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Smith Says

SMITH: Life sustaining planets may be worth exploring

If you need more proof that 2020 has been the craziest year on record, there’s this: Cracker Barrel is selling booze.

Yep, you can now guzzle beer, wine and mimosas with your country-fried steak, meat loaf and peach cobbler. (I hear the mimosas pair well with the Country Boy Breakfast.)

Here’s the thing: I tried to work up a self-righteous snark about this, but I can’t. At first my Southern Baptist came out and I was all, “This is an abomination! Woe upon he who sacrifices righteousness for the sake of a shekel,” or words to that effect.

Then I thought, meh. Not that big a deal. When you compare more than 210,000 dead Americans with Granny getting tipsy over her grits and eggs, make a toast to Granny.

Yes, I thought about the sweet-faced servers and the Sunday after-church crowds who may now have to deal with drunkards. But the lack of alcohol didn’t keep me away from Cracker Barrel, even though I like wine with my dinner, and I doubt if people who love Cracker Barrel will boycott their blueberry pancakes because they now serve alcohol.

(I do understand why a place like Denny’s is dry: People go there at 1 a.m. to sober up with coffee and a greasy Grand Slam. The Denny’s in Manhattan served booze a few years ago, but I don’t know if they still do. Lord knows New Yorkers need a drink nowadays.)

The Cracker Barrel test sites in Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky reported impressive alcohol sales, CEO Sandra Cochran said. The company now plans to offer alcohol at its roughly 600 locations. Florida has reported especially strong sales, she said. (No kidding; I’d drink at every opportunity if I lived in Florida. And don’t hate on me: I’ve spent many summers there. Florida is Florida.)

In other heart-stopping news, five African grey parrots had to be removed from a British wildlife park for swearing at visitors and staff.

The foul-mouthed birds were donated to Lincolnshire Wildlife Park by different owners and briefly quarantined together before being put on exhibit. Apparently that was long enough to acquire a human-like fondness for four-letter words.

The pithy parrots “just went ballistic,” CEO Steve Nichols told CNN. “We were a little concerned about the children—and I get called a fat **** every time I walk past.”

Humans being what we are, when the parrots swore at visitors, visitors swore back. (This is how you know you failed at life: When you find yourself cursing out a bird that cursed you out.)

Staff opted to split up the parrots and temporarily remove them from display, hoping their language will become G-rated while separated. The company you keep, and all that.

Now, for the best news of 2020: Twenty-four other planets may be more “habitable” than Earth. What the what?!?

Astronomers have discovered two dozen planets, all more than 100 light-years away, that can—according to the New York Post—sustain human life.

These “super-habitable” worlds are bigger, warmer and have more moisture than Earth, according to Washington State University geobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch.

Researchers identified these planets based on criteria such as: Is there water? Will the soil sustain life? Can we send Bill DeBlasio there?

One sphere seems perfect: KOI 5715.01. It’s 5.5 billion years old, 1.8 times larger than Earth and has an average temp of 53.3 degrees—and it’s just 2,964 light-years away. Maybe there are sentient beings there who love each other and never heard the words “murder,” “racism,” or “war.” Maybe they’d welcome us.

One can dream.

Julie R. Smith, who once had an angry parakeet, can be reached at