About John Baker

Professional curmudgeon and relentless skeptic. "Belief" is a bullshit word. You know or you don't know!

Don’t be a Weenie Launch Cassini

Future generations will remember Bill Clinton for two things, not having sex with that woman and authorizing the launch of Cassini. I was working in Dallas Texas in the months before Cassini’s launch. It was 1997 and the Internet was just beginning to disrupt everyday life. Google was morphing from a thesis to a company and abominations like Facebook, Twitter and smartphones were years away. It was a time of CD-ROM games, 56K dial-up modems, bulletin boards, hand crafted HTML websites, and Netscape Navigator.  Even in its primitive state the Internet already exhibited many of the things I value and detest about it today. Two events made this abundantly clear. The inane shenanigans that preceded Cassini’s launch and the death of Carl Sagan.

I had a few beefs with Sagan. Like all science popularizers he often dumbed things down to misleading levels and, like most western academics, he was naive about vicious authoritarian regimes. In Sagan’s mind, a handful of exemplary Soviet scientists went a long way toward excusing the Gulag and purges. I overlooked his good-natured naivety. It was, and still is, a common delusion. Many intelligent people fall victim to the belief that their superior accomplishments endow them with universal wisdom. This is pure classic hubris.

Sagan had flaws but he was also the real scientific deal. He predicted the surface temperature of Venus before it was measured and contributed both scientifically and politically to the success of some of the 20th century’s most spectacular space missions like the Martian Viking landers and the epic Voyagers. Even his popular stunts like the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager gold records were classy and compelling. For me, Sagan’s most enduring quality was his very public and relentless refusal to buy into irrational bullshit. He rhetorically dismembered idiots that saw faces on Mars and skies full of alien bearing UFOs. The Martian face turned out to an eroded mesa, just like Sagan said it was, and we are still waiting for genuine rigorously authenticated evidence of real UFOs. Sagan’s often said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!”  It’s a maxim I apply every single day and you should too.

The day Sagan died I connected to the Internet with my trusty 56K dial-up modem. I was looking for unofficial Sagan obituaries and boy did I find them. It turns out that UFO cultists did not appreciate Sagan’s precise and correct analysis of their unsubstantiated nonsense. Clearly, he was part of the vast centuries old global cover-up. Everyone knows that the Illuminati, the Masons, the Rothschilds, the Jews, and the Jewish aliens in the UFOs, are suppressing UFO evidence: presumably to facilitate draining our precious bodily fluids. I exaggerate but not by much! It was my first encounter with unhinged Internet trolls. My already low opinion of the people’s intelligence dipped lower. Of course, trolls come in all flavors. There are good trolls, the ones I agree with, and evil trolls, the ones I disagree with. Overall, a free Internet with hate mongering vicious trolls is vastly better than a censored Internet that’s been reduced to a giant empty echoing, ruling-class-approved, safe space. “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

No matter what you think of the boorish behavior of UFO cultists celebrating Sagan’s death it’s clear to all, including the UFO cultists themselves that they are, in Douglass Adam’s exquisite words, “mostly harmless.”  No one gives a crap what ufologists (yeah it’s a word) think and nobody will pay attention to their ravings until they meet well-defined standards of proof. Sorry guys it’s a skeptic’s world and we won’t be lowering standards of scientific validation for you.

Unfortunately, anti-nuclear don’t launch Cassini, nitwits almost aborted what turned out to be an undisputed marvel of our age. I remember these 1997 loons and until they crawl out from their troglodyte caves, prostrate themselves before the great and powerful Internet, and publicly admit that they were completely wrong about Cassini, that launching the probe was the right thing to do, and that some tiny risks are very much worth taking, I will forever curse, mock, belittle, and remind others of their appalling judgment and sniveling cowardice.

The Cassini launch hysterics began when a pack of dolts noticed the word “Plutonium” in Cassini’s press material. Plutonium, oh my god! What are those privileged white devils in JPL up to? The JPL white devils tried to explain how RTG generators work and that a safe reliable compact long-lasting power source was required for operations at Saturn where sunlight is around 0.011 Earth’s intensity but math is hard. Way too hard for ideologues triggered by visions of Plutonium saturated Challenger like explosions spreading deadly radiation over a wide area. It was all over hyped rubbish. As of 2017, it’s not clear that RTGs have killed a single person in over fifty years of use let alone the tens of thousands the Cassini Cassandras were picturing. The white devils lost patience and did a little back of the envelope calculation that assumed a major Cassini crash that uniformly spread the probe’s “deadly Plutonium” over the entire Earth. Given this absurd worst case scenario, how many excessive cancer deaths could we expect?  The calculation estimated about 5,000 spread over a lifetime: not enough to worry about! Michio Kaku called bullshit on this absurd scenario and quickly concocted his own absurd scenario that had Cassini crashing into a dense urban area with laser guided bomb casualty maximizing effectiveness. This bumped the dark wet dream body count to 200,000. Both calculations were ridiculous. This entire episode is neatly summarized in this Mother Jones (can you believe it) article.

