Sunday, January 29, 2017

One Nation, Somewhat Divisible...

Good news for fans of awkward portmanteaus! Organizers for Calexit (the objectively ridiculous combination of the words 'California' and 'exit') have gotten the go ahead to start collecting signatures to put it on the ballot for 2019. So, um, hurray?
Anyone caught on the wrong side of the border after this goes down can find their nearest
California Pizza Kitchen and request asylum. While the restaurant chain will be considered
Californian soil, do not under any circumstances eat the food. California is not great at pizza.
Also, the Bay Area is already
out-pretensioning France by
a factor of deux point cinq. 
Calexit is the proposed secession of California from the United States and I don't know how I feel about this. I mean, I get the why. The Organizer's website lists the reasons for leaving and they're all pretty reasonable.

"As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger then Poland. Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states."

Their case is mostly economic and boils down to the idea that if it wasn't for the enormous drag factor of the 49 other states, California would be even awesomer.

Above: a typical Tuesday in San Francisco.
Now, explain to me how Trump's supposed
to be everyones President? Huh? Thought so.
But there's also a cultural argument made even more pointed by this last election. The whole country watched as a short-tempered gameshow host won an electoral, but not popular victory and then immediately started executive signing away all the progress of the last administration despite having the opposite of a mandate, which I guess would be called a grudging, technical win. And a win that doesn't sit so well with the country's most populous, most pot-smoking-est and gayest state. So maybe we'd both be better off?

Admittedly we've been living off the memory
like a middle-aged CPA clinging to the time
his high school football team went to state.
On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm ready to stop being an American. Sure, we have a troubled history and an even more troubled present (because we should know better), but we also cured polio and landed on the moon. And the internet was us, right? Oh, and didn't we single-handedly win World War II? Let's say yes. My point is that as screwed up as everything is right now, and promises to be for the foreseeable, it will-ok, might? Get better. Someday. Somehow. And that we really need to think long and hard before throwing our American-ness up for a show of hands. Like, remember Prop 8?

Maybe instead of voting on whether or not California should leave the Union, why not hold a national referendum on which red states should be kicked out? After all, they're the ones that fucked everything up for the rest of us.
What? They made their choice and it was terrible,
why should we let them anywhere near our next election?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today in late night twitter proclamations...

Above: The Twitter bird, rapidly eclipsing
the raven as the bird of grim portents.
Well that's a relief. It looks like we're going to look into November's questionable to outright fraudulent election results. Technical winner Donald Trump made the announcement on Twitter-yes, Twitter, from here on out I guess he'll be making all his chilling proclamations on social media. In fact, in the last 24 hours he declared that he'll be going forward with the Keystone Pipeline, praised Fox News for being more accurate than CNN, threatened Chicago with the National Guard, and announced plans for the border wall and his intention to pick a Supreme Court nominee.

But back to the thing about looking into the election results:
At 4:10 a.m? For real?
Finally, an investigation into...wait, did he say VOTER FRAUD? He did, which, he knows that that doesn't need to be in all caps right? Also, was voter fraud really the problem? Here's his follow-up tweet:
I wonder if the three minute gap between tweets is so his handlers
 can read it first and make sure he's not starting a war with China...
"It is, how you say, perfect crime, da?"
-The guy who picked
our President for us
Huh...voter fraud? Really? Not the rampant interference from the Russians that all of our intelligence agencies agree boosted Trump's campaign, damaged Hillary Clinton's and undermined our faith in our own democracy, no we're going to look into the universally debunked right-wing rumors of voter fraud. Based on what? A couple of studies one of which is straight up bullshit and the other is written by a guy called David Becker who says that no fraud actually resulted and in fact tweeted to that effect just yesterday in response to Sean Spicer's-huh? Oh yes, him again.

Good thing no one's ever going to
fact check anything you say, right Sean?
Reporters asked Spicer about the President's evidence-free claims of rampant voter fraud and to his credit he was clear that Trump believed there was fraud and not that he, Spicer, did. His carefully crafted mantra was 'it's a belief that he's had for a while, a concern about voter fraud that's based on studies and evidence people have presented to him.' So the Press Secretary wasn't really lying or alternative fact-ing this time, but he did bring up Becker's study, confused it with a different study and then misrepresented the results, so he's just bad at his job.

