Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sean Spicer

I know how difficult public speaking is. I'm relunctant to jump on someone's case for making a public gaffe. I don't think I could do a good job as White House press secretary. But Sean Spicer can't do a good job either.

A good rule of public speaking is to be mindful of Godwin's Law and avoid comparing an adversary to Hitler or Nazis. To be sure, there are bona fide Nazis out there who prefer to be called National Socialists. None of them are running a country right now. If a Nazi or worse does rise to power somewhere, we need to save our best rhetorical ammunition for the occasion.

And when you do decide to open fire with a worse-than-Hilter comparison, make sure that you know what you are talking about. The Nazis are notorious for killing Jews with all sorts of methods, including poison gas. Some of these Jews were German citizens by birth. And the Nazis just didn't murder their own people. They even murdered other Nazis.

Perhaps Sean Spicer was trying to say that Hitler refrained from using chemical weapons on the battlefield. I still fail to see how it's more moral to use Zyclon B on a crowded room of naked prisoners than it is to use against infantry on the Eastern Front.

Which brings us to one more point. Russia has suffered way more from Hitler's atrocities than America has. The Siege of Leningrad makes 9/11 look like a trip to Disneyland. Hitler ordered the destruction of the very city that Vladimir Putin was born in. It would be very hard to convince Putin that Assad can top that level of evil.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Conpiracy Falsifiable Claim (CFC)

I have been dead wrong about Trump in the past, and I hate conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, there are instances where high-level government official have secretly used their power and influence in a criminal manner.

In science, a theory is something that scientists know to be true. It's more than just a guess. So I don't really like to use the word "theory" unless I'm 100% sure about something. I prefer the term "Conspiracy Falsifiable Claim" (CFC) when I have an idea that something is up but I just have circumstantial evidence instead of concrete proof.

My CFC regarding the cruise missile strikes in Syria is that Trump had colluded with Putin.

Trump doesn't want to look like Putin's puppet, so he decides to "intervene" in Syria. He notifies Putin about the airstrikes, and Putin warns Assad. The Navy launches missiles at a bunch of empty buildings.
Assad is tired of the civil war even though he is "winning". So he uses the attacks as a pretext for peace talk with the rebel factions that he hates the least. He makes himself look like a moderate.
Trump gets credit for ending the civil war, and paints himself as the second coming of Ronald Reagan.
Putin sits in a cozy leather chair in his dacha petting a fluffy white cat.

Right now a lot of alt-right guys are turning their backs on Trump. If this is sincere attempt to dislodge Assad, they are opposed to it for realpolitik reason. Even most of the alt-right sees stupid wars as a waste of lives and resources, and they spend most of 2016 painting Hillary Clinton (accurately) as a warmonger.

But if Trump spins the strikes as having ended the Syrian civil war, then he'll get back his gullible fan base.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Flat Earthers

I think Flat Earth is to conspiracy theories as Flying Spaghetti Monster is to religion. Nobody actually believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They just pretend to believe just to mock those people who believe in a guy who walked on water and came back from the dead.

If these people are making you mad, ignore them. Don't give them the attention that they crave.

I suppose some Flat Earthers actually believe that the Earth is shaped like a pancake. I don't know what you can do for these people other than invite them up to the top floor of a skyscraper or take them on an airplane ride. People got along fine for thousands of years believing that the Earth is flat. As long as these nitwits don't try to fly planes, sail ships, or attempt any activity that requires that they know the Earth is round, flat Earther will get along fine believing whatever they want to believe.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Is Trump going to be impeached?

I've made bad predictions all last year, but here we go.

If Trump lasts until 2019, he'll finish out his term. His own party is more likely to remove him than the Democrats. An unpopular President is bad for a party's brand. Trump is either crazy or crooked. If Mike Pence decides it's the former, the Vice-President can ask the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment. If Paul Ryan decides it's the latter, then Congress can impeach.

The GOP has been trying to get rid of Trump for about two years now. President Trump will supply Republicans with plenty of pretext for removing him. They just need the will and the courage to act.

Democrats on the other hand, dread Mike Pence more than they hate Trump. Pence is the fiscal conservative that other Republicans pretend to be. As a member of Congress, he voted against the bank bailout twice. Pence will want to kill a lot of federal programs. And Pence is a much more disiplined candidate than Trump. Pence is not the man that Democrats want on top of the GOP ticket in 2020.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I still don't want anything for Christmas

So this has been a difficult year for us all and for my family in particular. Some of you might be tempted to send me a card or a gift this Christmas. Please resist that temptation. I live in a cozy home with my life partner Marty and we barely have room for the possessions that we already own. To bring anything else into our home would require us to discard something that we've owned and treasured for years.