The launch of Cassini and its Earth flyby imposed miniscule risks. Even if things went horribly, but realistically wrong, it’s unlikely the probe would have killed more than a thousand people. Whenever I hear projected death tolls I convert the statistic into one I care about. What are my chances of dying? The Earth’s population was roughly six billion in 1997. The chances of Cassini killing me was at most one in million and probably much less. What type of whiny cowardly snowflake would give up the glories of Cassini for one in million odds of something bad happening? I would have accepted much worse odds.

I wasn’t the only one willing to take an infinitesimal risk to advance human knowledge. Just before Cassini’s launch the anti-Cassini mob planned a march in Washington to screech, wave banners, and go full incontinent leftist ape. In their bush baby brains Cassini had to be stopped. Before 1997 protesters rarely faced counter protesters but Cassini touched a deep nerdy nerve and a small band of pro-Cassini protesters showed up shouting “Don’t be a weenie, launch Cassini,” and like the Greeks at Marathon, they drove the stunted grunting anti-Cassini beasts from the rhetorical field.  I like to imagine the “don’t be a weenie, launch Cassini” ruckus stirred Bill to take a break from dipping cigars in intern vaginas and get on the phone to authorize Cassini’s launch.

Today the pro-Cassini protesters would be erroneously described as “alt-right.” Actually, they were simply and absolutely right as hundreds of thousands of stunning Cassini images, thousands of scientific papers, and dozens of unexpected discoveries about Saturn and its Moons attest. Cassini exceeded everybody’s expectations. The Voyagers were the greatest space probes of the 20th century and Cassini is the greatest of the 21st so far.  If we’re lucky we’ll see Cassini surpassed and that is something to look forward to.

Stop Writing Dead Tree Letters to the Editor

I don’t pay for newspapers anymore and neither should you. The dead tree media is truly and absolutely dead. It serves no function in the modern world and like the What Happened Hildabeast, it needs to FOAD. The collapse of print media and the incontinent wailing of unemployed political operatives with bylines has been duly noted by many and, as much as I love flogging dead horses, that is not why I blogforth today. There is one anachronistic section of dead tree newspapers that still amuses me: letters to the editor.

Who the hell writes letters to the editor these days?

Did these letter writers just wake from a long Rip Van Winkle nap and take up where they left off in the 1960s? Oh, and it definitely is the 1960s. The overwhelming majority of dead tree letters clearly come from the fat furrowed brows of retired old boomer farts that mistake constipation for thought.

As I have said before, even though I am a boomer, nobody hates them more than me.

There’s no point in rehashing the infinitely rehashed. Modern letters to the editor lack the intelligence of blog posts, the pithiness of tweets, the sublimity of poetry or the seriousness of books. They’re vain displays. Look at me; I’ve bamboozled an idiot newspaper editor. Congratulations, you’ve surmounted a bar low enough for Conga champions.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’ve had enough of your letter antics. Please find your way to the nearest online comments section and unleash your inner troll. And, if you must debase yourself to a larger audience start a blog!

Still Totally Awesome

The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, was my fourth complete solar eclipse. I’ve seen two annular eclipses, 1994 and 2012, and two total eclipses, 2001 and 2017. Annular eclipses, or rings of fire, are worthy spectacles but nothing compares to a total solar eclipse. Some things have to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Unless you have stood under the Moon’s shadow you don’t really know what it’s like. Pictures and recordings all miss the mark. Maybe one day, when virtual reality directly hooks into all our senses, it may be possible to record totality but until then you have to get under the Moon’s shadow and, this is absolutely crucial, only totality counts!

