Monday, July 28, 2014

The Unsettling Spider-Man!

Well this is troubling news:
Spider-Man would never do such a thing. Unless he was like a clone,
or Venom, or Doctor Octopus's mind in Spider-Man's body...
I just...oh
Settle down everybody, of course Spider-Man didn't punch a-huh? You can't stop staring at Woody can you? Yeah, me neither. Like, do you suppose they were going for the voiceless scream made by a dying man as he realizes that there's no god and that he's about to slip into nothingness while having an orgasm? I'm not joking when I say that that face is going to haunt my dreams for the rest of my life and fill my waking hours with bone-chilling dread at the thought of falling asleep and seeing Woody's frozen expression of existential horror/O-face staring back at me from the insides of my eyelids.

"I tell you he's a menace! Uh, a menace who saves
the city. Frequently...look, hating Spider-Man is like
my shtick now. I've got nothing else going on..."
Dream-haunting Woodies aside, I'm actually referring to the headline, apparently written by J. Jonah Jamison in an attempt to turn public opinion against the web-slinger for some reason. Look, obviously Spider-Man didn't punch a police officer. No, the fist-slinger in question is just some guy named Junior Bishop dressed as Spider-Man. Bishop is one of the street performers who wander around Times Square in New York in costume and pose for pictures with tourists in exchange for a tip. They're not supposed to demand a certain amount, but that's what Bishop did. A cop intervened and punches happened.

Punches and arrests. Bishop was one of five performers arrested last weekend for disorderly conduct and aggressive panhandling. A recent uptick in the crazy has prompted a call for some kind of licensing process. Right now all you need is a copyright-infringing costume and a dream. A dream to extort money from tourists whose photos you just bombed.
Cookie Monster, noted muppet and star of Sesame Street, has fallen on
hard times. He now works Times Square in order to support his cookie addiction.
"Times Square: You might not get assaulted."
Brought to you by the Times Square Alliance
The Times Square Alliance, a group responsible for promoting tourism, believes they have a solution:

"This incident is yet another reminder that many -- though certainly not all -- of these so-called friendly characters are actually violent and aggressive and have troubling criminal records. A rigorous licensing scheme would address this."

-Tim Tompkins, head of the Times Squ-
wait, whatta ya mean "many of them?" Anyway, there is a bill in the works that would require the performers to get licenses, but get this: it's being held-up because they don't have permission to use the character's likenesses in the first place. So in the mean time, if you find yourself getting pummeled by Minnie Mouse and The Avengers, just keep in mind that the real victim here is Disney, whose intellectual property has been used without permission.
Here's a handy travel tip: Never hand
your infant over to off-brand Pooh.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Yeah, well, Ken Hamm can rot in Gre'thor."

-Koroth, spokes-Klingon,
Our Lady of Sto-Vo-Kor, Boreth

"Wow, thanks Magneto, good thing you 
happened to pass by just as we were crashing."
-Yes, just like X-Men 2
Ok, I get that the search for extraterrestrial life is probably going to be long and difficult and may not yield any results while any of us are alive. In fact, we may never find aliens. I accept that. I mean, the galaxy is mind-bogglingly large and inconceivably old, and even if there are intelligent aliens out there, the idea that they would be at a similar level of evolutionary and technological development to our own would require a string of coincidences worthy of the laziest screenwriter.

It might be that they haven't yet made it on to dry land or that they're still living in caves. Or maybe they've evolved into judgmental orbs of light who want nothing to do with our primitive meat-bodies. They could be eons ahead or eons behind us, who frelling knows? But does that mean we shouldn't try?
"Hey, nice form. What is that, corporeal? Yeah, we've evolved beyond that
into a type of energy combined with pure thought, you probably haven't heard of it."

-Hyper-Advanced Space Hipster
Pictured: Old Testament prophet Ezekiel
 encountering a UFO. It's actually one of the
least crazy things to happen in the Bible.
I don't know, but if we do give up, it absolutely cannot be because we listened to noted creationist shit-merchant Ken Hamm who thinks that the aliens are all going to hell. Ok, so that's not exactly what he said, but he did say that since the Bible says there's no such things as aliens, we shouldn't waste our time looking for them. Look, I'm not a biblical scholar or anything, but the Bible doesn't mention aliens. Like at all. If it did, I might actually have been interested in it. Sure there's some crazy Chariots of the Gods bullshit that the History Channel devotes way the hell to much airtime to, but nowhere does it say anything about life on other planets.