So don't get me anything. Not one card, not one pair of socks, nothing. Christmas is more of a holiday for children and other people who lack an income of their own. Getting a $60 video game is pretty sweet when you make $0 a year. I'm an adult with income of my own. I can get whatever I want whenever I want. Go buy something for someone in need.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Place names in A Long Way From Tipperary

1) Planets outside of our solar system are named after the star that they orbit, plus a lower case letter. The first planet discovered orbiting a star is assigned the letter "b" (the parent star is "a"). The closet known exoplanet is Proxima Centauri b. If another planet is found orbiting Proxima Centauri, that planet will likely be named Proxima Centauri c. A third planet would be called Proxima Centauri d. The letters are assigned in order of discovery, not in the order of the distance from their parent star.

So if we applied that naming system to our solar system, this is how it would work: You step out of your house and you discover a big yellow star overhead. You name it "Sol". You look down and you see that you are standing on a planet. You name it "Sol b". Sol a sets below the horizon, and you might see Sol c (Venus, usually the first thing you see in the night sky besides the moon) and Sol d (Mercury). After about an hour or so, you might notice Sol e, Sol f, and Sol g. (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, depending on the order that you find them.) On a really clear night, you might see Sol h with the naked eye (Uranus), but you'll probably need at least a pair of binoculars. With a decent telescope, you can see Sol i (Neptune).

Why don't scientists give each planet its own name? Because not even all known stars have a name. Most of them get serial numbers. Hell, not even all people get their own name. Ever meet a family with men named "Francis Matherford IV" and "Roger Croningsworth VII"? Maybe if those people spend less money on yachts, they could afford a baby name book.

As far as I know, ALWFT is the first science fiction novel to use the same naming standard for exoplanets as the International Astronomical Union.

2) Place names on Earth do change. England used to be called Albion. New York was once New Amsterdam. Anyone who listens to 80's music knows what Istanbul used to be called. Part of ALWFT takes place in the Kekionga Municipal District, a city formally known as Fort Wayne. Enough people saw Planet of the Apes and agreed with Dr. Zaius that the name was too militaristic, so the name was finally changed.

3) The closet galaxy to Earth (aside from the Milky Way itself) might be what is known as the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy. At 28,000 years away, it's actually closer to us than the opposite side of the Milky Way. If FTL travel is developed, humans might reach the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy before the Milky Way is fully explored. If there are to be human settlements there, they'll have to change the name of that galaxy to avoid offending little people and for marketing purposes. "New Magellanic Cloud" is one possible name.

Come find out more about my novel here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trump doesn't want to be President

Donald Trump doesn't want to be President. Donald Trump will not allow himself to become President. At this point, we have to assume one or more of the following about Donald Trump:
1) He is trying to destroy the GOP.
2) He is trying to get Hillary Clinton elected.
3) He has some other agenda that is completely incompatible with him getting elected President.
4) Even after a year on the campaign trail, he simply fails to grasp what it takes to appeal to the majority of voters and be elected President.

A man who wants to be President doesn′t mock POW′s or gold star families.

A man who wants to be President doesn′t throw a fit and skip a debate.

A man who wants to be President avoids going negative in the primary. Ronald Reagan′s famous 11th Commandment: ″Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican″ applies during the primaries because you are competing against men and women whose support you will need after the convention.

A man who wants to be President doesn′t talk about ″bringing Joe Paterno back″ in Pittsburgh. Joe Paterno knew that Jerry Sandusky was having sex with little boys. He lost his coaching job at Penn State because of this. If he hadn′t died of cancer, Paterno could have been charged with a felony.

A man who wants to be President would do some basic research and realize that most voters are women. The things you say that get high fives from the guys will get women to pull the other lever.

A man who wants to be President does not promote conspiracy theories. Some might argue that this blog post itself is a conspiracy theory. I′m ok with you all thinking that for now, since I′m not running for President. But my hunch is that Donald Trump is trying to destroy the GOP. I think that in his heart, he is a Manhattan liberal. He has mistreated women all of his life and never had to worry about getting fired or going to jail. Deep down it′s eating at him.

Like most billionaires nearing the end of their lives, Trump is more concerned with leaving a lasting legacy than adding more money to the pile. Andrew Carnegie built libraries and schools. After getting rich off of yellow journalism, Joseph Pulitzer created the journalism award that bears his name. Trump will create his own legacy by destroying a 162 year old political party. It is costing him millions of dollars and it is wrecking his brand and his reputation, but this is atonement for him. Men have given up more for less. If Trump actually wants to be President and is working with that goal in mind, none of his actions make sense.