Look, Mars needs women.
If we want to get to the “Three breasted prostitute” scene from Total Recall, we’ll need to get started now. Considering the massive costs associated with anything government, the actual first manned landing will probably need to be done privately, or mostly privately.
10 years ago, that would have sounded like an impossible fantasy, but with companies like SpaceX that have the passion to innovate and spend SMARTER instead of BIGGER (see Scaled Composite‘s SpaceShipOne for an example), it’s possible. Hells bells, we’re getting to the point where one really dedicated billionaire could buy 3/4 of the hardware needed off-the-shelf.
Mars on the cheap
Heavy launch? Fuck it, the Soviets pioneered assembly in orbit, now there’s no need to create a whole dedicated launcher like the Ares cargo monster. Just buy a bunch of Proton boosters (dirt cheap compared to equivalent US launchers) to chuck everything up.
The Soviets^H^H^H^H^H^H^HRussians will sell you the remaining Salyut core module. It’s identical brother was the core of Mir, and another brother is the ‘Zvezda‘ module on the ISS. It’s a 40 year old design lineage that has proven itself at keeping people alive for years at a time and comes with an exercycle. You chuck this up there with one of the Protons and let it screw itself into the stack. Voi-fuckin’-la, you now have crew quarters that will, properly stocked, keep your astronuts alive for the duration of the trip, assuming they don’t accidentally space themselves. And shit, you can use it to build the damn rocket too because you can have a crew up there to catch the payloads and hook up all the wires.
For the big stuff, assemble with KURS automated docking systems (now with almost 30 years of successful use in orbit). Proton goes up, upper stage finds the growing “Mars or bust” staging location, KURS drives it into dock like freakin space LEGOs. “But Thunderscreech”, you mew, “isn’t that what caused the collision with Mir?” Fuck no, that shit happened when they turned the docking system OFF to do it manually.
Ten or twenty Protons later, you’ve got a huge fucking booster assembly in orbit built out of upper-stage assemblies that are usually used to chuck comsats into Geosynchronous orbit so fat housewives can catch all their ‘stories’. “But Thuuuuuuunderscreech”, you honk, “isn’t there a lot of waste in the form of redundant systems and mass by having all those complete booster stages up there? FUCK YEAH, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than making an untested booster that needs a whole new rocket to put it into orbit. Spend SMARTER, not BIGGER.
The Mars Lander and re-launch assembly is the wildcard. You probably drop your return-stage first under an assload of parachutes with some sort of soft-landing rocket system. Let John Carmack build it, he’d fucking love a chance to actually put his code on the planet that made him his first million. Similar issues for landing the person/peoples on the planet, but that can be solved. This is the main place to insert speculative dollars, rubles, or whatever the hell we’re spending in the future. And be “we’re” I mean whichever software billionaire takes a break from tennis to say “Fuck it, let’s do it.”
Finally, you cram a couple folks into a Soyuz and kick ’em into orbit to dock with this structure the way they’ve been doing since the early 60s. Light the candle, and sit back and wait.
Total cost? Maybe a couple billion, maybe a little more. Shit, let’s say ten and make sure the whole thing has a kick-ass paintjob of a naked lady wrestling a dragon or something on it.
But a TRILLION?
FUCK YEAH, the news says the recession’s over! Hot damn! I haven’t checked my 401K yet, but I assume this means that it’s tripled in value back to where it was a couple years ago! Boy oh boy, I can’t wait to get my next paycheck with it’s big chunk of money that retroactively brings my salary up to where it should be, and I sure am looking forward to having my dollar go a lot further later today when I go buy stuff!
Phew, I thought for sure that my upcoming mortgage payment was going to be late, but it looks like everything’s going to be fixed!
I’ve got friends who don’t read the news because they say it’s prone to making exaggerated claims that don’t affect my day to day life, but they’re saying the recession’s over, so woo-hoo! I can finally pay off some of that crippling debt!
You know, I don’t have the check right now, but I bet I can probably just take a print-out of the news to the store with me, they should just extend credit based on this fantastic news, right?
Oh, that’s not how THEY describe it, of course. Luminaries in their group like Doctor Jenna McCarthy (she is a doctor, right? I mean, she’s setting health care policy, so she’s qualified, right?) talk about how great it would be to get rid of vaccinations because people aren’t getting sick any more. The little logic flag that just popped up in your head? Yeah, that’s just your “profiteering center”, according to Jenna McCarthy and her followers, because that’s the only reason people would support these procedures. Certainly, it’s irresponsible to make any connection between worldwide vaccination efforts and the huge drop in sickness, right? Whoops, your “BULLSHIT!” circuit breaker just popped. Go ahead and reset that, we’ll be discussing some more of their claims shortly.
To the antivaxxer hoards, the fact that worldwide health has gone up in regions where vaccines are administered is incidental to their feelings. “MERCURY!” they cry, referencing some of the preservatives used, despite the fact that you’ll get roughly the same amount of mercury from eating a small piece of fish. If you believe their strident pleas, receiving the shot essentially means that mercury will seep through your pores and turn you into a highly toxic, autistic version of The Silver Surfer.
“Autistic?” you ask, scratching your head. “Where’d that come from?” Well, about 15 years ago, Andrew Wakefield published an article in the Lancet making a link between MMR vaccines and autism. The world reeled! “ZOMG!!!!” read the headlines, and everywhere, people began to talk about deferring their children’s vaccinations. ….except that the claims weren’t true and the study was discredited almost immediately when it was discovered that a group of people paid him to say this so they could sue a vaccine company, but the damage had been done.
So, we’re left with the AntiVaxxer movement today. Their entire belief is based upon the disproven work of a discredited doctor who got caught faking evidence for money…. and they don’t care.
It’s as if stupidity has been bred into a generation of perfectly normal looking people who you don’t realize are batshit crazy until they open their mouths, but then it’s a non-stop torrent of drivel. Their movement is a sham, sort of a modern day version of not wearing your seatbelt because you want to be “thrown clear of the wreck”. They point to their own health and say “See? People just don’t get these sicknesses anymore!” without a trace of irony about the face that THEY themselves received vaccinations as children. Also, the causes they take up reflect their ‘crazy levels’ quite nicely too. This year? Swine flu.
“Oh noes!” they cry, “the H1N1 vaccine is ‘new and untested’!” The fuck it is, it’s made the same goddamn way flu vaccines have been constructed for decades.
You know the real reason the H1N1 vaccine is panned, the reason they REALLY subscribe too but don’t mention? Because some radio host told them the vaccine is part of a government plot to genocide their asses. What. The. Fuck. Seriously, there are radio hosts out there who talk about body bags and medical camps and “the government is gonna reduce your population to free up land and money!” and they claim the vaccine is part of this conspiracy. Holy goddamn hell in a handbasket.
This conspiracy theory, of course, is horseshit. “But why, good sir?” I hear you ask through the whispering tubes of the Internet. “And how do you know?” Simple: they’re just not competent enough.
To believe that the US government can put together a big secret plan to kill off most of the population as part of some great conspiracy against its own citizens is to imbue them with skills in leadership, organization, planning, etc that they have consistently failed to demonstrate. It’s like accusing your dog of being the leader of a world-wide diamond theft cartel.
I could disprove this theory so many different ways, but the sheer lack of ability our government has at doing anything big and secret is such a deal changer, I don’t need to go any further.
So back to the antivaxxers… it would be funny if they were just making this decision for themselves and dying off, but here’s the rub: All of these parents saying ‘No vaccinations for my child!”? They’re vaccinated! Their parents were not retarded, so they got the various vaccinations when THEY were kids. The only people who die from horrible, preventable diseases?
