Category Archives: Death Of Common Sense

Random Season Changes

It seems that with the pandemic and work-from-home thing for 18 months and feeling busier than God 24/7/365, the “seasons” have cut loose from their traditional moorings. As a result it’s feeling more and more like daily life in the Twilight Zone.

One thing here in California is that it seems to now be open season for the GOP television ads on the gubernatorial recall to be shown on every channel all day. (I’m assuming – there are a LOT of channels I don’t watch, and never will, but they seem to be on every channel I’m watching. I must be their target audience.) I’ve seen them for four different candidates already today. It invokes absolutely no surprise to see that each one is a bigger douche canoe than the previous one.

That’s going to get really annoying really fast. I might turn into a crotchety, cranky old man over this one. I might have to limit my television between now and September 14th to “Ted Lasso” next Friday and the Chiefs’ game on the 12th. However, given that the Chiefs’ game is right before the election, the ads might make it unwatchable. Perhaps I’ll listen to that one on the internet radio instead, even if it is on TV.

And Halloween candy went on sale at the grocery store three weeks ago. My first display sighting was on the weekly grocery run on the 8th. I know they get earlier and earlier, but really? A full month before Labor Day and we’re already getting Halloween candy?

Any bets on when the first Christmas stuff will hit the grocery stores? This week?

When my faith in the future of humanity is taking heavy fire from all quarters on a minute by minute basis, this isn’t helping. If you see something on the news about someone going berserk in a SoCal grocery store over Christmas candy in August…

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Long Valley Flowers

Last Saturday we were in Palm Springs. One of the things that I love to do but don’t do nearly often enough is hiking out in the woods and getting out into the wild a bit.

Outside of Palm Springs is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which goes from the desert floor (at about 2,600′ elevation and 110ºF+) to the top of San Jacinto Peak (at about 8,500′ elevation and 65ºF). At the station on the top there’s a fairly steep ramp that goes down about 100′ to the floor of Long Valley where there are a couple of short (0.75 miles and 1.50 miles) day hike trails. I took the longer, “Desert View Loop” trail.

Along the way I saw these flowers.

They really stand out!

No clue what they are. A Google image search found a lot of African flowers that are bright red and growing out of pine needle ground cover, but the closest I found for a southwest US setting was captioned “scarlet gilia, also called skyrocket.” That ‘s probably not quite correct, but it might be close.

Anyway, when I eventually go out on what I thought was going to be a 30 minute day hike over flat ground and instead spend two hours going 2.5 miles at 8,415 feet including two fairly steep trails going up a couple hundred feet and thin air with (STUPIDLY!! 🤨 Yes, I do know better 😫 ) no water at my age thinking in my poor, pathetic brain that I’m still 25 instead of 65, when that day comes and it finally kills me (I hope that day will be far in the future, but…), plant some of these on my grave. 😁



Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Flowers, Freakin' Idiots!, Health, Paul, Photography, Travel

Before You Freak Out Over The Coronavirus…

…get your flu shot!

It’s indicative of how we’ve lost all ability to do any kind of sane risk management. The new Chinese coronavirus has killed 170 people, which could actually be ten times that – but it’s in a country of over a billion people. There are five, maybe six people in this country who have it and it’s front page news. They’re cancelling flights to China for weeks. Every news hour shows folks coming into US airports and being screened and quarantined.

Five, maybe six people.

And yet the flu kills, on average, over 8,000 people a year in this country.

Not five people. Or six. OVER 8,000. And in a bad year that can double.

Not sick. Dead.

Did you get your flu shot this year?


Then STFU about coronavirus.


Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Health

Twitter Time Out

There’s a story I tell about my childhood transition from six years of Catholic school in Kansas City to the public school system in the Chicago suburbs.

Suffice it to say there were…differences…between the two environments. In Catholic school I was an altar boy, incredibly sanctimonious, indoctrinated into Catholic doctrine, and probably on the fast track to be the first American Pope. A few short months later as I hit middle school in the Buffalo Grove School District I was frantically trying to keep my head above water socially and stumbling through a process by which I might become a thinking human being again.

