Save American Lives

Terrorism or Guns?

The Story

So, you support our xenophobic President’s Muslim Ban. Your argument is that:

“We gotta keep ‘em out, cause they wanna kill us!”

Well you and our prejudiced President are completely and utterly wrong. This argument does not jibe with the facts. This proposition is so misaligned with reality that supporters of it are obviously using it to cover up their xenophobia and prejudice.

The real facts, not Trump’s alternative facts

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control the leading cause of American deaths in 2014 were:

‣ Heart disease: 614,348

‣ Cancer: 591,699

‣ Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101

‣ Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053

‣ Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103

‣ Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541

‣ Diabetes: 76,488

‣ Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,227

‣ Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 48,146

‣ Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

Read this paper to get the full details on these numbers.

Note that terrorism is nowhere to be found on this list.

How many Americans have died from domestic terrorism? The answer to this question is:

From 2010 until 2016, 118 Americans have died from domestic terrorism and 518 were injured. In 2014 no (zero) Americans died due to domestic terrorism. Obviously, heart disease was, in 2014, a much greater problem than domestic terrorism.

Check these numbers here.

From 2001 until 2011 17 Americans died due to foreign terrorism. However, 11,101 Americans died due to gun homicides.

How many guns are there in America?

No official figure exists but there are thought to be about 300 million firearms in the US, held by about a third of the population. That is nearly enough guns for every man, woman and child in the country.

The right to own guns is regarded by many as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and fiercely defended by lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association, which boasted that its membership surged to around five million in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The US spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism, which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary domestic gun crime.

According to figures from the US Department of Justice and the Council on Foreign Affairs, 11,385 people died on average annually in firearm incidents in the US between 2001 and 2011.

In the same period, an average of 517 people were killed annually in terror-related incidents. Removing 2001, when 9/11 occurred, from the calculation produces an annual average of just 31 Americans killed by terrorism.

Read the full article on this here.

Our xenophobic President has pushed forward the perception that immigration adversely affects crime rates.

However, like so many of our prejudiced President’s alternative facts this perception is not supported by the facts. It turns out that immigrants have much lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans. This is on the order of one-fifth the rate of natives. More recently arrived immigrants have the lowest relative incarceration rates. The study cited below examines whether an improvement in immigrants’ relative incarceration rates over the last three decades is linked to increased deportation, immigrant self-selection, or deterrence. Their evidence suggests that deportation does not drive the results. Rather, the process of migration selects individuals who either have lower criminal propensities or are more responsive to deterrent effects than the average native. Immigrants who were already in the country reduced their relative incarceration probability over the decades; and the newly arrived immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s seem to be particularly unlikely to be involved in criminal activity.

Read this research paper for more details.

Summary

It is clear heart disease kills far more Americans than all domestic or foreign terrorism added together. In fact, around 12,000 Americans die each year from a direct consequence of U.S. gun laws, far more than all domestic or foreign terrorism. The outrageous claim by our xenophobic President that there is a high rate of American deaths from illegal immigrants is false too. In fact, immigrants have much lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans.

Why do the President and his supporters put these false claims forward? The only possible answer to this question is that they wish to disguise their xenophobia and prejudice. It makes them feel better about their racism if they can convince themselves of the lies and obfuscations they constantly espouse.

If you support Trump, you are by association a racist. If you do not consider yourself a racist, then stop supporting Trump.

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We the People, What do we want?

The recent political turmoil in the USA has caused me to think about the divide between conservatives and liberals in the USA. What does each side want? They seem ready to fight each other over every and any issue, but what is the difference between these two political ideologies?

Below are the two parties’ current platform preambles. They are a good way to understand the current position of each party. Although, keep in mind that holding any political party to a particular position is a monumental task. However, they both have taken the time below to write down their position in words, and words do matter. You’ll find both parties platform preambles below my observations.

Observations

Exceptionalism

Here is a mistake both parties are making in their reasoning. The first error is the assumption that America and Americans are somehow special. Both parties are at fault here as the historical evidence does not support such a claim and belief. Both parties will be better off when they admit to themselves that Americans are people with the same potentials, abilities, deficiencies and disabilities as every other person on this planet.

There is a subtle difference between the two parties view of Americans as people. The Republicans see Americans as exceptional.

“We believe the United States of America is unlike any other nation on earth.

We believe America is exceptional because of our historic role — first as refuge, then as defender, and now as exemplar of liberty for the world to see.”

Exceptionalism is a very dangerous idea to propagate. If you need convincing of this read: Hans Jonas and Vasily Grossman: Reflections on the Human Condition after Auschwitz. Exceptionalism is the perception that a species, country, society, institution, movement, individual, or period is “exceptional” (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way.

American exceptionalism is one of three related ideas. The first is that the history of the United States is inherently different from other nations. In this view, American exceptionalism stems from its emergence from the American Revolution, thereby becoming what political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset called: “the first new nation”. America developed a uniquely American ideology, “Americanism”, based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, democracy and laissez-faire economics. This ideology itself is often referred to as “American exceptionalism.”

Second is the idea that the US has a unique mission to transform the world. As Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg address (1863), Americans have a duty to ensure, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Third is the sense that the United States’ history and mission give it a superiority over other nations.

The Democrats state on this subject:

“Despite what some say, America is and has always been great—but not because it has been perfect. What makes America great is our unerring belief that we can make it better. We can and we will build a more just economy, a more equal society, and a more perfect union—because we are stronger together.”

This is a much more realistic view of Americans and America. To argue that Americans and America are not perfect is of course correct. Never in the history of homo sapiens has there been a perfect people or country, and there never will be. Therefore, the only reasonable goal is to constantly seek to improve ourselves and our countries.

Racism

There is a very large gap between the two parties in terms of racism. The Republicans I believe reveal their sincere view in the contradiction (in their own platform) below:

“We affirm — as did the Declaration of Independence: that all are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We believe in the Constitution as our founding document.

We believe the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as our enduring covenant.”

