eclipse! eh, or not

This eclipse thing was apparently a big deal. Folks cashed in their retirement savings to fly to a city within the path of the total obscuration. Only to pray to their deity of choice that there weren’t thunderstorms.

I on the other hand had a plane to catch back home for work. So I assumed I’d be airborne when the eclipse actually occurred. We get aboard the aircraft and the stewardess goes through the typical excruciatingly long six minute United introduction which includes instructions on air travel, United ads, and directions on how to construct your own log cabin. After she’s done, the captain actually leaves the cockpit and stands in front of first class to address the whole plane.

He basically says all will be well, both he and the copilot have eclipse glasses (which he shows us), and that the aircraft is rated as “100% capable of solar eclipse flight”. This got many chuckles from the passengers who weren’t mind melded with their smartphones. I didn’t laugh though, because I know what solar flares can do (in theory) to a fly-by-wire aircraft. Can a solar eclipse enhance a solar flare? I have no idea. But I had a lot of beer and coffee in the 12 hours prior to this flight, so in that psyche anything is possible. Even elves. So many elves in the forest. Run!

So based on my understanding of how the eclipse was supposed to play out, and the pilot’s comments, you would think the eclipse would have happened while we were aloft, right? Nope. First off, I was right side center seat. The guy on the window was a 300 pound former NFL headhunter with a Kansas City barbeque shirt. He played freecell for a half hour then fell asleep. All without ever opening his window shade. So I kind of had to peer around other windows. Did the sun darken? Eh, maybe, I wasn’t sure. But by the time I’d landed on the east coast I’d concluded that the eclipse was over. I was ready to get on with my day.

Then they’ve got CNN [sigh] on at the baggage claim and it shows the eclipse just beginning in Oregon. So I’m wondering if I traveled back in time or what. Nope, no eclipse while in flight. It seems the United pilot executed the verbal equivalent of a placebo. I wonder if the United corporate hacks told him to do it? Either way, it was entirely unnecessary because nothing actually happened while we were in the air.

So I get my car back from the haunted, overpriced airport parking garage and go pick up the dogs. Every once and a while I glance up at the sky to see if the sun has changed. Yes, I broke the dreaded rules. I looked at the bare sun with mine own eyes. Because nobody ever does this at the beach or on a regular basis. But the nannies of modern society would have you believe up to yesterday, that if you looked at the eclipse with bare eyes for three seconds your eyes would burst into flames and three kittens you did not know would die horribly.

Anyways, eventually I got home with the dogs and began to unpack, occasionally looking outside. Nothing ever happened. Did it get a little darker out? Maybe, or was that because of the scattered clouds? Who knows? I’m out there to get the mail and my neighbor Jimmy (who’s a little slow, but is a real nice guy) is like, “Hey [insert degenerate blog author name here], where is the eclipse?”

I told him I had no idea, that it was a bust, and that I’d given up. And so it was. I had 80-85% obscuration of the sun where I live, or so the Internets told me. But without eclipse glasses the sun is too bright to be able to see much of it at all. Go get eclipse glasses? Eh, maybe. But what’s the fun of looking at this through special darkened glasses. I might as well observe astronomy through a telescope with a lens made of aluminum foil.

Oh well, what a waste, whatever. I’ve developed one very specific conclusion from my only eclipse experience. It’s either total eclipse or bust. Anything less than 100% is like drinking non-alcoholic beer or driving below the speed limit. I have no idea when the next American solar eclipse is. Maybe I’ll be a bleached skeleton before it occurs? But if it does, and I care enough, I’d rather fly somewhere to see 100%. And pray to my deity of choice that there weren’t thunderstorms.

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Yep, didn’t see that.

on Russians, sharks, bears, swimming, and who to trust

You, the average normal human, require a new hammer. You use it to fix up your house, apartment, hovel, or yurt. You have several options to choose from. But recommendations tell you that you can have the hammer made by a partially competent American maker at a reasonable price, or the cheap one made by a former KGB assassin. Which do you choose?

Well, I suppose if you lived in Russia you would pick the KGB guy. Or be made to pick the KGB guy. But if you’re not Russian why would you, or anybody else, choose the KGB guy? This question has always been on my brain as folks and organizations have chosen Kaspersky Labs to handle their internet security to the tune of half-a-billion active users.

I mean I somewhat get it, Norton, McAfee, and the many other generic Western firms are only above average at best. But what do you expect when the Internets sandbox is an inherently flawed security nightmare. That doesn’t mean you go running for help with Ivan, aka the guys who are directly responsible for much of the security nightmare. Unless you desire to make the counterargument that because Kaspersky is KGB, that it’s good business to ask the devil to guard your church because he knows how to mix it up, barstool style. But I don’t buy that argument. Eventually the devil will rob you and use your pilfered cash to buy cinnamon whiskey, his drink of choice.

Kaspersky is somehow considered respectable, which further proves the marketing goons of the planet can put a shine on anything and twist people’s brains with glorious abandon. Kaspersky advertises on NPR! So he must be legit, right? And since the beginning Kaspersky has tried to always prove they have an independent hand. Their claim is that Russian they are, doesn’t mean you can’t trust them. They’re separate and distinct from the functioning arms of the Russian state, honest. Eh, if they say so.

As far as my take, I think this Washington Post article sums it up pretty nicely. In particular:

“James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said ‘it’s difficult, if not impossible’ for a company like Kaspersky to be headquartered in Moscow ‘if you don’t cooperate with the government and the intelligence services.’”

Yeah, no kidding. So if you or your business has put your trust in Kaspersky, well, you deserve what you get.

Hey speaking of failed trust, apparently a whole bunch of people actually thought Discovery Channel was going to get Michael Phelps to race a shark. Instead they just computer simulated it and Phelps lost. Because Phelps is a human, as in, a creature not meant to inherently swim in the water. Kind of like how a shark is. But I digress.

Did folks actually think they’d put Phelps in the water alongside a shark and race them in lanes? Do folks understand that humans can’t order sharks around like that? Gee I sure hope so. How did people logistically think this would occur? Why are they angry with Discovery Channel? How did they trust that this would actually happen?

The only thing I can think of is they’d capture the shark and chain it up like some kind of angry Star Wars arena beast. They’d have him in a lane in the ocean contained by two sheets of transparent aluminum. And Phelps would be on the other side. Then they’d fire the gun and release the shark. Only, but what if the shark didn’t swim forward and instead tried to turn around and attack the folks behind him? As in, the folks who’d just chained him up. Or what if the shark swam for a bit and then stopped? Or what if the shark busted through the transparent aluminum and swallowed Michael Phelps whole in an orgy of chum related violence? Or what if we get Kaspersky to race a 700 pound grizzly bear? Maybe his KGB training, Russian bear familiarity, and Vlad inspired judo can save him? But I doubt it.

Who not to trust? Well for starters Russians who say they’re here to help. And folks who claim a human can race a shark. Along with all other kinds of lunacy that just don’t seem to make sense. Kind of like most of the nonsense written on this degenerate blog.

You could adopt the tact of: trust no one. But instead, just use your common sense. We’ve all got it. It’s pretty neat. Go with that.

fun time

four creatures enter; one creature leaves

lawmakers reach bipartisan agreement to reform health care

Lawmakers announced in a remarkable joint statement from the steps of the Capitol that an agreement was reached to reform the nation’s health care system. A prepared statement read by both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) presented the initial details of a bill which would significantly alter the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) joined their Senate counterparts but did not address reporters until after the initial briefing. “It was a tough negotiation, neither of us really got what we wanted,” said Ryan, “but I’m confident we’ve arrived at the best possible solution for the country.” Exact details and the bill’s specifics will be released later this week.

Narrating several critical all night discussions deep within the Congressional offices, Pelosi outlined a bitter but ultimately productive process. “It got pretty heated in there, sometimes we weren’t sure if we’d pull it off. But I’m pleased we stuck with it. This bill will help Americans.” Pelosi was also pleased that the new so called ‘American Health Care Bill’ meant the Republican leadership would pull back their bill to repeal Obamacare.

From the White House, President Donald Trump released several Twitter statements expressing his praise for the joint effort:

“So glad those folks got it done! #fullofwin”

“Democrats wrote Obamacare alone, shoved it through. Republicans wrote their repeal alone, tried to shove it through. No more!”

“This is a big fucking deal. #America”

The gravity of the issue at hand is said to have compelled Senate and House leadership to carefully craft a series of key working groups that ultimately lead to the compromise. “We felt that with a topic that impacts 20 percent of the American economy, and literally effects the beating hearts of 300 million Americans that we needed to do it right, and do it right now,” said McConnell, clapping Schumer on the shoulder, “this guy and I are getting wrecked off the same whiskey bottle tonight.”

