January 28, 1986

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
“Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God.

“High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Every generation has at least one event during their formative years—childhood, young adulthood, & such—where they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. It’s something of a cliché, really, but it’s still a moment frozen in time for each of us.

For my parents’ generation, it was the Kennedy assassination, November 22, 1963. For many, many people, myself included, it was September 11, 2001. For me, and many people around my age, it was also January 28, 1986, the day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. Continue reading

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That was…..unexpected

View post on imgur.com


The internet loves its plot twists (via bandersna7ch on Imgur).

And no, I have no idea what SpongeBob and Patrick are doing there.

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Animated Extinctions

I saw this animation posted to Imgur by user Waffurur, showing the five biggest mass extinction events in Earth’s history (as far as we know, really):

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Most people are familiar with the Cretacious-Tertiary mass extinction about 65 million years ago, which killed off the last of the dinosaurs. Well, except for birds, which are totally still dinosaurs.

Some people know about the Permian mass extinction, which left only about four percent of species alive. That’s also the one that finished off the trilobites, which is a bummer because they seem pretty cool.

"Kainops invius lateral and ventral" by Moussa Direct Ltd. (Moussa Direct Ltd. image archive) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, it also brought an end to the eurypterids—a/k/a sea scorpions that reached eight feet or more in length (but were generally harmless)… Continue reading

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Stay on target…

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will never be as good as it is in this moment, as I sit in the IMAX theater at the Bob Bullock State History Museum waiting for the movie to start.

Right now, the movie is pure anticipation.

Soon, it will be real. Whether it’s good, bad, or Phantom Menace, this moment will be lost forever.

Savor moments like this, my friends.

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Existential Threats

[The following is slightly adapted from a comment written for a Facebook post, based on this article about President Obama’s December 6, 2015 speech, which for some reason Facebook would not allow me to post. Possibly because, at nearly 3,500 words, it’s too long. What can I say? I felt inspired. The comment that inspired me basically expressed doubt that Obama has put as much thought into “ISIS and the implications of radical Islam” as the article’s author thinks. I have adjusted some formatting and added some links.]

You may be right about Obama not thinking through the full implications of radical Islam, but the exact same can be said for people on the right who posit radical Islam as a threat to “Western civilization” (a fluid and undefined term if ever there was one) on a par with German fascism or Soviet communism. Lest this seem like a tu quoque argument, I’ll even concede that Obama might underestimate the short-term threat posed by radical Islamism, but only because I believe the proponents of the radical-Islamism-as-mortal-threat viewpoint drastically overstate its dangers—furthermore, by arguing for such an aggressive stance against it, they paradoxically serve its aims. Continue reading

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Dear Hollywood: The Top Gun Sequel Must Include this Scene

After such a long, long, wait—during which time many of us didn’t even realize we were waiting for anything—it looks as though the Top Gun sequel might really be a thing, except maybe not. The latest news is that Val Kilmer is officially attached to the project, except that he’s not officially attached to the project. Maybe this is the vagaries of the movie biz, or maybe a bunch of old people are having some fun trolling the kiddos on the internet.

Regardless, I have a request/demand for whomever ultimately makes what is sure to do for Pete “Maverick” Mitchell what two recent sequels did for John McClane. (I find it unlikely that any Top Gun sequel would be as surprisingly good as another late franchise entry, 2006’s Rocky Balboa. At least there hasn’t been an Indiana Jones movie since 1989…..nope, no movies at all….)

Anyway, should a new Top Gun get made, I simply must insist that it include the following scene:

Download (PDF, 4KB)

Additionally, the following dialogue should take place at some point:

ICEMAN

What happened to you, Mitchell? You used to be dangerous.

MAVERICK

That’s right! Ice……man….. I was dangerous.

Via thatmomentin.com

Via thatmomentin.com

Finally, for no particular reason, here’s a Top Gun demotivator:

Via imggood.com

Via imggood.com

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The Hitler Number

Three things I learned recently:

  1. Adolph Hitler has an IMDB page (h/t William)
  2. I am only four degrees away from Adolph Hitler in terms of film appearances.
  3. Adolph Hitler and I are connected (in terms of film appearances) through the guy that played Lumbergh.

Continue reading

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Explaining ADD Meds

I made a Storify about Elon James White‘s excellent explanation of ADD meds: Continue reading

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The Sneak

Back in college, my time-management skills were about as terrible as they are today (although I didn’t have the benefit of an ADHD diagnosis back then, whatever that benefit might be.) I would occasionally find myself facing a due date for a paper—for which I had not even started preparing—that was, in the context of the time, “tomorrow.” This necessitated that time-honored college tradition, the “all-nighter.” I couldn’t tell you how many of those I pulled back in the day. (Left entirely to my own devices, I think I’d still be primarily nocturnal, but that’s a story for another day.)

Unlike many college-age kids, though, I was never very good at going without sleep altogether. Upon wrapping up my 5-to-7-page tome comparing and contrasting Henry Kissinger’s The White House Years to William Shawcross’ Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon & the Destruction of Cambodia at around 4:00 a.m.*, I still felt the compelling need for sleep. I developed a technique I referred to as “the sneak” (mostly because I was too tired to think of a better name for it.) Continue reading

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An Idea for Tonight’s GOP Debate

Apparently the Republican debate tonight, in which ten candidates will be participating, will be limited to a total of two hours, including commercials. If we assume 18 minutes of commercials per hour (it seems like most hour-long TV shows are around 42 minutes long without commercials), that means that, if we ignore the time needed for the moderators to ask questions, each candidate will get 8 minutes and 24 seconds total—assuming they divvy up the time evenly.

The ten participants, according to Politico, are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.

A summary of recent polls at Real Clear Politics shows Christie in last place out of this set of ten candidates, with 2.4 percent.

I have a suggestion for Gov. Christie. Continue reading

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