On Exploring the Driest

Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance. (Will Durant, historian)

You should not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst. (William Langewiesche, author)

No doubt about it – deserts are dry. Because all deserts are not created equal, where is the driest desert on our planet?

Embed from Getty Images

Surely you didn’t guess the place in the image above, which is Death Valley in California. Besides, I’m confident the Atacama Desert quickly came to everyone’s mind.

Yes, the Atacama – a 600 mile (1,000 km) high plateau in Chile. The Atacama – sandwiched between the Andes Mountains to its east and the Pacific Ocean to its west. The Atacama – the land of stone, sand, and salt lakes. The Atacama – a land of unique flora and fauna that is sparsely populated by people.

Unlike previous posts in this series, today’s Explore provides two short looks at Atacama – an initial drive through the desert followed by the beauty of its night sky. Enjoy this journey to a land you may not have known until now.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 71

On a Joyous Time
In a world and times with so many negative events and attitudes, the rescue of the Chilean miners shines a bright light on humanity as one of hope and dignity – not one of reality shows, tabloids, political ads, and talk show dogma. Blessings to all involved.

On a Philly Fanatic
The Philadelphia Enquirer Frank Fitzpatrick authored this unkind article about Cincinnati. The comments were the best part, so thanks to the many good Philadelphians who took offense at his article and stood up for us. Good luck Phillies.

On Two College Football Thoughts
Besides last weekend’s Reds playoff game, I also attended the oldest rivalry west of the Alleghenies … one of the oldest college football rivalries at one of the oldest stadiums  … the UC Bearcats hosting the nearby Redhawks at UC’s Nippert Stadium. Bearcat running back Isaiah Pead amassed 197 yards in 10 carries by halftime. Before dismissing Pead’s effort against a MAC school, let us not forget his 21/169 stats against Oklahoma.

Speaking of MAC schools, I earned by undergrad degree at Bowling Green, thus I am a proud Falcon. I know times on the sports front have been difficult of late, but last year’s football time had an interesting stat as they played three teams with a large “M” on the helmet. Who were the opponents? The answer is later in this post.

On the Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals limp into their bye week with a lower than expected 2-3 record. While some find the struggles with the offense I mystery, I offer these thoughts. The offense lacks an identity. Most of the time it behaves as a team that thinks it can run or pass at will. It also behaves as a pass-first offense, then run. Hence, the problem because it does best when running is the top priority. Oh well – guess this is why I am a fan, thus not an NFL coach.

On the Upcoming Elections
With the midterm election season on the home stretch, it is a perfect time to catch countless examples the self-centered, clueless nature of today’s political culture. On the plus side, their ads, comments, and behaviors provide good examples of teaching young people about how not to be. Then again, that requires someone looking politics without a filter, or at least a limited filter.

I continue to maintain that the independents are the most pragmatic voting group and the ones who consistently decide election winners. Many, many times on this blog I have stated that independents vote parties out, and not parties in – something that the winners do not get. It happened in 2006 and 2008, and will likely happen in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Here’s a good Wall Street Journal article.

Cincinnatians are receiving some good political news! Reports are that the Democratic Party is withdrawing money for campaign television commercials in a local Congressional race. Amen to goodbye to pathetic ads – well, at least half of them.

On an Ohio Hamburger
I recently learned that USA Today listed a Cincinnati establishment for having the best hamburger in Ohio. Figuring this probably done by some sort of voting (and not actual tasting), I need to step forward on this one. Granted, Zip’s Café has a loyal following – but there is also a strong band of Zip’s dissidents, of which I am one. Best in Ohio? Not even close – not even best in the Cincinnati.

Answer to the college football question: In 2009 Bowling Green played Missouri, Marshall, and Miami – all with a large M on the side of their helmet.

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.