We have reentered the world of premeditated lies.

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Our world view is created by the information to which we are exposed. We must accept the obvious fact that reality can be accessed in no other way. Thus when information is presented as being true, which has no basis in fact, our actions become disoriented and we wander through our lives in a goalless dither. We may feel we are pursuing worthwhile goals at first but as things don’t work out as we hoped we can not help but sink into confusion, followed by sadness, then with future struggles being fruitless we must sink on into despair.

Our world had a great opportunity with the creation of the web for the creation of new ideas and the creation of wonderfully better lives for everyone. Unfortunately, with the blizzard of falsehoods flying at us from it and from every other medium, it becomes nearly impossible to think clearly. It begins with the spin on truth by people trying to sell us things. We grow comfortable with those lies because we realize the sales persons are only trying to present their products in the best possible light. Then come the media, which are supported by selling their wares, which are in turn supported by their advertisers selling their wares and the media are forced to comply with the advertisers’ needs. Along come the politicians who sell their doubtful cures for all our problems, who are themselves under pressure to spin their stories. Even the scientists, who supposedly are under the surveillance of other scientists to keep their reported discoveries in alignment with reality, are compelled to maintain their monetary status, and that requires a well prepared spin on their truth. Then come the fabricators of alternate realities who make up fabulous worlds we hope to live in “some day,” and other realities we hope to avoid. Just obey!

One of my friends has a method for cutting through all that self-serving blabber. He said, “I hang on to my money, by not buying anything.” That was said with a tinge of jest, but he claims he only buys things for their utility. It can be done. Another said they love shopping for stuff because it makes them feel good to have new things. Then they said they like taking things back to the store for a refund and that makes them feel good too. They get a double pleasure out of shopping. Somehow, that sounds a bit off to me as a way to avoid depression and get pleasure.

I created a trustworthiness of information chart several years ago and it really helps me stay oriented. Most other people find it to be too harsh.

Trustworthiness of information

Strangely enough, there are many people we encounter who live in a world of TST~1 and seem to get by okay. And yet, behind the smiling faces, they talk of misery.

I may be grumpy sometimes but when it happens it’s an honest grump.

Should I seek stability or adventure?

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I was challenged today on a problem that is always latent in everyday affairs, and that is what I should do with my free time. Should I seek stability or adventure? As my friends were discussing this, and having a good time telling stories of their adventures and misadventures, I was pondering over my life experiences regarding that issue.

I haven’t been one for seeking out dangerous activities for the thrill of it. Mountain climbing was a non-event for me after climbing snow-capped Mt. Hood a couple of days before I graduated from high school and getting a sunburn. The view was great, but when I feel inclined to look for beauty now I can always find things I can appreciate in a few seconds and without the risk of bodily harm.

There are lots of thrilling activities here in my resort hometown of Bend, Oregon, that I don’t participate in, such as rock climbing, skiing, river rafting, deer hunting, drinking … there are lots more, but you get the picture. I don’t take unnecessary risks.

I have taken lots of risks over the years, but I always considered the risk versus benefit. Hitchhiking from Pullman, Washington to New York City and back was a bit risky, and I did have a few difficult situations, but the rewards were enormous. I got to personally meet Eleanor Roosevelt and J. Robert Oppenheimer and several other illustrious people. Choosing to be a US Air Force pilot was about as risky a career choice as is generally available, but the reward of serving my country was clearly worthwhile. Unfortunately, when about to be given responsibility for a few H-bombs to haul around I had a moral problem. Most guys get past that one, but I didn’t and at risk of being jailed resigned from the job I really liked.

During my fifty years in Berkeley, I got into many difficult situations during the demonstrations and walking around in a shouting crowd seemed silly at the time, but we were shouting for Free Speech and that was important. The danger was worth the risk. Voluntarily sliding down steep hills at high speed on a couple of boards for the adrenalin rush-thrill of not getting hurt is utter nonsense to me.

I said these things to my friends, and a few more stories too, and concluded my little sermon with

Go out and struggle for a just cause and you will get plenty of excitement and the good feeling that you are doing something worthwhile. 

And now for this business of not talking

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Dudley’s Bookstore writers group at Ahonu’s house –  March 27, 2017

I came to this morning’s meeting with these words roaming my mind: “Truth isn’t dead yet, but it is moribund.”

Our writer’s group random prompt was created in the moment by one person calling out a page number and another a line number from another person’s randomly selected book. It turned out to be page 10 line 6 from Inspired Heart by Jerry Wennstrom.

“I knew I was being criticized for my strange behavior, first for destroying my art, and now for this business of not talking.”

Ahonu called out, “Alexa set the reminder for forty-five minutes.”

Officially I am an artist. I can say that because I have a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Francisco State University in California, and I have had my work displayed in public art museums. But more important for me was that I was accepted into the circle of famous Bay Area artist-photographers in the 1960s.

My favorite artist photographer was Wynn Bullock. He had a lead photograph in the most successful photo exhibit of all time back in 1955. It was called “The Family of Man.” His image was a photo of a naked girl lying face down in a lush undergrowth in a dark forest. Very disturbing!!

There is still the gallery book available called the Family of Man in used bookstores. That whole art project was super successful, and I worked with a picture in that book. It was on an inside cover facing Wynn’s photo. It was of the nebula in the Orion star galaxy. That picture was completely independent of my art works because it was taken with the telescope at Lick Observatory where I was working at the time, and I only made prints of it. But it makes me feel good that the picture I worked on from the original negative is pressed against Wynn’s famous picture of his daughter, whom I was acquainted with in the 60s.

Yes, I also knew Ansel Adams, but our relationship was not very friendly. I remember having a heated argument with him about color photography becoming the more important medium, and the coming wave of visual art. That argument took place in his fabulous castle of a house perched on a cliff over the Big Sur beach on the Pacific Ocean. He is now considered by the public as the pre-eminent black and white photographer ever, but I didn’t think so then, nor do I now. He was too formulaic for my tastes in his thinking and in his pictures. I much preferred Bullock’s work and more exotic world view.

There were other art photographers of that time and place that I knew. Bret and Cole Weston, for example. I was with them on the one-year anniversary of their more famous father’s death, and we had a few beers to his memory. It was in Cole’s cabin up a canyon only a few miles from Ansel’s home. Their father Edward Weston was so famous that he had a one-man show in New York in 1938 with the greatest attendance of all time.

My point is that I was accepted by these famous artist photographers as one of them. Then a few events happened which turned me off to human society, yet again. I had a few large color photos that toured the world in American embassies. That was wonderful, but I never got the photos back. For a starving artist, and I was not quite starving but I had very little money, making big color photos for the exhibit took nearly all I had. All I have to show for those pictures is a letter from Estes Kefauver‘s secretary telling me what a wonderful opportunity that exhibit was for me.

Another event, actually there were at least ten that I can remember, happened at the Oakland Art Museum. I had given them about ten color photos for their consideration for a one-man show. They were to give them back in a month, but when I went to pick them up they had them displayed on the walls of their offices and asked if they might keep them for a while. I felt honored that they thought highly enough of them to hang them in their offices, if not in their gallery, and of course said they could keep them. But, when I went back a month later to get the pictures they were gone. They claimed one of the curators had taken them to New York and would be back in a while. I never saw those pictures again. They had vanished.

My experience at that time was that my several years of work kept consistently vanishing. These were unpleasant events for me. People valued my work highly enough to steal it, but not enough to reward me for it in some way.

Then a couple of kids playing with fire unknowingly burned down the garage where my negatives were stored. I took it as a sign from the vindictive gods, and I stopped talking, that is, creating work for the public’s consumption. That was forty-seven years ago. Strangely I am still pursued by those vindictive gods and have been carrying on like the Greek martyr Sisyphus, who just keeps pushing his rock up his mountain.

I do what I do, and even though others willfully destroy it, I just keep doing what I do, and take it as my destiny that all I do will soon be destroyed, as will the destroyers. I have grown comfortable with the knowledge that all we do will soon evaporate into the vastness of eternity.

Back to the prompt: “I knew I was being criticized for my strange behavior, first for destroying my art, and now for this business for not talking.”

I write a blog instead.

