Space Force Monsters 4: No. 2 Pence ill

Background: No. 2 Pence Ill doesn’t call the shots, okay? He’s not No. 1 Pence ill. That’s somebody else. He’ll always be No. 2. Even though appointing Yacht Syndrome as Space Monster of Education was his idea. Appointing Pruitticorn as the Space Monster of Littering was also his idea. The Mnuchin Massacre? The Zinke Deficiency? No. 2. again!

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But threatening Planet Earth and world leaders like Rosie O’Donnell with “quantum plasma radiation and extraterrestrial umbrage the likes of which this galaxy has never seen before”? That was probably not No. 2’s recommendation.

No. 2. Pence ill comes from a planet with an atypical atmospheric composition and thus does not believe in the carbon-greenhouse effect that occurs on Planet Earth.

As for his own personal goals, No. 2. Pence ill hopes to vaporize the rings of Saturn, which he believes promotes homosexuality, and awaits the coming of the second Big Bang, during which all space monsters will be raptured into the Dark Universe.

Evil Superweakness: If in the same room with two females (or more) at a time, No. 2. Pence Ill can’t remember which one is his mother and will devolve into an aborted fetus.

Evil Catchphrase: “Frankly, condoms are a very very poor protection against the vacuum of space. Go Hoosiers!”

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Space Force Monsters 3: Bolt-Goat

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Background: Bolt-Goat is an inventor. The giant steampunk mailbox (see above)? That was his idea. Bolt-Goat is a thought leader.  He’s also been characterized by his peers as evil, hyper-aggressive and all-around batshit insane.

This is incorrect.

Bolt-Goat is goatshit insane.

Special Powers: Harassing U.N. representatives. Growing out evil mustaches. Scaring people. Seriously, Bolt-Goat is scary. He scares me.

Bolt-Goat likes to plan preemptive military campaigns involving liberal use of nuclear weapons while molding clay sculptures. The sculptures never get finished. Nobody except Bolt-Goat knows what it means. It’s possible he just enjoys being creepy.

Evil Catchphrase: “I don’t do carrots.”

Space Force Monsters 2: Blueberry Poopface and Vampire Monkey Man

Background: These fools are in the background of every photo of every space monster-sponsored event. Speeches, cocktail parties … there they are, on the left or on the right, looking clueless and yet only too appropriate. Just because they won’t come down to Earth and become giant-sized to destroy skyscrapers doesn’t mean they aren’t space monsters. Usually, they take on the role of feckless cheerleading during a particularly vile space monster attack.

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Blueberry Poopface used to leave juicy “presents” in other people’s beds during space monster college. He’s now dating someone at Fox’s Space Channel.

Vampire Monkey Man prefers to work behind the scenes LinkedIn page says he works in “potions”, which is totally vague. There was that one-time Vampire Monkey man made a space monster of his own but it didn’t do much damage.

Verdict: these two are annoying but pretty easy to dismiss, unless Blueberry Poopface decides to run for President, which would be a disaster. And yet this seems inevitable.

Special Powers: Derp face. Disappointing father. “Secret” negotiations with foreign governments.

Evil Catchphrase: “I’m going to feed my daughter candy, fatten her up, throw her into the oven and consume her delicious corpse. It’s never too early to teach her about socialism.”

Space Force Monsters 1: Melania Repulsa

 

The year was 1994. Donald Trump hadn’t even entered the picture yet.

You might say the current political crisis in outer space, that which necessitates a space force to protect America, began when Melania Repulsa first emerged from a thousand-year slumber inside a dumpster in Slovenia on the moon:

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While nominally in a position of power to inflict maximum damage on the American experiment in democracy the downtown commercial sectors of our great metropolises–City Grove, Springtown, Albanyville–Melania is mostly just a figurehead. As we shall see later in this series, others in the space monster hierarchy supply the brains, the muscle, the useless-descendant hijinks, etc. She just kind of stands around looking strangely alien. It’s still no excuse, and I hope she is pulverized by the space force.

Special Powers: stealing quotes from famous black women. Can morph into a mannequin at will. A garish sense of personal and interior Christmas decoration. Surprisingly powerful hand slap. Most recently: ironic chain migration.

Evil Catchphrase: “At last! It’s time to conquer…meh. I don’t really care, do you?”

 

Are Editorial Columnists Parasites?

Opinions are a lot juicier than “just the facts”, and a lot more fun to write (see: what I am typing right now?).

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Misha at several weeks old.