Here in the Boise Idaho area, many people decided 99% was good enough. This is not even wrong! The August 21st eclipse took place right in the middle of Western Idaho State Fair and like all make a buck opportunists the fair promoted an “enjoy the eclipse with us event.” There was only one problem: Boise wasn’t in the totality zone so advertising dollars were spent reassuring fair-goers that 99% was close enough; that a measly 1% difference was no big deal; that it wasn’t worth refraining from shoveling junk food down your obese pie-hole on the overpriced midway for a few hours. Cosmic spectacles cannot be allowed to suppress the bottom line.

Fortunately, I knew better. The difference between 99% and 100% is vast. Solar eclipse awesomeness is not linear! It’s actually more like a logarithmic step function with a really big step at totality. XKCD accurately summarized this with his with recent eclipse cartoon. He correctly notes that total solar eclipses are off the scale.

XKCD accurately notes that total solar eclipse “coolness” is off the scale. Totality in on an entirely different plane than partial or annular eclipses.

There was no way I was going to miss totality, especially when it was in my backyard, so we got up at 4:00 am on the 21st and headed east to Mackay Idaho. I’d already driven around southern Idaho and Oregon scouting eclipse watching locations. My preferred location was on Sunset Peak in the Lost River mountain range of Idaho. Unfortunately, Sunset Peak required that we climb the mountain the night before, camp out near the summit, and then wait for the eclipse the next morning. It would have been cool. Sunset Peak is slightly over 3,050 meters with nice views to the west and east. It would have been possible to watch the Moon’s shadow race over the Boise and Sawtooth mountains, blacking out one peak after another. I was all ready to pack up and go but my wife no longer camps out in tents. This is a problem I am still working on.

With the mountain summit vetoed we checked out the Snake River Valley near Huntington Oregon and Stanley Idaho. Both locations are very scenic but both required traversing easily congested roads. To ensure totality we would have had to go the night before. So we were right back to camping in tents. My third option Mackay Idaho was a nice mixture of, easily reached on good roads, large enough to find parking on public lands, and far enough out-of-the-way to avoid big crowds.

Mackay is about four hours from Meridian. To make it before first contact, shortly after 10:00 am local time, and to miss projected heavy traffic, we started at 4:00 am. In retrospect, we could have left later. Traffic was light on I84 and almost nonexistent on Idaho highway 20. We hardly saw another car until Highway 20 crossed the road to Sun Valley. Sun Valley was in the totality zone but it was too far from the center line for me. Leaving early paid off when we reached Craters of the Moon: a smoke reddened Sun was creeping over the eastern horizon and illuminating the black volcanic flows.

We left Meridian at 4:00 am and headed east to Mackay Idaho to see the eclipse. On the way we caught the Sun rising over the Craters of the Moon. It was a good start to eclipse day.

Turning north at Arco Idaho we headed north to Mackay. There was more smoke in the air than I would have liked. The further north we went the thicker the smoke got. When we reached Mackay you could smell the smoke. Mackay sits in a valley. Details on mountains to the east and west were obscured by smoke but the sky was completely clear of clouds and at totality the sun would be high overhead. I worried about smoke’s impact on the corona but I cheered myself up with the thought that sunblock cream wouldn’t be necessary.

Getting ready for totality. This shot shows how much forest fire smoke was in the air. The mountains of the Lost River Range are almost completely obscured in the background. The smoke probably reduced our view of the corona at totality but it increased the darkness and helped cast a deep orange red 360-degree dusk.

Being two hours early Mali decided to nap in the car while I walked around Mackay taking pictures. Main Street was blocked off and street vendors were setting up tented stalls and big meat smokers. Others were busy selling souvenirs. Most of the stores were closed. The eclipse was a good excuse for a holiday. I waited in a donut line and chatted with other eclipse tourists. One Maryland couple had just arrived in a rented car from Salt Lake City. A few Italians had come all the way from Naples. I saw lots of Utah, California, Alberta and Nevada license plates. Total solar eclipses gather the multitudes.

Mackay blocked off Main Street for anticipated eclipse crowds. The number of people that showed up underwhelmed. The only eclipse complaints I am aware of were made by businesses hoping to cash in on massive crowds. Crowds were down over the entire country. Too many people were scared away by horror stories about traffic and the rest bought the malarkey that 99% coverage is close enough to 100%. Eclipses are not tests. That last 1% obscures a vast unfathomable difference.

