Bunch Of Geniuses (2017Feb24)


marinerj

Friday, February 24, 2017                                                 8:19 AM

Why is everyone so excited about a new solar system 40 light-years away? Do you really think we’re clever enough to suss out interstellar travel, when we can’t even pick a president?

We still have a whole branch of government that does nothing but kill or be killed—but don’t worry—we only use our military when it’s absolutely necessary for national security, i.e. when the Wall fails.

And even though Jewish people have been around longer than anyone else, we still manage to teach kids to hate Jews—shouldn’t it be the Jews that hate us, at this point?

If you can’t look at a woman without undervaluing her or thinking of ways to mistreat her or take advantage of her—that’s not a definition of what it means to be female—that’s you, being an animal. But I get it—women are strong, women are powerful—they’re scary, and we men need every handicap we can heap upon them, to avoid being totally intimidated and outclassed.

Any man who can afford a suit and tie, and has the ability to have his voice heard on television—has no business commenting on the poor, the underpaid, or the underserved. Miss a meal or two, be ignored for a week—then maybe you’ll have the slightest idea about it. Until then, your entitled, elitist, overbearing, smug thought-bubbles are worse than useless and you should really be keeping that verbal embarrassment to yourself.

I’m all for guns—everybody should have them—especially kids. Take some kids, kids who’ll only be thirty-five or so when the rising ocean levels are due to wipe out all the coastal cities—give those kids some guns, and the address of the Koch Bros. compound. Second Amendment rules!

And let’s stop blaming Trump for everything—he’s an idiotic clown, yes, but he’s an idiotic clown who’s being propped up by cynical, wealth-grubbing Republican party-leaders and a willfully misinformed constituency. These suicidally foolish people maintain their support for Trump, even after proof that the Russians have their hooks in him, and helped get him elected. Oh yeah, let’s get that group of geniuses together and design that starship.

marinerg

Aspera Ad Astra (2017Feb23)


Thursday, February 23, 2017                                           8:26 AM

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The discovery of seven earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star, Trappist-1, makes me wonder how big the ‘goldilocks’-zone is, when talking of a star that isn’t much bigger than Jupiter—and if the orbits of all seven planets could all fit in that little slice of space. Being the same size as Earth means the gravity would be the same—but without placement in the ‘goldilocks’-zone, a planet will be too cold or too hot to live on.

I’m so used to thinking in terms of science fiction that it’s hard for me to get excited about seven planets orbiting a dwarf star forty light-years from Earth. But even from a non-fiction point of view—forty light-years is a ‘fer piece’.

Do the math: one light-year equals 5.8 trillion miles (that’s 10 to the twelfth, for those of you playing at home). Here—we’ll do it the kids’ way: 5,800,000,000,000 miles. That is a very long walk. If we traveled at 1,000 mph, it would take about 6,600 years to travel one light-year. If we traveled at 10,000 mph, it would still take over 660 years to travel one light-year. Thus, in practical terms, a light-year is a distance that a person has never traveled—and has no way of traveling, at present, within a single lifetime. The new solar system that was just found—that’s forty-of-those-things distance from us—that’s just a ridiculous distance away.

Light-years, the unit of distance, was created by and for astronomers—it allows astronomers to discuss the relative distances of stars—but don’t let that fool you into thinking of light-years in terms of human travel—it’s not a human scale of distance.

Plus, if you want to fly through space at 10,000 mph for 660 years, you’re going to need a very big gas tank. Carl Sagan told us that we could avoid this problem by using a Bussard ramjet, a spaceship that collects hydrogen atoms as it moves forward—and uses fusion to propel itself. The Bussard ramjet would use the near-vacuum of space as its fuel—imagine!

But that still leaves you with the need for food, water, and breathable air for however many people for however many years—and even with great recycling tech, that’s a lot of supplies to push through space. And again—forty light-years—if we could travel one light-year, we’d still need to do it forty times to reach that dwarf star with its seven planets.

Also, once you arrive at the dwarf star, you are completely cut-off from Earth—and Earth from you. Forty light-years means that even a radio message would take forty years to go in one direction—which means, if you got on the phone, said ‘hi’, and waited for the other end to say ‘hi’ back—that’s eighty years.

If we ever send people out there, we won’t be ‘colonizing’, we’ll just be sending little samples of humanity out into the cosmos. Maybe their great-grandchildren will communicate with Earth, but never in a “Hi, How are ya” kind of way. Assuming they survived, they would become a totally separate civilization from our own.

And this is the sad truth—space exploration will not ‘save’ the Earth. Sending people to space, even into our local solar system, will help protect the human race from extinction—but it won’t do anything for the people that remain on Earth. And living in space will never be as safe and easy as living here, on the cradle of life.

There is enough raw material in the asteroid belts and the Oort cloud for us to build several ‘earths’—but we will never be able to move significant numbers of people up from Earth ‘s gravity well without a space elevator—and we still don’t have the technology to build one of those.

In summary, space exploration is not easy or simple. It will take more determination than the human race has shown itself capable of, to date, to get there in any meaningful way. People often theorize that an alien invasion would help to unify the human race—and, in the same vein, the destruction of our biosphere would help to motivate people into space. But why do we need a global disaster to get our asses in gear? Can’t we just be grown-ups? Let’s reach for the stars.

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What A Tool (2017Feb22)


Wednesday, February 22, 2017                                                 9:59 AM

Ain’t it weird to sit around feeling attacked every day? Here I am at my desktop, nothing happening, yet every day I feel more and more threatened. And the truth is—I’d be more pleased if I were delusional—if it was all in my head. Sadly, it is not my imagination—cynical horror-shows like Trump, Bannon, McConnell, Ryan, and an evil host of others all get up each morning with no aim other than to screw the American public. And I don’t think they’re even working towards some end or trying to help their rich friends take advantage—I think it comes down to outright psychosis on their part.

These are sick people. They harried our fine previous president every minute of his eight years in office—and no amount of good could dissuade them from their simple-minded robotic attack on the ‘enemy’. They all lied about each other, all through their primary, culminating in the nomination of the lowest among them (which reminds me—what’s Ted Cruz up to these days?) and continued the lying-fest right through the general election, smearing HRC as if she had horns and a forked tail—and somehow enough people fell for their barrage of bullshit that Trump won the Electoral College.

So now we have these psychos in power—their psychosis has spread to the heartland, the non-urban middle of our country—as if those people didn’t have enough problems without making a deal with the devil. So now we have a situation where evil monsters have taken over—and cast a spell over many Americans, making them believe that they’re living in a fantasy world where things get better simply by accusing others—no hard work required, no change is asked for—we just have to punish the guilty and all will be well. Sorry, I don’t think so.

So we have unemployment woes, low wage woes, crumbling infrastructure, crippled educational systems, terrorists, and hackers—but these monsters, with straight faces, mind you, tell us that our highest priorities are taking away healthcare and banning abortions. It’s like living in an insane asylum. Elitism and gerrymandering have done an end-run around the Constitution, misinformation has created a zombie army of self-destructive supporters who couldn’t find their asses with both hands, and while the majority of the country disapprove of Trump, he keeps yelling that everybody loves him. What a tool.

Mismanagement can kill a company—Trump didn’t file for bankruptcy three times because he’s a wizard of management—he went bankrupt because he’s the kind of boss who throws his weight around, ignoring warnings and advice alike, until the wheels fall off—in other words, a bad boss—a terrible boss. Now, I’ve worked for bad bosses in my time—that was something many of us suffer through in the course of our career. But no one, ever before, has actually picked a bad boss, voted for him to mismanage the whole country. That’s new. Maybe someday someone can explain to me how people can be so enormously misled.

Hurry Spring   (2017Feb21)


Tuesday, February 21, 2017                                             4:06 PM

Well, today settles it—I get maudlin towards the end of Winter. I start writing poems, I start playing piano in a minor key, I write bitter diatribes with far more than my usual cynicism. My taste in music gets a little weepy, a little dirge-y—I read more than watch TV. It’s a whole ‘Spring-better-show-up-soon’ depression-fest.

Also, I tend to write a lot more personal stuff—half of what I write this time of year is either too personal or too depressing to post—and I go on and on about stuff that I’m pretty sure isn’t driving the throngs to my blog—but that’s February for me. I’m fading fast—and I need some sunshine.

Well, things have settled down a bit—I’m used to either rooting for a Democrat administration, or I’m worrying about the one, really-big mistake that a GOP administration is currently making—I’m not used to purely dysfunctional—that’s a new one on me—and, I suspect, on all of you as well. But normalization is inevitable—short of storming Penn Ave, we’re stuck with the Clown until 2020—and the more avidly we stare, waiting for an impeachable offense, the less likely one is—‘a watched pot…’ and all that.

I’m still getting used to an America that is not actively trying to exceed itself—I’ll miss that forever, or until it returns, whichever comes first. Never before has a candidate won an election with a message of despair. “Make America great again”—I’d like to punch that fucker right in the mouth—the only thing that isn’t great about America is your benighted ass, you fucker, and the cowering, feebleminded jerks who voted for your sick agenda.

But let’s not get ourselves all worked up, every damn day, over the same old tragedy. What’s done is done. The odds on Trump sitting his whole term are long—one definite drawback to not knowing what you’re doing: you don’t know the rules. And while Trump may rubber-stamp some of the GOP’s worst legislation, they will find it hard to actually work with him—everyone does.

Fortunately for the Republicans, their platform was already custom-tailored for wealthy bastards with no public conscience—but they will inevitably try to mollify their base with something—and that’s where they and Trump will part ways. Trump’s penchant for blaming the establishment will ring rather hollow in 2020, after four years of being the establishment, so it’s hard to see him pull this off a second time—unless he actually does something.

But like most of his kind, Trump’s greatest ally would be military strife—even Bush-43 looked more dignified with Americans dying all over the place. Thus, it isn’t that I don’t want Trump to do anything—it’s that I’m afraid his ‘anything’ has some dark options waiting. Improving education, creating jobs, fixing our infrastructure—these would all be laudable accomplishments—if Trump can improve anything on such fronts, I’ll be glad to reevaluate—but I’m not going to hold my breath.

