Monday, February 19, 2018

He, Claudius

Um, just to be clear, the President knows that there's more than like, eight people working at the FBI, right? I ask because of this:
I...I'm not sure I have words here...
The White House staff is something like 
377 people and they can't go a day without
some colossal fuck up. Not one day.
Holy shit, right? Director Christopher Wray was quick to admit that the FBI failed to act on information and promised a swift investigation, but it takes a special kind of...I don't know, unmitigated gall? Raging narcissism? Is there a word that means both of those things? Huh? No, dickweedery is too kind. Anyway, whatever it is, it takes a special kind of it for Trump to suggest that he's the real victim here. The FBI employs something like 34,000 people and any organization that large is bound to suffer breakdowns in communication, negligence and just dumb human error, right?

I mean look at all those desks, they can
investigate two, maybe three crimes at a time. 
I'm not defending them, like, there's going to be a lot of difficult questions in the coming months about their failure to follow up on a tip that might have prevented last week's massacre, but this wasn't because they were too busy looking into Russian election meddling. Again, 34,000 people. They can do two things at once. Trump's ragingly unmitigated, narcissistically galling tweet was part of a full weekend of twitter about how not collude-y he is and how this is all Obama's fault. Somehow.

"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong-no collusion!"

-The President drawing an unsupported 
conclusion and using 'impact' as a verb
"Oh! Did he say no collusion? Well that's good enough for us.
Scrutiny: over. It's a good thing that journalism is alive and well."

-The White House Press Corps

Really though, the college bookstore
sweatshirts should have tipped you off.
Uh...does he not spot the fact that Russia's efforts to meddle with the election started before he announced his candidacy doesn't actually clear him of suspicion? In fact, I think it kind of supports the idea that his preposterous bid for the White House that somehow worked against all odds and reason wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Russian interference. It's like when you find yourself doing really well at Jeopardy only to realize at the commercial break that it was College Jeopardy all along and you're not actually a genius.

Anyway, unsatisfied with politicizing grief, the President continued with his rapid-fire tweeting. Apparently he wasn't busy doing anything else this weekend.
So like is he biologically incapable of sensing the irony here,
or does he just really think we're all that stupid? I'm genuinely asking.
"I would characterize my approach going
forward as 'making it rain indictments.'"
-Special Counsel Mueller after
Well, he's kind of right there, they are almost certainly laughing their cynical autocratic asses off over all this, but not for the exact reason he suspects. What we do know is that Russia embarked on a two-year campaign of screwing with our democratic process and now we have an out-of-control gameshow host destabilizing our system checks and balances, undermining our intelligence agencies and using a school shooting to try and deflect some pretty valid questions about how he got the job in the first place. But we won't know how deep this goes until Robert Mueller is done handing out indictments.

So I guess what I want to know is how detached from reality is the President that this doesn't bother him? Like, even Claudius, Hamlet's dick of an uncle, soliloquizes about how he can't enjoy being king since he came by it via ear-poison-y regicide. I'm not comparing the two of course, I mean, Trump didn't kill anybody for the job and I am fully willing to accept that he's just the patsy here, but you'd think it'd get under his skin, you know?
I guess what I'm saying is that Trump is Claudius, Clinton was
Hamlet and I guess the ear poison was Russian fake Facebook
posts? Goddamnit...fine, I'll admit it's not my best analogy.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Today in false equivelences:

Friendly advice: if someone offers you
food in hand-labeled mason jars and 
trust me, someone will, just don't eat it.
Hey, you know who can go fuck himself? Local landlord Gary Whitney. Sorry, that was probably a little harsh and also you almost certainly don't know whom I'm talking about, so I'll explain. Santa Cruz, where I live, is a little beach town on Monterrey Bay in California. It's a touristy place full of surfers, hippies and people who think you want to hear about their homemade all natural cleanse or sincerely believe that rubbing an amethyst under their arms is the same thing as using deodorant. Fun fact: it isn't. They're lovely people, but it isn't. Still though, I like it. It's a nice place to live.

Oh, you do insist on your own bathroom?
bathroom? Then I suppose you'll be needing 
 servants quarters as well, eh your lordship?
But as nice as it is, it isn't worth paying $2,000 for a one bedroom apartment. Of course you can pay less if you don't insist on extravagances like having your own bathroom. But assuming you can actually find a place within your budget, most management companies and landlords insist on doing what's called a hard check on your credit which actually lowers your credit score, even if they don't rent to you. And you also have to hand over a pay stub proving you make three times the rent which is weird, because you only need one the apartment. It's just their way of saying 'no poors.'

Oh, and if a year into your lease your landlord decides to jack your rent up by like twenty percent or something, chances are you have to move and start the process all over again. What I mean by all this is that renting in Santa Cruz is a humiliating shit show.
After passing the credit check and proving their income, potential tenants
must compete in the Thunderdome for the amusement of landlords.
I'm not a property owner, but a new coat
of paint and maybe a leaky faucet here and
there...what's that, eight? Nine grand?
But the good news is that the city council approved a temporary freeze on rent increases over two percent and a more permanent fix might be coming to a vote soon. Awesome, right? Probably, although the impending freeze is prompting some landlords to get crazy rent increases in under the wire, which for one guy at the meeting meant another $300 a month. That's another $3,600 a year on top of whatever he was already paying. So that's a kick in the teeth. But I suppose there are two sides to this, I mean, landlords do have to come up with money to pay for repairs and upkeep, right?

Pictured: Gary Whitney,* seen here lighting
an expensive cigar with a $100 bill as if to
emphasize his disregard for the common man.
Which brings us to local landlord, opponent of the proposed legislation and cartoonish symbol of America's wealth disparity, Gary Whitney who spoke at the council's meeting:

"You wouldn't go down to Dell Williams (a local jewelry store) and tell them how much to charge for a watch..."

-Gary Whitney, sticking
up for Big Watch

Tragically, Santa Cruz's watchless population
is more than four times likely to be late to things.
Well yes, he's got me there. The city council is probably not likely going to be instituting watch price controls anytime soon, but on the other hand Santa Cruz isn't suffering from out of control watch prices. Like, I can't believe that I have to point this out, but watches are not apartments. This town isn't ranked among the highest in the nation when it comes to per capita watchlessness. Having to pull out your iPhone instead of casually glancing at your wrist isn't the same thing as sleeping in the doorway of the Forever 21.

Again, I don't know Gary Whitney, and I'm sure his family thinks he's a great guy, but he just got up in a meeting and spouted off the same kind of 'the market will see to itself,' unfettered capitalism nonsense that can only end in pitchforks and torches.
Above: What we can look forward to.

*ok, not an actual photo, but you're not reading this because you want accuracy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We have no one to blame but our selfies...

Well if you ever needed more proof that we're rapidly sliding towards annihilation at the hands, or cold metal gripping claws of the machines, then look no further. Because this:
I'm confused, does the drone fly into the wheels or something?
In many ways the best use of a time
machine might be to warn people in the
past about how disappointing the future is.
What do you mean so what? I mean, look at it. Ok, fine admittedly the picture isn't really clear, but if you clicked the link, and I know you didn't, you'd know that that thing is an autonomous drone that can lock on to a particular person and follow them around, keeping them in the shot the whole time. Yeah, it's a $2,500 selfie drone developed by a start-up thus combining everything that sucks about the 21st century into one, obnoxious, USB-rechargeable package. It's called a Skydio R1 and it's apparently designed for the rich narcissist who has everything. Like, literally everything else.

Here, watch this video of a jogger trying in vein to escape this thing. Mind you this isn't a cautionary tale, this is the company's own promotional video. Yeah, someone from marketing thought a neat way to showcase their flying camera was by having it pursue a women through the woods.
I'm sorry, is there a non-creepy application for this technology
or is it just a flying, quad-rotor stalking device?
"Holy shit, so this Terminator is going to  
hunt me down and-wait, did you say 16 
minutes? And you used up 10 explaining 
all this so...we're good then, right?"

She bobs, she weaves, she ninja flips over fallen trees, but nothing she does can shake the drone. It's sort of a grim portent of things to come. Of course, it's not perfect. Sure, like it doesn't feel pity or remorse and it absolutely will not stop until you are dead, but it will definitely stop when if runs out of battery, which happens about 16 minutes in. Also, it doesn't have a ton of memory. Oh, and like a hoverboard, it can't work on water because the rippling, reflective surface screws with its navigation. But give them five years, I'm sure they'll be handing down the last members of the human resistance with no trouble at all.

That's great. You know, if we were to be honest, I think we all kind of new that San Francisco's start-up tech culture would one day be our civilization's downfall, but they're not alone in their guilt. The blame has to lay at least partly on us, the masses, whose insatiable need for easier ways of taking pictures of ourselves without having to ask a stranger to do it, will prove to be our undoing.
A stick with a phone on the end of it just wasn't enough for us.
We had to push the technology farther, never, in our arrogance imagining
 that maybe, just maybe, the technology would one day push back...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Today in not at all surprising revelations:

Wai-wai-wait, are you telling me that health insurance companies, the very same companies to whom we pay ever-spiraling premiums and thereby fuel innovation, are just in it for the money? can't be true...
"I say, no shit Sherlock, no shit indeed."
Dr. Watson
"You are our #3 priority..."
-Actual slogan*

But that's what the State of California's insurance commissioner is looking into right this very minute. The investigation is in response to a deposition given by a former medical director for Aetna named Jay Ken Iinuma in which he admitted that he never looked at patient's medical records when making decisions about approving or denying coverage which, yeah, feel that? That's the uncomfortable reminder that decisions about our health are routinely made by people whom we've never met and who's first duty is to shareholders, then to lawyers, then to you. Maybe. If there's time.

Jones, seen here in his official
photo having not bothered to shave.
According to the commish:

"If the health insurer is making decisions to deny coverage without a physician actually ever reviewing medical records, that's of significant concern to me as insurance commissioner in California-and potentially a violation of law..."

-Dave Jones, California-wait,
what does he mean potentially?

Potentially? Doesn't he mean without a doubt a grievous, and prosecutable offense? Sorry, just kidding, but I do think it's adorable how shocked he sounds.

What? They're kind of nuts...
I mean, if he's the commissioner of insurance, isn't it his job to regulate the insurance markets in California? If so, shouldn't he know that insurance, as a thing, is kind of bullshit to begin with? And I don't mean that in a crazy libertarian sort of way, like, it probably started with reasonably good intentions, but the way health insurance in America in the twenty first century works is kind of a shit-show. Don't believe me? Check out how much Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna made in 2016. To busy to click? Fine, spoiler, it was $41 million.

Yes, million with an 'M' which, while not a 'B' is still more than anyone should be making while at the same time denying benefits to anyone. I'm sure he's really good at health insurance company CEO-ing, but nobody deserves $41 million dollars a year for doing their job. 
"What's Aetna's secret? Look, any insurance company can approve a claim.
What we do that's really innovative is not approve it and keep the money."

-Mark Bertolini, wealthy person

Do you ever feel sad? Ask
your doctor about drugs. 
Anyway, I'm sure the question on your mind is what the actual fuck? And it's a good question, and one that deserves an answer, but I doubt we're going to get one. Like, of course it's a scam. The health insurance industry I mean. Are we even pretending that health care in America is little more than a thinly-veiled way of extracting money from people who just want a kidney or some of those wonderful pharmaceuticals we keep hearing about on TV? Like how do people like Iinuma or Bertolini even sleep at night? Well, metaphorically, because obviously they sleep soundly, on expensive sheets. In mansions.

Look, there's a better, more Canadian way to do this and everyone knows it because some of us have met actual Canadians and they absolutely refuse to shut up about how much better universal healthcare is.
Canada: "Where we won't let you die in the streets..."
-Canada's actual slogan and
yes, I make up slogans now

*ok, it's not their actual slogan, but it is a slogan.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Exactly nobody loves a parade...

Ok everybody, get ready to gasp in shock as the President makes an Omega-leval ass out of himself again, just a day after dismissing half the attendees of the State of the Union as traitors. Whadd'd he do now? He's ordered the Pentagon to make preparations for a massive military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
I mean why not? It looks so badass when autocratic rogue states do it...
"Oui, France! We're not all just one
dimensional stereotypes you know."
-Claude Jean-Paul D'Surrender
Well, ok, he did this last month and we're only hearing about it now, and if I was to be fair, while it's easy to compare such a thing to North Korea, he got the idea while visiting France last year. He watched that country's Bastille Day celebrations which included a military parade down the Champs Elysees. Which is a thing some countries do, show off their military gear as some kind of display of nationalism, but it's not really us, you know? Russia, China, sure, but not us. It's a little, what's the word? Chest-thumpingly militaristic?

I guess Trump, who we all know is like a 'big military guy,' was inspired by the show in Paris and decided that he wants to do something similar here.
Above: The President's hand being crushed by French
President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to...oh shit, this
whole thing is about who's is bigger, isn't it? What? I meant
whose military budget...why? What did you think I meant?
He may not have served in the military
but his TV show had good ratings,
so like, same, same, right?
Which, whatever. Oh, and I should probably mention that when he refers to himself as a 'big military guy,' he's not referring to actually serving in the military. He did, as was recently and hilariously pointed out by Senator Tammy Duckworth, receive five deferments during the draft, four for being in college and one for bonespurs. He just thinks the military is neat. You know, as long as he himself isn't in any physical danger. But since Trump is also a big money guy, a reasonable question might be how much is this going to cost us? My admittedly uneducated guess is a shit-ton.

Well, the Pentagon is still working on it, but since we don't keep all our impressive military equipment in a storage unit in Georgetown or something, we can safely guess it's at least in the millions of dollars to move vehicles and personnel to D.C. At least.
Plus you have to add in the cost of rose petals, vestal virgins
and elephants not to mention hiring a eunech to whisper 'remember thou
art mortal' into the President's ear as while the crowds cheer him on.
So other than satisfying the childish demands of someone who's watched Patton one to many times, what's like, in it for us? As Americans I mean? According to White House damage control shill Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

"Don't you want to thank the troops?
Do you hate America that much?"
"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation." 

-Huckabee-Sanders on why we should
all feel pretty shitty about
having a problem with this this isn't about giving an insecure gameshow host with a Napoleon complex a big parade so he can feel just as cool as Emmanuel Macron, it's about the troops. That's cool. Hey, you know what else France has that's pretty cool? Universal healthcare. Anyway, I'm sure America's active service people and vets are super-thrilled about Trump's plans to thank them by throwing himself a parade that goes right by his house.
"A parade? Sure, sounds great. Way better than housing
and services for America's many, many homeless veterans..."
-Some guy

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tweaking the ghost nipple!

Hey, if not applauding like an idiot every time the President makes that stupid tiny violin gesture while bloviating about nonsense is treason, then treason me up!
I mean, what do we even call that? Tiny violin? Turning the
 invisible dial? Oh! Can we call it tweaking the ghost nipple?
Thanks to Trump's remarks, this scene
from The Force Awakens is now the second
most preposterous accusation of treason.
Yeah, the President, while visiting a manufacturing plant in Cincinnati, Ohio, made a speech in which he called the fact that Democrats looked bored and disinterested in whatever he was reading off the teleprompter during his most-watched ever State of the Union, treasonous.

"They were like death. And un-American. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yeah. I guess. Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."

-President Trump speaking today in 
Cincinna-are you fucking kidding me?

Before you suggest that I'm being
unfair remember that he once leapt
to the defense of literal Nazis
Well, technically he said he heard someone-didn't say who-call them treasonous, so I guess he's covered. Anyway, fuck that guy. Fuuuuck him. For real. Like, I know the ridiculous horseshit he spews forth is designed specifically to get a reaction from people. That reaction being outrage from those of us who think he's an unqualified buffoon who rode a wave of white nationalism and gerrymandered district lines into the White House. And incoherent grunts of approval from those who despite everything he's said and done in the past year or so still wear those stupid Make America Great Again hats. 

And it works, the reaction I mean. I fall for it, I'm outraged. I even take precious time away from blogging about Star Trek and video games  to complain about him. But goddamn. I mean, treason? You know, if he's going to get all butt hurt over Democrats not cheering him on as he outlines his plan for ruining what's left of America's credibility, could he maybe wait until after the investigation into his possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice is complete before calling other people traitors?
Above: Exactly the same thing as selling nuclear
secrets to a foreign power. Apparently.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Opposite Day: Still Not Real

Does the President know that opposite day isn't a day? I ask because he recently declared February to be Black History Month, which is already a thing, and I wonder if maybe he's unfamiliar with how observances work. I mention this because of this tweet he sent out-yes, another tweet. It's a gold mine:
No thanks? Well, at least he's politely
lying to our faces...well, to our twitter feeds...
Above: The exact opposite of what
 the President said. Exact opposite.
Um, ok, so like none of this is correct. First of all, while there is growing support among Democrats for universal healthcare and we all wish there was more, that's not the same thing as saying the Democrats are pushing for it. As for thousands of Britons marching in the streets over healthcare, that's technically true, but they're marching to get more funding for it because it's awesome and exactly no one wants to privatize it. He kind of makes it sound like they're marching to get rid of it and that's not the case-

-hey wait, you don't suppose the President is trying to deliberately mislead us, do you? I mean that would be totally out of character. He is, after all, been nothing but honest and forthright with us since assuming office and-sorry, sorry, I can't even get through that. He could tweet that water is wet and I'd still want an independent study.
"So far it checks out, but I'd still like to run a
few more tests. You never know with this guy..."

-Some scientist
"It's only illegal when a Democrat lies.
When we do it, it's because we love America."
-noted adulterer Newt Gingrich
Shouldn't the President lying to us be, I don't know, illegal? And yes, I know that there are times when keeping something from the public is necessary, but I'm talking about saying demonstrably false things in the interests of political gain. That has to be against the law, right? No? You're sure it' just sounds like it should be is all. I mean, didn't we have to sit through months of Republicans crowing about how Bill Clinton lied about an affair? How come the former host of The Apprentice can straight up lie to us about something as verifiably false as Britons marching in support of the NHS?

"No, not deliberately. Screwing you
over is just a happy coincidence."

-Paul Ryan
I mean holy shit, if it's not going to be illegal to lie to us, can we at least pass a law about insulting our intelligence? Like, look at that last bit about the Democrats just wanting to raise taxes and stick us all with terrible healthcare. I mean what as ass. I get that it's just political rhetoric, or bullshit as it's more popularly know, but for crying out loud, even I'm willing to admit that Republicans-ok, some Republicans, are trying to do what they honestly believe is best for the country. They're wrong, like almost every single time, but they're not monsters who set out to deliberately screw us over.

Anyway, transparent rhetoric aside, the blustery, objective falsehoods blurted out into the world every time he picks up his goddamn phone has to stop. It has to.
-President and noted mass murder  of
 adorable puppies, Donald Trump