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THE MYSTERY OF THE REEF OF HEAVEN

reef-of-heavenIn a remote corner of the Pacific Ocean, off the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia lies one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries: the only ancient stone city built on a coral reef. No one knows who built it or how. Micronesians say their ancestors called it Soun Nan-leng, The Reef of Heaven. Their name for it today is Nan Madol, the City of Ghosts. On artificial islets connected by a series of canals are massive walls up to 25 feet high enclosing temples, tombs, ritual centers, and platforms for thatch homes – all made of giant columnar basalt stone. Eons ago, lava flows on Pohnpei cooled into vertical pillars. Over a thousand years ago, ancient Micronesians began hauling these basalt logs miles away to build this stone city. With an average weight of 5 tons, 10,000 pounds – and some up to 25 tons, 50,000 pounds each – how they did this remains unexplained. It lies deserted today, abandoned and lost for centuries. Paddling a kayak through the canal maze of Nan Madol to clamber over these monumental stone complexes in solitary silence – for visitors are rarely here – leaves you in a state of unforgettable awe. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #6 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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WHERE IS THE AMERICA THAT USED TO BE?

america-normal-againI grew up in Glendale, California, a suburb of LA, in the 1950s.  If I had a time machine and went back there to describe to the kids I grew up with what America is like today, they would throw up.  No metaphor, they would literally get sick to their stomachs and barf their guts out, so impossibly disgustingly immoral 2021 America would be to them. I don’t need to provide details as you’ll be inundated with them upon clicking on any news site from Fox to Breitbart to CNN or New York Times. So I have a question to all TTPers.

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IF THE VACCINES WORK, WHY AREN’T THEY WORKING?

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In the movie Moneyball, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) queries his team of scouts when discussing a prospective player, “If he's a good hitter, why doesn't he hit good?” [first 60 seconds of clip above]. The scouts all have solid explanations, at least in their minds, of why a prospect might be a good hitter, from the sound of the crack of the bat when they hit the ball to the player’s good looks. These explain why the player should be a good hitter, but what if the numbers, from batting average to on-base percentage, tell a different story? What if we ask the same question about COVID vaccines, rephrased as “If the vaccines work, why aren’t they working?” The CDC website states, “COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free.” Those three words are all relative. Let’s quickly unpack them.

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HORSESHOE BEND

horseshoe-bendLooking down 1,000 feet above world-famous Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River at sunset is one of most iconic views our planet offers us. It is to be found near Page, Arizona near the border with Utah. Yet in truth, the number of different mind-blowing iconic views is uncountable in this part of the American West. Close by are the Vermillion Cliffs, and the simply psychedelic Antelope Canyon. Just a bit further is the Grand Escalante Staircase, a little bit further Zion and Bryce Canyons and Monument Valley. And of course, right next door is something called The Grand Canyon. There are people who have explored this region for years and will tell you there’s so much they’ve yet to see. You can explore the world over – what I’ve done my whole life – and yet there is so much of Creation to be soul-thrilled by just in this one region of northern Arizona and southern Utah – and I haven’t mentioned Moab which is a total mind-blow all by itself. Take a break from all the worries of the world to come to here. Pick a place that will thrill your soul for a few days. That’s what’s needed now. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #134 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY WITH SELF-INTERESTED WORK

frontlinersGiving and helping others are wonderful things. What’s often overlooked though is how much consciousness, caring, time, money, and energy each one of us already puts into significantly helping other people every day – through the work we do. It’s popular these days to dismiss all this because we’re doing it for the money – as though earning money cheapens our efforts, makes our efforts base, selfish, or materialistic. When demagogues lecture young college graduates to forego making money, and instead to do something else that helps people, they are telling them that what we do to make money does not help people. This, of course, is exactly the opposite of the truth.

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THE NATURAL INFINITY POOL OF SOCOTRA

pool-of-socotraNational Geographic calls the remote island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen in the Indian Ocean “the most alien-looking place on our planet,” because of its incredibly weird and bizarre plant life like the Dragon’s Blood Tree. Yet it is safely far away from anarchic Yemen, peaceful and serene in its isolation. And it contains places of mesmerizing beauty – like this natural infinity pool on a cliff edge high above the ocean in full view. Socotra is spectacularly exotic, like nowhere else in our world. It is truly life-memorable to experience it. Wheeler Expeditions was there in the Spring of 2014 – and we’ll be there again in the Spring of ’22. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #129 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE GOVERNOR WITH A PAIR

With no doubt, absolutely the coolest governor in America is Florida’s Ron DeSantis. His website, rondesantis.com, offers a storefront with a variety of items for sale like t-shirts, etc. This week, a new product was introduced: a pair of golf balls. Yes, Florida’s Governor Has a Pair! fl-gov-has-a-pair And enjoy the video ad with rocking music. How awesome is that? DeSantis has a pair, indeed.
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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – CLIMBING THE GREAT PYRAMID

jw-at-the-pyramidFifty years ago – August 1971 – I was able to climb the Great Pyramid of Cheops all the way to the top. 450 feet high, 4,000 years old, the only one of the original Seven Wonders of the World to still exist, it was my first time in Egypt and I had to give it a go. Of course, this is illegal. So I waited near sunset and all the tourists had gone, walked around to the northwest corner hidden from most views where there was one lonely guard. I gave him 20 Egyptian pounds which made him very happy, and up I went. Each block at the bottom is about five feet tall and gets smaller as you climb, with over 200 stone layers or “courses” base to apex. The top is flat, about 10-foot square – the limestone casing reaching a point gone long ago. I was a philosophy doctoral student back then, so I sat down, took out from my daypack Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and read my idol’s wisdom in the light of the setting sun. It was a sunset I’ll never forget, too mesmerized by the moment to take a picture. The photo is of me taken recently where I began my climb of decades ago. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #126 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 11/19/21

great-killer-wallThis brilliant cartoon of Ben Garrison, which he entitled China’s Great Wall of Murder, goes a long way in explaining why the Chinese Communist Party is the greatest enemy of the entire world, not just America. Garrison pokes fun at Xi as Winnie the Pooh (banned in China for making fun of the resemblance) at the controls of the CCP Dragon, but is deadly serious otherwise.  For the Red Chinese Dragon is even more evil than this.  To see why, we’ll visit the Health Ministry of Spain. Then we’ll discuss the collapse of the Vax Mandate, the inspiring court victory of a heroic young man, and have fun too.  Here we go!

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IMPRESSIONISM’S ISLAND

lakshadweepBangaram Atoll, Laccadive Islands, India.  The “Lacquered” islands or Laccadives are legendary for the glossiness of the Indian Ocean surrounding them.  There are three dozen of these coral atolls over 150 miles off the coast of southwest India – but moorkh Indian bureaucrats insist on calling them “Lakshadweep,” Sanskrit for “100,000.  Go figure. Paintings of the French Impressionists of the 19th century merged dreams and reality.  Here that is for real.  The beauty in the Laccadives can be so astonishing that it seems surreal – like when the ocean and sky merge into one in a palette of pastels straight from the brush of Monet.  Come to Bangaram and you’ll find yourself living inside a painting. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #172 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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