The probability of alien UFOs has not really changed

Interest in alien visitation has spiked following the recent release of an Pentagon report on their experiences with what they call unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), or what are commonly called unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Despite the new report, the basic probability math of alien visitation has not changed by any significant amount after the release of new grainy videos. Here… Read more »

When public health gets political

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Iron lung

Note: This post was published earlier at the Iowa blog BleedingHeartland.com Despite a strong start at vaccinating its populace against Covid-19, my former home state of Iowa has begun to slip in the national rankings in its percentage of vaccinated residents. In Texas, some hospital workers have taken their management to court to fight suspensions for refusing the vaccine, despite… Read more »

Talking in three languages about Covid vaccines

religion-science-politics

I had long thought that the phrase “to babble” had its origins in the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel. Instead, you can find linguists arguing for Western European or Latin roots with the meaning of “to prattle” or to imitate baby talk (“ba-ba-ba”). By any definition, there is a lot of mutually-incomprehensible babbling going around that is as… Read more »

America – the missing years: 1619–1775

Slave Auction

Violence was commonplace in Nevis, as in all of the slave-ridden sugar islands. The eight thousand captive blacks easily dwarfed in number the one thousand whites, “a disproportion,” remarked one visitor, “which necessarily converts all such white men as are not exempted by age and decrepitude into a well-regulated militia.” (Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 19) I am an avid… Read more »

Israel, Gaza, and ethical nuance

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A fragile peace fire holds this morning, but political support for Bibi Netanyahu’s actions against the Palestinian Hamas military actions and control over Gaza is one of the few issues these days that seems to cross party lines. At least there are multiple views within the Democratic Party, and there are clearly neo-Nazi elements among Trump supporters who hold Israel… Read more »

Diversions: Remembering trumpeter Chet Baker

Chet Baker

Trumpeter and singer Chet Baker died 33 years ago this week in Amsterdam. He was found dead on the street underneath his room, and with traces of heroin and cocaine in his system. The circumstances behind his death were never officially determined, but one biographer has commented that it was equally likely that he either fell from the window, or… Read more »

When ethics and dogma meet politics

Stephen Crane

“Think as I think,” said a man, “Or you are abominably wicked; You are a toad.” And after I had thought of it, I said: “I will, then, be a toad.” — Stephen Crane (1871–1900) It can be dangerous to bisect any part of the world around us into two paths, but I have come to view human expressions of… Read more »

Worth a read: Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek

Fundamentals

I still remember the classic picture of the atom from my Michigan high school physics class, about the same time MIT professor Frank Wilczek was in a similar class in New York City in the late 1960s. Called the Rutherford model, that atom was pictured as a miniature solar system. with electron “planets” revolving around a sun-like nucleus, which was… Read more »

Minneapolis: When two things are simultaneously true

Privilege

These two statements, I assert, can be simultaneously true: I want to live in a secure society. I want to live in a free society. And most of the time, for most of us (cough, cough, middle-class white Americans), these two statements rest comfortably together in our heads as our view of “the real America.” I feel free to leave… Read more »