Monday, October 30, 2017

Gunner Control (Revisited)

For several years I have been formulating a system that might help with the improper use of firearms in this country. The overall planning is hampered by several factors, however. The first is the fact that each state has regulations about the use, transport, purchase, etc. of firearms that makes it almost impossible for a citizen to know what is and what is not a legal process. Secondly, the availability of a number of types of weapons confuses the issues around what kinds of guns make sense to have in the hands of a variety of persons. Third is the market of stolen and personal sale transfers of guns from one person to another, making a murky trail of possession.

The whole issue has been approached by almost everyone involved as an attempt to control guns. This has been shown to be hopeless given the current regulations, even though laws currently passed try to control them.

I have come to believe that the whole issue should be approached in a new way. The control and all association laws should be directed to gunner control. By this I mean the process would be one of defining the gun holder as the issue, and attempt to assure that anyone having a gun is knowledgeable about the laws that apply to owning and using weapons, is skilled in the use of the type of weapon that person buys, and that the person can be tested and approved for the purchase and ownership of a weapon of any kind.

Firstly, any such system must define the qualifications of a person to have a weapon of a type that discharges a destructive payload to be delivered at some distance from the user. I suggest that classes of users be defined that are allowed to own such weapons in the first place. Age is a natural starting place to restrict a person from having a weapon of one of the defined classes. For example, a young child should not be allowed to purchase, own, have access, or use of a weapon of a class that is military in nature. Physical limitations may play a role in determining weapon ownership and use, but this isn’t perfectly clear without study. The reason a person wishes to be eligible weapon owners/users should also be able to show a knowledge of that type of weapon and knowledge of the laws applying to its purchase, sale, and use.

I suggest there are five legitimate reasons for a person to have a weapon of any class.
1.      A member of the military, National Guard, or paramilitary force such as police, private investigators, drug officers, etc.
2.      Collectors of functioning and non-functioning weapons.
3.      Hunters.
4.      Sportsmen, such as target shooters and those using weapons in the course of competitions like the Olympics.
5.      Civilians in general who can make a case for a need of self defense, at home or work, such as store owners/operators, drug counselors, psychologists, etc. who have a higher percentage of contact with marginally dangerous clients.

This list, or one more properly drawn after study, would represent the “gunners” that any law would attempt to control. Any law proposed should be described as “gunner control.”

The process embodied in such gunner control legislation is what I have been working on for several years (off and on). Some years ago I presented an early version to some lawyers for the NRA, who agreed with me on its general approach and saw nothing objectionable with it. This is encouraging, but there are a lot of issues that have to be explored to get this into a reasonable law.

Firstly, and unfortunately, my process would require the establishment of a new government agency. I’m not really interested in doing this, but I haven’t seen where in the current government hierarchy the appropriate commission might be located. The agency I suggest would be something like the Federal Communications Commission in its original charter for controlling the use of frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. It was originally in the Depart of the Navy, I believe, but eventually was handled by the specifically created FCC.

When I decided to become a radio amateur there were a number of steps I had to take to prove myself. First, I had to register and pay a fee which helped to defer the cost of the agency. Second, I had to take a written exam which covered the laws and regulations in the use of the spectrum: what transmission modes were used at which frequencies, what power limitations there were on each band of frequencies, what type of equipment was allowed, what record of spectrum use had to be kept, etc. Third, I have to take a practical exam, demonstrating my ability to perform certain communication actions, primarily the sending and receiving of Morse code at a specified speed. Lastly, I had to agree to be monitored in my use and produce records of my activities if needed.

This did not seem at the time to be an unmanageable burden to me. I also had no objection to my call letter assignment being published with my name and address. In fact, this became useful to me in finding others with whom I had contact, and for business purposes. I got a lot of advertising for radios and electronic parts.

