Stop the Virus. Eliminate Spit Letters P & T from the Alphabet

Let me be blunt. We need to eliminate the letters P and T from the alphabet. Potatoes do not spread the virus. But SAYING “potatoes” does.

Mouth masks are not a long term solution to living in the post-pandemic world. It is time to have a dialogue about changing how we talk. Let me be blunt. We need to eliminate the letters P and T from the alphabet. Potatoes do not spread the virus. But SAYING “potatoes” does. When people say words with P and T in them, they spray, or should I start saying “sray” saliva droplets into the air and infect nearby humans (and tigers?) with the germs.

And is eliminating P and T from the alphabet going far enough? Maybe we should consider eliminating ALL hard sound letters and letter combinations from the English language to control the spread of virus through spit spray. (Could be worse. A person speaking German is literally a virus machine gun. “Speak” is “sprechen” in German.)

A more drastic option would be to replace American English with another language altogether that would let us communicate spit free and hence mask free. I suggest Hawaiian. The Hawaiian language only has 12 letters, A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and W, so only one of them, P, would need to be eliminated to erase ALL spitting words. Just try to find a spitting word in these lyrics from the Hawaiian song Hula Hana made famous by the movie Dirty Dancing: “you can wackle all you wanna, while I hula all the day away”.

If we choose Hawaiian as our new language, it could become a bridge to going full Polynesian and eventually eliminating verbal communication completely. Hawaii also has a language of gestures — Hula. Hula uses hands, arms, and hips as native Hawaiians do to communicate. We all already know the arm motions for “waves”. Apparently wind, sun, rain, palm trees, moon, surf’s-up, and run-the-volcano-is-erupting are not that difficult to master. And of course there is the popular I’m-twirling-flaming-batons body motions. Who knew the dinner show on Maui could hold the key to our survival.

We could add a few hand motions of our own, such as gestures OK, Fauci facepalm, I-see-you, and the universal hand gesture for I-don’t-like-you. Most importantly, none of these Hula motions spray deadly germs into the air, since they do not use our mouths. Are we even sure God intended for us to use our mouth for communications? We force the mouth to take on both eating and speaking functions, which frequently interfere with each other forcing Mom to slap us for speaking with our mouths full. Bees communicate with little dance body motions. Just saying.

These are strange times and our lives will need to change to deal with future pandemics. But all is not lost. Even now we can envision a world where we all wear Hawaiian shirts and skirts and stand in front of our computer camera and dance the words that tell your broker to sell 100 shares of Microsoft stock via market order. Which our broker misunderstands to mean surf’s up.

Moonrise Hotel Moon. What if Joe Edwards Builds All Planets?

What if Joe chose to build the rest of the solar system to the same scale size and at the correctly scaled distances from his rooftop Moon?


By Gary Kreie


The Moon spinning on top of Joe Edward’s Moonrise Hotel on the Delmar Loop is billed as the largest man-made Moon in the World at 3,000 lbs and 10 feet wide.  This rooftop delight is about a million times smaller in width than the real Moon. Next time you find yourself at the rooftop bar, you might ask yourself, what if Joe chose to build the rest of the solar system to the same scale size and at the correctly scaled distances from his rooftop Moon?  Sounds easy compared to a trolley. It he did, where would the Earth, Sun, and the other planets wind up around the area?


I did a few few calculations to answer that question.  First, the Earth would be about as big as a hot air balloon and would rest about as far away from the Moonrise Hotel as the Delmar Metrolink Station — about two tenths of a mile away.  Relative to the Delmar Earth and Moon, Joe would build the Sun 82 miles away as a crow flies, as far away as St. James, Missouri, ten miles Northeast of Rolla on I-44. Joe’s would build his Sun would be eight-tenths of a mile in diameter — as wide as the distance from The Dome at America’s Center to Busch Stadium.  Joe would then need about 32 thousand gallons of yellow paint. In theory, Joe could then stand atop the Delmar Metrolink station and line up the Moonrise Moon with his St. James Sun, and see a total eclipse of Delmar.


With the Sun at St. James, Joe’s model of planet Mercury would be around Meramec Caverns, and Venus would be built at Eureka, Missouri, possibly as a new ride at Six Flags. Joe would make the Venus Ball about as tall as the big video screen at Busch Stadium to be in scale.


