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Space Onions.

by Dear Jon
June 24, 2003

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Sort 222_Dear Jon-Space Onions. Dear Reader, Remember what I said last week about a computer glitch? These letters turned up in a "saved mail" folder, having languished there for a whole week. That I spaced out is appropriate for this sort, though.


Dear Jon,

I recently heard a news broadcast where one of the features was how to "negotiate" with your children. Since when do parents negotiate with their children? Seems my parents negotiations were pretty much "Go to your room, and I'll tell you when you can come out!" Also, what do you think of parents who make special meals for their children because "that's all they'll eat?"

Parent Hood

Dear Hood,

The onion is the reason I was a skinny child and why I am an overweight adult. My mother was instructed, as are all Nebraskans, that hot food isn’t food unless onions have been chopped into it. Growing up, I thought that I did not like: stew, spaghetti, chili, skirt steak with egg noodles, lasagna, Hungarian goolash, hamburger and rice, tuna casserole, egg salad or tuna salad or (and these are served COLD!), meatballs, meatloaf, pork chops in tomato sauce with rice, tacos or pot pies. I left home for other locations in the Midwest, to discover that onions lurked in every hot dish and under every breading. The more expensive the pizza, I learned, the more likely it included onions in its tomato sauce. I was so skinny in college that average-sized women got mad at me because they were heavier than I was.

The longer I have been an adult away from home, the more I have discovered the pleasures of onionless food. It was actually an argument that I won with my wife, who began to experiment with leaving that one ingredient out. It has just been in the past couple years, for example, that I realized I have nothing at all against mayonnaise, in fact I quite like it. I thought I did not like mayo because mayo appeared in egg salad and tuna salad with, you guessed it, onions. Now I eat onionless egg salad and tuna salad, and tacos and spaghetti and lasagna and pork chops and meatloaf, and I am thirty pounds overweight. I even cook a lot of these dishes myself.

When it comes to negotiating with children: If leaving the onion out is just too egregious a sin, then I suppose you can have a kid who was skinny just like me. It was understood that if we did not eat what was served, then we would eat what we served ourselves. I have a recent sort on parenting tips that you might want to look up.


Dear Jon,

I recently read that astronomers believe they'll discover an Earth-like planet within the next 10 years. That's not to say they'll find intelligent life in outer space, but my question is this: If we do discover intelligent life out there, how should we react in the following scenarios: 1) they seem to be restricted in travel to their solar system, like us, and 2) they are capable of interstellar travel and will reach Earth in approximately two days?

Spaceman Spiff

Dear Spiff,

I encourage you to check your science against the science of astrophysicist Hugh Ross, who has published in the field. Any web engine should yield up information on Hugh Ross. He is my chief source of information on the following: Science has discovered that the balances required to sustain life drive up the odds against finding another life-sustaining planet.

By illustration, in the late 1970’s Carl Sagan, the now deceased champion of the search for extra-terrestrial life, glibly placed the odds of finding another earth-like planet at “one in a million.” He then gleefully pointed out that with the number of stars in the universe, millions of life-sustaining planets were possible. Unfortunately for Sagan and other proponents for the search, science has been forced to add ingredients to the necessity of balance to achieve life, and each ingredient makes the discovery of life exponentially less likely. It has gotten to the point where the odds against finding life elsewhere equals a sum greater than the total number of stars in the universe.

Nevertheless, and I am the first that I know of to say anything like this, fractal geometry develops a model wherein patterns reproduce themselves to infinity. If a life-pattern is set on Earth, is it impossible that this pattern is reproduced in the universe despite the odds against its reproduction? In other words, is ours a life-filled universe simply because that is the nature of our universe? Gene Roddenberry seemed to think so. This is why so many of the sentient alien species on Star Trek are bipedal, linguistic tool-makers.

The other possibility, and much more likely, is that the pattern of reproduction has been set within our biosphere, so that life will in fact reproduce and be characteristic throughout the universe with our biosphere as the origin.

With that as our goal, we will have a problem if we discover that other sentient species do exist on other worlds. We will solve that problem in the same enlightened human way we always have: Shoot first, make treaties later, break the treaties, mechanize some kind of “final solution” and in general practice our greatest skills: sentient genocide and species extinction.


Dear Jon,

I am trying to be less apathetic, but what's the use?

Who cares?

Dear Cares,

I’d answer your question but I couldn’t convince myself to bother.


Dear Jon,

Did the Moon landing really happen? I have a friend who says it was all staged on a sound set. How do I prove it was real?


Dear Walker,

The reason we know it happened is that nobody cares anymore. We went to the moon and all we found were rocks. That is all we have found with the robot cars we sent to Mars, too. If the government staged all of this, they would be staging manned flights to Alpha Centauri by now, and we would have a pantheon of heroic Astronaut-explorers. Instead, we have cargo crews unloading satellites in orbit, and their names are only remembered if the shuttle has an accident.

Seriously, our shuttle crews should unionize with the Teamsters. Of course, then Congress would pass a law that a shuttle could only fly for ten hours at a time and then take a mandatory eight hour break.

I think we should conduct experiments that conclusively prove that onions explode in outer space and should not spread with humanity through the galaxy.

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