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EAGANBLOG ARCHIVE
Explore the current collection.

Facebooks Balanced?
Zuck took our secrets
And he made out quite nicely
Then he spilt the beans
So do we get a slicely?
The Grille of my Dreams
For the first time in 35 years, I am in the market for a new car. A lot has changed in that time. Prices have gone way up, technology has introduced a higher level of quality, and everything is more complicated.

One factor, however, has remained constant. Although such concerns as mileage, reliability, safety, and cost are important items on any checklist, I think we can all agree that the number one consideration in choosing a new car is the look of its grille.

The grille, after all, is the face of your vehicle. It is the image you present to the world, and like it or not, it speaks to your character and your worthiness as a human being. You don’t have to believe me; just ask anyone who had the misfortune to own an Edsel. If you are too young to remember that sad late-50s Ford product, I will tell you that it was likened at the time to an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.

That is not the kind of look you want to be associated with you and your loved ones. The expression on the face of your car will be thought of as your expression, so there is good reason to choose carefully. Such judgments are, of course, matters of opinion, taste, and gut feeling. In this case, mine. But I have given the matter a lot of thought, and I hope that my modest assessments might help others who are in the market for a new automobile.

Although my observations deal only with passenger cars, I will note in passing that all trucks pretty much have the same expression on their faces. Nearly all of them feature rectangular grilles. The chrome “teeth” may be aligned horizontally or vertically, but the overall impression is one of effort and clenched determination. That grimace tells everyone that this vehicle is ready for anything. It’s not a friendly face, but friendly isn’t what you’re looking for in a truck.

Passenger cars are a different matter. There, you want friendly. Unless you are in the market for a muscle car (or something even more dangerous, like a Jag), you want your car to be a buddy. That is why most cars have grilles that appear to be smiling. Hondas are a good example. Though some models are a little goofy-looking, the entire line have expressions that are warm and supportive and very likable.

But there are smiles, and there are smiles. Mercedes and Caddies, for instance, have grins that seem less than sincere, even condescending. VWs smile, but I get the feeling that they are not genuinely happy. Priuses exhibit a prim countenance that can come off as smug. Other members of the Toyota family, by contrast, appear to be laughing heartily. Unfortunately, the poor things are sorely in need of an orthodontist.

I don’t have the space here to go through the entire market, but we should at least take time to examine the offerings from Detroit behemoths Ford and Chevrolet. Both sport the popular six-sided polygon configuration that closely approximates the human mouth itself. It is, no doubt, a pleasant look, but in my opinion the designers in both cases have gone too far. The subtle, suggestive curves of these grilles make them look too much like smiles. What’s more, they cross the line between friendly and sexually provocative. The Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu, for example, look positively randy. I don’t want to have an affair with my car, just a relationship based on mutual trust and caring.

If you are looking for a new car, I hope that you have found my research useful. For the record, I have made my choice: the Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid. The Clarity, like its stablemates at Honda, has a broad, sincere smile and a gentle aspect. And though Its grille resembles to some the gaping mandibles of a giant chrome insect, I am proud to call it my friend.
Gettin' Old
No, I am not going to talk about my aches and pains (although, to be honest, those stories are brimming with fast-paced adventure and compelling personal drama). Instead, I want to talk about cosmic aging.

Usually, when you hear someone utter the phrase “gettin’ old,” it is used in connection with an inability to remember, or a difficulty in getting up off the couch, or in coping with the latest technology. It is a reluctant admission that Father Time has finally caught up with the geezer in question. That is silly, of course. Father Time has been neck and neck with us from the beginning.

We all get stronger and bigger and smarter as we grow old, of course. It might even be said that we reach our peak in the late 20s or early 30s or (if you stay in shape) your 40s. But when it comes to gettin’ old, we’re doing that from day one. Some would put that day as the date of birth; others would point to the moment of conception. Both of those are certainly significant events on the timelines of our lives, but if we step back and take a wider view, aren’t they merely points along a much longer continuum?

Think of it. The particular sperm and egg that joined at our conception represent, between them, the totality of our being. There is only one way they could have joined, and the result could only have been us. Both of them were living things before that moment, so why can’t we add the spans of their individual existences to ours? The sperm might have come into being the very morning of conception, but the egg had been around (in the sense we are talking about) since our mothers’ conception. Using the same kind of analysis, our identity can be tracked back to her mother. And so on.

