Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Thought for a day ...


"Never throw away an adversary" (Hitler excluded).


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Image for the day: Ukrainian/Russian "Reconcialition"


atlanticcouncil.org

Nazi-Soviet Pact Anniversary Can Help Zelenskiy Heal Ukraine’s Totalitarian Trauma

By Peter Dickinson  //   @Biz_Ukraine_Mag 

To mark the country’s WWII Memorial Day on May 8, Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted this picture of his meeting with former Soviet naval captain Ivan Zaluzhniy and Ukrainian Insurgent Army veteran Paraskeva Zelenchuk-Potiak along with the message: “The key to peace today is unity among all Ukrainians." Courtesy photo

How to make your lawyer snicker (so that, maybe, s/he'll reduce her/his fee) ...


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Q: What did the two lawyers call their daughter? 

A: Sue

Where to spend Your Perfect Honeymoon


dailymail.co.uk

NASA scientist claims astronauts could live in tunnel-like CAVES on the moon caused by ancient lava


  • The idea was raised during a Reddit 'ask me anything' session with NASA experts 

  • Lava tubes could shield astronauts from solar radiation and temperature fluxes 

  • These long tunnels are formed when lava flows crust over and then empty out 

  • NASA is planning to return to the moon in 2024, with moonbases likely to follow



  • NASA astronauts could one day live inside caves under the moon's surface formed long ago by lunar lava. 
    It could provide a natural shelter in which to build a future lunar base, according to a NASA astronaut in a Reddit-based Q&A.
    These lava tubes are long, tunnel-like structures formed after the surface of a lava flow hardens before hollowing out.  
    The cave structures would provide a shield against both the moon's temperature fluctuations and harmful solar radiation — thereby cutting down on building costs. 
    NASA geoscientist Daniel Moriarty and colleagues discussed the possibility of future moonbases during a Reddit 'ask me anything' session on May 16, 2019. 
    Scroll down for video 
    NASA astronauts could one day take live inside lava tubes (pictured, an artists impression of the end of a tube being discovered) just beneath the moon's surface, which would provide a natural shelter in which to build a future lunar base
    NASA astronauts could one day take live inside lava tubes (pictured, an artists impression of the end of a tube being discovered) just beneath the moon's surface, which would provide a natural shelter in which to build a future lunar base
    The online Q&A session was focused on the upcoming 2024 moonshot — to be dubbed 'Artemis' — which the US space agency is working towards.
    Questions turned, however, to the possibility of moonbases in the future and the steps that would be required to prepare the lunar surface for human inhabitants
    'I don't think we're going to be able to change anything about the surface of the moon much,' Dr Moriarty wrote in response.
    'Instead, I think it makes sense to work within some of the structures and resources that are already there.
    'It could be interesting to set up shop within a pre-existing lava tube,' he added.
    Setting up a base within an extinct lava tube, Dr Moriarty said, 'could provide astronauts with some shielding from temperature variations and incoming solar radiation.'   
    Lava tubes are long, tunnel-like structures formed after the surface of a lava flow hardens and then its inside is emptied out, leaving a hollow behind (Pictured: a view of a 328-feet-deep crater in the Moon's Mare Tranquillitatis, which may connect to a lava tube)
    Lava tubes are long, tunnel-like structures formed after the surface of a lava flow hardens and then its inside is emptied out, leaving a hollow behind (Pictured: a view of a 328-feet-deep crater in the Moon's Mare Tranquillitatis, which may connect to a lava tube)

    WHAT ARE LUNAR LAVA TUBES? 

    Lava tubes are long, natural caves that are left behind by past volcanic activity. 
    They are formed when the surface of a lava flow cools to form a hard crust above the molten rock moving beneath.
    When the volume of the flowing lava depletes, the tubes can drain and leave behind a hollow tunnel.
    The presence of lava tubes underneath the moon's surface is often revealed when part of the tunnel roof collapses, leaving behind a circular hole referred to as a 'skylight'.
    Lunar lava tubes can reach up to 1,600 feet (500 metres) in width before they become unstable and liable to collapse under their own weight.
    Tubes can also collapse as a result of seismic activity, or meteorite bombardment.

