By: John Shepler

From my hometown, I can see the water vapor plumes from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station some 25 miles away. It’s been a familiar sight on the horizon for over 30 years, as nuclear chain reactions in the two units silently crank out power for Chicago and Northern Illinois. Well, perhaps not for much longer. The Byron plant will shut down in September. Dresden, another nuke in Morris, Ill., will close in November. Then, what?

We Won’t Go Dark, But…

The beauty of the nationwide electrical grid is that If you can’t get power from one generator…

A unique mashup of wildlife protection, infrastructure repurposing & recreation looks to span two states.

Bison Bridge Viewing Area Concept

By: John Shepler

When does an old bridge designated for replacement morph into a national park? When it gets repurposed for pedestrian and bicycle traffic on one side and wildlife, specifically American bison, on the other.

Odd? Yes. Crazy? Not so fast. This is a real concept with a foundation backed by businesses and already on a mission to garner congressional support. It’s the brainchild of Chad Pregracke, a one-time clam digger with a passion for cleaning up the Mississippi River.

What’s His Plan?
There’s a…

By: John Shepler

Power lines tower over a dark landscape
The Lines are Up, The Power is Off

Millions of Californians scramble to deal with the new reality of life under climate change. The power company is bankrupt and has shut off the electricity in the San Francisco bay area. Was there a massive earthquake? Nuclear attack? Solar flare? Nope. Just a couple of centuries of global warming come home to roost.

We take our 21st century conveniences for granted. My grandparents and all who remember the days of horses, buggies, oil lamps, and outhouses are long departed. The generations alive today were never awed by the coming of steam power. We were born into…

By: John Shepler

Enjoying your slice of the 2018 “Tax Cut and Jobs Act”? Throw all that extra cash in a pile and jump in it now. You won’t be drowning in surplus funds for long. The grim tax reaper is coming back and this time he’s dressed in the black cloak of tariffs.

We are getting used to wars where relatively few of us get hurt. We haven’t even had to deal with the inconvenience of major rationing for over 70 years. Trade war? Sounds exciting. Besides, we always win these things, right?

I suggest it won’t be so…

By: John Shepler

I spent hours watching Mark Zuckerberg take a flogging from 44 United States senators over the shocking revelation that Facebook has been gamed by advertisers and at least one foreign government. Rather than pick up a dagger and join the belated Ides of March proceedings, I think maybe it is appropriate to call “time out” and do a little deeper thinking on this subject.

What is it we really want here? Is it the smug satisfaction of compelling the Silicon Valley wunderkind to make a good act of contrition? You might easily think so after watching the…

By: John Shepler

The latest massacre of innocent and unsuspecting youth was meted out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida this week. With stone cold efficiency, an alleged former peer of the 3,100 students herded them into the halls with a false fire alarm and cut down as many as possible with his military-style assault rifle. Fourteen students and three teachers lay dead, giving this event the ignominious title of worst American high school shooting, yet.

Greater America knew better than wait with baited breath for their elected officials to meet in emergency session and pass strong…

By: John Shepler

The FCC may have soundly rejected the legal constraint of network neutrality, but that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it’s the beginning of the next chapter that will spur a plethora of new Internet access options and, perhaps, a multiverse of Internets as well.

The Battle Is For The Old Internet
All the friction about who owns and controls the Internet right now is about the old Internet. That’s the Internet born of a cold war research project that was built-out to connect universities and research labs and later released to commercial interests. It’s that…

Let’s celebrate the REAL weather forecasters day…. Feb 5

By: John Shepler

Just 3 days after the most watched weather prognostication all year, it’s time to celebrate the real weather forecasters. You know, the people working behind the scenes and in front of the TV cameras to tell us exactly what to expect in the next few hours, days and weeks. While the famous marmot of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and his ilk across the country take the glory, the real celebration of all things meteorological belongs on February 5, not February 2. Happy National Weather Person’s Day!

Why February 5?
National Weather Person’s Day is celebrated every year on February 5…

Super Blue Blood Moon Family ©2018 John E. Shepler

By: John Shepler

The big sky show of 2018 occurred on January 31 with the rare event of a Super Blue Blood Moon. The only Super Blood Moon of 2019 occurred on January 20 & 21, with additional supermoons in February and March. Read on to see what makes these lunar events so impressive.

Super what?
Super Blue Blood Moon, of course. It’s quite a mouthful, but that’s what it takes to describe what is really three lunar events in one. It’s a Super Moon. It’s a Blue Moon. It’s a Blood Moon. Getting all three at the same time…

By: John Shepler

The Internet has been my life for the last 20 years or so. Oh, it’s been around longer than that. I only got on when they released it to the public commercially in the mid-90’s. Back then it was all dial-up modems and make-your-own websites. One ad that ran at the time sticks vividly in my mind. It said something like “What’s different on the Internet about IBM and a kid with a science fair site about ducks?” The answer: “Nothing.”

On the Internet, the World is Flat
What didn’t soak in to many of us when we…

John Shepler

With a background in engineering and communications, John Shepler is interested in what's going on in the world and how to make it a better place.

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