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Writing a Professional Blog Post

Writing a professional blog post is simple when you follow a few basic rules. First, you should load the blogging software onto your website instead of using an external blog. WordPress.org provides the best software to do so, primarily because it is supplemented by an extensive number of plug-ins. Coders write plug-ins for WordPress.org for the same reason they create apps for your iPhone, to increase the functionality.

One of the main reasons to write a blog involves improving the search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.

As to the topic(s) for your blog, it helps to create a theme related to your business. Doing so will improve the focus of your blog and help to suggest articles to write for it.

One of the main reasons to write a blog involves improving the search engine optimization (SEO) for your website (more on SEO in our future posts). Blogs provide valuable, original content, an emphasis in the Google ranking algorithm, and they establish your website as a dynamic location instead of a static one. Dynamic websites are constantly adding new pages, and each time you write an entry for your blog, you are essentially creating a new web page.

An ideal length for a blog entry runs around 300 to 400 words. 300 words represents a minimum to be taken seriously by Google’s spiders (they are constantly “crawling” the web for ranking purposes), and 400 words is a soft maximum because people don’t have a lot of time, and it is better to keep your entries concise.

Two plug-ins are essential for WordPress.org: Yoast SEO and pullquote. Yoast SEO helps you to optimize your blog entries with various SEO-related functions such as a meta description and focus keyword. It will also give you a list of optimization problems and provide a “green light” when you have sufficiently addressed them.

Pull quote lets you create a graphic illustration with whatever key quotation you wish to highlight for your entry.

Every blog entry should also contain a featured photo and three or four links to external articles within the body of the text. A great way to choose copyright-free images can be found at www.pixabay.com. This site lets you choose any keyword, and it will return a slew of possible images for you to use with your entry.

Stop Trump?

stop sign on pavement

 

Chris Matthews of Hardball pontificated one night, “Whenever you hear about a ‘Stop’ movement in politics, you can bet on the success of the person they’re trying to stop.”

Only a positive vision and precise policy proposals will demonstrate the difference between Trump and the rest of the field.

Of course, Matthews was referring to the unique position of Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner whom the Republican establishment is trying to oppose.

For mainstream, elected Republicans to oppose the person selected by their own voters carries the potential of chaos and defeat in November. Yet they are willing to risk these outcomes based on their antipathy towards Donald Trump.

They may well be overreacting. Based on his press conference after a landslide on Super Tuesday, Mr. Trump may switch gears to become an exemplar of goodness. Once he becomes the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump no longer needs to satisfy the whims of an angry electorate.

In fact, Mr. Trump may be the only Republican capable of defeating Mrs. Clinton in the fall. His ability to create a surge in turnout has become evident throughout the Republican primaries, and his last challenge will involve the so-called “closed primary,” where independents and Democrats are barred from voting.

The Republican Party is engaging in a desperation tactic by splurging on ads in Florida, estimated as high as $7 million on television alone. Such an effort is destined for failure because Donald Trump has already proven his ability to weather such storms. They may even backfire!

The harder they attack Mr. Trump, the more he will rise in the polls. You can’t “out Trump” Trump. Only a positive vision and precise policy proposals will demonstrate the difference between Trump and the rest of the field. You would think Republicans would have learned this as their ranks have slowly fizzled out due to Trump’s counterpunches. He’s even warned them about it on repeated occasions.

The drive for a brokered convention will be saved for a future blog entry.

Talking About Terrorism

terror-attack

The bubble of Fox News watchers, those who get all their news from that illustrious channel, are living in a different world than the rest of us. With their information strictly controlled, they have become fearful and jittery by the coverage, part of the reason why President Obama felt compelled to give a speech from the Oval Office last night.

That doesn’t mean sending 100,000 troops to die in the Middle East, an action that could only be described as a temporary loss of sanity.

Of course, the Republican Presidential candidates panned the speech; they would have done so no matter what he said. But is their talk about terrorism any more realistic?

In a land where more than 10,000 people die by gun violence every year, and murder rates are surging across the United States in 2015, the impact of terrorism is miniscule at best. Of course, the calling card of terrorism, the unexpected nature of it, the impact on young and old alike, does deserve a muscular response.

But the loudest response should be coming from the Muslim community itself. God forbid, if Christianity or Judaism were generating violence, you would see all kinds of Pastors and Rabbis rushing to the pulpit to condemn it. We still don’t see that kind of response from Imams in the United States, or if it is occurring, the media has failed to report it.

Meanwhile, we need to respond in kind to the attacks against us. That doesn’t mean sending 100,000 troops to die in the Middle East, an action that could only be described as a temporary loss of sanity. It may require a temporary no-fly zone over Syria and the establishment of “safe places.”