We each then read aloud our productions and they were amazingly different. The other writer’s line that caught my attention was, “I discovered that my art had destroyed my former life.” That was my experience too. Another weird coincidence was that another story reminded me of The Adventure of the Hanging Baskets.

Progress with the Laugh Out Loud diet

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The various experiments I have been doing with the end goal in mind of helping people gain control of their bodily weight have been going well. The basic premise of this diet is to find actions that are so easy to do that they become automatic; after a week of doing them with a conscious intent, soon they are habitual. The only willpower involved is remembering to do some laughably easy thing. Other diets require so much willpower they are soon abandoned.

In order to practice this diet I and my partner have been intentionally leaving a small portion of food on our plate at the end of every meal. In the learning phase of this habit, we chose to pick out the best piece of each part of a serving and place it to the side of our plate. The goal was to make a small pile of choice food that would equal a single bite so the food we were rejecting was a meaningfully large amount. It was additionally meaningful because we knew that bite would be very tasty. The first few days we did this setting aside of good food we made the portion size very small so we weren’t feeling any guilt caused by not eating it. But after we had some comfortable familiarity with that laugh-out-loud action we upped the amount we set aside to where it felt significant, but we were still able to laugh about it. After we finished eating our slightly shrunken meal we would then push that final bite to the center of the plate and leave it. Okay, if the cook feels that procedure is too wasteful it’s okay for them to blend those last bites into the next meal. The point is to think and to say, “I am in control of food; food is not in control of me!” “I don’t have to eat food just because it is available; I even have the power to throw good food away.”

A strange side effect of this silly procedure is that we have been putting a little less on our plate and we even stopped eating a few times before the plate was clean. We stopped when we were down to our laugh-out-loud portion. I can still hear my mother and grandmother too saying, “Charles … clean up your plate!” That often heard statement was often coupled with the contradictory one, “You better take a second helping, you might need some stick-to-your-ribs food before dinner.”

I am creating a list of polite things to say to get out of eating things that are outside of the LOL diet plan. In that case:

I’d really like some more but I’m full. Can I take a little home for tomorrow?

The Tao Teh Ching – #34 – Revealed by Lao Tzu – Rendered by Charles Scamahorn

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34

The universal essence flows everywhere.
It flows left even while it’s flowing right.
It gave everything existence, and
It never refuses anyone who asks.

It deserves fame, but
It cannot be described.
It created and sustains all existing things, but
It never visibly moves anything. Since
It cannot be described, and
It cannot be seen,
It seems to be insignificant. Yet
It is the creator of everything;
It is significant!

You may become part of its essence, and
You may become part of its achievements.

35

Latitude / longitude of 30 Roman Legions 125 AD

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The Seven Sages mosaic I have discussed in Seven Sages measure the Earth seems to be related to the physical borders of the Roman Empire at the time of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, 24th of August 79 AD. This list is from a map at Wikimedia of the locations of the Roman legions locations in 125 AD. It gives an idea of the limits of the Roman Empire based on Roman army occupation sites.

