Risen Again?
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 21, 2021

Recently, when writing elsewhere about some apparently endless troubles, I concluded with the words “How long, O Lord, how long?” I didn’t realize, until somebody informed me, that I was quoting the Bible, where that expression appears several times. I only remembered it from the last line of George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan (first […]

How Old is That Rock?
By Tom Farr   |   September 14, 2021

On my first geological field trip as a new geology major at Caltech, I was amazed as we drove out into the Mojave Desert on Interstate 15 when my professor, who was driving, would point through the window at a distant rock outcropping and say: “There’s a Miocene (five to 20 million years of age) […]

 

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I Never Thought of That
By Robert Bernstein   |   September 14, 2021

Some things really are taboo, and I want to write more about that in the future. I recently posted a cartoon on Facebook that showed a guy saying, “Having a dog has convinced me that animals have souls. And that is why I became a vegetarian.” The other person says, “Yet you feed your dog […]

Assuring a Wet Future for California
By Bob Hazard   |   September 14, 2021

Lack of potable water is a more serious problem than COVID-19. Without water the average person dies within three days. A horse can go five days without water; a camel 10 days; plants can survive two to three weeks. Without water, all life perishes. Water makes up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface; the […]

Time to go Bananas
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 14, 2021

When I was six years old, I received a consolation prize of 25 cents for not knowing the answer on a Toronto radio station kids’ program called “Snappy Answers.” But only twice in my life since then have I ever won anything substantial – and the first time was pure luck. In the early days […]

Funny You Should Say That
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 7, 2021

The Library of Congress categorizes all published books which are submitted for registration, according to their contents. When my first book, I May Not Be Totally Perfect, but Parts of Me Are Excellent, was published, I had no idea how they would classify it. I had thought I was writing a new kind of one-line […]

Where Does it Hurt?
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 31, 2021

There are good things to be said about pain, along the consoling lines that it’s an important message, telling us that something needs attention. But we know that’s all rubbish. Any decently designed body wouldn’t need such attention or would at least have more acceptable methods of communicating with its manager. Besides, many of the […]

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What Will it Take to Act on the Climate Crisis?
By Robert Bernstein   |   August 31, 2021

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! As expressed so well by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, these are the things we evolved to fear. Unfortunately, in the modern world, these are not the things that really matter. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its latest report emphasizing the urgency of […]

What is a Personal Choice?
By Robert Bernstein   |   August 12, 2021

The 1960s TV show Get Smart often offered deep insights cloaked in humor. In the episode, “Do I Hear a Vaults?” the Chief gets locked in a bank vault with agent Larrabee. There is only enough air to last 24 hours and it is on a time lock that won’t open until the end of […]

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Feeling Cornered
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 12, 2021

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner,Eating a Christmas pie;He put in his thumb,And pulled out a plum,And said, “What a good boy am I!” Your childhood probably included this “nursery rhyme.” But it provokes many questions: If Jack Horner really was a “good boy,” why was he sitting in a corner, which even today […]

Idle Pleasantrees
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 5, 2021

A man named Joyce Kilmer managed to publish five books and have five children before being killed in World War I. But he is remembered only for one imperishable poem, called “Trees,” which concludes with the modest words: “Poems are made by fools like me,But only God can make a tree.” True enough, I suppose, […]

High, Neighbor
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 29, 2021

Until my early 30s, I had never smoked anything. In fact, the practice of smoking appalled me. Sometimes I’d be with a group of friends, and they would start smoking a cigarette of some kind, which they passed from hand to hand. They would invite me to join in, but I made it plain that […]

Hey, Siri, Tell Us the History of the Global Positioning System
By Tom Farr   |   July 29, 2021

When you want to know where you are or how to get there from here, you just check your smart phone and there you are — but did you ever think about how that gets done? The Global Positioning System of satellites was put in place by the U.S. Air Force (now Space Force) and […]

Order in Court
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 22, 2021

I’ve only been in court twice in my life, and the first time, in 1956, resulted in a jail sentence. I was 21, recently immigrated from England, and eager for new American experiences. Driving my first car, I had received a ticket for going over an occupied pedestrian crossing. (Since then, I’ve mostly been a […]

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