After checking out downtown Mackay I drifted back to the Centennial Rest Stop where Spanish science students were setting up equipment to observe the eclipse. They had come all the way from Spain to watch the eclipse in tiny Mackay Idaho. The moon’s shadow turns even the most unlikely places into tourist attractions. The scientific utility of total solar eclipses in the 21st century is not what it used to be but eclipses do offer great excuses for globe trekking and the re-enactment of historical experiments. The Spaniards were busy preparing weather balloons and getting ready to photograph the corona. They were also making objective lens solar filters for people who brought binoculars and telephoto lens. I considered having some made for my 16×70 astronomical binoculars but decided against it. Instead, I went back to our car, woke up Mali, and then started hauling eclipsing paraphernalia to the viewing area. Unlike many present, we didn’t have a lot of gear: just binoculars, three-legged folding stools, cell phones, cameras, and eclipse shades. Shortly after setting up our stools the Spanish students started counting down to first contact. Shortly after 10:00 am the eclipse started.

A group of science students came all the way from Spain to watch the eclipse in Mackay Idaho. They brought a collection of telescopes, sun filters, and weather balloons. They released a balloon just before the eclipse, presumably to measure the eclipse induced temperature drop which was considerable. Mackay’s elevation is almost 1800 meters. When the Sun goes down the temperature drops. The wind was blowing from the north and their balloon took off towards the south. They probably had a little road trip to recover it.

At first, people were excited to see the Moon slowly nibble at the Sun’s disk but they quickly quieted down. I got the impression that many were questioning the so-called awesomeness of solar eclipses. It’s just a boring black cookie-bite Sun. What’s the big deal? I think many were also surprised by how long it took for the Moon to cover the sun. I’d seen this phase before so I wandered around the crowd taking pictures while the Moon slowly covered the sun.

Fifteen minutes before totality the changing light was getting hard to ignore. The human eye adapts logarithmically to changing light levels. At this point in the eclipse more than 90% of the sun was covered, dropping light levels by a factor of ten, but it was only in the last five minutes that it became obvious that it was getting dark. I spotted a flock of pigeons gathering on the fences nearby. They were disturbed by the change in routine. As totality approached people started counting down. I peeled off my eclipse shades and glanced directly at the waning light. As the sun squeezed down to a pinhole of brilliant light I saw dazzling rainbow halos around the sun. I’m developing cataracts. When I stare into bright point sources I see rainbow halos. I had never looked at a point source as bright as the Sun and the effect was both beautiful and alarming. I will have to do something about my cataracts in a few years.

At totality, the blasé crowd erupted. Many started squealing, pointing, and yelling. Mali pointed to a flock of pigeons, the same flock I had spotted on the fence before, tearing through the air. I briefly looked all around to see the 360-degree sunset. I was expecting a deep orange dusk all around up but it failed to appear. We were too close to the mountains. Then I pointed my 16×70 binoculars at the eclipsed sun. Three flares were visible and the corona’s filaments were as beautiful as ever. The corona was not as extensive as the 2001 eclipse and the core region near the sun seemed brighter. I looked around for planets and stars. Venus was easy. I was expecting to spot Mercury and Mars but I the only star I saw near the Sun I later identified as Regulus. I didn’t try to photograph my first total solar eclipse but near the end of totality I grabbed my DSLR and fired off a few 300mm telephoto shots just to see what might come up.

I didn’t try and photograph my first total solar eclipse but this time I fired off a few 300mm handheld telephoto shots just to see what might come up. The result was better than I expected.

Then, as suddenly as it started, the Sun burst forth. One bystander yelled, “Do it again!” The small crowd kept buzzing as more of the Sun was exposed. The consensus was, “Yeah, total solar eclipses are freaking awesome and totality is totally worth seeing.” Later, while standing in line to view the Sun and receding Moon through a Hydrogen Alpha filtered telescope, I overheard a fellow in the crowd say, “I’d read about shadow chasers, people who go all over the world to see total eclipses, I thought that was crazy, until today!”

The next total solar eclipse is in 2019. The greatest eclipse is in the Pacific, later the shadow runs over parts of Chile and Argentina. I’ve always wanted to visit the large observatories in Chile and view the southern sky from the super dark high elevation skies of the Atacama. This with totality is close to amateur astronomer heaven.

Idaho Statesman Regurgitates High Precision Hate Calculations

The other day while eating lunch in my employer’s cafeteria I picked up the fish wrap version of the Idaho Statesman. My employer kindly subscribes to the Statesman and scatters copies around the office so I don’t have to spend my money on what is usually a slightly left of center, sane, and boring publication. The Statesman is constrained by the decidedly right of center leanings of Idaho but on some days they let their inner left-wing freak fly and boy did it fly when they boldly reported: Idaho named the second-most hateful state in the U.S.

I always thought we were number one!

I read the article to see who beat us in the prestigious hate rankings and would you believe Montana.


My Spidey statistics sense started tingling. Was it my fault? In the last year I have lived in both Idaho and Montana, and being a hate group of one, I hate the sloppy use of misleading statistics, I may have skewed the rankings. Some co-workers remarked that if I only I had moved from Montana earlier Idaho would be number one.

Whenever I see overtly political opinions expressed with decimals I set my bullshit detectors on eleven and start analyzing the data, not the drivel.

Exactly how were these state hate rankings calculated? Here is how it’s done.

  1. The South Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has developed a precise scientific instrument that determines if arbitrary groups of people are a hate group. Compared to the SPLC hate group meter LIGO’s detection of gravity waves is just trivial physics. In case you are wondering I am being sarcastic. There are no hate group meters! SPLC designations cannot be checked like the mass of the electron can be checked. They are merely expressing opinions about groups they don’t like. However, for the sake of calculation, let’s assume SPLC hate group counts reflect some fundamental reality.
  2. State hate rankings are expressed as hate groups per million. For example, Idaho’s ranking is 7.1/million. This value is computed by the simple formula.

(one million/state population) * (SPLC hate group count)

          Plugging in the SPLC values for Idaho we get:

(1000000/1695178) * 12 = 7.078902629

Which, when rounded up1 to one decimal, equals 7.1; this matches the value reported by 24/7 Wall Street: the primary source cited by the Statesman.

I put together a little spreadsheet that applies this naive calculation to the ten most hateful states and it completely replicates the 24/7 hate ranking. The recalculated values are shown below and if you really must check my calculations you can download my spreadsheet from here.

State Population HateGroups PerMillionRatio CalcHateFactor RepHateFactor
Montana 1,052,343 10 0.950260514 9.502605139 9.6
Idaho 1,695,178 12 0.589908552 7.078902629 7.1
Mississippi 2,990,113 18 0.334435521 6.019839384 6
Tennessee 6,705,339 38 0.149134891 5.667125853 5.7
Alabama 4,884,115 27 0.204745384 5.528125362 5.6
Arkansas 3,000,942 16 0.3332287 5.331659192 5.4
Kentucky 4,450,042 23 0.22471698 5.168490545 5.2
Virginia 8,492,783 39 0.117747033 4.592134286 4.6
Missouri 6,123,362 24 0.16330898 3.919415511 3.9
Indiana 6,663,280 26 0.150076239 3.901982207 3.9
reference  http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/

Now, for extra credit, what is wrong with this calculation? Remember, I am assuming SPLC’s dubious and entirely subjective hate group counts are correct and I am using current state populations. So what is wrong? What renders this apparently precise analysis utterly meaningless, deceptive, and frankly so stupid that numerate adults should be embarrassed to parrot such nonsense in public.

If you haven’t spotted the problem yet ask yourself. “How big are these hate groups?”

I come from Montana. It doesn’t surprise me that Montana harbors ten “hate groups”, but what does that mean? It probably means there are a few dozen nuts running around in fatigues kicking dogs and yelling at people to keep off their property. You need to know how many people are in the “hate groups” to calculate a meaningful per capita statistic. Group hate is not a thing but individual hate is!

I suspect the 24/7 authors and the Statesman know that ratio ranking is, to use a millennial word, “problematic”, but we all know the primary purpose of such facile reports (fake news) is to provide a seemingly credible reference that can be re-tweeted, and linked, ad infinitum by innumerate partisan dolts when they’re enjoying their five-minute social media hates.

  1. The SPLC is a left-wing organization so they will round-up. White supremacists and other wrong-thinkers will round down.

I Help Fat Little Kim Pick Nuke Targets



Kim, you can’t be serious! I realize you live in a self-imposed hermit kingdom where questioning your fat headed notions results in being thrown to actual dogs but surely you’re aware of Baker’s Law of American Cluelessness.

No matter what the topic of conversation roughly one-third of the American public won’t have a freaking clue what you’re talking about.

I can assure you that an embarrassingly large percentage of Americans have no idea where, or what, Guam is and, even more disturbingly, even if they know it’s an island somewhere in the Pacific they may think it’s in danger of tipping over if too many people stand on one end.

