Are we alone in the universe? It’s a question as old as humanity. Since the dawn of time, man has stretched out on cloudless nights and gazed up at the stars. It is in our nature to wonder. We were designed to do so.
Personally, I have my own opinions. If the sun was the size of a basketball and it sat on the goal line of a football field, then the earth would be the size of a BB, and it would sit on the far goal line. There are more stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand in the Sahara Desert. We are truly unimaginably small. If some extraterrestrial intelligence was searching for us, they’d have to be really lucky to tease us out of all the background nothing. However, there nonetheless remain some compelling anecdotes.
When I was a kid, there were apparently not so many lawyers. Whenever my dad would buy a car, the first thing he’d do was cut the seatbelts out with a razor blade. Who wants to keep sitting on those stupid things anyway? As a wee lad, my standard duty posting was standing on the seat next to my dad or stretched out in a position of repose on that shelf underneath the back window. In the event of an accident, I obviously would have made the most horrible squishy little projectile. Alas, dad is a great driver, and God smiled upon us.
Late one evening, we were out driving someplace, and I was stretched out on that shelf staring up into the dark night sky. The family car was one of those ginormous land yacht Oldsmobuicks. The thing was big enough for its own zip code and likely got about the same gas mileage as might your typical aircraft carrier. However, it was the early 1970s, gas was cheap and plentiful, and folks weren’t screaming about climate change all the time. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.
I remember this like it was yesterday. I saw a flying disc swoop down over a nearby cotton field in the darkness. It was round and spinning with multi-colored lights distributed around its circumference. The thing dove low and then banked up and over the road before jetting off into the distance and out of sight. I was perhaps 4- or 5-years-old and didn’t think it remarkable enough to mention to my parents. Maybe I hallucinated the whole thing, but it sure seemed real at the time.
Meddling With Madness
My dad and a college chum were heading out to the deer camp in his old surplus Army jeep sometime around 1958. The moonless night was clear, crisp and cold. The camp house was a big tent built atop a wooden platform, all situated at the apex of the old levee in the Mississippi Delta. As there were no other sources of illumination, my dad pulled the jeep up so that the headlights washed across the structure to ensure nothing was in the way before killing both the jeep and the lights. Everything was instantly engulfed in inky darkness.
Dad got out of the driver’s side while his buddy exited shotgun. As they each reached the approximate respective front fenders, the night was instantly split by a series of piercing white flashes of light. Dad said the light was unimaginably bright and adequate to utterly displace the darkness. He likened it to a strobe on a camera. He said for the moments when it flashed, he could see deep into the woods as though it were mid-day.
The light flashed in a rhythmic series over perhaps three to five seconds. There was no sound at all. As you might imagine, this was a fairly traumatic event for these two unsuspecting young men.
Dad said he fell face down into the leaves involuntarily. He said the shock of the moment was such that his arms and legs simply failed him. His buddy was similarly afflicted, but he fell onto his back. Dad’s pal later described the flashes as a series of bright white balls tracking across the sky. And then, all was black once again.
Dad and his buddy regained their wits in short order and scrambled up the levee into the tent. They got the Coleman lantern ignited with no small difficulty and then sat across from each other at the camp table, trying to make sense of what they had just experienced. Dad confided that had he been alone, he likely would have simply lost his mind and gone screaming off into the woods.
As you might imagine, the etiology of this extraordinary event has been the topic of many a fireside family discussion. Dad always suspected some kind of 1950s-era spy plane. My working theory is a ferrous meteor flashing as its iron core vaporized in the atmosphere. Or perhaps it was indeed an alien spacecraft crewed by some interstellar pranksters, the extraterrestrial versions of teenage boys. If that is the case, my dad tells me they likely got an eyeful. He said that, as he cowered helplessly and prostrate in the wet leaves, he did not feel that he was a terribly impressive representative of the human species.
FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The US Army has been experimenting with new HMMWV technology that people with limited imagination are calling “a gamechanger.”
According to sources, the Army has discovered that a HMMWV driven at exactly 88 miles per hour and hitting a bump just right will travel through time. Physicists say that the suspension on the “hummers” is so bad and the weight of the vehicle such that the impact with the bump generates exactly 1.21 jigawatts of kinetic energy for 54 nanoseconds.
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The revelation occurred during a routine National Guard training exercise at Fort Irwin when soldiers were doing soldier things and decided to remove the governor from the Humvee.
The driver of the vehicle, Spc. Johnson Jacob Johnson, said, “The vehicle shook more than a $50 washing machine with a stripper on top. But we were bored and were trying to see if it could do 100. The next thing I knew, we were back in 1985!”
“Listen, I know it sounds crazy, and we didn’t think you could even get a Hummer to go that fast,” said Sgt. Timothy Malane, one of the passengers. “But one second we were driving around the Mojave Desert and the next thing we knew, Reagan was President. It was kind of wild to realize that we are still driving HMMWVs just like they did back in the 80s. They had M16s, too, and here we are still rocking those. Huh,” he said with a faraway look.
While some soldiers have expressed excitement at the possibility of time travel, others have expressed concern about the potential consequences of messing with the space-time continuum.
“I mean, what if we accidentally go back in time and mess something up?” said Pvt. Janet Bertnarack. “What if we go back in time and accidentally step on a butterfly, and then we come back, and there’s no more Waffel House?”
The Air Force has expressed disappointment with the Army’s slowness, stating that they have had their own time-traveling technology for years.
“Where do you think all those [unidentified aerial phenonmenons] that keep messing with the Navy come from?” a flag officer who requested anonymity said.
