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EAGANBLOG ARCHIVE
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Superfluity
Whenever I buy a new product, I feel proud of the English language. The instruction booklet usually contains multiple translations in different languages, and the English version is almost always the shortest. My native language takes the least time and space to communicate, and I count that as a good thing.

It is in that spirit of pride, then, that I write this. At least, that is how I hope others will take it — and not as the obsessive ravings of a control freak. Either way, I have a couple of suggestions about superfluous words that might be helpful to others (or in the alternative, annoy them).

Can we stop using the phrase “tuna fish”? Why not just tuna? There are no tuna land animals that might gum up our understanding, and no tuna birds to blur clarity. “Tuna” is sufficient; “tuna fish” can go fish.

I’d also like to stop hearing the phrases “focus in” (as in focus in on brevity) and “reduce down” (as in reduce down to a bare minimum of words). The “in” and the “down” are redundant (but not re-redundant).

And then, there is “unique.” I'm sure you already know this, but I just can't take the risk. Unique is a word that shuns modifiers because they are rarely necessary. If something is unique, it is one-of-a-kind. It can’t be extremely one-of-a-kind or really, really one-of-a-kind or incredibly one-of-a-kind. It’s unique, period. I suppose it could be truly unique (as distinguished from falsely unique) or even broadly unique (unique in a number of categories), but even those modifiers seem suspect. Unique is unique and nothing more.

There are more examples of superfluity out there, but I’m feeling better now. The fever has passed, at least for the moment. I’m simply trying to make a difference, to make the world a better place — one correction at a time. If, however, you have concluded that I am just another word nazi, I can only say that that is an ugly and hurtful term. You swinehund.
Meat Me in the Future
Oprah Winfrey was in some hot water in Texas a while back. She had some disparaging words for beef products, and a bunch of Lone Star cattle ranchers sued her for meat defamation. It was a silly lawsuit based on a silly law, but at least those cows had someone to stand up for them.

The Frankenburger is not so lucky. There is no petri meat anti-defamation league, no champion for lab patties, no mommy and no daddy. If you don’t know, “Frankenburger” is the name the press has given to the meat patty created in a laboratory using only stem cells from cows. The cells were first soaked in nutrients, causing them to multiply, then coalesced into strands. Later, they were collected into pellets, frozen, and finally compacted into patties. Coalesced, collected, and compacted — I wouldn’t wish that childhood on my worst enemy.

What’s more, even the technicians who made the meat seem apologetic about it. Dr. Mark Post, leader of the Maastricht University team that created the meat, admitted, “There’s still much work to be done.” Not exactly the proud parent the little burger might have hoped for.

I feel badly for the Frankenburger. It comes from living tissue, after all. Those first quivering strands of cells could be said to be alive… before they were coalesced, anyway. Who is to say that they didn’t have a soul, even if it shone only dimly? I don’t know, but I do know that this humble quasi-being deserves better than the abuse it has suffered.

The media have been particularly cruel. That is not surprising; this defenseless bit of flesh is just the kind of victim they relish most. They use a mocking tone, for the most part, with very little regard for the meat’s feelings. Special attention is given to the meat’s color (a dull yellow until tinted red with beet juice and saffron), its taste (“animal protein cake”), and its pedigree (non-existent). One commentator in London’s Daily Mail said that the whole idea turned her stomach. I wonder if she could hold onto her cookies in a slaughterhouse.

I’m sorry, but I cannot abide this kind of slander without saying at least a few kind words about the Frankenburger:

It does not fart. Because cow farts are rich in methane, they contribute mightily to climate change. Methane, in fact, is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide in this regard. For this reason, cows add as much as automobiles to global warming. The humble Frankenburger, on the other hand, emits no gasses at all. It exists only to serve us, quietly and without unseemly odor.

It’s low fat because it’s all muscle. That also means no gristle (if you’re on a gristle-free diet).

It does not require large tracts of land to sustain it. In theory, it could be cultured in huge underground factories, leaving the surface to more planet-friendly food production and to more paving.

It appeals (or should appeal) to our fundamental humanity. If we can love a cow, how can we not find a space in our hearts for a hamburger that has never felt the sun on its back, the breeze in its face, or the company of other cows? I would like to think that Oprah Winfrey would feel empathy for this beleaguered little beef-thing. She seems like a nice person, and little Frankie definitely needs the love.

We probably won’t hear about the Frankenburger for a while. At $330,000 a serving, it will only appeal to the kind of people who can afford Teslas. Even so, it’s never too early to start making room in our lives for this orphan meat, no matter how unappetizing it may be.

Einstein Was Wrong
Three times. What a dope.

