{I did this all in fun. To ask permission of each person with specificity would ruin some of the — hoped for — enjoyment. PLEASE BE AWARE NO OFFENSE INTENDED!  I just made things up. I don ‘t actually know or know anything about most of these people; sorry if I failed to include someone! – Lou}




The Dematabolization of Humanity: If Not Now, When?  2039 AD BRIEFING, PART I




Zeta Reticuli is a planetary system including two stars both of which are about 1 billion years older than the Earth’s sun (Greer, 2024).  Zeti Reticuli is 39.2 light years from Earth and Zeta I is approximately one-eighth of a light year from Zeta II  (Serenity, 2024).


The Zetan Founders evolved on a planet orbiting Zeta I Reticuli and populated a Zeta II Reticulan planet with a genetically altered version – to accommodate different environmental conditions – of their species (Zetapedia, 2039).  Subsequently, on Earth the Founders attempted to genetically modify a native species of simians to roughly approximate the Founders’ appearance and abilities in the context of yet another divergent environment (Martin, 2025).[1] As shown in many artistic renderings as well as written and oral traditions, Humanity has a long record of punctuated periods of involvement with the Founders (Von Daniken, 1970).  Yet, consistent with Human behavior, all such involvement was officially denied and actively concealed by Human authorities (Resetar, 2029).


During the summer of 1947, two Zeta Reticulan I Ovoid-Class extraterrestrial lenticular-shaped aerodyne craft collided while on an observance-only mission over the atomic testing grounds in the State of New Mexico, USA, [2] Earth  (Mike B, 2017).   Radar film and tower logs from American Holloman Air Force Base reflected the merger of three objects prior to collision and subsequent crashes with the third object believed to be a test balloon (Majestic Twelve, 1952). The two Ovoid-Class craft experienced non-planned ground contact at two dispersed sites in New Mexico. [3] Four Zeta Reticulan I bodies were recovered, two of which were unevacuated in a damaged escape cylinder and two of which were found several yards from a second albeit evacuated cylinder (Majestic Twelve, 1952).  One of the four – an evacuated body – was nonmetabolic and badly decomposed as a result of exposure and assumed predatory action.  A second – the second evacuated body – became nonmetabolic within the first hour of the American Army Air Force recovery operation (Briefing Document, 1952).  The two unevacuated bodies became nonmetabolic due to undetermined causes (Collie, 2025).  All of the bodies and parts thereof were stored at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Threadkiller, 2025).


Years of intensive Human study of the retrieved components of the two Ovoid-Class craft seeded numerous Human technological advances.  Within decades of the recovery, the reverse engineering of recovered components led to the fruition, as examples, of fiber optics, integrated circuits, lasers, Kevlar and accelerated particle beam devices (Corso, 1997).


In 2021, Human scientists at the Sheehan Institute of Science and Technology,  [4] fully replicated [5] a functioning Ovoid-Class power source (Moogboy, 2022).  The newly named D-Rodgers reactor was fueled with Element 114 [6] in a closed system. Fueling was the initial step in the provision of amplified Gravitic-Magnetic-S waves allowing Manosian travel (a.k.a. “accelerated light” travel) (Scott, 2027).


The D-Rodgers reactor bombarded Element 114 with hydrogen protons using a microparticle accelerator.  The hydrogen protons fused into the Element 114 nucleus creating the misnamed  “radioactive”[7] form of Element 115 [8] (“R-115”).  The almost simultaneous decay of R-115 [9] produced one particle of a type of anti-matter known as Sigma-Hydrogen as well as a large number of tachyons.  The flux of newly produced Sigma-Hydrogen particles and tachyons were channeled through an evacuated tuned tube and further contained within a flowing stream of higgs-boson particles layered with neutrinos where they were reacted with condensed dark matter in a Seraphinian Annihilation Reaction (Caveman, 2024).


The generation of the Subquarkian-Gravitic-Magnetic-S Waves theoretically allowed the craft to “fall” through space and time to its targeted (a.k.a. “attracted”) position at velocities of up to 1,000 times the speed of light (“1000-c”). [10] However, the inefficiencies of the Human constructed “Model Friedman-23” restricted Manosian travel to speeds of under 12-c.[11]


With the Human National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s first successful interplanetary flight in the Sheehan Program (the first manned extra-Earth program after the suspension of the Apollo Program),[12] overt and nonconcealable [13] Zeta Reticulan contact was initiated in compliance with Zeta Reticulan Containment Policy: Earth (Pyramid 0099742.7760.04, 2039).




[1] Human reproductive capacity, however, is significantly greater than is the Founders’  (Shane, 2026).


[2] “USA” and “America” are interchangeable names for the most powerful political entity on Earth during this time frame.


[3] Subsequent to this SNAFU, Zeta Reticulan regulations were adjusted to prohibit Zeta Reticulan Graduate Students from engaging in unaccompanied field studies of inhabited planets (Pyramid 3301003.0020.54, 1947).


[4] L. Sheehan was one of Earth’s two leading and farsighted UFOlogists in the second decade of the 21st Century (Klassless, 2024).


[5] Funding was provided by Les Alpucula’s donation of the patent to the Guinness Device.


[6] Renamed to be “Nancybyrneium.”


[7] Radioactive decay is conventionally described as the emission of ionizing particles and radiation (Wikipedia, 2039).   As is well known, the technical term for the R-115 process is “Lazarian Enahanced Restabilization.”


[8] A.k.a. “Billbyrneium.”


[9] Persuant to the “Island of Stability” properties of Element 114 (Nova scienceNOW, 2039).


[10] Einsteinian distortions are irrelevant to Manosian travel (Wade, 2027).


[11] This technology is dated by Galactic standards.


[12] See: “The Unending Book of Unending Homework Problems” by A. Martin.


[13] For culturally idiosyncratic reasons, it was necessary to establish the Zetan base on the “White House lawn” despite the intrinsically poor meteorological conditions  (Bates, 1940).




  1.  Bates, H. (1940, October), Farewell to the master.  Astounding Science Fiction



  1.  Briefing Document. (1952). Operation majestic 12 prepared for president-elect

Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Project Operations Group, White House.)  Washington, DC: White House.


  1.  Caveman, U. (2024).  Which means ….  Kansas: Talktalktalktalk Press.


  1.  Collie, J. (2025).  I’ll get back to you.  Las Vegas: Onthegopress.


  1.  Corso, P. (1997).  The day after roswell.  New York: Pocket Books.


  1.  Greer, J. (2024). Look it up yourself! Sheehan Institute of Science and Technology: Yet Another Project Press.



  1.  Greys (2039).  In Zetapedia.  Retrieved April 24, 2039, from http://zeta.en.zetapedia.org/wiki/greys



  1.  Island of Stability. (September, 2006). Nova scienceNOW.  Retrieved April 24, 2039,

from   http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3313/02.html



  1.  Klassless, P. (2024). You are all wrong about everything and you all stink and I will get all of you!: Ugly Billionaire Press.


  1.  Majestic Twelve. (1952). First annual report. (Project Operations Group,

White House.)  Washington, DC: White House.


  1.  Martin, A. (2025).  The point is: was cartman right?  Tahiti: South Park Press.


  1.  Martin, A. (2012). The unending book of unending homework problems. Beijing: AndyouthoughtIwasanicegirlPress.


  1.  Mike, B. (2017). Oh my god! Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins Press.


  1.  Moogboy. (2022).  One quick question.  Bawlamer Publications: Maryland.


  1.  Pyramid 0099742.7760.04. (2039). Containment policy: Earth (TJ, Trans.)

Akenhaten: Central Office of Records. (Original work published 18,496 BCE)


  1.  Pyramid 3301003.0020.54. (2039). Graduate student restrictions (TJ,

Trans.)  Akenhaten: Central Office of Records. (Original work published



  1.  Radioactive Decay.  (April 24, 2039.) In Wikipedia.  Retrieved April 24, 2039, from



  1.  Resetar, M. (2029).  Piece it together.  Kalamazoo: Paperwork Press.



  1.  Scott, K. (2027.)  Statistically Proven: The Mets Will Never Win a World Series Again!  Retrieved April 23, 2039 from



  1.  Serenity. (2024). Freedom!  New Jersey: Take-that! Books.


  1.  Shane, J. (2026).  The lone star.  Chicago: Playboy Press.


  1.  Threadkiller, W. (2025).  But couldn’t you do it another way? Antarctica: Breakawaycivilization Press.


  1.  Wade, H. (2027).  Ganja. Pahrump: Inyourface Publishing.


  1.  Von Daniken, E. (1970).  Chariots of the gods? New York: Bantam Books, Inc.
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A Remote Job Comes With Free Land and a Sense of Community. 50,000 Apply.


