soon, Mars will be your holiday destination

So the new Mars rover (there are so many now it’s hard to keep track of which is which) brought a helicopter with it. Or more accurately, a little drone that weighs four pounds and is probably so brittle your three year old could break it whilst holding a candy cane.

Mars’ atmosphere is so thin the two twin blade props on the thing had to spin at an insane rotation rate to attain the necessary lift. You can see the NASA video here:

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight | NASA

Pretty cool. That’s no kidding a human creation in flight on another planet.

Essentially this is a test bed for future airborne drones which could be used to explore Mars far more effectively than a ground based rover crawling around at 1.73 kph.

But I’m insane, so all of this is minor scraps for me. What I REALLY want to know is:

1) When will the NASA airborne drones be armed with guided missiles and chain guns?

2) In keeping with Humanity’s desire to destroy everything including ourselves, when will these armed drones be used to exterminate all remaining life on Mars?

3) After extinction, when will Mars be available as your pristine holiday destination?

These are important things to consider. Too harsh? Wrong. After all, Mars started it. We’ll make sure Earth finishes it.

meet your future master

Nature’s awesome, I get a kick out of it when I’m not enslaved by a square screen that masters my life via my jobs. One of my jobs called me last night a 3:17 am. It was my boss, he had a hanky over the receiver at an inner city pay phone so he sounded like a drunk Vader, he screamed profanity at me for 39 seconds, then said in a normal voice, “See you tomorrow. We know you won’t quit.”, and then hung up. This is a pretty routine occurrence, so I just drifted back to sleep until the alarm woke me.

I often wonder why I don’t watch more nature television. It’s probably because I don’t have cable or a streaming service subscription. But I was at my Ma’s a few months ago and stumbled on an hour long program on Japan’s southern islands narrated by the Downton Abbey beauty and I was enthralled.

Anyways, it must have been a quasi religious experience if you were the first person to document [insert any new animal, fish or plant here]. I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the rainforest we’ve yet to find, but it’ll be some new fern or insect or whatever. This is cool, and important, but not quite the same. Nobody’s ever going to find a brand new hippo sized creature on Earth. We’ll have to wait until we colonize other planets to find such new things, and then get on with destroying their biome too.

This one’s neat, it’s the “smallest reptile on Earth“. “The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm.” He lives in Madagascar.

Just get a load of this surly little asshole. Look at him, it’s too good. He’s so, utterly, uninterested in mankind. His face just screams a whispered, “Fuck you.” Before he very slowly, lazily walks away to eat more mites.

By the year 2090, when humanity is done mutilating itself by some means, this little guy will be all that’s left. The radiation from the bombs or the impact of the end game pandemic will transform him from the smallest reptile into a godzilla sized monster. He’ll be the size of the building, but still a surly asshole. He’ll stare down at the last human alive, he’ll be smoking a cigarette, and wryly say in his booming but quiet voice, “Our turn now. Bye.”

competence is the only power over the virus

It would seem virus battle tactics are the new arena of politics.  In an era where everything must be political, soon your tooth brushing method will determine how you vote.

In the meantime, the debate has centered on whether to reopen the economy and risk increased death.  Or to keep the economy closed and risk financial death.  Both these options suck.

But there’s a third way that folks seem to mostly ignore which is what I find baffling.  China’s Communist Party’s talking point is only their all powerful neck stopping model can defeat the virus.  They’re lying, started this to begin with, and are downplaying their own virus infection/death statistics.

The answer lies in South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Germany.  This is the competent category.

Into the incompetent category you can shove the US, Italy, France, Spain, Britain, and of course Communist China.  The answer to this virus is simply that government should do its job.  Instead of sucking.

Sure, there are significant privacy, social, cultural, and obedience factors that likely make introducing a South Korean virus battle methodology into the US problematic, but does that mean it shouldn’t be seriously discussed?  Instead of, you know, just keeping to the same failed talking points both sides have adopted?  The virus doesn’t care who folks voted for.  South Korea never even executed a full lockdown.

I think in the coming decades this will become a more glaring aspect of our planet.  Sure, the differences between democracy and oligarchy are stark.  But what will really set apart nations is simply those that are governed competently, and those that are not.  It will be readily apparent say by 2035, and the split begins now.

why should the Amazon not burn?

