Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Large numbers are hard to understand. For example, consider this number: 63,000,000. Sixty-three million. How can we put a number like that into perspective? One common technique is to put the number into the context of something more comprehensible.

If you had 63 million 12-ounce bottles of Aquafina water, you could fill up almost nine Olympic-sized pools.

63 million miles is about two-thirds of the average distance from the Earth to the sun. It’s about 264 times further than the average distance from the Earth to the moon.

63 million inches would be 5.25 million feet—about a thousand miles.

If you had 63 million gallons of gasoline, that would enough for half a million people to drive from San Francisco to New York (assuming their cars get 25 miles-per-gallon).

The Old Plantation (attr. John Rose)

Listen to Scott Bradford reading this essay.

America’s original sin was chattel slavery. It was a reprehensible, inexcusable, indefensible institution that stained most of our first century as a nation and continued to have repercussions for much of a second century after that.

In the 1770s and 1780s, as we were moving from colonial subjugation into our new constitutional republic, the people that built our nation—the founders—wrote beautiful, timeless words about human rights and freedom. These are words that I live by today. And yet there was an inescapable contradiction: Some of the most illustrious of those founders—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and Benjamin Franklin—owned slaves.

They spoke and wrote eloquently about freedom while claiming to own other human beings.

These men, and others like them, cannot be wholly condemned. Like everyone else, they were products of their time who often failed to live up to their own principles. In the grand Christian tradition, I acknowledge that everybody is a sinner. Everybody is a failure. Everybody falls short of the ideal. My own shortcomings seem significantly smaller than those of the people who thought they owned other people, but they aren’t. I am, in my own ways, as reprehensible as they are. This is the reality of our flawed, broken existence.

Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

The United States Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion-on-demand with minimal restrictions throughout the United States. It also overturned Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that upheld Roe.

In the landmark case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the court ruled 5-1-3 that there was no justification for taking this issue out of the hands of state legislatures, and that the U.S. Constitution does not protect a so-called right to abortion. The effect of this ruling will be to return the issue to the states. It is likely that there will now be a patchwork of differing legal statuses for abortion across the United States, with some states imposing few (if any) restrictions and others essentially outlawing it.

The court has not ruled on the legality of abortion itself, which is a violation of the fundamental human right to life under natural law and must be prohibited in most cases by just governments. It does, however, open the door for state legislatures to reassert and protect this right.

The majority opinion in this case was written by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas. Justices Kavanaugh and Thomas each issued concurring opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts issued an opinion concurring only in the judgement. Justices Stephen Breyer, Elana Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor issued a jointly-authored dissenting opinion.

Keith Johnston, Pixabay

I like baseball, in theory. But let’s be honest. The game is sort-of boring. Here are ten things we can do to fix that:

  1. Use a football. Preferably deflated.
  2. Ten bonus points every time you hit the scoreboard.
  3. Automatic three-outs if you catch the ball in your mouth.
  4. Disputes over balls vs. strikes settled by a standardized best-of-three game of rock-paper-scissors.
  5. Each team can release five cats onto the field at any point during the game.
  6. Each team can designate one inning where the other team must wear blindfolds.
  7. For one randomly selected inning, the floor is lava.
  8. If there are 0 or 2 outs, the runner must run counterclockwise. If there is 1 out, the runner must run clockwise. Running the wrong way is an automatic out.
  9. Once per game, each team can declare a Calvinball.
  10. Five innings. Just five. Please. That’s plenty.

Virginia Major Party Primaries, 2022

Public primary elections for the Democratic and Republican parties will be held on June 21, 2022. Off on a Tangent makes recommendations to party primary voters in each contested state- and federal-level primary race in Virginia, as well as those for Loudoun County local offices.

Political parties are private organizations that should not have any official standing in our political system. But Democratic and Republican primaries in Virginia are managed by the state and funded by taxpayers.

The purpose of a party primary should be for that party’s members to choose their nominees, but Virginia has an “open primary” system where any registered voter may vote in any one (but not more than one) primary each year.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.