Why would it? People back then had life-spans in the mid-thirties and no understanding of science. Assuming the Bible is some kind of divine revelation and not some desert people's guide to living in the bronze age, why would God want to complicate their worldview with things like evolution and interstellar travel?
"Wait, what? What the hell is a light-year?"
Don't get me wrong Ken,
I want to believe.
I can understand not believing in intelligent aliens who build spaceships and traverse the interstellar void for the sole purpose of crashing into New Mexico, or photobombing someone's quinceañera pics. I can see how that might seem batty to some people. But Ken Hamm is a guy who built an entire museum devoted to his aggressively anti-scientific assertion that humans and dinosaurs coexisted and that the only reason we don't ride them to work everyday is that Noah didn't have room on his boat. He's made a career out of batty.

So yeah, I'm not calling Ken Hamm a shit-merchant for subscribing to creationism or for not believing in aliens. But I am going to call him a shit-merchant for insisting that a god would create a 170 billion galaxies, and only put intelligent beings on one single planet and then allow them to invent things like war, slavery and Segways. I mean, holy shit that's just bleak.
Above: If you're looking for evidence of a
random, godless universe, this might be it.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Hey everybody, Tim Draper, a venture capitalist who totally doesn't have any sort of political agenda up his sleeve, has gathered enough signatures to put his 'Six Californias' ballot initiative up for a vote in 2016! Um...hurray? Oh wait, no, this is a terrible idea.
"Aw c'mon, I stayed up all night coloring in the map..."

-Tim Draper: man with a plan,
also a map, and billions of dollars
Don't worry, a high wall will be built
between them so no one in Silicon Valley
gets bummed out on the morning commute.
The plan would carve California up into six new states which, according to Draper, would be easier to govern, have more representation in congress and create America's new poorest state-wai-wah? Yeah, ok, he leaves that part out, but according to this, the 'Six Californias' plan would make the new state of Central California poorer than Mississippi. And just to make sure that the wealth disparity can be seen from space, it would share a border with the new richest state, Silicon Valley. Of course, this whole thing is crazy and will never happen, right? 

Absolutely. Unless, you know, it does. I won't lie to you, I don't understand California's politics, but the whole ballot initiative process that Draper is using sounds kind of awful. I mean, in theory it's super-democratic: you get enough signatures together and you can put whatever you want up for a show of hands. That's great and all, but I'm not sure mob rule is always the best idea. *cough* Prop 8.
Proposition 23, The Free Ponies for Everybody Act, passed with an overwhelming
majority today, with Californians swearing that they'll feed and walk their new
 ponies every day and brush their manes and take real good care of them.
"What? Being a venture capitalist is easy:
just find a start-up firm, invest a few
million and ca-ching. Anyone can do it."
Yeah look, I don't know, this whole thing is confusing and weird but what really gives me an icky is the fact that the proposal comes from a venture capitalist and I don't understand how that's a job. Teaching, waiting tables, standing outside a carpet store and dancing with a sign? Those are jobs. Sure this is a state that once elected Arnold Schwarzenegger, but at least acting is a job, even if you're wooden and hard to understand. Tim Draper uses his already considerable wealth to make even more considerable wealth. In many ways, his money does most of the work, he just sits there. 

Pictured: 5 other guys who like to call
 themselves Riskmasters and whose skills
at Risk seem more relevant than Draper's.
Ok, so there's probably a lot of forethought and planning that goes into venture capitalism, but there's also an enormous element of risk. In fact, Draper even calls himself the 'Riskmaster,' which, when you think about it is kind of weird. Anyway I guess taking risks is cool when the only thing you have to lose is a fraction of your overall net worth but this is an entire state he's screwing with and one he argues is already in a precarious position. Also, since when are venture capitalists known for altruism? I mean, as a rule, isn't the cutthroat world of start-ups less about helping people and more about investing, making a huge profit and then getting out before you lose it all?

I realize that this is a prejudice on my part and that Tim 'The Riskmaster' Draper may well be a decent human being with California's best interests in mind but holy shit, I don't think I'd trust him to split the check.
"The secret is to convince everyone to divide the bill evenly and then
you order the honey barbecue ribs. Suckers won't know what hit 'em!"

-Tim Draper, Financial Adventurer
and ceramic rhino-rider

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Um, it's actually not a slow news day...

Hey, you know what's not news? A toddler walking. In fact a small, young human taking his first unsteady steps is the literal definition of toddler, so why then is anyone impressed that Britain's Prince George is walking?
Above: Walking as enjoyed by billions of people world-wide since we separated 
from other primates around 20 million years ago. So uh, way to go George?
In recognition of his achievement,
the young Prince was given Canada.
I assume it's because in addition to his role as a toddler, he's also the future King of England, Scotland (maybe), and part of Ireland, but he didn't really have to do anything to earn that either. Look, don't get me wrong, I find the British monarchy totally fascinating. The waving, the corgis, the fact that anyone thought that Jonathan Rhys Meyers bore even a passing resemblance to Henry VIII, but I think you have to be British to understand why this is a big deal. Like, for most of us, international news coverage of what is at best (barring disability or injury) a basic life skill seems kind of ridiculous coming as it has in the middle of the geo-political horror show of the past few days.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's Decimalize Time!

Hey everybody, it's 26th of Messidor and you know what that means! Today is Bastille Day! What the hell is that? I'm glad I pretended you asked. Bastille Day marks the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille and the subsequent French Revolution. Yeah, French.
Républic française, foutre yeah.
I don't know about you, but
I'd probably cut his head off too.
The nation most popularly associated with surrender and pretentiousness is actually quite badass and they didn't just cast off the tax-happy shackles of some prophyria-addled king, like some other tri-corn hat-fans I could mention. Instead, they invented a special head-chopping machine which they used to murder the shit out of their own aristocracy in a years-long parade of horror. Sounds kind of harsh right? Well check out the painting of Louis XVII there on the right, smirking and swathed in ermine while everybody else was busy toiling away and starving.

Then, as a further middle finger to the natural order as understood by 18th century europeans, they rebooted the bourgeois gregorian calendar replacing it with their own crazy-town version starting with the Revolution as year one and ending twelve years later when everyone realized that their new calendar was stupid and confusing.
You know how annoying it is when Facebook gets an update and changes
everything you're used to? Now imagine someone did that with your concept of time
and then enforced compliance with the threat of the afore mentioned head-chopper.
Above:the betamax
of time-keeping systems.
Oh, and speaking of time, the revolutionaries then tried to decimalize time by replacing the barbaric 24-hour day with 10, 100-minute hours. Crazy? Sure, but then keeping track of increments of time as small as minutes and seconds was only as old the mechanical clock, so I guess for most people it wasn't all that weird. So how well did it work? Perfectly. It worked perfectly well which is why we totally use the 10-hour clock to this day. Huh? What's that? I can't hear over the sensibly metric ticking of my timepiece.

Ok, so not everything they tried to do was a resounding success, but you don't see a powdered-wig wearing French king running around barking orders, do you? Well then I'd say the revolution turned out pretty well. Anyway, Happy Bastille Day!
Like so many of us, the French revolutionaries thought they
 could just guillotine their problems away...they were kind of right.

The Italian (Nut) Job

Well, the good news is that we're not alone when it comes to douchy politicians taking crazy-town homophobic stands in a desperate attempt to cling to relevancy. Check this out.
Above: No, not this. This is just an unrelated picture of former
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, here for no particular reason at all.
If you didn't click, and I know you didn't, you would have read about Gianluca Buonanno, the Italian mayor who wants to ban gay people from being all gay and shit and kissing in public. You know, because of the children:
Move over drugs and rap music!

"I don't like two people of the same sex making public displays of affection. It's a question of respect. And I'm convinced that it's also morally harmful for children."

-Mayor Gianluca Buonanno, 
reminding us all that Italy 
did kind of invent fascism 

Here's some more of the gaycist balderdash that dribbled from his pasta-hole:*

"Baci in pubblico tra omosessuali? No grazi. Non solo. Da oggi nei miei uffici di sindaco e parlamentar europeo oltre al crocifisso ci sarà la foto di Putin." 

-Gianluca Buonanno, 
Il testa di cazzo
*What? Italy is like famous for being into pasta...
Here's Buonanno waving a fish around
during a session of the European Parliament.
Can you believe it? No, me neither. It turns out that that gibberish he spouted is some kind of ridiculous foreign language, but even translated he still sounds like a lunatic:

"Homosexuals kissing in public? No thank you, not at all. Starting today, in my mayor's office and in my European Parliament office, there will be a photo of Putin over the crucifix."

-Gianluca Buonanno, 
the head of shit

Yeah, he's putting a photo of noted homophobe and doughy strong-man Vladimir Putin up in his office. Above Jesus.
Because there's nothing gay about that.
Pictured: Participants in San Francisco's
annual Pride celebrations wear special gear to
protect themselves from elevated gaydiation levels.
Ok, so this is probably more about media attention and less about protecting children from the high levels of gaydiation that emanate from two dudes making out, but Buonanno is picking up on an infuriating presumption among the anti-gay crowd: that their irrational discomfort with gay people somehow translates into a right to live in a gay-free world. It's sort of like if a vegan shows up at a barbecue but instead of just sticking to the quinoa salad, they kick over the grill and demand an immediate and far-reaching ban on all meat in the world forever.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that if you don't like gay-kissing, then don't kiss someone of the same sex. Why do they have to try and ruin it for everyone else? Uh, I'm talking to the homophobes here, not the vegans. Sorry, it's not the best metaphor.
Sorry vegans, I don't mean to pick on you, it's just
an example. But seriously? Seitan is pretty gross. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mars Needs Canadians!

