Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The 140 Million Mile High Club

Ok, you've seen it,
now get back in the car.
Hey look, some millionaire has a plan to send people to Mars...or at least near Mars. Dennis Tito, whom future history books may have to refer to as Dennis Tito, the Father of Interplanetary Travel, announced today that he's putting together a Mars flyby scheduled for 2018. What's that? A flyby? Yeah, in order to minimize risk and just to keep things from getting too complicated, Tito's plan is to send two astronauts within 100 miles of the Martian surface and then back to Earth. No landing, no orbit, just a quick hello.

The whole voyage is expected to take 501 days...that's two people, locked in a 600 square foot capsule, in the harsh vacuum of space for 501 days...
I'm sure the 250.5 days spent schlepping back to Earth will just fly by...
"Swear to Christ Tim, if this thing 
wasn't being webcast I'd blow you 
out the goddamn airlock so quick..."

You know, my first thought here is that this will surely end in murder (and the easiest whodunit ever), but Tito says no, because he's got a plan. In order to best represent humanity, he'd like to send a man and a woman. Makes sense, gender equality in space exploration has been kind of lacking. Where he loses me is is the part about sending a married couple, specifically one past child bearing years. Holy shit. His answer to the stress a 16 month claustrophobic voyage to the Red Planet will put on the human psyche is to add sex and marriage into the equation. Great idea. Whenever someone turns up dead, the last person the cops go to is the spouse, right? 

Anyway, here, check out this quote:
Dennis Tito and Tang®,
the Superbowl ad writes itself.

"When you're out that far, and the Earth is a tiny blue pinpoint, you're going to need someone you can hug..."

-Dennis Tito, Space Pimp

Um, I'm assuming by 'hug' he means space-bone. So, you know, picture married, 50-something astronauts screwing in zero-gravity and you've pretty much got Tito's vision.

Also, this might happen. It's not
super-likely, but who knows...
I suppose in many ways, Tito's plan is actually kind of cutting edge. While they won't be landing on the surface, these will be the first humans to see another planet up close and in person and that's got to count for something. Also, scientists will get to study the effect long term space travel has on the human body and mind in a way they never could before. And all joking aside, these astronauts will be the first humans to have sex in space which is pretty cool.

Well, ok, they'll be the first to have sex with another person in know what I mean. Think about it. Some of the astronauts on the International Space Station spend months up there. You can't seriously believe that they don't take care of business...
Don't judge, space can be a lonely place...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Open Season

Look, we all know Fox News is a biased, poorly researched, joke of a media outlet that only exists to give old people something to watch and nod their heads at during the two or three hours there isn't an episode of NCIS on, but for real, guys.
"Finally, a 24 hour News Network that isn't afraid to tell it like it is: That global 
warming is bullshit and that the President is really a gay Muslim from Kenya..."
-Some Old Guy
"Fox News: if you're not watching,
you're probably a queer."
Apparently the hosts of Fox News are no longer content with just bashing Democrats, women, gay people, non-white people, poor people and people who believe in dinosaurs so now they're reaching all the way back to the pre-industrial age for some good old fashioned witch persecution. A friend of mine, herself a practicing witch, sent me an online petition to sign asking Fox News's Tucker Carlson to please apologize for being such a tremendous asshat. Oh, and first let's clarify something: Wicca (or Paganism) is an actual religion practiced by millions of people around the world and can trace its origins back to the bronze age.

Ok kids, pick up those brightly-colored
fertility symbols laid by a giant bunny
...wait, what's this about again?
There. I just spent two minutes researching the topic, which is precisely two minutes more effort than anyone at Fox News was bothering with before opening their goddamn mouths about shit they know nothing about. You're welcome. Now, the story that has drawn so much witchy ire is this jaw-dropping segment in which Tucker (yeah, his name actually means to make one tired) Carlson calls out Missouri University for having the temerity to recognize Pagan holidays alongside 'real' religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, because there's nothing Pagan about those...

