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Post Week in Review: September 14–September 20

Published: September 19, 2014

NASA Teams with Boeing and SpaceX

Atlantis Lift Off

Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off into space, heading for the International Space Station, on the last mission and last flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle Fleet (STS-135) on July 8, 2011. (Tom Fawls/Shutterstock)

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when space exploration was exciting. The days of Gemini and Apollo projects and space shuttle launches. Then we saw NASA get rid of the space shuttle program altogether in 2011 and scale back plans for Mars in 2012. Sure, once in a while we’ll hear news of a satellite beaming back info from the edges of the galaxy or see some great pictures from a Mars rover expedition, but it’s been rather boring lately, especially when it comes to manned missions. America has even had to hitch rides with Russia to the International Space Station.

But no more! This week, NASA announced that they are spending $6.8 billion on contracts with Boeing Co. and Space Exploration Technology Corp. to build “space taxis” that will transport U.S. astronauts to the station starting in 2017. (It’s not men putting their feet on Mars, but it’s something.)

I wonder why they didn’t ask Uber?

Are You an Adult?

Every week there seems to be one article that everyone wants to talk about, one that gets a lot of readers commenting and social media buzzing. For the past week it has been A.O. Scott’s New York Times essay called “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture”. Basically he argues that TV characters like Mad Men’s Don Draper, The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano, and Breaking Bad’s Walter White are “the last of the patriarchs” and that “in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups.”

I don’t want to get into a whole discussion of patriarchal authority or sexism or to compare the roles of men and women today to the past, but I will say this: It is rather odd how adults — and it’s often men — hold on to their childhood/teen years longer than men used to. They play video games and wear baseball caps and — most distressingly — call each other “dude” a lot. No one over the age of 35 should call someone else “dude,” especially if that someone is a woman.

But I’m more concerned that Scott is taking the opening credits to Mad Men literally, believing that at the end of the series Don is going to fall off of a building and die. Well, let’s look at it logically. Let’s say we take the opening literally. OK. At the end of the opening, after Don falls off the building, we see him alive and sitting on a couch, smoking a cigarette. So, if we take the opening literally, Don lives!

Print News vs. Online News: Which Do Readers Recall Better?

Laptop and Newspaper

Credit: (Brian A. Jackson © Shutterstock)

I’m a big fan of print. Sure, I love the Web and I think e-books are a terrific, handy innovation, but I think it would be a weird and very different world if 100 percent of print newspapers, magazines, and books were replaced by digital versions. I don’t see this happening in my lifetime, or even the lifetime of any kids who are reading this (are any kids reading this?), but it will probably happen one day. Most publications will be digital and print will just be a hip, niche product.

In a University of Houston study conducted in April 2013, researchers had one group read the New York Times in print for 20 minutes, another group read it online for 20 minutes. The group that read the print edition remembered 4.2 stories. The online group remembered 3.4 stories.

Another 2013 study, published in the journal Psychological Science, showed something similar: Students who took notes with pen and paper comprehended lessons better than those who typed them on a keyboard. I happen to believe this. I don’t really have any scientific data to back up my claim, only personal experience. I write a lot of things out longhand first.

If you like print, I encourage you to print out this column and read it. I also encourage you to subscribe to The Saturday Evening Post print edition. The web is great, but holding a publication in your hand is a special thing indeed.


Have you ever been surfing and scrolling down Facebook and wondered, Is there a social network that isn’t free, one I can pay a lot of money to belong to? Let me introduce you to Netropolitan, “the online country club for people with more money than time.” (their slogan, not mine). It costs $9,000 to join, but then drops to $3,000 a year to maintain the membership.

Basically, it’s Facebook for people with a lot of money. Sort of like Facebook for the people who started Facebook.

Alex Trebek’s Mustache Is Back (and Better Than Ever)!

The new season of Jeopardy! started this week, and there was a surprise for fans: Alex Trebek grew back his mustache! He shaved it off in 2001 but now it’s back, and you get a say in whether he keeps it or not. The show is asking viewers to vote. If fans like it, the mustache will stay. If not, he’ll get rid of it.

If he has to get rid of it, maybe he can shave it off during Sweeps Week while the Final Jeopardy theme music plays.

Now, you’re probably asking: is there a way I can be kept up-to-date with what’s going on with Alex’s mustache? Of course there is: It’s on Twitter!

I’m not sure how a mustache tweets, exactly, but he (it?) is doing so frequently.

National Punch Day


The Saturday Evening Post
Joe Demers
June 10, 1950

Saturday is National Punch Day, the day where you go up to a friend and punch that friend in the shoulder as hard as you can.

OK, that’s not true (though maybe there should be a National Punch-a-Friend Day). The day celebrates the punch you drink. Here’s a gazillion recipes for punch from All Recipes. And here’s one specifically for Rum Punch, because tomorrow also happens to be National Rum Punch Day.

Upcoming Anniversaries

September 21
High Fantasy (1937): J.R.R. Tolkien publishes his classic fantasy story The Hobbit about Bilbo Baggins’ journey with a band of treasure-hungry dwarfs. The story and its follow-up, Tolkien’s epic novel, The Lord of the Rings, went on to become an international craze in the 1960s. The Hobbit is currently being released as a film trilogy.

September 22
Emancipation (1862): Abraham Lincoln issues his initial emancipation proclamation, ordering the emancipation of all slaves in the Confederacy. His proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, but could only be enforced as Union forces reclaimed Southern territory.

September 23
American Explorers (1806): After two years and four months, Lewis and Clark return from their expedition, arriving in St. Louis. Their expedition made it all the way to the Pacific Ocean in modern-day Oregon and paved the way for settlement of the Western United States.

September 24
Civil Rights (1957): Following Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus’ attempts to restrict desegregation in Little Rock, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends the historic 101st Airborne Division to enforce federal law. The next year, Governor Faubus responded by closing all four public high schools in Little Rock.

September 25
Play Ball (1911): Construction begins on Fenway Park in Boston. The oldest major league ballpark in active use, Fenway has been home to the Boston Red Sox for more than 100 years. Take a look at “Rain Delay”, a moving story about a frustrating father-and-son trip to see the Red Sox play at Fenway.

September 26
Mobster Hey-Day (1933): The infamous Machine Gun Kelly (née George Francis Barnes Jr.) surrenders to the FBI. While Kelly was getting locked up, John Dillinger was busy escaping from the Indiana State Prison alongside 10 other inmates. Check out this Post article on America’s longtime fascination with gangsters.

September 27
Auto Pioneer (1908): The Piquette Plant in Detroit begins production of the Ford Model T. Over the next 15 years, Henry Ford’s Detroit plants would crank out 15 million more Model Ts, making it the bestselling car of its time. Ford also famously doubled his workers’ wages, prompting a shift in the industry toward higher pay.

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