Yet strangely, if I were to go out and punch each of these poor excuses for parents in the face for being so viciously, short-sightedly stupid, somehow I would be considered the villain. There ain’t no justice.
Now, I’m a huge nerd, so I like me the Star Wars just fine. Hell, I even waded through almost all of the books over a 5 month period recently to find out what’s been happening to me good ol’ friends Han, Luke, & Leia. (An aside: Lots of really dumb crap, as it turns out, with just a little good stuff mixed in. It’s like knowing there’s a small handful of gold nuggets in a barrel of sewage, it’s worth the unpleasantness of sifting through to find ’em, but you don’t always enjoy the trip).
But… I’m a Star Wars fan who, like most of my fellows, am able to exist without wearing shirts that immediately announce my undesirability to all women. I’d prefer they learn that by talking to me, see…
Well, this anonymous breakfaster, with his fashionable camo shorts and optimistically crew-cut hair is not only wearing a dorky Star Wars shirt, but it’s also one of the “Big Dog” series. “Big Dog“, if you are not familiar with it, has essentially moved into the shirt genre previously occupied by the “Big Johnson” line of apparel. They’re like jokes, only smaller. Humor for leotarded people, let’s say.
Now, this might seem like a long post for what’s otherwise a pretty benign issue, but the real problem here is the cheapening effect this has on a very serious subject:
The effectiveness of funny shirts.
Some of us invest some serious time and thought in selecting shirts that are actually clever and/or funny. When we wear these shirts instead of something with buttons, we expect people to look at them and be amused. “Hey, that fat guy is actually slightly less repulsive than I thought because he has a funny shirt! Ha ha ha! I would like to have his children” is basically how the thought process should work. Instead, things like ‘Big Dogs’ shirts have flooded the market with asinine attempts at cleverness that serve to basically bankrupt the comedic economy.
I’m sure that this dude looked at the shirt in some mall shop and said “Hey, that’s some seriously funny shirt. It says ‘Sith Happens’ which is almost like ‘Shit Happens’, but it is socially acceptable because the word is actually different! Ha! Oh, and that Darth Vader figure on the back is actually… a St. Bernard dog instead of David Prowse (who, as Star War nerds know, was the actual person in the suit, not James Earl “Awesome Voice” Jones) and dogs are FUNNY HAWHAWHAWHAW” to himself, then whipped out his bank card. “Shopkeeper, good sir, sign me the fuck up for this wicked shirt! No need for a bag, I shall wear it out of the store!”
Meanwhile, my Threadless shirt of Vader pruning a Death Star-shaped topiary receives an occasional chuckle at best, obviously because people are no longer investing the time to appreciate the sublime humor of T-Shirt art because shirts like that goddamn ‘big dog’ line have ruined it for them. FFFFFUUUUUU-
If I can reach just one person with this rant who might otherwise stray in this fashion, I’ve done my duty. Once you start down this ridiculous path, forever will it dominate your destiny.
I read an article about how ducks and geese being fed bread at lakes are developing a nutritional malady called ‘Angel Wings‘ that leads to deformed bone structure because of the crazy mix of calories in the high-carb treats. This, of course, merely encourages me to feed them more, because I fucking hate birds.
I’ll write more about that later, right now I’m working on a plan. This is what I have so far:
- Put a bunch of spoons into a cup.
- Tape the cup next to the ‘Ready-to-eat Cheesecake filling’ display.
Actually, I guess that’s the whole plan. I thought it would be more elaborate, but that’s pretty much it.
“Why?” I can hear you asking (actually, that may be the medication speaking, it seems unlikely that I’d actually hear anyone ask me that while I’m in the process of writing this). Well, I figure there may be an alternate approach to the whole weight-loss thing that other people haven’t considered: Fucking up the grading curve.
If I can just get everyone ELSE to get fatter, then suddenly, I don’t look as huge, right? This is basic relativity physics here. If everyone else gains 20lbs, then me being 50lbs overweight becomes 30lbs overweight without me having to put down my cake.