I remember hearing about how important the Amazon is when I was a schoolkid, how important it was to save it. I don’t remember them talking about the rest of the planet’s forests though. I certainly never got taught about how my ancestors clear cut most of their trees. When I go visit my great-grandfather’s house, it’s important for me to remember that almost every tree in that area is about post the year 1900. Local residents and lumberjack companies took the rest of the forest in the hundreds of years before that time. I’m sure my family did it all with glorious abandon, they were in America from the 1600’s.  Parts of the area that are now unspeakably, beautiful forest must have looked like desert moonscapes a 150 years ago.

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So the planet now points the finger at Brazil? Okay, got it. But as the BBC points out, what about the Amazon in Bolivia?

What about the forest fires in Indonesia and Malaysia to start palm oil plantations that literally blot out the Sun in Singapore each year?

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Or here’s a shot from The Economist which shows forest fires globally right now. Seems the real problem is in Africa more so than Brazil.

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I’m not saying I want the Amazon to burn. It’d be nice if it didn’t. But there are no easy answers. When you look at it, everybody in human history has burned or chopped down their forests at some point.

The G7 wants to give Brazil $22M to stop. Or, in terms of scale for international monetary efforts, about $4. What a joke, if I was Brazilian I’d be pissed too at the contemptuous, cheap way people are talking about my country.

The answers are much harder. Throwing money at the problem isn’t the answer. Careful, considered, engagement is. But it has to be global. It’s not about the Amazon. It’s about the whole planet.

nuke everything

So a twelve year old has recently suggested we nuke hurricanes. The news outlets of course went to reason and logic to countermand something that’s probably just best ignored. But we at TAP contain within insanity that knows no bounds:

1) Even if nuking hurricanes doesn’t work, why not just do it anyways, just to give it a shot? It’s only ocean out there, most of the ocean’s biomass is near the shores anyways, so let’s give it ago. What could go wrong?

2) Even if nuking hurricanes doesn’t work, why not battle weather where we can? If a hurricane can take a nuke and keep going, I bet you a big tornado can’t. Lots of room on all those plains to take a nuke blast.

3) And take the burning Amazon, it’s perfectly reasonable to get mad and preachy at Brazil for doing what Western nations did for most of the 19th Century, but putting out fires is easy. You just nuke the forest to remove the trees which fuel the flames. The forest firefighter doctrinal term is a ‘controlled burn’, only this time with a nuclear weapon.

4) The positive effects of lethal radiation are underrated.

5) Nuke work. Come on, you know you want to.

6) Nuke the Moon. Don’t get mad at me, the Moon started it, it’s time we finish things for good.

7) I don’t get why the zombie apocalypse thing is a thing. In reality, the war would be over in eight seconds because we have nuclear weapons whereas the zombies can’t use tools our ancestors wielded 30K years ago.

8) It would probably greatly benefit humanity to gather all celebrities and politicians onto a big boat, tow it out to sea, and then nuke it. Twice.

9) In all these stupid superhero movies, nuclear weapons give them super powers. I should go out into the desert with my own backpack nuke and give this a shot. What could go wrong?

10) I think if aliens are watching us they’d be baffled at how we’ve somehow managed to not use a nuke in nearly 75 years. Maybe we don’t all collectively suck as much as we think we do.

11) Did they ever nuke Godzilla? If so, did it work? I’m not 100% familiar with these films so I’m not sure. I’m sure they did, and that it didn’t work, which is dumb. After all, dude’s not immortal.

12) We have a garbage / plastic waste problem throughout the planet. Let’s just dig a huge ditch in the Australian outback and use that as the planet’s only landfill. And we just nuke it from time to time to clean it out.

13) Let’s face it, some countries probably should be completely annihilated with nuclear weapons. I’m looking at you Andorra, Isle of Man, Albania, Middle Earth, Belgium, Westeros, Bhutan, whatever.

14) And lastly don’t forget aliens. We’ll need to nuke aliens when they come for our beer supply. Granted, their ability to travel between planets likely means our nukes are completely ineffective and they’ll laugh at us from their bridge while they bat way our shitty technology, but it’d be a real cool blast for a few minutes. You know, before they began their assault. Bow and arrows, anybody?

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What fun! Fireworks!

we captured 500 penguins

Near my apartment, the train station has a mural on the concrete wall that shows a flock of penguins riding the train.  I don’t get the point of this?  It’s just a bunch of penguins riding the train [cricket, cricket, cricket]  What?

So what I’m gonna do, is get to the bottom of this.  First, what I did is traveled to Antarctica on a tramp steamer hijacked under my authority by a gaggle of C-grade Yugoslavian mercenaries.

colony_penguins.jpg

Then, we kidnapped 500 penguins and submitted them to enhanced interrogation techniques developed in concert with a grizzled KGB veteran, a Hollywood mood coach, and the San Diego zoo.

