Legislation Introduce to Raise the National Legal Age of Smoking

It is very possible that the smoking age across the United States will be raised to 21 very soon. This announcement has pushed the agenda forward.

Last Thursday, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that he will introduce legislation aimed at raising the national smoking age to 21, from 18.

This bill, which will be introduced next month, will cover all tobacco products including vaping devices.

McConnell, R-Ky.,  made the announcement in his home state, which is one of the nation’s largest tobacco producers. He noted that Kentucky has some of the highest cancer rates in the country. From 2012-16, lung cancer made up 66 percent of all cancer deaths in the state, according to the American Cancer Society.

Under the legislation, it will remain the responsibility of retailers to verify the age of anyone buying tobacco products just like it is right now with alcohol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try smoking cigarettes by 18.

McConnell said vaping devices pose the “most serious threat,” especially to middle school and teenage students, and raising the age to 21 will present fewer opportunities for children to access these devices.

More than 3 million U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018, up 78 percent from the year before, the CDC found in its annual National Youth Tobacco Society.

Those numbers, however, have been reported to be as high as 5 million when counting middle schools too.

However, the bill will have an exemption for men and women who serve in uniform, according to McConnell who is currently the Senate Majority Leader.

“I hope my legislation will earn strong, bipartisan support in the Senate,” McConnell said. “I’m confident many of my colleagues will agree that protecting our young people from starting tobacco use at an early age can have remarkable, long-term health benefits for Kentucky and the country.”

Tobacco giant Altria, which is the maker of Marlboro and other brands of cigarettes, said it “strongly supports raising the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products.”

“This is the most effective action to reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates,” the company said in a statement.

Currently, there are eleven states — Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Utah — that have already enacted laws that set 21 as the minimum age to buy tobacco products.

Three other states — Delaware, Maryland, and New York — are on the verge of enacting similar standards as well, according to the anti-smoking group Tobacco Free Kids.

Invincible

I still feel the throwing knives cut my Papier-Mache mind

As I create collages from the remains of my colorful memories.

Memories that have made me, but also eat away at my mind

Like camel crickets eating my clothes.

The holes almost unnoticeable unless you study me.

The bullets hit my beat-up armor bashing me,

The used ragdoll left in tatters,

Leaving black, blue, and green watercolor tattoos on my porcelain skin that only I can see

As I feel shame as a fragile doll, not the machine gun that I pretend to be.

The water fills my lungs as I continue surviving with five-second breaths,

As I pray for the black feather pillow softness of blackout,

But no, I am too stubborn to let go and ease into the darkness.

I’ve gotten too good at surviving, but not living.

Pushing the snowball up the mountain as it transforms into a lead boulder,

But still I don’t stop and give up,

Letting the boulder crush me, cracking my bones,

Smashing my rotten heart.

No, the blood in my veins pump

And my muscles cry out for relief that I won’t give.

My being deteriorates,

A zombie in disguise that won’t die.

No failure, no living, only surviving until nothing is left, but dust.

Such is life filled with pride.

Earthquakes Underestimated in California

If you live in, or plan on living, in Southern California in the near future, take this as a note. There will be plenty of earthquakes (mainly small ones) that you will have to deal with on a consistent basis.

In a ten year period from 2008 and 2017, the southern part of California was hit by over 1.8 million earthquakes. This is 10 times more than previously thought, a new study found.

Seismologists at the California Institute of Technology found approximately 180,000 earthquakes had been recorded during that time.

The data from the daily recordings showed that the region experienced at least 495 quakes a day. or roughly one every three minutes. The reason that most of these earthquakes were missed was simply because they were just too small to notice, even for the best technology.

“It’s not that we didn’t know these small earthquakes were occurring,” said Zachary Ross, lead author of the study and soon to be assistant professor of geophysics at Caltech. “The problem is that they can be very difficult to spot amid all of the noise.”

