The Latest Trump Flop

I can’t say I’m surprised that Trump has now flipped his opinion on immigration, now supporting a plan that is not a mile distant from the plans promoted by Rubio and Bush, which he previously denounced as amnesty. In fact, his speech on this change used many of the exact same words Bush used (this isn’t amnesty, they will pay back taxes, etc.). Trump has no deeply held positions; he has a series of publicity stunts. And now that he’s down in the polls, he’s trying to tack left to pick up votes from moderates. Or, equally likely, pick up wavering conservatives who were bothered by his rhetoric on immigration.

What makes this really delightful, however, is that he did this on the same day that Ann Coulter released her latest book “In Trump We Trust”. Coulter has been having a fit over on Twitter. Viz:

If Trump did this just to fuck with Coulter, I may have to reassess my opinion of the man. That would be Olympic caliber trolling.

A Hit, A Miss, And As Opportunity Squandered

Last night I re watched The Adjustment Bureau ( no Olympics and just pre season football, what else am I going to do?) A smart romantic thriller, highly recommended, and in typical Hollywood style, never misses a chance to portray Democrats as principled, hip, compassionate, and ideally suited to run the country. This would be Senator (soon to be president if he just follows the plan) is seen schmoozing with the likes of John Stewart, Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton, and John Podesta. Between Hollywood, the MSM, and academia, all shaping (manipulating) the young minds of the low information voter, the GOP has no chance.

Subtle persuasions like this works, but sometimes they go full shark jumping and get it horrible wrong, hence their latest foray into the demise of the Second Amendment;

My guess, not a single ticket sold in Texas for this dopey movie, maybe California or New York, but Texas?

Some obvious contractions. Women like a) their guns, and b) sex as much as the guys. Hell, every married man knows that its usually the wife pestering about sex, we just want to be left alone on Monday night, accompanied by a well stocks fridge {Neanderthal here, raising hand}. The other fallacy, in Texas kids learn how to field strip and shoot guns way before they learn how to ride a bike. No kid is going to bring that estrogen screaming sissy handgun to school, then accidentally have it go off. That family would have to move immediately, out of shame.

Not all ideas coming out of Hollywood are bad. Now here is something with potential, then you read this at the bottom and realize you have been punked;

Disclaimer: All stories on this site are satire and the opinions expressed do not belong to any real people. If persons appear in the picture they have nothing to do with the story.

It wasn’t really original anyway;

Still, the mind wanders.

The Nearest Earth

Well, it’s 24 trillion miles away, but at least we now have somewhere to go once Clintrump send us on a spiral of doom:

In this golden age of exoplanetary science the announcement of a planet 30% more massive than the Earth, in an 11.2 day orbit around a low-mass star with a luminosity 0.15% of the Sun’s would usually elicit little more than a raised eyebrow.

Except for the fact that this world orbits the nearest star to ours; Proxima Centauri.

It means that at a cosmically trifling 24 trillion miles (4.243 light years) from where you are at this instant is an alien system with a planet that could conceivably harbor life as we know it. That planet is estimated to be around 4.9 billion years old, it receives about 65% of the Earth’s stellar irradiation, and its skies – whatever else is in them – are bathed in the red-hued rays of a diminutive star only 12% the mass of our Sun.
Say hello to the closest truly alien world.

The planet was discovered by the very small doppler shift its orbit induces in Proxima Cen. Way back in 1993, I did a presentation in my astrophysics class in which I claimed that this was the best approach to finding extrasolar planets. My professor — who was and is a good friend and a brilliant man — thought I was crazy, that we would never be able to measure doppler shift precisely enough to find Earth-like planets. So every time we do find one this way, I still feel a little thrill of vindication.

There are actually plans to send a probe to a nearby world. Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner is funding a program to send a tiny probe at a significant fraction of the speed of light to a nearby star. It would be a very quick visit. But talking with my exoplanet colleagues this summer, it sounds like he’s serious and this could be done. The main hurdle to be overcome is how to pack it with enough power to transmit a signal back to Earth.

The more we look at the universe, the more ubiquitous we find planets to be. So I’m not entirely surprised by this. The universe is teeming with planets and the number of potentially habitable planets almost certainly numbers in the billions. If we live long enough, we will see a space telescope get a spectrum of a nearby planet’s atmosphere. And then it’s only a matter of time until we find a signal of life in another star system.

In the meantime, let’s hope we one day get off our butts and get moving. The universe is at our doorstep.

All the Rents That Shall Be Paid

The taxi business has been one sweet gig for corrupt city leaders. Taxis pay enormous fees for medallions in order to be officially licensed. The city, in turn, helps them establish a monopoly so that poor service, high fees and a refusal to go to certain areas of town don’t cost them market share.

Uber and Lyft have challenged this status quo. So what do you do?

How about make them pay blood money to taxi cartel?