Note that this system controls the users of the equipment, not the equipment. There were and are some restrictions on the use of equipment in very limited areas. I believe it is still considered illegal to own and use a police scanner to follow police transmissions, but it may be the use of scramblers and codes may have eliminated that restriction. Such bans were minor.

A similar system would control gunners (not guns), and provide for the ability of persons to own and use weapons of various classes only if they were licensed to do so. What follows is an outline system, suggested as a starting point, for such gunner control.

All weaponry would be categorized as to what class of weapon it is. A cannon, for example, would never be thought of as a hunting class weapon, or fall into a category of self-defense. It would easily be a military weapon, and perhaps a collection item, if non-functioning, etc. Such categories and classes would have to be carefully defined based on some measurable characteristic of each weapon. I can’t imagine what all these might be, but such elements as rate of fire, size of payload, portability, etc. could figure into the description.

Once categories are defined, a set of tests covering the laws and regulations and practical issues of each class of weapon would be developed. These would represent the defining requirements a person must meet to be eligible to purchase and own a weapon of a class. A person passing the exam(s) for a given class would be issued a license of that class. It would only be legal for a person holding a license of a class to purchase or own a weapon of that class. A person could, of course, qualify for more than one class, but do so for each individually.

On passing all the requirements for eligibility for a class license, the person’s name, address, and class license information would be entered in a license data base which would be publicly available, probably at some charge or subscription rate. This data base would be available to groups who had an interest in licensees of weapons classes. This might include police departments, state police, manufacturers, legal departments, etc. Even an individual might wish to purchase access to the data base, but there is no clear reason that I can imagine at this time for this.

Upon entry into the data base, any entity that has access could search and/or scan the records and could submit an objection to a new licensee being issued of the license based on one or more of a set of grounds spelled out in the legislation. Only these grounds can be used to file an objection. This is a key element of such legislation. As such, the grounds must be carefully determined and defined. Some grounds would seem to be obvious: the applicant is a documented felon; or has a psychiatric history of dangerous behavior; or is a documented member of a violent/terrorist/anti-government group; or is a person wanted for smuggling, drug dealing; etc. The completion of this list of grounds might take the most time to get right and likely would have to be revised from time to time.

After a reasonable waiting period which would allow for objections to be filed, the license would be issued to the applicant. Objections could still be filed at a later date, but the license would remain issued and in effect until the grounds were upheld.

If an objection is filed it would have to be evaluated and a ruling made within some specified time from the date of the objection being submitted. After that time, the objection would become moot and normal laws would come into play for suspending a license due to weapons violations, as defined now.

After a period of two years (or other agreed timeframe) the applicant’s record for an issued license would be removed from the data base. The main reason for the record to stay “live” for some period of time is to catch the impulse licensed weapon buyer.

 When a person attempts to buy a weapon, whether through a dealer or from another individual, the seller will be responsible for identifying the purchaser, checking the license of the purchaser and insuring that only weapons of the class for which the purchaser is licensed are sold. The normal instant background checks can also be made.

The record of the sale is a delicate issue at this point. It could be entered into the data base or not. I currently believe it should not be. It should be logged in the seller’s records and available later if called for.

Penalties should be defined for a person selling or having a weapon of a class without a license, or for which he is not licensed. This is analogous to a person caught driving without a license, or operating a taxicab without the proper class license, etc.

All other weapons issues relating to general use of would still apply at the state level, such as concealed carry permits, transportation of weapons regulations, use of weapons in various jurisdictions, etc. But the right to a weapon and the ability to purchase a weapon would be regulated by “gunner control.”

The agency could have the right to retest an individual if issues arise concerning misuse of weapons by a licensee, or at after some appropriate licensed time period. There should also be requirements for a licensee to report changes of address to the commission and for new licenses to be issued at the current address. This is the same as the requirements for amateur radio licenses.

More about Gunner Control

Let’s talk a little about gun control.