The study about these earthquakes was published last Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

Researchers did state that it was hard to find the smaller quakes or temblors because seismic data also includes background noise such as building construction and shaking from traffic.

To find the quakes, seismologists used a technique called “template matching,” where an easily-identifiable earthquake signal is used as a template to find matching data indicating a temblor. Researchers also used an array of powerful computers to scan the earthquake catalog and verify the new earthquakes.

Most of the smaller temblors that were found by scientists were between negative 2.0 and 1.7.

In a statement, Michael Gurnis, director of the seismological laboratory and geophysics professor at Caltech, said the study “has opened a new window, allowing us to see millions of previously unseen earthquakes and this changes our ability to characterize what happens before and after large earthquakes.”

 

Photo from Time Magazine

Castle of Crows – Part 14

The hall was empty when I slipped into it, and I grabbed onto the Fortuna coin once more as I tried to decide which way to go. Left felt luckier, though it was the way we’d come from, and I quietly crept down the hall. I continued on like that, holding onto the coin and letting it guide me, always following my first instinct.

Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 14

Samsung Cancels Chinese Launch of Galaxy Fold

Samsung was looking to hit a home run with the introduction of the Galaxy Fold, a smartphone that is foldable. However, the first people to get the phone have had some of the worst experiences that anyone has experienced with similar devices.

As a result of this, Samsung has reportedly postponed the Chinese launch of its forthcoming Galaxy Fold smartphone, according to SamMobile. They reported that the issue wasn’t due to problems with the phone itself but due to the lack of a venue.

This also has resulted in the cancellation of planned events in Hong Kong and Shanghai that were set to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. This news came from Richard Lai’s Twitter. Lai is the editor in chief for Engadget Chinese.

As of press time, Samsung has not made an official report explaining why the cancellations happened, and they have not said if they plan on rescheduling the phone’s release.

This comes after numerous reports from various tech journalists and big names who found the devices they had to review ended up breaking after a couple of days. Some of the issues ranged from the hinge or screen breaking and some curious users removed the protective covering from the screen, which resulted in the phone breaking.

Samsung did release a statement on those reports, saying that it “will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.” However, all reports have indicated that they still plan on moving forward with the US launch date of April 26th, which is this Friday.

Samsung has a lot riding on this first-generation device. The $1,980 phone is the highest-profile foldable phone to hit the market, and reports that the devices are breaking after just a couple of days of use is potentially a huge setback.

 

Photo from Android Central

The House on the Hill

Far above us, there sits a house on a hill.
It sits about the valley—watching, guarding, waiting—
Removed from us who live in the valley below.

Its silhouette  marks the top of the hill,
Among the trees and the clouds that abide there.
The house rests at the top of our world,
Presiding over us all.

We don’t know what lives in the house.
No one has ever made it to the top of the hill,
Always getting turned about and emerging at the bottom.

But nothing comes down the hill,
And we are safe, here in the valley.
Safe and contained.

But I am afraid.

Afraid because we know that something is there.
Something  watches over us,
Something waits at the top of our world.

And it has never hurt us, we have never seen it,
But it keeps us trapped here, in the valley,
Never lets us see what exists pasts the top of our world.

No one else sees the house the way I do.
They believe we are safe, protected.
The house and the something within it protect us.

From what? I ask, and get no reply.

I need to know that which we do not
So I will climb the hill, which leads to the top of our world.
And I will not be turned about, and I will not return,
Until I’ve met the something
That lives in the house on top of the hill.

Spring Grass

The grass is growing green again,
Tall and dark and spread thick across the earth,
Nature’s carpeting.

The grass is growing green again,
The brown and yellow of winter is gone;
Spring is here at last.

It comes in fits and starts,
One day hot, the next so cold,
But the sun shines more every day.
As the nights grow shorter, warmer,
The grass is growing green again.

New life is rising,
Budding,
Blooming,
Growing,
Giving color to the world,
Which was so barren for so long.

