Thursday, November 29, 2018

Whither The Trump Followers

With Cohen now singing about Russia, Paul Manafort's plea deal falling apart and Trump whining about flipping, it appears as though we are near the end game with the Trump presidency. What will his little troll followers do now? Here are some ideas...

1. Stage a revolution.

I'm hoping for this one. Nothing would please me more to see a bunch old, white fat assholes with tits being carted off to prison and having their guns taken away for good. Perhaps they could to go Gitmo (the place they wanted to stay open) and serve their time next to the people that they racially hate for no reason.

2. Crawl back into the hole from which they came.

Unlikely and also my least preferred. I want my xenophobic dickheads out in the open where I can see them and they can be fired from their jobs for being racist. They seem to emboldened now and pissed off to do this.

3. Help out the NRA.

Apparently, the NRA is losing money. Kinda sucks when they don't have all that Russian cash anymore to help commit domestic terrorism. Since they are losing members, maybe a fresh infusion of insecure paranoids would be helpful.

4. Leave the country and move to Russia.

This would be AWESOME. They love them some Pootey-Pute and his authoritarian dongle. I'm sure he has room for them.

5. Become nice people and lose the hate, anger and fear. After all, it's ugly. that is ever going to happen.

I'm going to be LMAO when Trump and Pence both go down with the Russian thing and Nancy Pelosi ends up president.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Friday, November 23, 2018

Another Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day during the year, the point at which retailers "enter the black."

Courtesy of the Thanksgiving episode of Jeopardy, I learned that there were many other Black Fridays. The one that is of greatest interest is the 1869 Black Friday:
The Black Friday, September 24, 1869, gold panic was caused by the efforts of two speculators, Jay Gould and his partner James Fisk, also called the Gold Ring, to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. The scandal took place during the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, whose policy was to sell Treasury gold at weekly intervals to pay off the national debt, stabilize the dollar, and boost the economy. The country had gone through tremendous upheaval during the Civil War and was not yet fully restored. This period, known as the Gilded Age, was a time of great industrial growth which invited much investment and speculation.

Abel Corbin, a small time speculator, married Virginia Grant, the younger sister of President Grant. After the marriage, Gould and Fisk approached Corbin, taking advantage of his brother-in-law relationship with the president, and persuaded Corbin to introduce them to Grant. Gould and Fisk hoped that befriending the President would get them privy information about up and coming government gold sales—information with which they manipulated the market. It worked, resulting in a scandal that undermined the credibility of Grant's presidency and the national economy. Gould and Fisk used their personal appearances with Grant to gain clout on Wall Street in addition to using their insider information.
The parallels between this and the Trump administration are astonishing. 

It's not just the one guy married to the president's daughter. It's the president himself, and everyone of his cronies, from his son-in-law, who uses the court system to screw over people who rent apartments from his company, to the secretary of commerce, who is linked to Russian-owned banks in Cyprus, to the secretary of education, who is linked to education lenders and the sister of Erik Prince, who ran the mercenary outfit Blackwater and also solicited help from the Saudis and the UAE to manipulate social media to help the Trump campaign. Literally dozens of other Trump appointees have already been fired or resigned for various misdeeds, conflicts of interest and general incompetence.

Trump hasn't set off a gold panic yet, but the stock market has been experiencing precipitous drops regularly. Our European, Asian and North American allies have been alienated. Tariffs are really starting to hurt American farmers. Trump is defending murderous Arab princes, Russian dictators, and is "in love" with a dumpy North Korean nuclear megalomaniac who has suckered Trump into a phony denuclearization deal.

It's only a matter of time before Trump or someone trying to cash in on their relationship with him is caught with their hand in the till and causes another economic panic.

Trump and Saudi Arabia

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holiday Rant

Folks, when we talk about the "holidays," it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Other days in the calendar year are not "holidays." They are posers...pretenders to the throne of what are the actual fucking holidays. Here's a handy guide to help you understand...
1. Thanksgiving (the best holiday-food, family, football, laziness)
2. Christmas (Santa, sleigh bells, winter wonderlands, gifts, Jesus, if you are Christian)
3. New Year's Day (party, go out if you are cool, stay in if you lame and trying to be trendy)
That's it. There are no other holidays. When we say "the holidays," these are them.
Next we move on to days of observance which are very important in both a civic and religious way but aren't holidays in what should be the definition of the word. They should not EVER be referred to as "the holidays."
1. Veteran's Day
2. Memorial Day
3. Labor Day
4. 4th of July
6. Dr. King's day
7. President's Day
8. Easter
9. Rosh Hashanah
10. Yom Kippur
11. Ramadan
12. Diwali
This category could use an addition as well-Voting Day. It should be a national day of observance with everyone given the day off. But again, not a holiday.
Halloween is a children's in, LITTLE children. If you are an adult that dresses up like a slutty __________ or goes to bars in some sort of douchey, ironic costume, it's time to grow the fuck up. If Halloween is your favorite holiday, re-evaluate your life.
Drunken bar festives like St Paddy's Day and Cinco De Mayo are complete and utter bullshit. How many more bar holidays must we have?
Next, we have a massively irritating list of what I think are bullshit, made up nonsense days that need to go away.They should also not EVER be referred to as "the holidays."
1. Valentine's Day-frame job by high maintenance partners who are massively insecure.
2. Mother's Day and Father's Day-shouldn't we honor our parents every day?
3. Columbus Day-racist and imperialist bullshit
4. Flag Day-really?
5. Arbor Day-WTF?
Finally, we've started to see a trend lately of new holidays trying to worm their way in...things like Donut day and Pizza day. The last thing this country needs is more days to stuff our faces.This shit needs to end yesterday.
Don’t let people in this country define what a holiday is. Stay strong, people!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Trump, Flat Earthers and the Idiocracy

With Donald Trump as president, conspiracy theories are in vogue. Everything "the media" reports is fake news or a coverup: global warming is a hoax, the Democrats really were running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint and it was Ted Cruz's dad who killed JFK. The New York Times, Washington Post and NASA are all spreading lies and hiding the truth.

In this day and age, no internet conspiracy theory is too stupid for conservatives and the religious right. Including the idea that the earth is flat. Yeah, you read that right. There are still flat earthers around, and their number is increasing, no doubt spurred on by Trump's dumbing down of absolutely everything.

Flat earthers believe that we never landed on the moon. That the International Space Station isn't in orbit. That SpaceX rockets are going nowhere. That Dish Network satellites are not in geosynchronous orbit, even though they are continuously beaming programming to millions of people's houses when they point their antennas at that particular point in the sky. What keeps those Dish Network transmitters up there, in exactly the same place, all the time? Hot air balloons? Magic?

They say it's all a hoax.

The Flat Earth Society held a conference in Denver just two days ago. Most people think that a spherical earth is settled science, resolved long ago, after the Vatican debacle with Galileo 400 years ago, and the burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno for the heresy of believing that the earth orbited the sun.

A spherical earth is not rocket science. The ancient Greek mathematician Eratosthenes figured it out with simple geometry 2,000 years ago. He realized that shadows cast by identical objects on the summer solstice had different lengths depending on how far north you were. He used those measurements to calculate the earth's circumference, and his estimate was pretty much dead on.

No two flat earthers can agree on exactly what the earth looks like, but essentially they believe that the earth is more or less shaped like a pizza, with the North Pole at the center. Antarctica is a huge ice crust around the outside. There is no South Pole -- it's a lie concocted by Roald Amundson.

According to them, the earth is a fixed, non-rotating disk with a radius of about 8,000 miles. That means that the circumference of the pizza is about 50,000 miles: that would make the coastline of Antarctica 50,000 miles long! Antarctica is an ice wall that is somehow impossible to fly over, because, well, what would be out there?

Some of them have the earth flat as a pancake, while others have it like a fried egg in a bowl as a nod to Eratosthenes (and reality).

This invites many questions. If the earth is a pizza, how does the sun shine on New York when it is dark in Shanghai? Why does the sun rise at different times in New York, Minneapolis and LA? If the earth is flat, all three cities should be seeing the sun at the same time in the same place. Why do we have time zones?

If the earth is a pizza, why is the length of the day today, 11/18/2018, 9 hours 27 minutes in Minneapolis, and 10 hours 50 minutes in Miami? If the North Pole is at the center of the pizza, how come the sun never rises there from September to March, and always stays above the horizon from March to September?

If the earth is a pizza why is it summer in Argentina and South Africa when it's winter in the United States and Russia? What makes lunar eclipses? Why do we have tides?

If the earth is a pizza why can't Canadians ever see southern hemisphere constellations like the Southern Cross? How do GPS satellites work? What keeps them up there? Why can we see the International Space Station going overhead, on a completely predictable schedule, moving at 17,000 miles an hour? Or does NASA have a gigantic fleet of drones flying around the world at all times pretending to be the ISS? Where is that in the budget?