Continuing away from the Sun, Mars would end up at Pocahontas, Illinois, and Jupiter would be at Kalamazoo, Michigan.  The Jupiter ball diameter would need to be be about 400 feet across, the distance from home plate at Busch Stadium to center field.  Joe would need to put his model of Saturn in Toronto, Canada. The Saturn ball would be half as tall as the Arch and half as wide as the Arch at the base.  And the outermost ring of Saturn would stretch from the top of the hill just behind the new Arch entrance to just above the river’s edge. That would be quite a site on the shores of Lake Ontario.


Joe would construct Uranus on St. Edwards Island, Canada, to stay in scale, and Neptune would be in Greenland.  These two planets are about the same size, and, at the Moonrise Moon scale, they would be almost exactly the diameter of the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, assuming someone constructs the rest of the Climatron Geodesic Dome into a ball.


Finally, Pluto, if you are in fact a planet, would be in Iceland.  Pluto is smaller than the Moon, and the Joe could easily put a model of Pluto, scaled to the Moonrise Hotel Moon, on a rooftop bar in Reykjavik.  It only needs to be six foot eight inches tall, the height of Jayson Tatum. Speaking of Pluto, Voyager 1, launched in 1977, is well beyond Pluto’s orbit, and Joe’s model of it would be as far away as New Amsterdam Island in the South Indian Ocean, nearly as far away as you can get from St. Louis and still be on the surface of Earth.


So next time you are having a beer at the outdoor bar on top of the Moonrise Hotel, pull out these celestial trivia tidbits relative to the Moonrise Moon spinning above and impress your friend.  If you read this far, you likely only have one. Then find Joe Edwards and causally bring up how awesome a model eclipse of the sun would look using his moon if viewed from the Delmar Metrolink station.  Just to get the balls rolling.


Sun, Planet, Moon Planet Distances Relative to Moonrise Hotel Moon Size (~1/1,000,000th width of real moon) Planet Diameter Relative to Moonrise Hotel Moon Size
Sun St. James, Missouri, or Springfield, Illinois 0.8 mile diameter, America’s Center Dome to Busch Stadium
Mercury Meramec Cavern, or Warrenton, Missouri Times Square New Years’ Ball
Venus Eureka, or Wentzville, Missouri Height of video screen at Busch Stadium
Earth Delmar Loop Metro Station Hot Air Balloon
Moon Moonrise Hotel Moonrise Hotel Moon – 10 feet in diameter
Mars Pocahontas, Illinois, or Ste. Genevieve, Missouri Height of Tall Giraffe at the Zoo
Jupiter Kalamazoo, Michigan, or Tulsa, Oklahoma Busch Center Field depth, or new Centene Tower in Clayton
Saturn Toronto, Canada, or Denver, Colorado Half as tall as the arch, or Chase park plaza height
Uranus St. Edwards Island, Canada, or Sacramento, California Climatron size if you finish out the ball
Neptune Greenland, or Ecuador Climatron size, or Bagnell Dam height, Lake of the Ozarks
Pluto Iceland Jason Tatum, or Lebron James height


Photo:  Moonrise Hotel Moon, St. Louis. Attribution: Chris Yunker. Unedited. CreativeCommons.com

Gary William Kreie


National Anthem Day

New song about the National Anthem and Francis Scott Key

Back on the Fourth of July, 2016, I got stuck upstairs while my college-age daughter and old high school friends were having a party downstairs and in the back yard.  I picked up my guitar, and, feeling somewhat patriotic, I started trying to figure out how to play the national anthem on the guitar.  I was wondering what it must have sounded like originally as a British drinking song.

I ended up with some nice minor chords I liked, but I thought it might be a little too disrespectful to play it uptempo, as I was doing.  So I used the chords to start making a slightly different tune,  and I made up lyrics about Francis Scott Key and his experience writing the poem.  Then I ended with the actual National Anthem performed with a little bit of drama.  I eventually found singer Dusty Hughes and got him to sing and record the melody and harmony tracks to match with my guitar and software drums tracks and mixed it all together with Audacity software.  I learned that there is a holiday called National Anthem Day — March 3rd — when the song was adopted by Congress.  So I targeted that date for putting my song on social media along with a video I put together from pictures and video whose rights I acquired from the media originators.  Here is the final result.

There Once Was a Bloke – National Anthem

Crime Ranking: St. Louis vs. Kansas City

I complain that “city” rankings are not accurate because cities are defined by city limits, which are determined by politics, not consistent rules of population statistics.  Rust belt cities typically have city limits locked in place encircling a small old inner portion of the metropolitan area and containing few if any low-crime suburbs.  Newer Western cities, by contrast, cast their city limits far out into farm fields and contain the majority of their metro low crime suburbs, which dilutes their average crime rates.