The trees are budding white and pink,
The flowers blooming in rainbows,
The grass is growing green again.

The rains balance the sun,
Feeding life and cooling earth,
Washing away the woes of winter.

The grass is growing green again,
As life begins anew, fresh and thriving,
A temporary state of being, true,
But such a pleasant one.

Single Action Pistol

I’m a loaded gun with no safety.
No one knows how to take me.
See you think you’ll be okay
Because you know my triggers,
But one false move, one mistake
And I’ll fire.
I could hit you, her, or no one
So be careful where you point me.

Wanna play Russian roulette?
Then don’t be afraid to die.
This is a game of chance.
So, it’ll only be your own fault,
The blood on your hands
Playing with a girl like me.
I’ll kill you.

Don’t you know?
Dating is a game of chance, not skill.
Yeah, we decide how many bullets to load,
But you don’t load your own gun.
I load yours and hold it to your head
And unfortunately for you
I’m fully loaded.

I’m easy to trigger,
Completely neurotic,
One day anxious
Next day depressed.
Lacking control of my emotions
They pour out of me,
The blood gushing out of a cutter’s wrist.
Don’t trigger me.

See, I used to leave my gun unloaded
Pointed against his head,
So, when he pulled my trigger
He was safe from death.
He didn’t deserve that.
I trusted him because he had protected me
So, I was unarmed.
Surprise! His gun was loaded
And when I pulled his trigger
I wish I had died
Because he betrayed me
For loving someone else.
I promise I’m fully armed now.
Don’t fuck with me.

Error: Facebook and Instagram Down For More Than 2 Hours

If you had troubles this morning trying to log into Facebook or Instagram, no worries, because you were not the only one.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were all experiencing issues this morning for users worldwide.

Two of the most popular social media sites, Facebook and Instagram, were both inaccessible, with news feeds refusing to refresh and the main Facebook.com domain unavailable for more than two hours.

WhatsApp messages were also unable to be sent or received (it is like a form of texting). Most people headed over to Twitter to share their complaints and concerns before the return of their beloved sites. Messenger, Facebook’s chat service, was also down for more than two hours.

The outages appear to have started at around 6:30 AM EST this morning, and some locations were more widely affected than others.

A spokesperson for Facebook released a statement to the Verge saying they were aware that some people were having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. “We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” the statement read.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all started to come back online at around 9 AM ET this morning.

These issues come after Facebook dealt with a previous service outage that was the worst in the company’s history. It took over 24 hours before all of the issues were solved and for most users, it took hours before they were able to post on the social media sites.

Facebook blamed a “server configuration change,” and apologized for the outages.

 

Photo from Regenexx

Castle of Crows – Part 13

It took a while before the fear faded enough for me to move again. I crept out from behind the couch carefully, taking in the wreckage of the once beautiful room. There was broken glass, loose feathers, and even blood scattered across the room. Several pieces of furniture had been smashed, and I flinched as my mind matched the wreckage with the thuds and crashes I’d heard earlier.

I moved towards an opened but undamaged armoire; had someone been hiding in it? I replayed the fight in my head. Baron must have tried to hide in plain sight, posing as a decoration. Lilith had also likely hidden in crow form, and probably hadn’t shifted back during the fight. Which left Nixie, who had first spoken from this side of the room.

I pulled the doors open further, finding coats and scarves and, tucked in one corner, the set of glowing bottles Nixie had grabbed. She’d called them elemental grenades and said that each color was different, but she hadn’t explained them further. I grabbed them anyway; it just felt like the right thing to do. I scanned the room again, remembering one of the other objects Nixie had taken from Aunt Pen’s tower and the clatter I’d heard when Amos grabbed her.

At first, I didn’t see anything that wasn’t broken, but I also didn’t see anything that looked like it had been a box, so I decided to peek under what was left of the furniture. In the end, I found it tucked under the splintered remains of an ornate end table. Nixie’s box, which she said was a prison, and Amos had said only a human could use.