Visiting Washington DC with his family, Milwaukee native Paul Martinez expressed surprised delight, “This is why we brought the kids to DC, to see how special democracy is. We had no idea this would happen today though,” chuckled Martinez. “Totally,” stated his wife Nicole, “we were just hanging out by the Reflecting Pool and my sister texted me that we had to see this speech. We loved it! This is why we elect them to serve us out here.”

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meet Dennis Rodman, arbiter of dictator flesh

Once upon a time, while the Dodo still walked the Earth, when dinosaurs munched on greenery not laced with cadmium, when Democrats and Republicans could break bread together without drawing derringers, came the dawn of this nonsense blog.

And lo, did we thus in one of our very first posts encourage Dennis Rodman to break the neck of Kim Jong Un, Overlord & Dictator of the North Korean people.

Sadly, Rodman didn’t take us up on our offer of eternal glory for all mankind. And yet, all these years later he’s back. For some reason.

This morning Kim’s goons released a comatose young American who was foolish enough to travel to North Korea, and got arrest and infected with botulism for his troubles. I think it says all you need to know about North Korea’s status that one of their most high profile capital prisoners can get infected with botulism.

So you can laugh at Rodman all you want, or criticize his visit, but at least he got this poor dude released. Which is apparently more than all the resources of the American government can do.

So maybe Rodman just does these visits to set somebody free every once and a while? I mean, Rodman’s a joke, so the visit is meaningless to his otherwise trashed reputation. So what does he care what people think of him as long as he gets somebody out of jail? Eh, maybe I’m giving Rodman too much credit. Maybe he just likes the sack full of emeralds carved in a forced labor camp that Kim will give him after they play h.o.r.s.e. and Rodman lets Kim win after three rounds.

But at any rate, Rodman still has it in his power to become the hero we always wanted him to be. Rodman clocks in at six foot seven and 220. Kim clocks in at negative Napoleon and 420. It’s just about the most one sided fight you can imagine.

It’d be like if you pit Andre the Giant against Hitler in an MMA fight. They’d be picking Hitler out of the fence for weeks. For the young uninitiated, Andre the Giant was in the original Mission Impossible series where he played Boris, a seven foot four Soviet agent who had steel teeth and wore this top hat thingy he could throw like a Frisbee to decapitate people.

Seriously though, think of the legendary status that awaits Rodman if he carries out our wishes. Think of how famous the guy who killed Hitler would have been? He or she would be on the lips of schoolchildren for all time. This sounds right up Rodman’s alley.

Dennis, friend, there’s still time. We’re counting on you.

warm up walk in the Beijing airport during layover, with Drowning Pool blaring through the terminal speakers

why is CNN on everywhere?

You get to the airport and CNN is on at the gate. You go hide in the bar and CNN is above the drinks. You check into the hotel and they’ve got CNN on the wall.

All last week I was strapped to four work colleagues for travel. Everywhere we went there’s CNN on some screen. I suppose I normally don’t notice it when I travel. I don’t pay attention. But the four of them were all into this political craziness. I’m seated at some hotel bar with them and CNN is literally on a screen at the table. There was no escape.

I wanted to run and hide under some coats. I don’t get cable news. It’s like some kind of putrid disease. Everything is breaking news. Every station is biased. The talking heads shout at each other even though they’re so dumb they likely forget where their chauffer put their car keys.

But people drink this stuff in to their detriment. I think if you strapped a live human to a chair and forced him/her to watch four hours of CNN and four hours of Fox News a day for a month, they’d come out the back end of the process as a truly demented person.

Why does everybody choose CNN for their airport/hotel/bar? Why can’t they put sports on? Or a channel about cats? I think it’s because CNN was one of the original cable channels and the original news channel. It’s the glory days of 1993 when television was just starting to dominate our lives. One upon a time there wasn’t television at every single darn airport/hotel/bar. And CNN actually used to attempt to be serious and even somewhat classy. Remember Vader’s, “This is CNN”?   No more.

Well, we at TAP are here to help. Instead of harming people’s brains, we want to improve the quality of all our lives. So we propose that CNN be replaced on all travel screens with The Arcturus Channel.

The Arcturus Channel will have content fit for the brain of a five year old for most of the day. It’ll show nature videos of giraffes, and tigers, and whales and all kinds of Earth stuff. We’ll do a whole three hour special about how awesome volcanoes are. It’ll be like all those nature channels were before every cable channel became the same generic stuff with different channel names.

And from 9pm on, we’ll have The Arcturus Channel (After Dark), for us adults, after the kiddies have stopped traveling. So when you’re exhausting waiting for a connection at Houston Bush at 10pm you have something decent to watch. It’ll show monkey’s copulating, gazelles getting ripped apart by predators, and snow bears devouring baby seals.

Overall, The Arcturus Channel shall focus upon nature topics that are meant to calm your brain rather than disturb it. No politics, no controversy, just something to make you happy while you grind through your journey on the way to a hopeful happy destination. What a novel concept.

apparently, even bread and potatoes can kill you now

Oh no, it’s happening again. Everything’s trying to kill me. The rain’s trying to drive my car off the road into a watery grave. I caught my dogs trying to practice their knife fighting skills last night. The elves that inhabit my dreams are telling me to burn things. And, oh no, my bread is poisoning me, and, wait, what? What?

Oh yes, my friends. They’re at it again. Science has determined that bread, or potatoes, or other starches are a carcinogen that can kill you. Truly.

Humans have been consuming bread and potatoes for like 10,000 years. If these things cause cancer, then the very air you breathe must do so as well. But this supposed breathtaking science news was given front billing on the BBC. So everybody’s going to read this and wonder what’s going on. As a brief aside, I’ve noticed that the BBC believes the world is composed entirely of vicious death traps. If I claimed that cutting your grass led to lymphoma, I’d get published in the BBC overnight.

Well, we at TAP are here to help. We’ll leaf through this insanity because we’re insane, and bored, and don’t want junk science giving our tasty food choices an undeserved bad name.

The idea is that acrylamide, a naturally occurring chemical, is a supposed carcinogen. When you fry or heat starches such as bread or potatoes above certain temperatures, acrylamide naturally appears in that food. It also naturally appears in other stuff such as coffee.

So the scientists have decided the solution to reduce your risk of cancer is to heat starches in manner that reduces the risk that acrylamide will appear. In other words, don’t always fry potatoes, boil them. Toast your bread, but not too much. Uh, okay.

First off, six sentences into the BBC report, this juicy line appears:

“However, Cancer Research UK said the link was not proven in humans.”

Oh, you, you mean nobody’s actually proved it’s a carcinogen. Oh.

Plus, may I remind you that acrylamide is naturally occurring. Humans didn’t invent it, it’s just there. So when the servants toasted the Pharaoh’s bread in 7,634 BC, he ingested acrylamide. If only they’d known to lightly toast the bread, but oh that goofy Pharaoh, he beheaded the last servant who tried that. Also, at some point thereafter, that Pharaoh died. So is it reasonable to conclude that Pharaoh died of acrylamide poisoning? Hey, why not?!

But wait, the scientists say! Acrylamide is actually a poison. If you ingest too much of it at once it’s toxic, you die. Governments regulate industries that leach out natural acrylamide and use it in industrial processes. So since it’s a poison, it makes sense that it’s a carcinogen, right?

Well, no, I’m afraid. I don’t quite agree. For you see, any substance, on the entire planet, can kill you if you ingest it with excess. Even water, yes freaking water, is toxic if you drink too much of it at once. So making the scientific assumption that just because a massive amount of acrylamide will kill you, thus indicates that even a little acrylamide will ultimately kill you, is worthy of third grade chemistry.

If you want to know why people don’t trust science, and why folks believe vaccines don’t work, or that climate change isn’t happening, I give you example A as to why folks distrust science.

Even if acrylamide is actually a carcinogen, I’m pretty sure it’s like a 0.000085% increase. If you have to devolve the cancer warnings to the point that folks have to divest bread and potatoes, you might as well post a warning asking folks never to leave their front doors each day. Hey it’s dangerous out there folks! Life kills!

Man, all this typing sure does make me hungry. Think I’ll go get a grilled cheese sandwich, with extra toasted bread. [gives cancer the finger] Thanks science, you’re swell. You’ve inspired me to add some enjoyment to my life before I some day become a bleached skeleton. Cheers!