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Why Aliens Won't Abduct You

Rest easy: SETI's Seth Shostak explains why extraterrestrials won't snatch you from your bed. There's plenty to fret about in this world: the...


Rest easy: SETI's Seth Shostak explains why extraterrestrials won't snatch you from your bed.

There's plenty to fret about in this world: the economic downturn, environmental degradation, or snails in the bougainvillea. Reasons for anxiety abound.Well, let me lighten your load by stating that you can strike the fear of alien abduction from your stack.This is not a trivial solace. A controversial 1992 Roper poll claimed that 2 percent of Americans were possibly victims of alien hijacking. If that percentage is true, and applies world-wide, then there are as many abductees walking the streets as there are natural blondes. What's unclear, however, is whether they have as much fun.Probably they don't. Most abduction reports involve being involuntarily hauled out of one's home or auto, followed by a short session of meddlesome experiments at the smooth-and-cool hands of a gray-skinned extraterrestrial. Frequently, the aliens play doctor, removing sperm or eggs from their victims without so much as a consent form or the slightest romantic gesture.The usual explanation for such brutish behavior is that the extraterrestrials have come to our world because of reproductive problems on their own. They want hybrid babies (for some reason). But the idea that any species would resort to interstellar travel for breeding purposes seems ludicrous. Salmon will swim a few hundred miles to spawn, but the nearest stars are a lot farther than that-tens of trillions of miles, at a minimum.In addition, I note that the salmon have the good sense to reproduce with other salmon. We can't breed with another species, despite the occasional barnyard attempt. That's true even though every living thing on this planet has the same biochemistry as you. We all share DNA, and for the more familiar life forms, quite a lot of DNA. Anything you're likely to see at the zoo has DNA that's at least 75 percent identical to your own. There's no reason to assume that the aliens have DNA at all.Breeding won't work. But there's another point: the aliens don't know we're here. Evidence for the existence of Homo sapiens-in the form of FM radio, television, and radar signals-has only been leaking off this planet for about 70 years. No aliens farther than half that number (in light-years) have had time enough to sense our presence, and rocket to Earth to snatch you from the bedroom. Just so you know, the number of star systems within 35 light-years is only about a thousand. Astronomically speaking, that's a trivial sample. It's highly unlikely that we have randy, cosmic company so close by.Then there's the lack of compelling evidence. If 2 percent of Americans are abducted, that's 7 million victims in the current generation, just in the United States. You'd expect some good, physical evidence for that, beyond stories told by the abductees.Indeed, world-wide the number of supposed alien abductees exceeds the number of Africans who were taken from their homes for the slave trade. No one doubts that the forcible abduction of slaves took place. There are the descendants of the abductees of course, but also physical evidence of the abductors. As example, in 2004 a slave ship was found in the waters off the Turks and Caicos Islands. So, given that a larger number of people seem to have been abducted by aliens, why are there no spacecraft parts to examine?People like to believe that extraterrestrials have come to Earth to probe and prod. It's flattering, after all, to think that these esoteric beings are showing some personal interest. But the evidence for alien abduction is weaker than last quarter's housing starts. Drop it from your list of torments.Guest blogger Seth Shostak is a Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute. He is the author of Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and hosts SETI's radio show Are We Alone?
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via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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Culture
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Politics
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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