The box didn’t look very special; it was small enough to fit in my hand, made out of light wood with a carving of a Celtic knot on the top. As far as I could tell there was no way to open it, and while I could feel its power, I didn’t know how to trigger it. I sighed, the fear from earlier coming back as I slipped the box into my pocket anyway.

I was all alone in a strange world, and the only people who could help me were captured. I thought of Macey, safe in the tower with Alexei. Would the plan have worked if I’d stayed with her instead? I thought about trying to get back to her, but I didn’t know the way, and there was no amount of dumb luck that would get me back to the human world, magic coin or not.

Thinking of the coin, I slipped my hand into my pocket, rubbing it between two fingers. Was it the reason I hadn’t been caught with everyone else? And, more importantly, would it be enough to help me slip through the mansion undetected?

I felt a warm pulse of magic wash over me at the question and had the sudden feeling that yes, it could do that. I thought back to Lilith’s advice when I picked the coin, telling me to follow my first instinct. The coin had called to me then, and it seemed like it was calling to me now, telling me what to do. I took a deep breath, then turned and made my way to the door. It was time to follow my gut.

2020 Presidential Hopeful Plans to Launch his Campaign via Hologram

The 2020 presidential race is slowly picking up the pace with numerous Democratic candidates entering the race to see if they can be the one to replace current president Donald Trump as he looks for re-election. One hopeful is going to officially announce his campaign with something that has only been used in music so far.

Through the use of holograms, 2020 presidential contender Andrew Yang hopes he can be in two places at once while campaigning for the Democratic nomination.

Yang, 44, told TMZ that he was testing out the technology so that he could more easily campaign in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. While talking to TMZ, Yang would demonstrate the technology, which has been made famous because of Tupac Shakur, who was shot and killed back in 1996.

“Well, if you look closely at that footage, you’ll see it’s actually not me performing with hologram Tupac. That’s a hologram of me,” Yang explained. “I was doing a demo of what a hologram would consist of in order to send the hologram me to campaign in Iowa and other battleground states so I could be in two places or three places at once.”

Yang is a noted tech entrepreneur from New York who has a following of supporters. Some of his supporters use the name “Yang Gang” to refer to themselves, and they use sites like Reddit and 4Chan.

He is also known for his outside of the box ideas, which include cutting down on the number of circumcisions in the United States, making Tax Day an official holiday, and giving $1,000 to every single American.

As of right now, Yang is a minor candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he is currently polling at 0.8%, according to RealClearPolitics. However, he has raised over $2 million in campaign donations with 80,000 donors, which is enough to qualify him for the first Democratic presidential debate.

 

Photo from CNN

Mr. Flubber

Mr. Flubber

You thought it was funny,

To rhyme my name of Glover,

Which I have a heritage with,

With a term to remind me

Why I can’t decide on what shirt to wear,

Why people grab my chest,

Why that girl smacked me on the backside,

And discuss what bra size I was,

Calling me Mr. Tiddies,

When I was only 10 years old,

When maybe the reason,

I was overweight

Has to do with the fact I wasn’t fed as a baby,

I didn’t find it funny,

I was just mentally,

Physically,

And spiritually wounded,

And why these marks on my stomach remind me

Of my messed up childhood.

Thank you,

No sarcasm,

Because you reminded me each day that I should not chew gum,

And that I should starve myself,

And that today I’m not fat with an “f”,

I’m phat with a “ph”.

Mr. Flubber

Hurricane Season is Upon Us But There’s Good News in Sight

We have officially just started hurricane season here in the United States. The season which runs until November officially has not been kind to us in these past two seasons, with devastating hurricanes hitting the East Coast from Florida to North Carolina.

This season, however, is likely to be different from the previous two.

Thanks to a weak El Nino, experts are expecting a weak, slightly below average Atlantic hurricane season. This information was composed by meteorologist Phil Klotzbach and other experts from Colorado State University.