  1. VII GEMINA – 42.60, -5.57 – Leon, Spain 
  2. II AUGUSTA – 51.482, -3.181 – Cardiff, UK
  3. XX VALERIA VICTRIX –  53.189, -2.887 – Chester, UK
  4. VI VICTRIX – 53,9558, -1,0908 – Eboracum, UK  – York
  5. IX HISPANA – 53.2371, -0.5382 – Newport Arch – Lincoln UK – Noviomagus, FR
  6. XXX ULPIA VICTRIX – 51.6666, 6.4398 – Xanten
  7. I MINERVIA – 50.7, 7.1 – Bonna – Bonn, DE 
  8. XXII PRIMIGENIA – 50.0013, 8.2678 – Mogontiacum Mainz, DE
  9. VIII AUGUSTA – 48.58, 7.77 – AgentorateReconstitution – Strasbourg, FR
  10. X GEMINA – 48.2149, 16.4093 – Vindobona – Vienna, AT
  11. XIV GEMINA – 48.1134, 16.8613 – Carnuntum – Arch 48.1040, 16.8542
  12. I ADIUTRIX47.7350, 18.1775 Brigetio Szony, Hungary
  13. II ADIUTRIX47.5406, 19.0403 Aquincum – Budapest
  14. IV FLAVIA FELIX – 44.8252, 20.4496 – Singidunmu Belgrade 
  15. VII CLAUDIA – 44.7378, 21.2192 – Viminacium
  16. XIII GEMINA – 46.0680, 23.5712 – Apulum
  17. I ITALICA – 43.6136, 25.3941 – Novae – Svishtov, Bulgaria
  18. XI CLAUDIA – 44.1197, 27.2611 –Silistra – Durostorum
  19. V MACEDONICA – 45.1438, 28.1962 – Troesmis, Romania
  20. XV APOLLINARIS – 40.05, 39.6? – Satala – Saddagh, Turkey – Gokcedere
  21. XII FULMINATA – 38.3496, 38.2998 – Melitene
  22. XVI FLAVIA FIRMA37.579, 38.4813 – Samosata, Samsat
  23. IV SCYTHICA – 37.0574, 37.8705 – Zeugma
  24. III GALLICA – 32.5015, 35.5016 – Raphana, Beit She’an
  25. VI FERRATA – 32.5854, 35.1845 ?- Megiddo – Raphana 2
  26. III CYRENAICA – 32.5177, 36.4817 – Bostra 
  27. X FRETENSIS – 31.6658, 35.2417 – Hierosolyma
  28. II TRAIANA – 31.1947, 29.9040 – Alexandria
  29. XXII DEIOTARIANA – 31.1825, 29.8964 – Pompey – Alexandria 2
  30. III AUGUSTA – 35.4902, 6.2547 – Lambaesis – 35.4841, 6.4689, Timgad

These sites were chosen as proofs that the Roman garrisons were there for a substantial period of time. The list was an attempt to locate at  Roman permanent camps at 125 AD. That is 46 years after the burial of the Seven Sages mosaic but this would have been the growing edge of the Empire at that time, and that is what I am exploring as the meaning behind the strange alignments of the Seven Sages mosaic.

 

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Teaching

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A Dictionary of New Epigrams

TEACHING

A teacher is a fool on stilts.

Give a hungry man a fish and he will give you a grudging thank you.

Give a man your fishing pond and some fishing equipment and he will sell your fish.

Your personal experience is your best teacher but it’s expensive.

One who refuses to learn will remain ignorant forever.

It is better to be ignorant of facts than fail to use those you have.

A man can concoct fabulous answers but reality has consistent questions.

A great teacher asks great questions.

Watch others carefully and learn from their good and bad examples.

I saw a group of young women with knee braces and crutches today.

I saw a man get out of his car door into close-passing traffic today.

Poor teachers work for little reward, bad teachers work for punishments.

The wisdom you must defend becomes your deepest teacher.

A good teacher’s wisdom stimulates some ennui and occasional laughter.

1 + 1 = 2 by definition.

Most wisdom is obvious.

Treat others better than you treat yourself.

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It has been stated in Jesus’s Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12, King James Version (KJV) “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” The word should has been changed to would in most of the modern translations, but that weakens the statement. If you treat others as you wish them to treat you, your reward will be that you live comfortably, but you will not grow spiritually in your maturity because there is no challenge to your existing state of personal development.

If you follow the KJV with the phrase “should do to you” you will be challenged to grow in psychological maturity. Over time you will become a better person than you were when you started treating others as they should treat you. Jesus also stated that you should treat your enemies well, which may be difficult sometimes, but that is an opportunity to develop your maturity in more difficult situations than are ordinarily encountered.

It is stated several times that when asked for a favor give more than is asked of you. I am not changing the intent of the original two-thousand-year-old statement, which is unknown and unknowable in its exact nuance, but I say, “Treat others better than you treat yourself.”

When I have stated this idea to other people they balk, and say they must treat themselves better first, and then they will have the reserves of energy needed to treat others better. But that won’t work, and will never work, because people will discover that they are infinitely needy; and no matter how much they have they will always want more than they have. It is the opposite; the more of something a person has, the less likely they are to share it. Fortunately, there are some wonderful exceptions and those exceptions are because those people have grown in their maturity.

The way to break the cycle of natural greed is to intentionally decide to “treat others better than you treat yourself.” With some people, this behavior is already a habit. They open doors for others. They offer a seat to others when they enter a room. They let others speak when those people feel the need to interrupt. When they meet people they begin in a positive way and ask friendly questions. In general, what I am suggesting is usually called politeness, but I am suggesting that you take it further than politeness and treat others even better than they could expect. It is easy to do unexpected good deeds. That has been bumper-stickered as, “Do random acts of kindness.” It is easy to:

Treat others better than you treat yourself.

I am no longer seeking happiness.

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I was in an extended conversation where we were discussing happiness and how to get it and maintain it. I was attentive throughout the discussion but didn’t participate because happiness seemed like such a desirable goal and my views were very different. Happiness is certainly more desirable than unhappiness most of the time and I didn’t want to be critical of emotions that people feel are desirable. Also, as my present goal is to help people develop more mature lifestyles, it would be counterproductive to begin presenting disturbing ideas. I want to be nicer to people than they are to me and to one another and to bring up my point of view would be perceived as hostile.

My desire is to live a complete life and that includes experiencing the various things that people can endure. Perhaps that is overstating a bit because I do want to avoid the nasty bits, and do seek to avoid automobile accidents and their unpleasant results. As obvious as physical accident avoidance seems to me I do know people who like to live on the edge of an accident because, they claim, it makes them feel more alive. Of course to live on the edge means falling over occasionally and being injured, even killed. I’m willing to take some risks but only if they can be recovered from and if there is a much greater payoff than the worst injury likely. I have a friend who feels wrongly imprisoned, because of a failure to pay a monetary debt, and therefore has refused to eat prison food for two weeks. I have another friend who rides motorcycles in what sounds like very dangerous ways. And others who say they take dangerous street drugs.

People claim they get a happy feeling by doing these things and they consider me weak for pursuing my bland goals of helping humanity live better. That was the stated goal in the title of this blog since the first day: Probaway – Life Hacks ~ Many helpful hints on living your life more successfully, and at present I have written 3,424 posts with that as the intent. Obviously, I don’t have that many thoughts and there must be some repetitiveness in those posts, but there has been a growth in the ways of seeking a better life. The intent isn’t to force anyone to do anything they don’t see as being to their benefit, but to pull back a veil that they could have easily pulled back themselves. To see what is easily seen by anyone who chooses to look.

“Treat others better than you treat yourself” is the idea I am presently pursuing because to the degree that people can do that they can cultivate the habits of growing in maturity. That is a benefit to themselves as well as to others. When I am more comfortable with that idea and have some memorable examples I will present it to these people who consider happiness as the highest good, perhaps second only to pleasure. For the moment my bon mot is:

“Treat others better than I treat myself.”

Seven Sages measure the Earth

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Dudley’s Bookstore writers group March 20, 2017, at Ahonu’s house

Source of random prompt – The Light of Egypt by Thomas H. Burgoyne, page 16, line 18

“The mundane bible of the Jews, like everything else esteemed sacred, finds its original and perfect expression in the great astral bible of the skies.”

Let’s get serious! Ha! I’m not in a serious mood; I’m in a grumpy mood. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it is my month-long struggle with the “Seven Sages mosaic” excavated in Pompeii in 1899. It was buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius at noon on August 24, 79 A.D. and is now on display in the Naples National Archaeological Museum only 22.5 kilometers northwest of its discovery site. It is about one meter by one meter square and in near original condition. There is some scholarly discussion of the mosaic but quite frankly the various analysis weren’t satisfying me. I used this picture August 20, 2013, in Philosophers Squared – 147 Delphic maxims and often wondered if there was something deeper about the picture’s content.

The 7 Sages of Greece

The 7 Sages of Greece mosaic found buried at Pompeii

My problem began with the sage sitting in the center of the picture pointing an arm-long stick at a large globe sitting in an open box on the ground. Apparently, these sages were discussing this globe and the latitude lines prominently displayed on its surface. One of the other sages is pointing with his toe and touching the globe at the same spot the stick is pointing at. That’s a bit strange, but then I noticed that two of the other sages are holding rolled scrolls and those appeared to be parallel to the pointing stick.