The flat earth conspiracy completely ignores the realities of actual, measurable distances between points on the planet. Remember the "Mercator projection" from grade school geography? By projecting a spherical earth onto a flat surface it made the polar regions appear artificially huge:

Notice how Greenland is much bigger than South America? In reality, Greenland is 836,000 square miles and South America is almost 10 times larger, at 6.888 million square miles. The flat earthers put the North Pole at the center of the pizza to prevent land mass distortion in northern latitudes. Problem solved!

Except it's not. Flat earth maps completely distort the shape of southern hemisphere land masses, or the distances between them. Australia is squashed north to south and stretched east to west far beyond the actual measured distances, in much the same way Greenland is distorted in the Mercator projection:

Sphere:   Pizza:

Speaking of Australia, anyone can personally test whether the earth is flat for a few thousand dollars: just fly from Sydney to Johannesburg, South Africa. You can fly on Qantas for about $2,200. The route looks like this (it's a curved line because the earth is a sphere and we're looking at a two-dimensional projection):

You fly due west from the eastern coast of Australia, the entire length of Australia, then hit a looong stretch of the Indian Ocean, then Madagascar and then South Africa, until you finally reach Joburg. That takes 14 hours (it's two hours faster flying the other way because the earth's rotation creates a tail wind known as the jet stream). That's about 6,800 miles, and averages about 485 miles an hour.

During the flight you can look out the window to make sure you're really over Australia and the ocean the whole time.

Now, if the earth is a pizza, what is the flight path for that journey? According to this flat earth map, the flight path from Sydney to Johannesburg should look like this:

You would fly northwest out of Sydney, passing over Indonesia, the Philippines, the China Sea, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and finally South Africa.

Instead of flying over southwestern Australia and the Indian Ocean, you would never fly over those areas and would spend all your time over northeast Australia, the China Sea, Asia and Africa. How do the airlines keep curious passengers from looking out the window and seeing China when they should be seeing ocean? Video monitors displaying computer generated 3D scenes built into the windows?

This distance is, according to my rough measurements, about 9,400 miles. Which means, for a 14-hour flight, it is going 671 miles an hour. The maximum speed of planes like the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 777 is around 650 mph. But flying the other way, from Joburg to Sydney, takes only 12 hours (again, because of the jet stream). That's 783 mph, almost 20 mph faster than the speed of sound.

But let's say that Qantas is in on the conspiracy, and instead of flying a straight line to conserve fuel, they fly along the latitude lines to maintain the conspiracy that the earth is a sphere, like this:

That distance is about 11,500 miles, which means the aircraft would be flying at 820 mph to complete a 14-hour flight, almost twice as far and twice as fast as it would have to fly if the earth is a sphere. Now, the speed of sound is 767 mph. Why don't these planes produce sonic booms? Oh, there's no such thing as the sound barrier? Or they do it far out at sea? I get it.

(Question: if the earth is a pizza, why did sailors bother to invent latitude and longitude lines in the first place, and waste all that time sailing along them instead of going in straight lines?)

But it's much cheaper to prove that the earth is a sphere. Let's say you live in New York. Take a yardstick and put it in the ground on a sunny summer day. Scratch the ground where the shadow falls. Measure the distance between that scratch and the base of the yardstick. Then call your friend in Florida. Have him do the same. Your friend's measurement will be shorter than yours (no penis jokes!). Then call someone in southern Argentina, where it's winter, and have them do the same thing. The shadow will be shorter still. Do it in winter and you get the opposite result.

Because the earth is a sphere.

It is no surprise that most flat earthers use the bible as their primary source to "prove" that the earth is flat. Like the Inquisition, they want to preserve the idea that the earth in general -- and Christians in particular -- are the center of the universe.

Because if the earth is just another planet around just another star in just another galaxy, among millions and millions of galaxies in an ever-expanding universe that was created in the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, why would god care about some schlub on disability trolling the internet in Mobile, Alabama? But if we're in that most special place, the absolute center of a universe, on a pizza that was built specifically for us, naturally we're the most important creatures in all creation.

Aside from religious pomposity, people want to think the earth is flat because they want things to be simple. They don't understand what gravity is, or how big the earth actually is, or how it could spin without throwing us off, or how far away Australia is, or what Antarctica is like. These same people don't "believe" in quantum mechanics, but the semiconducting chips in their cellphones still use quantum tunneling, and the inverse of Einstein's photoelectric effect forms the basis of the LED screens they stare at all day.

Some people just want to read the bible and pretend the world is constructed just the way some Middle Eastern desert nomads thought it was 3,000 years ago.

Welcome to the idiocracy.