I’m Not Saying

Today’s post comes from Minnesota’s 9th District Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in the state.

Greetings, Constituents!

I’m not about to say “I told you so”, but there are a lot of people here in Washington DC who are a bit red-faced today about the latest news that the planet broke its all time heat record in 2014.

Some of those faces are red with anger, and others … well, it’s been hot. What do you expect? I’m not saying I fully understand the meaning of this short video from NOAA, but if I was still a teenager and this world map was my face, I’d be alarmed at the blotchy mess it has become. I thought this was supposed to go away as you get older!

I’m not saying we’re incapable of dealing with this problem in a meaningful way, and I’m not naming any names, but I can pretty much assure you that the people who did nothing to address climate change before this latest news can be counted on to keep doing nothing well into the foreseeable future.

That means it’s up to the rest of us.

Now, I’m not about to try to take advantage of this calamity to promote Minnesota tourism, but I do want to remind you that Minnesota is far from all the coasts and we do have lots of nice cool lakes. I’m not saying that Minnesota will be the only safe and/or comfortable place to be when things get harsh everywhere else, and although it pretty much makes that case without saying a word, I’m not trying to draw your attention to the widely published map that clearly indicates we were in one of the world’s rare cool (meaning “normal”) zones last year.

CLIMATE

Why the American Midwest looks so comfortable while all the other parts of the world appear to be sweltering (except out in the middle of some oceans and in Central Africa, where they’re fighting wars right now) is something I’m definitely not saying. But the only reason I’m not saying any of these things is that I know people will get mad at me if I do. Biting my tongue is a real test for me, mostly because it moves so much and my teeth are so tiny. But part of being a politician is knowing when to speak up, and when to be disingenuous.

Your (cool) Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

What makes you bite your tongue?

Birds of a Feather

"Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0"

The latest word from the journal Science about Bar-headed Geese is that they can fly really high.

Like almost-the-summit-of-Everest high.

Actually, legend has it Bar-headed Geese have been seen flying over it at 29 thousand feet, but researchers have only tracked them to 24 thousand using GPS. But that’s still mighty impressive, given the physical cost of getting to that altitude for a bird that constantly flaps its wings.

They do it by staying close to the ground. Sounds easy, but in the Himalayas, the ground is quite vertical. That means these amazing birds gain and lose vast amounts of altitude only to re-gain it over the course of a long journey – something like going on a roller coaster ride if you had to run the length of the tracks rather than ride.

It makes one think Old Mother Goose may not have always been the doddering, bespectacled granny figure in a rocking chair. Perhaps she looked down on Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay while making up rhymes somewhat like  (but not quite) “To Market, To Market.”

To mountain, to mountain, to go very high.
Down again, down again, out of the sky.
To mountain, to mountain, to flap in thin air.
Down again, down again, nary a care.
To mountain, to mountain, on wings and not legs.
Down again, down again, hawks can suck eggs.

The stamina of these amazing birds was described this way in the Science article:

“In the lab, they nudged geese to run on treadmills in reduced oxygen to simulate high altitudes, which revealed that the birds could keep running at top speed for 15 minutes. Humans would not be able to sustain that pace in such conditions.”

Goosey, goosey flyers,
Bird who never tires.
Upskies and downskies
What strength your life requires!

As speedy as the jaguars,
As fearsome as the bears.
An up-and-downy athlete
who doesn’t take the stairs.

Picture it – a goose on a treadmill. Fifteen minutes, full speed, nonstop. Who says science isn’t fun?

What was your most amazing physical feat?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m disturbed by a new wave of thinking in business circles that accepts a pack of troubling conclusions about the “speaking-up” styles of men vs. women in the workplace. The gist of it is that men who speak up frequently in office meetings are rewarded for their ideas more than women are for offering the same or equally good ideas.

Supporting all this is the notion that men are good at projecting confidence even when (especially when) they don’t know anything, whereas women are merely competent in all the areas that matter most. But in spite of their abilities, the women tend to remain quiet in meetings because they’re tired of having supremely confident men walk all over them and steal their ideas.

