To me, this fourth of July event is far more patriotic than any flag-waving, fireworks-exploding, political-speech-making that will happen today. Exploration, the desire to learn and understand the world – the universe – around us, used to be one of the traits we prized most about ourselves as Americans.

Certainly there are still people in this country to whom the goal of knowledge for it’s own sake is important. People who want to learn about something just out of curiosity, not because it brings money or power. But few are among our current "leaders" of any political stripe. And that, in a nutshell, is one cause of so many of our national problems.

Happy Independence Day.