that was available for America to inhabit.

At first, the very idea of becoming a nation was seemingly impossible for the early settlers to grasp.  They came here to escape persecution, tyranny or to make a new home for their families.  If they could have looked a few hundred years down the line into the future and seen the powerhouse of a nation that would grow up from their work in those early years, they would have been stunned that this country grew to be such a world force.  So the earliest challenges of settlers and early leaders of the citizens of the young America was to grasp the scope of what they were about to set about to achieve.

But grasp that scope they did.  It seemed that the physical majesty of what was to become the nation of America inspired a concept that was just as grand as the land itself and that was the concept of Manifest Destiny.  Manifest destiny was the force that drove those settlers and explorers to drive their wagon trains across sometimes impossible terrain through difficult weather conditions and facing many dangers from animals and Native Americans alike to build a nation that spanned form the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans.

This was the dream of the early settlers of this country.  They did not just see a new nation but one of importance, of an almost holy calling to become a virtual utopia of democracy and opportunity.  And part of that utopian vision was the idea of a nation that spanned ocean to ocean and from Mexico to the Canadian border as well.  

When you think about it, its phenomenal that a people who did not have space photographs of a landscape or high speed travel such as is common today to get a vision of a unified nation of such vast size and scope.  But it was more than just physical size that spoke to the hearts and souls of those early Americans.  Manifest Destiny spoke to a vision of greatness for America that was birthed in the hearts of even these early citizens.  

The size of the country was to be a reflection of the majesty of the human spirit and the magnificence of the American experiment to build a nation built on freedom, the will of the people and on democracy and opportunity.  Today such concepts seem ordinary and for that we can thank the early founders of this country for catching that dream together and making it a reality.

Many have criticized Manifest Destiny as greed or empire building.  And to be sure, mistakes were made and many people died or had their individual destinies hurt in the wholesale rush to the west that America experienced in its early decades.  But what is not diminished is that sense of calling and that sense that America was put here for something great.  That calling lives still in the hearts of all true Americans as we find out how we too can help our country fulfill its Manifest Destiny to be a voice for freedom and liberty in the world.  Let’s hope Americans never loose their sense of calling and destiny.  Because if that dies away, something holy and magnificent will die with it.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sudoku Solutions: Helpful for Some, Boring for Others

Sudoku puzzle solved by a brute force/backtracking algorithm. The algorithm started by filling the first empty cells with the values 1 - 9 until one of them created a valid board and moved on from there backtracking whenever doing this could not create a valid board. The program is written in Java. Letter images made in Photoshop.
Photo: Wikimedia

Many players of the Sudoku find this puzzle game very difficult to solve. However, because of the clever minds of most players, they have created techniques, strategies, and solutions to make the game simple.

The following are some of those solutions the players have made in solving any levels of the Sudoku puzzle game.

1.  Scanning

This solution is executed at the start and all throughout the game. Scans should be done for many times in the middle of studying the puzzle. There are actually two basic techniques involved in scanning they are:

•  Cross-hatching – This is scanning of rows and columns to know which line holds numbers that should be removed. The process is repeated in rows and columns. For an accurate result, the numbers should be scanned based on their frequency. It is very necessary to do this process in order to check all the 1 to 9 numbers. 

•  Counting – This technique is performed to know what the missing numbers are. In order to have a fast result, counting should be done based on the last number revealed. 

While the scanning is performed, advanced solvers are searching for possibilities. They do it by narrowing the location of each number in a row or column. 

Most challenging puzzle games have many possibilities that need to be discovered. These possibilities might be in many directions or intersections. The puzzles that need only the solution for scanning in order to be solved are categorized as the easy puzzle. On the contrary, the difficult puzzle can also be solved by using scanning but still, it requires the discovery of possibilities. 

2.  Marking Up

Scanning is usually stopped when there are no numbers that can be detected. From this, it is important to use some logical analysis. Most players find it helpful to lead the analysis by marking up the possible numbers in the empty boxes. There are two famous notations in marking up, they are:

•  Subscript – The possible numbers are written in subscript in the box. The disadvantage to this is that Sudoku puzzle found in newspapers or magazines are normally too small to contain the subscripts. Therefore, it is suggested that if you are going to use this notation, you should make a bigger copy of the puzzle or use a finely pointed pencil. 

•  Dots – the advantage of this is that it can be used on original puzzles. When using the notation, you need to have dexterity in order to put the dots. Misplaced or unintended dots may lead the player to confusion. 

3.  Analyzing 

The following are the two basic approaches for analyzing:

•  Elimination – This is the way of eliminating possible numbers from one box or more to have only one option. After getting each answer, it would be good to perform another scan. This is made to know the effect of the last number placed in. There are several elimination tactics. The commonly used among these tactics is the unmatched candidate removal. Boxes with similar sets of possible numbers are a match if the number of the possible numbers is equal to the numbers of boxes having them. 

•  What if – In this approach, a box containing only two possible numbers is chosen and a guess is completed. The steps already mentioned are repeated except if the same number is found in the same box. If duplication happens, the alternative candidate number is the solution. In logical expressions, this is what called as the reductio ad absurdum. This kind of approach requires a pencil and an eraser. The logical perfectionist may frown about this approach because of its many trial and error test. However, this approach can draw out solutions faster. 

It is not necessary to combine techniques in order to solve the Sudoku. These may prevent the drawbacks of the above solutions, which for most players can be very uninteresting. The counting of the rows and columns can also bore the seasoned Sudoku players. Writing down the possible numbers in an empty box can also consume more time. In addition, the what-if approach can be very puzzling unless the players know how to organize. 

The best solution for solving the Sudoku is to search for techniques that do not require more counting, marking out and analyzing.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Old Harley-Davidson - Photo: Pixabay
The Harley-Davidson motorcycle has been in production since 1903. The brand offers a variety of models for both men and women. While this brand of motorcycle is among the most expensive, the models also have a reputation for being reliable and well built. Harley-Davidson bikes are also well known for the power behind them as they were initially built as a racing bike.

The sell of the motorcycles was slow in the beginning. The one cylinder bike they made in 1903 sold quickly,  but by 1905 they had only sold 11. They continued to improve their designs, and it paid off. By 1908 they had sold 154. They decided to move production from a tiny barn to a factory and hired 20 employees. The bar and shield logo that graces each and every Harley-Davidson bike was introduced in 1910. 

By 1912 the business was booming. There were 200 dealerships in the United States and Japan was demanding more and more bikes. By 1914 almost all motorcycles in the racing circuit were Harley-Davidsons as they could outrun all other brands on the market. Over 20,000 bikes were sold to the military and used in the war. No one was surprised in 1918 when Harley-Davidson became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.

From 1940 until 1945 consumers were very disappointed as it was almost impossible to purchase a new Harley-Davidson. This is because the company had signed another large contract with the United States military, supplying motorcycles for the war. However, this leads to the 1950’s being a difficult time for Harley-Davidson as many consumers got tired of waiting and started purchasing other brands of motorcycles. By 1957 though Harley-Davidson was back on top with the introduction of the Sportster. 

Minor changes to the style and design of the motorcycles took place through the early 1980’s. Harley-Davidson decided some major changes were in order. They introduced a model that featured a five-speed transmission called the FLT. They also replaced the drive train with a belt. The twin-engine was introduced in 1984. 

Harley-Davidson has always taken pride in listening to the consumers of its products. They earned the respect of many owners in 1987 when they introduced their Buy Back Program. This allowed customers to obtain the full trade-in value when they came to purchase a newer model. 

Since then, Harley-Davidson has continued to introduce a variety of new designs including the Fatboy that has sold well. Men and women both find Harley-Davidson motorcycles to be comfortable bikes that are well designed. Riding one is also a prestigious symbol to many. 

Today, you can find a variety of Harley-Davidson retailers all over the world. They offer a full range of motorcycles to choose from. You can even have a customized bike built for you from the factory. You will find the salespeople to be friendly and informative. Harley-Davidson also offers one of the best warranties on motorcycles in the industry. 

Harley-Davidson has stood the test of time when it comes to manufacturing quality motorcycles. This is because they have continually worked to improve upon their designs. They have also paid attention to what consumers are looking for and be willing to produce it when other motorcycle brands have hesitated. Harley-Davidson has earned a loyal consumer base with many claiming they won’t consider riding anything else. The company is reaping the rewards of their dedication, owning 62% of the motorcycle market.