Every time I write or otherwise correspond with legislators about controlling those who buy guns and turn out to be dangerous to the public I get a nice letter telling me that THEY are doing what is needed to keep guns out of the hands of “bad actors.” They may well think they are because of the Brady Bill and the background check system that is run by the FBI.

It is true that some persons are prevented from buying a weapon legally because of failing a background check. Good. But some persons are denied purchase of a weapon wrongfully. This denies a person of their second amendment rights. Is it better to prevent persons who should legally be allowed to purchase a gun because they are mistakenly pulled in the same net as those who should not be allowed to legally purchase a gun? That’s in the line of “deny them all and let the courts sort it out.” Not a good procedure because many persons do not file protests which they would probably win because of cost, time, and low level of true need for a gun.

In 2014, for example, the background check system denied purchases for 90,895 persons of which 4,411 were overturned when challenged. It is probable that most of the others were not challenged, or even were and resulted in success and the purchase was “allowed” to proceed. Such permission, however, is purged from the system in 24 hours after being given. If the purchaser doesn’t return in that time, another check is made and will probably result in the same denial as the first since it is using the same procedure as the previous check.

The information that is being checked for is clearly listed and seems logical and meaningful. These are listed here (source: Wikipedia) and reads as follows:

A prohibited person is one who:
·        Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
·        Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
·        Is a fugitive from justice;
·        Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
·        Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
·        Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
·        Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
·        Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship;
·        Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner;
·        Has been convicted in any court of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence", a defined term in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33)

While I have no major objection to this, I do object to the unknown number of “false hits” due to a variety of reasons. The one most cited resulted in overturning a false hit is non-matching fingerprints of the database to the applicant. That means doing a lot more to capture fingerprints to prove you are not a “prohibited person.” I’m sure gun dealers, and private sellers wouldn’t be thrilled with having to take fingerprints and submit them at the point of purchase. Impossible!

Three major changes are needed that my suggested plan tries to make are:
1.    The screening check emphasizes the person applying to purchase a weapon. Notice this is not “gun” oriented but includes any type of weapon that is deemed dangerous enough to be legally restricted: rocket launchers, cannons, flame throwers, crossbows, etc. A person who I would trust to use a shotgun for hunting may not be somebody I want to have a rocket launcher. See my post on “Gunner Control” that breaks out reasons to have a weapon.
2.    The screening check slows the purchase to several days (or more) while the fact of the application to purchase is made available to a wider audience than the FBI database. Police, mental health practitioners, businesses, anyone who want to subscribe to the information, would have a chance to participate in identifying “prohibited persons” that they think they know of.
3.    The screening check shows the reason that the person is applying for a particular kind of weapon, and have a “precheck” provision that the person has already passed an examination that tests for knowledge of the law and handling of that kind of weapon. Notice that age has no play in this, although the plan could have age limits, and even other physical limits (vision checks, some types of diseases, etc.).

My proposed plan, “Gunner Control” is a work in progress that tries to describe the kind of control over weapon purchases I think would work. I am open to changes and welcome comments. Just be polite and reasoned. No name calling and off-topic comments, please.

My master problem with the current instant check is that it IS instant. This is not enough time to explore the purchaser, and consider the purchaser by more than an undoubtedly flawed database. Another problem is that it doesn’t do anything about the seller, making them withhold a weapon for a purchaser that hasn’t passed a “precheck” proving knowledge about the weapon type and the laws concerning it.

My general objection, of course, is that non-approved persons of any kind will simply steal or buy guns (and maybe other stuff) from fellow lawbreakers. Maybe this is where “stop and search” comes into play. But that’s another topic for another day.  

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My Spiritual Experience


I had a truly spiritual experience this week.

A little background:
When I was a b oy I slept in a room we called the sun porch. It was a long room off the hall with a doorway into a bedroom (my sister’s). It had windows around the three walls: the end walls had two windows each and the long wall at the back of the house had ten windows. Actually, all these walls were windows. The depth of this room was about 6-7 feet. My bed was in one corner along the long wall, which faced east. I had “the sun in the morning and the moon at night,” as the song says.

