FOX Outed

Disgusted by the way Bill O’Reilly ran his cage-match shout-fests, I’ve scrupulously avoided FOX News for the last fifteen years. As TV has invaded our public spaces, that has come to require some discipline. Management often chooses to impose their political views on restaurant patrons. So at the local Jack in the Box, I turn my back to the FOX monitor and take the lesser of two evils: watching grown men ruin their bodies doing things that were intended to be forms of play.

Today it was the dual monitors that bracketed the bar at the Best Breakfast and Lunch in Port Hueneme. Confronted with the finishing counter, I couldn’t help but glance around for some visual stimulus. Much to my surprise, I found myself reading a FOX panelist explain that the reason America has a serious problem with mass violence is easy access to military-style weaponry.

Interest piqued, I kept on following along, and couldn’t help but burst out loud in laughter.

The response to sanity came a few minutes later, when another panelist retorted that America doesn’t allow easy access to guns, it protects the rights of citizens to protect themselves from tyranny. Now this is fatuous: a despotic government doesn’t need to wage war to subjugate a modern society – it only needs to turn off the water and power and stop collecting the garbage. But what brought on laughter was the unintended inference from a mouthpiece for a party that controls all three branches of the US government.

FOX admits that the Republicans are tyrants!

So I began to laugh, really heartily, and wondered why Trevor Noah can’t produce such hilarity. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe FOX isn’t shifting to the loony right to protect its brand from Breitbart, maybe it’s competing with Comedy Central.

But what would be the right byline?

The students in Parkland recognize the irresponsibility of Republican gun policy, as do some Republican Party donors. If the young and the sane recognize the need for sensible gun reform, that seems to leave only the senile as defenders of the gun industry. So should we think of FOX News as “Senility Central?”

That seemed to fit when Rush Limbaugh was brought on for the interview. I couldn’t help by think that Madame Tussaud’s had diversified into animatronics. The wavy pouf, painted face and elegant suit brought to mind a story by Horace Mann describing the antics of a senile man who encounters a beautiful boy while at a beach resort. Mann’s telling forces the reader to skirt the shadows of pedophilic sensibility. Limbaugh tends in a different direction, but perhaps no less offensive to the “forgotten men” that he claims to represent. It’s an implicit sympathy for entitled royalty.

Feeling that I was wandering into a Lewis Carroll novel, I listened in incredulity as Limbaugh intoned his support for full amnesty for all illegal immigrants, given a Democratic stipulation that that they not be allowed to vote for 15-25 years. Wow, Rush! Just throw all those jobless listeners of yours under the bus, why don’t you?

But wait, there’s more! The interviewer asked whether the Republican electorate wasn’t concerned that the recent tax bill was going to cause the budget to explode. Limbaugh countered that “not a single listener” had called in to complain. Again, I know that the young and the sane are concerned with the problem, so that leaves the senile as the patrons of Limbaugh’s blather – perhaps most prominent among them being Rupert Murdoch.

Tyranny arises when the political elite seeks to secure its privileges free from the discipline of responsibility to the public. That would-be tyrants take cause with a propaganda machine such as FOX is alarming, until we see how inept and clumsy the lies have become as occupants of the conservative echo-chamber wanders further and further from reality.

Trial-by-“Fired”

Donald Trump’s presidential reality show is finally hitting its stride. Rather than betraying his promises to his blue-collar loyalists, this blogger has learned that Trump’s cabinet of big-money, corporate-welfare advocates was carefully selected for a humiliating process of elimination. The juiciest moment yet was the Russian Foreign Minister’s sneering “Really? He was fired?” response to the news of James Comey’s elimination. Rupert Murdoch and his team of script-writers at Fox are preparing even worse for the rest of the team that Trump gulled into serving in his Cabinet.

Las Vegas odds-makers are setting up betting pools now. Who will be the survivor of the ultimate reality show? The reality show that is, in fact, reality?

My money is on Kim Jong-un.

But until then, of course, every week the voters that elected Trump will be able to cheer as another swamp-monster falls. Price, Mnuchin, Tillerson: the end is near!

The Internet of Nags

At the Consumer Electronics Show, Simple Human is showing a trash can with voice command and WiFi capabilities.

There’s just a short leap to creation of a category-killer: What parent would not rush to the nearest home furnishing outlet for a pail that would hound their son on social media?

#takeoutthegarbage

Facebook timeline: Odor levels in the garbage pail have reached gas-chamber levels.

8:57 PM – Please take out the garbage

9:57 PM – Take out the garbage.

10:57 PM – Uber-mommy has been activated. Your ride will now return home.

Then What are 1000 Pictures Worth?

Reports of the dimming of the star KIC 8462852 have been debunked, causing SETI to revise its claims to have proven the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence. The news also caused a crash in Appalachian coal futures, as CO2 sequestration speculators cancelled orders.

One insider, speaking anonymously to avoid being labelled as a “Koch-head,” revealed “when my employers were convinced that no earthly engineering team could dig an ocean through the Rockies, they were hoping that the ETs would do the work in the course of removing the sub-surface CO2 stockpiles they were hoping to establish in New Mexico and Arizona. No ETs, no CO2 sequestration, no last-grasp strip-mining in Appalachia. Oh well, there’s always that land trade for the Panama Canal!”

More seriously: it turns out that the original study of KIC 8462852, drawing upon analysis of old photographic plates, had failed to account for differences in the equipment used to capture the pictures. By comparing the apparent brightness of KIC 8462852 to that of other stars in the plates, it was determined that the the relative brightness had not changed.

Systematic effects (related to the design of the experimental system) were also a large factor in fueling the “cold-fusion” hype that I got involved in debunking back in the ’80s.

Our Extraterrestrial Saviors

Astronomers tout a “high-frequency” (every couple of years) flickering in the light emanating from the star KIC 8462852 as possible proof of extraterrestrial intelligence. The extent and frequency of the flickering rule out the normal cause of such variation: temporary occlusion of the star by a planet in its orbit. This leaves open the possibility that the occlusion is due to a planetary-scale artificial structure.

The possibility of such structures was first popularized by Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” novels. However, the stresses on a ring encircling a star are inconceivably large – no material imaginable would be able to sustain the strain.

Exotechnologists thus turned their attention to another possibility: the spread of huge tree-like lifeforms rooted in Jupiter-size planets. Natural seasonal cycles would cause the density of the canopy to vary over time, thus explaining the flickering.

Given the huge quantities of carbon dioxide transferred to the stellar wind from such growth, CO2 sequestration, long pooh-poohed as prohibitively expensive, now appears to have long-term market potential. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is leading commercialization efforts, beginning with leasing of the world’s largest radio telescopes in the hope that CO2 deliveries can be arranged before global warming exterminates life on Earth.

The SETI program, in reaction to this plan, reasons that “extraterrestrial intelligence must exist, because it is impossible that intelligence not exist somewhere in the universe.”