Despite these concerns, the Army plans to continue testing the HMMWV time travel technology, though officers have yet to make the journey, claiming it’s too dangerous for anyone but enlisted men and women.
“We’re really excited about the potential of this technology,” said Natick Army Labs engineer Col. Frank Thompson. “Imagine being able to fix mistakes before they even happen. We could stop the development of the Bradley before it’s too late, or prevent the Army Combat Uniform from ever happening.”
As for the soldiers who have already traveled through time, many of them have expressed a desire to go back and visit their favorite historical periods.
“I can’t wait to go back and see the dinosaurs,” said Pvt. Mary Leakey. “I mean, as long as we don’t get eaten or anything.”
And also, Doug got to punch 2nd Lt. Mark Milley in the face on our last trip. Though he did lose his phone in the fight. So we think he might have accidentally invented the smartphone.”
When asked about the potential for less beneficial effects on the fabric of time and space, one engineer responded, “We’ll leave that up to the nerds in the Space Force or whatever. I can’t wait to go back and find out who killed JFK.”
“And watch out, Baby Hitler!”
As For Class is a boy named Sue, named Ashley. When he isn’t writing for Duffel Blog he also writes fiction.
“You wouldn’t know it by watching the news or listening to the haters. But on crime, Mayor Lightfoot’s got a plan.” At least, that’s what a commercial touting Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and her campaign for reelection would have you believe. Lightfoot is running for a second term in a tight mayoral race that culminates on February 28, with a potential April 4 run-off.
It’s no wonder that the progressive mayor is striving to give the impression that she’s got a grip on public safety. The Windy City’s surge in crime over the last few years has been stunning even by hardened big-city standards.
Chicago Police Department (CPD) statistics for the week ending on February 19 reveal that reported crime overall is up 55% so far this year as compared to 2022; the rise is even more shocking when compared with 2021, with a 107% jump in crime year-over-year. Every major crime category tracked by the CPD, with the exception of murder and “shooting incidents,” shows double- or even triple-digit increases over the last two years. Vehicle thefts have skyrocketed, accelerating by an incredible 255% between 2021 and 2023.
This coincides with what one source describes as a downward trajectory for arrest rates over the last two decades, with CPD officers making arrests in just 12% of crimes reported in 2021; for “index crimes” (like homicide, sexual assault, robbery, burglary and aggravated battery/assault), the overall arrest rate was less than 6%.
These crime statistics haven’t gone unnoticed by residents – the “haters” dismissed by the Lightfoot campaign. A recent poll of Chicago voters shows that, by a very large margin, “crime and personal safety” is the most pressing concern, with 44% of respondents ranking it as their “most important issue” (the number two spot trails behind at 13%). When asked, “how safe do you personally feel from gun violence and crime in Chicago?,” more than half of likely voters said they felt either “not too safe” (28%) or “not safe” (33%). Only four percent replied they felt “very safe.”
Two-thirds of voters are also unhappy with progressive prosecution policies. Sixty-seven percent replied they disapproved “of the way the criminal justice system in Chicago handles those who are arrested for certain violent crimes such as carjacking, armed robbery or home invasion.”
Speaking at her 2019 inauguration, Mayor Lightfoot described her new “unified strategy to prevent violence and promote public safety.” “People cannot …and should not …live in neighborhoods that resemble a war zone,” she said, adding that “[p]ublic safety must not be a commodity that is only available to the wealthy.” Since then, of course, crime has spiraled upwards, and it’s been reported that Lightfoot and her family have been protected by a special police security detail of approximately 71 officers, plus the mayor’s “separate personal bodyguard detail” of 20 officers.
For ordinary citizens without access to a personal police army, the recourse is the Second Amendment and safeguarding one’s own security. “It’s the reason why you’ve seen the increase in gun sales… Because people realize that the police and law enforcement broadly isn’t being allowed – the criminal justice system isn’t being allowed – to go and do its job,” observes Dr. John Lott, president and founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center. Just this month, there have been at least two instances where lawfully armed citizens thwarted crime in Chicago. The first is that of an 80-year-old man, recovering from surgery, who reportedly fought and shot a home invader breaking into his home, leaving a “13-time felon in critical condition.” In the second, a concealed carry holder at his home apprehended an alleged burglar (with two active felony warrants) and held him at gunpoint until the police arrived.
The mayor’s plans for a safer Chicago, both in 2019 and looking ahead today, won’t include recognizing the gun rights of responsible citizens. Lightfoot speaks of firearms as if they are divorced from the criminals that use them, and has called for more “sweeping and aggressive gun control” at the federal level, including a ban on AR-15s. After Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) pointed to Chicago’s crime rates as evidence that gun control and disarming law-abiding citizens don’t work, Lightfoot shot back that the majority of guns seized in Chicago were from out of state, “mostly from states dominated by coward Republicans like you,” as if crime was entirely a problem of guns, not criminals. (Readers may decide for themselves which narrative best fits the recent case of a Chicago criminal with two pending felony cases – one for armed violence – who allegedly traveled to Indiana, cut off his ankle monitor, and was caught in Illinois with another gun.)
Politicians of all stripes are notorious for making ridiculously extravagant campaign promises, and in that spirit the mayor’s reelection ad is free to boast that “Lightfoot won’t quit until we’re the safest big city in America.” For Chicago’s beleaguered residents who have been watching the news – as well as being attacked, robbed, carjacked, and burgled – well, talk is cheap, and maybe the criminals are paying attention.