So yes, we totally need a major investigation into November's election, but not because dead people voted Democrat as the administration is continuing to insist in defiance of like all the evidence ever, but into the fact that Vladimir Putin stuck his grubby, ex-KGB mitts into our election and saddled us with an insecure man-baby who can't accept that more people voted for Hillary Clinton than for him and who now tweets crazy at four in the morning.
You know, if I thought he was capable of feeling shame I'd say that's the haunted expression
of someone who knows they don't deserve to be sitting in that chair. Someone being crushed by
the certain knowledge that most of us voted for someone else and who knows that it's only a matter of
time before karma or the universe or whatever catches up with him. But then this is Donald Trump so...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kellyanne Conway: Spin Wizard

"How dare the press question the Press
Secretary. And in the pressroom no less..."
-Kellyanne Conway
Is Kellyanne Conway even remotely for real? Because...because...let me start at the beginning. Remember yesterday when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lied to us and got all huffy and whined about how the media isn't doggedly repeating Trump talking points? Well Trump administration counselor (which is a job, I guess?) Kellyanne Conway decided to lean in to that particular shit show on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd when she suggested that if the press doesn't start being nicer to Trump then maybe they won't get access anymore.

Above: This, but with bullshit
instead of magic and whimsy.
Yikes. When pressed for an answer about why Trump was cool with having his staff lie to us she went all in. Like, full brazen bullshit spin wizard:

"...don't be so overly dramatic about it Chuck, what it-you're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving, Sean Spicer our Press Secretary gave alternative facts to that."

-Kellyanne Conway, calling all of us,
like, everyone in America, idiots

Factuality is sort of a binary thing.
Either something is factual or
something is a box full of dead cat.
Just so we're all on the same page here, there's no such thing as alternative facts, right? Like, either something is accurate and backed by photographic evidence or it's horseshit spun by right wing shit merchants under the mistaken impression that we're all idiots. There's no 'the truth is probably somewhere in between' or both sides have a point. Turn out for the inauguration was weak, turn out for the Women's Marches was enormous and widespread and Sean Spicer is full of shit.

So is next Wednesday good
for Sean? Maybe we can all go
out for drinks afterward.
Like, does she not get they they work for us? I mean, like most Americans, I didn't vote for Trump, but he did technically 'win,' and is now sort of the President and in that capacity works for us, right? You know, we the people. The media is just that hunk of the people that we send in to ask questions and demand answers because we can't all fit in the press room. Although if she'd prefer I guess we could all just come down to D.C. and ask our questions in turn. This weekend showed that Americans don't mind traveling.

Look, nobody cares about the numbers at the inauguration. We do however care about being lied to. The administration doesn't allow us to ask questions, we require that they answer for their actions. The suggestion that the press needs to be nicer to Trump or they won't get access to the President is just...what's the phrase? Is it unmitigated gall? Yeah, unmitigated gall with some undertones of blind rage...
On our left Chuck Todd absolutely dumbfounded by the Olympic level
bullshit being hurled at him via satellite and on the right, Kellyanne Conway,
defiant, resolute, almost daring us to try and reason with the unreasonwithable. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Behold, The Illusory Power of Tarps!

Holy shit. A tiny man in his dad's suit whom we're told is the new White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, went full denial at his press conference today red-faced-ly insisting that despite us being able to see the vast emptiness of the National Mall on Friday, there were actually more people at Trump's inauguration than at any other event in the history of humankind so shut up. Oh and do watch the video. It's a treat.
Sean Spicer, seen here in an ill-fitting pinstripe suit that's doing him
no favors, explained that the media is a bunch of losers and that lots
of people showed up to the inauguration so shut up.

Picture: '09 on top, '17 on bottom.

False. Fucking false. I know that we're like a day into what promises to be simultaneously the most terrifying and hilarious administration ever, but we're already listening to the technical winner of the election's staff make up ridiculous bullshit about things we all saw live on TV. Do they not understand that we have access to the internet? Did Sean Spicer not think he'd get caught? He said that the reason it looks like a thin crowd is that protective tarps were put down on the lawn of the National Mall to protect the grass and that this created the illusion that Trump was sworn in before a light dusting of idiots gloating about how great America's going to be as soon as their health insurance is yanked. He then went on to claim that there were a bunch of magnetometers and security fences that kept hundreds of thousands from accessing the Mall.

Good thing Press Secretary isn't a high
pressure job, because he might pop a valve
if he ever has to talk about something real.
"Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted-NO ONE HAD NUMBERS! Because the National Park Service which controls the National Mall, does not put any out. By the way this applies to any attempt to count the number of protesters today in the same fashion."

-Press Security Sean Spicer,
already shouting at the
press and calling them liars

See if you can spot the tank in this picture.
So if NOBODY HAD NUMBERS (his caps, not mine), how does he know they're wrong? Anyway, to sum up Spicer's point, the white tarps made it look super-empty which it wasn't but if it looked like it was it's because hundreds of thousands of people were slowed down by security fences and whatever numbers you may have read are filthy lies spread by the media because NOBODY HAD NUMBERS. Wait a sec, does the army know about tarps? Because this could be a whole new frontier in stealth technology.