But we need to push back against “the sky is falling” rhetoric being waged by Republican Presidential nominees. Their comments are aimed at a small minority of the Republican electorate and should not needlessly alarm our citizenry.

 

The Peculiar Nature of Terrorism

boy-gun

Terrorism and violent political attacks, while relatively rare, strike a peculiar chord on citizens in advanced nations. We often take for granted the safety we have created for ourselves, the bubble-like environment we move about in our daily lives. The number of deaths we experience from terrorists represent a small percentage of total fatalities and have often been compared to getting hit by lightning and other rare occurrences.

We often take for granted the safety we have created for ourselves, the bubble-like environment we move about in our daily lives.

Yet this form of asymmetric warfare successfully changes our way of thinking and actions far more than other dangers. The peculiar nature of terrorism forces us to put ourselves in the place of the victims, mourn their untimely ends and then, drive us and our governments into a frenzy.

Major attacks such as 9/11 are the exception to the rule. Most of the massacres generate a death toll in the hundreds or less. Yet the unexpected nature of their occurrence and the innocence of those affected can force entire cities or even countries into lock down. Think about the Boston Marathon attack. Boston was paralyzed by two people acting alone.

And no matter how the target countries and citizens pledge not to fear afraid, the more you can see it in the frenzy our governments mobilize to prevent. When going to the movie theater doesn’t seem safe or when people take into account the likelihood of a bombing in their daily lives, the peculiar nature of terrorism is working it way deep inside our cultures.

Politicians can often contribute to the frenzy, but they are only reflecting the concerns of everyday citizenry. The reaction of the populace to a terrorist attack often demands security at any price. This results in excessive power given to the police, laws like the Patriot Act and the state of emergency in Paris and many other actions often difficult to reverse.

I’m not sure what cure to recommend for a stricken nation, but it seems decisions like these require the “pause” Republicans are recommending for other issues.

The Goodness of the Pope

child-goodness

Sometimes, you can just see a person’s goodness on their face. Such is the case with Pope Francis. Unfortunately, many of the valuable lessons he is trying to teach us are falling on deaf ears. The Republicans and Democrats in Congress are already trying to spin his message to suit their own selfish agendas. That’s a shame because the Pope’s exhortation to the Congress — to put aside their differences and work together for the common good — could really revolutionize our country.

Sometimes, you can just see a person’s goodness on their face.

The public understands the Pope. Their desire to just catch a glimpse of him speaks volumes about his ability to inspire and lead, an ability none of our Presidential candidates express in a similar way.

Goodness can get you elected, but none of our current politicians seem willing to try it out. We do have many Catholics as prominent leaders, and you would think they would listen to the Pope. Yet it is the nature of humans to stick to their guns, to tune out any opinion that does not agree with their own viewpoint.

The Pope made a big gesture trying to learn English so he could deliver his message to Congress in our native language. We should reciprocate the effort by listening to what he says. However, as of now, that appears highly unlikely.

The Nature of a Hero

superman

Three unknown Americans improved the relationship between our country and France more than a score of diplomats. The action of two military servicemen and their friend foiled the attempt of an Islamic terrorist to carry out a massacre on a train speeding from Amsterdam to Paris. Each American was a hero in his own special way.

The lone wolf Islamic terrorist was about to spray the train with an AK-47 when that familiar American refrain, “Let’s go” (variation on 9/11’s Let’s roll), spurred three Americans to move forward in the face of possible gunfire to tackle the terrorist, hit him until unconscious and then tie him up.

Three unknown Americans improved the relationship between our country and France more than a score of diplomats.

The Americans, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, were textbook heroes and were treated as such, appearing before the President of France to receive the distinguished Legion of Honor award. And like a true hero, they displayed the typical humility of the profession, downplaying their deeds and calling them “an act of survival.”

At a time when our sports legends lie and cheat, and our politicians seem even more questionable, it is refreshing to see the selflessness promulgated by our culture as a model for today’s youth. Their actions seemed even more predestined when they described their decision to move to another car because of poor wi-fi. That placed them directly in the terrorist’s path, and they acted accordingly.

It’s a rare piece of good news for our country that has been beset with such turmoil in foreign and domestic affairs.

Megyn Kelly Shines for Fox News

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The recent debates on Fox News had been described with a number of sports analogies, but the ones referring to boxing were the most accurate. The first debate was the undercard, and the second one was the main event. The Fox News staff deserves considerable praise for the way things were handled.