Then, … [blinks hard]

Oh, so, ah, [shuffles papers] anyways, hi there, the ah, the WordPress told me my last post about the Spelling Bee fiasco was this degenerate blog’s 500th post.  I had no idea.  500 is a big number.  I’m quite certain only about 37% of these posts meant anything.  The remainder were probably angry, or nonsense, or incoherent.

Eh, whatever, it is what it is.  [throws confetti; blows kazoo]  For those who are here, especially those of you who’ve been here for quite a while.  Thanks for reading.  I hope you get something out of your time here.

But, still, I remain: I’m so, so sorry you’re here.

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evil Bond villain unveils plans for Opticon One Moon base

It must be nice to be the world’s richest man (until the divorce paperwork clears) because you can come up with all kinds of harebrained schemes. Going to the Moon is awesome, I find it offensive to humanity that we haven’t been there in five decades, but do we really need to go there? Probably not. Maybe all of that money should be better spent curing malaria.

But Bezos (hereafter Scaramanga) has an ego the size of Saturn. It’s rumored he finds it personally offensive that SpaceX and notorious emo nutcase Elon Musk are considered the better bet for space travel. Scaramanga’s Blue Origin builds smaller rockets, has less clients, and in general was considered less ambitious in its goals. No longer. Now it’s the Moon baby!

Scaramanga seems to think he can meet the US government’s deadline to get back to the Moon by 2024. This is the NASA deadline favored mostly by Mike Pence and previously announced. It’s also a fantasy deadline because the plan relies on a rocket and space vehicle that do not exist and likely will never fly, ever. In other news, NASA is a joke.

SpaceX is focused on the more mundane (and actually profitable) business of launching satellites into space. This leaves plenty of room for Scaramanga to lose money on his vanity project. And so if Scaramanga is serious, and the technology is viable, he sure does have the cash to make this happen. It’s probably humanity’s best bet for getting back to the Moon.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish the best for this. Humanity needs something awesome to do other than the latest version of the iPhone. It’s just weird that the potential arm of humanity that will take us back to the Moon after all this time is Scaramanga, funded by a company that’s ruthlessly trying to take over every aspect of human life to the point they’ve even conned millions to put a live listening device in their own homes. Amazon is the Giant Octopus.

And so, here’s what Scaramanga really has planned for his Moon Base, code named Opticon One:

– Death ray (of course)

– Space based delivery drone concept that takes moon rocks and delivers them to your door (for a nominal fee)

– Shameless harem of the world’s most gorgeous women who wanted to go to space (don’t judge, the man is now single)

– Subterranean strip mine of Moon minerals worked by non-union slave labor (we’ll throw some poor cute kiddies in there too for good measure)

– Second death ray (you don’t build your own Moon base without being ridiculous)

– Amazon Web Services cloud servers capable of storing knowledge of all humanity (such knowledge is needed for Earth’s new citizens)

– Conveyer belt of spheres filled with weaponized nerve gas capable of wiping out all human life (and kitties too, one of them scratched Scaramanga when he was a child)

– One ordinary average employee who works in quality control (and happens to have steel teeth)

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Bond: You’ll never get away with this, Scaramanga!

Scaramanga: [laughs] Oh no, you’ll see, you can’t stop me, Mr Bond. For you see, when I’m finished, humanity will … [dramatic music] purchase household cleaning goods online at 13% increased profit margins to my fulfillment centers! [uncontrollable raging laughter]

Bond: …

Scaramanga: …

[bond shoots Scaramanga in forehead; rescues kiddies and harem]

the false promises of doing good

It seems every few weeks something that was once benign is placed in the crosshairs and suddenly becomes beyond the pale.  Did you know plastic straws were evil?  Well, I guess they are now.  Because a bunch of people said so.

Accordingly, Starbucks is set to ban the use of all plastic straws within two years.  This will supposedly help do better for the planet by removing a source of plastic that for the most part can’t be recycled.

Here’s my problem though.  People might feel good about this, but in the end it’s not even a rounding error.  Plastic straws were fine, now they’re bad.  So folks will hate on them and get rid of them.  Just like plastic bags.

In the end though, what does all this actually accomplish?

I read an article that said in order to overcome the carbon footprint of making a reusable bag verses a plastic bag that you have to use the reusable bag like 150 times.  Let’s say the average shopper goes to the grocery once a week.  That’s three years of using your reusable bag before you were better off asking for plastic.