Let’s suppose you lose your mind, (I’m being sarcastic Kim), and nuke Guam. If we don’t immediately destroy you can expect this from the American public.

  1. Eco-morons and Green-twits will start worrying about nuclear fallout drifting ashore in California and write earnest ignorant Internet screeds about isotopes of Iodine. Kim, as a devoted Korean hater of all things Japanese, I’m sure you remember the great Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Isn’t it great when nature kills your enemies for free? More than 15,000 Japanese citizens died and, oh yeah, the tsunami also wrecked a nuclear power plant: Fukushima. American eco-imbeciles quickly forgot about the earthquake and the thousands of dead bodies scattered by the tsunami and started worrying about traces of Fukushima radiation polluting their pure bodily fluids. If you blow up Guam these idiots will ignore your glorious Guam body count and start agonizing about radioactive kale and the impact of fallout on the transgendered.
  2. Old school American commies, (yes Kim we still have them and they’re even more delusional than your commies), will look past your selecting Guam as a target, issuing orders to attack it, and them calmly murdering thousands of innocents and find some way to blame a white capitalist guy. You see Kim, as a nonwhite Asian dude, you have no moral agency. Even if you think you are making choices it’s really just a reaction to what some white capitalist guy did to you, or your bat-shit crazy dad, or some distant ancestor, at some unspecified time in the past. Nothing is ever your fault. This is good news for professional western victims but kind of tarnishes your great Asian conqueror image. For western commies, there are no Asian Genghis Khan’s.
  3. Our uniformly imbecilic fake-news-ers, also known as the media, will finally have a topic worthy of 24/7 bloviating. They’ll be thrilled that an atomic emergency might result in people watching them again. Of course, they’ll quickly sabotage their transient relevance by staging talking-head-a-thons about “proportional responses” to being nuked. If a misunderstood adversary uses a forty kiloton nuke on your civilians is it a crime to retaliate with a megaton?
  4. Finally, most of the American public will be deeply pissed. They’ll cheer when a submarine pops a thermonuclear cap in your fat ass.

Kim nuking Guam is a big suicidal mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy grand gestures and heroic deaths. Achilles didn’t garner eternal glory by coming home from the Trojan War and growing olives. I know you’re under pressure to live up to dear dead old dad and to dearer older deader granddad. I know you feel inadequate and will never be worthy of the aggrandizing bullshit you force feed your people. So let me help you by selecting nuke worthy American targets. Don’t misconstrue my help. If you hit any of the following we will still exterminate you and your comrades.

Instead of Guam consider:

  1. Washington D.C: I can’t think of a more nuke worthy target. I know D.C. may be a long shot for your tiny-penis-ICBMs but if you can hit D.C. please have a whack. Trump’s swamp draining hasn’t been going very well. Maybe a swamp nuking would be more effective. The downside of nuking D.C. is that many Americans would secretly cheer it on. We’ll appreciate the irradiated swamp but we’ll still nuke you in return.
  2. Los Angeles, especially the Hollywood’ey bits: Americans love their vacuous entertainments and the empty-headed narcissistic preening nitwits that make them. You can’t imagine what a death-blow it would be to forego the next Marvel movie or another ManBearPig lecture. We’ll miss the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory but eagerly look forward to next years Dead Celebrity Roll at the relocated Oscars. Oh, we’ll still nuke your ass, even for Hollywood.
  3. Silicon Valley: Recent Goolag’ey events have many Americans wondering if the hubris infused innovators of Silicon Valley have lost their mojo. Detonating nukes will take their powerful minds off disturbing notions of gender based intellectual differences and focus them on finding blast proof safe spaces. Great minds need real problems. Kim, about the only downside of nuking Silicon Valley, is that Facebook won’t be able to tally your “Likes.” It sucks to be radioactive rubble. Oh, and we still nuke you.
  4. Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington: Oregon and Washington would be relatively sane states if these tumors were excised: just saying. Oh, we still nuke your ass.

Kim, you can’t win but with judicious target selection, you can make a difference. As a wise shoe maker once said: “Just do it!”

I WannaCry about the Plunging Quality of Evil Geniuses

I have something to confess; I have no patience or sympathy for idiots. When imbeciles impale themselves on reality I smirk and guffaw. With such a nasty attitude it won’t surprise you to learn that I really enjoyed the recent WannaCry Ransomware cyber attack. Judging from the mewling soiled diaper press you might conclude civilization was dealt a death-blow and that idiot Trump is to blame.

