George Rucker's Egregious Newsletter for December 26, 2017

Greetings once again,                                                              26 December 17

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, now on to a Happy New Year.  The days are getting longer now as the sun starts slowly heading towards our side of the equator. I always look forward to the Winter Solstice.  This year for us on the East coast it started Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 11:28 am EST.  The reason I like this solstice is because it leads to the warm weather of the Summer Solstice in six months.  I hate cold weather.

I always get interested in how the US businesses did this year.  This is the time of year when many businesses fail as they did not meet sales expectations.  Christmas has become more of a civil holiday and celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians.  Christmas is typically the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world as sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas.  I will probably need to wait until January to find how our country did for 2017.


I can honestly say I have never taken a selfie.  I like taking pictures of things and then I might put some on social media, but only if I feel it has merit, perhaps this happens three times a year.  It now appears that those who take selfies quite often have a genuine mental condition, especially when compelled to post those pictures of themselves on social media.

The term was first coined in 2014 to describe obsessive selfie-taking in a news story which was suggested by the American Psychiatric Association who were considering classifying it as a disorder.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management in India decided to investigate whether there was any truth in the phenomenon.

They have now confirmed that ‘selfitis’ does indeed exist and have even developed a ‘Selfitis Behavior Scale’ which can be used to assess its severity.

Levels of 'Selfitis'

Borderline - Taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting them on social media.

Acute - Taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each one on social media

Chronic - Uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day.

This scale, which runs from one to 100 was developed using a large number of focus groups with most containing 200 participants to determine what factors drove selfitis. It was scale tested using  a survey of the final 400 participants.

Participants were based in India because the country has the most users on Facebook, as well as the highest number of deaths as a result of trying to take selfies in dangerous locations.

I guess I now need to mention my thoughts on this.

When taking college classes in the 80s I took part in a program than measured the time people looked in a mirror.  Our class of about 40 students planned to prove or disapprove a theory that had been done by another college with the posted results in one of our class books.

The statement that good or better looking people look into a mirror more that those who are not so good looking.  We divided into 10 groups of four for this experiment.  Our goal was to observe people at the mall and then (one) using stopwatches time how long they looked into the mirror.  Next the four of us while sitting on the bench watching would (two) grade the looks of the person on a scale of 1 to 10.  This sounds easy but most people do not stop and look in a mirror; this was true at least in our particular sector of the Mall.  Much of our time was spent running back and fourth to the food court for snacks like french fries etc.  Our initial goal was to get a cross-section of 50 people but settled on 20 who in fact truly did look into the mirror, as most only gave a short untimeable glance.  We had to delete one four year old who for some reason kept coming back to the mirror to look at himself while his mother watched over him.  We did prove that people with a looks of grade of 7 or more do look into the mirror for longer periods.  I learned more about our group of four just talking while we were observing the crowds.  We were all older students as this was a night class but I remember one of the wives was so much in love with Tom Selleck she flew to California to sit on a bench during the Tony Awards so she could see him up close and personal while he entered the theater on that red carpet.

This study was done before selfies.  I feel it you looked at those taking a bunch of selfies and posting them on social media they would also fall into the group of people who are the better looking segment of our society.  I do not feel this is a mental disorder but just a validation of how good they look..  My only example for proof would be Paris Hilton who posts a lot of selfies, someone whom I would rate about an 8 ½  but then she might be truly nuts, so I could be wrong.


A fellow walked into a bank in New York City asking for a loan for $4000 dollars. “Well, before we lend you the money we are going to need some kind of security” the bank teller said. “No problem” the man responded here are the keys to my car “you’ll see it, it’s a black Porsche parked in the back of the parking lot.” A few weeks later the man returned to pay off his loan. While he was paying it up, along with the interest of $11 dollars, the manager came over, “sir, we are very happy to have you’re business, but if you don’t mind me asking, after you left we looked into you and found out that you are a millionaire, why would you need to borrow $4000 dollars?” “Well, the fellow responded it’s quite simple, where else can I park my car for three weeks in New York for $11 dollars?”


Riddle of the Week #44: Knights and Knaves, Part 2

Difficulty level: Easy

Welcome back to a series of Knights and Knaves logic puzzles. These riddles take place on an island where there are two types of people, knights, who always tell the truth, and knaves, who always lie.


On the island of knights and knaves, you are approached by two people. The first one points to the second and says, "he is a knave." The second one then says, "neither of us are knaves."


On many of these puzzles, especially the harder ones going forward, it will be important to label everyone. So A says, "B is a knave." And B says, "neither A nor B are knaves."


Once you determine the identities of these two individuals, it will be posted somewhere below.


The Boss of our small company was complaining during a staff meeting that people didn’t respect him enough. Trying to change the attitude in the office he came in the next day with a sign for his door it said, “I am the boss”.