They predicted that there will be 13 named tropical storms that will form, five of which will become hurricanes.

An average season has 12 tropical storms, six of which are hurricanes. The past two seasons were above average seasons.

A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its wind speed reaches above 74 mph.

Of the five predicted hurricanes, two are expected to spin into major hurricanes – Category 3, 4 or 5 – with sustained wind speeds of 111 mph or greater. The group said there’s a near-average chance for major hurricanes to make landfall along the U.S. coastline. Klotzbach put the chance of a major hurricane strike at 39%.

Last year, Florence and Michael combined to kill more than 100 Americans and cost nearly $50 billion in damage, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The team predicts that 2019 hurricane activity will be about 75% of the average season. By comparison, 2018’s hurricane activity was about 120% of the average season.

The prediction from Colorado State last year was nearly spot on; they had predicted 14 tropical storms would form, of which seven would become hurricanes. In all, 15 tropical storms developed, and eight strengthened into hurricanes.

One of the major determining factors in hurricane forecasting is whether the USA is in an El Niño or La Niña climate pattern.

The Courier

Cometh o’er gentle stair
A steady stomp, the blast of air
Aglow in moonlight’s pallid glare
The storm of pounding, pearly mare
To guide its rider seek…
From vinework thick and forest dark
Did glow the sudden steely spark
And roar of rifle’s thunderous bark
To paint the crimson creek.

Ended was the mission dire,
Tossed from powder’s seething pyre
Splashed amid the muddied mire
Saved from roaring flash of fire
Did the courier shriek.
And did the savior rear up high
A pillar rising to the sky
Was not its purpose here to die
To save its rider, weak?

Google Introduces New Gaming Platform

Welcome to the never-ending battle royale of gaming, Google. Now look to see your opponents, which are just as rich as you are and also have the experience that you do not have.

It was announced at the annual Game Developers Conference that the search engine was introducing its new Stadia gaming platform, looking to make it easier to not just make video games but play them on any screen you own including phones, computers, and TVs.

Stadia, which will launch later in 2019, has promised many new ways to connect with games, which will include a Play button on YouTube videos that will launch you from the video into that game.

While at the annual event on Tuesday in San Francisco, Google demonstrated the new platform by showing a video of the game “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.” They showed how a “Play” button on the YouTube video could transport the viewer right into the game.

Often a player gets the urge to play a game while watching a video but has to boot up a game console or another program on their computer. This Stadia feature would get players into a game in “as quick as five seconds with no download, no patch, no update and no install,” said Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft game executive who joined Google last year to work on this new project.

“Stadia offers instant access to play … (and reduces) the friction between getting excited about a game and playing a game,” he said at the event in front of hundreds of reporters and gamers.

The many other features built into Google’s game-streaming platform include Crowd Play for instant joining and coordination of multiplayer games and Google Assistant-style help, which will allow gamers to get in contact with customer service much easier.

Just this past October, Google began Project Stream, a four-month PC streaming video game test that included Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” among many other games.

Now, Google will have its very own game system. Welcome to the world of gaming; just hope you last longer than the SouljaGame.

Photo from Google

The First Ever Photo of a Black Hole is to be Released Soon

For us, the sheer power of a black hole is something that we do not want to experience. The fact that we can be swallowed up at any given moment is frightening and amazing at the same time.

However, we have never seen a picture of a black hole due to it being well, a black hole. We have known of them for decades now, but soon we will see an actual picture of a black hole.

Next Wednesday, at several press briefings around the world, scientists will apparently unveil humanity’s first-ever photo of a black hole, the European Space Agency said in a statement. What is even more amazing is where the picture is coming from. The black hole, “Sagittarius A,” is at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

But aren’t black holes, well, black, and thus invisible, so none of our telescopes can “see” them? Yes – therefore the image we’re likely to see will be of the “event horizon,” the edge of the black hole where light can’t escape.

