Nuclear crisis: Nobody panic … until it’s too late

March 27, 2011

Nothing to see here, folks.

Ignorance is bliss. Green-glowing, radioactive, face-melting bliss.

Really, we shouldn’t get too worked up. The fact that the public is being coddled, misled and misinformed by government spokespeople and media figureheads regarding the severity of the nuclear crisis in Japan is a good thing, I say. We wouldn’t want to cause a …

PANIC! Seriously, everybody panic right now.

Because according to the latest little dollop of sunshine out of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, water near the hopelessly fucked reactors tested a whopping 10 million times above normal for radiation.

10 million? That sounds pretty bad …

“Certainly, we have to be concerned about the fact that the level of radiation is increasing … . But at this point, we do not … envisage negative health impacts,” an official with Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency told CNN. Within hours, NPR was reporting the spike to be an error caused by inaccurate readings. No need to worry, humanity.

There seems to be a pattern developing here: reported increases in radiation followed by soft, soothing announcements from the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric. More radiation, more and more pillow talk, etc. If they’re not concerned, then why should we be, right?

Well, according to Michio Kaku, one of the nation’s leading physicists and epic white-haired wizards, things could start to get, um, a little hairy.

The three most feared words in the lexicon of a nuclear scientist is “breach of containment,” i.e. an uncontrolled release of radiation into the environment. It appears that we may be seeing this dreaded event unfolding in Japan.

This will create a nightmare beyond Chernobyl. … I have suggested on TV that the leadership of the crisis management be replaced. … Only the mililtary, guided by an international team of top scientists and engineers, can tame this monster. [Emphasis in original.]

Ouch. I think it’s time we started listening to the good doctor, who more than three weeks ago suggested using what he calls the “Chernobyl Option,” a strategy that includes pouring thousands of tons of sand, concrete and boric acid on the reactors, essentially sealing them forever and averting the largest nuclear catastrophe mankind has ever witnessed.

Now that sounds like a smart idea. Especially the part about us not being dissolved into radioactive goo. What do you think, Japanese officials?

We have somewhat prevented the situation from turning worse.

I  feel better already.

Random Nugget: Aliens get a fabulously boring makeover from NASA

December 2, 2010

Where are the aliens from? Earth, dumbass.

When NASA announced they would reveal an incredible discovery in astrobiology that would affect the all-important search for extraterrestrial life, many of us had visions of tentacled centaurs that shoot lasers from their eyes prancing about in the foggy smog of Jupiter’s alien super swamps.

Instead, we got pond scum in California.

Nice work, NASA. Although the discovery of a bacteria that feeds on and incorporates arsenic into its DNA is a big deal (to you), you didn’t really need to get everybody all worked up. A simple press release would have sufficed. No need to go all LeBron on us with your agonizing delays before a predictably uninteresting announcement.

But then again, we’re all suckers for the old “Alien News!” teaser. Let’s just hope that the arsenic-loving bacteria doesn’t decide to take its talents to South Beach.

The Farce that is ‘Cyber Monday’: How to Create a Shopping Holiday from Thin Air

November 29, 2010

Ooh, that fleece hoodie is just adorable ... and the price is so low!

As if the hype surrounding Black Friday and its phony four-items-in-stock bargain-basement deals wasn’t sufficiently stomach-churning, the outright sham that is Cyber Monday is enough to justify random and unnecessary acts of violence on retail industry CEOs.

According to CNN’s Jon Sutter, the pseudo-event was not only created from corporate thin air five years ago by Shop.org, but the Monday after Thanksgiving isn’t even among the most active days for e-commerce. In fact, there really aren’t any more deals or discounts online on Cyber Monday than on any other day of the year.

Shop.org, which coined the term “Cyber Monday” and operates a retail website called CyberMonday.com, says nine in 10 online retailers are offering Cyber Monday deals this year. But read the fine print and that statistic loses some of its shine. That data is based on a survey of 51 online retailers, and the majority of those said to be offering Cyber Monday deals aren’t targeting the Monday after Thanksgiving specifically.

All this manufactured marketing and consumer bamboozlement begs the question: What other fictitious shopping “holidays” are just waiting to be coined, implemented and unleashed on less-than-savvy shoppers?

How about “White Tuesday,” in which Caucasian folks purchase gifts as reparations for their African-American friends, acquaintances and co-workers for Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

Or perhaps “Strap-On Saturday” and “Anal Wednesday,” to coincide with various gay pride parades? We can make it all part of National Dildo Month.

Ridiculous? Offensive? Tell that to the anything-for-a-dollar CEOs scamming consumers with their shady celebrations of non-existent bullshit. If anyone was in need of one massive butt plug, it’s them.

Burning Question: How can I retain my sanity this Thanksgiving weekend?

