The Coming Big Bang

The universe began with the Big Bang billions of years ago, and now astronomers say we’ll be dealing with another big bang — in about four billion years or so.

The coming big bang will occur when our galaxy, the Milky Way, collides with and merges into Andromeda, a neighboring galaxy.  The two galaxies are being pulled together by their mutual gravities, and in fact are rushing toward each other at the breathtaking speed of 250,000 miles per hour.  At such astronomical (pun intended) speeds, it’s hard to believe that all Earth-dwellers aren’t experiencing a touch of cosmic motion sickness.

Of course, galaxies are mostly empty space, so whoever is left on Earth when the galactic convergence occurs isn’t likely to see suns and planets smashing into each other.  But the night sky will look different.  Orion and Taurus and Ursa Major will have lots of company.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Any public relations professional worth her salt will tell you: when you are dealing with an unfavorable news story — one that you know is going to have a negative impact — the best approach is to get ahead of the story, get all of the information out, and at least avoid the possibility that the story becomes a running, multi-day issue.  Lance the boil, drain the pus, and move on.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign must not employ a public relations person.  If it does, she isn’t very good at her job — because the story of Warren’s alleged Cherokee ancestry has become a never-ending story in Warren’s campaign for election to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts.  Every day, seemingly, there is some new revelation that puts Warren on the defensive, interferes with her intended “message,” and distracts from the issues she thinks are important.

On Wednesday, for example, Warren acknowledged for the first time that two law schools that identified her as Native American did so because she identified herself as such, based on her understanding of “family lore.”  Her admission is just the latest in a series of statements about the issue — some of which arguably are inconsistent — that have just encouraged the press to dig ever deeper into the history of Warren’s employment, whether she identified herself as Native American, and whether there is any proof of actual Cherokee ancestry in her family tree.

I don’t think a candidate’s race, or self-reported minority status, has anything to do with fitness to serve as a U.S. Senator.  On the other hand, I think a candidate’s truthfulness, credibility, and ability to deal with a crisis are relevant — and Warren seems to be falling short in all of those categories.  The Native American story has  dominated the headlines for a month now, and for that Warren has only herself to blame.  Her statements and partial disclosures have a whiff of embarrassed shiftiness about them that have made a minor issue into a major one and, at the same time, made her look evasive and inept.  Although her race shouldn’t affect a voter’s decision about her, her apparent inability to give a satisfactory explanation of her actions reasonably could.

What’s In A Name?

Robert is, candidly, a somewhat clumsy name.  It doesn’t exactly flow trippingly off the tongue.  Starting with the rolling “r,” then flipping to the explosive “b,” then ending with that hard “t” — it’s just filled with too many discordant sounds.

“Robert” didn’t even sound good when actors on last season’s Game of Thrones talked to or about King Robert Baratheon.  You know your name isn’t a thing of beauty if, even when it is spoken by actors with British accents, it still sounds like a word for a failed engine part.

Fortunately, no one but the IRS and my bank refer to me as “Robert.”  But what nickname to choose?  For the first 12 years of my life, everyone called me Bobby.  I liked Bobby, but as I hit the teenage years I realized almost no one used the diminutive form of nickname anymore.  Now the only adult males I know who go by “Bobby” hail from south of the Mason-Dixon line, boast about SEC football dominance, comfortably wear white loafers without socks, and drink bourbon in the evenings.  The name fits them, but not me.

“Rob” never really worked, and “Robby” even less so.  It’s not just because “Rob” is a word for an act of theft, either.  Mostly, “Rob” seems prissy and highfalutin, a sort of halfway attempt to hang on to the old English roots of Robert.

That leaves Bob.  I settled on Bob more than 40 years ago, and I still like it.  It’s rarely mispronounced and almost never misspelled.  It’s short and solid and simple.  I think it suits me.  After all, as we swim through the sea of life, everybody needs to bob now and then.