Jim Austin on his land last week in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Mr. Austin and his family are giving away parcels of land to people who will come and work at their market for five years.CreditIan Willms for The New York Times

WHYCOCOMAGH, Nova Scotia — When a land-rich family in sparsely populated Cape Breton wanted to attract workers for its understaffed country store, it offered free land to anyone who would come and work for five years.

The family expected a few dozen responses; more than 50,000 poured in — and the calls keep coming.

“I expected a response, just not one as huge as this,” said Sandee MacLean, a woman with multiple tattoos and copper red hair, who came up with the idea with her sister.

Of course, Canada has a lot of land, but not a lot of people, and economically sleepy regions like Cape Breton in Nova Scotia have steadily leaked population. The island, a scenic 4,000-square-mile patch of rolling forest and farmland jutting into the northern Atlantic Ocean, has only about 130,000 residents and has been losing well over 1,000 people a year for the last two decades.



150 Miles

St. Lawrence

As Cape Bretoners become increasingly frantic about stemming the tide of outward migration, giving away land just might be a solution.

“It is validation that land is an attraction,” said Chris van den Heuvel, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. He hopes the strong response to the giveaway will help his group’s effort to create a land bank that would make farmland affordable and bring newcomers to the province.

Several economically depressed communities in the United States have tried the same idea in recent years, including towns in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota.

There is a long history of giving land away. European powers that wanted to populate their New World possessions, as well as Canada and the United States in their youth, gave land to anyone who would settle on it and make improvements.

Continue reading the main story


Foreground from left, Brett Walkins, his son Nolan, 2; daughter Halle, 5; and wife, Kerry; at the Farmer’s Daughter in Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia. CreditIan Willms for The New York Times

But in Nova Scotia, the overwhelming response is also a measure of how many people, unmoored by the global economy, are hungry for a sense of community. To many, the proposal seemed to present a connection to a famously rich regional culture full of Scottish fiddling, community suppers and square dancing.

All of that was far from mind when Jim and Ferne Austin decided to turn their store over to their daughters this year. For the two women, Ms. MacLean and Heather Austin Coulombe, the most immediate concern was where to find employees.

“We were in a panic, we were so short staffed,” Ms. Coulombe said.

The Austins opened the business, the Farmer’s Daughter Country Market, in 1992 in Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia, after a life spent dairy farming. The combination bakery, produce market, ice cream parlor, fudge factory and gift shop now occupies a collection of barn-red buildings along the side of the road on a quiet stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Mr. Austin’s father, also a dairy farmer, had amassed more than 600 acres; after sell-offs, about 200 acres remain. The land that is left is mostly mountain woodland — pretty to see, but not of much value unless it were logged. No one in the family wants to shave the hillsides for that.

By the end of this summer, the country market was down by three full-time workers, making it difficult to meet a local grocery chain’s demand for baked goods from the Farmer’s Daughter. The baking business helps the operation stay afloat in the bleak winter months.

Ms. MacLean and Ms. Coulombe tried hiring locally, but said capable and dependable hands were not available. The visa process for foreign workers was too cumbersome, too.

That was when they came up with the idea of giving away land.

The women put together a questionnaire that emphasized commitment and values and made it clear that the land they were giving away was remote and well off the grid.

At around 10 p.m. one Sunday in late August, the sisters posted a gentle appeal on the market’s Facebook page under the title “Beautiful Island Needs People.”

Continue reading the main story


The newcomers consist of three families: the Andersons, the Walkinses and the Taits, who arrived in time for Canada’s Thanksgiving on Oct. 10. The Austins, the parents of the sisters who are taking over the store, invited them all to their home for a traditional feast. CreditIan Willms for The New York Times

In about 500 words they offered a job, community and two acres of land to anyone who would come and work at the market for five years. They have since raised the offer to three acres to allow for a septic system.

By morning, the appeal had been shared 200 times. By afternoon, a local radio station had called for an interview. Soon national radio and television stations were calling and the land offer was the top trending news story on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s website. When the report was picked up around the world, the floodgates opened.

The sisters had already zeroed in on several candidates well before their appeal went viral. Within a week of the original post, they had interviewed the people they eventually hired.

The newcomers consist of three families: the Andersons, the Walkinses and the Taits, who arrived in time for Canada’s Thanksgiving on Oct. 10. The Austins, the parents of the sisters who are taking over the store, invited them all to their home for a traditional feast, the biggest Thanksgiving dinner they had ever put on, they said.

Over plates of turkey and turnips and local condiments like the Farmer’s Daughter Cape Breton chow (a relish made with green tomatoes), the families appeared to blend effortlessly.

All three families said that it was the promise of community in a simpler, beautiful place that was the biggest attraction. Each parcel of land is worth only a few thousand Canadian dollars, and Cape Breton has plenty of land for sale.

“I never even asked about the land,” said Sonja Anderson, a former mortgage banker who drove nine days across the country from Vancouver, British Columbia, with her 10-year-old daughter and two dogs.

Micah Tait said that he and his wife, Trish, had long dreamed of making such a move. “Everything was exactly what we were hoping to work toward, and we just took a sort of shortcut,” he said.

Continue reading the main story


Five-year-old Halle, her father Brett Walkins and her brother Nolan explored the Austin family land, where Brett and his wife Kerry will soon build a home. CreditIan Willms for The New York Times

Both said they missed the “feeling of belonging” in their life in Vancouver, where they worked as security guards.

When Brett Walkins lost his job in British Columbia as a project manager building wastewater treatment plants, he and his wife, Kerry, sold their house, bought a truck and a camper-trailer, and headed down the North American coast.

Months later, having traversed the continent with two children and two dogs, they were on Prince Edward Island, west of Cape Breton, biting their nails over bidding on a new house.

“An hour after we found out someone else had bought the house, I saw the Farmer’s Daughter post,” Ms. Walkins said. Mr. Walkins emailed that day under the subject line “community opportunity.”

“That’s what spoke to me,” he said. “To be welcomed into what we could tell was a close-knit family.”

Mr. Walkins has already walked on the land, accessible by a muddy logging road, looking for a building site, while his wife has taken up her duties baking pies and making fudge. The couple plan to construct a solar-powered, self-sustaining home.

The new arrivals have challenges ahead. They arrived in the midst of Cape Breton’s beautiful fall foliage display, but a long frigid winter and then the region’s famous black fly season await.

Along with an uptick in business, the publicity has had other consequences for the Farmer’s Daughter. A local couple have offered the sisters 42 acres they do not use. Television producers have called to talk about a possible reality show or, more to the sisters’ tastes, a documentary series tracking the newcomers’ integration into the community and their development of the land.

Posted, but not written by Louis Sheehan.

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Here I copied/lifted/and-modified a part of a Wikipedia webpage ….

Kynisca was born in 440 BC in the ancient Greek city of Sparta and was the daughter of the Eurypontid king of Sparta, Archidamus II, and Eupoleia. She was also the sister of the later king of Sparta, Agesilaus II. She is said to have been a tomboy, an excellent equestrian and very wealthy, the perfect qualifications for a successful trainer. She was exceedingly ambitious to succeed at the Olympic Games and the first woman to breed horses and win an Olympic victory, according to Pausanias.

 Her name means ‘female puppy’ in Ancient Greek.

Olympic Games

While most women in the ancient Greek world were kept in seclusion and forbidden to learn any kind of skills in sports, riding or hunting, Spartan women by contrast were brought up from girlhood to excel at these things and to disdain household chores, by attending a boarding school similar to this that Spartan boys attended.


The ancient Olympic Games were almost entirely male-only and women were forbidden even to attend the main stadium at Olympia, where running events and combat sports were held. Women were allowed to enter only the equestrian events, not by running but by owning and training the horses.


Kynisca employed men and entered her team at the Olympics, where it won in the four-horse chariot racing (tethrippon Greek: τέθριππον) twice, in 396 BC and again in 392 BC. The irony is that she probably didn’t see her victories.


However, Kynisca was honored by having a bronze statue of a chariot and horses, a charioteer and a statue of herself in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, by the side of the statue of Troilus, made by Apelles, and an inscription written declaring that she was the only female to win the wreath in the chariot events at the Olympic Games.


The first person in the inscription indicates that Kynisca was willing to push herself forward. In addition to this, a hero-shrine of Kynisca was erected in Sparta at Plane-tree Grove,[8] where religious ceremonies were held. Only Spartan kings were graced in this way and Kynisca was the first woman to receive this honor. The inscription from Olympia (ca. 390-380 BC) reads[9]:


Kings of Sparta are my father and brothers

Kyniska, victorious with a chariot of swift-footed horses,

have erected this statue. I declare myself the only woman

in all Hellas to have won this crown.

Apelleas son of Kallikles made it.


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The Untold Story of the First Atoms in the Universe


The Untold Story of the First Atoms in the Universe

Exactly when and how were the original hydrogen atoms destroyed? A new telescope may provide an answer.
The Conversation


10.16.16 10:00 PM ET

When our universe first blasted into existence with a Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago, it looked much different than it does today. Instead of planets, stars and galaxies, there was an inflating ball of hot plasma.

The universe cooled as it expanded, and over time the different ingredients of our universe froze out as temperatures plummeted. Quarks froze out first, then protons and neutrons, followed by electrons. Finally, after about 380,000 years, hydrogen – the first atoms – started to form. Some of these atoms were pulled together into stars, where they fused into carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, iron and all of the other elements from which planets and life are built.

However, when our universe was about one billion years old, it appears that nine out of every 10 of those original hydrogen atoms were destroyed before they ever found their way into galaxies. Exactly when and how were those first atoms in the universe destroyed? Astronomers have puzzled over these questions for decades. I’m leading a new experiment – known as the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) – that we hope will help answer what happened.

With the formation of those first hydrogen atoms – each made of one negatively charged electron and one positively charged proton – the universe entered a period cosmologists call the Dark Ages. During this time, the universe quietly waited for clouds of hydrogen to obey the influence of gravity and collapse into the very first stars and galaxies. The ignition of the first stars marks the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of our “Cosmic Dawn,” some 100 million years after the Big Bang. For the first time, our universe began shining with a light other than the afterglow of the Big Bang.

Leading up to our Cosmic Dawn, the entire universe was filled with hydrogen. However, starlight consists of photons with enough energy to split hydrogen apart, reionizing it back into protons and electrons. As more and more stars lit up, larger and larger holes of ionization got carved out of the primordial hydrogen clouds.

Other, more exotic objects also began forming inside galaxies. As stars exhausted their hydrogen fuel, they’d explode in spectacular supernovae. Some stars left behind black holesthat devoured nearby stars and generated powerful x-ray jets. In the centers of galaxies, supermassive black holes were growing, with the masses of millions of suns.

These events injected huge amounts of energy into the surrounding hydrogen clouds, heating and ionizing them, until, as we look out today, we see that all of the intergalactic hydrogen has been destroyed – reionized into its component particles, protons and electrons.

We astronomers are still struggling to disentangle all of the complex processes that led to the formation of stars and galaxies and the simultaneous destruction of the universe’s hydrogen.

Using our most powerful optical telescopes, we are finding galaxies so far away that their light, emitted when the universe was only one billion years old, is just now getting to us. The glimpse we get of these galaxies in the final throes of reionization is as the last remnants of intergalactic hydrogen are being burned away. Yet as we try to look deeper, the hydrogen itself confounds us. It absorbs the very starlight that we use to observe distant galaxies, acting as a blanketing fog that conceals the chaos behind it.

To solve this problem, my colleagues and I designed a new kind of telescope: an array of radio dishes that, instead of searching for distant galaxies, maps the intergalactic hydrogen itself throughout the process of being heated and reionized. Our Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array combines cutting-edge supercomputing hardware with low-cost antenna construction in a unique design that gives it both the sensitivity and precision to create what will be the largest maps in the universe.

HERA is sensitive to a specific kind of radio wave produced when the magnetic fields of the proton and electron inside of hydrogen switch their north-south polarity with respect to each other. Just as two oppositely aligned bar magnets attract each other and release energy in the process, the switching polarity of the electron and proton causes hydrogen to release a small amount of energy. This hyperfine transition produces radio waves with a characteristic wavelength of 21 centimeters.