As much as I look forward to the coming of Spring, it will be all the more bitter for being a time of rebirth in an new age of tyranny—for 2017, T. S. Eliot will have got it right: “April is the cruelest month….

Today’s poem and videos all contain cannibalized artwork from my one and only book of illustrated poetry, “Bearly Bliss”. It may seem ironic that my hand-tremors make me unable to draw, yet I still try to play the piano with the same hands—this is because I’m used to sucking at the piano, whereas I was once pretty good with a pen.

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The Loss of Youth (2017Feb21)


Poem for today:

XperDunn's Poetry Graphics

Tuesday, February 21, 2017                                             4:06 PM

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The Loss of Youth

Youth soars upwards

We love to go on to the next thing

Reach the next level

Until it starts to curve around

And we realize the arc is part of a circle

And that the end is in the beginning

And always was

And that is the truest loss of youth—

That shifting perspective from

Ever upward

To

Around and around—

And the fact that we were looking at it wrong

Doesn’t change the fact that we preferred it that way.

A lifetime of reconciliation to the truth

Will still never erase the longing for that simpler view.

© February 21st, MMXVII  by Xper Dunn

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Monday Blahs   (2017Feb20)


Monday, February 20, 2017                                             1:14 PM

It’s February, it’s Monday, and I’m feeling fatigued—I’m tired of Winter, I’m tired of watching politics, and I’m especially tired of wondering why—did you ever just throw up your hands and say ‘people are crazy’?

Why do people see governance as a team sport? How does gerrymandering work—do all the rich people get together and decide on which crook is getting elected this year? Isn’t there a point at which even wealthy people say to themselves, ‘Jeez, what about our children, our grandchildren—what kind of future community will they live in?’

People try to justify their support of the Republicans, or worse, of Trump, but I never hear a lot of carefully reasoned objectives and agendas—I just hear a lot of anger and confrontation and defiance—and these people aren’t really mad at the Democrats, or even the Left as a whole—they’re mad that the world has become a place that belies their conservative nature. That the Republicans, and much worse, Trump, are willing to play on those fiddle-strings is a shame and an unexposed scandal.

Science is king. Defy it in small things if you want—but notice that you take an airliner to get to the rally, that satellites inform the GPS in your rental car on your way to the venue, and that the Internet has made it possible to gather a large crowd at short notice.

Science rules. It even controls our money—cash was already a mathematical construct, even as mere paper—a utilitarian fiction for the sake of liquidity, but now cash is stored digitally, magically, like a genie in a bottle—kill the science and you kill the cash.

Advanced tech keeps us all clothed and fed and safe and warm—kill the science and you find your family living in a cave—if they survive. People talk about the economy—about how we need money to maintain order and security. Well, you need science just as badly—and that’s just the existing science—that’s not even going into the question of what happens to countries that fail to keep pace with science, moving forward.

Yet science is under attack in America—it’s downright oedipal. Where’s the erstwhile pride in ‘Yankee ingenuity’, in being first on the Moon, in inventing the Internet? We have taught the world that the real Olympics, the truest of international competitions, lies in science and technology—how have we managed to lobotomized ourselves in the process? How did the country that invented Public Education sink lower in scholastic achievement than Zimbabwe? People are crazy—and I’m tired of it. Trump is a traitor, not just to America, but to humanity—but then, that just makes him one of the Rich, doesn’t it? O right, it’s Monday….

***

Journal Entry   (2017Feb19)


Sunday, February 19, 2017                                               3:28 PM

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I’ve spent the day creating new piano videos for my YouTube channel. These are something a little new—I’ve taken my ‘masterpieces of art’ graphics collection and interleaved them with baby pictures of Sen—so you see one old master, then Sen, then another old master, and so on. The baby watches the videos at naptime, some days, so this will give her something to look at besides herself—and all the paintings are colorful with vivid images (which was why I collected them in the first place).

One of the videos is fairly long—that’s partly because it includes a ‘cover’ of the old Carpenters tune, “Yesterday Once More”, which I play rather freely, for a wonder—and the following improv is about twelve minutes—so, a rare recording in several ways. The other one is shorter, just an improv, and only remarkable in that I chose to name it ‘Toothpick Charlie’, for no reason on earth—it’s a funny name, is all. But I’m satisfied with both performances, making it a good day’s work.

My mom’s not well—the doctors are trying to figure her out but so far the best they can do is a morphine drip. I wish I could travel—I’d take up residence in the bed next to hers—I could use a good morphine drip—and those damn doctors could get around to me once they’ve figured out my mom. Meanwhile, we’re all pretty concerned.

Been doing a lot of reading lately—nothing to write a review about, but passable fare. It’s like that old bumper-sticker about ‘a bad day of fishing vs. a good day of work’—a bad book is still better than your average TV show.

Nothing much else to go on about.

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ttfn.