Even that will be challenging, however, as the black hole at the center of our galaxy is “shrouded in a thick cloud of dust and gas,” according to Science Alert. Even more confounding is that spacetime around a black hole is “weird.”

The picture might be hard to see at first. This is due to the fact that black holes are actually collapsed stars. Their gravity is so strong that even light can not escape from the grasp of the hole. So the photo may show a dark blob surrounded by a ring of bright light, according to Yahoo.

Science News said that the black hole research was done using the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight radio observatories around the world.

It was reported by Popular Mechanics that this announcement taking place next week, whatever it could be, will be something that we have never seen before.

Press briefings will be held simultaneously in the U.S, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo.

Their Day – A Snapshot

A woman walks through the garden
Golden roses with fiery edges,
Periwinkle forget-me-nots, pink hydrangeas, and yellow daffodils.
You can barely hear the gravel crunch
Under her black and brown cowboy boots
As Prayed for You by Matt Stell
Flows through the speakers
Slithering into every crevice
Of the hearts of their guests.

She crosses the old wooden bridge
Over the pond,
Notes her reflection in the water,
A mature yet young angel draped in lace,
The sunshine making her glow
Like god’s divine light shining down.

Her gaze falls on her lover
With a smile on her blushing face
And glassy happy eyes.
There he stands with a goofy smile,
Wearing a navy vest, cream shirt,
Blue jeans, and brown dress boots,
His brothers by his side
And her best friends waiting for her,
Her daddy wearing a suit, aging blue eyes,
And whitish hair that once was fiery red.
He holds her arm, leading her to the gazebo
To give her away.

The moment is here as she and her love
Stand in front of her pastor.
He reads 2nd Corinthians and Song of Songs.
They tie the knot—gold and red,
Read their vows, and finally he
Slides a titanium band on her left ring finger
Complementing the diamonds shining
On her engagement ring.
She, in turn, slips his tungsten band
On his large sandpaper rough left ring finger.
Love wraps his arms around her
And they kiss as they melt into one with God.

Another love song fills the crowd as they recess
To go take photos for lasting memories
As if they could forget this emotional day.

Later she dances with her daddy as he leads,
Far more confident than she is as she shakes
And resists the urge to look at her feet.
He holds her and twirls her
Like he did when she was five
Until the song comes to an end.

Her husband joins her on the dance floor
For I Swear by John Michael Montgomery.
Everyone who knows them knows they practiced
Because they both usually can’t dance
Unless it’s silly make fun type dancing.
He spins her round and round, dips her,
And steals kisses when he can
As if they can’t wait to be alone
Or are rather proud of this new privilege.

Dancing, food, and speeches consume the rest of the
Night until they cut the cake and smear some
On each other’s noses,
Laughing in silliness as he takes his finger
And licks it off as she blushes
Red as clown makeup.

She throws the bouquet,
Which is caught by her cousin,
Who is to be married in a year.
Her husband removes her garter,
Which is thrown and caught
By his younger brother.
Eventually, they leave ready to be alone
And live their lives together
As lifelong loving partners.

Looking To Make Money Lying In Bed For 60 Days?

Are you thinking about different ways to pay for your college? Well, how about lying in a bed for 60 days to pay off most of your tuition? It seems like a good idea, but is it good for your body?

Scientists are looking for women to stay in bed for 60 days to help them study how weightlessness affects the human body. The reward for participating in this study will pay about $18,522 or most of the tuition needed for your studies here at Radford.

Of course, it will be looking at astronauts and when they are in space. The weightlessness that is caused by the microgravity changes their body. That results in reduced physical stress in their bodies, which over time leads to muscles and bones to break down and body fluids to shift towards their heads.

This info is from the German Aerospace Center, which was commissioned by NASA and the European Space Agency to conduct this study.

NASA has previously done a similar study, though it was much shorter. Continue reading Looking To Make Money Lying In Bed For 60 Days?