That’s what I mean by cosmic aging. We have been “alive” all the way back to the beginning of life on Earth. Which means we have all been gettin’ old for roughly 3.5 billion years. And if you believe, as some think, that our original amino acids were splashed here when an asteroid hit Mars, we are even older. In fact, once we get going on this line of thinking, we can reasonably trace our “births” back to the Big Bang itself — 13.8 billion years ago.

If you buy into the latest thinking among theoretical physicists, time will come to an end in just 5 billion years. At the heart of that projection, however, is the idea that our universe is constantly creating other universes through its black holes (adding more multiverses to an already infinite number of such entities), and that those cosmoses will have lives of their own that are billions of years long. Our universe, in turn, was created by an “earlier” universe where time has since stopped. That linkage extends both forward and backward without end.

My conclusion: we are immortal. We have always been around, and we always will be. Ergo, we are not gettin’ old. Never have, never will. That said, I can report that (from where I sit on the continuum) we’re not gettin’ any younger, either.
Do They Still Hang People for Treason?
Well, do they? We may need to answer that question soon. Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason as “levying war” against the U.S. or “adhering to” or giving “Aid and Comfort” to our “Enemies.” Up until recently I would have said that only Isis or its like would qualify as enemies of the United States. The Russians, by contrast, have seemed more like adversaries or competitors.

Recent indictments from the Mueller investigation, however, have detailed a large-scale, comprehensive attack on our system of government (us, in other words) by the Russians. It is not hard to argue that only an enemy would launch such an attack. There have been no official declarations of war, but the Constitution doesn’t mention such formalities in its discussion of treason. I am beginning to think we might be there after all.

Death has always been the go-to punishment for treason, of course. Fines and imprisonment are also options, but execution (if it is ever appropriate) seems a good match to this particular crime. Oddly, however, no one has ever been executed under U.S. law for treason. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were put to death for “conspiracy to commit espionage,” not treason. That case, it should be noted, was decided in 1953. America was in full paranoia mode over The Red Menace at the time, and most agree that our legal system was not at its best at the time of the Rosenberg trial.

The last American sentenced to death for treason was Tomoya Kawakita, whose conviction rested on his activities as a guard in a Japanese concentration camp. His sentence was later commuted by President Eisenhower. No one from the Confederacy paid the ultimate price for their offenses against our country. There were executions for war crimes and murder, but not for treason. Benedict Arnold never faced the consequences for his treachery, either, and died a quiet death in rural England. From complications of dropsy, if you must know.

So there is no real precedent here. If Donald Trump (to pick a name out of the air) were to be convicted of treason and sentenced to death, wouldn’t hanging be the first option that enters your mind? It seems like a means of execution especially made for traitors.

But let’s not be hasty. Drawing and quartering is is also on the menu, but I am not prepared to argue for its return to fashion. There’s no need to be cruel here. Justice should be our main concern — along with establishing a deterrent to the willful destruction of our society. If our state is going to kill someone, our method of choice should reflect our highest values as a people.

I’m not sure where the Mueller investigation will go, but we can certainly imagine ending up with a long list of traitors to deal with. The President, Don Jr., Jared, half the Cabinet, Mike Pence — they could all be implicated. That’s a lot of rope. The Rosenbergs died in the electric chair, so there’s is some precedent for that method. It’s not old school, though, and it doesn’t seem to match the unique nature of the crime. The same goes for any of those drug “cocktails” they’re experimenting with in the modern dens of horror we call prisons.

We’ll need something quick, humane, cost-effective, and earth-friendly for this job, but the method also must speak to the long tradition of punishment for betrayal of one’s country. Allow me to humbly suggest, then, this modest proposal: let’s dust off the guillotine — just in case. It has a history rich with symbolism, and it seems particularly fitting under the current set of facts. That’s if there are convictions, of course. We must all have a due respect for the rule of law and allow for it to take its course. After that, off with their heads!

Besides, there’s no harm in being prepared. We might be called upon to dispense large amounts of speedy justice in the near future, especially with all the traitors running around Capitol Hill these days (hi there, Devin Nunes). The guillotine would certainly qualify as a candidate for that job. It would spare us a lot of the waste associated with electrocutions or firing squads or gas chambers.

Besides being environmentally sound, multiple guillotine executions would surely serve as a deterrent as well. I do not, however, subscribe to the idea of placing all those severed heads on pikes along the National Mall. That is not who we are or who we want to become (though it would be a very efficient use of resources).

Still, I can understand why you might want to hang people for treason. It’s quick, it’s clean, and it just seems right. Unless hangin’s too good for ‘em, that is.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee