Limits
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   January 14, 2021

Our language has a nice way of softening the meaning of nasty expressions. Take the word “deadline.” There was a time, not too long ago, when a dead-line was a line beyond which, if caught crossing it, you were liable to be killed. This was most applicable in a prison situation, when the captors had […]

Our Solar System: Venus
By Tom Farr   |   January 7, 2021

I was already in the Science Team room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory when the second cycle of radar images of the surface of Venus were beamed down in May of 1991. I waited impatiently for the five-inch print roll to start spooling out. The first cycle had gone well and most of Venus’s surface […]

 

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Eggscuse Me
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   January 7, 2021

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” This, I suppose, is another way of stating the Machiavellian principle that “the end justifies the means” – i.e. to get a good outcome, you sometimes have to employ less-than-good methods. My problem is that I don’t like breaking eggs […]

No Dumping
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 31, 2020

Like most of us, I can’t help noticing the signs and notices people put up, even if they don’t apply to me. One which inevitably catches my eye is on a white picket fence I pass every day, while walking to or from my office. It’s a probably store-bought sign, and says simply, “No Dumping.” […]

Can We Discuss Politics and Religion?
By Robert Bernstein   |   December 31, 2020

“If you want to avoid heated arguments, never discuss religion, politics, or whether the toilet paper roll should go over or under.” So said the wise sage “Weird Al” Yankovic. Religion and politics go to the very heart of our deepest values. If we avoid discussing what matters most to us, how can any learning […]

Our Solar System: Mercury
By Tom Farr   |   December 31, 2020

As a kid I was always picking up rocks and wondering at the diversity of them all. Where did they come from? And family camping trips gave me a sampling of the varied landscapes of California and the West. When I found out I could combine my love of the outdoors with the study of […]

Declaration of Dependence
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 24, 2020

If life is a swimming pool, look for me at the shallow end. I’m not (by my own standards) a very adventurous person – and advancing years have not made me any braver. But what they have done is make me increasingly aware of how many different things I depend on, just to keep going […]

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Power
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 17, 2020

One of my most popular epigrams (which is why I made it the title of one of my books) says: “All I want is a warm bed, and a kind word – and unlimited power.” I suppose we’d all like to be able to control things a little more than we can – starting with […]

Come On, Baby, Do the Mashed Potato
By Ernie Witham   |   December 3, 2020

No doubt, this year we have had the stuffing knocked out of us. The coronavirus squashed any hopes of a normal year. The economy sank like a lead gravy boat. And we had a turkey in the…  “Wait. Are you really going to make us suffer through a Thanksgiving pun column?”  “Of course not, dear. […]

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Away From Home
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 3, 2020

As an experienced traveler (though not lately), I’ve always said that travel would be much more easy and pleasant, if only we didn’t have to eat and sleep. Others will, of course, argue that it is all the things relating to food and accommodation which make travel enjoyable. But to me, they are generally a […]

Out the Window
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 26, 2020

There are many things we don’t have words for – and if asked, you’d probably never have thought there was a word for throwing somebody out of a window – but there is such a word, and in fact I’ve known it most of my life, although I have never had any pressing occasion to […]

Diaries
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 19, 2020

My birthday happens to be in December (on the 9th), so my numerical age stays the same practically all through the calendar year. On my tenth birthday, in 1943, one of the presents I received was a “Five-year Diary,” with each small page representing the same calendar date on five succeeding years. So, each day […]

Lost Lands
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 12, 2020

Many countries – and many families – have some tradition of territory, or property, which used to be theirs, and is now someone else’s. The memory, even though it may relate to events far in the past, is sometimes still charged with bitterness.  A classic example is the region known as Alsace-Lorraine, sandwiched between France […]

Who Was That Masked Man?
By Ernie Witham   |   November 12, 2020

I have a new respect for superheroes, bandits, and anyone else who wears a mask for a living. For one thing, it’s not easy to smell things while wearing a mask, which is probably a good thing for those performing gastro-intestinal surgery. For the rest of us just trying to keep COVID-19 out, we miss […]

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