Skipping the candidates, for now, the moderators for Fox underwent considerable preparation, perhaps as much as the candidates, and it showed. The questions were relevant, entertaining and hard hitting. The reactions they spurred largely resulted from that preparation, and all the moderators deserve praise and kudos for the journalist integrity they displayed for all the world to see.

… the moderators for Fox underwent considerable preparation, perhaps as much as the candidates, and it showed. The questions were relevant, entertaining and hard hitting.

Megyn Kelly deserves special commendation because she seemed to be the driving force behind the scenes. She had a lot to gain because the listeners went beyond Fox’s normal viewership, and she hit a home run. No reporter anywhere could have done a better job.

By doing so, Ms. Kelly burnished the reputation of the entire network. She transformed Fox’s image from a loyal propaganda machine of the Republican Party to a rigorous news network, albeit still with a Republican tilt. And that translates for Fox into increased viewership and a willingness to consider their point of view.

At a time when CNN is pandering after plane crashes and MSNBC comes with its own bias the opposite way — with the possible exception of Chris Matthews for Hardball and Chuck Todd for Meet the Press — the journalistic rigor Ms. Kelly displayed last night will rebound with financial advantage for her media company as well as her own personal career.

 

 

The Vast Expanse of Space

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Man should feel humbled by the vast expanse of space. We have just finished visiting our solar system with the recent flyby of Pluto, and that may well represent the outer limit of our capabilities for some time to come. Even the nearest star would require a multi-generational space flight, and that assumes we are traveling at the limit of the speed of light.

We have just finished visiting our solar system with the recent flyby of Pluto …

In addition to the almost incomprehensible size of space, we are also humbled by how little we know about our own planets. No one expected to see evidence of volcanic activity on Pluto, with smooth areas on the planet and amazingly high mountains and interpreting the results of our unmanned probes throughout the solar system will keep scientists busy for a long while.

Unfortunately for those Star Trek fans out there, the size of the universe almost certainly precludes visits by UFOs, unless they are hidden among us in this solar system. Einstein proved conclusively that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, which means, despite the inevitable number of planets like the Earth, alien civilizations are so far away, they could never reach us. That might be a good thing, however. Visits from other civilizations, with their own code of morals, could be deleterious to us as well as beneficial.

Freedom from the Patriot Act?

capitol-building

The Senate will hold a rare special session on Sunday to try to forge a compromise on the Patriot Act. The path forward is clear, and only the head of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is gumming up the works.

The House has already passed the USA Freedom Act by a substantial bipartisan majority with a vote of more than 300 representatives versus 88 against. It curtails the mass collection of meta data revealed by Edward Snowden while maintaining the capability of private telephone companies to do the same thing. The Freedom Act also preserves essential Patriot Act capabilities such as continuing to follow suspects with roving wiretaps in case they try to elude authorities by using disposable cell phones.

The path forward is clear, and only the head of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is gumming up the works.

But Mitch McConnell has dug in his heels in an attempt to renew the entire Patriot Act as is, a position that has drawn ire from his fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives, who have done their job, not to mention engendering a filibuster by Rand Paul. If Mr. McConnell is a true patriot, he will realize that the votes do not exist to support his position, and he will yield to compromise. The alternative is to have no special protections at all.

I wouldn’t put it past Mr. McConnell to “cut off his nose to spite his face,” so letting the entire Act lapse remains a tangible possibility. Despite his promise to run a smoothly functioning Senate, Mr. McConnell is the one who is forcing this cliff-hanging deadline.

Train Tracks

But one thing already is becoming clear: modernization of the system, especially with the feature known as Positive Train Control, could have prevented the crash.

The fallout continues from the Amtrak train wreck in Philadelphia, an event that looks even more horrific to visitors than it does over television. The engineer of the train, who was responsible for the speed of the vehicle, has lawyered up, predictably, and has yet to be interviewed by the NTSB. But one thing already is becoming clear: modernization of the system, especially with the feature known as Positive Train Control, could have prevented the crash.

Like a GPS with speed control, this feature would have slowed the train down so it was not going more than double the speed limit around that fateful curve. Not to Monday morning quarterback, but the United States is desperately in need of infrastructure development, and the failure to enact this by the Republican-controlled Congress, especially during the time when our economy needed stimulus, was indirectly responsible for this tragedy.

Traveling by train is a pleasurable experience, allowing for more luxury and enjoyment of the scenery than the drudgery of a long car trip. I remember using the Amtrak line between Boston and New York when attending Exeter in New Hampshire, and it was always a fun trip.

Other train technology has also been used in other countries, especially the magnetic leverage capability allowing for much higher speeds without any danger of derailment as occurred this week.