As a result of the continuing expansion of the universe since the Big Bang, 21-cm radio waves from intergalactic hydrogen have been stretched by different amounts, depending on how old the universe was when they were originally emitted. For example, when the universe was 770 million years old, it was eight times smaller than it is today. A 21-cm radio wave emitted by hydrogen at this time in the history of our universe would be stretched by a factor of eight on its way to us; we would see it with a wavelength of 168 cm. On the other hand, the same radio wave emitted when the universe was 940 million years old would be be stretched only by a factor of seven, appearing to us with a wavelength of 147 cm. By measuring the wavelength of the light, we can know exactly when and where in the universe it was emitted.

By mapping the sky at many wavelengths between 150 and 350 cm, HERA can produce a series of images from the early childhood of our universe. We will be able to watch step by step as the light of the first stars and galaxies destroys the clouds out of which they formed. We expect to see large clouds of hydrogen glowing with 21-cm emission, with dark pinpricks of ionization sprinkled in. As we move to parts of the universe that are closer to us and where more time has elapsed, we should see larger and larger voids where 21-cm emission is missing, until finally, these voids swallow everything and the 21-cm signal that signifies the presence of hydrogen is gone.

Our HERA team was recently awarded US$9.5 million from the National Science Foundation. We’ll use the funds to construct a hexagonal array of 240 14-meter radio dishes in Karoo Radio Reserve of South Africa over the next three years. Our collaborators hail from 16 institutions from around the world. The plan is to work in parallel to conduct the observations that will be used to produce HERA’s groundbreaking results.

Observations with the new facilities in the next several years are poised to transform our understanding of the first stars, galaxies and black holes, and their role in driving reionization at the end of cosmic dawn. HERA’s observations of neutral hydrogen will provide unique insights into this formative period in our universe. Indeed, in the early universe, 21-cm emission provides the only direct way to probe the complex interplay between the first luminous structures and their surroundings. To trace the story of the first atoms in the universe, stay tuned as HERA begins observing over the next few years.

Aaron Parsons is an Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley.

This piece was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original story here.

Posted, but not written, by Lou Sheehan

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The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST A Great Fight of Our Times Middle-Class Wealth Slump

Posted but not written by Louis Sheehan

While the net worth of affluent households has surged, it has shrunk for the typical middle-class family compared with three decades ago.

David Leonhardt OCT. 11, 2016

Think, for a moment, about the stories that your family likes to tell about itself. They are probably miniature versions of the American story, with progress as the central theme.

Maybe your great-grandparents arrived here as striving immigrants, and you now talk about how proud they would be. Maybe you’re the first college graduate or doctor in the family, and your parents brag about you. Maybe your grandparents couldn’t vote because of their skin color — and then had the thrill of voting for a president with the same skin color.

These stories aren’t about only your family. They are also stories of tribal pride — about Italians, Irish, African-Americans, Jews, Asians, Latinos and others — that make people feel part of something larger.

When progress is the norm, it feeds on itself. People can trust that their own sacrifices will usually pay off. They can endure hard times without becoming cynical and can be generous toward others.

Now, imagine a different reality: one in which your family — or whole community — had known scant progress for decades.

You couldn’t tell stories of upward mobility, because they wouldn’t be true. Instead, you would be frustrated, about hard work gone unrewarded, and anxious, for your future and your children.

Such stagnation is the reality for much of the country’s population — roughly one third by many measures, closer to half by others. Some of the statistics are familiar. But as a group, they’re chilling.

The typical household, amazingly, has a net worth 14 percent lower than the typical one did in 1984, according to a forthcoming Russell Sage Foundation publication. The life-expectancy gap between the affluent and everyone else is growing. The number of children living with only one parent or none has doubled since the 1970s (to 30 percent). The obesity rate has nearly tripled (to 38 percent). About eight million people have spent time behind bars at some point in their life, up from 1.5 million 40 years ago. While college enrollment has grown, the norm for middle-class and poor students is to leave without a four-year degree.

This column is my first for the Op-Ed page, which is why I’m devoting it to the great American stagnation. That stagnation is a central challenge of our time.

And we don’t feel nearly enough urgency about it.

One reason is that many Americans don’t have daily contact with it. College graduates who live in a major metro area — those who tend to read a national newspaper, to put it another way — do enjoy a rising standard of living.

Yet even for them, the stagnation looms over life. It breeds political dysfunction, and it helps explain why so many Americans aren’t swayed by facts. When you have been struggling for decades, you tend to lose faith in society’s institutions and their sober-minded experts.

Without that faith, all of our other problems become harder to solve. America’s standing in the world will be diminished. The damage from climate change — one problem that’s even more important than stagnation — will accelerate in the face of inaction.

Obviously, the past year has highlighted the depth and breadth of the frustration. It takes different forms and crosses demographic and political boundaries.

Most productively, the Black Lives Matter movement has focused attention on the persistent ways that discrimination blocks progress. Police shootings are only part of it: The typical white household earns 70 percent more than the typical black household, unchanged from 40 years ago.

Most dangerously, Donald Trump has captured a presidential nomination with one of history’s oldest tricks — using economic frustrations to attract political support by igniting ethnic hatred. Much of the hatred may have been lurking already, but the frustrations let it

The country’s immediate task is to reject Trump — for each of us to help ensure that his deeply un-American campaign remains un-American. I’d encourage everyone to find one concrete way over the next four weeks to play a part.

But rejecting Trump isn’t enough. If that is all we do, Trumpism will return, with a savvier frontman.

The real answer has to involve ensuring that a large majority of Americans enjoy a rising quality of life. Doing so means better, more equal schools. It means a tax code less favorable to the rich and, yes, the upper middle class. It means criminal justice reform. It means a bigger emphasis on good-paying jobs.

The moral case for a fairer society is clear. But there is also a self-interested case. If the trends continue, the United States will ultimately become a worse place to live, for all Americans, no matter how insulated they may feel today.



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Monkeys to the Rescue A group of monkeys bands together to protect a fellow primate — a human researcher. By Erik Ness|Thursday, July 23, 2015

Monkeys to the Rescue

A group of monkeys bands together to protect a fellow primate — a human researcher.

By Erik Ness|Thursday, July 23, 2015
In Brazil, female northern muriqui monkeys rest in the tree branches.
Carla B. Possamai

In 1982, when University of Wisconsin anthropologist Karen Strier saw her first northern muriqui in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, fewer than 1,000 of the critically endangered monkeys remained, scattered across a few remnant patches of forest.

At the time, the primate — South America’s largest — was assumed to be inherently aggressive and living in male-dominated groups. Strier’s field studies would dispel that myth and reveal the monkeys were egalitarian and peaceful. But her dedication to the muriquis was forged in the forest long before she understood them fully. It was a moment in 1983, early in her first field season, after the group of males and females she was following had adjusted to her presence.

University of Wisconsin anthropologist Karen Strier in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest in 2013.
Russell A. Mittermeier

In Her Own Words

“I was sitting under a tree on top of this hill, and a group of female muriqui had been feeding on myrtle berries and were resting in a nearby tree. I heard movement on the ground behind me and looked over, and crashing through the leaves is this male from another group. I think he didn’t see me because when I turned around, he got startled, made an alarm call and ran to the nearest tree just a few meters away.

Four of my females rushed toward me in response to his alarm call. They were in a tree right in front of me, in full view. When they spotted the male, they stopped suddenly and huddled with one another. They looked at me, and they looked at him, and they looked at me, and they looked at him.

And they chased him away! He just took off down the hill, and they chased him through the canopy. Then they came back up in the tree right above me and started hugging each other, hanging down by their tails. A couple of them separated and put their arms down toward me.

They were doing exactly what I’d seen them do before with each other: An animal in their group gets scared, or is threatened, and they hug each other in solidarity. And here they were, extending their arms to me.

It moved me to really caring about them as individuals in a way that has contributed to the perpetuation of this research. This little island of forest in the middle of nowhere supports these animals that are completely different from anything we know about.

These animals are so peaceful, so gentle and so nurturing. In a world full of wars, aggression, competition and violence, to have these animals that don’t fight — it really gives me hope.”

[This article originally appeared in print as “One of Us.”]

Posted, but not written by, Lou Sheehan

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Five Second Rule


Food dropped on the floor can be contaminated with bacteria instantly, regardless of how fast you pick it up, a study recently concluded. CreditBrian Harkin for The New York Times

You may think your floors are so clean you can eat off them, but a new study debunking the so-called five-second rule would suggest otherwise.

Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers Universityin New Jersey, said a two-year study he led concluded that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.