The punch line to the story is, “I started that summer thinking that if I told someone to ‘go to Hell,’ the ground would open up at my feet and Satan would personally appear to escort me to Hell on the spot. By the end of the summer, I was telling people to fuck off and not thinking twice about it.”

That line came back to me today as I’ve been put in 12-hour Twitter Timeout for “potentially abusive behavior” when the only thing I can think of that I possibly would have done is tell some wannabe bot account to “go to Hell.”

Who knew that my pre-teen psychological terrors would come to life fifty-plus years later courtesy of an overly aggressive Twitter algorithm?

(Warning – my Twitter presence is much more political and swear-ish than this site. I don’t suffer fools gladly, and there are a lot of them over on Twitter.)

Perusing my timeline this afternoon, I ran across this:

Bullshit right-wing propaganda, probably from a bot account. I was in the mood to respond, as I had been to similar subhuman cretins for a while.

“…some potentially abusive behavior…”

I don’t see it. If we can’t call a lie a lie and call a liar a liar, we’ve lost. It’s a bot, so the account should be deleted. If somehow it’s actually a human, they really do need to think about their life choices.

And then I said “Please go to Hell.” I didn’t even remember saying “please.” How is that “potentially abusive?”

About half a second after posting this, I got a message from Twitter:

The only thing I can think now is that it might be coincidental that this notice showed up just as I posted that particular response. I had been on a roll for an hour or so. Nothing anywhere near meeting any rational definition of “abusive” or “threatening”, but I do recall the phrase “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” being used several times. It was sort of a theme for the day, in particular to a string of right-wing, wannabe fascists who think that…

(*breathe*) (*again*)

Let’s say that we strongly disagree on a number of political and social topics and our visions for the future of our country are highly divergent.

In “Bull Durham” (an all-time favorite film) Crash Davis only gets thrown out of a game by an umpire after using a certain “magic word” in an argument. Maybe I’ll try that next time. At least then I’ll know WHY I’m being put in Twitter Timeout!

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How Steven King Novels Start

It’s just a tiny little gap in the database. Yeah, that’s it! Nothing to worry about. I’ll just go that way and see where it goes, because that’s where the GPS is telling me to go. No worries.

But if I’m never heard from again…

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Note To Morons

I’ve recently mentioned those who, beyond all concept of common sense, believe the Earth to in fact be flat.

How do you explain this?

Image from Flight Aware

That plane is flying a straight line to a very good first approximation. It’s the shortest route between Los Angeles and Seoul, while accounting for things like Russian air space and North Korea.

If, from this view, the “shortest route” would be pretty much due west from LAX, passing just north of Hawaii, then why would the airlines routinely fly from LAX, up the US and Canadian west coast, along Alaska, crossing the Aleutian Islands, down the Russian coast, and across Japan? Given that the price of gas is by far the number one variable in the profitability or viability of modern airlines, do you really think they would do this on every single flight for every single airline, just to keep up the conspiracy and illusion that the Earth is flat?

If you won’t believe or trust science and math, then just follow the money.


Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Freakin' Idiots!

This Is My Surprised Face – December 28th

In my Twitter feed I follow the New York Times. (Big surprise!) Not only do I see news articles there, but also links to their travel, movie reviews, health, sports, and other articles.

Just now I saw a tweet with the headline, “Being a couch potato is worse for your health than you may have thought.” In short, the article from earlier this month says that a study indicates that if you sit around on your butt all day and then exercise, you get far fewer benefits from the exercise than if you’re moderately active during the day before you exercise.

That’s not so surprising, but I guess it’s good to actually do the study. They’ll be following up with different groups of people to see if the same applies to the 85% of the planet’s population which isn’t young, male, and white. (Before anyone gets all snarky, besides me of course, I understand the reason to start with a group that’s got as little variety as possible. It eliminates or at least reduces some of the variables that could be affecting the results. Once you have that baseline, then you can start doing studies to change one variable at a time.)