Are folks actually using their reusable bags for north of three years?  I do, but I’m not sure most people do.  And so banning plastic bags may have done some good, but not nearly as much good as folks probably think.

Think banning plastic straws is going to help the planet?  It might, but not nearly as much good as folks probably think.  Just take a gander as this report from The Economist which shows the life cycle of plastic throughout the planet.

The vast, vast majority of plastic that enters the oceans comes from Asia where consistent recycling and landfills do not exist.  So Starbucks can ban all it wants, but that’s not going to stop rivers of plastic from flowing down the Yellow River into the sea.

And Starbucks also doesn’t seem to love the planet enough to stop using disposable coffee cups that can’t be recycled.  I hope folks realize this.  That over 99% of disposable coffee cups are in fact not recycled regardless of what’s claimed or where they’re tossed.

But do you think Starbucks is going to do something about getting rid of disposable coffee cups?  I doubt it.  Why?  Because: $

There are ways to help the planet.  And even executing rounding error efforts like banning plastic straws helps.  But false promises can also be dangerous.  Solving ocean plastic is hard.  Just comprehend what it’d take to help all of Asia establish coherent trash and recycling policies.

But when all you’ve got from folks is easy answers like: “Oh, I’m not using a plastic straw, I’ve done good for the planet today. [pleasing sigh]”  Then that’s a false promise and in the end doesn’t really help the planet.  Particularly if the thought stops there, and doesn’t move on.

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we prepare to do battle with the Moon

Apparently this large thing in the sky is called a “Supermoon”. I don’t really understand why it has to be Super. Other than that in today’s culture everything has to be epic. For example, I now generally hear on the news several different ways to describe various weather phenomenon or patterns when we used to simply say, “It’s going to be cold tomorrow.”

But hell, I’ll go along with this. It’s a Supermoon. Got it. It’s harmless, right? Wrong. For you see, the Moon is not to be trusted. It has powers. Super powers. Why else would they call it a Supermoon?

This is the closest the Moon has been to Earth since 1948. The thing about astronomy is it has the power to cause you to briefly consider your own forthcoming bleached skeleton state. The Moon won’t be this close again until 2034. Think of all the things you could endure between now and then. Halley’s Comet won’t be back until 2061. Which means just about every person alive on this planet today has (at most) one more shot with Halley’s before their pending commute to Valhalla.

Last night said Supermoon was in the rise phase as I drove home at dusk. It certainly did look bigger. But according to the BBC, this is mostly an optical illusion:

“To observers, it will appear about 7% larger than normal and about 15% brighter – although the human eye is barely able to discern that difference.”

I tend to give us humans a little more credit than that. The Moon doesn’t just look bigger because folks are calling it a Supermoon. I think our brains and eyes can inherently detect that it’s 7% bigger and 15% brighter. We look at the Moon all the time. When it’s that different, our brains will tell us, even if it’s subtly.

I was thinking, that it looked so close and clear last night you could almost reach out there and touch the darn thing. That from my eyes to the Moon’s surface was one clear line, one straight shot. 221,524 miles is a long way, unless you can imagine that it’s not.

The Moon’s always been up there like that while we humans mess around down here. Some Roman Senator or Chinese Imperial bureaucrat pretty much saw the same thing. Some of us have actually been up there. When you really think about it, it’s quite special that a few of us have actually reached out there and touched it. We’ve made that journey. And it really does say something about how little we dream anymore or how much we’ve lowered optimism in our collective psyche that we haven’t been back in five decades.

Where’s our promised Moon colony or Bond villain Moon Base? I mean, technically I guess the Moon Base could have existed without us knowing it. And Bond already blew it up. But I’m betting that didn’t actually happen.

Anyways, either way, I’ll do battle with this Supermoon tonight. I’ll arm myself with a decent coat, a beer, and my camera. My dogs will wield a knife, handgun, or belly full of kibble, whichever they prefer. And we’ll get a shot (camera) at taking on this Supermoon. Moonrise is shortly after my return from work. So it’ll play out well.

If I survive, I’ll try and remember to post a picture on this degenerate blog. I might get distracted, because I have to do a ton of work for second job after I get home tonight. But I’ll try and make it happen. But if I don’t make it, make sure to take your revenge on the Supermoon for me. For you see, the Moon is not to be trusted. It has powers. Super powers.

Update: The Moon was obscured by clouds and light rain.  We couldn’t get a shot.  What does this Supermoon have to hide?  We’re on it.  We’re on the case to find out.  We’ll get right on it.  [cracks beer]  [sips]  [stares blankly at bare wall]