Oh, and those numbers of protesters we're not supposed to have an accurate count of? He's referring to the Women's March on DC, an event which has sister events across the country and all over the planet. Here, check out the Chicago Tribune's article and photo gallery. Keep in mind that angles and tarps can be seriously misleading so while it looks like millions turned out, it's probably just a few hundred malcontents...
Here's Washington's Women's March. Hardly anyone...
 New York's march...which I'd put at what? Twenty people? Twenty-five?
And L.A.'s. Ok, a few people in this shot, but they're
probably shooting a movie or something
I'm pretty sure San Francisco's just going
to be one big protest from here on out.
Look, I'm not great at estimating crowd sizes, but then no one in the Trump administration seems able to count either. Remember when he made up some horseshit about how if you take out all the illegal votes, he totally won the popular vote? Numbers are not his friend. Neither is photographic evidence. Nor is objective fact. But whatever, millions turned out today. Millions came out to register their disgust which is way the hell more than turned out to watch him put his leathery mitts on a copy of The Art of the Deal and get sworn in.

Here, lookit this comparison between January 20th and January 21st:
Inauguration Day
We're Pissed About Inauguration Day Day
"And then everyone had cake and it was
like, the best cake PERIOD, of all time.
It was way better than Obama's cake."
But who cares? Well obviously Donald Trump cares because he sent his petulant Press Secretary out there to embarrass himself by lying at us right out of his stupid lie-hole about how this is the

"...largest audience to ever witness an inauguration PERIOD, both in person and around the globe."

-Sean Spicer, the first of what I predict 
will be many Press Secretaries 
before this is all over with
Ok, so traditionally you put the PERIOD at the end of your sentence and you don't need to say it out loud, but other than that, congratulations Sean on your first day as the mouth piece for a ridiculous, short-tempered misogynyst who has now joined cancer, Monsanto and war on the list of things people march against.
Above: Hillary Clinton, who actually can count watching
the guy who got fewer votes get sworn in. We should be putting
her on the fifty dollar bill just for putting up with this bullshit...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Brace yourself...

So I'm going to vent a little here. On the internet? I know, right? But it's how I think we all (or at least most) feel. Anyway today is President Obama's last day in office and at noon he's going to hand the keys over to the technical winner of the most electoral college votes instead of, you know, the woman most of us voted for. And I know Obama said in his last press conference the other day that it's going to be ok and I'd like to believe that, I really would but holy shit. I mean, holy shit.
"Wait, don't...uh...hang on!"
-Everyone in the room at the
President's final press conference
Remember when these were a funny,
funny prank someone was playing?
Yeah, I don't either...
Of course he's saying it's going to be ok, he's a classy President and ultimately I think he'll be proven right. Probably years from now when we're pulling down the statues Donald Trump will have raised in his own honor. In the meantime however, it's tough to see this as anything other than the victory of an angry, misled, minority of white conservative voters who, thanks to a combination of Russian Facebook propaganda and a general sense of feeling underappreciated came out in force for a dangerously unqualified and ill tempered game show host who can't go more than a few hours with out embarrassing himself on Twitter. You know, if he felt shame...

I'd like to be understanding and see how this is, in many ways, the fault of the left for being too arrogant and smug, but then I remember that we have every right. I mean, everything from the campaign to the election to the cabinet picks to the promises to get rid of the ACA and build his stupid wall, has been a shitshow of...
...blatant racism,

unapologetic and wilful ignorance,
unmitigated suck-uppery,
and aggressively poor decision making...
  ...on the part of a party which still has temerity the right word? Temerity to call itself the party of Lincoln. So I guess what I'm saying is, let's be civil and all, but let's not pretend that the election was just a polite disagreement between two equally valid viewpoints. We, as in America got screwed. Roundly and severely screwed.
Shit, they're not even the party of Hoover...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Buckle your nerdbelt...

Coming eventually.
You're killing me CBS, figuratively killing me. Star Trek: Discovery, the new Star Trek series that was supposed to start January and was then delayed until May is now delayed until they bloody well get around to it. Yes, they went from coming this May to 'no definite air date.' Now you might think that this is a ridiculous thing to worry about given climate change, violent extremists, superbugs and...well, you know that thing we're apparently going to go through with tomorrow.