I started drawing lines over the picture using CorelDraw on my computer, and it was easy to do because it was easy to manipulate the lines and give them different colors, line widths, and labels. The two scrolls line up perfectly with the pointing stick. Yes, perfectly, to within one tenth of a degree. That couldn’t be an accident. But why would a skillful artist make those lines parallel?

What were those guys talking about? It seemed obvious that it was the globe representing the Earth, and the lines on the globe were probably meaningful and they were obviously interested in geography. Geo (earth) graphy (drawing). It was those Greek sages who invented the bane of high school students – geometry (the measurement of the Earth). That study can drive a teenager bonkers with straight lines, and circles, so then I started looking for straight lines, right angles and circles. Sure enough, they were there and plentiful too.

The circular bench where four of the sages are sitting peeked through in several places and those arcs were clear enough to locate a center of the circle. It obviously formed a perfect circle. In a separate operation, I drew lines from the corners of the picture to find the center of the whole picture. Strangely, when I drew this exact circle the same size as the bench circle it went through significant things like the eyes and nipples of the sages. Then I drew lines precisely through three of the sages’ eyes to the eye of the upper right corner gargoyle. Thus began a search for other strange alignments which were accurate to within a half a degree. I found so many my picture became messy and I became grumpy.

What in the world could all of these lines and circles mean? Well, I thought on that a bit, and clearly, it must mean something about the Earth, but what? Perhaps those lines were latitude lines and they were discussing things like the north pole star, the equator, and the Tropic of Cancer and the lines would point to these things. They could measure these things accurately with simple instruments constructed in a few minutes from strings and sticks. Also, there is a sundial at the top of the central column, and a line drops vertically from it through one sage’s eye.

Computers to the rescue once again. I pulled up Google Earth and started checking the latitudes of places that these sages would be interested in. Pompeii was where the mosaic was found and if my theory was correct its latitude would be there as one of those significant lines. And it was. But perhaps that Pompeii alignment was just a random artifact. It was necessary to check other places like Rome. Bingo! Right on. Then Athens, Alexandria and Beirut. Prominent lines and conspicuous intersections went right to those prominent locations and key cities in the Greco-Roman world. Still I was skeptical and verified my angles by flipping the lines horizontally to maintain the same angle, and applied the same search for alignments. I found them for those cities.

One line didn’t make sense because, at 24.45, it was too far south of the Mediterranean world these Pompeii sages would be familiar with. When I checked south on the Nile river there was a fabulous Egyptian temple Kom Ombo. It is as striking as the Taj Mahal in India. How would these guys know about that, two thousand years ago? Wikipedia stated that this incredible structure was not built by classic Egyptians but by the Ptolemaic Greeks 180–47 BC and perhaps so near in time to when the mosaic was made that the sages knew people who were involved in its construction. But what’s the significance? There is a deep vertical well in the temple yard ( lat/lon 24.4524, 32.928) where the sun shines only once a year.

Well at Kom Ombo, Egypt

Sunlight reflecting off the bottom of the well at Kom Ombo, Egypt.

It is near the Tropic of Cancer. With that information and a measure of the north-south distance from any of those cities indicated in the picture, one can calculate the circumference of the Earth. Eratosthenes (276 BC – 194 BC) did it accurately from the Library of Alexandria (lat/lon 31.2088, 29.9095).

The Seven Sages mosaic is the perfect expression of the great astral bible of the skies. It has been seen until now as a mundane object buried in biblical times at Pompeii. But it is about the Earth being a sphere flying through the heavens which is demonstrated by light at the bottom of a well in Egypt reflecting sunlight once a year back to observers at the top.  This mosaic proves that these Seven Greco-Roman sages of that era were wiser than the flat-earthers living today. This Seven Sages mosaic will now be recognized as a sacred object by scientifically inclined people.

“The mundane bible of the Jews, like everything else esteemed sacred, finds its original and perfect expression in the great astral bible of the skies.”

[The 10 AM writers prompt was satisfied in 50 minutes, but the pictures, dates, web links, latitude/longitude and spelling were added or corrected later in the day.]