The german blood in me loves the efficiency of this, because if I do decide to lose weight, the actual amount I need to lose is almost halved. And if I get some sort of wasting-away disease, I might actually transition to “skinny” (well, relatively speaking) even faster!
Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes is Latin for “Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants”. Also, it sounds fucking wicked when you use a different language, because as a nation, we’re a bunch of dumbasses who automatically assume that anything other than English or Spanish is dripping with brilliance. Anyhow, while usually used as a metaphor for your achievements being possible because of the hard work others did before you, I’m wondering if there’s a semi-literal interpretation I can use once my plan takes place.
Of course, in my version, ‘dwarfs’ becomes “Cool Skinny Dudes” and “giants” becomes “newly fat(ter) fucks who ate a bunch of cheesecake filling”. Oh, and “standing on the shoulders” becomes “fucking your girlfriend”.
- My company does not do this on purpose.
- The people who would do this as a favor for some folks wouldn’t for me, for I am a raving douche bag.
So, this leaves me with a conundrum. I can either sit back and enjoy the flight, staying classy and having a great time up front with the big kids. Or…..
I could be an asshole.
Now, I don’t need to be a jerk to the stewardesses. There’s nothing I can do on purpose that can be more offensive to them than my presence and personality already brings to the table. I’m an overweight computer nerd with fucked up facial hair (“Check me out, I’m Wolverine’s fat brother!”) with the fashion sense of a stray dog covered in garbage. I’m terrified of any social interaction that doesn’t involve my arcade character tea-bagging an opponent over the internet, so my ability in face to face conversation is… limited. I’m 6’2, which means I tower over most women, so I usually avoid eye contact to avoid “looking menacing”. Unfortunately, this usually backfires when it looks to them like I’m staring at their chest instead. This is twice as likely when I’m sitting down and they’re standing. Also, by the way, a view that is twice as nice.
Finally, my use of technology takes what would otherwise be a casual social crutch and turns it into a rusty nail of stupidity. For example, I’ve spent hours reading my iPhone while holding it in my lap. To me, this is perfectly reasonable, and it may even sound like a fairly normal if geeky thing to do. The problem is… the iPhone is invisible to everyone else, so to them, I’m ‘that dude that keeps staring at his crotch and occasionally poking it’.
So… this aside, what else can I do to properly take advantage of this increasingly unlikely seating arrangement? I’ve put some thought into this, and I’ve decided it’s time to be… The Judge.
A little known fact about human psychology, we seem to be wired to find the judgment of strangers somehow more relevant and important than the judgment of those we know. It sounds retarded, and it probably is, but for some reason, if your sister looks at what you’re wearing and says “Did a 3 year old child pick out your clothes today?” you can dismiss it. Bah, sis, whatever. But when someone on the street looks at your clothes and gives a little smirk, you might feel like ice water just poured down your spine. “Holy shit! A stranger looked at me…. and I failed their test!”
I don’t have an explanation for this (well, I do, but it mostly involves your mother and how fat she is, and also shut up) but I’ve seen it enough to be convinced that it’s true, so perhaps it’s time to take advantage of this situation and try it out in public.
The Plan (because without a plan, you’re just rude. WITH a plan, you can be a true asshole)
- Dress snotty. This means, as best as I can tell, ‘black turtleneck and khakis’. This is, of course, if television has taught me anything that porn hasn’t.
- Take advantage of early boarding, get to my seat before everyone else. This should be cake. (waves ticket) First Class, remember?
- Don’t shave. No reason, I just fucking hate shaving.
Now the hard stuff:
- As each person boards, look them up and down.
- Make brief eye contact so they’re looking at me.
- Immediately break eye contact and smirk while shaking my head slightly.
That’s it. Nothing fancy.