And you'd be right. Of course we have bigger problems than a TV show getting delayed, I get that. It's just that it'd be nice to have some new Star Trek episodes to look forward to while civilization collapses down around our ears.
It'll give us something to do while we're waiting
for the papier-mâché to dry on our effigies. 
Here he is arguing with a space pig,
because Star Trek is kind of ridiculous. 
But we'll just have to suck it up like so many other things we'll be sucking over the next few years. It's not all bad news however (about Star Trek I mean, Trump's still happening), they also announced that James Frain will play, get this, Sarek. Who? Allow me to nerdsplain: Sarek is Spock's father and was originally played by Marc Leonard in the original series. You might remember that Sarek died horribly from the Vulcan equivalent of Alzheimer's on an episode of TNG but since Discovery is set before the original series Frain will be playing a younger, less dead version of the character.

I don't know a lot of James Frain's work, but he was on The Tutors as Thomas Cromwell where he dies horribly from pissing off deranged King Henry VIII.
I don't think it counts as a spoiler if it happened in 1540.
Pictured: the moment Star Trek decided to
eat itself
 instead of coming up with new ideas.
So on the one hand this sounds a little like Discovery falling into the prequel trap where every character and story has to be derived from the source material. Sort of like how in the Star Wars prequels we keep running into baby Greedo and like a million Boba Fetts, or pretty much the entire fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise. On the other hand, Sarek's pretty great and enough of a recurring character that it seems like there's still somewhere to go with him. Really, as long as they don't make a habit of retreading old Star Trek episodes I'll be happy, which I'm sure is CBS's goal.

Anyway, it's pretty cool that Sarek's coming back and I'm glad to read that the show begins filming next week in Toronto, even though the likelihood of me being discovered and then cast as an Andorian is looking increasingly dim. Still, I can't help but feel like the producers timed the news about Frain playing Sarek so as to soften the blow that we're still goddamn waiting for the new show. They basically pulled a Picard maneuver.
It's when you use your warp drive to appear in two places at once thus
distracting your opponent while you...what? You're judging me aren't you?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tonight we menace the Moon...

This is a Magnavox Odyssey, released
in 1972 and basically what Cernan and
his crew used to navigate to the Moon.  
Bad news space fans, Eugene Cernan has died. Huh? Whatta ya mean who? Eugene Cernan, we talked about him a few years ago on his birthday, remember? No? You know, sometimes I don't know why I even bother...anyway, Cernan, was an astronaut probably most famous for being the commander of the Apollo 17 mission. Being an astronaut has always been something of a risky occupation, but when he did it it was borderline suicidal. This was in the late sixties and early 70's so Cernan was letting NASA strap him into an air-tight metal tube filled with flammable liquid, ignite it and then hurtle him skyward using technology contemporary with the 8-track.

-Americans in the 1970's
In addition to being goddamn heroic for exploring space during a time where navigational computations were handled by slide rule, Cernan has the distinction of being the last person to walk on the surface of the Moon. No one knew it at the time, but Apollo 17 would be America's final manned lunar mission. How come? Eh, it was the 70's, Vietnam was going on, Nixon was in office and I guess we just wanted to concentrate on becoming disillusioned with America.

Since there are no planned return trips to the Moon, Cernan probably died with the bittersweet understanding that he may never be supplanted as the last human to set foot on it. I don't think I'm alone in finding this an incredibly sad thought, so I hope you'll join me tonight in gazing up at the sky, shaking a menacing fist at our largest natural satellite and shouting in a loud, clear voice so as to be sure to wake the neighbors: "You haven't heard the last of us, Moon! You hear me! We'll be baaaaaack!"
Pictured: Astronaut Eugene Cernan,
seen here humping a model of the Moon.

Today in greasy, pizza-themed food products...

So I think this belongs on the list of those things future archeologists, whom I assume will be evolved apes, will one day find among the ruins of our once proud civilization and say: 'Here is yet another sign of the impending collapse these people ignored. Let's learn from them and never build pizza ATM's.'
"We found this so-called Pizza ATM alongside some e-cigarettes
and some red baseball caps inviting us to make America great
again. We're fairly certain this was the end for the humans."

-Dr. Zaius
"Just like your Grandma used to extrude..."
Yes, pizza ATM's, which, ok, first of all ATM stands for automatic teller machine so right off the bat these are the stupidest things ever patented. The Pizza ATM, manufactured by a French company called Pauline, is really just a vending machine. A complicated one, but still a vending machine. How it works is that you select your toppings on a touch screen and then the machine, I don't know, squirts? No, that sounds gross, it extrudes them onto a pre-baked, pre-tossed crust, reheats it and then dispenses it into a cardboard box.