To claim that they support the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as an enduring contract is contradicted in their own platform. They modify in their platform (from the sister document of the Constitution) the actual words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” and changed it to: “that all are created equal”. This seems like a small inconsistency, but I believe it to be very revealing to the Republican’s real view of racism. On the one hand, they advocate the Constitution to be a contract that must not be changed and on the other hand they change in their platform a highly racist section of the Declaration of Independence. The word men, was very specifically chosen. It intentionally excluded women, indentured servants, native Americans, and slaves.

If you are unsure about how people interpreted “all men are created equal” from the Declaration of Independence consider this: In 1858 at Charleston, southern Illinois, Abraham Lincoln told his audience: “And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States (Modern Classics) (p. 188). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Calling for the Constitution to be an unchanging guide and at the same time modifying the meaning of the Declaration of Independence is an inconsistency to be sure. It is clear the purpose, of this inconsistency, is to obfuscate the Republican Party’s real position on race in America. This notion supports the modern history of the Republican Party that clearly prioritizes white’s interests over people of color, women, and minorities. It is a way to skirt around the Republican Party’s racist position.

The Democrats are clearly not denying that Americans and America have a serious race inequality problem:

“And we know that our nation’s long struggle with race is far from over. More than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, more than half a century after César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong organized, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind. We must face that reality and we must fix it.”

Summary

If you are a Republican, you are a racist and you support exceptionalism. You may claim that you are a Republican and you are neither of these. However, if you are a Republican then this is what you associate yourself with, and therefore you are this. If you do not wish to be either you should seriously consider your political affiliation.

Republican Party 2016 Platform

Preamble

With this platform, we the Republican Party reaffirm the principles that unite us in a common purpose. We believe in American exceptionalism.

We believe the United States of America is unlike any other nation on earth.

We believe America is exceptional because of our historic role — first as refuge, then as defender, and now as exemplar of liberty for the world to see.

We affirm — as did the Declaration of Independence: that all are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We believe in the Constitution as our founding document.

We believe the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as our enduring covenant.

We believe our constitutional system — limited government, separation of powers, federalism, and the rights of the people — must be preserved uncompromised for future generations.

We believe political freedom and economic freedom are indivisible.

When political freedom and economic freedom are separated — both are in peril; when united, they are invincible.

We believe that people are the ultimate resource — and that the people, not the government, are the best stewards of our country’s God-given natural resources.

As Americans and as Republicans we wish for peace — so we insist on strength. We will make America safe. We seek friendship with all peoples and all nations, but we recognize and are prepared to deal with evil in the world.

Based on these principles, this platform is an invitation and a roadmap. It invites every American to join us and shows the path to a stronger, safer, and more prosperous America. This platform is optimistic because the American people are optimistic.

This platform lays out — in clear language — the path to making America great and united again.

For the past 8 years America has been led in the wrong direction. Our economy has become unnecessarily weak with stagnant wages. People living paycheck to paycheck are struggling, sacrificing, and suffering.

Americans have earned and deserve a strong and healthy economy.

Our standing in world affairs has declined significantly — our enemies no longer fear us and our friends no long trust us. People want and expect an America that is the most powerful and respected country on the face of the earth. The men and women of our military remain the world’s best. The have been shortchanged in numbers, equipment, and benefits by a Commander in Chief who treats the Armed Forces and our veterans as a necessary inconvenience.

The President and the Democratic party have dismantled Americans’ system of healthcare. They have replaced it with a costly and complicated scheme that limits choices and takes away our freedom.

The President and the Democratic party have abandoned their promise of being accountable to the American people.

They have nearly doubled the size of the national debt. They refuse to control our borders but try to control our schools, farms, businesses, and even our religious institutions. They have directly attacked the production of American energy and the industry-related jobs that have sustained families and communities.

The President has been regulating to death a free market economy that he does not like and does not understand. He defies the laws of the United States by refusing to enforce those with which he does not agree. And he appoints judges who legislate from the bench rather than apply the law. We, as Republicans and Americans, cannot allow this to continue. That is why the many sections of this platform affirm our trust in the people, our faith in their judgment, and our determination to help them take back their country.

This means removing the power from unelected, unaccountable government.

This means relieving the burden and expense of punishing government regulations.

And this means returning to the people and the states the control that belongs to them. It is the control and the power to make their own decisions about what’s best for themselves and their families and communities. This platform is many things: A handbook for returning decision-making to the people. A guide to the constitutional rights of every American. And a manual for the kind of sustained growth that will bring opportunity to all those on the sidelines of our society.

Every time we sing, “God Bless America,” we are asking for help. We ask for divine help that our country can fulfill its promise. We earn that help by recommitting ourselves to the ideas and ideals that are the true greatness of America.

Democratic Party 2016 Platform

Preamble

In 2016, Democrats meet in Philadelphia with the same basic belief that animated the Continental Congress when they gathered here 240 years ago: Out of many, we are one.

Under President Obama’s leadership, and thanks to the hard work and determination of the American people, we have come a long way from the Great Recession and the Republican policies that triggered it.

American businesses have now added 14.8 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. Twenty million people have gained health insurance coverage. The American auto industry just had its best year ever. And we are getting more of our energy from the sun and wind, and importing less oil from overseas.

But too many Americans have been left out and left behind. They are working longer hours with less security. Wages have barely budged and the racial wealth gap remains wide, while the cost of everything from childcare to a college education has continued to rise. And for too many families, the dream of homeownership is out of reach. As working people struggle, the top one percent accrues more wealth and more power. Republicans in Congress have chosen gridlock and dysfunction over trying to find solutions to the real challenges we face. It’s no wonder that so many feel like the system is rigged against them.

Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls. It’s a simple but powerful idea: we are stronger together.

Democrats believe we are stronger when we have an economy that works for everyone—an economy that grows incomes for working people, creates good-paying jobs, and puts a middle-class life within reach for more Americans. Democrats believe we can spur more sustainable economic growth, which will create good-paying jobs and raise wages. And we can have more economic fairness, so the rewards are shared broadly, not just with those at the top. We need an economy that prioritizes long-term investment over short-term profit-seeking, rewards the common interest over self-interest, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship.

We believe that today’s extreme level of income and wealth inequality—where the majority of the economic gains go to the top one percent and the richest 20 people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million—makes our economy weaker, our communities poorer, and our politics poisonous.

