Monthly Archives: June 2021

Diversions: The end of the road in Michigan

Hancock Street Sign

I currently live a short distance from a permanently busy Florida street called Tamiami Trail, so named because it is the old pre-freeway route connecting Tampa to Miami, following the Gulf Coast south through Sarasota and Naples, where it then heads east across the Everglades on “Alligator Alley” to its southern terminus. That road is also designated as Route US-41…. Read more »

Diversions: When Jimmy Stewart played a Yooper lawyer

Jimmy Stewart

I’m on my first post-Covid trip back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I spent some formative years, and I realized that it was fifty years ago this year that I was the projectionist for an annual cinema tradition in Marquette, a small university town on Lake Superior. That featured film was itself another step backward in time. The on-location shoot… Read more »

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 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


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 »