Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No, The Eclipse Won't Poison Your Food And Won't Mean You're About To Die

If you haven't heard that a total solar eclipse is going to cross the United States on Monday you really have been living under a rock.
No weird space aliens or anything are going to
get you during the eclipse, so relax

Everyone who has seen such an eclipse says it's just an amazing experience as the darkness descends. It is otherworldly, and probably for some a little scary. That's understandable.

What isn't quite as understandable is the beliefs some people still hold about eclipses. NASA felt compelled to put out a fact sheet to debunk some popular theories as to what might happen.

For one, you won't go blind during the eclipse, unless you insist on looking directly at the sun as the eclipse unfolds.  Some people apparently think blindness happens just if you're in the path of it, ignoring all the people who remained just fine and eagle-eyed after they experienced an eclipse.

Then there are wackier notions. An eclipse is really just a shadow. The moon gets in the way of the sun, so you can't see it, and things go dark. It's that simple.

So, no, there won't be any strange, dangerous radioactive or cosmic rays killing us, poisoning our food if you prepare it during an eclipse, or killing your fetus if you are pregnant. So fix that sandwich during the eclipse and if you're a mother-to-be, go out and look at the event. Your kid is going to be fine.

I can understand that in ancient times, before we understood what eclipses are, that people would think the world is ending, or that something bad was about to happen. After all, who'd expect to be out on a sunny day and then the  sun suddenly decides to gradually fade to black. Pretty weird, huh?

Still, a few people nowadays have a bad experience shortly after an eclipse and think the celestial event caused it. When really the bad experience was just random bad luck.

So no, if you get sick after the eclipse, it's probably because you used spoiled mayonnaise when you made that sandwich during the eclipse.

Eclipse paths are random, and some areas over time have seen them more often than others. Here in Vermont, the last total eclipse hit parts of the state in 1932. A total eclipse is scheduled for northern Vermont in 2024.

Which means a corner of northeastern Vermont will have seen a total eclipse twice within a century.

However, as I listened to VPR yesterday, I learned the poor city of Rutland, Vermont keeps missing the path of total eclipse.

Rutland last had a total eclipse in the 1300s and won't have one again until the 2300s. So about 1,000 years.

Sorry, Rutvegas.

Monday, August 14, 2017

1940s Anti-Fascist PSA's Getting New Attention After Charlottesville

A 1940s-era anti-fascist PSA has become
newly relevant, unfortunately.
Back in the 1940s, as Nazis tried to take over the world, the U.S. government released a bunch of public service announcements and films denouncing fascists.  

Made sense then.

Makes sense now, especially after Charlottesville and when we have a president that pretty much gives a wink and a nod to the Nazis and white supremacists who caused death and heartache over the weekend.

There's a 17-minute version of the film you can see by clicking on this link from The Atlantic. 

There's another video, below, that's a more streamlined version of this very relevant clip.

In both versions of the film, we hear words from a blustery fascist American politician that we are now hearing some version of today:

"I see negroes holding jobs that belong to me and you. Now, I ask you, if we allow this thing to go on, what's going to happen to us real Americans?"

The loudmouth then blames blacks, Catholics, Freemasons and immigrants for the nation's problems.

In the clip, a young man is almost persuaded by the rhetoric until the idiot speaker mentions Freemasons, as he's one.

Then a man with an eastern European accent - an immigrant from Hungary who became an American citizen - schools the younger man on just how dangerous this rhetoric is.

The clip should be required viewing for all of us. Here it is:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville: When White Supremacists/Nazis Snowflakes Turn Violent

A striking image from Charlottesville today: A black
cop trying to keep the peace while racists and the
KKK rally behind him.
It's a horrible day in Charlottesville, Virginia as a bunch of white supremacists and Nazis descended into town, and as of 1 p.m., there had already been violent clashes between these turds and counter-protesters.

Many of the so called white nationalists (read complete ass wipes) are toting guns, so it'll be a miracle if nobody gets killed.

I'm technically a target of theirs, too. Yeah, I'm a white guy, but I'm also gay. Last I heard, some of these jerks were chanting "Fuck you, faggots," at counter protestors. 

The Nazis that descended on Charlottesville last night with torches was a nice touch, too. Nothing like a good old revival of the violent KKK to cheer things up, right?

It does take two to tango, and if there is violence and fights, it's the fault of both the KKK types and the counter protesters.

