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How Did I Miss That? Exploding Universe; the Force Prevails

In the holiday rush of film releases, Star Wars: The Force Awakens dominated the box offices, and National Geographic published a timely rundown of real science inspired by Star Wars. The original space opera was Episode IV: A New Hope, and it took place on a desolate desert planet enlivened by having two suns in the sky, a status the astronomers call “circumbinary.”

Binary star systems are fairly common, but circumbinary planets in the Goldilocks Zone—not too hot and not too cold for liquid water—are hard to find. Star Wars inspired Matthew Muterspaugh of Tennessee State University and Maciej Konacki of the Polish Academy of Sciences to a project entitled The Attempt To Observe Outer-planets In Non-single-stellar Environments---TATOOINE.

When I was an active professor in criminal justice, there was quite a bit of teaching activity centered on Star Trek. Many episodes deal with justice and there is an endless supply of commentary on real cases in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition.

Star Wars does not offer the advanced social science of Star Trek, since it portrays political organization straining to get from feudalism to a republic. There is plenty of fodder for science teaching, though.

Student projects on ways to destroy the Death Star were born in a civil engineering class at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, and Professor Guy Walker will soon publish the results in Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science.

Danish medical professors have used Darth Vader’s chronic breathing problems to teach diagnosis and treatment of respiratory illnesses and there have been numerous published analyses of the mental health issues in Star Wars characters, particularly Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader.

Jabba the Hutt is a psychopath, perhaps exhibiting a paraphilia involving women in metal bikinis. Lando Calrissian is a gambling addict. Jar Jar Binks illustrates attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

May the Force be with you this holiday season, but don’t forget your textbooks.

I’m guessing most folks prefer the latest Sith Lord to the latest Caliph and the Galactic Empire to ISIS.

Foreign Policy reported that Nutella, the hazelnut spread, is offering personalized jars of the sweet treat for holiday gifts, but the offer left at least two little girls disappointed when Nutella refused to personalize jars for Canadian and Australian kids named Isis, both born before the terrorist gang.

Mashable reported that an 82-year-old woman in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, called 911 to report she heard a couple yelling “ISIS is good!” while having sex. The police decided not to send SWAT to check it out, and Brown Deer Police Chief Michael Kass tweeted that she was taking “see something; say something” too far.

Daesh has now forced two companies to change their names, Isis Wallet to Softcard and Isis Pharmaceuticals to Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Too bad so much money had to be wasted because of a name, but it could be worse. The name could be Bush, and Jeb! has outspent Donald Trump over 100 to one and still can’t break into double digits.

Chuck Todd asked, “Where do donors go to complain about campaign strategy? The New York Times.”

Taking up the chorus where Jeb! donors left off, Marco Rubio’s donors are getting restless. Rubio has not been showing up at his day job in the Senate and he has also been AWOL on the campaign trail.

Mika Brzezinski wants you to know she said it first: “If Trump gets the nomination, the Democrats have a problem.” She warned he would do things other candidates will not do and defy the political laws of gravity.

Trump’s latest is to say Hillary Clinton got “schlonged” by Barack Obama, leading me to wonder how Yiddish comes across in flyover country? “Who needs Yiddish,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller snickered, “when you have the Urban Dictionary?”

Trump wasted all the polling on how to attack Hilary Clinton without attacking women with one gasbag remark!

Trump’s remark reminded me of how Joe Biden approached debating Sarah Palin. The last time debating a woman on the national ticket had come up, Poppy Bush did not have the method decoded. He patronized Geraldine Ferraro. Biden’s answer to Palin was to envelop her in nice. If Trump’s answer continues to be sexual innuendo, he’s really counting on canceling the political laws of gravity.

Of course, Trump would label things like not making sexual remarks about a woman candidate or not mocking a reporter’s physical handicap the kind of “political correctness” that is destroying America.

Cousin Ray’s cell phone announced a Trump tweet.

“Trump says your columns about him suck and he’ll fix your wagon in his next speech.” I was wondering out loud what The Donald meant by that when the next tweet came. “Stick a feather in it, Chief.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham did not defy gravity in the most hawkish campaign put on by either party. Graham “suspended” his campaign just in time to keep his name off the South Carolina presidential primary ballot.

There was another clash of egos this week at least as interesting as the pols. Billionaire visionary Elon Musk of SpaceX celebrated returning a rocket that had been in space right side up to the launching pad, a feat that promises savings of several hundred thousand dollars per launch.

Billionaire visionary Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin let fly a snarky tweet congratulating SpaceX and saying, “Welcome to the club!” Blue Origin accomplished the same thing back in November, but with a smaller rocket that stayed suborbital.

If it takes private enterprise to promote an Age of Discovery in space like it did on earth, that’s better than humankind never leaving the planet. But it’s hard to pick between Tesla and

Cousin Ray said they should team up, so if an electric landing craft breaks, the astronauts can send to Amazon for parts. When I pointed out that Amazon’s delivery drones wouldn’t fly in an airless environment, Ray was not dissuaded. “You think they can land on Mars but they can’t figure out how to move a delivery drone there? Hah! Astronauts will be sending out for pizza!”

Origin Blue snark to one side, the triumphant celebration of the SpaceX accomplishment at Cape Canaveral went viral.

Viral was a too conservative description of another video. I had never heard of Steve Harvey and I really don’t care who wins a beauty pageant, but the video of Harvey crowning the wrong contestant Miss Universe was painful the first time I saw it and did not improve with many repetitions. Cousin Ray was also pained, but he had an explanation: “It was Fox. When was the last time they got anything right?”

Unintentionally piling on, Harvey tweeted an apology that misspelled the home countries of both the first runner up from Colombia and the winner from The Philippines. I don’t know why I’m embarrassed about the whole thing. I didn’t do it. But that’s why it’s painful. Turning off the sound does not help; you can see the look in their eyes.

KFSM in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, reported that police escorted a traditionally dressed Muslim couple out of Central Mall in response to complaints that they were taking pictures. U.S. Army veteran Alan Crawford said he was shopping with his wife, Daphne:

We purchased about $200 worth of Sperry shoes which I'd be happy to show everybody. There's nothing better than Sperry's. These things last about two to three years a piece and some beautiful Armani glasses from Lens Crafters. And these are the crimes we committed at the mall this weekend…

As five policemen escorted the Crawfords out of the mall for taking pictures, scores of passersby took pictures, which were reportedly shared on Facebook over 2,000 times.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has released an ad directed to “those of us who feel out of place in our own country.” Former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, whose district in the Florida panhandle Scarborough calls “the Redneck Riviera,” described the ad as “full-on nativist” and suggested that if Rubio was that unhappy in America, he should leave, along with leftists who announce they are moving to Canada if the election does not turn out to their liking.

Within 24 hours, Rubio had a fundraising letter out referring to Scarborough as part of the “elite media” and offering Scarborough’s remarks as evidence that the establishment is against him.

I was wondering if any of those pols could lend Indians some of the petty cash from their campaign coffers when I read in CNN Money that the city of Swett, South Dakota is listed for sale with an asking price of $250,000. Swett is 123 miles from Rapid City, down near the Nebraska border.

The Swett post office closed in 1945, but the deal includes a home, an auto shop, and the Swett Tavern, which has a stage and a party room. The town was originally listed last year for $399,000, but there were no takers and it’s now re-listed at a reduced price.

One more thing. It’s haunted. No extra charge for the ghosts.