And we know that our nation’s long struggle with race is far from over. More than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, more than half a century after César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong organized, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind. We must face that reality and we must fix it.

We believe a good education is a basic right of all Americans, no matter what zip code they live in. We will end the school-to-prison pipeline and build a cradle-to-college pipeline instead, where every child can live up to his or her God-given potential.

We believe in helping Americans balance work and family without fear of punishment or penalty. We believe in at last guaranteeing equal pay for women. And as the party that created Social Security, we believe in protecting every American’s right to retire with dignity.

We firmly believe that the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street must be brought to an end. Wall Street must never again be allowed to threaten families and businesses on Main Street.

Democrats believe we are stronger when we protect citizens’ right to vote, while stopping corporations’ outsized influence in elections. We will fight to end the broken campaign finance system, overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision, restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act, and return control of our elections to the American people.

Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.

Democrats believe we are stronger and safer when America brings the world together and leads with principle and purpose. We believe we should strengthen our alliances, not weaken them. We believe in the power of development and diplomacy. We believe our military should be the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force in the world, and that we must do everything we can to honor and support our veterans. And we know that only the United States can mobilize common action on a truly global scale, to take on the challenges that transcend borders, from international terrorism to climate change to health pandemics.

Above all, Democrats are the party of inclusion. We know that diversity is not our problem—it is our promise. As Democrats, we respect differences of perspective and belief, and pledge to work together to move this country forward, even when we disagree. With this platform, we do not merely seek common ground—we strive to reach higher ground.

We are proud of our heritage as a nation of immigrants. We know that today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, lawyers, government leaders, soldiers, entrepreneurs, activists, PTA members, and pillars of our communities.

We believe in protecting civil liberties and guaranteeing civil rights and voting rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights, LGBT rights, and rights for people with disabilities. We believe America is still, as Robert Kennedy said, “a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country.”

These principles stand in sharp contrast to the Republicans, who have nominated as the standardbearer for their party and their candidate for President a man who seeks to appeal to Americans’ basest differences, rather than our better natures.

The stakes have been high in previous elections. But in 2016, the stakes can be measured in human lives—in the number of immigrants who would be torn from their homes; in the number of faithful and peaceful Muslims who would be barred from even visiting our shores; in the number of allies alienated and dictators courted; in the number of Americans who would lose access to health care and see their rights ripped away.

This election is about more than Democrats and Republicans. It is about who we are as a nation, and who we will be in the future.

Two hundred and forty years ago, in Philadelphia, we started a revolution of ideas and of action that continues to this day. Since then, our union has been tested many times, through bondage and civil war, segregation and depression, two world wars and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Generations of Americans fought and marched and organized to widen the circle of opportunity and dignity—and we are fighting still.

Despite what some say, America is and has always been great—but not because it has been perfect. What makes America great is our unerring belief that we can make it better. We can and we will build a more just economy, a more equal society, and a more perfect union—because we are stronger together.

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The Truth About Truth, Chains of Evidence

Book Excerpt

The following is a short excerpt from my book: The Truth About, Chains of Evidence.

The book seems more pertinent today given President Donald Trump’s, and his cohorts’, propensity to lie and mislead.

If you like this extract, please feel free to read the entire work and let me know what you think.

Amazon

Prologue

The human condition is fraught with ambiguity and plagued by uncertainty. We can’t always know ourselves and what we might do in any given circumstance, even though we like to think otherwise. Therefore, we value the concept of truth as it is reassuring to feel that there is some kind of certainty in our world. If only we can find, define, and hold onto this elusive truth then we can soothe our psyches with the balm of truth, and thereby delude ourselves with feelings of certainty. It is not easy to accept that truth may be an outdated concept, or indeed a concept with very little utility, except perhaps in the realm of fairy tales and fantasy.

In our lives we can only see shadows on the wall of the human cave. We need to keep in mind these shadows are only built from our personal experiences, our culture, and our perception.

Defining truth is like trying to hit a moving target. If some idea becomes a so-called truth at some point, can it be an eternal truth? Are some truths immutable, or is this possibility mere wishful thinking? Is there a moment in time when circumstances allow a truth to be possible or to really be true? Then if that moment in time passes does the particular truth lose its relevance or use?

Often traditional truths are the most powerful in our cultures, and they are continually passed down through the generations. These types of truth gain immense hold over our lives and appear to gain extra power over us merely from their ancient lineage, regardless of their sense or nonsense.

Is it possible to have different versions of truth? Is a truth necessarily subjective and relative to situation? How much does truth matter to us, and in what ways does it control our decisions, even our lives. Does the popular concept of truth promote the accumulation of knowledge or hinder it?

This is a smart and insightful book that asks many such questions. It examines “truth” and questions assumptions about the idea of truth. It puts “truth” under close scrutiny and comes up with a useful tool for examining one’s own, and society’s assumed truths.

Dr. Julia Buss, 2016.

What is the nature of truth?

I’m telling you the truth!

This story is based on a true story.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The infamous Donald Trump, said publicly:

There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.

Was this true?

There must be some reliable way for us to distinguish truth from fiction, or worse lies. We all toss the word truth around with abandon. I am just as guilty of this as the next person. But what does this enigmatic word really mean?

How should we use it?

When should we use it?

How do we know what we believe to be true is true?

I want to explore the true nature of truth. To learn what the truth really is. It seems to me that the idea of truth is worthy of this effort.

Let’s start with the current Oxford Dictionary definition of the word truth:

Truth

Noun

‣ The quality or state of being true.

‣ That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

‣ A fact or belief that is accepted as true.

Notice that the definition of the word truth has three main meanings, the first is self-referential and offers little insight into the nature of truth, so we can skip this definition. The second meaning, I would put forward, is the more widely held meaning of the word. The third definition is the less understood version of this enigmatic idea.

Notice that the second and third definitions are in contradiction to each other. The second definition aligns truth with facts and reality and the third associates truth with popularly held (cultural) ideas or beliefs. Can something be true just because many people believe it to be?

The concept of truth drives so many human behaviors (both good and bad) that it seems apt there is room for a clearer definition of this word. After all, we all want to know the truth.