However, the white supremacists are the aggressors here, and the stupidest people are the ones that think they'll get their way through violence and intimidation. Exhibit A of this stupidity is on full display in Charlottesville today.

And everybody, please start calling them the alt.right. They're not cool, like alt.country or alt.whatever hipster trend is out there.

Call them what they are: white supremacists, Nazis, horrible people, whatever.

Meanwhile, we set a low bar for President Trump, so given that low bar, I have to appreciate Trump for condemning the violence today.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has understandably declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville, so that the state can aid in keeping the level of violence down.

Even if Virginia and police manage to keep injuries and destruction to a minimum, that doesn't solve the bigger problem.

We all hear about terrorism perpetrated by Muslims, in America and abroad.

But so far, it seems we Americans have more to fear from white supremacists terrorists than Muslim extremists.

In June, we learned from The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting's Reveal that most terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between January, 2008 and the end of 2016 where perpetrated by right wing extremists.

The problem is when a Muslim does something hateful, it's called terrorism by politicians and many members of the media. When a white guy does something similar, it's dismissed as just a lone nutcase.

But the database we got in June shows that 115 of the 201 terrorist attacks cited in the report were carries out by right wing extremists. This includes people like the supremacists, militias and "sovereign citizens."

Another 63 cases were done by Islamic extremists, and 19 were from left wing extremists, wuch as ecoterrorists and animal rights militants.

So when you hear ultra conservative snowflakes whine that they're being terrorized by maurading liberals, don't believe it.

The white supremacists can be violent, no doubt about that. But oppressed? Don't think so, bud.  Maybe get smarter, shut your trap when you want to spout hate speech and mind your own business and then you'll be more successful in life.

The reason nobody is hiring you is not because there's a big affirmative action thing going on. They won't hire you because you're a complete turd.

Still, complainers gotta complain. One incident crystallizes this. According to Gizmodo, idiot white guy Richard Spencer, en route to the Charlottesville shindig, said he stopped at a restaurant but they wouldn't serve him. He says it was based on his viewpoints, that he was being treated like African Americans attempting to go to lunch counters in the 1960s.

But the real reason why the restaurant wouldn't serve Spencer is because at the time he stopped by, the eatery wasn't serving anybody. It was morning, and they don't open until 5 p.m. The place was closed.

Restaurants tend not to serve would-be patrons when they are closed, dude.

Anyway, here's hoping the white supremacists in Charlottesville display their extreme dimwittedness today for all the world to see, all the while avoiding this devolve into violence.

However, as I write this, I just learned a car slammed into a crowd of people protesting against the white supremacists, and there are multiple injuries.

Let's all work together to call out all the white supremacists, expose them to harsh daylight of reason, and watch them wither away.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I like Minions, But Stephen Miller Is The Worst Yet. Thanks, John Oliver

John Oliver's right. The odious Stephen Miller is
really an evil minion.
I'm a fan of the minions from the "Despicable Me" franchise.  

You know what they are: Those googly-eyed cartoon characters that resemble yellow pills and get in all sorts of trouble.

Now I have to re-think my fandom, thanks to John Oliver.

Stephen Miller, the odious, self-absorbed evil Trump aide, really, really looks like a minion, John Oliver points out.

He's right.

Check out this clip of Oliver, which ends inexplicably with footage of an enthusiastic Seattle gardener, I guess to sweeten the bad taste in your mouth left my Minion Miller.

Watch:

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What If Obama Said What Trump Said?

I hear this a lot: 
This Obama impersonator said things Trump actually said
on Real Time With Bill Maher last night.
The result was jarring

Republicans keep their mouths shut when Donald Trump says something outrageous, but imagine if Barack Obama said the same things. They'd go ballistic.

Bill Maher went with that last night by hiring an Obama impersonator to say some of the things Trump said. It's jarring. But fun.

Here ya go:


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Solar Eclipse Of The Heart

Lots of people are getting excited about the big solar eclipse that will cross the nation diagonally from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21.

Most of the rest of us, including us here in Vermont, will see a nice partial eclipse, which will be cool.

To get in the spirit of the event, we have a great parody of Bonnie Tyler's 1983 classic and odd music video of her song "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

This time, though, we get an odd, but fun video, "Solar Eclipse Of The Heart." Totally worth the watch: