For me, the best news today is that Sound Transit says sometime in fall 2024 it will stop making us all tap off with our Orca cards at the end of light rail trips.
I’m not really sure I can believe it. The idea is that the tap offs won’t be needed anymore because they will charge a flat rate fare independent of the distance traveled. Yes, OK, but … I’ve used a senior citizen card for over eight years and it charges a flat rate for all trips, and I still was taken off the light rail once for not tapping off correctly. The explanation I got was that Sound Transit still needed to know the distances I was traveling to justify government funding. Was that all a lie? Or have the government funding requirements changed?
Well, if it’s reported in Seattle Weekly, then it must be real news.
Disclosure: I don’t pay for this stuff anymore because this year Real Change started to give all of its staff prepaid Orca cards. But the papers I signed to get it warned the tap off was still required or else I could lose the card, so I don’t care about the flat rate fare.
Here’s news that’s only barely news: A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched a secret X-37B military space plane to high orbit. The news part was that the launch went great and the boosters landed successfully. The non-news part is the mission of the X-37B is a military secret. It’s going to be in high orbit for over two years, and we don’t get to know what the uncrewed space plane will do up there. Why did they even bother to tell us about the launch? It’s all a big tease, then, isn’t it?
We’re told the X-37B can do multiple maneuvers in orbit, so it can make it hard for people with telescopes on Earth to track it. It can do feints and fake-outs. It’s even been suggested it could reach geosynchronous orbit and hide in the glare of the sun. Those are much higher orbits than we are being led to expect. It sounds like they’re making things up. Like they’re desperate to tell us something, anything, except what the mission is for.
The military has more than one of these space planes, so there are more ways to trick people than that. It could start to look like reruns of “The Patty Duke Show.” You could be tracking one secret space plane, and it could trade places with its twin.
To add secrets on top of secrets, China has gotten into the secret military space plane business, too, and they’ve also launched theirs without telling us what it will do. So there’s a secret military space plane race going on, with the U.S. and China vying to out-secret each other.
CNN’s story on the X-37B gave some ideas of what the mission might be. It said experiments involving subjecting plant seeds to radiation might help astronauts in future crewed space expeditions to grow food on long trips. I’m not seeing how that could really work. They also say that on a previous mission there were experiments testing the viability of beaming solar energy to Earth, which just sounds wacky to me given how small the X-37B is.
I think most likely the secret mission of the space plane is that there is no secret at all. It’s a decoy to distract from something else going on.
Speaking of not really knowing what’s going on, now Maine’s Secretary of State has barred Donald Trump from Maine’s primary for being an insurrectionist, giving the U.S. Supreme Court more to rule on in addition to Colorado’s bar, forcing the whole country to wait for their almost-sure-to-be-disappointing decision.
The fact that Maine’s bar comes from the Secretary of State and not their state’s Supreme Court is likely to muddy the issue, of course, and make the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court that much more complicated.
Oregon is set to weigh in on the matter soon. Hmm, since 2016, whenever I see “Oregon” I think of “The Orange One.”
I wish we could use a SpaceX Falcon Heavy to insert Trump into a geosynchronous orbit in the glare of the sun. He could finally get himself a real tan.
Read more of the Jan. 3–9, 2024 issue.