The result of this set up meant that I went to bed every night was a view of the sky in the east, mostly after dark. I saw, studied, and was taught about the stars occasionally by my brother who was a sailor in WWII. I had a pretty good knowledge about the stars, planets, and sky “events” from my six years at that house. I was there for 2nd – 7th grade.

By the time I got out of college I had learned a lot about astronomy, and had a few great books and had gone through a small telescope and some pairs of binoculars in studying the stars and the moon. During college I took the opportunity to photograph the pages in an old book from the library (Ball’s Handbook of the Heavens) and print up two copies of the pages in the darkroom at school (I was photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook). One copy was for the chemistry teacher and the other was for me!

I didn’t realize I had taken the sky for granted. It was just always there. As a radio amateur I participated in “field days” when we camped out for weekends and made as many contacts as we could with our mobile and portable equipment. There were sometimes great places to observe the sky on these trips, like my favorite on the top of Mount Joy in Valley Forge Park.
I worked one season during the Geophysical Year (actually 18 months) doing meteorite watches on various nights and sending observation data to a processing center. (I think it was in Montreal, Canada, but I’m not sure I remember that right.)

As the years ground by I also changed. Although I still thought a lot about space and the sky, my activities shifted to science fiction and more worldly concerns, mainly music, magic, theater craft and drinking. The world, in return also changed, sadly enough, to greater air and light pollution across most inhabited areas.

Any night I went out I would glance at the sky, but frankly was sometimes upset to find I could not find any constellations, but only the brightest of stars and planets. Sometimes I wasn’t sure about what star I was even seeing without the “reference” stars around and asterisms to see entire areas. I tried using binoculars to enhance my viewing, but the reduced field of view left me with more stars in a small area of sky than I was familiar with using the naked eye. (Comet hunters, I might add, get to know small areas of sky in more detail in order to “catch” a point of light that doesn’t belong there due to its relative motion; they know the less bright stars that the casual observer never sees.)

Slowly but surely I was losing my fascination and love of the stars! The actual conquest of space from the major rocket launches spoiled my enjoyment of science fiction (and I never got much into fantasy) so I faded out of science fiction activity. I had become Earth-bound.

So, what was this spiritual experience? I was outside a night this previous week, checking the sky as I do from time to time when there are some nice alignments of planets (still visible for the most part) and the moon. The total eclipse of the sun, the shadow of which swept across the United States in 2017, brought me out with a quickly thrown together pin-hole projector to watch it on. (Never, NEVER look directly at the sun; I don’t even trust the glasses they sell because the heat and production flaws can sometimes cause them to crack and let the sun burn your eyes; you can become blinded by this.) These small visits with my old friends in the sky were all I had left of years of observations.

That night, following a few days of light rain, was clearer than most. I was out later than usual, even for me, to take our dog out. I had our outdoor lights off, and so did many neighbors. (I hate it that so many leave theirs on all night!) But it was clear enough and dark enough, even in my front yard, to see the sky as it should be seen. There was the milky way, which I rarely see, and all the current constellations filling the sky not obstructed by trees. I walked the dog around a little just so I could view different areas. There was no moon, also, which was a help.

As I stood and looked up, absorbing the overwhelming beauty and memories of the myths, folk stories, and human history associated with the creation and meaning of the sky story I was struck with one thought. These were only the stars I could see (maybe 30,000 in one hemisphere of the sky on any given night) and they are all in our one galaxy (unless you are acute enough to see, naked eye, the nearest galaxies in Andromeda). And yet, there are billions and billions of other galaxies everywhere humans have been able to look and capture their light. And there are probably more and more galaxies we have never seen yet. And each galaxy has billions and billions of stars. And who can guess how many planets exist around some per cent of those stars. And life …. how much of it is there?