What caught my attention though was that headline in the tweet. “Being a couch potato is worse for your health than you may have thought.” Maybe it’s me, but I pretty much thought that being a couch potato put you on the fast track to an early death, so I’m not sure how much worse it could get.

I’m sure there are people who sit on the couch (or the bed, or the chair, or the floor, or whatever) all day AND smoke two packs a day AND pound back a six-pack of brewskies every day AND gorge themselves on a half-gallon of ice cream every day. Yes, that would be worse than just being a couch potato. Statistically I’m sure those people die forty years earlier than the rest of us, but that’s not what the headline is pointing to.

No, I’m wondering about the implied, “Sure, I’m a couch potatoe (sorry, channeling Dan Quayle there!) potato for fourteen hours a day, but that walk around the block with the dog every other day is going to keep me right up there with the Olympic decathlete who lives next door!”

I didn’t think about it for long. The New York Times’ tweets then went on to mention people and events from our current political and social malaise, where everyone’s not just allowed to believe in their own separate reality and facts, but they’re expected to.

To that extent, the findings of this report might help a few people, those who are still thinking on their own instead of gobbling up every bit of BS from every clickbait site out there on the internet. To the rest of us, well, the thing about having your own reality is that the Universe doesn’t care. Enjoy your couch and your early grave!

Me, I think I’ll make sure I get up and walk every time my watch barks at me tomorrow.



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Reality Check

This image from Saturn was released by NASA and JPL today. It shows the moon Mimas 28,000 miles beyond the outer rings of Saturn and 114,000 miles from the Cassini spacecraft.


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

You can read more at the JPL/NASA website here.

This image is spectacular, to say the least, and it has made its round on various websites today. On many of the sites I visited, the comments very quickly were spotted with (or deluged with) ignorant rantings about how the image was “obviously” fake.

Imagine that. A significant percentage of the population, and a particularly vocal percentage at that, consider this image and those like it to be “fake news.”

Meanwhile, a significant percentage of the population is absolutely convinced that articles about things like “pizzagate” are 100% factual, accurate, and true.

Imagine that. A significant percentage of the population, and a particularly vocal percentage at that, think it’s been proven to be true that Hillary Clinton and some secret international cabal are running a pedophilia and child smuggling ring out of the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the stomach to do it, but I wonder if anyone has waded through the ignorance, hatred, filth, and outright freakin’ stupidity on these people’s web pages, Facebook posts, and Twitter rants to see how much cross correlation there is between the two groups. Maybe someone far smarter than me could write a ‘bot or app that could do the searching based on certain keywords so that no rational human would have to be exposed to that possibly fatal level of batshit crazy.

My gut feeling is that the correlation is disturbingly high.

This could be one of reasons we’ve got the problems we have.

Just guessing.




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Filed under Astronomy, Death Of Common Sense, Freakin' Idiots!, Space

They Crossed A Line

The Long-Suffering Wife is addicted to Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. She watches the Valentine’s Day love stories (which start about January 2nd) and the June wedding love stories (which start about February 15th) and the Halloween love stories (which start July 1st)… You get the picture. But while she watches those, she’s addicted to the Christmas movies.

This is no doubt better than being addicted to crack cocaine or heroin (I guess it’s sort of being addicted to heroine?) but some of these movies can make me question just how much better.

I end up watching bits and pieces of many (most?) of them because, while they certainly wouldn’t be my first choice for viewing, I like spending some time every night with my wife (go figure!) and I can get some work done on my phone, tablet, or laptop while relegating the movie to background noise where possible.

My issue is usually that they’re just so predictable and formulaic. I can come in during the middle of one I’ve never seen and in 30 seconds or less say, “That’s the heroine who’s engaged to the successful but stuck up rich boy toy who doesn’t stand a chance against the flannel-wearing goofy funny good ol’ boy in the small town where she’s going to amazingly find a way to find the true meaning and save Christmas while also ending up under the mistletoe with flannel boy.”