Technically, it doesn't say
anything about pants...
Thinking about moving to Mars so you can live a lawless, air-less, radiation-bathed existence 35 million miles away from the Earth and its many restrictive 'must wear pants' policies? Well tough shit because a bunch of geniuses from a variety of academic fields are right now sitting in a room somewhere in London, coming up with a government for the Red Planet. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Can they do that?" Well it turns out they-huh? How do I know what you're thinking? I'm a goddamn psychic, that's how. Stop interrupting.

As I was about to say, it turns out that they probably can't. I mean, if Total Recall has taught us anything, it's that Mars is going to be ruled by some evil business guy (played by Ronny Cox) who owns all the air. But leaving that unavoidable fact aside for a moment, the International Extraterrestrial Liberty Conference's goal of creating a framework for governance before we start sending Dutch contest winners to die on Mars, is a smart move.
On Mars, not only will your boss control your air supply,
but he'll also be in charge of your contraceptive options.
Way to go Supreme Court.
Interestingly, on average, the actual
Land Rush of the 1800's had fewer
fatalities than Black Friday.
Why? Because Canada, that's why. Essayist Sarah Vowell once suggested that a key difference between Canada and the United States lies in how governance in our respective wests was first established. The American West in the 19th century was awash in chaos and violence because white settlers grabbed their guns, loaded up their wagons and headed west shooting anyone and anything in their way. You know how we Americans lose our shit over 40% off name brand appliances on Black Friday? Picture that with free acreage and guns. Ok, not as many guns, but still...

In Canada meanwhile, Ottawa had the foresight to send mounties out first to establish law and order. The result, says Vowell, is that Americans tend to take a me first, individual over the group approach while Canadians opt for teamwork and mayonnaise on their hamburgers.
"Hello there and welcome to Canada!
Can we offer you a pet ferret?"

-Mounties: the polite red line 
between order and chaos 
Above: Richard Branson, First Emperor
of Mars, and the naked woman he paid
to cling to his back while he kite-surfed.
So what if we're a bunch of gun-toting land-grabbers and our neighbors to the north spell color with a 'u?' Let's go back to Mars and the evil business-guy-ocracy. There's not really much danger of cowboys slapping truck-nuts onto their Ares rockets and setting off to claim a few thousand acres of Martian land for themselves, but there is a decent chance that the first Martians will work for Virgin or Space-X or something. Unless we all agree on some kind of plan now, Mars will belong to whatever billionaire can land a space plane on it first.

Do we really want Mars to be owned by some company who will cover the rust-colored soil in ads like some kind of planetary NASCAR racer? Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon doesn't think so:

Pictured: polls indicate that Aldrin has
already locked in the Autobot vote.
"...that should not be one private company at all, it should be a collection of the best from all the countries on Earth, and the leader of the nation or the groups who makes a commitment to do that in 2 decades will be remembered throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years in the future of the history of humanity, beginning, commencing a human occupation of the solar system."

-Buzz Aldrin, candidate
for President of Mars 
(totally has my vote)

"Pfft...good luck Mars!"
Anyway, I think this whole thing is a great idea, but what's the Martian government going to look like? We'll have to wait until they're done to find out for sure, but according to the article, the conference attendees will be modeling their proposal for the Martian constitution on successful forms of government on Earth, including, among others, the U.S. Constitution and that's, um, wow...yikes. Like, is that really the best option out there? I mean, have they seen CSPAN?

Not to worry though, the Conference does seem open to suggestions, and we're not colonizing anytime soon, so there's still time to pass along some pro-tips regarding our system of government. Being British they might not fully appreciate some of our Constitution's, uh...shortcomings. Specifically they might want to take a close look at the Electoral College and the 2nd Amendment before copy/pasting them into Martian law. You're welcome, future Martian generations.
"I'll give you my Explosive Space Modulator 
when you pry it out of my cold dead hands!"
-Marvin the Martian

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let's Celebrate Roswell Day!

Of course, if these guys were on the Jury...
Hey everybody, it's Roswell Day! Or at least it would be if there was any sort of official recognition of the day the Air Force admitted to having found a goddamn starship full of dead aliens lying in an impact crater on some guy's ranch. Or maybe they just found a weather balloon. The jury's still out, but c'mon. Look, I'm not trying to take sides on this whole alien vs. weather balloon thing, but clearly something happened. Ferengi, secret Soviet mutant hoax, gin. Who knows?