We are such a tiny, tiny piece of the universe. We take ourselves so seriously even though we are truly nothing special; our planet is ordinary, our sun is ordinary, our galaxy is ordinary. Everything we do, have done, and probably will do is so unremarkable and so temporary both in memory and in fact when considered with what is going on “out there.”  How can anything we are be anything but the fact that we just are. Just our being is remarkable, but to whom?
To what society? To what country? To what planet? To what galaxy? To anything in this universe?

I was transfixed, knowing definitely that I am just “stuff” that some forces have come to form into …. me.  From my parents, theirs, back to man, back to development of life, back to formation of Earth, back to formation of our sun, stars, galaxies, particles of matter, back to primary creation by primary force, by what? Unconditional love,  I call it. God. It.


Now, is that spiritual, or what?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

TV advertising flimflam

The advertisers on TV are at it again. I know they are going to state their case in as favorable light as they can for their products. That’s fair as long as what they state is true. But flimflam is more and different than being dishonest. Confusing, or misleading, statements would seem to be in the gray area between honesty and dishonesty. They seem to be misleading with the purpose to get the public to think of their products as better than they are. [Aside: Webster says flimflam means “deceptive nonsense.”]

Let’s play a little game of make-believe. I am going to start a random-winner system in which I invite a “customer” to send me $1 a day for a month. Specifically, I will state that I want a “customer” to send me $30 for every month except February, in which I want $28. For this “purchase” I will guarantee that each lucky participant in my product will win “up to $100” in each month. Would you do this? I’m sure you would think this through (I hope!) and would decide that the “up to $100” means that the most you would get is $100, even if I also said, “Maybe you will get $200, $300, or even more!”

So, at the end of the month when you received $23 you will have received “up to $100,” which really means “as much as $100, but probably less.”

I have tried to keep this from sounding like gambling, which it isn’t, but I don’t want you to think it is. Indeed, I put in other action for you to take other than sending me the $30 a month. And I guarantee you that if I am smart, and get hundreds or even thousands of “customers” that many of my “customers” will even get less than $23 back at the end of the month. Of course, if I’m smart I would make sure that the occasional “customer” would get back $100 or even more. This would really look good in a later ad! [Serious aside: Don’t send me any money, PLEASE!]

Now if I’m really greedy, but clever, I will send each “customer” something during each month to help each one keep track of their potential good future payout: I might send them a ball point pen and a pad to keep track of their behavior and little reminders of things they can do to be frugal and thrifty. I will try to give them “value” for their daily dollar with good advice. Will that be enough to keep each one happy? Perhaps, if I’m really greedy, I will offer them additional information, like life hacks, for an additional amount of perhaps $25 more per month, or $50; whatever I think I can get out of them is fair game. Remember, they could get back “up to $100” at the end of the month.

My real life example of this is a crazy ad from Nutrisystem® that states that you will lose “up to 13 pounds” the first month using their plan. I don’t know how much the plan will cost you, because they don’t list prices, but when I checked their web site I was sent an offer of “$20 OFF our top rated plan, Uniquely Yours” plus “free tips and weight loss info.” The net page, when I rejected this stellar offer, was for “up to 13 lbs & 7 inches overall in your first month.” I’m not sure where those 7 inches come from “overall” maybe an inch here and an inch there, but I hope not off my height! And 13 lbs? Well, “up to 13 lbs.” Such as 8 lbs or 4 lbs, perhaps, as the footnote mentions: “Weight lost on a prior program. Expect to lose an avg. of 1-2 lbs per week.”
So, the claim to lose “up to” 13 pounds really means you should expect to lose 4 to 8 pounds.
The trick here is that even that amount isn’t guaranteed! You can EXPECT any amount you want, more or less, but 4-8 pounds the first month is the most likely range.