"Hey Tucker, fuck you."
-Wiccans dismissing 
Tucker Calrson
So what if MU added Wiccan holidays? In addition to Christian holidays they also recognize Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions alongside less common ones like Sikh and Zoroastrian. What's Tucker's beef with witches? Check out this quote:

"The bad side of Wiccanism is that it's, obviously a form of witchcraft, the upside is that you get a ton of holidays..."
-Tucker Carlson, dismissing the 
beliefs of a million Americans

Did you catch his funny, funny joke? He's saying that practitioners of Wiccanism (which I don't think is the right word, but whatever) are only doing the whole Pagan thing because they want extra days off from work. It's sort of like suggesting that Christians are only into their faith for the Christmas presents.
"So who is this Jesus anyway, and if it's his birthday
how come we get prese-holy shit! Xbox 360! Thanks Santa!"
74% of Fox News hosts hire prostitutes.
It's ok, I'm rounding up.
Next, Carlson goes on to complain about how 20% of MU's recognized holidays are Wiccan. Ok, here, I count 47 holidays on MU's list. Of them, 8 are Pagan. That's 17%, but fine I guess, he's rounding up. Later, his co-host will inflate the number to 20 holidays or 42% of the academic year but no one will call him on it. Instead, they just spend the rest of the segment bitching about how Pagans get 20 holidays but no one should care because none of them personally knows any Pagans.

Then he says this:

"Any religion whose most sacred day is Halloween, I just can't take seriously. I mean, call me a bigot...How many Wiccans can name every Wiccan Holiday, or even 50% of them?"

-Tucker Carlson, expert on Wiccan statistics

"Happy Halloween! Oh, and be sure to remember how good this
Fun-Size Snickers tasted while you're burning in hell for all eternity!"
*Although Econ 301 makes
it a lab requirement.
First of all, dick, Samhain is listed in the MU calendar as a Wiccan observance, but it is also a Christian Holiday in the form of All Hallows Eve. Secondly, you are a bigot and lastly I'm not a Wiccan but I do have internet access so here's all eight holidays: Samhain, Yuletide, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltain, Litha, Lughnasadh and Mabon. You know, MU isn't asking students to do anything. Nobody's being forced to cast a spell or dance naked around a bonfire,* the school's just acknowledging the diverse belief systems that make up the student body. It costs them nothing, and expands people's knowledge, so shut the hell up.

The upshot: Tucker Carlson has never met a Pagan, and there aren't that many anyway (ok, yes there are, but Fox is not so much with the research) so it's open season on witches. Um, hasn't this attitude been the cause of shit like anti-Semitism, McCarthyism, literal witch hunts and the persecution of minority groups since the dawn of time? Didn't he have to read The Crucible in school?
"Prudence Goodwyfe, you stand accused of listening to NPR, shopping
at Whole Foods and voting for the Green Party. How do you plea?"


"I love you. However, I hate you."
-The words of Spock 
Season 2, episode 12
P.S. As the founder and, to date, the only member of the Church of Vulcantology, I too may one day find myself the target of Fox's scorn for my beliefs. We (I mean, I) are a peaceful people who believe in the example laid down by Mr. Spock from Star Trek. If you're interested in welcoming Spock into your life, please enjoy this comic about the death and resurrection of our most venerated Vulcan. This message brought to by the Church of Vulcantology.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Plutocracy Now!

Did you know that there's a limit to how much electoral influence rich people are allowed to buy? Bullshit right? Well, don't worry plutocrats, the Supreme Court has got your back.
Won't somebody please think about the disgustingly wealthy?
"Tell momma I died for liberty, freedom,
and unlimited campaign donations!"
In a sequel to their 2010 Citizen's United decision which basically ruled that money is speech, the Supreme Court is getting ready to rule on whether or not the limit on how much a single person is allowed to donate per election cycle is unconstitutional. So how low is the cap? Hold on to your monocles: an individual can only donate up to $123,200, or about two and a half times the average household income in the U.S. That's right 2-percenters, there's a limit to how much power your fabulous wealth can wield over American politics, at least for now.

"Damnit, I never should have
voted for Baron Gingrich..."
Ok, but for serious, why is there a cap on campaign donations anyway? I mean, shouldn't rich people be allowed to buy elections if they want to? This is America. Well, I'm not an expert (I know, right?) but I suppose the rules are there to limit the influence of money in U.S. elections and keep us from devolving into an aristocracy where elected officials are beholden to a wealthy few and the rest of are reduced to powerless surfs toiling to prop up a system that's only perpetuating our exploitation...huh...

"I can buy and sell your ass! By
all rights, I should be your king!"
-Mitt Romney
Um, anyway, so I guess the cap is probably a good thing. But then what kind of jerks would want to get rid of the one thin shred of democracy that separates us from a 21st century Roman Empire? Oh, right, Republicans. Not content with simply redistricting their way back to power, the RNC is looking for new ways to stretch what support it does have, and since homophobes and straight, white, evangelicals with persecution complexes will only take them so far, it's up to the ultra-rich. After all, they're worth like ten of us, right?

Friday, February 15, 2013

МУTEФЯ! (That's Russian for Meteor!*)

*no it isn't.