    Lava tubes are not the only one of the moon's resources that could be useful to develop a future lunar base, however.
    In fact, this is the very plan of the China National Space Administration, which announced in April its plans to establish an international base near the moon's ice-rich south pole within the next decade.
    The announcement of China's timeline for space exploration follows its first soft landing of a spacecraft, Chang’e-4, on the far side of the moon, back in the January of this year.
    NASA had publicly announced their intention to have astronauts return to the moon back in March 2019. 
    'This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay,' NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has said.
    The announcement of China's timeline for space exploration follows its first soft landing of a spacecraft, Chang’e-4 (pictured), on the far side of the moon, back in the January of this year
    The announcement of China's timeline for space exploration follows its first soft landing of a spacecraft, Chang’e-4 (pictured), on the far side of the moon, back in the January of this year
    The space agency, he added, plans to use 'innovative, new technologies' to explore 'more locations across the lunar surface than ever before'.
    'We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.'
    These plans were accelerated in late March after US Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Trump administration wanted to see NASA sending astronauts back to the moon in five years' time.
    Mr Pence made the comments during a speech at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama. 
    In the Reddit question session, the NASA scientists said they were confident about achieving these goals, despite the accelerated time frame.
    If successfully delivered, the upcoming moon landing will be the seventh manned US lunar expedition, following its previous excursions between 1969 and 1972.
    The space agency is used to 'big challenges', with recent provisions in the US budget making the endeavours 'doable', the scientists added.
    The 2024 Artemis mission will send the first woman to the moon's surface and aims to be the first crewed mission to land near the lunar south pole.
    The full exchange between the NASA scientists and members of the public can be read on Reddit

    Monday, May 20, 2019

    [Americana:] Divorce cure: My year of the five boy friends



    (iStock)
    Twenty years into a marriage that included children, a minivan and three cats, my husband announced the following:
    Obviously, I haven’t been in love with you for several years.
    Have you given any thought to how soon we can see other people?
    I’ll start working on your severance.
    He meant to say “settlement,” but he’s a finance guy, and that’s the kind of lingo they use.
    In reaction to the divorce that followed, I came up with the idea of taking five lovers over the course of a year. This was not the typical response for a woman about to turn 50, a matron rejected by her husband who had been married for most of her adult life. But I knew I could not rebuild my self-esteem on a diet of yoga and middle-aged friends commiserating about the scarcity of decent partners.
    What I needed is embarrassing to admit because it sounds egotistical, but it is the truth, and it went deeper than ego: I wanted men to desire me. The problem was, after two decades off the market, during which time I had focused on raising our children and rarely worn anything but socks and flannel pajamas to bed, I was clueless about where and how to find available men, whether they would like me, and which of them, if any, I would want to keep for good.
    I lost 20 pounds, straightened my hair and started wearing lipstick. Despite some graceless early attempts, finding applicants was easier than I thought. But here is the key (millennial women take note): I had to take the initiative every time.