I am going to expect that such weight loss will vary a lot, depending on my own behavior in eating, exercising, etc. and in making use of those “free tips and weight loss info” I will be getting. The price of the food? Not known until I sign up and pick a plan. But, I suppose the
top rated plan is the one I would need. [Aside: Amazon shows the Nutrisystem® Everyday 5 Day Weight Loss Kit (1) for $39.98 as of 10/15/17.]


Anyway, I know advertising tries to hook you with honest statements that reel you in. This one does, and I think everything they say is honest. One just has to be careful and smart enough to figure out what is actually being said. “Up to” means “at best, but maybe less.” And additional statements saying you could get/lose even more are just advertising puff, which is allowed. There are so many variations of how your behavior will go that the advertising statements turn into meaningless …. flimflam. Just my opinion, but I’m sticking to it.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Protests a long time ago

Once upon a time some people in this country held protests. They weren't too much different from ones we have today ... except for the REAL protests. I'll give you examples from my past.
When I was still in school (I graduated in 1962), all starry eyed and sure to change the world I became involved in a few protests. I marched, for example, with the NAACP picketing of Fairyland Park, an amusement park in Kansas City, MO, and the Swope Park swimming pool, that was a large swimming pool complex. There were three pools: a small kiddie pool; a three board diving pool (two low and one "high;" and a city block sized pool of even depth of 4 feet for general fooling around. In the summer this pool complex was always jammed with hundreds of kids and their parents (a few). It was mostly for teenagers and was completely (trust me on this) white kids.
So, the decision was to try to integrate this unjust segregation. Oh, there weren't signs saying "Whites only," or "No blacks." It was just culturally understood. (I have learned, now that I am "old" that Fairyland Park was open one day a year to blacks and that there was an area called "Watermelon Hill" where blacks could picnic.) So we marched to protest injustice.
We were prepared with little signs, pins, and instructions not to damage anything, remain silent, and keep walking in a long back and forth in front of the main entrance. We didn't interfere with anybody, and no one brought sticks, knives, guns, baseball bats, etc. to the protest. After all, we weren't going to riot or anything like that! We were peacefully protesting. If others came and stood around watching us, or even talking or yelling at us, we were to ignore them and stick to protesting. Simple! And there were even a few policemen there to watch what was going on. I only remember a few, perhaps a dozen or so.
I remember being scared as we got on the buses, and I was pretty much surrounded by black people, but they didn't seem to mind my being there.
We walked, we protested, we got yelled at a little, and so it went. A few times like this and ... what do you know? The city and the people who ran Fairyland Park came to agree to allow anyone to use the park and the pool! We had succeeded without violence or getting our heads split open. I was pretty happy about that. (Actually, it took about two years.)
That summer, a neighbor of mine and I went to the Swope Park Pool. This large pool was always packed. But not then. For one thing, I think we were the only white persons there! And there were only a few small groups of blacks in the pool! The place was almost deserted. The same thing was happening at Fairyland, and the owners were struggling to keep the place open. By 1977 it was closed and gone. (You can check out what was lost by reading about Fairyland Park on Wikipedia.)
Some things aren't really meant to survive cultural change, although I suspect playground parks can if they start out right. Look at the Disney offerings, the Seven Flags, and local area parks like Hershey Park, etc. They seem to still be doing well ... and are integrated without making a fuss about it. (I'm not sure the gay community will agree from what I have read.) But our quiet protests (and some not quiet ones in the deep South) did work and result in a changing society. I would hope we are over the rough beginnings and into a new society.
But no, there are still "protests" where more than one side (sometimes a whole flock of them) are coming together, armed and spoiling for a fight. I don't think that's protest ... it's rioting. Can't our government units just admit this and work to stop rioting?
I want my peaceful protests back. Please?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ah, History!

