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Election Aftermath: Scientists to Leave Planet

As Republicans surge back to prominence, NASA builds an escape rocket. Coincidence?

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Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe not. At the same time the nation’s faith-based, anti-reason political party is planting its flag on Capitol Hill, scientists are looking for a way out. Way, way out. NASA just let slip the news that it’s building a secret starship that will take astronauts on a one-way journey to colonize another planet. Wonder if they know something we don’t. (Wonder if there are any seats left on that flight.)

Small business to the rescue? Meanwhile, those of us who are stuck here on earth are still trying to change our world for the better. The TriNet Human Capital Index shows small firms boosted hiring in September. It’s not exactly a cannonball into the job pool--hiring was up just 0.79 percent--but at least small businesses are doing something, while those cash-hoarding corporate bosses relax in their lounge chairs and snap their fingers for another round of layoffs and mojitos. Small firms are also lifting the economy in other ways. They’re letting go fewer people: small-business layoffs were down 42.4 percent in September, compared with a rise of 3.57 percent in the overall U.S. economy. And they’re borrowing more, says the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index. Loans to small businesses were up 16 percent in September, a jump that comes on top of a 15 percent rise in August. “These small businesses are people who see the demand in the economy every day and react very quickly,” says PayNet president William Phelan. “This doesn’t point to anything but a robust recovery.” Just in time for Wall Street’s new towel boys on Capitol Hill to take credit for it. (Yes, we know presumptive House Speaker John Boehner says things like, “It’s time to put the people back in charge.” But the guy Hoovers up millions in contributions from financial titans, insurance companies and pharmaceutical conglomerates. You don’t actually think the “people” he’s talking about is people like you, do you?)

The new “maturialism.”
We got all excited when we read about this new movement small spotted by a group called Trendwatching.com. It’s called “maturialism.” We figured it was a nod to people like us, people getting older yet still living on the edge. (Pineapple on our pizza? Let ’er rip!) But turns out that when these marketers say “mature” they don’t mean hip and sensuous over-40 folks like us and Cher. They mean “mature” as in bored. Trendwatching.com says: “Audiences (who are by now thoroughly exposed to, well, anything) can handle much more quirkiness, more daring innovations, more risque communications and conversations, more exotic flavors than traditional marketers could have ever dreamed of. In short, mature consumer societies no longer tolerate being treated like yesteryear’s uninformed, easily shocked, inexperienced, middle-of-the-road consumer.” In other words, sex still sells. But you’d better crank it way up if you want anyone to pay attention. To her credit, Cher seems to get this. She’s still out there swingin’. And so are the Japanese. (Yokatta koto!)

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