What really happened?

  1. The NSA “cataloged”1 a security flaw in Windows XP and didn’t inform anyone.
  2. The flaw was leaked.
  3. Hackers exploited the flaw to infect old Windows computers.
  4. They encrypted files and tried to ransom victims using Bitcoin.

It’s stupid all the way down!

To begin, Windows XP is ancient. Microsoft spent years warning people to upgrade to more current versions of Windows. The warnings went on for years and years and years. Yet despite this relentless nagging an army of morons refused to upgrade. Now these shiftless dolts are blaming others.

“Microsoft should support obsolete crap forever for free.”

“Teresa May didn’t give us enough money to upgrade our computers.”

“What’s the point of rudimentary computer security when Trump is going to nuke us?”

Most WannaCry victims are suffering self-inflicted wounds. Let’s hope some of them bleed to death.

As for the NSA, that festering hive of evil geniuses, you would think they would have learned something from the strong encryption battles and the Snowden affair but apparently not. Judging from recent history the NSA stands for NOT SECURE AGENCY. They’re leaking more than a menstruating woman without sanitary napkins. The entire notion of stockpiling software defects to use at a later date is cosmically stupid because it presumes software is static. Software is always changing: sometimes for good reasons. Your backdoor will probably close with the next compiler or OS release. Some quality assurance drone may notice your favorite backdoor and release a patch. This happens all the time, just read the notices that accompany standard updates and patches. At best stockpiling defects is a short-term tactical gimmick. Frankly, I expect more from the deep thinkers at the NSA.

It’s sad but evil hacking geniuses still depend on dumb users. The odds of obsolete, unsupported, and unpatched software being able to fend off NSA hacks is low but it rapidly approaches zero when dimwitted dolts respond to phishing attacks. How many “don’t click on unsolicited links” warnings must be issued before corporate cubicle warmers smarten up?

“But if I don’t click on this link I might miss consuming more useless crap?”

Finally, using Bitcoin for ransom purposes is unbelievably stupid.

WannaCry hackers you’re using the wrong cryptocurrency!

The Bitcoin blockchain is darn close to a perfect forensic tool. Once a transaction is recorded on the chain it can never be altered, erased, denied or fudged. You’re dropping indestructible breadcrumbs. It’s an audit trail on steroids. It’s like the idiot WannaCry hackers want to be caught!

Many feeble minds still think Bitcoin is anonymous. This was sort of true in the very early days of Bitcoin when nobody gave a shit about it and no serious money was changing hands. The world has changed. Bitcoin has been outperforming all fiat currencies for the last two years. A single coin is now worth more the $1,700 US – more than an ounce of gold. Serious money is now changing hands in the Bitcoin universe and when serious money is present the usual financial rapists and apex predators, your local taxation authorities, descend like vultures on a carcass.

Because the blockchain is immutable and open it’s relatively easy to de-anonymize. An entire software industry has sprung up to do just this. Once you associate a person with a Bitcoin address you can easily and reliably follow the money. De-anonymizing Bitcoin has been going on for years. I just assume the entire blockchain is already de-anonymized which makes Bitcoin just about the worst possible choice for ransoms.

Despite all the amusing stupidity on display here, the WannaCry hack has inadvertently established a proper baseline test for an advanced privacy preserving cryptocurrency. A proper private and secure cryptocurrency should be a nearly perfect money laundering tool! I’m looking forward to the day when real evil geniuses, not WannaCry wannabes, stage a massive ransomware attack, collect a massive buttload of untraceable coin, and then spend it right under the noses of the word’s taxation and intelligence agencies. When this glorious day arrives we, the little wage slaves, the deplorables, the lumpen-proletariat, will finally have some financial privacy! Remember, if your money isn’t free then neither are you!

Until then I just WannaCry!

  1. It’s not clear they discovered the flaw but however it was found they withheld it.

What is Required: Citizen Environment Sampling Drones

We are well into the drone age. Not long ago drones served only deep-pocketed governments and corporations. This is still the case. Whenever you hear about drone strikes on wedding parties, oops terrorist gatherings, the “responsible” drone is probably a standard overpriced multimillion dollar product of the military industrial crony complex. Why dispatch terrorists with a few bullets when you can spend millions of newly created and freshly taxed dollars instead? War may be hell but business is business.