The findings in the report — “Is the Five-Second Rule Real?” — appeared online this month in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal,Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Researchers at Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences in England reported in 2014 that food picked up a few seconds after being dropped is “less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time,” giving rise to news accounts suggesting that eating the food might be harmless. Those findings, and research done at the University of Illinoisin 2003, did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal, Professor Schaffner noted.

Even though the five-second rule is a bit of folklore, it still raised important public health issues that demanded closer scrutiny, he said. He cited research by the Centers for Disease Control, which found that surface cross-contamination was the sixth most common contributing factor out of 32 in outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.

How was the study conducted?

Professor Schaffner and a master’s thesis student, Robyn C. Miranda, tested four surfaces — stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet — and four different foods: cut watermelon, bread, buttered bread and strawberry gummy candy. They were dropped from a height of five inches onto surfaces treated with a bacterium with characteristics similar to salmonella.

The researchers tested four contact times — less than one second and five, 30 and 300 seconds. A total of 128 possible combinations of surface, food and seconds were replicated 20 times each, yielding 2,560 measurements.

What did the study find?

The research found that the five-second rule has some validity in that longer contact times resulted in transfer of more bacteria. But no fallen food escaped contamination completely. “Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously,” Professor Schaffner said in a news release.

Carpet had a very low rate of transmission of bacteria compared with tile and stainless steel; transfer rates from wood varied.

The composition of the food and the surface on which it falls matter as much if not more than the length of time it remains on the floor, the study found. Watermelon, with its moisture, drew the highest rate of contamination and the gummy candy the least.

In an interview, Professor Schaffner said, “I will tell you on the record that I’ve eaten food off the floor.” He quickly added: “If I were to drop a piece of watermelon on my relatively clean kitchen floor, I’m telling you, man, it’s going in the compost.”

Where did the rule get its start?

The history of the five-second rule is difficult to trace but it is attributed apocryphally to Genghis Khan, who declared that food could be on the ground for five hours and still be safe to eat, Professor Schaffner said.

Why do people do this anyway?

William K. Hallman, an experimental psychologist and a professor at the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University, said people do not put every decision through a risk-benefit filter and instead rely on cognitive shortcuts called heuristics to help in their daily lives.

“It’s a way of making a very quick decision with whatever data is available,” he said in an interview.

But sometimes those shortcuts can be based on flawed assumptions or missing information.

For instance, germs are invisible and so they are easy to ignore when “something of particular value, like a yellow peanut M&M” falls to the floor, he said. Because germs are out of sight, the belief is there is no harm in picking up the M&M and popping it in your mouth.

Douglas Powell, a former professor of food safety and the publisher ofbarfblog.com about food safety, added that people eat from the floor because they are told not to waste food.

People are also impervious to risk. “I’ve done this all my life and never gotten sick; I did this a couple of days ago and nothing happened,” he said in an email.

Or as Professor Schaffner observed: “The first kid, the pacifier falls on the floor, oh my God, we have to sterilize it. By the third kid, it’s like ‘whatever.’ ”

Shouldn’t people know better than to eat off the floor?

Research has shown that people think germs belong to other people, Professor Hallman said. For instance, people generally believe their bathrooms are cleaner than a public restroom. In fact, that is not the case because public restrooms are cleaned more regularly, he said in an interview.

People also misunderstand the transmission of germs.

“We sort of joke about the five-second rule, but people act as if germs take some period of time to race to the item that fell on the floor,” he said.

People also do not recognize the symptoms of food-borne illnesses and tend to blame them on the last thing they ate, so they do not connect how their earlier actions might have made them sick.

Are men more likely to eat off the floor than women?

Yes, according to Professor Hallman. In contrast to women, men say they more frequently engage in behaviors such as picking up food or a fork that has fallen to the floor, or picking an insect or a hair out of their food then continuing to eat, he said. The findings came from a phone survey of 1,000 Americans in 2005.

Anthony Hilton, a professor of microbiology at Aston University, said a survey of nearly 500 people found 81 percent of women said they followed the rule — they would not eat anything that lingered on the floor — compared with 64 percent of men, the magazine “Scientific American”reported.

“Hilton says he doesn’t have a good explanation for this gender differentiation but points out that this finding is consistent with other research into the five-second rule,” the magazine wrote. “One possible conclusion: This is tacit confirmation of another piece of folk wisdom — men are less discerning when it comes to their food’s cleanliness.”

Posted but not written by Louis Sheehan.

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