A meteorite exploded over some city in Russia last night (well, this morning for them, their 'R's aren't the only thing they get backwards-oh burn!), and in addition to terrifying thousands and injuring hundreds with glass from shattered windows, it also illustrated why things like Armageddon are so full of shit.
Watch out Russians! While you're busy sweeping up the broken glass
and telling everyone what you were doing when the meteor exploded,
keep an eye on the mammals. They just live for opportunities like this.
Asteroids: not only is it more realistic
than Armageddon, the acting's better.
Um, to clarify, that's Armageddon, the 1998 asteroid disaster movie/Aerosmith music video and not the Biblical Day of Reckoning. The 'movie' Armageddon is about a rag-tag group of oil-rig workers being dragooned into NASA in order to drill into an asteroid and nuke'splode it before it collides with the earth. It was kind of terrible, but Steve Buscemi's in it, so there's that. Anyway, the asteroid fragments managed to hit Grand Central Station, Shanghai, Paris and the goddamn space shuttle, you know, in orbit.

"Merde de Bull!"
-French People
Look, know I've harped on this before, but the Earth is three quarters water. The other quarter that isn't water is mostly outlet malls, vast open spaces and places like Chelyabinsk, Russia, which Uranus, god of the sky, tried to smite early on Friday. Giant space rocks which have been hurtling though the void for millions if not billions of years crashing directly into the Champs Elysees, or Téa Leoni is ultra-ludicrous®. As Michael Bay movies go, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was actually more scientifically plausible, albeit bafflingly titled.

That said, it's still interesting to me that this isn't the first time Russia's been the target of divine space wrath. Back in 1908 an apparent meteor exploded over Siberia leveling 2,150 square miles of forest and giving The X-Files at least half a season hazily explained plot points. What have the gods got against Russian people anyway?
"Wat? you say...suffer from shirt allergy."
-Shirtless Russian President Vladimir Putin,
demonstrating the proper way 
to punch a horse in the face

Monday, February 11, 2013


Huh, Pope Benedict the XVI is resigning. How 'bout that?

" today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith...both strength of mind and body are necessary--strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
"I'm too old for this shit."
-His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI* it...
Yeah, citing his advanced years and how kids these days wear their dungarees too low, the Pope just gave his two weeks as spiritual leader to more than one billion Catholics. Wild huh? Now who's going to tell people not to wear condoms? Benedict XVI is the first Pope in nearly 600 years to hang up the tall hat. I didn't even know the Pope could resign, but then I didn't know (spoiler alert!) Batman could resign. Blamo, here comes Dark Knight Rises. Shows what I know, right?

Did you think I was kidding? 
Anyway, it may sound like I'm being disrespectful or sacrilegious or something when I compare Batman to the Pope, but I'm really not. They both wear capes, and sometimes go by other names (Bruce Wayne and Joseph Ratzinger respectively). Both have tons of money and control global organizations. Batman's got the Batmobile, the Pope's got the Popemobile (oh yes, it's a thing). In many ways they're both quite similar

*What? It's the gist...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Always prepared, huh?

Drumroll aaaaaannnndddd...nothing. Yup, the Boy Scouts of America have decided to put off their decision on whether or not to continue being dicks about gay people. The organization, which claims to be always prepared, needs more time for a 'dialogue within the Scouting family' and 'a more deliberate review of its membership policy...'
This could take weeks...
Next 'debate': do lizard people secretly
run the world, or is that batshit insane?
I guess I don't really get what there is to discuss. The 'debate' is between members who believe in Boy Scouty values like equality and justice and members who think that gay scoutmasters and scouts will sexually abuse other scouts. It's between people who see an injustice and the assholes who cling to it. If the organization is going to continue use the debunked, discredited and blatantly homophobic conflation of gays and pedophiles as a basis for discrimination, they might as well just come out and say it. Go all out guys. You're afraid of gay people.

No one wants to hang
 out with Predator...

Check out TV's Pat Robertson, whose ability to connect gays and sex crimes in defiance of reason and science is legendary:

"...the question is, are there predators as Boy Scouts, pedophiles who would come in as scoutmasters?...And if they are then, of course, parents wouldn't want their sons involved in the Boy Scouts..."

-Pat Robertson, still has a show

Actually Pat, that's not the question. The question is what's wrong with you that the first thing you think about when you think about the BSA lifting its ban on LGBT members is how much gay sex they're all going to have?
Above: Pat Robertson clenching at the thought of gay sex. Lots of gay sex.

Concerned I am now. Disturbing this is...

"Salary matters not, a percentage
of the box-office I demand."
Hey, uh, I love me some Yoda as much as the next guy. I mean, he's tiny, 800 years old, super-wise and voiced by Frank Oz. He's probably one of the best things about Star Wars and he only appears for like ten minutes in Empire and Jedi (prequels? I'm unfamiliar with this term...). That said, no. I mean, no. You actually might not want to click on that, I'll just give you the broad strokes: Yoda: The Movie. Holy shit. Yeah, in addition to proper sequels, Disney plans to release a few stand-alone movies to cash in on-I mean to add to the rich tapestry of the Star Wars universe...

Like what if Beaker just lost it one day
and shanked the Electric Mayhem?
But Yoda? Look, I was going to try and refrain from any further Episode 1-3 bashing, I mean what's done is done. But one of the worst, most childhood smashing things about the prequels is the fact that we saw Yoda kill people. Yeah, I know they were clones and we're not supposed to care, but Yoda's supposed to be all wise and spiritual. Can't he just Vulcan neck pinch them or mind-trick them into falling asleep? I mean he's a goddamn muppet. That's not ok.

Sure, we can't assume anything about a movie that's still little more than a rumor. It's possible they'll handle Yoda properly, but 2 hours of him sitting in the lotus position doling out grammatically backwards wisdom? A million Imperial Credits say they put a lightsaber back in his hands and have him bounce around like a hyperactive gremlin again.
"Wars do not make one great...they make one badass!"
-Jedi Master Yoda
"I wanted to call it Snow White and the
Seven Jews, but you know...lawyers..."
-Walt Disney, actual quote*
Sorry to change my tune like this. Up 'till now I've been all for the decision to sell Star Wars to Disney and their plans to make Episodes 7-9. Awesome right? I mean, why would Disney screw this up? After all, they love money and would like to have more of it. But I guess I'm forgetting that Disney's also got kind of a mean streak. It goes all the way back to founder/preserved head-in-a-jar/secret CEO Walt Disney who, while not exactly a Nazi himself, was at least pals with Nazis, inviting Leni Riefenstahl (Hitler's Ken Burns) to come promote her movie in Hollywood.

I mean this is the same soulless multinational company that has, for decades, enjoyed making children cry by taking their movies out of circulation to increase demand. I guess I should have seen this coming...
"You want to watch The Little Mermaid? Sorry kid, she's in The Vault. Too bad your
parents didn't buy you the Platinum Edition back in '09. See you in seven years!"

-M. Mouse, Head of Marketing 
and Dream Crushineer
*not an actual quote.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy Superball!

Hey, you know what today is? If you said Setsubun, the Japanese Lunar New Year celebration in which kids throw beans at evil spirits to drive them away, you'd be correct. You'd also be a cheater because it means you just looked it up on Wikipedia. Shame on you. Anyway, today is also Superball Day or something.
"Wait a minute, we're demons, right? The hate-filled legions of hell, made of pure evil and
burning with the fury of chaos itself and our weakness is children armed with beans?"
"I know, right?"
Above: Me.
It is with both shame and a small amount of satisfaction that I admit that I don't get sports. Sure, things like Superbowl Sunday, The World Series and...I don't know, what's the other one? Tennis Tuesday? Anyway, these things are an important part of our culture and are one of the few things we Americans have in common regardless of race, economic background or political leanings and that's great. On the other hand, if you're like me and don't get it, you feel like Mr. Spock, constantly raising a single, superior eyebrow at the baffling and irrational behavior of your shipmates.

Woo! The team we've arbitrarily chosen
to support is superior to the team you've
chosen! In your face other people!
Being sports-less does have its frustrations however. I live in the Bay Area and am a dude, so you can imagine how many times over the last couple of weeks complete strangers have said to me without preamble: Go Niners! I don't want to be rude and shout back I don't give a shit but if you ever try to engage me in a sports conversation, just be aware that my eyes are glazing over due to intense boredom. I would never walk up to someone on the street and strike up a conversation about J.J. Abrams or Star Wars...ok, I might, but everyone's into Star Wars, right?

"You're welcome."
-President Bartlet
You know, I've assumed up until now that things like Go Niners! were nothing more than a friendly attempt to engage me in conversation, but now I'm wondering if it isn't some kind of test. Like a football Shibboleth (yes it's a super-smart biblical reference and yes, I heard it on The West Wing) or something and really they're just trying to expose me as a fan of...hang on, let me look this up...The Ravens. Like if I don't Go Niners! back at them they'll call for the guards or something. Is that paranoid?

Anyway, enjoy your barbecues and sports-watching, I'll be at work shrugging indifferently at people who ask me if I'm ready for the big game.
It's something like this, right?
Go 19th Century Prospectors!