Friday, October 20, 2017

Today in mysterious moon holes...

Hey, remember the moon? You know, Earth's largest natural satellite? We were kind of into it for a while and then, like an elliptical machine 2,159 miles in diameter, America lost interest. Fortunately, the rest of the world is still interested in space and yesterday, JAXA announced that they've discovered something exciting on the moon.
Tiny pencils and golf balls?
Look Japan, you do you, but
that's not how acronyms work.
Well, ok, something science exciting, so lower your expectations appropriately. JAXA is Japan's NASA and the acronym stands for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and they-wait, hang on, J-A-E-A...you know for a bunch of literal rocket scientists they're not great at acronyms. Anyway, they have a probe called the Selenological and Engineering Explorer Probe, which by their own acronym logic should be called 'SEXP' but instead is called Kaguya after a princess from the moon in Japanese folklore.

Confused? Of course you are. I am too. I mean, what's up with Japan and moon princesses?
All I'm saying is that I don't live in Japan but I can now
name two completely different Japanese moon princesses
just off the top of my head. I didn't even have to Google.
Hey, what did we ever
do to the moon? Oh, right...
But I may have strayed from my point. Using Kaguya, JAXA has confirmed the existence of a vast, subterranean-ok, sub-selenian, tunnel. The tunnel, which selenololologists...lunologists...moon experts believe is a lava tube formed billions of years ago, is three hundred feet wide and 31 miles long. Yeah, miles with an 'M.' Yikes. It's basically the lunar equivalent of the Mines of Moria and JAXA scientists are hoping that it might be used as shelter from the extreme temperatures, radiation and micro meteorites with which the moon might try to murder us. You know, out of spite.

Three! Oh, wait, I think Rita Repulsa
might have been a witch. But she did have
a castle on the moon so...half credit?
Ok, hurray for science, right? Well, yes, but I'd like to sound a note of caution. If hackneyed sci-fi has taught us anything, and I like to think it has, it's that poking around in big dark holes, particularly big dark holes on the moon, usually ends in disaster. Cat Women, Deceptions, Inhumans, Nazis, Rita Repulsa, the point is, the moon is a distant, mysterious place and now someone's found a deep dark hole in it. Is it necessarily the best idea to go charging in? Well yes, of course it is. This is, after all science. But tin-foil hat crazy theories about what may be lurking up there aside, the most dangerous threat posed by this discovery may be, in a typical hackneyed twist, man.

I mean humans, not like, a man. Maybe I'm just paranoid and cynical, but everyone with a space program is going to want a piece of this mighty moon hole. It used to be just us and the Soviets, but now it's us, Russia, China, India, Europe, Japan and rich people. It's prime real estate for things like science and Newt Gingrich's child labor moon mine. Are we really going to rely on the spirit international sense of goodwill and cooperation to avoid some kind of moon war?
Because...you know...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today in schadenfreude...

Sorry everybody, I don't know how to tell you this but...ok, here goes: Forbes just released their list of wealthiest Americans and Donald Trump, whom you might remember as the guy you, and in fact most people, didn't vote for, is now only the 248th richest.
Toping both the list of richest Americans and world's
 richest is Bill Gates with $89 billion, begging the
question 'How come he's not our President?'
Above: God Nisanov's
billionaire's yearbook photo.
If you need to take a minute, it's alright. There's no shame in crying, this is, of course, devastating news. Go ahead, I'll be right here...back? Good, good. We're going to get through this...together. Ok, according to this, Trump has slid down the list from 156th richest last year when he was worth $3.7 billion-yes, with a goddamn 'B', to his new spot at 248 with only $3.1 billion, yes also with a goddamn 'B,' which is, if you're counting and I know I am, is $600 million dollars poorer and 92 places lower on the list. Officially, at $3.1 billion he is as rich as and no longer richer than God. Huh? Yeah, no really. God Nisanov. He's a Russian entrepreneur and according to Forbes has $3.1 billion. He also enjoys diving and horse breeding. Now you know. Thanks Wikipedia!

"In my defense, these people were
stupid enough to trust me."
-The sitting President
So back to this sad, sad tale of a sad, sad man. A reasonable question might be, what happened? According to Forbes, the New York real estate market had a lot to do with it, which sounds weird because Trump owns property in New York and rent there is preposterous, but I don't understand business. There were also several lawsuits over Trump University. You know, the fake university scam the now leader of the free world was running? The one where he accused the judge of being biased because he's Mexican? Yeah, that cost him a $25 million settlement.

And of course the campaign was a factor. I would imagine that when you're an obscenely rich New Yorker famous for sexually harassing women, cynically exploiting faith and mocking prisoners of war, convincing rubes that you're one of them in terms of economic status and religious outlook must be expensive.
Expensive but evidently not impossible. 
Above: Elon Musk, one of the many,
many people with more money than
Trump. Also he's a crazy person who
wants to colonize the planet Mars.
Ok, all kidding aside, what's it to me if President Trump is slightly less rich? Well, nothing, really. I mean, $3.1 billion is about $3,099,949,000 more than I'll likely see in my life time, so is this just schadenfreude? Sure. We watched an unqualified goon bully, buy and lie his way into the White House, of course I love hearing about how he's been bumped down from his meaningless place on a stupid list of rich people. Of course I do. Especially since he strikes me as the kind of person for whom such rankings are like, super important. Is that petty of me? You bet.

I guess I'm just clinging to a fantasy, no matter how ridiculous it might be, that at some point he's just going to decide it's not worth it. The money, the damage to his public image. I mean, a lot of us hate him. Hate him. He's no longer a celebrity we just roll our eyes at for his stupid reality show, he's a monster that might start a war. So maybe if it gets bad enough he'll just, you know, quit and save us the trouble of 25th amendmenting him.
One favor thought, if you do quit please, please, fire Pence. Like for real.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kim-tolerance!

"Just to clarify, I never said anything 
about gay people. That's her baggage."
 -Jesus, distancing Himself
I know everyone's supposed to be the hero of their own story but goddamn, check this shit out. You remember Kim Davis, right? That county clerk from Kentucky who defied a judge and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though gay marriage was totally legal and her entire grounds for refusing was "'cause Jesus?" She was thrown in jail for a few days but was let out because her staff was issuing the licenses anyway and besides, everyone was sick of ultra-Christians treating her like some kind of martyr for taking it upon herself to deny gay people civil rights. It was a shit show. They played Eye of the Tiger, Mike Huckabee took a break from being irrelevant to high-five her. But then she sort of fell off the radar.

Until now. now before I tell you what she's been up to, I'd like you to take a guess. Huh? Para-sailing? Nope, not even close. Selling yoga pants online? Good guess, but no. What's that? Traveling? You're getting warmer. You know what, I'll just tell you. She's visiting former Soviet shit-hole Romania.
Pictured: Romanians under Communist rule lining up to buy
cooking oil. Note that this is a color photo, it really was that dreary.
In Davis' defense, maps that recognize
countries not mentioned in the Bible are
illegal in her home state of Kentucky...*
Sorry, that was mean. Romania today is a developed, free country and a member of the EU. They even decriminalized homosexuality back in 2002, although they don't have marriage equality and may never have it thanks to a proposed referendum that would change to constitution to specifically make marriage between a man and a woman. Bullshit, right? Yes, of course it is, but the proposal is pretty popular and will likely pass. Enter Kim Davis. Sensing an easy win, even if it is in a country most Americans can't find on a map, Davis is heading to the former Soviet state to tell her sad tale of tolerance gone mad.

Kim Davis, seen here heroically
treating gay people like shit.
She and another American called Harry Mihet, who's with the Liberty Council-a group that represented her during her five day inconvenience-I mean, ordeal, in jail, have hooked themselves up with a conservative Romanian organization called Coalition for the Family which-huh, apparently it's not just American anti-LGBTQ groups that give themselves pretentious names. Anyway, the Coalition is hauling Davis around Romania as some kind of hero of standing up for what you believe in...even if what you believe in is shitty and tramples on the rights of others.

I bet these lesbians didn't even stop
to consider how their marriage would
make Kim Davis feel. Shame on them.
The message of Davis' nine-day intolerance tour of the country that gave us Dracula, is best summed by the Liberty Council who said:

"Same-sex 'marriage' and freedom of conscience are mutually exclusive, because those who promote the former have zero tolerance for the latter."

-The Liberty Council on how
intolerant we all are

Ok, so if you're for marriage equality you have zero tolerance for freedom of conscience? And by extension, two gay men who want to get married are oppressing people like Davis by not accepting her personal religious worldview that they're going to writhe in hellfire for all eternity and should just find a nice girl and settle down. Got it.
"Exactly! Well, we're just glad you're finally seeing things our way."
-The Liberty Council
"What? No what we're trying to do is
completely different...uh, because Jesus?"
-Mihet, tapdancing
According to Mihet, himself a Romanian immigrant who grew up under oppressive Communist rule, Davis's story resonates with Romanians because:

"...they can still remember the not-so-long-ago days when they were themselves persecuted and imprisoned for their conscience...and [they] are determined to prevent such injustice from ever happening again in their country..."

-Harry Mihet, apparently
unaware of the concept of irony

Wai-wai-wait. To be clear, Mihet is arguing for the ban on same-sex marriage. And to make his point he's comparing the plight of Romanian dissidents who suffered for decades under, before ultimately overthrowing an oppressive communist regime to Kim Davis's instance that her religious beliefs override other people's civil liberties.
Hey, you know who else can remember 'the not-so-long-ago days when they
were themselves persecuted?' All LGBTQ people everywhere since forever.


*yeah, I'm on a bitter streak here...sorry Kentucky and Romania! I'm sure you're got some really great things going on too. Like bourbon and Dracula tours respectively.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today in things that are bad for country...

Pictured: just some of the seven
billion humans I find more credible.
Wai-wai-wait. The President is upset because he thinks NBC News is spouting bullshit. The current President. Trump. Donald Trump. Ok. So the bullshit or probably not bullshit story is that the President said he wanted a 'tenfold' increase in America's nuclear arsenal...which totally sounds like something he'd say, right? Besides, according to NBC it comes from three officials who were in the meeting this summer, he totally said it and seriously who are we going to believe? Donald Trump or literally anyone else on the planet? Living or dead. Real or fictitious.

Hey, while we're on the subject of
things that are bad for country...
Anyway, in his blind denials and Tweet flailing, the President threatened today to get NBC's FCC license revoked. Behold:

"With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!"

-President Trump on how
the press is bad for country

I know what she'll be doing tomorrow...
For crying the fuck out loud. So obviously the suggestion is A: a bone-chilling and fascistic assault on the First Amendment and B: not a thing he can do, but what the shit? He then reportedly followed the Tweet with a rare verbal comment, using his mouth and everything:

"It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write."

-The President...no, really

Frankly disgusting or the first responsibility of a free and independent press? Because I get those two confused sometimes too.*
He knows freedom of the press is like #1 on the list, right?
It's even before the one idiots think is about assault rifles.
*I don't, I'm just trying to be magnanimous.

Bring on the water bears!

You know in the midst of all the shit show that is everything right now, I almost forgot that today is Federation Day. Yes, Federation Day, it's a holiday celebrating-wait, you know what? I do this every year so I'm going to spare you the explanation, click here if you want to catch up but otherwise, Happy Federation Day!
The lesson here is when life hands you a core breach in slow motion
because of you know, tachyons or whatever, go ahead and draw a smiley.
Pictured: pretty much this,
but in space. 
And what a Federation Day this is. It's the first in like ten years where there's a new Star Trek show to discuss. A Star Trek show that's bananas. Bananas foster even. But that's not a bad thing. Since we haven't really talked a lot about it since it started, I thought that we'd celebrate Federation Day this year by discussing the many ways in which Star Trek: Discovery is already batshit insane. Oh, and I should warn you that I'm going to spoil some things about the first four episodes, so you know, bail if you're not caught up.

Still there? Super. So Discovery is about Mr. Spock's heretofore un-mentioned sister Michael Turnham who mutinies, gets sent to prison but then gets assigned to a starship that travels through space powered by mushrooms and steered by a giant water bear, but we'll get there.
No really, mushrooms and water bears. You probably think I'm kidding but... 
To boldly go where-where...oh shit...
did they just-I think I'm going to be sick...
Micheal Burnham, Spock's sorta sister, failed to recover her Captain/mentor's body from the Klingon ship at the end of episode two and last week we found out that the Klingons ate her...they ate Michelle Yeoh. I mean...holy shit. We all knew this was going to be a darker Trek, and this happened off-camera but goddamn. This is up there with that time Picard and Riker phased Dexter Remick's head until it exploded. In thier defense, Remick was the host for some kind of alien, mind-controlling parasite, but exploding head's aren't really something you expect from Star Trek where Starfleet's whole deal is that they're supposed to solve their problems with words and not exploding heads. Once again: exploding head.

Courtmartialed or murdered in a face-
lift machine. Yes, that actually happened.
Speaking of not very Star Treky ways to approach space, one of Star Trek: Discovery's major running storylines so far is the conflict between the ship's crew-who are mostly scientists, and the Captain who's a 'shoot first ask questions never because everyone's dead kind' of guy. Usually the phaser happy malcontents on Star Trek are corrupt admirals who, by the end of the episode get their commence, usually getting exposed as traitors to the Federation's let's all get along philosophy and end up courtmartialed.

"I...well...but I could...goddamnit..."
-Captain Draco's Dad
But not Captain Lorca. He's sort of the anti-Picard, and because there's a war Starfleet's put him in charge of finding a way to defeat the Klingons. His plan so far is to bring the tardigrade monster that they found in episode three onto his ship and have Burnham poke it until she can determine how to use it against the Klingons. He's sort of like a less smarmy Paul Riser in Aliens. Less smarmy and with an even stupider plan. I mean, first of all they have one monster and there's like, millions of Klingons. His plan is to sick the water bear on all of them?

And even if he could train the water bear to eat Klingons, wouldn't they have to get it onto their ships? Yeah, there was that episode where Scotty beamed a bunch of tribbles over to the Klingon battlecruiser, you know, as a joke because Klingons hate tribbles, but they weren't at war then. They're probably not just going to let Discovery beam over a six-legged murder bear. Maybe if they say it's a candy-gram? I don't know.
Pictured: Scotty, shortly before he callously sends
thousands of living creatures to their deaths.
If you said the writers are
on 'all the drugs,' you win!
Speaking of the murder bear, we also learn in episode four that it's the key to making the spore drive work. Yeah, the ship is equipped with a drive that somehow allows instantaneous travel anywhere in the universe. Because mushrooms. Anyway, Anthony Rapp's character helped invent the technology, but can't get it to work, probably because it's preposterous. Then Burnham discovers that the aforementioned monster is also a super-computer which-when properly tortured-can navigate the mushroom network begging the question how many drugs is the writing team on?

Sure, these things all sound absurd, but is that a problem? Star Trek has always been kind of ridiculous. Humans evolving beyond intra-species conflict, replicators eliminating hunger and poverty and aliens who speak perfect, unaccented English thanks to an invisible universal translator. Yes, the Discovery ship travels via mushroom physics, but is that any less believable than dilithium crystals? I say keep it weird. Anyway, Happy Federation Day!
No really, the Enterprises runs on sea glass.
Mushrooms are like way more science by comparison.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Today in standing for Flag...

Well I hope you're happy football players, you've ruined Mike Pence's day. Yes, the Vice President had to walk out of yesterday's football game in disgust. Disgust!
Pictured: just some of the millions of Americans who don't give a
shit about Mike Pence petulantly stomping out of the stadium.
The White House released this statement enumerating the many ways in which football, as an institution, has let Mike Pence down:

Pictured: Mike Pence respecting
the shit out of America. There,
I bet you feel like a jerk now.
"I left today's Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects out soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem."
-Mike Pence, not taking a breath

Also I'm not sure they dignify events by
showing up. In fact, it's kind of the opposite...
Ok, couple of things...so I don't think you need to constantly capitalize the words 'flag' and 'national anthem.' I'm not disrespecting these things by saying that, I just went to school. Also, the suggestion here is that by using the national anthem as an opportunity to call attention to the epidemic of police violence that targets Black men, the players are politicizing football. Ok, I don't agree, but it's not completely out there. But then isn't the President asking the VP to walk out of the game also politicization? 'Cause he did, so...what else ya got?   

Great, the whole dramatic walk out of the game was a stunt. A stunt that cost us $242,500 in fuel and security according to CNN. Now who's the asshole? Oh, apparently it's us according to walking Trump apology Kellyanne Conway who said:

Sorry, she doesn't so much apologize
for Trump as she does call us idiots
for not recognizing his genius.
"To refer to someone who's standing up for the flag and all it represents to hundreds of millions of Americans and all it signals to the world, our veterans, our unity, the sounding of our great nation-to call that a political stunt is truly outrageous, egregious and offensive..." 

-Kellyanne Conway on how
egregious we all are for seeing though
the administration's transparent stunt

To be clear: Mike Pence was asked by the President to fly to Indianapolis (at our expense), get offended, storm out of a football game and then like a middle school student writing a social studies essay, lecture the rest of us about what the Flag (caps his) means to him. So what I want to know is does the administration not get why nobody likes them? Because it's shit like this.
"Oh, and my only other regret is that Americans will
spend the next two hundred and fifty years being total
dicks to one another over who's more American."
-Nathan Hale

Friday, October 6, 2017

Just trying to plan my day...

"You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm."

before-holy hell, what's he talking about?
Above: the calm after the storm which-he remembers
there was recently a devastating storm, right? Too soon...
Um...grim portents are actually not part
of the President's job. I looked it up.
That was last night at a photo-op before a diner with his military advisers. "What's the storm?" Asked a reporter in a completely reasonable response to Trump's mystifying and bone-chilling statement. "It could be...the calm...the calm before the storm." The President continued with a shit-eating grim on his face like an obnoxious ten-year old with a secret. "What storm Mr. President?" Another reporter repeated showing remarkable restraint in not adding the intensifier 'fucking' between "What" and "Storm." 

"We have the world's great military people in this room. I'll tell you that."

-The President, in no way answering a valid question
Pictured: the President and the world's great military people.
Also some model young enough to be his daughter. 
CNN's Erin Burnett's face
summing it up.
Again the stunned and terrified room full of reporters whose patience must already be frayed after ten months of this goat-rodeo of a presidency ask: "What storm?" The President's response:

"You'll find out..."

-President Trump rubbing his
hands together before chuckling
ominously and exiting the room*


The possibilities range from global
nuclear war to a poop joke. This
is the world we're living in.
I'm mean what the shit? North Korea? Iran? Some kind of Nazi thing? Is there even a goddamn storm? I understand that Presidents are privy to loads of information that is kept from the public, and often with reason, but historically they don't stand in a room full of reporters smirking and taunting us with 'I know something you don't know...' Is he planning on starting World War III today? Was the kitchen staff off last night so they had to send out for Chipotle? Should we be taking cover? I mean, I'm just trying to plan my day.

The point is we don't know and that's not ok. Somewhere in the multiverse there's a reality where Russia failed to tip our electoral college in favor of an unqualified game show host and Hillary Clinton is our president. And in that reality we're not sitting here parsing Trump's vague, cryptic-ass remarks and wondering if the missiles are on their way.
Anyone want to do the math on what kind of Kickstarter goal
we would need to get Jerry O'Connell to build us a portal device?



*I'm taking some license here...