Don't laugh, conspiracy fans totally have a case. Like why would a weather balloon crash be newsworthy? I know it was the 40's and nothing of note happened at all that decade, but still, that's a slow news day. But was it aliens?
I suppose that in the 1940's, any distraction from the radio
constantly playing In The Mood on loop would have been welcome.
Unlike most razors available to us,
Occam's is the opposite of bullshit.
Maybe. I think Occam's razor cuts both ways on this one. On the one hand, it seems pretty straightforward: weather balloon falls out of the sky, there's some miscommunication, a little early Cold War anxiety and the whole things gets blown out of proportion. On the other hand, the universe is frelling huge and math seems to favor the possibility of aliens, so who's to say that a spaceship didn't crash in Roswell? Ok, so that's exactly what the Air Force is saying, but who's to say they're not covering the whole thing up?

Above: Agents Scully and not Mulder.
Thanks aliens, thanks a lot...
Reason, that's who. Turns out that mathematically possible isn't the same as bloody likely and it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that the technology to cross interstellar distances would breakdown somewhere in New Mexico like an overheated RV. Besides, I'd imagine aliens would have a Prime Directive or something to prevent them from freaking out the natives. I mean, look at us, a crashed weather balloon probably resulted in seven decades of conspiracy theories, paranoia and the unnecessary final three seasons of The X-Files.

In return we can teach them about this
thing we humans call love.
Anyway, all that said, I think we should absolutely celebrate Roswell Day. Not because of what may or may not have landed in a field in 1947, but because the question reminds us that we're probably not alone in the universe. Not alone and not all that smart by comparison. Sure, we invented agriculture and later, the internet, but we still have war and racism and people tasing each other at the mall on Black Friday. We've got a ways to go. The best thing the aliens could do for us isn't cure all known diseases, or hand us the formula for cold fusion, it's give us a sense of perspective.

We need them to park themselves above out planet, hijack our communications and call us, as a species, on our bullshit. You know, shame us from orbit--it's the only way to be sure.
"Hey, are you the psychotic chimps who, despite developing 
art, music and science, still murder each other over money, 
territory and religion? Wow, way to go guys, way to go."
-Aliens, before subjecting
us to a planet-wide slow clap

Friday, July 4, 2014

Let's Celebrate Our Baffling Contradictions!

Don't worry, we're not under attack. That sound you hear is just fireworks. It's Independence Day and for reasons beyond understanding we like to celebrate by setting off explosions.
Either it's Independence Day or the opening volleys of a super-festive invasion.
Which, incidentally, kind of happened.
You'd think after coming out of a long, bloody conflict, the last thing the newly-liberated Americans would want to do is simulate the sound of shelling, but according to this, the first use of fireworks to mark the occasion happened back in 1777. I realize that nobody had ever heard of PTSD in the 18th century, but the first couple of celebrations must have been full of freaked out Revolutionary War veterans half expecting the British army to show up and ruin the picnic.

Pictured: Any idiot.
Trauma aside, they're also kind of dangerous, especially in the hands of people who don't know what they're doing, are drunk or both which covers almost everyone who sets them off around this time of year. Yet for some reason we're ok with any idiot strolling into a fireworks store and loading up on high explosives. Usually. I'm originally from New York where fireworks are illegal, so most people who want them drive to Pennsylvania where they're totally legal, unless you're from Pennsylvania. With me?

No, of course you're not with me. It doesn't make any sense but here we are, 238 years after a bunch of rebel scum cast off an oppressive aristocracy and replaced it with an oppressive plutocracy, and celebrating it by blowing our thumbs off with the totally well-thought out combination of fireworks and alcohol.
Um, hurray?
She's got a nipple! Everybody down!
I suppose part of our charm as a nation is our baffling contradictions and weird double standards. Half of us want to kick a mother out of Chic fil-A for nursing in public, while the other half calls them a bunch of uptight hypocrites. Some of us like walking around with assault rifles, while the rest of us are ducking for cover. Marriage equality, abortion, whether or not dinosaur bones are the remains of long-extinct creatures or just an elaborate scheme concocted by the devil in order to trick us into believing in evolution-wait, how are we even a country?

Let's face it, we're kind of divided as a people, now more than ever, but the minute there's a terrorist attack or we get to the World Cup, we all band together in the spirit of 'merica. I mean, did anyone care about soccer until a few weeks ago? Anyway, Happy Birthday America, you're a confusing place to live.
What's...what's going on here?