His first mistake came when he thought he was wrong. Worrying that a logical extrapolation of his own work on general relativity seemed to indicate an expanding universe (an idea that repelled him), Albert inserted something called a “cosmological constant” into his equations. This mathematical doohickey provided him with the comforting notion of a static universe, fixed in space forever.

A few years later, in 1929, the astronomer Edwin Hubble published proof of the redshift phenomenon. His data showed that distant objects appear slightly redder than they really are. The only explanation for this effect had to be that those objects were moving away from us at high speed, thus skewing our perception of their color toward the red end of the spectrum. Ergo, the universe was expanding after all, heading outward in all directions and going faster and faster all the time.

Einstein, reading Hubble’s work, took it as a confirmation of his original equations and retracted his insertion of the cosmological constant, calling it his “biggest blunder.” Well, that was his second mistake. Physicists have recently revived the constant to help them understand dark energy, a heretofore mysterious aspect of our universe that seems to counteract gravity. This anti-gravitational force is thought to be the very reason the universe is expanding!

That’s twice, then, that Einstein thought he was wrong, and twice that he was wrong about being wrong. Now comes the charm: what if Hubble was wrong? What if the redshift he observed is not caused by the movement of objects, but by something else entirely?

Up steps Christof Wetterich of the University of Heidelberg with an answer. Christof suggests that the reason those objects appear redder is that they are getting heavier as time passes. The mass of an object also affects the light it emits. Specifically, if an object becomes more massive, it will emit more energy and appear redshifted. Wow.

So, if Christof is right, Albert is wrong… again. Not only that, I may be right. Not about the cosmological constant or the redshift, but about my own theory of Pulsating Nodes.

Let me explain. You won’t find references to the Pulsating Nodes Theory in any of the scientific literature because it’s not there. This is my own, personal theory that I made up. No, I am not a theoretical physicist or an extragalactic astronomer; instead, I consider myself a thinking ignoramus. But never mind that. In order for my theory to be correct, this universe and all other universes must explode into being, expand, then contract to their starting points. Again and again and again. If Hubble and Einstein are right, and the universe expands and expands until entropy finally triumphs and the whole mess just sits there forever, then there is no contraction. The universe, in that case, would not pulsate, and my theory would die in the icy cold of space.

Thanks to Professor Wetterich, however, new life has been breathed into the nostrils of my cosmos. If he is correct about all mass everywhere getting heavier all the time, then the Pulsating Nodes Theory — a product not of science but of common sense — will live on and, who knows, someday might be vindicated. Now, at least, there is hope.

I leave it to others to come up with the numbers. I’m just an ideas guy who wants the universe to make sense, which is something that dope Albert Einstein wouldn’t understand.

How Does God Do It?
I mean, really? Think of what he has on his plate: overseeing every vibration of every subatomic string in every nanosecond in every multiverse. Forever. Granted, he’s all-powerful, but where does he find the energy to do all that and still get offended when some earthboob disses him?

Let’s be honest; he must be farming out some of this stuff. Earth, for instance, is a tiny planet in the backwaters of a dim little galaxy. Surely he has delegated our management to someone else — not an angel, necessarily, but at least some super-smart alien being. Any good manager would do the same; it makes sound business sense, and I would never dare say that God is a bad businessman.

My guess is that our local super alien lives in the sun. What better vantage point to run things from? The lighting is great. There’s plenty of raw energy there to supply him (or it) with all his needs, whatever they might be. Plus, it’s a great hiding place. No one is ever going to voyage to the center of the Sun.

I have no doubt, furthermore, that all of these alien subcontractors are very, very nice beings. God wouldn’t have it any other way. They must have undergone a rigorous screening process so that only the best, the brightest, and the lovingest would fill these positions.

Even so, systems fail. Somehow, there is a small malfunction… and some boneheaded foul-up gets the job. It’s nobody’s fault, really, but there he is, running a solar system.

Maybe that’s what happened here, on planet Earth.

Now again, I’m not faulting God, and any talk of a lawsuit would certainly be premature. I simply want to say that the service has been spotty, at best. The suffering-to-joy ratio has been out of whack from the beginning, way too many innocents are getting chewed up in the gears, and God’s brand is taking a beating.

Let me state for the record that I am fully down with the God-moves-in-mysterious-ways caveat. Unlike Pat Robertson, I don’t imagine that I can understand the motivations of an infinite being. Still, all this agony and waste seems unnecessary. I can only assume that our alien, seeing the mess he has made of things, has been submitting false reports to the head office, thereby compounding the unrighteousness. This blog, sadly, might never be seen by higher-ups in the chain of command.

But I had to try. If our alien is as incompetent as he seems, maybe the sun will get in his eyes, and this message will slip through.

Help!
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon