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The Week That Was: A Good Week For NASA, A Bad Week For Milo Yiannopoulos, And More

An artist's rendering of the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC))
An artist's rendering of the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC))
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Editor's Note: Every Friday, Tom Keane offers up assorted observations, conundra and miscellanea about the week that was. Here's his round-up for the week ending February 24, 2017.


NASA discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star, raising speculation that humanity might not be the only intelligent creature in the galaxy. Given the week’s events, however, any aliens that are out there might well object to the comparison.

Try, try again. To avoid further court review of his widely-criticized immigration ban, Donald Trump made plans to issue a revision. So when last week he all-cap tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” after the 9th Circuit put the kibosh on his original ban, the president actually didn’t mean, “See you in court.” He meant, Okay, I get it. I’m gonna lose. On the other hand, the new version is apparently much like the old, meaning there will be fresh lawsuits from the aggrieved telling Trump that they will, indeed, see him in court.

The Sunday show we all hate and all watch. Americans spent the week looking forward with high anticipation to Sunday’s Oscar broadcast, feverishly wondering whether the Best Picture winner would be that movie with the dancing or the really sad one or the film about spaceships or perhaps some other show none of them had ever seen either.

Hatfields and McCoys. U.S. officials appeared surprised when Mexican leaders angrily rebuffed a visit by the secretary of state and head of Homeland Security, which is akin to being surprised when Taylor Swift rebuffs Katy Perry. Or Demi Lovato. Or Lorde. Or…

Festival of Rights. The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off on Wednesday. The last 12 months saw conservatives denouncing Trumpism as a renegade movement more akin to white nationalism than principled conservatism. This year’s conference featured conservatives swallowing hard as they realize that, with Trump now firmly in charge, they need to sacrifice those same principles if they want a share of their newly-won power.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, second from left, waves as he is introduced for a panel discussion at the CPAC in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday. From left are, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, second from left, waves as he is introduced for a panel discussion at the CPAC in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday. From left are, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Still, there are limits. CPAC disinvited firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, not because he’s a rabid bigot, an inveterate sexist and a white nationalist – all of which he is – but because a video was released where the Y-man seemed to approve of pedophilia. The message from the right? Everyone is fair game except for little kids. We like them – at least, that is, until they turn 16.

Going backwards. Trump rescinded Obama-era rules designed to protect transgendered youth from mockery, torment and harassment. Hmm. When Theodore Roosevelt spoke of the “bully pulpit,” he didn’t mean that the president should actually be, you know, a bully.

All jacked and nowhere to go. A new study suggests men who exercise strenuously have a lower libido than those who don’t. Maybe. But at least those men will have more opportunities to deploy that lowered libido than will their coach-potato counterparts.

Does it just not pay enough? After Gen. Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser, the president asked several others to take the job, including Vice Adm. Robert Harward and Gen. David Petraeus. All said no. Finally, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster accepted the offer. Good thing, too. The supply of old, white, senior military men is quite limited. And apparently those are the only kind Trump wants.

President Donald Trump, right, listens to Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, where Trump announced that McMaster will be the new national security adviser. (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Donald Trump, right, listens to Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, where Trump announced that McMaster will be the new national security adviser. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Flat Earth Society. A new Gallup poll found that 44 percent of Americans believe that Trump “can manage the government effectively.” Of course, roughly the same percentage believes in creationism and thinks the government is hiding evidence of alien encounters. Here’s betting they’re all the same folks.

A Kentuckyan and a Swede walk into a bar… Close on the heels of its revelation of the Bowling Green Massacre, the administration brought to light several major terrorist incidents in Sweden. Swedes joined Kentuckyans in being absolutely mystified with what the White House was talking about, while late night talk show hosts proclaimed they already had enough good material for the rest of the year.

Charlatans, swindlers and mountebanks. Families accused Hyland’s, a homeopathic “drug” maker, of selling teething products that killed children. Homeopathy is a bunk science that believes highly diluted poisons can somehow cure an illness. In the teething case, it appears the company didn’t dilute the poison enough. But the real tragedy is all of the other people who needlessly suffer and die because of the hokum that companies like Hyland’s peddle.

Gut course. City officials released the results of its inspections of about 1,100 Boston restaurants. On the first round of inspections, nearly 94 percent got an “A.” After re-testing, almost every single restaurant received an “A” – just 10 still had “Bs” and only one had a “C.” These are the same folks who oversee city schools, by the way, so next time your kid brings home a good report card, try to tamp down the excitement.

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Tom Keane Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Tom Keane is a Boston-based writer.

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