Although the internet has exponentially expanded and power and prevalence of opinionated “journalism”, the op-ed section of newspapers (or news outlets) remains the most glorified space for such pontification.

The NY Times has recently received a lot of much-deserved flack for its stuffing the editorial section with “controversial” Never-Trumpers. The Wall Street Journal has become notorious for its right-wing columns. For some reason, we have simply come to accept that this word vomit from very important people is separate but equal to the hard news sections of papers. And what’s wrong with a little provocation?

Tonight I came across an op-ed so mean-spirited and bad that it helped me remember that just because an editorial is an opinion, that doesn’t mean real news publications should make them adhere to real standards of journalism. If the question(s) that an article provokes are difficult or uncomfortable, that is fine. But they must not be questions that have already been answered. 

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Misha parasitically snoozing on my lap.

We should not confuse a columnist’s hot-take as contributing to “the conversation” when it is derived from their ignorance or even mendacity.

Especially when science is involved (such as climate change), “opinions” are of significantly less value when there is readily available evidence and/or logical reasoning to explain or counteract whatever uneducated claims are being made.

And it bothers me because there is a lot of malice behind the challenging of conventions and learned wisdom in the Trump Era, not solely limited to the political sphere. Take, for instance, the article that inspired me to write this blog post at three in the morning: Chris Reed’s screed that dogs are actually parasites.

Not only does Chris Reed attack both dog owners and their dogs in an underhanded manner, but he smugly asserts he will be attacked online for his radical truth bomb or whatever he thinks it is that he wrote, most likely in under an hour to meet a deadline (see, anyone can sucker punch, but these people, not the Mexicans, are the people I’ll be competing against in the journalism job market).

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Misha parasitically posing for teatime.

I will now assert that Chris Reed is 100% wrong, and that is not an opinion, that is an established fact of science, one he should have researched before he wrote his piece.

The question Chris Reed is asking, underneath the nastiness, is actually a good one, or would be if it hadn’t already been studied comprehensively: when dogs, or any animals, form a relationship with humans, are we just projecting emotions onto them, or is there a shared intention and understanding between us?

The scientific answer has slowly but surely moved from “non-human animals are organic automatons without a soul and whose actions and reactions are hardwired, instinctual behavior that is completely different from the self-aware human experience” to “yes, many animals, especially mammals or those whose intelligence it is easy to recognize (octopuses), do in fact have objective emotional lives” and, even if the process is not yet complete, we are now able to more fully understand other animals perceptions of themselves and the world around them.

Advances in neuroscience, and arguably science ethics as well, mean scientists can study and observe brain function and development to prove that our dogs do not merely play-act companionship, but feel an attachment to their owner/parent.

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Misha parasitically eating my slipper.

Yes, Mr. Shitsnack cites some articles and books in his diatribe (although he links an article, not the book, in the embedded link for the book). No, they do not prove “dogs are parasites” nor do they offer a substantive refutation of the latest scientific consensus, nor do they try (the book he cites is from 2001 yet may already be anachronistic).

I mention he is underhanded in his argument: knowing that it’s somewhat shaky ground to argue against dogs in the year 2018, he devotes some sentences to condemning the extremes some dog owners will go to, including plastic surgery, designer meals and other luxury excesses. See, people who love their dogs are crazy!

Except this really has nothing to do with dog-ownership at all. These complaints about absurd pet pampering are about material status, fetishism and attention-seeking.

There is not a slippery slope from spending “too much” time with your dog to buying it a dream doghouse in Majorca. In fact, the people who go to such dumb lengths demonstrate a misunderstanding of their pet and its emotional needs, similar to how parents who obnoxiously spoil their child (this was never the case with me, pay no attention to the crates of LEGOs in the family basement) are hurting, not fostering, love and socialization.

Of course, I am “biased” and like many others am lucky enough to have had some wonderful dogs in my life, include two family pets, some slobbery flatmates and one pupper who I rescued in Korea. I have also wondered in the past if, in letting them sleep on the bed or whine for treats or take the lead on walks, I am ceding “alpha male” territory or letting myself be taken advantage of.

On some level, it doesn’t matter, especially since pets often provide a necessary therapeutic role in our lives. This is definitely the case with me. Also, I have been curious enough to want to know ‘the truth’, not go with my first instinct or last instinct or pick a fun affectation with which I can harass pet-owners at parties. I am sure there are local libraries in San Diego where this mansplaining moron can educate himself with some free book-learning.

To wrap this all up as an appeal to better journalism, yes, even op-ed writers have a responsibility to use their platform with knowledge and integrity. A big-city paper should not be printing half-baked arguments that are merely better-worded versions of what you can find in the comments section. If the writer cannot hold himself up that modest standard of competency, then their superiors should replace them with someone else who is up to the challenge.

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I foolishly interpreted this tongue wag as affection. It could just as easily be parasitic indifference.

I Made A Four-Dimensional Portal Out of Artichokes

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Just kidding. I don’t even eat artichokes!

But I wanted a clickbait title.

I’m reading a science fiction book about space. It’s a fun book–so far–but for the frustrating trite trope that aliens achieve > light-speed travel through “bending” space or utilizing hidden dimensions to find shortcuts over otherwise impossibly distant locations. EVERY STORY THAT EXPLAINS THIS USES THE EXAMPLE OF FOLDING A PIECE OF PAPER SO 2D “FLATLAND” PEOPLE CAN QUICKLY GET TO EACH OTHER ON A MAP.

I have given much thought to this and come to the irrefutably correct conclusion that THIS KIND OF TRAVEL IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!

Try to imagine the fourth dimension for a moment. Or at least, try to imagine the fourth dimension as a SPACIAL dimension. Since it’s slightly easier to conceive of the fourth dimension as time (TEMPORAL).

Spoiler alert: you can’t. It’s impossible. The fourth dimension is infinitely greater than our 3D world, just as our 3D world expands infinitely off from a 2D surface. We can very crudely describe 4D shapes just as we can draw 3D shapes in 2D. Tesseracts, or “hypercubes”, are fascinating for their hints of a world ‘beyond’ our own, a glimpse into the next frontier.

But accessing this fourth dimension as a means of circumventing the rules of e=mc2? I am skeptical!

Let us turn again to the oft-used analogy of the folded piece of paper. As you can see from the picture below, the conventional wisdom is that when the folded sections “touch”, they form a connection to one another.

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This is only superficial. In truth, we have no way of knowing whether two-dimensional beings could travel in such a manner. The paper trick is actually a poor analogy because as this thin as it is, there is still ‘depth’ to the sheet. The two sheets “touch” but they don’t actually become ‘one.’ I don’t think there’s any way a two-dimensional plane with ZERO depth could be linked by a 3D mechanism. Imagine being a “2d” being on this piece of paper, which we will call “flatland” because everybody does because it was the title of the Edwin Abbott book. annotatedflatlandcover

As the other side of Flatland was folded towards your side, you would not be able to see any of this happening (I suppose if you could look far enough and the view was unobstructed you would notice your 2d universe bended back on itself). The descending portion of Flatland is unlikely to affect the other half of Flatland in any way, until it actually touches. But  I still don’t understand how they might ‘join’ together in a way that you can travel between the two parts of Flatland. Because Flatland has no third dimensions, the two halves of their universe could be infinitely close and yet have no affect on one another, nor a way to bring the two together. The two sides of Flatland could somehow “join” together in some crazy cataclysmic scenario; or one side could actually fold ‘into’ the other. But in that case, the two halves of Flatland are connected via an infinitely small portion of 2d space. No matter what the case, whatever contortion of Flatland that allows such tricky travelling requires the aid of an extra-dimensional “force”, for which we currently have no analogy.

We envision a helper mechanism in a “wormhole”, some kind of tunnel between two portions of 3D space that allow one to circumvent the rules of sublight travel. hLZYNSc

It’s some awesome, heady stuff. Perhaps there are 4d aliens who can not only see 3d beings but for some benevolent urge decide to “help” us by construction such connections.

As of yet, however, there’s nothing in OUR technology or even understand of physics that would allow for such a thing to exist. We’ve never seen one and we don’t even really know what one would look like (although the most interesting guesses in fiction involve a spherical “portal” through which you can see the other side, as in the film “Interstellar”. I think it’s wonderful to imagine such a device and it would be foolish to say such things cannot exist, after black holes exist and they don’t make a lick of sense, either.

But as of now I still view extra dimensions as things that are inaccessible, possibly even non-existent except as mathematical concepts. Or they may be beyond the grasp of three-dimensional humans (or other aliens/animals).

 

 

Donald Trump and Women and Stuff

This will be brief:

Our new President is a serial abuser of women, and views on women are, unfortunately, as repugnant as possible and this is not hyperbole. He has physically assaulted women of all ages against their will, objectifies his own daughter, has made underage girls undress in front of him. Et al.

People knew this and yet 60 million plus Americans, including women, voted for this man anyway.

This leads me to believe the following:

Only preemptive (large-scale, societal, educational) changes, not punitive or prescriptive ones, will ever change rape culture.

This can be applied to many other things, such as health care, or political participation, but I’ve got this on the brain for now, so this is what I’ll write about.

Prescriptive measures to combat assault on women are important. Legal measures to protect women’s rights are important (Roe V Wade, et al).

One of my ‘favorite’ films is “Clockwork Orange”, in which the opening sing the main character brutally rapes a woman in her own home while cheerfully chirping “Singin’ in the Rain.” One of the many messages of this film is:

We should not wish for a society where would-be rape rapists ‘cannot’ rape, we should wish for one where would-be rapists (ie young men) do not want to rape at all.

That is, while in the real, present world we must contend with rape crises and physical assault, we need less people focused on how to weed out, identify and punish these people, and more people focused on how to stop generating such mentalities in the first place.

Most of the discussion on rape, on the internet at least, I have observed, is aimed at comforting the victims, and that a very important and noble goal. It is not enough. Without looking up any statistics, I’m going to go out on a limb to say the number of assaults on college campuses and in America at large has not gone down in significant numbers, despite the growing number of women, and men, who “understand” the issue or have internalized various studies or axioms, and can consider themselves pseudo-experts on the subject.

The drive for sex is innate. The link between sex and power and how this manifests itself in casual rape, is not. Boys aren’t born with the predilection towards slipping roofies into cocktails. Bill Cosby is made, not born.

This is because we are taught that the drive towards power, and power over others, is extremely important, and sexual conquest (for men) is one of, if not the strongest, marker of power. Most things in our culture, but particularly education, emphasize this. And sexual education in particular is quite terrible.

I feel like I have spent most of my young adult life learning and unlearning many myths about sex, and I’ve never watched porn in any significant amount (that’s being generous; I can truthfully say the amount of actual ‘porn’ I’ve watched or consumed totals less than one hour). 

A lonely blog post nobody will read is not enough time or space to adequately grapple with these issues. So let’s skip to the end.

When we allow powerful people to get away with doing these terrible things, is that we as a society are not concerned with these things either. The problem with abusing people is not because it will hurt them, but because you might get caught or punished hurting them.

I believe that too many progressives, overwhelmed by the root causes of many societal ills, and unable or unwilling to tackle the extremely difficult talk of CHANGING MINDS, believe it is enough to simply attack the perceived enemy and fight injustice through brute force of will.

This is simply not enough. It is worse than not enough. Prescriptive Social Justice Will LOSE. Each and every time. Because problems like racism and rape and economic disparity are caused by inequalities of power to begin with, and when you fight against the dominant mindset or power, the already powerful always seem to win. This is why I hate Identity Politics.

This seems like a good place to stop.

 

Clinton at the Booth

Clinton at the Booth

By Ernest Lawrence Thayer and Dakota McKee.

Image result for hillary clinton baseball

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Democrats this year,

The court stood four to four, the next appointment was unclear.

So when Trey Gowdy lied at first, and Chaffetz did the same,

A pall-like silence fell upon the pundits in the game.

 

A straggling few got up to warn of working-class despair. The rest

clung to the hope and change they said was sooner manifest.

They thought, “if only Clinton could but get a whack forsooth-

We’d put up even money now, with Clinton at the booth.”

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But Gore preceded Clinton, as did also Kerry, John.

And the former was too boring, while the latter was too wan.

So upon the liberal multitude grim melancholy sat.

For there seemed more than little chance of Clinton going splat.

 

But Silver crunched some numbers, to the wonderment of all.

And Trump, the much despised, had hands alleged to be small.

So when the spring had ended, and men saw what had occurred,

There was Clinton safe in first and…Gary Johnson third????

 

Then from the social media, and more they hashtagged every yell,

It rumbled through the Facebook, on every Mac and Dell.

It pounded on the keyboard and shot down Alt-Right trolls

For Clinton, “Nasty” Clinton, was advancing in the polls.

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There was ease in Clinton’s manner as she stepped into her place,

There was pride in Clinton’s bearing, a practiced smile on her face.

And when, responding to the cheers, she lightly spoke the truth,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt she’d do well in the booth.

 

300 million eyes were on her as she brushed away the dirt,

The media tongues applauded for a pantsuit, not a skirt.

So while the creeping Donald talked of walls with flippant lip,

Defiance flashed in Clinton’s eye; no need to jibe the ship.

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And when the toupee-covered Trump came hurtling through the air.

And Clinton stood a-watching him in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the statesman Sanders, his Bern unheeded in debate.

“That ain’t my style,” said Clinton. “America is already great.”

 

From the RNC convention, there went up a muffled roar,

like the beating back of refugees from a distant Arab shore.

“Benghazi! Lock her up!” shouted someone with a gun.

And it’s likely they’ve have said so, even had not Clinton run.

 

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With a smile of teeth-whitened clarity Clinton’s visage shone,

She stilled the rising tumult, and bade the race go on.

She signaled to the caucus, though progressives wouldn’t deign.

But Clinton still ignored it, and the VP was…Tim Kaine :/

 

“Rigged!” cried the maddened Trumpettes, others warned of WikiLeaks.

But no scornful look from Clinton in the race’s final weeks.

Though they saw her face grow stern and cold, they saw her muscles strain,

They knew that Clinton wouldn’t let them down: she had a great ground game!!!

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One final curve from Comey, overshadows Pussy Gate.

He blusters with cruel violence, she waits for November 8.

And now the states will hold the vote, the polls open and then close.

And now the airwaves chatter with force: who was it that they chose?

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Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,

The Klan is cheering somewhere, and right-wing hearts are light.

And somewhere men are laughing, with pseudo-populist inflection.

But there is no joy in Mudville. Or New York. Or Chicago. Or Los Angeles. Or Miami. Or San Francisco. Or Philadelphia. Or Washington DC. Or Portland. Or Columbus. Or Detroit. Or Milwaukee. Or Atlanta. Or Cleveland. Or Denver. Or Fresno. Or Hartford. Or Albuquerque. Or Chappaqua. Or Toronto. Or London. Or Paris. Or Beijing. Or New Delhi. Or Jerusalem. Or Rio de Janeiro. Or Mexico City. Or the Maldives. Or Seoul. Or Tokyo. Or Moscow. Or Cairo. Or Istanbul. Or Budapest. Or Brussels. Or Reykjavik. Or Madrid. Or Casablanca. Or….

Hilary Clinton has lost the election. 😦

Image result for donald trump baseball

 

 

Dakotaland Movie Reviews: The Blair Witch Snowden

Brief Disclaimer: This movie is only playing at Dakotaland Theatres…and possibly the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, CA. But this hasn’t been confirmed.

The Blair Witch Snowden, directed by the ghost of Oliver Stone, is a new kind of horror film.

Although the techniques used are not new, the forms and synthesis of styles creates an experience unlike any other. By the end of the credits, the audience will probably leave shocked in a stupor of dread.

The premise of the story is deceptively simple. A handful of teenagers set out into an unnamed forest in search of Edward Snowden, a fugitive from the US government. Although the setting is never clear, it appears to be set in the indeterminate near-future where Snowden has decided to live out his days as a Robin Hood-like figure in the woods.

One of the idiots in the party suggests capturing him and bringing him back to civilization and justice. A superficial discussion of his history and the political controversy is given. One of the troupe posits he want insane.

Anyway, from there things get weird. Although nobody is killed, the teenagers find that one by one, their cameras are being mutilated and destroyed, the film burned, or if its a digital camera, the battery melted with a creepy, hand-written note about e-waste and toxic chemicals. Soon the group is reduced to one stupid camera phone and they are understandably terrified. Although they’ve been able to film snippets of a shadowy figure dancing in the background, the culprit is never fully seen.

One of the teenagers kills himself for ambiguous reasons.

Eventually they find a house in the middle of the woods. It turns out to belong to Joseph Gordon Levitt, who explains to the flummoxed kids that he is representing Snowden on Snowden’s behalf, and anyway it’s only a  movie. But as Snowden, JGL explains to that the cameras the teens have been carrying are being monitored by the NSA and they are being tracked. He then turns to the audience, breaks the fourth wall, and informs them that they are being tracked as well by a camera in the corner of the theater. He warns them that now that they’ve seen “The Blair Witch Snowden”, their names will appear on a database that cross references political dissidents and gullible theater-goers.

The film then rolls to credits, where instead of listing the creators of the film, the movie ends by listing all the names and occupations of those who attending that particular screening. In the post-credit scene, JGL surrounded by the dead teenagers reveals himself to be half-robot, laughs maniacally and says “you’re next.”

Overall I’d recommend the film to fans of horror and political thrillers in general. but the shaky cam effect is annoying.

4 out of 5 stars.