One of the employees apparently not appreciating the change posted a post-a-note on the sign it said “your wife wants her sign back”


An Old man went to the doctor complaining of a terrible pain in his leg. “I am afraid it’s just old age”, replied the doctor, “there is nothing we can do about it.” “That can’t be” fumed the old man, “you don’t know what you are doing.” “How can you possibly know I am wrong?” countered the doctor. “Well it’s quite obvious,” the old man replied, “my other leg is fine, and it’s the exact same age!”


A blond man entered the emergency room with his two ears burned. “What happened?” asked the doctor. “Well”, the man explained, “my wife was ironing clothing, behind my chair while I was watching TV. She put down the iron next to the phone and when the phone rang I answered the iron.”

“Wow that is terrible” responded the doctor, and what happened to your other ear?”

“Well” the blond guy responded “Right afterwards, the phone rang again!”



This time, we have our two individuals contradicting each other. Someone is lying, and so someone must be a knave. You can see the original problem here.

If you assume the first person, A, is telling the truth, then B is a knave and must be lying. B says, "neither of us are knaves," but if he is a knave as A claims then this is a lie, which checks out.

Alternatively, if you assume B is telling the truth when he says, "neither of us are knaves," then they must both be knights. But A said, "B is a knave," and if they are both knights then this is a lie, and knights, of course, never lie. So B cannot be telling the truth.

Therefore, A is a knight and B is a knave.

There are many more knights and knaves walking around this island, so make sure to come back next week for another conversation with them!


Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Onions  Recipe By:USA WEEKEND columnist Jean Carper


    2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
    2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut in 1-inch chunks
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted


    Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
    Toss first 6 ingredients in a shallow medium-sized baking dish.
    Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 20 minutes more. Sprinkle with almonds


Sometimes I hear a quote and it does not make sense.  I then need to see what other people think about the same quote.  Here is one such quote.

"What did Jesus mean when He said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven?"

Answer: There are several different schools of thought on what Jesus was referring to in saying it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain eternal life (Matthew 19:24). The Persians expressed the concept of the impossible by saying it would be easier to put an elephant through the eye of a needle. The camel was a Jewish adaptation (the largest animal in Israel was a camel).

Some theorize that the needle Jesus was speaking of was the Needle Gate, supposedly a low and narrow after-hours entrance found in the wall surrounding Jerusalem. It was purposely small for security reasons, and a camel could only go through it by stripping off any saddles or packs and crawling through on its knees. The problem with this theory is there is no evidence such a gate ever existed. Beyond that, what sane camel driver would go through such contortions when larger gates were easily accessible?

Others claim that the word translated “camel” (Greek: kamelos) should actually be “cable” (Greek: kamilos). Then the verse would read that it is easier for a cable (or rope) to go through the eye of a needle. To believe this, however, brings up more problems than it solves, namely casting doubt on the inaccuracy and inspiration of Scripture.

The most likely explanation is that Jesus was using hyperbole, a figure of speech that exaggerates for emphasis. Jesus used this technique at other times, referring to a “plank” in one’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5) and swallowing a camel (Matthew 23:24).

Jesus’ message is clear—it is impossible for anyone to be saved on his own merits. Since wealth was seen as proof of God’s approval, it was commonly taught by the rabbis that rich people were blessed by God and were, therefore, the most likely candidates for heaven. Jesus destroyed that notion, and along with it, the idea that anyone can earn eternal life. The disciples had the appropriate response to this startling statement. They were utterly amazed and asked, “Who then can be saved?” in the next verse. If the wealthy among them, which included the super-spiritual Pharisees and scribes, were unworthy of heaven, what hope was there for a poor man?

Jesus’ answer is the basis of the gospel: "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God" (Matthew 19:26). Men are saved through God’s gifts of grace, mercy, and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nothing we do earns salvation for us. It is the poor in spirit who inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3), those who recognize their spiritual poverty and their utter inability to do anything to justify themselves to a holy God. The rich man so often is blind to his spiritual poverty because he is proud of his accomplishments and has contented himself with his wealth. He is as likely to humble himself before God as a camel is to crawl through the eye of a needle.

My thoughts. . .  I think the city of Jerusalem did have a small gate referred to as the needle gate and it is now just covered up as it is no longer needed.  Why?  I grew up in a very large farm house.  It had a one big fireplace in the livingroom with small fireplaces joined by a flue in both the dining room and the kitchen.  When a fire was lit in the livingroom heat would go up holes in the floor called registers.  When the home had a boiler installed in the cellar and hot water was then used to heat radiators.  These radiators were place in each of the seven bedrooms.  (Now six as the smallest was changed into a bathroom.)

The registers remained as heat rises so it would not be wasted.  However burning wood in the fireplace was no longer needed to heat the house.  The small fireplaces in both the dining room and the kitchen were sealed up so the heat would not just go up the chimney.  The large fireplace had an ornate brass covering to it also could be sealed.  From this point on it was used as an ornamental fire, say for Christmas or guests sitting and talking, eating or drinking in the room.  In the other two rooms we now have just a flat plaster wall.  Since the home is no longer in my family the new people in residence will probably never know.

I say that Jerusalem no longer needed to close the main gate at night and the needle gate was no longer was needed at all for city security.  Now all the guards could be at the main gate.  They then, just sealed needle gate up and it is now just part of the wall.  It might be worth the effort to examine the wall of the city with some sort of detector to look for abnormalities.

At least for me the quote now sort of makes sense.


U.S. life expectancy falls for second straight year — as drug overdoses soar
by Maggie Fox

Life expectancy in the United States fell for the second year in a row in 2016 — and it’s clear the epidemic of drug overdoses is at least in part to blame, government researchers said Thursday.

Overall life expectancy for a baby born in 2016 fell to 78.6 years, a small decline of 0.1 percent, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) team found. At the same time, mortality from drug overdoses rose by 21 percent.

The 2015 dip was mentioned in last years letter.  I truly did not think it would dip once again.

To put this in perspective, Although the Viet Nam war was roughly 20 years only the last 10 years were mostly with American troops.  In all 58,193 American deaths are on the wall.  Opioid drug deaths for 2015, 52,000.  Opioid drug deaths for 2016, 63,600.  Figures for 2017 are not in yet but they are going to be higher than 2016.


Saipan: The Island Where Chinese Mothers Deliver American Babies

Women looking to give birth to U.S. citizens have found a loophole in the Pacific on the island of Saipan

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands—This U.S. territory in the western Pacific is known for its epic World War II battle, white-sand beaches and the enduring culture of its indigenous Chamorro people.

But for a certain class of Chinese parents, Saipan has become known as the latest hot spot for birth tourism, a place where women can give birth to babies who will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

The Northern Marianas, an island chain that includes Saipan, is the only U.S. soil that Chinese can visit without a visa, after a change in immigration policy in 2009 allowed Chinese and Russian tourists visa-free entry for up to 45 days.

“It’s just like if God opened a window for you,” said a Chinese father who works as a translator here after coming a few years ago to ensure his child would be born American.

Good Grief, when it rains it pours.  This loophole needs to be closed and quickly.


The NFL scored its biggest TV audience of the season in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ controversial loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night — but it wasn’t enough to reverse overall viewership declines.

The disappointing TV audience for Week 15’s eight games, including two on Saturday, left the NFL’s average TV viewership 9 percent below last season’s total for the same period, according to Nielsen.

After Week 14, viewership was 8.4 percent behind last season.

Each of the NFL’s 96 national telecasts this season has averaged 15.1 million viewers, compared with 16.6 million for the 95 telecasts through Week 15 of last year.


A few letters back I mentioned the Spam Museum.  This museum has vintage Spam cans, ads and memorabilia in a 16,500 square foot building in Austin, Minnesota.  (I think that this city is named after my Father-in-Law, Austin) It is a place I would like to visit.

I have found another tidbit of interest, at least it is to me.  1992 the state of Wisconsin started a Mustard Museum.  It was started by Barry Levenson, who claimed to have heard a voice saying “If you collect us they will come.” This occurred as he approached a shelf of mustards in a convenience store.  He happened to be in Washington D.C. to argue a case before the Supreme Court.  Levenson spied a small jar of mustard on a room service cart and put it in his pocket where it remained as he argued and won the case.

In October of 2000 the museum’s collection was moved to its present more spacious location in Middleton and renamed the National Mustard Museum.  Visitors will see 5,600 mustards from all 50 states and 60 countries, along with vintage ads and beautiful and unusual mustard jars.

I can now go to both museums while traveling along the Northern tier of States.  Just think of the fun.  I also think the look on Patty’s face will be priceless while she reads this.  There are those that wonder how she puts up with me.

I have had only one mustard recipe in my past letters so I think I will run that recipe again.  This mustard is great a dip for cheese and pepperoni type meat.  A copy of this recipe was sent by two of my friends, Ann and Ginny with whom I played darts for many an evening.  It is a hot mustard.  I now have to say good bye to Ginny, she was a great friend with a great smile.  I will miss her.

Hot Mustard

1 cup dry Colemans mustard, (ordered mine on line)
1 cup cider vinegar

Mix together and soak overnight

Next day...mix together 3 eggs well beaten and 1 cup of sugar,
Add the mustard mix and put in a saucepan over low heat until it coats the spoon.

Remove from heat and whip until it stops steaming.

Keeps in the refrigerator for months (I think I would limit this to 90 days as it does have
 eggs as an ingredient, even though they are cooked.)


Once again I wish all a Happy New Year.


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