Pie

I have no idea why Dave Freer kept repeating to me as “he” in the example of getting outed as not sufficiently vocal and leaving and going fully out of the closet.
Eh.
Cue “For the times they are achanging.”

Mad Genius Club

I like pie…

Now my answer to who gets what share of the pie in publishing (actually in most things) is hey, let’s make a bigger pie.

That’s always seemed a sensible answer to me. I’ve spent years talking about ways to make reading more popular with as many people as possible. I can summarize many thousands of words into this: Give as many readers as possible what they enjoy. Help them find it, keep them coming back for more.

A rising tide floats ALL boats.

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I’m Alive

I just sent the Guardian rewrite in.  No, I don’t think I’ll write a blog post.

Tough.

You’ll most assuredly survive.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

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*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  In Pursuit of Justice: A Novel of The Garia Cycle.

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Garia and the East Morlans have been on increasingly rocky terms for years, and when Téo and Zara ran away together, they touched off the powder keg of war between their kingdoms. Now they have to fight for their lives while learning to live in a foreign land.
In the Morlans, Hanri and Alia are facing their own sets of problems. He must control and divert the single-minded vengeance of his father King Reynard, and she must sort the gold of information from the dross of gossip in a palace swarming with rumors. It could mean the difference between life and death for all of them

FROM PAM UPHOFF: External Relations (Wine of the Gods Book 37)

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The Granite Peak Colony has been discovered, lost rediscovered, fought over . . . And now the Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation has informed all parties to come to an accommodation peacefully–or they’ll impose one.

Izzo Withione Alcairo had been appointed Director of External Relations and told to clean up internal corruption and nepotism. Now it looks like he’s going to have to do it while engaging in cross dimensional diplomacy. With a pregnant wife, a gothic horror of a residence, and a sexy young princess throwing herself at him, it’s going to be an interesting first year.

J L CURTIS:  The Grey Man- Generations.

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A new generation carries on the legacy of service in the latest Grey Man novella…

Marine Corporal Jace Cronin, a scout/sniper, survived insurgents in the Philippines, only to be handed an even greater challenge: the Naval Academy. He won’t be headed in alone, though. Esme Carter got her own slot and is ready to go head to head with him over who’s the best. They’ve got their eyes on lieutenant’s bars and pilot slots, and woe betide anyone who gets in the way!

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: useful

Still Working On Guardian

I’m still working on Guardian, and I’d really, really really like to get it done today.  (I have been benadryled (totally a word) a lot for the eczema etc, and it’s taken a toll on work that’s detailed and fussy.

I promise not to make this an habit, but one more Saturday, have some pics to play with:

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Bernie Sanders: The Little Socialist That Could – by Amanda S. Green

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*Like Thomas the Tank Engine from Hell – SAH

Bernie Sanders: The Little Socialist That Could – by Amanda S. Green

Bernie believes the American public is either too stupid to see through him or we just don’t care. I know, I know. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, when I see it so blatantly displayed as I do in his book, “Our Revolution”, I can only shake my head. Then I despair a bit when I think about how many actually cast their votes for him in the last presidential election. Of course, when your choice is Bernie the open Socialist or Queen Hillary, the closet socialist and empress wannabe, it might be difficult not to vote for him.

As we start the second chapter of Bern’s book, he reminds us that he is the “longest serving independent” in Congress’ history. Now, in one way, he’s correct. He is an “independent” if you count the Democrats and the Republicans as the only political parties in our nation. Or, I guess you could say he’s an independent because he doesn’t side with either of the two major parties. But when you really look at the statement, you see how he is pulling the wool over our eyes.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. If he is an independent, why did he run for president on the Democratic ticket? That sort of says he identified with them, doesn’t it? Or maybe it shows that Bernie isn’t as dedicated to remaining independent as he’d like us to believe. After all, if the DNC hadn’t worked so hard to torpedo his run, something he supposedly had no idea about until after it happened, wouldn’t he have owed them some form of gratitude for the monies and politicians it put behind him in an attempt to get him elected? That would sort of undermine his “independence”. It would also firmly put that “D” behind his name. Now, I know, the Dems have been moving ever more quickly toward the socialist end of the scale, especially since FDR, but still. . . .

Then there is the simple fact that he identifies as a Democratic Socialist. If you go to his website, you will find a nice – and long – speech by good ole Bern about what he believes and what he believes Democratic Socialism is. Yes, there is a lot in common with the Dems, but he goes so much further than they do, at least publicly. And, by the way, once you identify with a political ideology, you aren’t independent. Independent means you think independently from any one political platform or party and consider the issues from all sides, etc. Bernie has proven over and over again that he is anything but an “Independent”.

But I digress, let’s consider what else this so-called Independent has to say.

His second chapter is supposedly about his political life in Vermont. What becomes clear very quickly is that good ole Bernie liked the political life. He ran for office the first time in 1971. He’d gone to a meeting of a “small third party”, the Liberty Union Party. At the time, Vermont was holding a special election to replace Senator Winston Prouty, who had died in office. A member of the House was giving up his seat to run for Prouty’s senatorial seat. So that, Bernie realized, left two seats up for grabs and this “small third party” was looking for folks to run.

Now Bernie, not being shy even though this was his first time to attend a meeting of the LUP, spoke up. He remembers talking about the economy and Vietnam, among other things. So imagine his surprise when they asked if he wanted to be their nominee for Senate. He was now running for office!

Think about it for a moment. Bernie hadn’t been involved with this political party. He didn’t know them and they didn’t know him. But he was now their senatorial candidate. With no money, no organization and no idea what the hell he was doing, he was now running for office – and not for local office but for the United States Senate. Riiiight.

As I think back, I realize that my campaign was not only a great learning experience and a lot of fun, but it laid the foundation for everything I have done politically since. During that campaign I did as much research as I could into the major issues facing the country, something I very much enjoyed doing, and spoke my mind about them. I didn’t worry about who I offended. (OR, pg. 26)

That’s how the U.S. got saddled with Bernie. He thought it was fun. He didn’t mind who he offended. He didn’t even know the major issues, not really, not until he began researching them. It was typical Bernie. Jump into the middle of something without really knowing what was going on and then go whole hog. Sort of sounds like the last presidential election, doesn’t it? Did he really think the fix wasn’t in from the beginning? Who didn’t know the DNC was going to do everything possible to make sure Hillary was their candidate? The owed it to her after she stepped back to let St. Obama take the nomination eight years earlier.

I guess the only thing good to come out of that election was Sanders lost. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay away from politics. His 2% of the vote didn’t discourage him. Instead, by his own words (OR, pg 27), he wasn’t satisfied with that 2% of the vote. So, he ran for governor. Once again, he ran on the Liberty Union ticket six months later in 1972. Again, he didn’t get discouraged, even though he only received 1% of the vote.

You get the picture. Bernie didn’t like losing. In 1974, he ran for the Senate again. He still ran as a “third-party candidate”. These candidates, according to Bernie, are often viewed as “spoilers” in an election. Duh. It only took him three campaigns to figure that out? I thought he was supposed to be smart.

One thing you can say about Bernie, he’s persistent. He ran again in 1976. This time, he ran for governor. He garnered his highest vote tally – 6%. This would be his last time to campaign with the Liberty Union Party and, for a few years at least, he was out of politics. Not that he didn’t continue to try to push his political agenda. During this time, he “wrote, produced and sold filmstrips” to schools about Vermont’s history. (OR, pg 28) In 1979, he branched out from Vermont history because he discovered that many college students didn’t know who Eugene Victor Debs was. This must have greatly offended Bernie’s socialist bones because he produced a 30-minute film about Debs. It is obvious from the book that Bernie would love to be Debs and so much more.

Debs was a great American, but his life and work remain largely unknown. He was a man of extraordinary courage and integrity whose tireless efforts on behalf of workers and the poor laid the groundwork for many of the programs established by FDR during the New Deal. Debs was the founder of the American Socialist Party and a six-time candidate for president. . . The life of Eugene V. Debs, his vision of a world of peace, justice, democracy, and brotherhood, has always been an inspiration to me. I have a plaque of Debs on a wall in my Washington Senate office. (OR, pg 29)

While Bernie hasn’t run for President six times – yet – no one can deny that he’s become a career politician. Not counting primaries, he has run in something like 21 local, state or national elections since the 1970’s. He might think he has a political revolution going on, but he doesn’t. His revolution is exactly what the Democratic Party has been moving toward since the 1920’s or earlier. The only difference is he openly calls himself what he is – unless it means identifying it on the ballot. He is a socialist. The DNC knows if it should drop the mask completely, it will lose the moderates in the party and that is the last thing it wants to do, at least not yet. So, they define Bernie as an outlier and point and laugh. They will use him in an attempt to get what they really want.

And it is blowing up in their faces, as is seen with the primary win by politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against the DNC backed candidate. She is now going around the country, targeting other candidates backed by the DNC. Then you have Cynthia Nixon, she of Sex in the City fame, running for New York governor and openly embracing the Social Democratic label.

Bernie has become a thorn in the side of the DNC and he loves it. We, on the other hand, need to keep a close eye on what is happening and continue to fight. Our country has already slipped too far down the road to socialism. We need to put the brakes on now, while there is still hope to at least slow the slide.

Bernie is many things but dumb he’s not. In 1980, when he returned to actively being involved in the political scene, he ran for mayor in Burlington. He’d done his homework and had a plan, something I’m not sure he’d had in those earlier races. This time, he wouldn’t run as part of the Liberty Union Party. Now he was an “independent”. He also created a strategy, one he continues to use today.

We would run a campaign based on coalition politics. We would try to bring together, under one umbrella, the many diverse elements of the city that were unhappy with the current city leadership. And there were a lot of them. Over the years, as is often the case in urban politics, the administration had drifted further and further away from the neighborhoods and the working families of the city, and closer and closer to the downtown business community and the moneyed interests. (OR, pg 30)

Think about it. This is pretty much what he did in his presidential campaign. He reached out to those young voters who felt unconnected to the major parties. He had all the buzz words, all their “concerns” covered. He has, over the years, fine-tuned his approach and too few voters have caught on. they listen to all his pretty promises and condemnation of the status quo. Instead, they should be looking at his voting record, at the bills he’s proposed over the years and asking the hard questions about how he will pay for his high ideas. But they don’t.

So, we have to.

And we have to press him and those coming after him for answers. We have to remember that they won’t all be convenient idiots like Ocasio-Cortez with her ill-considered responses.

Bernie might never be president, but he is teaching a new generation of socialists how to manipulate the public into their corner.

I have never forgotten, however, that the most important political work that can be done is making door-to-door contact, speaking directly to your constituents and answering their questions. We need a lot more grassroots politics in America. (OR, pg 31)

This is where Sanders, and even Trump, out-performed Hillary. Again, fortunately. They not only recognized the need to make that sort of contact, whether it was door-to-door or in rallies, but to have a discourse with them where they spoke to issues that these potential voters felt were important. They connected with the voters, something Hillary didn’t, especially in the primaries. Had the DNC not given her the super votes, the presidential election might have taken a very different turn because the Democratic nominee would have been Bernie.

Like Bernie or not – and I don’t – we can learn from him. We need to learn from him. Otherwise, we are going to see him and those he has trained taking over our government. Our country may be flawed, and we might be slipping down the slope toward socialism but, damn it, we shouldn’t just accept that as inevitable. We should be fighting it tooth-and-nail. We should be doing all we can to understand the tactics of the enemy – the DNC and others who would destroy the basic rights guaranteed each of us in our nation’s founding documents. But to do so, we have to understand the enemy. If we do, then we can use their own tactics and their own arguments against them.

Now pardon me while I go find the brain bleach. I’ve already had too much Bernie and his brand of politics for one day.

(Help Amanda drink enough to keep snarking.  We’ll collect for her liver transplant later.
Hit her Pourboir jar now! – SAH)

The War Between Men And Women

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Or “this isn’t what we expected.”

When I was little the women in the family could sound like any feminist when talking about the men in the family.  But it was different.

Look, there were realms.  The house was the realm of women, and in it men were treated somewhere between nuisances and children.  Yes, part of it is that Portugal is a very traditional culture with overtones acquired from the Arab occupation and that leaves certain issues.  For instance, when I was little, if a woman wanted a job outside the house, she needed permission from her husband or father.  And I want to point out right here, no, I don’t actually endorse that, particularly the father thing.  (Presumably if you’re married you and your husband both agree on who works where.  If not, well, there are problems with no fault divorce, but it sounds like you actually don’t have a marriage.)

To compensate for the outside being the world of men — seriously.  No woman from 9 to 90 could step outside the door without having sexually explicit things called out to her by some random guy.  No woman could safely be out of doors alone after 8pm or nightfall, whichever came first, etc. — the inside was the world of women, where men were treated like brain damaged infants.

The “Lord of his household” thing?  Sure, he had the legal right to tell a woman she couldn’t take a job (a lot of the women in the village took jobs cleaning because her fathers/husbands wouldn’t sign the papers.  So they arranged with other women to come in, do some part of the housework, and get paid either in money the husband never saw, or in kind (food, cloth, etc.)  And the village, like most Latin cultures was rife with wife-beating (not in OUR family.)  But other than that?  Women set the house as they liked it, (and mostly to impress other women) and largely chose what the kids would do.  And even violent men got treated as a mix of a nuisance and a child in the house.

At the lowest level in the village, men often drank all the money coming in (to be fair, the women did too.  It was often the only thing they agreed on) but in more middle class households, the man handed over his paycheck, got given an allowance, and the woman disposed of all the rest.

And women did say things like “Men are so incompetent.”

But note, it was in THEIR realm.  In the men’s realm women would ask for help to go to the bank (no, most paychecks never made it to the bank.  Well, my mom was the investor in the family, so that’s different) or to deal with authorities of any kind, not because they were incapable, but because they felt outside their realm.  And there, men would make comments about women.

I was weird, because I was expected to have a degree and not married, so I got trained in a lot of the “things of men.”  Women in my family were, anyway, and in any case, things were changing by the time I hit adolescence, at least in pockets.

In one of his books, through the mouth of Lazarus Long, Heinlein wonders if men and women are the same species or merely symbiotic.  I thought it was hilarious when I first read it.  I’ve been laughing less and less ever since.

Sure, statistical groupings are such that some individuals from one will always be closer to the other in characteristics.  But in general?  The majority of the population.  Ah!

I find my early training in an intensely sexist society helps in a way. Why?  Because most groups were either all men or all women — except for me — and thus it’s easier for me to sense (even in mixed groups) what kind of group it is.

Women groups are intensely hierarchical.  Aren’t I confused?  Don’t I mean men’s?

No, I don’t.  I sometimes wonder what in living hell is wrong with people who write the peaceful planet of women and are actually themselves women?  Were they raised exclusively by males? Have they never experience female groups?  Are they lizard people with a society with only one sex?  The men who write this twaddle, I understand better.  Put a man in a group of women and every woman goes instantly into “front keeping mode” on being sweetness and light.

Women are non physically violent but strongly hierarchical.  Group mechanics are such that often the entire energy and focus of the group is a) establishing pecking order b) enforcing conformity.