    Leslie Morgan (Joy Asico)
    First, I met an explosives expert in an airport, a man 20 years younger who looked like a combination of an Abercrombie & Fitch model and every country music star on my Apple playlist. I was elated Mr. Blue Eyes did not run away screaming when he saw my naked body with cellulite across my belly.
    “You have nothing to be embarrassed about,” he promised. He went on to explain certain men fantasize about older moms, which was good news for me.
    Although here is a secret: Our lovemaking was as tense and fumbling as you would expect from two virtual strangers. It did not matter. I was overjoyed to be having sex again, even awkward sex. And it made me regret all those times I ridiculed divorced older men who rebuilt their self-esteem by sleeping with younger partners.
    It may not be a recipe for a healthy partnership, but as a surefire boost to a crumpled ego, it worked awfully well.
    No. 2 was Gorgeous Yoga Man, a muscular single dad who I chatted up when he took my spot at vinyasa. A few dates in, after long talks about poetry and parenthood, he confessed he had had a heart attack and said he could not have sex. We kissed all night instead, and I whispered good night to him believing we would meet again the next day. Eight months passed before I heard from him. We remained friends, but if I wanted a man who ignored me, I would have stuck with my husband.
    No. 3 was an adorable 30-year-old professional acquaintance with razor stubble who flirted shamelessly whenever I had meetings in his office. At age 15 or 25, I would have found it gross, or possibly traumatic, to encourage this brazen male attention. But now, there was no reason for alarm; this man-boy could not deny me a promotion or pressure me into sex. And he wanted me. Me. Our flirtation turned into sexting, which transmogrified into a wildly erotic daytime tryst.
    Two hours after leaving my bed, he sent me the following text: Babe, that was incredible. Totally mind-blowing. You are unforgettable. But . . . I have a girlfriend. I don’t want to ruin it with her. So, I think this has to be a one-time thing. Are you okay with that?
    That was the first time he mentioned his girlfriend.
    Then in another airport, I gave my card to No. 4, a tan, uber-fit Marine devastated by a recent divorce. We rendezvoused in different cities and texted avidly during hockey games despite living 400 miles apart. Nota bene: Airports are a heck of a good places to meet interesting men. Much better than bars or online dating sites, which I tried only once, because once was enough. But airports? My pulse races thinking about the men lining up for TSA PreCheck.
    Finally, along came No. 5. He had been a high school boyfriend, painfully shy at 16, a unicorn who had never married or had kids. My therapist cautioned that the first serious relationship following divorce can outshine the marriage itself, because you are flooded with hope that the new romance will make up for everything you lost. She was right.
    I fell in love like slipping off a cliff, free-falling into the intimacy and adventurous sex I had craved for decades. Then, after months declaring his eternal love, that same sweet boy who had been my friend for over 30 years snuck into my computer, broke up with me because he thought I was cheating on him and confessed he was the one actually cheating.
    It was really quite a year.
    You might think five dead-end boyfriends in 12 months would turn me off men, or off dating after 50, at least. That I might join those women who, perhaps logically, declare there are no men out there. Not so.
    Even though I remained single, the year transformed me. Despite my tears, I got what I needed most: hope that I could love again. More fabulous sex than I had had in the 30 years prior. Who would not be grateful for hope and great sex, at 50 or at any age?
    Post-divorce, these transient men showed me the naked truth that I am comfortable in my skin, even if it is not smooth any longer. I can, in middle age, own what my feminist self could not in my 20s or 30s: I have always loved men. I am not suggesting all women need men in this fashion. But in my case, feeling wanted by a man has revitalized how I view parenting, work, money, death, sex and myself as a woman.
    Negative cultural messages decrying the lack of “good” men capable of valuing me as a woman convinced me, ironically, to settle for subpar matches. But the problem has never been a dearth of men. There are men everywhere. (And women, too.) At every age of our lives. On sidewalks, in airports, supermarkets and yoga studios.
    Every man I dated taught me something fundamental. That life deepens and scars all of us. That I can feel beautiful and sensual at any age. That no matter how much I enjoy boy chasing, the true relationships that nurture me most profoundly hinge on my children, my friends, my relationship with myself and my work.
    While it may seem contradictory, my year of the five boyfriends also reinforced the folly that one idealized partner would complete me permanently. In the end, finding true love is rarely a good measure of how much you deserve it. That gift, you give yourself.

    This piece was adapted from Leslie Morgan’s latest book, “The Naked Truth: A Memoir,” which will be released this week. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir “Crazy Love” and also “Mommy Wars.” Morgan lives in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire.

    Quotation for the Day (machines vs. philosophy)


    "Introduction to Philosophy was dropped for Society in the Age of Intelligent Machines."

    Image result for philosophy

    image (not from cited article) from

    --Liz Bowie, "Maryland’s small colleges saw the future, and it was bleak. Now, they’re selling liberal arts with a twist," The Washington Post, May 19, 2019

    For Teens, Romances Where the Couple Never Meets Are Now Normal


    A generation that lives online is redefining dating; ‘We only met for 20 minutes and that was the first and last time we ever saw each other

    Online relationships that bloom before the two parties ever meet are becoming more common. ILLUSTRATION: JOHN KUCZALA; ISTOCKPHOTO (4)
    If we’re looking for an explanation of why today’s teens are having less sex than previous generations, there’s this: Many of them spend months or even years dating without ever meeting face to face.
    When Nicole Nguyen was 16, she met her first serious boyfriend for the first and last time—after they’d broken up. They had 20 minutes. They hugged once. It only happened because that day, they just happened to find themselves in the same state.
    Yet for an entire year, they spent almost every waking moment texting each other, talking on voice-chat apps, and even communicating over webcams through Skype and Oovoo. Ms. Nguyen, 24, is now a pre-kindergarten teaching assistant living in Brooklyn Park, Minn. To this day her parents have no idea they ever dated in the first place.
    They might sound unusual: online relationships that bloom, reach a fever pitch of teenage intensity and—possibly—even wither before the two parties ever meet. But they’re becoming more common than ever. Ask any teenager—if they haven’t been in a relationship like this themselves, they can probably name friends who have.
    Liking someone’s Instagram is the modern-day equivalent of smiling at them across a crowded room. Every online service eventually becomes a chatroom—be it TikTok, Fortnite or any of the other countless distractions that allow people to connect.
    Expectations of that eventual physical encounter can become so great, the couple fears their first in-person meeting could be a disappointment.
    The technologies that make it so easy for young people to connect with others all over the world have yet to give them the ability to teleport their bodies as easily. It’s possible to find someone who happens to shareone’s particular combination of tastes—but what are the odds they go to your school or even live in the same town?
    While there is little or no research on the phenomenon of long-distance-only relationships among young people, it’s not surprising that it’s happening, say experts. It’s one of the ways teens and twentysomethings are adapting to a combination of two demographic trends—earlier puberty and later marriage—using the technology at hand, says Stephanie Coontz, emeritus professor at Evergreen State College and the director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families, based at the University of Texas at Austin.
    “So you have a period of life of 15 to 20 years where people have to manage their sexual, romantic and intimate needs in ways that are more flexible than they used to be, and young people are experimenting with how to handle that,” she says.

    SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

    What’s the most long-distance relationship you’ve ever been in? Did you learn or gain anything from being so far apart? Join the conversation below.
    “The way me and my boyfriend met was very strange,” says Katelyn Bobbitt, 20 years old and living in Providence, R.I. “We originally met through a YouTuber who was streaming Minecraft.” What followed wasn’t exactly a whirlwind romance—more of a modern-day version of “Pride and Prejudice” involving chaste encounters in group voice chats on the popular gaming chat app Discord, and, instead of coy glances at the ball, joint play sessions on a shared Minecraft server.
    “I started getting more and more out of my shell, which is something I did not do in real life,” says Ms. Bobbitt. “I became closer to these people online than I did with my friends I had in high school.” Eight months into their online friendship, Ms. Bobbitt and Jacob Ribeiro declared themselves boyfriend and girlfriend, though they still had yet to meet.
    A year after they first struck up a conversation in a YouTube chat thread, Ms. Bobbitt, then 19, told her parents she was in love and that she was getting on a plane to meet a boyfriend they didn’t know existed.
    “I just straight up told them I’m doing this and you can’t tell me no,” says Ms. Bobbitt, who had saved money to pay for airfare. “But my dad was just like, ‘You better call me... You better tell me where this boy lives.’”
    Now Ms. Bobbitt and Mr. Ribeiro live together.
    The online environments that allow some people to cultivate more intimate relationships can also become a burden, however. Expectations of that eventual physical encounter can become so great, the couple fears their first in-person meeting could be a disappointment.
    That’s what kept Seyar Tahib, a 21-year-old college student living in Fremont, Calif., from meeting up with his girlfriend, he says, even though they’d talked online on and off for a year, and had even begun “dating” without even hearing one another’s voices. Finally, they worked up the courage to meet, and everything turned out fine.
    “We were just scared we wouldn’t feel the same after we met each other,” Mr. Tahib says.
    Fear that people we know only through the internet might not be who they seem—or even claim—is perfectly rational. In the most extreme cases, people will create fake online personas, known as “catfishing,” to defraud the lonely.
    In Ms. Nguyen’s case, both of the online-only relationships she had from age 14 until she was 16 ended when she discovered that the attentive, always-online boys she was dating were busy also dating other girls, online... and in real life.
    Tiffany Zhong is chief executive of Zebra IQ, which gathers insights on the behavior and tastes of Generation Z, usually defined as people born since 1995. She runs an app and online community, of which Ms. Nguyen, Ms. Bobbitt and Mr. Tahib have been participants. Another respondent told Ms. Zhong that when she was 16, she had a brief online-only relationship with a boy two years her senior. Two years later, after she had ended the relationship, she discovered that he was in jail for assaulting a female relative.
    Even when things are going well, there are other challenges.
    “Long-distance relationships don’t give you the physical touching, which is so important in terms of what it does for people’s immune systems and their health—not just sexual touching but affectionate touching,” says Prof. Coontz.
    Research connecting this change in behavior to other changes in the habits of young people is virtually non-existent, but it’s at least plausible that one reason America’s young people are engaging in less risky behavior than previous generations is simply that they are hanging out online instead of in person.
    For example, the percentage of Americans age 18 to 29 who report not having had sex in the past year was 23% in 2018, where in the early 1990s the figure was about half that.
    But America’s “sex drought” is not, in itself, a bad thing, says Prof. Coontz. Finding creative ways to address their psychological and physical needs with technology is just what young people do, she points out. On one hand, there’s a hookup culture enabled by apps such as Tinder, while on the other hand, there’s the emergence of online-only relationships.
    “It used to be that getting into a steady relationship was how you started your life, now it’s what you do when you have all your ducks in a row,” says Prof. Coontz.
    Write to Christopher Mims at christopher.mims@wsj.com
    For more WSJ Technology analysis, reviews, advice and headlines, sign up for our weekly newsletter. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Instant Message podcast.
    Appeared in the May 18, 2019, print edition as 'Rise of the Online-Only Relationship.'