Dr. Babooner, I’m a man who has worked collaboratively with women throughout my career so I can honestly say it sounds like nonsense to me. I’ve always been supportive of my female colleagues. I remember about ten years ago I was in a meeting to talk about a problem getting the product out of our glass fruit warehouse when Heather suggested we speed up the conveyor belts by 1/5th of a mile per hour. She thought a small adjustment like that would reverberate all through the system and marginally improve our delivery times.

I got so excited by her good idea I jumped in before she was even done talking and said we should increase speeds by 5 miles per hour to make the product fly off our shelves! And because I so quickly and enthusiastically endorsed and improved the concept, they put me in charge of the project!

But I never missed an opportunity to let people know it was HER idea, not mine!

Sadly, Heather left the company the following year after refusing to take responsibility for all the product breakage we were seeing in the warehouse. I think that’s the real problem with women in the corporate workplace – they aren’t willing to accept the consequences of their high level decisions.

Dr. Babooner, your picture makes it look like you’re a woman so you’re probably not going to agree with me, but I’m absolutely certain I’ve got this one right. But how can I overcome this new prevailing assumption that my confidence is just testosterone-induced blustering?

With Supreme Assurance,
Mr. Positive

I told Mr. P that a smart office player always works WITH prevailing assumptions, not against them. Since the latest scholarship has already concluded his approach is complete BS, he should wait for a female co-worker to point it out and then endorse her criticism with all the manly force he uses for his other positions. By selling his colleagues on the effectiveness of his false certainty, he can still dominate the decision making.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Recruit to Deny Guy

Today’s post comes from Wendell Willkie High School’s perennial sophomore, Bubby Spamden.

Hey Mr. C.,

I admit I’ve been a pest when it comes to passing notes in class to ask girls if they want to go out with me. Usually (always) the answer is “no”, because … well, it just is.

But that’s OK. My feelings don’t get hurt too much ’cause I’ve been in 10th grade for about 20 years and a guy just gets used to things over that much time. Pretty much I just do it out of habit.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why some of the girls say (behind my back) that I’m creepy. On account of I’m old enough to be boyhood friends with their fathers.

Anyway, we just had a meeting today with Mr. Norton, the guidance counselor, and he told us about an amazing thing colleges are doing that I think is so inspiring, I’m going to start using it in my personal life because it might help me stop feeling like such a loser.

It’s called “recruit to deny”, which describes the practice of sending letters and e-mails and texts to students who the schools know are probably not going to get admitted, hoping to draw an application so they can say “no” and look more selective, meaning “better”.

Like I say – really cool idea.

So here’s what I’m thinking – I’ll change the notes I’m writing to these girls in my class from “Hey, do you want to go out with me sometime?” to something that’s more closer to a college recruiting letter, like “Hey, I’m inviting you to ask me to go out with you. Lots of really super girls have asked me already, and the ones I went out with thought it was one of the greatest educational experiences of their lives! It’ll cost a bunch ’cause of course I’ll want you to buy, but sometimes it takes a few bucks to learn important things about the world.”

I realize not very many will take me up on this offer, but I don’t get many “yeses” as it is. Even if I got just two to ask me out, I could say “yes” to one and “no” to the other. Then I would both have a date AND feel kinda selective and special!

And I wouldn’t feel sorry for the girl I turn down either, because she be the real winner. For obvious reasons!

What do you think?
Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby I found his latest note disturbing on a number of levels. As the oldest high school sophomore in history, it is totally inappropriate for him to be asking classmates out on dates. I’m relieved to hear that no one has taken him up on it. His latest idea to send out insincere invitations and mimic the callous strategy of some colleges to seem more “selective” is simply ludicrous, and I doubt it will bring him anything but sorrow.

On the other hand, it does feel wonderful to be wanted and unobtainable, so I get where he’s coming from.

When has turning down an offer made you feel good?

Trash Pick-Up

Today’s post comes from the renegade skipper of the pirate ship Muskellunge, Captain Billy.

Ahoy, Landlubbers!