But researchers put both types of cities into the same “city” ranking, and then declare the cities with most crime per resident as the most dangerous.  Since the general public associate cities with entire regions, “city limit” rankings can unfairly paint an entire region as crime riddled while masking growing crime issues in so-called “hot” younger cities.

By contrast, crime rankings based on Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) defined boundaries set by the federal government for all metros being ranked using the same set of statistical rules.  For some reason, these more valid MSA rankings are ignored by the media. In 2012, Forbes Magazine switched from MSA crime ranking to a city limits crime ranking, with scant rationale, saying “We used cities instead of larger metropolitan statistical areas, which gave the disadvantage to older cities with tighter boundaries.”

MSAs usually have an inner business cores at their centers, older smaller homes and multi-family homes further out, and suburbs beyond that.  I contend that statisticians could do a much better job of comparing major cities by going down to the zip code level and identifying zip codes in the inner 10%, 20%, 30% etc. of their MSAs for crime statistics.  Then one could compare the inner 10% core of the Pittsburgh metro area with the inner 10% core of the Houston metro area if one was planning to live near downtown.  Or compare the 50% population ring of two metros for folks comparing suburbs.  But that takes some work, and most crime rankers just paste FBI tables into a spreadsheet, combine crime categories into a single score for each city, and then sort on that score.  This is something almost anyone could do in an afternoon.

I decided to take my own advice and see how hard it would be to go onto the internet and address just two cities using the percent of population rings approach to compare crime rates.  I chose to compare St. Louis and Kansas City.  St. Louis is the last old Eastern City as you go West, and KC could be seen as the first Western style city.  In the free 2014 CQ Press Cities Crime Ranking, St. Louis ranked at #5 worst for crime while Kansas City ranked better at #61.  But in the 2014 CQ Press Metro Ranking, the orders were reversed with Kansas City ranking worse at #52, while St. Louis ranked safer at #95.  So I was anxious to see how the plots would show a transition as the data extended further from City Hall.



Here are the steps I used to plot St. Louis and Kansas City crime.  The same steps and data sources (links at the end of the piece) work for all metro areas.

Method for Average Crime index for percent population rings from City Hall.  10%, 20%, etc.

  1. Find zip codes for each Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
  2. Find LAT LONG of City Hall of the primary city of each MSA and each MSA Zip Code area
  3. Compute distance of each zip code from city hall in miles with LAN LONG to mile conversion.
  4. Get Crime Index for each zip code
  5. Get population for each zip code
  6. Determine distance rings containing 10% of the population, 20%, etc.
  7. Identify specific zip codes within each ring
  8. Compute total crime index for each % ring using zip code crime index weighted by population.
  9. Plot crime index for the 10% population ring, 20% ring, etc. as a histogram.

I was able to find free databases online for each of the steps in this approach, but it was a bit tedious copying crime indexes by zip code from one of various neighborhood data realty sites and pasting the indexes into my spreadsheet one at a time.  Professional researchers could probably purchase the entire crime-by-zip-code database in XL format to make that part a lot easier.

I computed the distances from City Hall for 10% of the metro populations, 20%, 30%, etc. at these distances:

STLKCpercents_milesTable 1.  Distance from City Hall where 10%, 20%, etc. of the metro population live.

I realized that since St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas are fairly similar, it would be interesting and pretty easy to go through step 4 above and just plot zip code crime indexes for each zip code as a function of distance from city hall.  The data include zip code areas in Illinois for St. Louis, and Kansas for Kansas City as well as Missouri zip codes.



Here is the scatter plot of zip code crime indexes vs. distance from City Hall for St. Louis and Kansas City.  US average crime index is 100.

STL v KC Zip Crime by Distance.JPG

Figure 1.  Zip Code Crime Index by miles from City Hall for St. Louis and Kansas City Metros.

The website posting the crime index for each zip code said the index is a combination of rape, murder, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and vehicle theft normalized against a US average score of 100.  So 200 means twice the average US crime.  The counts of each crime category are unweighted according to the web site, so murder counts the same as robbery.

Continuing with the remaining steps to get a histogram of crime indexes by percent of metro area rings, I combine crime indexes within each percent ring.  For this, I weighted the indexes by zip code population, so a zip code with just 3 people would contribute proportionally less than one with 1,000 people within a percent ring.  I collected data up through the 60% ring.  For the full metro numbers, I computed the St Louis and Kansas City crime indexes directly from the FBI data tables.

