The UFO/UAP story will never die

The US government has released its much awaited (by UFO enthusiasts at least) report on what it calls Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and it is just what you might expect.

The mystery of UFOs seen in American skies is likely to continue following the release of the US government’s highly anticipated UFO report.

The report released on Friday afternoon made clear that while American intelligence officials do not believe aliens are behind the UFOs – or what scientists prefer to call unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) – that were observed by navy pilots, they cannot explain what the flying objects are.

The report confirms that the observed phenomena are not part of any US military operations.

The Pentagon studied over 140 incidents reported by navy pilots of UAP seen over the last two decades for the report. Many were seen from the summer of 2014 into the spring of 2015.

While the report said that some incidents could be the result of technological errors in sensors or observers, it noted that most of the UAP reported “probably do represent physical objects” since they were registered across multiple sensors.

The only UAP intelligence officials were able to identify “with high confidence” turned out to be “a large, deflating balloon”.

“The others remain unexplained,” the report reads.

There are two things to keep in mind. (1) There are always unexplained phenomena. (2) One can never rule out a favored hypothesis for any unexplained phenomena. Those two will ensure that people who believe that extraterrestrials are, for some reason, choosing to buzz around us without making contact will never run out of reasons to believe.

I for one am going to wait until one of them unambiguously contacts us before getting all excited.

Ohio anti-vaxxers want the freedom that vaccination brings

Now that the numbers of people who have been vaccinated has reached more than half the US population, there are places that require proof of vaccination before you can enter. Where I live in Monterey, CA, the local bridge club opened for face-to-face play on Tuesday but you have to show proof of vaccination before you are allowed to do so. The first time you go, you show the proof and your name is entered in a register and that eliminates the need to show proof each time. Masks are not required but you can choose to wear one if you like. There are bottles of hand sanitizer at each table and players are encouraged to use it frequently, especially since they are exchanging cards. I went on Tuesday and there were about a dozen people, about half of them being those who had been starved of bridge because they either were not comfortable enough with technology to play online or they had eye issues that prevented them from looking at a screen for any length of time. It was nice to meet them again.
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How do words acquire meaning?

Philosopher Stephen Law examines how words get their meanings. He says that when I say “It is hot today”, it is at one level just a process by which sounds are articulated. A parrot saying the same thing is also just a process. But the difference is that when I say it, I am conveying meaning in a way that a parrot is not. From whence does this meaning arise? Law says that Ludwig Wittgenstein took a different view of this question than John Locke (1632-1704)
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How could he not realize that he had been pranked?

I have been invited to to give many talks to various organizations. Since I am not famous, it is not clear how many will turn up for the talk. It all depends on how much effort the hosts put into generating interest. Sometimes the audience has been as few as about five people and this can be a little disconcerting if you have traveled a long way to give the talk, especially if the venue is a large auditorium and you are looking out at a sea of empty seats. But the show must go on and I still give it my best shot. The few people who have taken the trouble to come and listen to me, even if it were just a single person, deserve nothing less.
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Socialist set to become mayor of Buffalo

An avowed socialist is poised to become mayor of the city of Buffalo, upsetting the four-time incumbent in the Democratic primary race held on Tuesday. The city is heavily Democratic, so much so that no Republican is even running for mayor so she is almost certain to win the mayoral election in November.

In her lifetime, India Walton has been a 14-year-old working mother, a nurse, a union representative and a socialist community organizer.

Walton’s platform outlines plans to tackle a local affordable housing crisis and declare Buffalo a sanctuary city for immigrants, which limits a local jurisdiction’s cooperation with federal enforcement o f immigration law. And also the intention to convert the city’s fleet of public vehicles to electric cars in an effort to address climate change.
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Disgraceful! Biden continues Cuba blockade

Joe Biden has demonstrated that when it comes to Cuba, he is continuing a cruel and outdated Cold war policy of blockading Cuba despite overwhelming opposition from the rest of the world. The increasing isolation is seen by 184 nations in the UN calling for an end, with only the US and Israel voting to continue it.


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The perilous allure of glamor

One of the mystifying things about the Jeffrey Epstein saga is how many well-known scientists were sucked into his orbit even after his conviction for pedophilia. Daniel Engber writes about what it was like to be a scientist in Epstein’s circle.

It’s summer 2010, and Jeffrey Epstein has just returned to New York City after serving out an 18-month sentence in Palm Beach, Florida, including parole, for soliciting prostitution from a minor. He’s hosting dinner at his townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. To his left is John Brockman, the literary superagent who seems to represent every scientist who’s ever written a bestselling book (Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, Daniel Kahneman, and so forth). Brockman has brought along a client—a young professor whose line of research interests Epstein. Across the table, and to Epstein’s right, is an aspiring fashion model and her companion.
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When an unscripted interview goes wildly wrong

Some interviewers of authors have not read the books prior to broadcast and depend on the authors to drive the interview. In this clip from the comedy show Newhart, Bob Newhart plays Dick Loudon who runs a B&B with his wife in rural Vermont but also hosts a local TV show about books. We see an interview that goes wildly wrong because he and his staff have not read the book. But his guest would not be considered that unusual today.