The definition of truth put forward in this text is: Truth is a complex and always changing concept. It is not absolute, binary, nor static. Useful truths should be open to change as new evidence is found. Truth should not be based in popular belief, but rather in facts and reality.

When using this definition of truth, then any truth that is claimed to be static should be suspect. If a truth is claimed to be binary, yes or no, black or white, true or false, absolute, then it is a questionable truth. Because in our new definition of truth it should be able to change and grow.

The only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths. Can this just be a jest?

Truth based on absolutes cannot change, this is the first position of systems that depend on absolute truth. If a truth cannot be challenged and cannot be changed, then it is inflexible and dogmatic. This has the effect of paralyzing thought and reason.

Consider this example taken from the “New Living Translation” of the New Testament, Mark 16:9:

After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.

That Jesus existed, was God, and transcended death is one of the most popularly held absolute truths. Other than this story there has never been another example in our collective human experience of such an event. Yet this is one of the most popularly held absolute truths.

If something cannot change, it cannot grow, adapt, or evolve then it becomes frozen. Nothing else in life is like this. Everything about us and around us changes over time, nothing is static or absolute.

The most destructive dimension of systems of absolute truths is their ability to lockup or imprison human thought and reason. For example, if we hold transcendence of death as an absolute truth against all contradictory experience, facts, and data we find ourselves locked-up in a prison of unsubstantiated beliefs. Even with much evidence to the contrary we are imprisoned in this world, unable to escape it because the unbreakable bars of absolute truth keep us constrained. Believers in absolute truths must develop closed minds. However, these seemingly unbreakable bars of absolute truth are restraints of our own creation. They are not physical constraints, only imaginary ones. We each of us hold the power to release ourselves from this prison of absolute truth. All we need do is reject these truths and seek truths based on chains of evidence.

The great bard himself (William Shakespeare) in his play Hamlet, famously said:

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Let us consider the following story as an example of the prison of absolute truths. Note religious thinking is not the only thinking that can be trapped in absolutes.

A man holds the absolute truth that obesity is due to people’s freewill choices and nothing else. This man sees all overweight and obese people as weak willed. His unwavering position begins to encourage hatred and rudeness towards overweight and obese people. He believes it is their lack of willpower alone that has caused their situation. His absolute truth ultimately precludes him from empathy, understanding, kindness, and more importantly rational thought towards the problems of overweight and obese people.

When this man is presented with chains of evidence that show obesity is also due to environmental, genetic, corporate, and other external influences he resists the new evidence in favor of his absolute truth.

Under the spell of absolute truth, this man is firmly locked up in a private prison of dogma. His reason is paralyzed and his thoughts are frozen. It seems, nothing can change his mind not even new evidence. Unwavering belief in the freewill of the individual made acceptance of new information impossible to incorporate into this man’s world.

Surely, this man is incorrect to reject new evidence? Does it not seem reasonable to reconsider his truth when new evidence is presented to him?

Are there any absolute truths at all? The only one that I can think of is that you and I, all of us will die at some point. Is this the only absolute truth? Consider, just for a moment, even this seemingly absolute truth may one day not be true. If science fiction imaginings of transferring human consciousness into machines comes to pass, then perhaps some might live forever. Could this be true?

If truth is not absolute, then what is it? Truth might be more like a scale. At one end of the scale truth is insubstantial or foggy and at the other end of the scale truth is substantial and perhaps even predictive, but never absolute.

Here is a scale defining this idea, our new concept of truth. I call it the truth-scale and offer it here for your consideration:

Notice that at the left side of the truth-scale claimed truths are improbable, foggy, or insubstantial. At the right side of the truth-scale claimed truths are highly probable, substantial, and predictive.

This is a more specific and useful definition of truth. Why? Because our newly defined truth-scale includes the notion of probability. What is the likelihood that a truth is true? Or what is the probability of a truth being true?

Probability is the measure of the likelihood that an event will occur. At the foggy end of our truth-scale the probability of a claimed truth of in fact being true is very, very unlikely. At the probable end of our truth-scale the probability of a claimed truth of being true is highly probable.

In our new definition of truth, absolute truths are a clear sign there is an error in our thinking. However, keep in mind that when a claimed truth is placed at the foggy end of our truth-scale it is not completely untrue, rather it is highly improbable of being true. This dimension of our definition of truth is just as important as the idea that there are no absolute truths. Absolutely false ideas are just as useless as absolutely true ones.

This truth-scale based system of categorizing truths ensures that absolutizing does not become part of our concept for establishing truths, because we can never say something is absolutely true nor can we say something is absolutely false. This scheme of defining truth gives us the ability to place claimed truths on our scale of truth and assign a probability or likelihood a truth is true.

This idea of measuring truth via probabilities is not unprecedented. Probability is the concept behind one of the most powerful and impactful truths of the twentieth century: Quantum Theory.

Quantum theory is a branch of theoretical physics that strives to understand and predict the properties and behavior of atoms and subatomic particles. Without it, and the probability mathematics that drives it, we would not be able to build transistors, integrated circuits, or computers.

Erwin Schrodinger (Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist) came up with a famous thought experiment that extends the probability idea behind Quantum Theory from the very small scale, where it was first observed, to our normal human scale. His thought experiment gives us an insight into this bizarre idea, here is a summary of his thinking:

A cat is trapped in a box with a vial of poison that is released when a radioactive atom randomly decays. You cannot tell if the cat is alive or dead without opening the box. Schrodinger argued that until you open the box and look inside, the cat is neither alive nor dead but in an indeterminate state. This is because of the probability involved in the radioactive decay of the atom driving the experiment. The death or life of the cat is determined by randomness.

Hang on! How can a cat be both dead and alive at the same time? Surely this cannot be true? And yet, this is precisely the principles behind your cellular phone, computer, car, and just about everything we are reliant on in the twenty first century.

But if all truths are based on a probability of being true and not on absolutes, how do we place a truth on our truth-scale?

As it turns out humanity has developed, over many thousands of years, a very reliable way of establishing, identifying, and understanding truths. It is known as the scientific method and it’s our best technique to distill truth. Why? Because it’s first position is that any fact or truth is subject to change and modification based on new evidence. This ensures truths are able to grow, change, or be thrown out over time. All other systems of establishing truth are based on absolutes or binaries. They are static, inflexible, and dogmatic. Religions for example use an absolute premise to establish truth. All religions espouse a position such as: there is a god or gods. And all religions will not allow the nonexistence of their god or gods no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary. These claimed truths are therefore static or absolute. But life is not static. From the day we are born we are changing. We grow in stature and sometimes wisdom. So why would truth be a static thing?

If new chains of evidence are so important to continually define, distill, and discover our truths, how can we ascertain reliable chains of evidence?

Amazon

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Washington The District of Columbia

Day four

Our balmy weather left us abruptly this morning. Temperatures plunged from yesterday’s 65 to a freezing and bone chilling 33 today. As I left my warm hotel I got an inkling of the change, but when I emerged from the Smithsonian Metro onto the vast expanse of the National Mall I was made fully aware of just how cold it can be here in winter. The ice-cold wind was howling down the open field causing the wind-chill to drop below freezing. It was cold enough to make my unshielded ears smart with pain.

It wasn’t quite like this, but close

Still, it was worth braving this artic-blast as my destination was, one of my favorite museums here, the National Air and Space Museum. I have visited this gallery every time I have toured this city, and it never ceases to influence me. I guess there are two reasons for my fascination with this museum. The first is my age. I was born in 1957, which was the beginning of the space-race that ultimately led to the USA landing men on the Moon. For totally illogical reasons I’ve always felt connected to human space efforts because of my random birthdate.

The second reason for my fascination with the National Air and Space Museum was my 25 years of being a private pilot. During my time as a fly-boy I clocked over a 1,000 hours of flight time and attained IFR (instrument flight rules) certification. This experience was driven by my fascination with all things aeronautical. Spaceflight and aeronautics are well represented at this stupendous museum.

51 Juliet

During this visit, I strangely feel less impressed with Homo Sapiens’ clever space and flight inventions and achievements. It seems to me that we made our most progress in both these fields via systems developed for killing other humans. The space-race and subsequent Moon landing was really driven by the USA’s need for orbital dominance. We got a man on the Moon and created orbital spy networks to boot. Even my very flightworthy 51 Juliet was the result of aeronautical technologies honed via incremental development of flying-machines created for the sole purpose of death and destruction.

Oh, I so long for a simpler time when I could just look at an airplane and marvel. Maybe I’ll be able to return to this meeker perspective, but somehow, I doubt it. Once the genie is out of the bottle there’s no putting it back.

Day five

Julia and I decided to see a show at the infamous Ford Theater. From 1860 the theatre was innocently used for various stage performances. But the theater became notorious when it was transformed to the site of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. After being shot, the mortally wounded president was carried across the street to the Petersen House, where he died the next morning. These events inextricably linked the Ford Theater and Petersen House for all time.

Petersen House

After this dastardly deed the theatre was closed for some time, used as a warehouse, and then an office building. In 1893 part of it collapsed, causing 22 deaths adding to the horror associated with this ill-fated structure. In 1968 it was renovated and re-opened as a theatre once again. Then it was renovated again and reopened to the public on February 12, 2009, as part of the commemoration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

The despicable history America has with the murder of its government officials is not exceptional. Sapiens have a long and sordid history of such crimes. We all must own our propensity for violence if we are to ever change.

We watched a performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at this somehow western theater. Martha and George’s relationship reminded me of the left and the right political views in America. As the two constantly fought through the play it was slowly revealed that they could not live without each other. So, it is too, with liberals and conservatives.

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Washington

The District of Columbia

Day one

Oakland International Airport

It is good to not fly out of San Francisco Airport. Oakland Airport is so much closer for us, which means we do not have to get up anywhere near as early. Sleep is precious and must be maximized.

It seems that trans-America flights, these days, almost always require a stopover in one of the central states. When I traveled for my work as a consultant, years ago now, I used to refer to them as fly-over states as I would never consider landing in one of them. I guess the USA is massive, and if you want to maximize your passenger flights you must have stopovers.

With this current requirement, our flight today had us land first in St. Louis. There we switched aircraft and continued on-our-way to Trumpsville USA. Well I assume, given his recent misbehavior, that the new President would like to think that Washington D.C. is his town now. Perhaps it is?

Julia and I are visiting D.C. for her work and my pleasure. Julia plans to engage in the ancient American art of lobbying the government. I, on the other hand, will take in the sights of the many museums and galleries in this fine city.

Day Two

We visited the Congressional Capital Building this morning. Once there we took the tour through its cavernous interior and discovered a varied and interesting history. Out front, of this temple to America, we watched as they dismantled the stands from the recent (poorly attended) Presidential Ingurgitation, oh sorry I mean ignoration, no, no inauguration. The disarray of wood and metal in front of this shrine to capitalism, imperialism, and Americanism seemed appropriate given everything that has transpired since that day, which will go down as a day of infamy I’m sure.

Our tour guide brought to our attention that we could visit the Senate, which was in session. In fact, a historic vote was underway to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education secretary. The vote was historic because it appeared to be tied and that if so it would require the Vice President to cast the deciding vote.

We ventured forth on a journey to view this vote not realizing how unlikely it would be that we would see it happen. Undeterred, we took on our first obstacle which was to collect a senate pass from one of our two Californian Federal senators. We left the Capital Building and crossed the very wide road to the Senate Buildings. We got lost and ended up wandering through a maze of underground passages until we found Dianne Feinstein’s office where we retrieved two senate passes. We rushed back to the Capital Building having discovered along the way that the historic vote was to happen at 12:00 noon; it was now 10 minutes to! We endured our third security check for the day and were ushered up to the public galleries of the US Senate where we were confronted with a very long line.

We became very disillusioned and sure we would be too late to see the vote. We were about to give up when an usher assured us that it would not be too much longer before we could go in, and so we persevered. Finally, we were seated in the public gallery and watched as Senators Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Nancy Pelosi, and John McCain walked back and forth on the blue carpet of the impressive chamber. Then a flash of white hair appeared and there was Vice President Mike Pence. He took the podium and slammed his gavel down endorsing his pick for Education secretary. And so, ended the hopes of so many Americans.

We finished this busy day by visiting the National Museum of African Americans, which I must say is worth spending time in. It is an impressive building, but the history it holds within should be experienced by every American. It is a history of shame and inhumanity and something that should never be forgotten or allowed to happen again.

Day Three

The temperature here in Washington D.C. was a record high 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The day was so warm and lovely we decided to stay outside for most of it. We visited the amazing Smithsonian Sculpture gardens and visited the reflecting pool in front of the Capital Building too.

It is difficult not to visit museums while in this city of museums, so we did take in the Hirshhorn Modern Art museum and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Given the history we experienced at the National Museum of African Americans and combine it with our experience today at the National Museum of the American Indian, I must say that I am ashamed to be an American. The genocide of native Americans is on the scale of the holocaust and we as a nation have done very little to appease this horror against humanity.

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My Art

Volumes One and two

Enjoy colorful and thought provoking art from the digital artist, filmmaker, and author David Millett.

There really is a joy in attempting to express yourself via paint, color, lines, textures, and brushes. It is a cleansing and therapeutic feeling. The emotional dimension of painting is hard to understand, but it is very enjoyable.

Please enjoy my humble art

Music by Gyorgy Ligeti
Take a Chance, music by Robert Vallecorse

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Greenland and Iceland

Our plan to explore a changing landscape

Our next exciting travel adventure will begin in July, which is not far away now as the time passes-by these days. Julia, myself, and our friends Cindy and Donald plan to spend a month exploring both Greenland and Iceland.

All four of us have traveled the edges of Iceland on previous trips, but this time we plan to explore the hinterlands of this newly formed and most progressive country. But, before we sightsee the environs of Iceland we hope to, fly to, and then sail around the edges of Greenland’s remote and distant east coast. Our furthest destination on this once in a lifetime trip will be the crinkly shores of Scoresbysund.

Scoresbysund

Julia and I sailed within 10 miles of the coast of Greenland a while back. But, we could not land on its frozen shores as the year we were there icebergs shrouded its coastline. This time we hope to make landfall.

Almost Greenland

We will sail the frozen Atlantic Ocean on the very yar ship the Donna Wood. The latest addition to the North Sailing fleet she is a beautiful two mast, oak ship built in 1918. Representing Danish shipbuilding tradition at its very best Donna Wood was originally built as a lighthouse ship, but in 1990 she underwent massive restoration and was equipped with rigging and sails. She is a roomy ship with a deck saloon seating 24. Her ample space below deck comfortably accommodates 12 people in 7 cabins each equipped with washbasins and closets. Her hallway features spacious shared shower facilities and toilets.

Donna Wood

Here is our itinerary:

July 14 San Francisco to Seattle

The only direct flight to Iceland from the west coast of the USA is from Seattle, so Julia and I will spend the morning in Tecoma and then take the direct flight to Reykjavík.

July 15 Leave Seattle for Iceland

July 16 Arrive Reykjavík, Iceland

July 17 Tour Reykjavík

Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland. According to Ingolfur Arnarson (one of the first permanent Norse settlers of Iceland) it was established in AD 874. Until the 19th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The modern city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national center of commerce, population, and governmental activities. It is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.

July 18 Tour Reykjavík

Reykjavík

We hope to indulge in one of the many spas in this lovely city.

July 19 Leave Reykjavík

Iceland for Greenland flight time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

July 19 Day 1 (Wednesday)

Constable Point in Greenland

We’ll depart Keflavik Airport Iceland for a flight to Constable Point in Greenland, a small airfield on the west side of Hurry Inlet. Each of us can check in only 20 kg of baggage and bring an additional 8 kg onto the small Dash 8 aircraft.

How will we get from the airport to the boat? After collecting our luggage upon arrival in Greenland a pickup truck will transport us to the harbor (approx. 3 minutes’ ride) where the crew hands over our warm and “floatable” overalls for the tour, marked with our name. Upon boarding the vessel, we’ll be shown to our cabin. The actual transport to the schooner is done by zodiac.

Dash 8 aircraft

We’ll embark the Schooner and get an introduction and a safety briefing by the crew and then sail towards the village of Ittoqqortoormiit where the evening is spent with locals in perhaps the most isolated village of the world.

Ittoqqortoormiit

Ittoqqortoormiit was founded in 1925 by people from Ammassalik island. It is the most northerly settlement on the east coast of Greenland. The 450 inhabitants make their living mostly by subsistence hunting seals, Narwhale, Muskoxen, and Polar Bear. The quaint little houses dot the rocky slopes of south Liverpool Land with magnificent views of Kap Brewster and the Volquart Boons Coast to the south.

How difficult is the Greenland sailing tour going to be? I am told the tour is not challenging unless we really want it to be. We will be able to do some easy to moderately difficult hikes always accompanied with a professional guide. No specific preparations or skills are required for the trip itself, but a good spirit and love for nature and adventure is a must as this is not a luxury cruse!

Sleeping bags and towels are not needed in our baggage, the crew provide warm bedding and covers as well as blankets and a set of towels. Our accommodation is in traditional, but new and clean bunks. Space on board is limited so we must be mindful of our luggage.

Their full onboard service includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am told that they have put a lot of care into planning our meals, I hope this is true. Occasionally, they also serve a light snack during the day, and snacks are also available upon request. Soft drinks and water are available at any time and alcoholic beverages are also for sale on board.

They have a simple, but hot shower on board, which is available most of the time. Yikes! Water supply can be limited; therefore, they ask us to adapt. The staircases to living quarters have steep inclines, but with good railings. Parts of the ship have a very low ceiling so we must be mindful of our heads.

We should also be aware, that transfer between land and our ship is performed by zodiac (there are no harbors in the whole of the Scoresbysund area), so no gangways.

What will we bring on the Greenland tour?

‣ Small flashlight.

‣ Binoculars.

‣ Sunglasses.

‣ Sun-protection and bug repellent.

‣ Warm clothes, scarf, mittens, hat, and warm thermal underwear.

‣ Light wool sweater or fleece (2nd layer).

‣ Warm Jacket – Wool or fleece (3rd layer).

‣ Shell Jacket or/and Rain jacket with hood, Waterproof and breathable material.

‣ Hiking Boots – The boots should be of leather (or leather and synthetic) with high cut to give sufficient ankle support. Preferably the sole should be soft but robust.

‣ Rubber Boots.

‣ Water container.

‣ Camera equipment, spare batteries, memory card and/or films.

‣ Toothbrush, earplugs and other personal belongings.

‣ It is advisable that what you wear is either waterproof or easy to dry.

‣ No umbrella is needed!

Due to shortage of water supply, they ask us to avoid cleaning our clothes on board. I’m told if anything gets wet during the trip, the engine room is very warm and can be used as a perfect drying place. Hum, how ripe we will become.

Power (220V) for charging our batteries is available during sailing, when the motor is running. They ask us to not charge batteries during the night, when anchored. Standard Icelandic plugs are available (two pins EU size).

The area we are cruising is very remote. Cell phone and internet access will not be available. However, cell phones work at the airport in Constable Point and in Ittoqqortoormiit, the village where we spend the two last nights. In an emergency, we can make a phone call with one of the ship’s satellite phones or send e-mail, SMS or FAX via Inmarsat, (the ship’s satellite communications system).

They expect temperatures between 2 and 12 degree Celsius (36 to 54 Fahrenheit). This time of the year the area is also known for having very little rain. It can be windy, but on clear days and no wind the sun can be very strong. Also, due to the long lasting high pressure over Greenland, the weather is usually very still.

Will we use the sails most of the time? No! Due to still winds, narrow fjords, and many icebergs they’ll use the engine most of the time when traveling in the fjord system. They will however take up sails when possible and at least one time during the trip we should have the opportunity to experience proper sailing, without the engine. I’m told the crew will gladly and proudly educate us about the Donna Wood as a sailing ship. We are more than welcome to assist at any point with whatever duties need to be done, but it is not mandatory at all. Well, that’s what they tell us now.

The big question of course is: will we get seasick? Until we sail, there’s no way to tell. The sea in Scoresbysund fjord is very calm and we are not likely to get seasick there. However, if you tend to suffer from this illness, like I do, it is best to take sea sickness precautions. If you haven’t been to sea before, it is better to be safe than sorry and take preventative measures. The motion sickness patch is probably the most popular these days. It is placed behind the ear four hours before boarding and changed if necessary every 72 hours. This is quite an effective way to prevent seasickness, but can cause symptoms like a dry mouth and blurry vision. Better to be thirsty than sick, though!

July 20 Day 2 (Thursday)

We’ll sail west in the mighty fjord of Scoresby Sound. We’ll pass between whole palaces of icebergs that gently drift under the influence of the currents in the Arctic waters. These massive ice structures fell from parent glaciers that originate in the interior of this frozen world.

We’ll anchor at Hekla Havn, on Denmark fjord, which is the site of an old Inuit settlement and wintering camp of the first scientific expedition to Scoresby Sound over a hundred years-ago. We’ll spend a short evening walking and exploring Hekla Havn, and the surrounding area.

Hekla Havn

July 21 Day 3 (Friday)

We’ll sail west through the narrow Fohnfjord with the majestic basalt mountains of Gaseland on the port side and 2,000 meters high sheer granite cliffs of Milne Land on the Starboard side. After being up close to the peculiar looking Red Island and even landfall at the red sandstone shore the tour continues to the north through Radefjord, which is often filled with both larger icebergs and ice crust from icebergs that are breaking up. We will arrive in Harefjord in the late afternoon where anchors are set for two nights.

July 22 Day 4 (Saturday)

The whole day will be spent ashore in Harefjord scouting for muskoxen, snow hares, grouse, geese and other wildlife, which normally graze on the south facing slopes. We’ll experience between 6 and 7 hours of easy to moderate hiking with a lunch break at the top of a ridge with a breath-taking view over Harefjord where the glacier tongues descend into the sea. Those who prefer less exercise can stroll at the coast or stay on board enjoying the view. In the evening the crew will make a bonfire and prepare BBQ on the rocky beach.

July 23 Day 5 (Sunday)

The sailing continues eastwards through awesome fjords. This is one of the most spectacular parts of the trip. Terrific mountain peaks and granite walls tower 200 meters up from the sea. It’s as if the Cerro Torre (one of the majestic mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America) or the Fitzroy River Gorge (in Queensland, Australia) had been moved to the Arctic. These fjords are true feasts for the eyes. Usually the sea breeze in the fjords during the middle of the day allows sails to be set. We’ll hopefully get a close look at some of the most amazing cliffs and a glacier front. This day will end by setting anchor in Jyttes Havn Bjorneoe in the late afternoon.

July 24 Day 6 (Monday)

The day is spent hiking in and around Jytteshavn in Bear Islands as this is possibly one of the nicest and most picturesque anchorages in Scoresby Sound. There are two options of a longer or shorter hike in the Bear Islands, or on the northernmost tip of Milneland, a short zodiac ride away. Jytteshavn is the place to try your skills at ocean swimming at longitude 71° north! Surprisingly, temperatures can be as warm as 13°C (55°F) in the summertime. Burr! In the evening, they’ll offer us a nice meal on board and then a cozy bonfire on the beach with storytelling of Viking sagas, I hope.

July 25 Day 7 (Tuesday)

Sailing the Tyhe channel between the Bear Islands and Milne land with a breathtaking view of the spectacular archipelago there. As we sail into the last evening and night of the trip it is likely that we’ll be experiencing sights of the largest and the most fascinating icebergs of the journey. This provides a fantastic opportunity for photographs of the majestic and impressive icebergs that are often found in this area. When we wake up the next morning we’ll be anchored at the airstrip in Constable Point.

July 26 Day 8 (Wednesday)

The last morning, we will enjoy a good breakfast together, write in the diary on board and share contact information with each other. Then we will disembark the schooner for the last time and board the aircraft in Constable Point and fly back to Keflavik Airport in Iceland.

Greenland with North Sailing

July 27 Reykjavík, Iceland

Click Here to see Our Route

If all this was not enough our next plan is to begin an exploration of the hinterland of Iceland. We’ll most likely spend the night in Reykjavík before heading inland.

There are two main overland routes linking the north and south of Iceland. The western route over Kjolur is passable by ordinary vehicles in summer. This route skirts, Langjokull glacier on the way to Hveravellir geothermal field before emerging by the Ring Road in the north. We’ll be taking this route as we head northward.

As we head south again we’ll take the eastern route from Akureyri, near Lake Myvatn, threading our way between glaciers, and rough tracks as well as unbridged rivers. This route can only be negotiated by 4WD vehicles, lucky we’ll have one. This route is rough, but it’s the more direct central route. It’ll take us through the black sands of Sprengisandur before we end up back in southern Iceland.

July 28 Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. As the wide Hvitá River rushes southward, at about a half a mile above the Gullfoss falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step staircase. There it then abruptly plunges in two stages (36 feet and 69 feet) into a deep crevice. The crevice is about 66 feet wide and 1.6 miles in length.

The average amount of water running down the waterfall is 4,900 cubic feet per second in the summer and 2,800 cubic feet per second in the winter. The highest flow ever measured there was, an unbelievable, 71,000 cubic feet per second!

July 29 Gullfoss to Kerlingarfjoll

Kerlingarfjoll

After these amazing waterfalls, we’ll head on to Kerlingarfjoll. It is a 4,846-foot-tall mountain range in the Highlands of Iceland. The range is part of a large tuya volcano system of some 39 square miles. A tuya is a type of distinctive, flat-topped, steep-sided volcano formed when lava erupts through a thick glacier or ice sheet. The volcanic origin of these mountains is evidenced by the numerous hot springs and rivulets in the area as well as red volcanic rhyolite-stone, which the mountains are composed of. Minerals that have emerged from the hot springs also color the ground yellow, red, and green.

July 30 Kerlingarfjoll and Hveravellir area

Hveravellir

Nested between the two big glaciers: Langjokull and Hofsjokull. Hveravellir Nature Reserve is one of the last great wilderness areas of Europe. Extending up to the foothills of Langjokull glacier Hveravellir is a geothermal hotspot with smoking fumaroles and bubbling water holes. The surroundings are spectacular. Fenced in by glaciers mountains craters and lava fields wherever you look, the scenery is breathtaking.

Hveravellir is one of Iceland’s most popular oasis in the highlands whether your driving, hiking, or riding an Icelandic-horse. The area offers various hiking trails through the marvels of the lava field or nearby spectacular mountain slope. And for those in need of recharging and relaxing just a simple chill in the nature pool followed by a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of cake in the Internet cafe might be just the thing.

July 31 Hveravellir to Akureyri

Akureyri

It’s a long way to Akureyri, it’s a long way from home. It’s a long way to Akureyri, and the sweetest girl I know. Well not really, as the sweetest girl I know will be with me on this journey. Julia an I have visited this lovely little remote town in the northern part of Iceland before, and I never thought we’d revisit it. But, if all goes to plan we certainly will get a second visit.

Akureyri

Aug 1 Akureyri to Myvatn

Myvatn

Myvatn is a shallow eutrophic lake situated in an area of active volcanism in the north of Iceland, not far from Krafla volcano. A eutrophic body of water, commonly a lake or pond, has high biological productivity. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich population of water birds, especially ducks. The lake was created by a large basaltic lava eruption 2,300 years ago, and the surrounding landscape is dominated by volcanic landforms, including lava pillars and rootless vents (pseudo craters). The river Laxa is known for its rich fishing for brown trout and Atlantic salmon.

Aug 2 Dettifoss

Dettifoss waterfall

Dettifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The water comes from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier, whose sediment-rich runoff colors the water a greyish white. The water of the wide Jökulsá á Fjöllum river falls for more than 144 feet, causing a massive, crashing spray.

Aug 3 Húsavík

Húsavík

We’ll take a break from the volcanism and visit Húsavík. It is a quaint town in Norðurþing municipality on the north coast of Iceland on the shores of Skjálfandi bay with 2,182 inhabitants. The most famous landmark of the town is the wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, built in 1907.

Aug 4 Hverfjall

Hverfjall

Hverfjall is a tephra cone or tuff ring volcano in northern Iceland, to the east of Mývatn. It erupted in 2,500 BP in the southern part of the Krafla fissure swarm. The crater is approximately 1 km in diameter.

Aug 5 Krafla

Krafla caldera

Krafla is a caldera of about 10-kms in diameter with a 90-km long fissure-zone, in the north of Iceland in the Mývatn region. Its highest peak reaches up to 818 meters and it is 2-kms in depth. There have been 29 reported eruptions in recorded history.

While in the Myvatn expanse we’ll also take in the Hverir Geothermal Area.

Aug 6 Myvatn to Hella South

Dimmuborgir

While on our way to, and in, Hella South we’ll visit:

Dimmuborgir, it is a large area of unusually shaped lava fields east of Mývatn in Iceland. The Dimmuborgir area is composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel (hence the name). The dramatic structures are one of Iceland’s most popular natural tourist attractions.

Sprengisandur

Sprengisandur, it is a highland plateau in Iceland, defined roughly as the area between the Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers.

Aug 9 Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is a magnificent place in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland. It is at the edge of Laugahraun lava field, which was formed in an eruption around the year 1477. It is known for its natural geothermal hot springs and surrounding landscape.

Aug 10 Solheimajokull Glacier

Solheimajokull Glacier

The glacier snout Solheimajokull is the southwestern outlet of the Myrdalsjokull icecap and we plan to hike on it. The glacier is about 8 km long and 1-2 km wide. The River Jokulsa forms the glacier, which is sometimes called “The Stinking River” because of its emission of sulfuric acid from sub-glacial high temperature areas.

The glacier advanced about 900 meters during the last few centuries, but retreated greatly from 1930 to 1964 due to human induced climate change. Lagoons developed in the side valleys and one of them emptied quite suddenly. The floods lasted a few days and created danger for visitors.

Aug 11 Reykjavík to Home

Back to Reykjavík to get ready for our long flight home.

Boy, what a trip this will be. But, will I ever learn how to pronounce all of these complicated Nordic names?

Stay tuned!

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