Feed the poor or reach for the stars? We must do both.

VSS Unity, the first spaceplane of Virgin Galactic (go4liftoff.com)

Over the past several days there have been a lot of my fellow Social Justice Warriors decrying the vanity-fueled spaceflights of billionaires Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, and for the very best of reasons. After all, if the ten richest billionaires applied just their profits made during the pandemic, they’d be able to fully vaccinate everyone on the planet against COVID-19 — and they’d have money left over. That one fact proves how devastating unregulated capitalism is to the world’s poor and dispossessed. …

And only moms can speak it.

We all understand the language, but only moms can speak it. (JustMommies.com)

If English is not your first language, you’d probably agree with me that English is the [insert insult here] language in human history e.g. “to”, “two”, “too”, “toot”, “tutu”…you get the idea. I’m sure every other language has its idiosyncrasies and little surprises. My second language is Tagalog (Filipino), and ‘mahal’ (mah-hall) has two meanings: ‘love’ and ‘expensive’. Nobody is ever going to convince me that wasn’t intentional. But English is still the absolute worst.

It turns out there’s another language that we all know from the time we turn two years old, and it all revolves around the letter…

And why he is still the greatest figure of the 20th Century

Statue of Winston Churchill being vandalized in Westminster, London (Free Press Journal)

“In the worst of times, the best of humanity stands forth.” Isn’t this among the oldest of literary tropes? Indeed, how could there be heroes without great danger, injustice, and heartbreak to overcome? But if we look closely at the hero’s life, we find the skeletons in the closet, see the bodies in the field, and hear the distant forlorn cries of the widows and orphans. Our contempt grows in direct proportion with such familiarity.

Does this mean the hero is no longer worthy of the sobriquet?

Enter Sir Winston Churchill, perhaps the single most famous name from the 20th…

And how the “Browning of America” prevents it here

A Kindergarten in rural China (t-online.de)

Most readers will look at the title above and wonder, “What the heck does the ‘Browning of America’ — the coming time when white people will comprise less than half our population — have to do with China’s economic success or failure?”

It has everything to do with it.

About forty years ago, 88 percent of the Chinese population lived on less than two dollars per day. As of 2017, that figure had dropped to less than six percent. The key in this tectonic economic shift was a decision by Deng Xiaoping to open up China’s economy as part of…

No, E.T. is NOT able to operate our nuclear reactors

The “Tic Tac” UFO recorded by an F/A-18 Super Hornet from the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 2004. (NBC News)

The Initial Evidence

“Life finds a way.” Yes, that line from Jurassic Park became a meme of sorts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. All one need do is to consider that tardigrades can survive the hard vacuum of space, nematodes thrive deep within the crust of the Earth, and bioaerosols drift happily along in our planet’s lower stratosphere. …

Even astrophysicists use hacks to do the impossible

Those of us who see articles with such titles love the biggest questions of all: where did we all come from, where are we going, and what is life, the universe, and everything? It’s as if we’re all infected with both sides of Fritz Leiber’s Curse of the Stars and the Smalls (required reading for fans of 1980s swords-and-sorcery).

So when a well-respected astrophysicist claims that yes, we can go back in time, we say, “wait, what?”

Two podcasts I follow are Astronomy Cast, hosted by Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay, and Universe Today, hosted by Fraser Cain. Both podcasts…

America is becoming the opposite of the Land of the Free

The freedom to protest is one of the most precious freedoms we have, though it is under attack even now. (Wikimedia)

We Americans have a lot of freedoms. We can say pretty much what we want, to whom we want, and how. We can protest and engage in civil disobedience. We can worship as we will (within reason). We can purchase a too-wide range of firearms (with inexcusably tragic results). We have marriage equality and legal protections for those in the LGBTQ community.

Any of the above were sufficient to have one sent to the Gulag in the old USSR, or to internment camps in China. …

And suddenly the definition of ‘possible’ became ‘absolutely’.

Wuhan Institute of Virology (Yahoo News)

Pandemics Gonna Pandemic

What do you call it when a new virus emerges in China?

You call it a Tuesday.

East Asia is the world’s most active incubator of viruses deadly to humans, and for good reason: overpopulation, livestock production with limited sanitation, lack of refrigeration, and a (slowly diminishing) cultural reliance on traditional medicine. Remember the SARS epidemic back in 2002? That was also from a coronavirus that mutated in China. …

Where you can be discharged but never leave…unless you pay up first

“Plenty of room at Hospital California…” (Wikimedia)

Last week my youngest son’s wife gave birth to their first child, a beautiful little girl named Lily. And yes, all those memes about grandparents’ opinions of their grandkids being the cutest and bestest ever are absolutely true.

As the proud parents were about to leave the hospital here near Seattle, my son Eric went to the reception desk and asked, “Who do we pay? Do you accept a card, or does it have to be cash?” The receptionist and the nurses nearby looked at him with wide eyes, and then began laughing when they realized he was being completely…

What is patriotism when the government believes that might makes right?

Guatemalan general Óscar Mejía Víctores (Prensa Libre)

I’d never seen an airshow before, and I wanted to see if it was as exciting as people said. Those of us who worked belowdecks on the USS Ranger (CV-61) were told to stay remain within the skin of the ship. Only those who worked on the flight deck would see the airshow. The reason, scuttlebutt had it, was that we were just holding an airshow as a diplomatic gesture for some Guatemalan general. …

Glenn Rocess

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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