Although if someone can figure out a
way to stream pizza, they're screwed.
The thing has been test marketed at Xavier University in Ohio since August and has apparently been a success as Pauline is now rolling them out to other schools across North America. Although I'm not sure that's a gauge of how good the pizza is; college kids are sort of famous for a willingness to eat anything. That's not a disparagement, that's an economic fact. With text books and supplies costing something like $1,300 per semester, something that isn't ramen probably looks pretty ok even if it did come out of a glorified Redox.

"I get paid to unclog the sauce nozzle.
If you want me to wash my hands
that's going to cost you extra..."
Yeah, I get that I'm being pretty judgey about the thing. I'd like to say it's because I'm feeling sorry for the underpaid and overworked pizza delivery drivers and Domino's franchisees these machines would be taking business away from, but really it's the idea of eating food prepared by a turn-key vending machine. Does that make me a snob? Probably, but I think I have some valid questions, like, how long do the ingredients sit in these things? Do they get inspected by the health department? And how often does someone come in and hose these out? Because I guarantee you it's not every day.

But I guess I'm not really the target audience for this thing. It probably sounds like a better idea if you're a college student whose kitchen facilities consist of a filthy common-area microwave and a hotplate then I guess that a hot, cheap meal ready in three minutes is pretty appealing for a generation that grew up with the instant gratification of Amazon Prime and streaming video. You know, until the cramps and intestinal woe that comes from subsisting on a diet of vending machine pizza sets in.
"We love it! Not having to wait for pizza leaves us
more time to contemplate our crushing student debt."
-XU Students

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bill Thorpe has a dream...

Giant, planet-devoting space robot Unicron
is, in many ways, just misunderstood.
...that we'll all stop talking about how racist we are. So I get that nobody is the villain of their own story. Like, Magneto was just looking out for mutants, Catwoman was only robbing the Gotham Museum to fund her many pro-cat charities and Darth Vader thought he was bringing order to a chaotic galaxy. But how, how do these people think they're the good guys? Which people? Yeah, don't even. You'd know if you clicked on the link. I put up a link, you pretend you clicked on it, I pretend to be on to you and then I just go ahead and explain anyway, it's a little dance we do. Round and round we go.

"We have the mandate of the people! Sure,
not a majority of them, but that's why we're
grabbing what we can while we can..."
Anyway, lawmakers in Arizona have-hang on, Republican lawmakers in Arizona (this is where you feign surprise) have introduced a bill that would, among other things, prevent schools from teaching classes about social justice. Because now that Vladimir Putin has installed noted Home Alone 2 guest star Donald Trump into office, everything is on the table. Repeal the ACA, legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community and crucially, make sure kids in Arizona don't hear about how fucked up everything is.

They're the big tent party in that they
once rented a tent. A tent you can't
hang out in, unless you're white.
Holy shit, you say, there's got to be more to this. Arizona Republicans can't possibly be the unrepentant monsters I'm making them out to be, right? Well sure. The bill, HB2120-531R, was introduced by Representative Bill Thorpe and is an extension of an existing ethnic studies ban. And like that 2011 bill, it's supposed to promote inclusion and equality by prohibiting schools from pointing out all the exclusion and inequality students who aren't cic-gendered, straight white males can look forward to.

"In many ways, I see myself as the next
MLK Jr, except, you know, white and
working for the exact opposite goals."

-Bill Thorpe
Uh-huh, because if there's one thing the party that wants to ban Muslims is all about about it's inclusion. According to the bill itself:

"It is the intent of the legislature that Arizona shall not educate nor judge an individual based upon their religion, political affiliation, social class, gender, ethnicity, race or by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

-Representative Bill Thorpe, completely
unaware of the concept of irony 

Above: Some guy waving.
(source: Arizona history textbook)
Wait, what? Sound familiar? That's right, Thorpe's bill is quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which is kind of amazing for two reasons. First, Arizona's Republican governor once abolished King's holiday back in 1987 and only reinstated it after losing the chance to host the Super Bowl. Secondly wouldn't the bill would seem to ban teaching anything about the civil rights movement? So the plan is to promote equality by not talking about the people who struggled for it, their accomplishments or what still needs to change because everything's fine.

Look, I know the GOP isn't really a pack of super-villains out to ruin everything for the rest of us, but recently that seems to be exactly what they're after. Even more baffling is that these are people famous for going from zero to rabid-foam crazy if you try and limit their ability to buy armor piercing bullets so how is it they can't ever seem to hear the quasi-fascist, Orwellian Newspeak coming out of their word holes?
"We're going to build the border fence and Eurasia
is going to pay for it. Let's make Oceania great again!"
(source: subtle commentary)