The Big Failure


I’m so very glad I’m not a power company spokesperson. I know if I were put into a meeting like that I’d be desperately hoping the matter could be solved in five minutes. “It’s been over a week since the storm, we should have our power back,” the tired and weary people would complain, and I’d say, “You’re absolutely right”, and then I’d be looking nervously at the door while people yelled at me for hours about how they should have electricity, even though I had agreed all I know how to agree, at least until someone mercifully came around and turned the lights out and said the power had failed. I’d be a lot more comfortable out in the field, pointing at cables and asking if I could do something to help with that one, and the actually trained electricians would say no, and maybe with that one instead, and the actually trained electricians would say no, and I start pointing to another one and they say no, and I start to suggest and then they send me to deal with justifiably angered residents. That’s probably how I would get stuck being the spokesperson in the first place.

The Mystery Of My Power Cord


I found in the hotel room — this is true, by the way — that the rubber insulation of part of my laptop’s power cord had got torn up. I’m not sure how it happened. The cord was wrapped up, and inside a plastic bag, because I’ve liked putting power cords inside plastic bags ever since that airport security screener told me that was a smart thing to do. But when I pulled it out it looked like it had been chewed open by a tiny bear, or maybe that it had exploded as an even tinier hippogriff guppy hatched from within it. I know what you’re thinking and no, our pet rabbit has a solid alibi. So far it’s still giving power but I wonder how lon

Lost Without A Galaxy


I found this article in the science section — any science section; I can’t imagine editors turning this one down — about how research has shown that dung beetles can use the Milky Way to navigate. I have to applaud the effort there. That’s more than I ever do with the Milky Way. If you left it to me I’d probably let the whole galaxy clutter up the scary drawer above all the pots and pans, and maybe take it out just enough to feel guilty about how I should be using it more. Navigating would never cross my mind, much less helping dung beetles navigate, so it’s good the beetles seem to have worked that out on their own.

The dung beetle navigation thing finally makes sense of a lot history, which is better than most history does for itself. You always imagined that people looked at Christopher Columbus funny for his refusal to adjust the heading until he’d had a flock of dung beetles on deck during a cloudless, moonless night, but he did all right for himself, and left his beetles in charge of Hispaniola while he was busy getting tried for treason.

But as ever we shouldn’t have been surprised. Folklore’s talked about how animals have astounding abilities for thousands of years now, although folklore also talks about how witches are baking little children and how it’s good luck for the Red-Leafed Arrogating Murderberry Vine to crack your house’s foundation and how this snowstorm is the very first time the university ever cancelled class for anything less than the death of a President, so maybe the trouble is folklore needs to be more selective about what it says. We can’t go listening to everything. There’s too much of it.

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