Here is the crime index histogram for each percent ring of population out to 60% from City Hall.

STL v KC Pop Rings Crime

Figure 2.  Crime Index by 10% rings of population out from City Hall.

And here is what the data looks at the 10% core, the entire inner 50% of the metro population and the full metro.

STL v KC Crime 10 50 100

Figure 3.  Crime Index for 10% core, the entire inner 50% of the metro population, and the full metro.

Since St. Louis and Kansas City are similar in size, the histogram information roughly lines up with the distance scatter plot.  If I was comparing St. Louis to a much smaller or larger metro, the percentage histogram would be more useful.

Here are maps of St. Louis and Kansas City with the Crime Index shown as a number from 1 to 6, where 6 represents crime 6 times the national average.  The links below the maps go to short videos of each map in a circling motion to see around the data pillars.

St Louis Crime Index by Zip

Figure 4.  St. Louis Crime Index by Zip Code.  US average is 1.



Kansas City Crime Index by Zip

Figure 5.  Kansas City Crime Index by Zip Code.  US average is 1.




I was surprised at how different the plots turned out between the two cities.  As expected, core areas of both metros have higher crime rates, and suburbs have lower crime rates.  Since the full St. Louis metro crime rate is lower than the full Kansas City metro crime rate, I was guessing that the two metros were similar enough in configuration that St. Louis would come out slightly safer at every percent of population and distance out from City Hall.  Instead I learned that the inner 20% of St. Louis zip codes had around a 20% higher crime index than their Kansas City counterparts.  I was even more surprised to see how much safer St. Louis inner suburbs are than their Kansas City counterparts. The Kansas City crime index was around 40% higher than St. Louis for the 30% through 60% population rings.  The higher suburban crime in Kansas City more than makes up for the higher inner core crime in St Louis to account for the overall higher crime rate in the entire Kansas City metro area.

The crimes per person may be higher in St. Louis inner core because the number of people living there has plummeted over the last 70 years until recently, while the number of people working, driving through, and doing business during the day is still pretty high.  But crime indexes always divide only by the resident count, not the visitor count.  I suspect these patterns may be typical for older rust belt cities where the middle class has moved to larger modern homes in the suburbs long ago, whereas Western cities still have many newer homes close to the central core.  Some cities like St. Louis and Detroit have an additional factor pulling residents westward – a central business district built almost out on a peninsula up against a major barrier – the Mississippi River for St. Louis and the Canadian border for Detroit.



If all the City and Metro crime rankings were replaced with charts like these, planners could make better decisions about the status of crime in major cities.  This approach completely eliminates the city limits as a factor driving a false ranking.  Planners can better see how their metro area stacks up against other metros at similar distance rings when assigning resources to fight crime.  The next step would be to go down to zip code level directly to address specific crime problems within the metro areas.  If publishers must have crime rankings to sell magazines, the full MSA boundary ranking, or the 50% inward stats are more representative of relative crime rates.



Links to data sources:


Zip Codes that make up each MSA:



LAT LONG of each metro – City Hall



Zip Code Area LAT LONGS



Convert difference between two LAT LONGs to statute miles

=ACOS(COS(RADIANS(90-A2)) *COS(RADIANS(90-A3)) +SIN(RADIANS(90-A2)) *SIN(RADIANS(90-A3)) *COS(RADIANS(B2-B3))) *3958.756


Crime rating and population size for each zip code



Population distance spread from City Hall



Zip code map images



FBI Table 6 to get Full Metro Stats to compute full metro counts 2013



FBI Table 1 to get Full US Stats to scale computer full metro crime Indexes 2013




Total Crime Risk Index Used by Moving.com description:

Total Crime Risk – A score that represents the combined risks of rape, murder, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and vehicle theft compared to the national average of 100. A score of 200 indicates twice the national average total crime risk, while 50 indicates half the national risk. The different types of crime are given equal weight in this score, so murder, for example, does not count more than vehicle theft. Scores are based on demographic and geographic analyses of crime over seven years.



CQ Press 2014 (2013 data) rankings of safest cities and safest metro areas.




Forbes Most Dangerous Cities

2011 When Forbes used the MSA Ranking


2012 When Forbes switched to the City Limits Ranking



Gary Kreie is a recently retired missile software engineer/manager.