What, you were expecting Isaac Einstein? No, it’s simple, you’re doing one small thing. You’re judging them on some basis that’s beyond their understanding (because you don’t have one) and they failed your standards.
So… I’ll judge them. I’ll send each of the cattle back into their pens behind me with the sudden thought that maybe they took a wrong turn in life. Because not only did a stranger evaluate them on some unknown metric, that stranger was obviously respectable and wise because he was sitting in First Class. The fact that he’ll be riding back home in coach two days later doesn’t matter because they don’t know. They’ll slouch back to their seats and sit down. The Air Mall catalogs will mock them from the seatback centimeters in front of their noses, and maybe one or two of them will actually cry a little.
Fuck yeah, I’m gonna get me some tears. Then, back to reading books on my crotch.
We’re fucking arresting people then sending them to Afghanistan. What. The. Fuck? When did we become the country that does shit like THAT?
Anyone who doesn’t realize that the intent of the government is to make the Patriot Act a permanent part of the law is an idiot. Congress put in the “expiring clauses” to sooth the public, and like sheep, the vast majority of the public bought into it. There is no emoticon strong enough to convey the level of disgust this inspires in me.
If you haven’t figured out that both of the major parties are essentially identical, and that neither has your constitutional interests at heart (where it’s inconvenient for the government, that is), then you’re a moron. The primary job of someone in power is to perpetuate and/or extend their influence. Tie this in with the Peter Principle and look at our current political environment, and it gets pretty goddamn scary.
The Patriot Act is essentially an attempt to vaccinate us against freedom. That’s the kind of flu I don’t mind having, but I guess the rest of my fellow citizens are ok with trading liberty for convenience.
So of course, I bought a replacement.
I was at Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping for, fuck, I don’t know. It’s one of those stores where you go in for a shower curtain and come out with $150 in gadgets, then have to go back to get the shower curtain you forgot to find. Anyways, I see this clock sitting there on this stand looking all blue and shit, and I immediately notice the following awesome things about it:
- It looks like a UFO.
- It’s a projection clock.
- It also has a wireless outdoor temperature sensor and will TELL ME exactly how goddamn cold it is outside while I’m snuggled up all nice and warm under the Thundercat! blanket I tell people I bought ironically.
Holy crap, this thing is awesome. Best of all, it’s RIGHT THERE. No eBay, no online purchase, no waiting two damn days to get it (while I click the refresh button on the UPS web page, c’mon damnit, get here already!), it’s RIGHT THERE.
And so I buy it.
I buy the FUCK out of it.
It’s the Homedic S5-5000 At home, I tear open the box and pull it out. A few minutes later, I’ve got the timezone set, the temperature probe is powered up and mounted outside, the clock is set for wake up time, and OH NEAT THE CLOCK IS SETTING ITSELF. This is the best clock ever! I dismissively toss my old Oregon Scientific clock to the side. “Sorry, old chum, but that was the future on the phone, and it says it’s here”.
I tell this Awesome Machine to wake me up with soothing jungle noises, and that night, I shut off my bedside lamp and get ready to go to slee- wait… what’s that? The entire room is bathed in a blue light. I look up and see, projected onto the ceiling that is is 10:36 – 56°.
The blue light is so bright, the entire room is illuminated. I can see the bookshelves, the walls, the paintings on the walls… Hang on… I grab a book, open it, and discover that I can read the text. This is not great.
“No problem”, I tell myself, “a fine company like Homedics must have a brightness control on their quality products”. I hunt around for a minute, then give up. I’ll fix this tomorrow, I decide to turn off the projector. As it turns out, this requires I turn the light on and fumble around for a tiny switch on the back of the clock, but no bother, this is fine. Projector disabled, the light goes off, and I settle down to slee- uh… I can still see illumination through my eyelids. I look over at the clock and realize that the backlighting for the face is actually WHITE.