November 24, 2010

Damn your gratefulness, pilgrims and savages!

Oh the turkey, the trimmings, your closest family and treasured friends — it must be that time of year again, time to congregate with loved ones and give thanks for all the wonderful blessings you’ve received throughout the years. Now if you can just get through the day without killing somebody! That would certainly be something to be thankful for.

While there are some aspects of  Thanksgiving that can be tiresome (excessive travel and multiple stops on the “Thanksgiving Express”; crotchety relatives who quickly remind us why we see them only once a year; hours of small talk, football, boring chores and endless clean up; and, of course, more food than an elephant could comfortably consume) there is some hope.

With very little effort, you can sidestep the pitfalls of Thanksgiving and survive to fight (and eat) another Turkey Day. Here’s how. Read more…

How to avoid ‘death by hurricane’

September 16, 2010

Coming to a terrified city near you.

With hurricane season unveiling its new fall lineup, folks living in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Gulf Coast are gearing up for what promises to be one spectacular shit-storm of bad luck and worse weather.

On the bright side, there are some basic components to a good hurricane survival plan, including:

  • Not living on or near coastlines that are repeatedly targeted by Nature’s unstoppable fury;
  • Driving as fast as possible in the opposite direction of the massive, belligerent cloud-beast;
  • Not getting drunk on the beach in flip-flops while filming the swirling juggernaut; and
  • Not counting on the government to provide any kind of relief or assistance whatsoever.

While these tips provide a solid foundation for hurricane survival, it’s best to cover your bases and read some real survival strategies should you ever find yourself in the path of destruction. And just to be safe, get yourself one of these little buggers, guaranteed to save your life should you ever need two feet of rope or a really, really ugly bracelet.

Random Nugget: Interspecies breeding and you

September 15, 2010

No caption necessary.

We’ve all heard the ubiquitous jokes about lonely farmers and frightened sheep; the bizarre stories of a select few “animal enthusiasts”; and even that old yarn regarding a hazily remembered “mudshark incident” during a Led Zeppelin tour stop.

But who could have known that the same practice responsible for these amusing tidbits is not merely relegated to perverts with a penchant for bestiality, but may also be a fledgling hobby of Mother Nature herself—one that may have led to the creation of the human race as we know it today.

That’s right: You and I could be the descendants of an early torchbearer of interspecies hybrids, a category that includes man-made abominations such as the liger, the zorse, and the wholphin, according to the New York Times.

Various kinds of evidence indicate that modern humans migrated out of Africa and reached the Middle East more than 100,000 years ago and Europe by about 45,000 years ago, and would have or could have encountered Neanderthals for some time in each locale. The crucial question for paleontology, archaeology, and paleogenetics has been what transpired between the two species. To put it a little more crudely, did we date them or kill them, or perhaps both?

I can imagine the pick-up lines now: Do you have any Neanderthal in you? No? Would you like to?

While this new development is significant if not startling, it comes as no shock to those familiar with the disturbingly hilarious “Kids in the Hall” character affectionately known as the Chicken Lady. But whatever the evidence may bring to bear, the fact remains that all animals—regardless of species—need a little lovin’ every now and then.

Fall from infamy: Florida pastor’s 15 minutes go up in smoke

September 14, 2010

Sayonara, you old coot.

Now that the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy has passed, one lingering question remains: What ever happened to that crazy would-be-Koran-burning zealot Terry Jones?

After nearly a month in the global news spotlight—with pundits lining up to bash Florida’s pistol-packing pastor as an intolerant bigot while simultaneously defending his unalienable First Amendment rights, not to mention protests and American flag burnings in his honor halfway around the world—Jones has receded into virtual obscurity among his like-minded religious rednecks. No daily updates on his book-burning plans or meeting arrangements with New York City mosque Imams—just fervent fundamental religiosity and quiet Sunday congregations at the Dove World Outreach Center (perhaps the greatest misnomer of all time).

Which brings me to another question: Was Jones’ decision to halt his desecration of the Muslim holy book a bad PR move?

Let us examine the facts, shall we. Prior to his inflammatory plan, which he dubbed the International Burn a Koran Day, Jones was a complete nonstory: a small-time pastor with some crazy ideas and a miniscule flock of fundamentalist Christians. Not exactly front-page stuff, right? But after news of his proposed demonstration began to spread just weeks before September 11th, the story was simply too juicy for the shock-starved media to ignore. Soon every high-profile politician was weighing in on the controversy, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Really? The President? Even scarier is the fact that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called Jones personally and politely asked him not to piss off every Muslim on the planet by burning their sacred text.

Now, just so we’re clear: We won’t participate in one-on-one talks with North Korea to prevent an all-out nuclear war, but we will directly engage one God-twisting religious fanatic threatening to torch a few books?