I don’t read much what’s printed on paper no more, but me boys regularly  spends their idle time fishin’ soggy magazines outa th’ drink.  A number of them is particularly interested in locatin’ back issues of National Pornographic on account of they is connoisseurs of th’ art form.  But more often what they finds is drenched copies of its less provocative sister publication, National Geographic.

In a recent issue me boys was flummoxed t’ discover that the amount of trash in th’ ocean is now near  5.25 trillion pieces, which amounts to a lot of anythin’, no matter what it is yer countin’!

Environmental observers bemoans th’ fact that no one is responsible fer cleanin’ up this mess.

Bein’ gentlemen of a scavengin’ nature who is naturally inclined to re-use an’ re-purpose all sorts of found debris, such as diamonds, precious metals an’ currency,  we found it fascinatin’ that much of th’ floatin’ oceanic flotsam collects in five gigantic swirlin’ zones, or gyres.

Weather an’ waves is breakin’ down much of th’ plastic into tiny microfibers, an’ sinkin’ it t’ th’ lower depths, were its presence will someday come back t’ haunt us I’m certain!    But even now there are surprises t’ be found near th’ surface.

One trash explorer related this account of collectin’ everything from plastic candy wrappers t’ giant balls of fish netting:

One massive ball of netting, found midway across the Pacific, contained 89 different kinds of net and line, all wrapped around a tiny, two-inch-high teddy bear wearing a sorcerer’s cap at the center.

Th’ thought of goin’ t’ these five gyres an’ sortin’ through them fer treasure is a mighty attractive thought, I’ll tell ya. An’ we could go along ways towards cleanin’ things up as a happy byproduct of our never endin’ search fer valuables. All you has t’ do is replace that teddy bear in th’ center of th’ trash heap with a solid gold ingot and we is definitely interested!

So this here’s our message t’ all you trashy ground dwellers – especially them older ones what is thinkin’ of downsizin’. If you must keep up the plastic an’ trash production, then at least every now an’ then take th’ time t’ wrap th’ detritus around one of yer most prized possessions!

T’ “incentivize” our collection efforts, an t’ give us somethin’ t’ hope fer, of course.

On behalf of meself an me boys,
Capt. Billy

I suspect the Captain’s plea for people to throw out their valuables will likely fall on deaf ears, but it is intriguing to think there are five spots on the global seas where all that stuff I thought was gone is now collecting. Maybe some of my socks are in the southern Indian Ocean!

Where does your flotsam collect?

True North

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

I’m hibernating right now, though we have our alert moments in between all the napping and torpor. So when I’m awake I check the Google news to see what’s going on, which is how I found out there’s new territory opening up to the north of here.

Bear territory, I mean. Polar bears are getting even more polar, real-estate wise. That means new places are opening up – sights I’ve never seen and fresh ursine experiences. Maybe I’m ready for a change. It would feel different to be the New Bear In Town.

Not that I’m all that excited about the prospect of moving north, especially when you see the area being vacated – it’s a lot of water that isn’t frozen as much as it used to be. But where there’s water, you might find some fish. And anyway, if bears to the north of us are moving away, that means bears to the south of us are moving closer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against southern bears. I just don’t like crowds.

So anyway … when I fall back to sleep in a minute or two, I’ll dream about going on an adventure to find an abandoned Polar Bear Palace in the distant wilds – my new Fortress of Solitude at the top of the world.

But really, I don’t think I’ll ever leave home.

Yawn,
Bart

Have you ever been part of a migration?

Rotation Indications

Now that we know the age of stars can be told by measuring their speed of rotation, the jig is up for those  celestial impostors who claim to younger than their velocity indicates.

Fess up, Polaris. You’re getting a little long in the tooth!

For some odd reason, it put me in mind of this classic Disney song.

When you time a spinning star
You can know how old it are
Every revolution tells
a tale that’s true.

When it’s whirring like a top
Chances are it’s just a pup.
When the spinning lessens then
it’s more like you.

Stars get old.
Their slowing, up above,
is a precursor of
someday exploding.

Don’t know much, but this I do …
Stars revolve ’til they are through.
When you time a spinning star
you’re spinning too.

How good are you at guessing the age of people and/or things?

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