I remain amazed that people jump to express opinions founded on nothing but their emotions. Now it is okay for someone to express an opinion. That's truly a First Amendment right. But when it has no reality to back it up, it is just irresponsible and can be ignored ... or challenged and corrected. That's another person's right.
The current attack on a defenseless statue of Robert E. Lee is a case of this. It presumes to spring from the "knowledge" that Lee was BAD, but doesn't provide any sense in which that is truth.
Lee was an interesting person. He had pride in his home state (VA) and stood by it even when the people of the state were going in a direction he didn't approve of. The truth is that Lee had always held that slavery was a political and moral evil. He held that opinion for a long time. His wife (and I suppose with his approval) taught their slaves (and yes, they had them) to read and write and prepared them to assume their freedom (manumission) that the Lees assumed would come in the near future. Lee had said that freedom from slavery was a reasonable outcome and could not be "forced" at the barrel of a gun.
Lee was also against secession. But he did believe in states' rights. The general opinion on this was that the states freely chose to unite to form the Union, and should be allowed to freely chose to separate from the Union if they wanted. Of course the Union, led by the North, held that they didn't have that right ... therefore the conflict and resulting civil war.
When Lee surrendered to Grant (his West Point fellow graduate) they both emphasized that no rebellion against the outcome should be carried on. Neither Lee nor Grant denied that Virginia was to remain in the Union.
So why the displeasure (hatred?) of the statue of Lee? He was honorable to his duty and to his word. He went on to be a leader in the war with Mexico. His statue should remain standing and his history can be seen as the reasonable, honest, and open man that he was.
I object to mobs, gangs, and thugs making decisions based on false "history" for law abiding citizens.
And when politicians cave in to their bullying demands, I weep for my country.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Creation and the Big Bang: Religion vs Science (Part 3)

Okay, so here we go! The last question is: What is my relationship with God (shorthand for the creative force) and the stories I have heard about how God interacts with the physical world? I mean, basically, what is the efficacy of prayer?
Think about all the people praying (that is requesting a boon or intervention by God) in their daily physical lives. Does God “hear” the prayer. In a sense, since I think we are kept in a state of existence by God’s will for each physical thing to exist, we are actually doing what some physical things do, i.e. pray. Once we come to a personal (i.e. this one representation of the physical compound object I have referred to as a featherless biped) understanding of a sense of God being our sustainer, we might just jump to the thought that God is so intimately involved with each of us (and everything else) that God knows exactly everything about our functioning, including desires and actions. So, yes, God “hears” or “knows” our prayers.
But do we influence God to the point of our prayers changing the normal, ongoing, and interactional behavior of all the other physical stuff? Why would they? And what of two or more persons having opposing pray intentions? Do they cancel out? Does God cause both requests to be honored? Is this possible?
I have even ventured so far as to imagine that as each request or feeling is honored, a new parallel universe springs into existence going in a new interactional way. Billions of new universes coming into existence for each proceeding instant!! Wow!
And what about all those galaxies, clusters, and dark spaces we keep detecting? They have googles and googlepelexes or stars and planets with similar physical interactions that have been replicated on our planet. Is it possible in this mix that we are the only “sentient” beings in existence. This hardly seems possible. Some would say yes, on religious grounds that we had a Messiah who “saved” us from our impossible corrupted condition to one of total joy interaction with the God that created us. But couldn’t it be possible, then, that there have been /are/and will be billions and billions of Messiahs, each appropriate to the beings involved, to save many, many other sentient beings? Why not?
So, you see, I am more confused and puzzled than ever. Every time we get more data in while searching space we see thousands and thousands of additional galaxies we didn’t realize existed. All the permutations seem more and more likely.
I like best, at present, the idea that the function of prayer is to so incline the pray-er to become more accepting of whatever happens following it. And, of course, maintaining hope and faith in the construct he or she follows with regard to interaction to the God as the pray-er knows it.
That’s about as good as it gets for now.
And that’s the end of this series …. For now. I continue to ponder, wonder, and study. I’m not sure it’s worth anything, but I just feel compelled to do it right now.

Input requested: just no name-calling, just thoughtful comments. I can be convinced by logic and the experience of others. That’s MY faith.