If things had been left to the druthers of the crony crowd the cozy world of cost-plus drones would have lasted forever but then technology happened. Remember those annoying toy quadcopters that flew around the atriums of shopping malls just a few years ago. You probably thought, “That’s a cute toy” Well those cheap little toys have grown up and are now cleaning power lines with flame throwers, carrying drugs across borders,1 smuggling contraband into prisons, annoying eagles, dropping grenades on ISIS, and taking really great selfies.

It’s an airborne “Drone-cue.”  The age of the drone is just getting started. These gadgets will be put to all sorts of uses. Monitoring the environment, with or without the permission of authorities, is an excellent use of drones.

Small inexpensive drones are being put to so many creative uses that it’s beginning to worry our self-appointed overlords. You don’t need crony connections and millions of dollars to launch drone attacks. Any moron with an iPhone and a drone can declare war on the ruling classes. Not many see it but we’re entering a golden age of drone assassins. Small drones will continue to improve and diversify. They will fly further, faster and quieter. They will creep, climb, tunnel and bore through any obstacle. Whatever silly government legislation and anti-drone measures authorities concoct will be quickly countered and worked around. The drone genie, like strong encryption before it, is out of the bottle and it isn’t going back in. Basically, if you’re somebody that needs killing a drone is being assigned your number right now.

As much as I enjoy drone enabled asshole termination that’s not what I am requiring today. If you’ve been paying attention to what’s precisely labeled “fake news” you’ve probably noticed that a strange tweeting orange ogre has moved into the White House. Yes, it’s the end of the world. One of the ogre’s first outrages was to appoint like-minded ogres to allegedly important government posts. Imagine that!

Of great concern to “so-called” environmentalists is the ogre appointed to behead the EPA. This cruel EPA slayer is not drinking the Earth first Kool-Aid and appears determined to end the cushy pensioned sinecures of all the left-thinking, environment protecting, comrades. Like I said before, it’s the end of the world. Apparently, after a few, and I mean a very few, underperforming EPA comrades are purged this critical government agency will become deaf, dumb and blind.2 All that wonderful EPA air and water quality data will no longer be collected. Only large infusions of newly created and freshly taxed money can prevent this apocalypse.

For Christ sakes, cry me an orange river!

Critics of Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA should keep in mind that the bar for “wrecking” the EPA has been set very low by the Obama administration. It was the EPA that turned the Animas River orange. Yes, it was an unfortunate accident, and sometimes you have to destroy the river in order to save it. Two states and the Navajo Nation are suing the EPA for gross negligence and incompetence and based on images like this I’m guessing they have a case.

If you really care about the environment get off your fat corn syrup enlarged ass and collect your own data with drones. I’ve listened to cis-lefties insist they are smarter, fitter and better looking than their evil cis-righty counterparts for years. Well, here’s an opportunity to prove it. Instead of marching for science why don’t you modify or build drones that can actually do science.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Erin Brockovich shows our spunky girl-power heroine played by Julia Roberts3 sneaking onto the grounds of a power plant to clandestinely sample waste water ponds. She was caught and shooed away but not before she snagged water samples that contained Hexavalent Chromium: the same, unnaturally occurring, compound that also turned up in the drinking water of people living near the plant. What a coincidence? Erin may have been a spunky go getter but chemistry was the real hero.

Erin was taking a real risk sneaking onto “private property.” In many parts of the world, she would have been shot and dumped into the wastewater ponds. How many of us would take such a risk? If only there was a way to reduce the risks of clandestine sampling. If only there was a small, hard to detect, quiet, remote-controlled device that could fly into “forbidden zones”, sample areas of interest, and then fly out with physical evidence.

It wouldn’t be all that difficult to modify existing drones to do this. It would make a great science fair project. Think of how much better things would be if pinheaded SJWs stopped enumerating new imaginary genders and devoted their time and energy to mastering the technology required to build and operate sampling drones. Instead of being an embarrassing stain on humanity they might actually do some good.

Finally, combine clandestine drone sampling with blockchain based unbannable binary file distribution and it’s possible to create the type of “transparency” political buttheads are always blathering about but never actually provide.

  1. The advent of drones highlights the utter stupidity of Trump’s border wall. How high will the wall have to be to stop drones from flying over it? How many anti-drone-drones will need to be stationed along the wall to secure the border?
  2. Considering that the EPA is already deaf and dumb how bad can blind be?
  3. I admit it; I’ve seen too many Julia Roberts movies. Like many mainly manly men, I have a thing for nice smiles and boobs and no amount of feminist nagging will change that.