Friday, October 18th, 2013

Why Are We So Terrible At Contacting Aliens?

In Stanislaw Lem's 1968 novel His Master's Voice, a message bubbles up from an underground fringe community that comes to be regarded as a message from an alien civilization.

A group of scientists are secretly assembled by the United States government to crack the message. For the most part, they fail. They run through some math, come up with a genome, use it to pop out a useless goop that can sort of kind of teleport things with absolutely no precision, and continue to search for meaning in the message. They fail.

The book served as a sort of treatise on the problem of communication with an extraterrestrial society. Such [...]


Say I'm Alright

So this is the story of how, this year, my friends pushed me in a big direction with the advice to go back into therapy, get back on medication and stabilize my life.

First, a little background: I have struggled with periods of intense depression since high school. In college, I began to seek help. After a period of prescription missteps, the diagnosis began to shift. What at first appeared to be depression complicated by anxiety issues revealed itself to be something else entirely: Bipolar disorder, with all its peaks and crashes. High clarity and uncontrollable energy followed by a plummet into days or weeks of utter despondency. I was [...]


A Guide to the Spooky Scary Secret Monsters of Every State

Here you will find a field-guide to the werewolves, lake monsters, vampires, swamp people, and space brains that populate these 50 states. Because here there be monsters—and over there, too. In fact, there be monsters in just about every state, except for Delaware and Kansas (maybe). Some states have an embarrassment of monsters to choose from (and in the case of Florida… well!), but, with a couple exceptions, I tried to confine this guide to just one monster per state. My credentials: enormous amounts of time spent as a kid in the library, ingesting every book about UFOs, the paranormal, cryptozoology, haunted houses and every other piece of “X-Files” plot [...]


My Attempt To Make The Perfect Nebraska Runza

A series about foods we miss and our quests to recreate them.

I grew up in western Nebraska, not a part of the country known as a culinary paradise. While there were plenty of perfectly fine meals growing up, many others just involved beef put on a grill or recipes from the side of a box, like homemade Bisquick pizzas staight from Betty Crocker. I also remember a type of taco salad, popular at potlucks, which was made up of iceberg lettuce strips, fake cheese, browned meat, some salsa and sour cream, and a large smattering of crunched-up Doritos. (When I tried the Doritos "Locos" Taco from Taco [...]


Dumb Questions I’ve Had For Science

• Do astronomers ever refuse to classify rocks in space as asteroids out of spite?

• If Jupiter’s radiation is so tough why don’t we just wear thick lead spacesuits?

• Why do we only send crazy-looking robots with wheels to other planets? Why don't we send probes that can walk?

• I wonder how many people would be beheaded by their own invention if that invention were a poorly made hovercraft.

• If Venus is so hot, why hasn't it melted itself?

• Which is more underrated, Uranus or Neptune?

• How many multiverse mes can there be anyway? I doubt the same sperm [...]


Members of Congress Who Have Totally Metal Names, In Order

20. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

19. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)

18. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)

17. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN)

16. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

15. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA)

14. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)

13. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)


Six Degrees North Of Arizona: Nebraska's War On Immigration

Nebraska is starting to look a lot like Arizona—legally, at least. Over the past few years, the state has enacted a spate of anti-immigration laws; and whether it's State Senator Charlie Janssen's unconstitutional witch hunt against all brown people, an ordinance in Fremont that bars employers from hiring illegal immigrants and landlords from renting to them, or, the latest assault, a law that denies public assistance to legal immigrants who have lived in the country less than five years, it seems the legislature and governor have one thing on their minds: making Nebraska a less friendly, less tolerant state. In February, Governor Dave Heineman ordered the [...]