A Monday without optimism

 Leftovers & Links #40

It’s corny and sanctimonious, but here's a dinosaur from the UN’s Development Programme, a branch of the bureaucracy that’s worried about climate change.

The dinosaur is wrong, though — climate change won’t make humans extinct. Humans with enough money will do just fine, but 'enough money' will be lots more than you or I have so we can kiss each other's asses goodbye.

The climate crisis — already underway, but just getting started — will make billions of humans miserable, leave a lot of us dead, and make “hell” a routine part of the weather forecast almost everywhere.

Anyone who's working against climate change, hip hip hooray and don't let me discourage you, but I'm pessimistic. (Can you tell?) The time to take action was twenty years ago, but damned near nothing’s been done, and the rich and powerful don’t care so nothing’s going to be done, except more conferences, more speeches, and more videos. Maybe there'll be a telethon.

Our unlucky survivors will inherit a shitscape world in fifty years, but it’ll be the Garden of Eden compared to fifty years after that. 

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While I'm being so cheerful... 

Remember when Republicans were merely racists and rednecks? I'm wistful for those good old days. Now they're all about opposing reality, science, and democracy.

The Republican Party presents an existential threat to the United States, and they're enthusiastic about it, seeking to destroy elections, civil rights, women’s rights, and everything America pretends to stand for. 

And nearly nobody in power is playing defense against the Republican agenda — certainly not most Democratic elected officials. They're still trying for bipartisanship, and "reaching across the aisle" to fascists.

There’s nobody on our side except ourselves, and there’s nothing we can do to save America short of revolution — which ain’t gonna and can’t happen here.

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Give me a few hours and just one edible, please, and I'll be in a better mood by midday. Sorry.

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Texas cops refused to escort Biden bus harassed by MAGA marauders.

Quote: In one transcribed recording, Matthew Daenzer, a San Marcos police corporal on duty the day of the incident, refused to provide an escort when recommended by another jurisdiction. 'No, we're not going to do it,' Daenzer told a 911 dispatcher...

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Here’s yet another story of police misconduct that sent innocent men to prison. I wonder how many thousands of other innocents are in prison, and suspect I’m being under-cynical saying merely thousands. 

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Quote: I brace myself to be the idiot. I'm going to waste everyone's time asking questions that everyone knows the answer to, and I just got looped in, so everyone's going to feel like they need to walk through all the super-obvious stuff to satisfy the one guy who didn't do his homework.

So I start asking questions, and slowly begin to realize that nobody in the room has any idea what they are talking about. That there are fundamental misunderstandings and misconceptions about existing systems. And, naturally, it turns out that the questions I have are questions that other people have.

andrewla, at Hacker News 

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On the bright side, remember that time when Saturday Night Live tried punk rock?

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In making The Exorcist, there was a shot of the little girl walking downstairs upside down, but it wasn't convincing because they couldn't eliminate the wires. CGI made that possible years later, and the scene has been added to recent releases of the movie.

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VIPs expect special treatment. At Wikipedia, don’t even ask.

Quote: The closest approximation to a Wikipedia power player would be Jimmy Wales, the chairman emeritus of the foundation that supports Wikipedias in more than 250 languages and the face of the project for its 20 years of existence. But Wales is not actually in control of anything. When he gets personally involved in helping a petitioner, a crowd of editors track his movements to ensure that he not hold special influence.

This tradition began way back in Wikipedia’s history, when Wales insisted that the birth date on his own article, and his birth certificate, was wrong. The editors did not take his word for it. More recently, in 2019, Wales highlighted the complaints of a YouTube conspiracy theorist, Mark Dice, who believed his achievements were being underplayed by Wikipedia. The editors explained that they didn’t care about Wales’s opinion, and the Dice article today is even less flattering than it was before.

I love me some Wikipedia, but it's disappointing that Jimmy Wales stands with Mark Dice, someone I'd never heard of, who seems to be just another wingnut.

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Some years back, I subscribed to The New Yorker, printed on paper and sent via the mail. Of course, magazines never stop selling their subscriber lists to other magazines, so ever since, there've been junk mail offers to subscribe to every magazine in America.

When I had a job and the price was right, I answered the junk mail call and subscribed to Harper’s, among a few others. I’d planned to renew my subscription to Harper's, but I won't.

They didn’t crosscheck their junk mail, so they sent a renewal notice and a “special introductory offer” for new subscribers. The introductory rate is much cheaper, so I’ve started a new subscription and let my current subscription lapse. Hope there’s another introductory offer next year.

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This is a little stale, but — After actor Leslie Nielsen died in 2010, ESPN published an obituary for umpire Enrico Pallazzo, played by Frank Drebin, played by Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun

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 Mystery links  — Like life itself, there’s no knowing where you’re going:


Sincere tip 'o the hat:
Captain Hampockets
Follow Me Here
Messy Nessy Chick
National Zero
Ran Prieur
Voenix Rising

Becky Jo
Name Withheld
Dave S.

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  1. Cheer up man, evertything sucks but it'll all be over soon.

    Allergies and my asthma is really been bad
    and I am tiiiiiired
    too much frolicing this weekend i think

    This day in 52 the first Hydrogen bomb is tested
    Also on this day in 1765 Parliment enacts the stamp act

    To which the American people said ENOUGH and thus began our freedoms

    1. I'm still skeptical that dropping H-bombs and obliterating two Japanese cities was *necessary* to win WW2.

      Love the trivia, though.

    2. By the way, those were A-bombs, not H-bombs. H-bombs are the destructive ones.


  2. Doug, you couldn't be more right about everything if you were Clarence Thomas. You may call him Shirley. And nice obit. Deft touch. Easy to drive off the road on that one and never be seen again, but the guy made it to -30- . Really good writing shouldn't astound me, but it frequently does. Thankfully, it also delights me.


    1. > Doug, you couldn't be more right about everything if you were Clarence Thomas.

      I'm not sure whether I've been complimented or slapped in the face, but thanks and ouch.

    2. No slap intended. I was trying to agree with you and I got too rhetorically cute, which would be the only cute thing about me if I could pull it off.

      There's a riot goin' on and we ignore it at our peril. A couple dozen people just tried to take over American governance, aided by ignorance and apathy, and came tolerably close to succeeding. Their motives are financial, but it don't matter why: they should be tried by jury and, if convicted, imprisoned. It's a time for serious people to get serious.


    3. It's time indeed, but the only people I know taking it seriously are, seriously, some people I know. Certainly nobody in power.

      And you're so rhetorically cute I'd make a pass at you if I wasn't so damned sober.

    4. The night is young.

  3. I share the pessimism.

    The ONLY optimistic factor is people like Greta talking about it, trying to focus attention, but it is not working and going to get much worse.

  4. All Mondays are without optimism, but at least you have good reasons for your's. We are killing the future.

  5. That latest false conviction is outragious AGAIN, they all are and they keep coming. I don't doubt a word of it but way deep in the article it says two out of the three men falsely conviocted have bough houses.

    What the fuck? They were in prison from junior high school until yesterday, 36 years, how the hell can they have bought houses when their lawsuit hasn't even come to court yet?

  6. There are a lot of comments I could make, as you and I are pretty similarly pessimistic.

    But I'm halfway through the entry today, and want to say that the FEAR clip from SNL is one of my favorites. I love FEAR. I'm a punk fan, and I am cynical. FEAR were (are, I suppose) so fucking cynical and shitty and just PUNK.

    In case you didn't know, Lee Ving - the lead singer - was Mr. Boddy in the movie Clue, the first place I ever saw him. Then when I first saw FEAR, I was blown away that Mr Boddy was in this band.

    Full clip of just the songs from SNL :


    Best FEAR songs not in the clip :

    Let's Have a War https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUxkFCBPgx4

    I Love Livin' In The City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQM00K24qG8

    Fuck Christmas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czaSv8keMqI

    1. I shall definitely give these a look and listen after my day of drudge is complete.

      (typed from work)

    2. It's punk, which isn't much the music I want in my ear, but I can't deny it's good.

  7. This is why we haven't heard from aliens. By the time they reach this level, they self-obliterate long before anyone has a chance to pick up their radio transmissions.

    1. > This is why we haven't heard from aliens.

      Who says we haven't? Some of my best friends are space aliens.

  8. "If you want to be strong, learn to fight alone."

    Said someone smarter than me.

    1. I like it.

      My experience is, just about everything worth doing is worth doing alone.

  9. Yeah, it's called the Fermi paradox, based on 1950s and 1970s estimates that only 15% of intelligent planetary societies survive their nuclear age and less than 15% of the survivors survive the subsequent population explosion and climate crisis.

    Of course those are wild-ass guesses, but I wouldn't bet against them. That still leaves billions of intelligent planetary systems orbiting through time and space, knowing their only chance of long-term survival is to talk to people like us (not quite grasping that we're as fucked up as they are).

    And we are, at last, defeated by the vast expanse of space and time that separate us. Many messages have likely been sent. A few have likely been received. Most likely none have completed a round trip. It's sad, but it's the cosmic joke, and in the long run, jokes are the dying expression of human sadness.


    1. You're damned readable, and also, I've heard of the Fermi paradox for years and I'm glad someone's finally explained what it means. Sure, I could've looked it up, but I never did.

    2. You're very kind; how the fuck did you get a reputation as a grouch?

      Just to be clear, the Fermi paradox got even more paradoxical in the last decade or two. One of the factors in determining how many intelligent civilizations are "out there" is the likelihood of a star having planets and whether those planets are likely to be in the habitable, or "Goldilocks", zone. There are other factors that are just as important like the likelihood of the evolution of self-replicating lifeforms, but you have to have a planet to start with.

      The Drake equation, developed in the 1950s, uses a low to medium likelihood of a star having a habitable planet. Now we have discovered over 4,000 exoplanets, and we're finding more all the time. Astrophysicists are almost ready to say that a star is more likely to have a planetary system than not, a HUGE step beyond what the original Drake calculations assumed. There are other issues: for example, we have no way of calculating the likelihood of intelligent life developing on a planet, but so far it looks like the number of populated planets might be even higher than Fermi assumed. Thus, Fermi's 1950 question, "Where are they?" becomes "Where the hell are they?". We're one factor from "Where the fuck are they?", but it's a big factor. I suppose you could call it a Max Factor.

      No reputable scientist is expecting aliens to show up. They're looking for signals or, if they really hit the jackpot, a probe or a mined exo-asteroid.

      On the off-chance that this didn't bore the shit out of you, you might enjoy reading the Wikipedia article on the Fermi paradox, and if you're still awake, move on to the article on the Drake equation. I had an uncle who did a little work on the Drake stuff back in the 50s and 60s, and got me hooked when I was an adolescent, so I've kind of been following this discussion over the decades. It does not lack depth.


    3. I lack depth, but you're helping in that regard. Evidence of others would be a relief or a terror, but my daydream remains a handshake.

      I'll perhaps explore the Wikipedia on this after today's dull day at work...

    4. As a side note, this is an interesting theory, the Great Filter.



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