Tag Archives: science

Welcome To Crazy Town

Driving around outside of Columbus without satellite radio, without any recorded books, with zero CDs and I mean zero, the way I listen to the radio is I hit the scan button and then wait for a reason to stop scanning. Sometimes it’s a song in the general vein I like, and that might mean good news for twenty miles or so. Sometimes it’s somebody British, saying British things.

This time it was a conservative religious talk show, and the three second-snippet which caused me to stop the scanner included the phrase “homo marriage.”

Chet From Weird Science Making EggsI’m pretty sure the woman who used the term – especially since she proceeded to use it repeatedly for the next half hour – believed that it was the proper term for gay marriage. Because if you’re using terms which would seem normal coming out of Chet from Weird Science, then you can pretty much bet the farm your lingo is legit.

Welcome to Crazy Town, is what I assume the show was called, though the key word there is “assume.” In truth, I can’t tell you who these people were or even what station they were on, but that’s where they were broadcasting from, and I’m pretty sure one of them was the Mayor.

The first thing they were doing was hammering down the following point: Teaching evolution in school without also teaching that Maybe It Was Magic, well that’s not teaching science, that’s indoctrinating students into a non-Christian philosophy, just basically cramming the Opposite of The Bible down their throats and then stamping the word “Science” on it.

“The Word of God predates science!”  One of them complained. He’s the one I think was the Mayor, sounding like Pat Robertson thirty years younger with a couple of solid martinis in him.

They all cracked up at how obvious that was, and then to demonstrate how much it was obviously a bad idea to teach Science without the Word of God, the woman – I’ll call her the Reverse Terminator, because she sounded like she had maybe come forward in time a hundred years, and like she knew nothing about technology of any kind, and was perhaps even unaware I could hear her in my car – pointed out that a recent study had shown NINETY PERCENT of young people now believed in Homo Marriage.

Hell in a handbasket, they all agreed. And then suddenly they were talking about the Bill of Rights, unaware of the irony, since it’s the reason you can’t teach Christianity in schools.

Saul GoodmanThey had a special guy on there and again, I was driving a car, didn’t catch his name. Let’s call him Fast Eddie, because he sounded like a grifter and wanted me to go to his website and get his free pamphlet which would teach me the Bill of Rights.

Hmm, I thought. Why don’t I just consult my own copy of the Bill of Rights, if I’m feeling like I need a refresher? Or perhaps I could google it. Me and George W. Bush – we LOVE to do the google.

Fast Eddie wanted to remind us of various agencies which were buying a bunch of hollow point bullets. All of these agencies seemed like weird agencies to be buying bullets, but if you just do the google the way Me-n-W like to do it, you can easily learn that most large government agencies, even the Social Security Administration, have hundreds of special agents who work in connection with law enforcement to investigate various types of crimes. All of these agencies get trained, all of them carry guns, and hollow point bullets are standard issue.

Fast Eddie, the Reverse Terminator, and The Mayor all wanted to talk about hollow point bullets for a while. They called them Killer Bullets, and were very outraged because I guess if you’re going to allow a federal agent to shoot someone in the line of duty, you want him to do so gently.

Hey, is it okay if Zeke from Tractor Supply picks up a few thousand Killer Bullets? Damn Right! It’s the Second Amendment!

But not the government, and certainly not any government agency which doesn’t intuitively sound like they might need them. They didn’t even want the Department of Homeland Security having hollow point bullets.

I mean, what do they need them for? Did anything about the recent gun debate lead them to believe that there were millions of nutcases in America absolutely slobbering for guns, bullets, and something to shoot?

Gun Show

After all, The Mayor reminded me. Obama is now literally a hitman.

Those are two real words he used together. Literally, hitman.

“He’s killing American citizens with these drones!” The Mayor announced, and no, he’s not. Eric Holder just said that it was technically possible – see this previous post about it.

“These drones are going to have scanners,” the Mayor continued. “They’ll be able to see through the walls of your house.”

“Well what are you doing in your house that you don’t want them to see?” Asked the Reverse Terminator instinctively, cracking me up because telling you what you can do in your own house is something these folks generally like to do.

“Well, anything,” said the Mayor. “You could be fixing dinner, chopping up vegetables, facing your wife and then a SWAT team piles through your door thinking you’re threatening her.”

FlandersSo let’s all reflect on what a grasp it takes on law enforcement budgets if we think SWAT teams are going to be called in every time the X-Ray Drones see a knife. And let’s also reflect on how creepy it is that the Mayor went there first – What if the drones think I’m threatening my wife at knifepoint?

Good question, Mayor of Crazy Town. What if the flying robot thinks that, and then the SWAT guys all turn into incompetent bufoons who would do whatever the flying robot says? Say, would you like to talk to some SWAT guys about whether or not they are drooling morons?

Anywho, if that’s what you conservatives are listening to all day, no wonder you’re all losing your minds. And if you’re wondering why no one is as outraged as you about Benghazi, Chicken Little, it’s because absolutely EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS is an Obama conspiracy when you’re broadcasting from Crazy Town.

A nice place to visit though. I imagine one could get a pretty tasty slice of apple pie there, yes sir. But I don’t think I’ll be visiting the local real estate office. And also I think someone should go check on The Mayor’s wife.


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Meanwhile, In Space

stormI’m online, watching images of a hurricane the size of two Earths on the surface of Saturn, and I’m listening to a literal rocket scientists explain to me all of the things that are weird about it. Being on Saturn is already weird, but he doesn’t sound like he expected any hurricanes there at all.

Most hurricanes are over water, he reminds me, and yes that seems true. I kind of have the vague feeling that it’s not just because we call them something else if they’re over land, but that the water is functional. It feeds the storm system, cooling air, evaporating, affecting air pressure.

Yes, says the rocket scientist, but he doesn’t elaborate, I’m still guessing as to why. But yes, hurricanes are normally over water, and there’s no water on Saturn. Also, this storm is locked at the north pole. We’re used to storms that lumber around and then break up and are gone. This is a really weird kind of hurricane, says the rocket scientist.

Okay, and I believe him. In fact, it sounds to me like Saturn is about to implode into a new star, but the rocket scientist doesn’t seem to be worried about that, and starts talking about something else.

The whole time he sock puppets me through the information, they’re showing me images and sometimes video of Saturn, shot from the Cassini spacecraft, which has been hanging around Saturn for a while now. I was the kind of kid who could tell you all the planets and how many moons they had, sat around in my room staring at pictures of them. Now we’ve sent a robot to Saturn, and I’m watching what it saw on my lap.

solar flareThe hurricane’s been rolling for years, locked at the north pole of Saturn, the wind blasting along at three hundred miles per hour. They’re going to keep an eye on it, while they watch meteorites break up into streams, possibly forming Saturn’s rings. While they map the seasonal plasma changes in Saturn’s magnetosphere. And while they study the ancient hydrocarbon lakes on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

Yes, and then I’m watching a commercial for some kind of car, thinking about how we’re sitting here in the future, poking around Saturn, and then another video shows up.

This one is a three-year time-lapse of our own Sun, complete with solar eruptions and a vast solar wave. They even play nice, New Age music that makes bloggers feel all introspectively New Agey when they watch it.

Pretty soon I’m thinking about the world we live in, the rabid, barking gun control debate, the bitter, grueling election. People blowing up in Boston, Syria, London, Iraq, you name it. A strike team killing bin Laden. Little flying robots killing civilians. An arch-villain corporation poisoning our food supply while we march in the streets, or don’t.

Here we have evidence that the Universe doesn’t care that much. If we want something in the Universe to care about this stuff, we’re going to have to care about it ourselves.

DrifterI find myself feeling weirdly better about everything, looking into an improbable alien storm. Watching the Sun keep spinning along, barfing plasma, burping solar wind. You got a choice, humans, says the Sun in the only way it knows how to speak. You folks figure out how to get along and work together, move from world to world, or I’ll eat you. I’ll explode one day, and I’ll eat you all, even in a billion years while you kill each other with lasers or sticks. You work it out or don’t, squares.

Some pretty effective New Age music in that three-year Sun montage. Got my philosophical panties in a bunch, yessir. I think I’m going to go and grab a beer, take that edge off. You stay here, blogosphere, and think about how much we matter. I’ll be back in the morning.


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Where Do You Stand On Killer Robots?

Angry MobI assume here in America, this issue will shake down along political lines since that’s what everything else does. Even the Boston Bombing turns out to be political – did you hear all that shit last week? It was like the opposite of 9/11.

“See?” Everybody said. “This is exactly why we’re right about whatever we were already talking about! Screw you, Everybody Else!”

One would think we could all get along with regards to killer robots, but that’s not the vibe I’m getting off this country right now, dude. My first guess would be that Republicans would be all for killer robots, reasoning then that they have the right to bear them because of the air-tight Second And Only Amendment and their typical academic status as constitutional scholars.

But on the other hand, fifty percent of Republicans in a recent poll said that they think the citizenry might have to take arms and revolt against the federal government pretty soon here. Even if they have the right to their own killer robots, one has to reason that the federal government would have more of them. Maybe killer robots are like Obamacare – Super Duper Bad.

It’ll be quite an occasion for popcorn, watching Fox News decide that for all of them in a single news cycle. PEOPLE OF NASCAR! WE HAVE RENDERED OUR DECISION ON KILLER ROBOTS!

Too much? That might have been too much, I’m sorry about that one.

Let me back up a little bit. Here’s a BBC News article entitled Campaigners Call For International Ban On “Killer Robots.” And no it’s not a joke, it’s not a cartoon, there’s a real woman named Jody Williams, from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and she has a pretty good point.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about the killer robots; we’ve been talking about drones for years.I’ve never really understood why people act like drones are so bad. It seems to me that we’ve been sending teams of covert humans to kill people and blow stuff up for decades. Remember The Bridge on the River Kwai? Way shorter movie with drones, right?

Anyway, we can’t act like the morality is new – we already kill folks, we already blow stuff up.

Nick FuryI’m not even sure we should knock it off. I mean, I suspect that we should knock it off, sure. But I’ll bet there’s a whole lotta shit going on in the world that I don’t know anything about. They have to cut the heads off some serpents and all that. And they have to arm certain groups of pricks to get certain more controllable pricks in office in countries that have stuff we’d like to get, stuff we’d have an easier time getting if we could control the pricks in charge.

That really does appear to be how we roll, and I might not like the sound of it and you might not ether, but I don’t see either of us hitting the fence for Mexico. We’re complicit in it, and we shouldn’t pretend that we’re not.

All right then, groovy. So, morality aside, we send out teams to kill folks. It would be a lot cooler if they could fly their guns over instead, that way the only thing we could lose would be the guns.

And that’s drones – flying, remote-control camera guns. If we’re going to kill folks, I’d rather do it that way. Call me crazy.

But that doesn’t make me Pro Killer Robot. The distinction, according to the gang over at The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, is when there’s no one flying the camera gun. It’s just flying around, killing.

Soon we’ll be able to build drones that don’t take orders from a person, little artificially intelligent war birds flying around deciding for themselves who to shoot and what to blow up. This technology, they tell us, is right around the corner and there is no reason to believe the world’s scientists will all collectively agree, That’s Too Evil, Let’s Not Do That.

Evil RobotsAs we all know, scientists have been skewing Evil for quite some time now. Hey did you hear that most bacteria will be immune to all known antibiotics very soon, and that we’re putting basically zero time and energy into figuring out what to do about it?

Sure, but we’re nipping at the heels of artificially intelligent death machines. What could go wrong?

Ah, and here I think I’ve found the fault line along which the two parties will divide. Speaking for the liberals, Ms. Jody Williams – and you know she’s speaking for the liberals because she has a Commie-Terrorist Nobel Prize for bringing about a ban on anti-personnel land mines.

“As people learn about our campaign, they will flock to it.

“The public conscience is horrified to learn about this possible advance in weapons systems. People don’t want killer robots out there.

“Normal human beings find it repulsive.”

I’m not sure why she’s speaking in Approximate Haiku Format, but that’s probably why I don’t have a Nobel Prize. Regardless, it does seem like that will be our attitude on the liberal side. Gross, we don’t need killer robots we need schools! And bike trails!

And then speaking for the Republicans, Roboticist Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology:

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we do not rush these systems into the battlefield.

A moratorium as opposed to ban – where we say, ‘we’re not going to do this until we can do it right’ – makes far more sense to me than simply crying out, ‘ban the killer robots’.

“Why should we do that now?”

Good point – it’s important to call Right Nowsies, in case we get a hankerin’ for some killer robots later on. We don’t want to flip-flop. And who knows, there might be a way to make a bunch of cash off of killer robots. Now, if only someone who owned a killer robot company could get elected Vice President, he could get his illiterate stooge President pal to start a war somewhere, ram that funding through. Make some Killer Robot Cheddar.

And rushing the systems to the battlefield – that IS the mistake they’re always making in Killer Robot Movies. They turn on the killer robot and set it to kill and damn it, it’s killing everybody!

more robotsYou have to take it nice and easy with your robot armies. Don’t go running off all pell-mell, tumble bumble. Put your thinking cap on, this is serious.

If we get all hysterical now about killer robots, Professor Ronald Arkin reminds us, then we won’t have time to really carefully consider how badass it would be to have them. Who knows, maybe we can make them so they’re nice to us, and killy only to say, well, folks who are different. Folks who hate freedom. That sort of thing.

And again, if you outlaw killer robot armies, then only outlaws will have killer robot armies. Is that what you want you naive, draft-dodging, bunny-kissing communist?

Anyway, the upcoming hilarious partisan debate aside, I’m all for signing up for this Ban on Killer Robots, but I think it’s kind of silly and misguided. See, we won’t have any idea that anyone has Killer Robots until they have Killer Robots. And then we’re going to I guess say ,”Hey, Remember? We agreed no killer robots!”

And because of the Ban, they’ll have to turn off their Killer Robots and hand ’em over. Cause that’s how the world works, that’s how Killer Robots work, and that’s how the mad scientists who create them work.

How far away is this stuff? Well, the article also quotes a directive issued by the US Department of Defense in November 2012, that all weapons with a degree of autonomy:

“shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force”.

Make sure and mull over the ominous use of the word “appropriate” in that statement, and then have yourself a nice night’s sleep.


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Behold The Mighty Clothing Printer

It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a wall-mounted unit no more cumbersome than a washing machine, looks kind of like a really big paper towel dispenser with Wifi access. Here’s the design web site by Serious Super Genius Joshua Harris, which tells you everything you need to know. I’ll just go ahead and recap it here, in case you don’t feel like clicking a link (I’m not going to steal his pictures though, so you should) and so it will count as a daily post.

Harris spends a really short, efficient amount of space explaining that by 2050, most people will live in cities, and as such, we’re not going to have much space per person. The middle class might be sinking, but so will our apartments it seems – Harris cites 220 square foot micro-apartments already being built and utilized in several major cities.

Then he points out that on average, Americans throw away 68 pounds of clothing per year. We have it made by cheap labor overseas, we wear it for a bit, and then we get rid of it, and that’s horribly inefficient.

So instead we’ll buy the templates, the designs just as easily as we buy files on iTunes. And we’ll buy cartridges with the various materials – blue cotton, red linen, etc.

Then we load up the program for Blue Sweatshirt, and hit print. Out pops a blue sweatshirt. I don’t know what the hell they’re going to do in the Third World, a buck a day stinks but it probably beats the hell out of zero.

Hold on, I changed my mind, I think I AM going to steal one of his pictures. I’ll just act dumb if he shows up and hollers at me.

Clothing Printer

Ah there it is. All of this, he claims, can be done with existing technology, so it’s not like we have to wait til 2050. And he did it for some kind of project, while the rest of us watched Breaking Bad and Facebooked and wiped out noses on our sleeves and then discarded the clothing at the park in a drunken stupor. Seriously, go click the link, I think I just stole that. He’s going to be mad.

But then, just listen. Because you might be thinking, Well hell, if we can all print clothes out as simply as yanking a paper towel off the roll, then won’t we just throw away more clothes?

And the answer is no, because instead you’ll recycle the clothing back into the printer, and make different clothing out of it. The clothes can be easily reverted to the base substance from the cartridges. When you are finished with your blue sweatshirt, you can feed it back in so that it’s recycled for the next Blue Thing you need.

You don’t keep your clothes in a closet anymore, you keep them on your laptop! They’ll think of closets like 8 Track Tapes!


ashIt’s like we’re cavemen and Joshua Harris just pulled out a shotgun. All Hail The Big Brained Man With The Boom Stick!

Why isn’t this man in charge of everything? Does he think anything else? We should listen to this man. Does he have a North Korea Reverse Printer? It can’t hurt to ask.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to freak out, but that’s basically a primitive replicator from Star Trek Mr. Harris is talking about, nice and casual. That’s what 3-D printers are, too. They’re teleporting and replicating stuff, more and more complicated stuff all the time.

I knew they’d get around to teleporting things, but I always thought of it like The Fly. Someone figures it out, and bam, that’s it, now we teleport. Get yourself some new jobs, truck drivers, cargo ship crews, and dirigible pilots. But no, it’s just like bandwidth or the speed of microprocessors or any other technology. They get it working so poorly that it’s barely useful, then improve it every year til pretty soon Professor Moriarty escapes from the Holodeck and you have to outwit him for realsies.

Not all fun and games though. Here’s a guy in this NPR article who can print you an assault rifle with a 3-D printer. Not joking. Go ahead and take away the guns, 3D Printed Gunit’ll be like taking your kids’ cassette tapes away. How else are they going to get their hands on music? The Internet?

That guy’s a licensed gun manufacturer now, by the way. Why are we having a gun debate again? The gun guys won, dudes. If you take away their guns, they’re going to print out new guns except they’ll still be all mad about the last set of guns you took away. Maybe we can get the clothing printer to print us all out some bullet proof vests, yes?

So something tells me that if we’re talking about clothing and guns, well – those aren’t the only things that can be 3D printed.

Here’s a guy trying to print out a house. Hell yes, he is, go look at him: Dutch Architect To Build House With 3D Printer. Not a shack, either, a 12,000 square foot house. The printer doesn’t print out the whole house, it’s like Super Legos or something.

The FlyThis is all happening. It’s apparently been happening a while. You can print objects now, and we’ve decided not to call it teleportation so nobody freaks out about alien-human hybrids who barf on your boyfriend’s foot and eat it.

Food? You buy nutrient packs like ink cartridges, then stick them in there and out comes crackers and beef jerky and quiche? Go ahead and tell me they can print out clothing and guns but not quiche. I assume the Super Deluxe model will be able to take my shirt after I eat ribs, and then separate the food from the clothing, stick them back into the right cartridges. You dry cleaners can go ahead and get new jobs, too.

Okay then. I’m good and freaked out. You guys have a lovely Sunday.


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Kirk Cameron and the Art of Asshattery

Mike SeaverLike most people, when I think of Kirk Cameron, I think “What an asshat.”

But it’s not because he’s a Christian, or even because he’s a Super Christian. It’s not because of the movie Fireproof, either, which I’m told was excellent as long as you already firmly believed everything it was getting at. Mmmmmm, that’s a nice, steaming crock of Reassuring, Christian Validation – just like church would taste if you let it simmer on the stove all day.

Actually, if you want to be a Super Christian, I’ve got a lot more respect for you than the average Christian. Average Christian just kind of checks the box – yep, I’m Christian all right, Go Jesus – and then he shows up on Sunday, drops a little scratch in the bowl for the Almighty, and then goes about his normal business getting into other people’s business and judging things he doesn’t understand and sinning like there are bombs dropping.

Nope, I say in for a penny, in for a pound, and so does reformed Atheist Kirk Cameron.

Take a look at the first post I snatched randomly off his blog – Dinosaurs on the Ark!

Yes, and it’s a solid, appropriate title just like my post today – it’s all about how the Lord clearly said he made land animals on Day Six, dinosaurs are land animals (all of them, apparently) and therefore, dinosaurs must have been on the Ark. Otherwise, well the Ark story wouldn’t make much sense would it? Duh.

BabyThe comment section of that one is priceless. A couple of alert readers helpfully point out that they didn’t have to be full-grown dinosaurs. Makes you want to smack yourself in the forehead, doesn’t it? Of course! Baby dinosaurs. All the pieces fit!

“Or maybe just eggs,” says one cautious man of logic and science, and yes. Let’s keep this party polite, it could have been just big funny eggs.

Anyway, again – I applaud Christians who don’t think carbon dating is accurate and who think there really was an Ark. Who are you going to believe – a bunch of scientists who keep changing their minds about how old the universe is, and whether or not we should eat eggs? Or are you going to believe the Word of the Almighty God? Huh? All right then.

Then you’ve got the big phonies – like this group of Christians here, telling Fox News that they can prove that what they found on a Turkish mountaintop is truly Noah’s Ark because of – you guessed it – carbon dating. Yay! It’s proof when we do it!

Okay, so I think I keep trying to assure you that it’s not Kirk Cameron’s Super Christianity that makes him an asshat and it feels like I’m always losing focus on that. Trust me, I have lots of Christian friends, in the same way that Kirk Cameron has lots of gay friends. I don’t think my Christian friends are asshats (especially not you, you’re awesome) and he doesn’t think his gay friends are all abominations in the eyes of the Almighty, just the ones who are honest with themselves about their sexual orientations and who expect us all to respect that. See? It’s like the Pagans and the Christians are sittin’ together at the table isn’t it?

No, it’s not that Kirk Cameron IS an asshat. It’s that he works passionately and tirelessly at his asshattery, like a master craftsman or a psychotic blogger who still gets Growing Pains checks. Check out his Easter blog post – You Killed The Author of Life – in which he uses the term “scheming Jews.” Cause you know, I don’t think the Jews get enough shit about that, they probably forgot there was an issue. Thanks, asshat.

the wolfThen there was when he came to the defense of Todd “legitamite rape” Akin. He probably sat straight up in bed and said, “There’s another asshat in distress!” And I’m sure Todd Akin was thinking, Yes, thank God Kirk Cameron’s here, The Wolf Himself. He’ll straighten this out. That’s all you had to say, umm, sir.

I would suggest that the pinnacle of Kirk Cameron’s asshattery comes in the form of his feud with Stephen Hawking. It seems to me, if you are having a fight with Stephen Hawking, and it’s not about physics, then you’re an asshat and fifteen other unpleasant things. Recently, Cameron told E! News – by far the most respected and appropriate forum to address Professor Stephen Hawking – the following:

“To say anything negative about Stephen Hawking is like bullying a blind man. He has an unfair disadvantage, and that gives him a free  pass on some of his absurd ideas. Professor Hawking is heralded as ‘the genius  of Britain,’ yet he believes in the scientific impossibility that nothing  created everything and that life sprang from non-life.”

Hmmm. I’m not sure why we need the “blind man” analogy. Stephen Hawking’s eyes and a couple of cheek muscles are about the only things on his body that work at all. It’s more like bullying a senior citizen who is almost entirely immobilized and needs round-the-clock medical care. Except you’re not bullying him, Kirk, to do that you would have to be dominating him, and the other thing about Stephen Hawking that works just fine is his brain.

And that bit at the end – of course. Because far more plausible than the scientific impossibility of nothing creating everything and that life sprang from non-life, is that nothing somehow created an infinite, Dude-Shaped God, who then created everything and caused life to spring from non-life. What are you, stupid, Stephen Hawking?

I’m not going to take a side on this one, let’s just agree that giant magic people and entire universes are both equally hard to imagine springing from nothing, all right? Try not to get cocky about your boat full of dinosaurs over there, you’re talking to one of the smartest men to ever live, whether God made him or not. And you’re talking to him on E! News, because peer review is a little above your intellectual pay grade.

Homer and HawkingAm I the only one who saw Inherit the Wind? Can’t we just say the Ark was plate tectonics and that the days were billions of years long? Grab a pint, quit snapping each other’s underpants? I think you need to settle down, Kirk Cameron, before Stephen Hawking loses his patience and breaks you off a slice, like he did on Homer Simpson that one time. You don’t hear him telling you what the Bible says, do you? So how about you stay out of the physics lab, that’s Hawking’s territory, and he would eat you for lunch.

You got that? Asshat?

Wel, all right then.


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Well Look Who Wants Some Help From NASA

One thing Newt Gingrich, NASA, and I all agree on is that we need to get some guys up to the Moon and build a little city, and then we need to get some guys to Mars, get their pictures taken, and then build a little city there, too.

Yes, that’s a lot to take in, and if it makes you feel any better, that is an exhaustive list of the things Newt Gingrich and I agree upon.  But bear with me here.  I’m about one-third serious.

Sure – I know we don’t have any money to throw around turning the little pictures in my head into reality.  I do admit, that’s a giant chunk of it, for me – nothing intellectual, I just want people on Mars driving around in little bubble cars with ray guns on them, preferably fighting monsters (and preferably winning).

So don’t start lecturing me about the budget.  I’m a screaming liberal – you can jam that budget right up your ass, we’ll buy whatever I say we’re buying.  Now get out there and create some jobs you lazy millionaires, I’m running up quite a tab here for crying out loud.

Maybe there’s some indigenous Martians we can steamroll over – something for the both of us, right?

I do agree though – NASA could do a better job marketing itself.  To be blunt, they don’t blow stuff up very often, but when they do it’s big, crazy expensive stuff, there are sometimes people in the stuff, and it’s always right on camera.  They don’t get a lot of air time when they do it right, you get about five seconds of footage – There go those crazy astronauts!  Look they took a panda bear and a treadmill with ’em this time!

Sure but right when they blow something – good lord, it’s awful.  They usually have to spend most of their effort trying to sockpuppet their way through an explanation of how any of this is even possible in the first place.  Then we pick out words that stick out because we understand them, but which don’t make sense.

Tiles?  What the hell are you taking about, tiles?  Spaceship tiles?  Why does the sky burn spaceships?  It doesn’t burn me.  It doesn’t even burn the horizontal kind of airplane.  Shit, it doesn’t even burn the tiles!

So we get all mad at them, like we do at regular tech guys on Earth.  Just Old-Fashioned, Language Barrier At The Drive Thru Window frustrated and mad.  Except we need our computers, we use them every day and we realize it pretty quickly, so we tolerate the terrestrial Tech Guy.

But do we really need these smug Super Tech Guys talking crazy to us while they blow stuff up?  It’s hard not to run through it in your head – would I even notice if you guys weren’t in space, screwing around? 

Then sometimes they hold dramatic press conferences and make everybody think they’ve discovered life on some other planet or a freaking time warp or something, but instead it’s something else, something you don’t even know what the hell, and they have to explain to you why you should be so excited about it. 

Or other times one of them puts on a diaper, drives across state lines, shoots somebody.  They end up explaining that yes, they sort of wear diapers sometimes in space, and yes, you can go Space Crazy.  “We used to really keep that shit under our hat til the Internet showed up,” they tell us.

Yes, and nobody likes the price tag and nobody ever taught them how to fudge the price tag.  They just come out and tell us, yeah, we’re going to crash this robot into Venus, see what happens.  Be around eighty million dollars but it’s going to be sweet, get some whiskey.

They should just price everything they do in terms of countries.  The Moon Base, for example, will probably cost us a couple of annualized Canadas.  I mean, I know where we can get one of them, sure – but where the hell are we going to get another?

I don’t know, Republicans – that’s your problem.  Just get out your checkbooks, there’s a killer asteroid coming and I’ve been busy blogging, so I’ll have to get you back on the next one. 

You heard me.  See for yourself – here’s the article, right from one of your notorious neo-conservative websites:  Asteroid 2011 AG5 May Pose Threat To Earth In 2040.

Now, put down your hookers and your Monopoly hats and focus.  I need you to understand a few things.  1) Asteroids have hit the Earth in the past  2) Asteroids have wiped out entire species on Earth in the past and 3) There are still asteroids all over the place out there, a whole bunch of them that keep right on moving because there is so rarely anything Earth-like in their way.

But did you catch that?  Rarely.  We’ve always known a killer asteroid was a possibility, but it has always seemed so remote.  Somewhere south of lightning strike odds.  I think the last big one to hit the Earth was about seventy million years ago (and no, I’m not going to google it).  So if the odds are one in seventy million, then we are about due aren’t we?

What if the odds are 1 in 625?  Cause that’s what they are currently calculating as the odds that this 460 foot chunk of iron will strike the Earth.  Right from the article:

“Talk about the asteroid was on the agenda during the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), held earlier this month in Vienna.”

Did you even know there were peaceful uses for outer space?  I didn’t either.  Death Stars, Star Destroyers, X-Wing Fighters.  Plus don’t even get me started on the enormous hand-shaped Teeth Monsters that live inside the asteroids.  Just absolutely infested with Mynoks. 

Anywho, this is literally a Rocket Scientist Meeting in Vienna we’re talking about – a big one – and they were taking this as seriously as anything else. 

Guess what they agreed?  They said, well, we haven’t been watching it that long, so we can’t be sure yet.  We’d put that odds at oh, 1 in 625, we’ll keep an eye on it.  And anyway, we’d have until 2023 to get a deflection mission going if it’s really headed our way.

But here’s what I think.  I think they’re watching the rest of us.  I think they’re hearing us talk about how dumb it is to send people into space and how we need to keep our feet on the ground and gee, it would be nice to play Space Man but we have enough problems right here. I think they’re hearing the whole thing – who needs NASA?

And I think that if they determine the asteroid is headed our way, they’re going to smirk and turn around with their hands on their hips and go, “Wellllllll, welllllll, welllllllll – look who needs a space mission from NASA to save eeeeevvvverrrrryboddy’s assss.”

Come on NASA, just deflect the meteor.  Ohhhh, I don’t know, fellas – that’d be reeeaaaaalll expensive and there’s nooooooo money.  We have enough problems right here on the ground!

Maybe turn out their pockets and shrug theatrically at us.  Member, fellas?  We don’t have enough money to goof around in space with our space toys, so you kept cutting our funding and second-guessing every single thing we wanted to crash into something else.  Every single hundred million dollar thing we want to fly to Mars and drive around.  Sure, maybe we could help you  – if we’d HAD MORE PRACTICE!

Anyway, that’s why I think we need the Moon Base.  It’s not why Gingrich thinks that, he was just running his mouth and something true flew out of it – the sun even shines on a dog’s ass some days, yessir.  But he’s right and it’s actually very simple. 

This is what the rocket scientists want to do, and we don’t want to offend the rocket scientists cause we’re going to need them when the asteroid finally shows up, whether it’s this one or another one.  The math is done – it’s coming, it’s just a matter of whether it’s now or fifty years or ten million, but oh yes, it’s coming.  I mean, they just now started looking in the last fifty years, and there’s one!  THERE’S ONE RIGHT THERE, GONNA BE CLOSE!

Are you betting on the fifty million?  Okay, well you do that.  I’m going to stand over here with the scientists, maybe shake ’em up a few martinis, take that edge off.

And speaking of which, we’re talking about NASA, so regardless of whatever plan they’re hammering together in Vienna, there’s a good chance they’re not deflecting it.  They’ll just spend four Spains and a Portugal trying to, and then go, “Aw shit.  Now it’s on fire and it’s going faster.” 

You see, we can’t be sure it’s going to miss us, and we definitely can’t be sure this crew is going to deflect it – God bless ’em but it’s not like they never screw anything up.  The only thing we can be sure of is that the asteroid is not going to hit two places, whenever it arrives.  So therefore we have to make sure we’re not all sitting around in one place – like the President and Vice President, yes?  Human race?  Carrying on?  Into the future? How many eggs do we keep in our basket again? 

Also, do you know how to check and see if there’s already a Moon Base?  Me either – if you asked me yesterday, I’d call NASA and ask them, but do you think they’re going to tell us about it now?  Good God, man – wake up.  It’s like, if you don’t let your kid on Facebook they’ll just get on there anyway and block you, so instead you let them and friend them and then do a standard Lurk And Watch. 

So building a Moon Base and getting actual, live people over to Mars is not just about ensuring humanity’s survival, it’s about keeping an eye on NASA’s otherwise-secret Moon Base and so on.  It’s about being paranoid and creepy.  And yes, it’s about spending money we don’t have on shit, just because I think it’s cool.

But mostly it’s about us, sitting here living in the toilet we just turned the world into and we’re flipping off the only people who can get us off of it.  I can’t shake my face hard enough for that to make sense. Everybody’s moving to freaking Idaho, like that’s going to help. First we decide the Nobel Prize sucks and now we’re all like, Shut Up Rocket Scientists We’re Trying To Eat Our Chicken Wings!

Like they’re not going to have chicken wings on the Moon.  Pull your head out of your ass, America.  Look down just a little and ask yourself:  Is this the future I want for my children?  And let’s be honest, we’ll be lucky to build one Blurry Triangle Asteroid Shooty Unit by 2040.  These two are fully operational, and they have their hands full.  We need to get busy, and we need to get busy NOW.



Earlier:  2010: The Year We Find Weird Microbes In A Lake

And:  I’m Sorry Did You Just Say Supermoon?

And:  The Startling Mind Of God Coincidence

And:  Welcome To The Harmless Ice Monster Project


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Atlantis Without Mermaids Is Not Interesting

Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if it turned out there was really a city called Atlantis and it sank long ago and then scientists found it? 

Bet your ass it would be cool, because Atlantis is full of aliens and shrink rays and ancient, mystic secrets.  Levitation beams.  Big, robot seahorses you can ride around on.  Aquaman and his surly pals.  What a rocking party that would be.

And it’s not just me thinking that.  Atlantis is extremely popular for something with little to no basis in historical reality at all.  You bring it up on the news, and everybody’s listening.

That’s probably why every couple of years a new batch of scientists pops up in the news and says, holy crap – we found Atlantis!

Cause they know we’re always going to perk right up and say, Really?  Where?  And they’re right – that’s what we do.

Sometimes it’s in the Gulf of Mexico.  Sometimes it’s under Antarctica.  Sometimes it’s in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.  And it’s always disappointing, because it’s always ruins.  Some blocks with coral growing on them, and not so much as a street sign.  What makes you guys so sure it’s Atlantis?

Then the answer is typically a frustrating variation of What Makes You So Sure It’s Not?  And I can’t stress this enough – that’s not the way science works.  If you guys can’t prove it’s Atlantis, then it’s not Atlantis.  Call it something else.

Imagine they’re looking for Cleveland in 2600 years and all they know is it’s by a river.  Look there’s Cleveland!  There it is again!  No wait, it’s over there!

This time it’s buried in mud in the middle of Spain (you heard ’em), probably under the plains, since in Spain that’s mainly where the rain falls.

No, really.  Not even in the ocean this time.  You guys found Spanish Pompeii and you decided that’s probably Atlantis?

Yes.  This particular incarnation of Atlantis was swamped by a tsunami, making it an even more suspicious Atlantis, the kind that decides to cash in on Tsunami Fever.  Hey, you guys are interested in Atlantis, right?  And you’re interested in tsunamis?  Well, check this out – we found it before tsunamis were all the rage, so it’s kind of an indie Atlantis.

Yeah, it’s indie all right.  Are you guys smoking crack or what?

Scientists.  Guys.  Ladies.  Gang.  Whatever.  You have to stop deciding that every city-like structure you find which isn’t sitting on a hilltop is Atlantis.

There’s not much Atlantis literature out there, you know.  Plato talked about it, 2600 years ago and said something about the Straits of Gibraltar and a rocking music scene and that it sank.  And nearly all of the remaining work on it is either Stargate: Atlantis, Aquaman comics, or it’s some kind of completely baseless, childish work of fiction.

The scientific approach favored by Atlantis hunters is, anytime someone finds a cube-shaped rock underwater off the coast, they look around and see if anything within a thousand miles could be mistaken for the Straits of Gibraltar, and then they say, Hey.  Maybe that’s Atlantis.

And you know, headlines can be nice and vague, right?  All you have to do is put in a qualifier – Unconfirmed Reports Suggest Atlantis Is Under New York City!

Or in this case, Atlantis Found, Scientist Claims!

It’s a perfectly true headline, but only because there’s really a scientist claiming it, not because the scientific community has agreed this is Atlantis.  In fact, given the six or so sentences we know about whatever Atlantis was (we know more about Xanadu and Valhalla and Hoth), I don’t see how they’re ever going to prove that any given group of ruins were once Atlantis.

Hold on – I just found Atlantis too, in my butt.  Atlantis Found, Blogger Claims!

Let me be clear.  None of you jackasses found Atlantis.  You found some other city that was destroyed by something watery.  That’s a pretty common way for cities to get destroyed, I imagine, since as far as we know, there weren’t nuclear bombs 2600 years ago.

And anyway, if you found Atlantis, and there’s not a glass dome over it, and no mermaids are swimming around in it, and there are no sea monsters, then who cares?

Seriously, guys – who the hell cares?

You’re just taking advantage of the famous name – like anytime someone finds a tooth within a hundred miles of anything Amelia Earhart flew over, same thing.  Could bone fragment belong to Amelia Earhart?

Then later, well, we don’t know.  We sort of doubt it, there are an awful lot of people.  But it COULD be!  The mystery endures!

No, it doesn’t.  It’s not a mystery.  That’s a bone fragment, and this a two thousand year old bullfighting arena or something.  If you didn’t find any Stargates or aliens or mermaids or even anything glowing green, then YOU.  DID.  NOT.  FIND.  ATLANTIS.

It’s like the Professor says – bring me a bag of Bigfoot’s droppings or shut up.  That is all.


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Posted by on March 20, 2011 in News/Commentary, Uncategorized


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