So, this clock is basically cornering the market in retarded color choices for night vision. Blue to burn out your retinas, and white to kill off any Rhodopsin left after the first attack.
I figure out how to shut that off and shuffle off to sleep. Well, I’m actually getting less performance now than I had before because at least my Oregon Scientific clock could show me the time, but…. no problem, I’ll get this taken care of tomorrow.
Slowly, I shuffle off to sleep…
I gradually come awake. I’m rested! I feel great! I stretch out, this is fantastic. I glance over at the clock, but, oh right, I had to turn off the backlighting. No problem, I must have beaten the alarm. I frown. I have beaten the alarm, right? I grab my phone and check the time… oh monkey trumpets, I’m an hour late. The alarm didn’t go off!
I rush off to work, promising to debug the issue when I get home. Later, I return and sit down with the clock and the manual. I’ve never had to use a manual with a clock before, but ok, it’s a brave new world. Paging through it, I discover some disturbing things. Obviously, I had assumed there would be a dimmer or brightness control. This, as it turns out, is wildly incorrect. As best as I can tell, there is a ‘hypermatter singularity’ at the core of this clock that’s used specifically to provide the light for this projector.
Additionally, the backlighting on the face of the clock is equally non-adjustable. Awesome. Now, let’s figure out what happened with the alarm… this is when my wife contributes to the discussion. As it turns out, the alarm went off after I had left for work. The clock had spontaneously decided it was in a different time zone and had set itself for a later time. A fluke, I’m sure.
Sighing, I decide to give it another try. The projection clock is still really what I’m wanting out of this, so it’s time to use a little cleverness. I have some sunglass lenses handy, so I tape a couple together and balance them atop the projector aperature. This works, sort of, but there’s still blue leaking out around the edges and the numbers can now only be pointed straight upwards, but ok, it’s a slight improvement. I reset the time on the clock, and write off the backlighting. WHITE! C’mon….
I snap awake, the alarm is sounding. This is good! It’s going off, and it’s obviously not late because it’s still dark out. Blearily, I hit a button, and it shuts off. Boy, I am tired. Exhausted, even. I yawn, try to stretch, but geez, I am beat. Blearily, I sit up in bed and stretch again. I grab my phone to use as a flashlight and wander to the bathroom. I’m checking email while waiting for the shower to heat up when I notice the clock on the phone. It reports that it’s 2:03 AM. wut.
Somehow, the clock has now shifted in the other direction and three hours early. Oh sweet zombie Jesus. I end up setting my phone as an alarm and finally make it back to sleep, but this is a rough day at work, and I’m tired.
That night, I read through the manual more and figure that somehow, it must have lost the timezone setting, so I reset that again. As I noted earlier, the clock uses an atomic clock broadcast to set itself, but unlike most appliances, it seems to get bored. This time, I turn off the atomic clock sync and just set it. “No”, I shake my finger at it, “you do not set yourself”.
Since then, it’s semi-randomly changed what time it is despite me turning off that feature. Also, consider not using the ‘Rain shower’ sound as your alarm if it has been/is currently raining. It’s less effective than you might imagine. The weather sensor can’t reliably reach it with updates even though it’s less than 10 feet away.
In short, this is the clock from hell. My friends and co-workers have noted that my iPhone would function quite adequately as an alarm. “Never!” I rejoin, “I’m not giving up yet. If I use my phone as my alarm, then this Homedics clock will have won”.
“Dude”, one of them responded sympathetically, “it’s already won”.
Considering how many times I’ve been clockblocked by this abomination, I cannot recommend this alarm to anybody but my enemies, but for them I wholeheartedly endorse it.
If you’re not disgusted with this program and all the money it cost you, then you’re a fucking retard.
This entire program was based on the broken window fallacy of economics. It took money out of your pocket and made you think you got cash, but everyone who pays taxes was robbed. The only people who liked this are the auto companies. Why wouldn’t they like it?
It was another bailout, and you paid for it, suckers.