Can you have a good working group with all women?  Sure.  But it has to be rather unusual women and women who are consumed by some kind of passion.  So you’re less likely to get it in, say, clerical work or bureaucracy and more likely to get it in the arts, crafts, or helping professions.  Something you can imagine something being devoted body and soul to you can see a good all-women work group.  So, you know “What I want to do with my life is” complete that sentence for the job you’re contemplating in an all-women group: “All I want to do with my life is heal the sick” and you might get a decent work group.  “All I want to do with my life is file form a in slot b” less so.

Men in groups, OTOH are more focused on task and less on personalities.  Hell, men (and me) are less likely to notice slights, digs and subtle disputes.  If you’re not hitting them in the face with a brick, the interpersonal will matter less, but they tend to get hyperfocused on their task.  There can be bitter disputes, yes, but that’s usually because that guy down in cube b tends to never Florpz the Dbars the way they should be doing, and it’s slowing down the entire group.

Again, statistical likelihood and lived experience.  There is probably out there an hyperfocused group of women.  There is probably out there a group of men that are more into the brow beating, psychological warfare and pecking order than a room full of seamstresses.  It’s just not as likely.

So, what does this mean for the war between men and women.

Well, in the real patriarchy I grew up in (Yes, it was) the men and women solved the fact that they have very different hierarchies by isolating to their own corners.  Even in having and raising children they divided responsibility and the man was the heavy while the mother was the one who set the day to day: what you ate, what you dressed in, etc.  My family was weird, so my free time was spent with dad a lot, but most kids saw dad as a distant and law-giving figure.  Mom would climb the mountain and come back with the tablets of the law, but Dad was the law giver and punisher.  (Not dad.  He was really bad at the punisher stuff.  I wonder if that’s why I fit so badly in Portugal.)

In each of their realms they treated the other sex as damaged children.  This still happens to an extent, even with women working outside the house, because the woman is still responsible for how the house looks and is still in charge of making and getting things for the house, and even the man helps in her domain, he’s still only a “helper” and his position THERE is subordinate.

I was and am for women having the right to work outside the house, if they so choose, and not having to get anyone’s permission.  I’m not for women getting pushed ahead of men or getting extra brownie points for being women in the work force, because that smacks of a trained pet.  “The question is not if she does it better than men. The amazing thing is that she can do it at all.”

I think women who are more comfortable in the workforce should definitely do so.  I also think that couples where no one intends to stay home with the kids (or arrange their schedules so one of them can be home with the kids at any time) shouldn’t have kids.  But that’s me, and I’ve seen too many children farmed out to be raised by low-skilled strangers.  I also know enough history to know that never ends well.  OTOH I’m neither G-d nor emperor, so carry on.  But do give it some thought.  We’re maybe 1/2 genes and 1/2 environment.  Do you want strangers making your child’s environment?

Anyway… moving right along.

What has puzzled me more than anything is the left’s insistence that we live in a patriarchy.  I’ve seen the real patriarchy running around with no clothes on, and this ain’t even close to one.  Hell, to a great extent, it’s turned into a matriarchy, with the women conquering the world of men, integrating men in their hierarchy and bullying them, at the same time they control the house.

Yes, I know, women make less, blah blah blah, which would be terrible if it were actually true (No, it’s not.  I’s an effect of choices of field and hours worked) but in point of fact, most companies will aggressively try to hire/promote any semi-competent female, because of numbers and showing those to the government and not giving the appearance of discrimination, since you can get sued on Numbers without any real proof of ill will.

All of which brings us to the war between men and women, and the left’s persistent fear of “patriarchy” so subtle no one can find it in the real world.

I have a highly heretical theory, and one that means we are in deep trouble.

You see, having grown up in a patriarchy, I know the type of woman who succeeds in business in those.  These are hard driven women, who live for their work.  They turn their passion to whatever they’re doing, and devote themselves to it utterly.  See that thing above, where a group of women who is doing something they consider vital can be results-focused (and amazing?)  Yeah.  A woman alone can be like that too.  These women who would go into business would either build giant companies or climb to the top of their fields.

I knew women pianists, mathematicians and businesswomen who were respected and feared by every man who worked for them.

Let’s see: they acquired training despite insults and assumptions they were stupid (been there, done that) and then went into the workforce despite the assumption they were there to snag a man.

Despite all this, they were so focused and so good they went to the top of the field.

Dave Freer says there is this effect to a real discriminated against minority.  The ones who succeed are amazing.

But these were the women the early feminists focused on.  And an image was created that if we were universally allowed/encouraged to do this, then we’d all be like those few exceptional individuals.

No one large group, male or female, is EVER like its exceptional high achievers.  Most human beings are mooches, slouches and time servers.  It’s the nature of humanity.

So. So when it became DISCOURAGED to be a stay at home mom and women were pushed (still are) into careers whether they want them or not (and don’t tell me this doesn’t happen.  Even while staying at home to write, I faced withering disdain that I was “just a housewife” everywhere from the doctor’s office to social occasions) they found that they don’t get ahead/do as well as those exceptional high achievers.

And so, because women have told themselves just-so stories about how they are better than men (always have, but it used to be in their domain only) they posit a conspiracy.  Women are more likely to believe in conspiracies anyway, because the hidden velvet glove (with the spikes in it) are how all-female groups are organized.

Hence the ghost patriarchy.

I was reminded of this yesterday when one of my colleagues was running her mouth and positing hidden racism because otherwise black people would dominate the writing field, because they are all “Geniuses and so creative.”

Will someone find my eyes.  They rolled onto the floor again.

People of all sexes and colors are geniuses and creative.  But no large group of people, no matter how sorted is. 98% of humans seem unable to create anything new, though they can improve on other things.  It’s a different way the brain works.  And as for geniuses… “When everyone is a genius, no one is.”

For an adult to believe that all or even a majority of a race, a sex, a geographical origin, an orientation, or a profession, are “geniuses and so creative” denotes a certain lack of… ability to engage reality.

Most people are mooches, slouches and time-servers.  It’s what humans are.

But because some groups have convinced themselves of this nonsense, and allowed it to become part of their internalized image, they HAVE to see conspiracies to keep them out everywhere.  They have to start tallying up micro, picco and nano conspiracies.  Otherwise they’ll have to look in the mirror go “I guess I’m not as good as I thought I was” and no human being wants to do that.  For one, it leads to a lot more work or the humiliation of “settling.”

And so, the more equally society is, the more it gets accused of being a patriarchy and “colonial.”

Which in turn makes it harder to achieve anything, because some percentage of the population devotes its energies not to doing/creating/building, but to fighting the rest of the society they blame for their troubles.

It’s human.  And unless we fix it, it will be the death of us.

A Solar Activity Update- By Stephanie Osborn

A Solar Activity Update- By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

My experience

I did my graduate work in spotted variable stars at Vanderbilt University, so in the astronomical community I would be considered a variable star astronomer. Based on our experience, many variable star astronomers consider the Sun to be at least borderline variable, and I am one of these. In point of fact, pretty much across the board, astronomers dropped the “solar constant” years ago, because it simply wasn’t. (Unfortunately, other disciplines have not.)

I personally have been watching solar activity for many years now and have watched the activity gradually decrease. As a consequence, I began keeping a rough spreadsheet in summer 2016 as I watched activity begin to drop dramatically. So I have about 2 years of recorded data. It is fairly simplistic, because I only wanted a snapshot and didn’t have time to do more detail, but it serves the purpose, as we will see shortly.

The current solar cycle

This graph is the latter part of solar cycle 23 and all of cycle 24, roughly to date. (Note, however, that the plot ends in ~March 2018. It’s very difficult to find plots that are current to the month.) The red line is the projected curve. The blue line is the smoothed curve. The purple dots and jagged line are the actual data.

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Note that the peak for 24 was approximately half that of 23. Also note that we are currently already as low as the minimum that ended cycle 23, at approximately 8.5-9 years into an average-11-year cycle. Theoretically, we still have a couple of years to go before the actual minimum is reached, though 11 years IS an average.

Recent solar cycles

Here is a graph presenting solar cycles 14-24(current). This takes us back to around 1900AD. Note the decrease in the height of the peak (solar max) of each cycle since ~1980. Note the decreased activity in cycle 20. Note the gradual increase in peak height from 1900-1960, though there is a slight drop in cycle 16, around 1930.

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Long-term observations

This next chart goes back a LITTLE farther. This is a view of activity over the last 400 years. Note that this graph does NOT include cycle 24; it stops at 23. Cycle 24 is already at roughly the same level as the cycles found in the Dalton Extended Minimum, and this has been noted by several groups with experience in the field.

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An interesting correlation

This is a clipping from a Michigan newspaper which was sent to me a couple of months ago. Note the article date written in the margin.

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Correlate this to the very low peak of solar cycle 20, which occurred during the 1970s. Note the snow event in 1942, in the cycle subsequent to the diminished cycle 16. Also consider the “Little Ice Age,” which was a prolonged cool period (~1300-1900) overarching the four back-to-back extended minima: the Wolf, Spörer, Maunder, and Dalton Minima (running ~1280-1850AD). Also note the year 1816, the so-called Year Without A Summer, aka “Poverty Year” and “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death,” which occurred during the Dalton Minimum (~1790-1830; some argue a later end).

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Legend:

Column 1 is the year.

Column 2 is the month.

Column 3 is the percentage of days in that month with no more than 1 sunspot/sunspot group.

Column 4 is the percentage of days in that month with NO sunspots.

My data (2017)

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My data (2018 — incomplete)

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My data, graphed (total)

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The latest data

I haven’t had a chance to include the last couple of months of data in the charts as yet. However, in brief synopsis, May had 77.4% of days with no more than 1 sunspot group, and two sets of seven consecutive spotless days. June was much the same, with another spotless week early on; another session of spotless days began June 27th…and continued through the entirety of July. Today, as I write this, it is July 31st, and we have had 35 consecutive spotless days. Since it takes about 24.5 days for the solar equatorial regions to rotate once around its axis, this means that we have seen the entire photosphere spotless; not even the solar farside has spots, and this appears to be corroborated by the STEREO solar observing platforms. A couple of short-lived, almost-spot plages developed during this period, on July 3rd and 21st, but otherwise there were no visible photospheric features. Virtually the only other solar activity came from the enhanced solar wind streams from coronal holes, and even those are diminishing in size and strength.

 

Other solar activity

Flare numbers are decreasing; CME numbers are decreasing. BUT cosmic ray flux is increasing. Why? And what do all those words mean, anyway?

Sunspots, flares, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are all related; flares tend to produce CMEs, and tend to form near spots. This is because they are all magnetic events. A sunspot is believed to be the “snarl” produced in the magnetic field lines as a result of differential rotation — since the Sun is not a solid body, it does not rotate uniformly; rather, it follows Kepler’s Laws of orbital motion. The poles rotate faster than the equator, and the interior rotates faster than the photosphere. But since it is a plasma body, and plasma is composed of charged particles, it generates a strong magnetic field. As this differential rotation proceeds, the field lines gradually wrap up. If (among other things) local inhomogeneities occur, the field strength can vary, and the field lines may “snarl.” But they also tend to move upward as the plasma convects. When the snarls reach the photosphere — the visible surface — they are slightly cooler, hence darker, and appear as sunspots.

But these snarls contain carp-tons of magnetic potential energy. And from time to time, that potential energy manages to release itself, in the form of a magnetic reconnection event. This is, in essence, the field trying to simplify itself and untangle, after a fashion — the field lines break here and reattach over there, in an effort to reshape themselves and eliminate the snarl. This converts the potential energy into tremendous amounts of other kinds of energy — thermal and kinetic, to name a couple — and the result is a flare. This explosive event can — but does not always — then generate the equivalent of a mushroom cloud, which blows off the photosphere into the solar system, accelerated by the reconfiguring magnetic fields. This “mushroom cloud” is the CME.

Given that this differential rotation creates an extremely complex overall magnetic field, sometimes field lines leave the Sun and stretch off — essentially to infinity — in places not normal for a typical dipole (bar) magnet, which ordinarily would mean JUST the poles. These regions of “infinite field lines” are visible in certain wavelengths of light as darker regions, due to the relative lack of plasma in the inner corona, and they are called coronal holes. The solar wind tends to be “enhanced” along these field lines, since the magnetic field is effectively accelerating the plasma in these regions. They are strong, and can create minor geomagnetic storming and aurorae on Earth (or the other planets) if we pass through that enhanced wind stream, but it won’t be as strong as getting hit with a big CME.

Cosmic rays are generally subatomic particles of various sorts, originating from outside our solar system — sometimes outside our galaxy. They are extremely energetic and are produced by the more powerful cosmic objects out there: pulsars, magnetars, supernovae, black hole accretion disks, even quasars. They can be dangerous precisely because they are so energetic, and often if they hit an object, they produce a cascade of additional particles. (In atmosphere, this is called a cosmic ray shower.)

BUT, since most of them are charged particles — they’d be incredibly hot plasma if you got enough of ‘em together in one place — they can be deflected by magnetic fields. And woo-ha, a moving plasma such as the solar wind constitutes a current, which in turn generates an interplanetary magnetic field! So this magnetic field protects the inner solar system from potentially deadly cosmic radiation. (The term “flux” simply means you’re measuring the number of such particles passing through a given area — typically a square meter — per second.)

So. The stronger the interplanetary magnetic field, the better the protection we have from cosmic rays, and the lower the cosmic ray flux will be.

BUT.

When the Sun is less active, the slower and less dense the solar wind will be, hence the weaker the interplanetary field will be.

So we would expect that an active Sun would mean a low cosmic ray flux, and an inactive Sun would mean a higher cosmic ray flux…and this is exactly what we see. More, as the solar activity has diminished in recent years, we have watched the cosmic ray flux increase.

steph9

Credit: graph from spaceweather.com

Note: Stratospheric flux tends to be more representative of solar system fluxes than lower-altitude measurements; this is because the atmosphere attenuates the rays. Note how the flux has increased from 78x to 88x that found at sea level.

 

My thoughts

Based on all this information, it is my considered opinion that we are about to enter an extended minimum, if we are not already in one. The double-dynamo solar model predicted one more solar cycle before entering an extended minimum. However, this model, while able to accurately recreate the shapes of recent solar cycles, has been unable to adequately model historic extended minima. It must therefore be concluded that it is not complete. It is my educated conclusion that it does not go far enough, and there is at least one more dynamo which needs to be modeled. It is therefore likely that the onset and the exit of the predicted extended minimum may be “squishy,” and the dates may vary by as much as a solar cycle or more.

It is very true that “correlation does not equal causation,” but when correlations begin to mount, it is foolhardy to refuse to consider the possibility of a coupling mechanism. To name a few correlations:

  • Greenland/Vinland settlement around 1000AD/tail end of the Roman Warm Period
  • The Little Ice Age/four consecutive extended minima
  • The Year Without A Summer/Dalton Minimum
  • Snow in summer in 1942/low-activity Cycle 16 preceding
  • Snow in summer in 1979/low-activity Cycle 20 preceding
  • Modern Warm Period/increasing solar activity in 1st half 20th Century
  • Plateau in warming in the 2000’s/gradual decrease in solar activity since ~1980

Yes, certainly volcanic eruptions and other events factor into the situation. But how many correlations does it take before we need to sit up and take notice? Before we seriously start to wonder what is really going on?

 

For more on solar activity, check out The Weather Out There Is Frightful, by Stephanie Osborn. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008JA00D0/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i9