There are occasionally mitigating factors that make the viewing less stressful for me. Alicia Witt. Lacey Chabert. Danica McKellar.

On the other hand, the other night there was “Journey Back To Christmas.”

I can ignore the really lame time travel story. I’ve been reading science fiction for well over fifty years. Sometimes time travel is done really well, sometimes it’s an excuse to take a really boring story and try to make it different, and everything in between. No matter, time travel? Meh.

No, it’s the incredibly bad depiction of a comet, a key plot point, that had me ready to throw things at the screen.

Folks, you don’t have to be an astronomer to know that comets don’t streak across the sky like fireworks for two minutes and then vanish. People don’t stand out in the village square at just the right moment and “there it is!” so cue the oohs, the aahs, the awe, the magic and there it goes!

Comets are typically seen months, if not years before they’re at their brightest. Look back and see how many months I tried to get decent pictures of Comet Lovejoy. They start out dim, way out in the far reaches of the solar system, gradually brighten as they get closer to the sun and start to boil off gasses, then dim again as they move back out into the depths of the solar system or interstellar space, frozen snowballs.

If they happen to get close enough to Earth at just the right time, which can happen a couple of times a century, a comet can be big, bright, and close to Earth. It will be news. It will be front page news for about two months beforehand and for months and months afterward.

These guys stumbled across a reference to it in an old diary or newspaper…

So, to recap:

  • Huge
  • Bright
  • Flashes across sky in a handful of minutes
  • Has a tail that stretches from horizon to horizon
  • They’re the only ones who know about it
  • They only know about it because they got lucky
  • One minute it’s not there, the next it is, then it’s gone again

What utter bullshit!

Friends, if a comet comes by that catches us that off-guard, it’s only doing so because it’s doing 0.9c, traveling just in front of its light wave. Let me tell you, if something that big is coming that close to Earth at 0.9c, it had better have Bruce Willis sitting on it with a nuke (or Robert Duvall – a better movie by far) or our ass is grass.

But if it’s passing by at 0.9c, it’s going from horizon to horizon in well under a second. There’s no way it has a tail – it never lingered near the sun close enough to start melting. And there’s most certainly no way that it’s periodic and coming back in 71 years. That sucker’s going to be fifty light-years past Alpha Centauri and outbound in 71 years.

Sappy story? No worries.

Stupid plot? Okay.

Half-drawn caricatures for characters? As expected.

Actors we recognize who really, really should be getting better roles? Hey, it’s a paycheck.

Time travel? It’s different for a Hallmark Christmas movie, but hey, isn’t “A Christmas Carol” sort of a time travel Christmas story as well?

But have a huge, key, major plot point revolve around getting 3rd grade astronomy so very, very wrong that there are ten-year olds watching and yelling, “What the hell is wrong with these freakin’ idiots??!!”

That’s when they crossed a line.


Filed under Astronomy, Death Of Common Sense, Entertainment, Movies

Poor, Poor Apple Computers

And by “poor” I mean that they ONLY made $50.56 BILLION dollars in the first quarter of the year. To be clear, we’re not talking “millions” and we’re not not talking an entire year. That’s not a typo.

$50.56 billion dollars in revenue in three months.

Yet it’s looked upon as a disaster because the pundits and analysts on Wall Street were expecting $51.97 billion.

You can’t even comprehend those kinds of numbers. It’s Monopoly money.

So I want all of you, every single one, to get out there tomorrow and buy a new iPhone or a new iPad. Maybe a new MacBook Air. Or better yet, one of each!

Go buy them on a credit card with 24% interest. That will make those guys (and it’s always guys) on Wall Street happy again, and we all know how important that is. If they can’t buy a second or third tropical island or small third-world country, how will they keep up with the Koch Brothers?

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