For Jones, the attention garnered from his proposed Koran-burning was a public relations boon. Everyone—including the Leader of the Freakin’ Free World—was discussing him, his church and his warped religious ideology. He was story numero uno, the darling of the 24-hour news cycle. Not a bad time to pass that collection plate around, eh?

So why ruin a good thing by calling off the biggest book-burning since World War II? Acquiescing to public pressure held no benefit to Jones and his church. When every sensible person who hears your story already hates you, you risk nothing by going through with the fundamentalist bonfire and resulting firestorm. But, by compromising your tightly-held beliefs in intolerance and Christian extremism, you lose everything—your front-page status, your newfound political pull, and your credibility with other Muslim-hating hillbillies.

Sure, Jones has probably seen his church’s congregation and coffer grow by leap and bounds since his meteoric rise to national notoriety, but imagine what the response would have been had he actually gone through with it.

Remember this, Terry Jones, as you fade into our pop culture past: There’s no such thing as bad publicity, even for book-burning nutjobs like you.

The cold hard facts about life’s origins on Earth

April 29, 2010

Uh oh.

Have you ever gazed up at the night sky and wondered how this crazy thing called “life” got its start on our rocky little planet?

Join the club. Ever since we’ve had our wits about us, humans have been looking for answers to this and other enormous (and possibly unknowable) philosophical questions about our origins.

For this particular question, there are plenty of half-cocked theories: God’s fifth grade science project got a little out of hand; hyper-intelligent aliens thought it might be smart to flood the universe with their seed (see Chariots of the Gods); we’re all just ones and zeroes drifting through the Matrix; and so on.

But good ol’ rational science has its own theory—and that means giant mountains of ice, rock and organic particles hurtling through the vastness of space at ridiculous speeds, crashing into the nearest rocky orb. All things considered, it would be pretty lucky if they managed to find and impact our little molten mud ball billions of years ago and jumpstart the miracle of life, don’t you think?

According to a recent article on CNN.com, there’s at least some proof that asteroids—once thought to be waterless due to their usual proximity to the sun—contain the fundamental elements of life, including water and key organic compounds that could have jumpstarted life following the initial collision with the then uninhabitable Earth.

Geochemists believe that early Earth went through a molten phase that would have removed any organic molecules, meaning any new organic material would have had to come to the planet at a later time, said Humberto Campins at UCF.

“I believe our findings are linked to the origin of life on Earth,” he added.

Well, that settles it, right?

While it may be next to impossible to prove what caused life to exist on this planet, there is a current push by NASA to prove the existence of  microbial life in other places inside our own solar system.

Now if they could only figure out how to get those  disastrous telescope balloon launches taken care of, we might come to know more about our own beginnings and the origins of all life in the universe.

Random Nugget: The secret life of beer

April 6, 2010

Mmm...

If you’re like me—fat, lazy and often bored out of your mind—you’ve probably had a nip or two from a cold, delicious beer: an aromatic libation fit for the gods (and anyone else with 99 cents for a tallboy).

But according to this alcoholic infographic, beer has had an addictive grip on Earth’s inhabitants since the advent of civilization nearly 10,000 years ago, when the Babylonians apparently grew tired of paradisiacal sobriety and turned to hot, drunken war-mongering.

While interesting, the former statement is not all that surprising. A more shocking revelation may be that today, the Irish—the proud island-dwellers who relish their reputation as the world’s most drunken people—come in second to the Czechs as the planet’s largest consumers of beer.

As the eminent Irishman Kelly O’Brien O’Flannigan Houlihan once said: “‘Ooh the ‘ell cares … another pint, Laddy!”

Burning Question: Who is this Easter Bunny character anyway?

April 2, 2010

Who invited your weird ass to Easter dinner?

As everyone knows, the Easter Bunny is that dingy-furred mall worker holding a long-eared mascot head and smoking behind the dumpsters. But why does he bring us his pilfered eggs on the day Jesus decided being dead wasn’t for him?

Well, it turns out that every person who celebrates Easter—from the Bible thumping zealots to the dispassionate twice-a-year churchgoers, even the homeless guy on the park bench chasing Cadbury Eggs with malt liquor—is partaking in ancient traditions established by pre-Christians.

According to Lauren Effron of Discovery News, Easter fixtures such as bunnies and hidden eggs owe their origins to pagan ceremonies honoring the arrival of spring and rebirth (and yes, technically, resurrection).

According to University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration—and the Easter bunny— can be traced back to 13th century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate. Spring also symbolized new life and rebirth; eggs were an ancient symbol of fertility. According to History.com, Easter eggs represent Jesus’ resurrection. However, this association came much later when Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in Germany in the 15th century and merged with already ingrained pagan beliefs.

I knew that damned evil Easter Bunny was up to no good.


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