It has come to our attention that the Earth's North Magnetic Pole is not a stable point on the surface of the world, nor is it at the actual North Pole. It is in fact located in Canada, close to Ellesmere Island. Fair enough, you say, that's certainly within spitting distance and plenty good for my own navigational needs. But listen. The North Magnetic Pole is moving, at a rate of about 35 miles each year, towards Russia. And I ask you, can we afford to allow one half of our planet's magnetic poles to slip behind the Iron Curtain?
Monday, December 2, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
I've been thinking about bad decisions, and how good decisions grow out of them. Stuck behind a log truck on skinny winding blacktop, it's probably a bad decision to try to pass. Being patient is statistically speaking the better option, survivalwise. Jumping into the pool from a second story balcony is a bad choice. I know that now, though it worked out fine at the time. Climbing the radio tower was dumb. The borrowed motorcycle, the drummer's sister, the mysterious powder, the third trip to the buffet. All terrible ideas. My question is, how do cautious people ever learn anything?
Monday, November 18, 2013
I don't often use the word flabbergasted. It is an unpleasant word, with a sort of moist meaty sound to it. It seems somehow vulgar and possibly slightly obscene, although its meaning is innocuous enough. Perfectly decent folk are known to employ it in ordinary conversation. But I see no compelling reason to speak it in the presence of ladies or the very young, when dumbfounded or astonished convey the same general meaning. But the word seems completely apropos when one is confronted by the sentence “Newly discovered hermaphroditic sea slug deploys specialized needle-thin organ for injections near the eyes.”
Monday, November 11, 2013
I believe it is intrusive to prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol. Because the issue isn't whether a driver is drunk, but whether he or she is dangerous. So I propose administering the driving exam under progressively higher blood alcohol levels, and issuing a license at the highest level of inebriation at which the driver can pass the test. I also think it's nobody's business what performance enhancing drugs an athlete uses. Professional sports is show business, after all, and you don't see them taking back the Grateful Dead's gold records because they were achieved while using banned substances.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Here are two good reasons to mention Nikodem Poplawski. First, I suggest saying his name aloud a time or two. Nice, right? Second, Nikodem Poplawski is a physicist who theorizes that every black hole in our universe causes a Big Bang that creates another universe, which presumably would contain black holes of its own, ad infinitum. Conversely, our own universe is on the wrong side of an event horizon in another universe. Again, ad infinitum. Each universe has its own space-time; we can't ever visit. Sort of like how Nancy and Sluggo can't hang out with Charlie Brown and Lucy.
Monday, October 28, 2013
When they make you turn off all electronic devices on the airplane, I’m pretty sure they’re just messing with you. Because, if there was even the remotest chance you could do any damage, they wouldn't let you have them. They don’t say, “If you’re travelling today with any explosive devices, please be sure they are disarmed and securely stowed during takeoff and landing. ” You probably couldn't hijack a plane by threatening to turn on your Nook. Then as we deplaned, I saw a Sikh driver holding a sign that said “Christian White.” And I thought, “That man is mislabeled.”
Monday, October 21, 2013
Rule of thumb, here: Mutations tend to persist in a species if they meet one of two criteria. Either they are adaptive and help an individual to survive (big brain, opposable thumbs) or they are so inconsequential as to have no effect (male pattern baldness, rollable tongue). Mutations that are bad for you tend to go away pretty quickly. Now, alcohol rots your liver, makes you stupid and lazy, gets you into fights that aren't worth winning. So why do so many humans tolerate, even crave, this toxic fluid? Anecdotal evidence suggests that it may convey an important reproductive advantage.