Massachusetts is preparing to levy a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the nickel fee into law this month as part of a sweeping package of regulations for the industry.

Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors,” said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police.

The law levies a 20-cent fee in all, with 5 cents for taxis, 10 cents going to cities and towns and the final 5 cents designated for a state transportation fund.

The fee may raise millions of dollars a year because Lyft and Uber alone have a combined 2.5 million rides per month in Massachusetts.

Does anyone, does anyone think this fee will stay at 20 cents a ride? Anyone? In the back there? No? You with the beard? Yeah, didn’t think so.

And that’s a Republican governor who signed this piece of garbage. You almost have to admire the brazenness of it. This isn’t regulating Uber like a taxi service, which you could at least argue levels the playing field (although it really doesn’t). This is forcing an innovator to subsidize their rival. It is as if we’d taxed Netflix and given the money to Blockbuster.

Some Final Lochte Thoughts

The basically whole lot of nothing scandal is over, so now NBC doesn’t have to waste anymore air time on those bad boy Americans and can now just loop Usain Bolt clips over and over and over again like they have been doing all week. Re: the robbery and the aftermath (I am still calling it a robbery because it had all the elements of a robbery) I think the way it was handled was just terrible. More on that in a moment but first I want to spend a few moments trashing NBC. I know that they spent a boatload of dough getting the rights to broadcast and I know ratings are way down (look at all the empty seats in the venues)but after the first few days I can’t watch it anymore as aired. I tape the broadcasts, then blow through all the commercials and fluff, leaving me about 40 minutes worth of actual watchable content out of the 4 hours aired each night. The typical pattern is thus; let Bob Costas bluster for a few minutes, show about 2 minutes of actual competition, go to about 5 minutes worth of commercials, then come back with the 6000th airing of Usian Bolt winning a medal. This pattern has not varied. I have read many complaints about NBC touching all these bases. I can’t really say their avarice has cost them my viewership since I never watch them in the first place.

Now that we have believable testimony on what actually transpired that night, I am outraged at how our guys were treated. I watched that Rio press conference and I did not believe very much of what was said, mainly because of the source. All those stories you read about corrupt Mexican cops, the same stories are told about the Rio police.The whole press conference revolved around what the officials said the swimmers supposedly (?) told them. There was no audio from any of the cameras and large gaps where we don’t know what happened at all. I wanted to hear what the swimmers said away from the threat of sitting in a stank filled jail cell. Now we know.

Let’s look at some of the inconsistencies;

The press conference said there was only one security guard (off duty Rio police officer), now we know there were 2. They said a bathroom mirror was trashed but Bentz said it was an outside metal wall frame. They said the guard was there to insure that the swimmers did not leave and waited for the police, yet as soon as the guards took their money, the swimmers were released. Factor in the language barrier (how did the swimmers know they worked for the gas station, did they work for the gas station or were they just off duty cops looking to take off some Americans, did they tell the swimmers to wait for the police, what happened during those camera laps?)

No doubt once released they just wanted to get back to their rooms and forget about the whole affair. And if not for Lochte’s big mouth the next day, talking to a reporter about the incident, that would have been the end of it. No police report was filed, the police only heard about it through social media. Yet, they got a judge to issue an arrest order to pull 2 of the swimmers off of their flight to go home, talk about judicial overreach (where was our State Dept. in all this and why didn’t they file a formal protest and demand an apology for this gross act of overreach?) The police had no right to either take them off the plane or detain them in any manner, all on the word of some drunken swimmer talking to a reporter?

Back to the robbery angle. We don’t know what was actually said (or implied since there was a language barrier) at the gas station. 2 guys approached them with badges and pointed guns demanding money (not a specific amount, mind you, to pay for any damages, no, they wanted whatever the swimmers had in their wallets), then when the money was paid the swimmers were allowed to leave. No reporter at the press conference pushed this issue, if the guns were drawn to make sure the swimmers did not leave until the cops arrived, why were they allowed to leave once money changed hands?

Even though most of what Lochte said could be true, the MSM back home has just crucified him, lying Lochte. You would think he sodomized a local alter boy, for everything that has been written about him. He certainly should shoulder much of the blame, acting like a douche at the gas station then yammering about it the next day, but as usual with these sort of events, there is enough blame to go around for both sides.

Not only were the other 3 swimmers illegally detained (who knows what went on in that interrogation room, and no doubt our State Dept. has contacted all of them with warnings to not say anything to the press detrimental to harmonious Brazil/American relations, e.g. if they threatened you or coerced you into saying something against your will, keep it to yourself), but one of them had to pay 11 grand just to leave the country. Yep, just like the Mexican cops.

Thank God no underage hookers were filmed spilling out of that taxi at the gas station. And Lochte will be hurt financially for this little bit of indiscretion re: endorsements but the Rio cops could have handled this much better. A simple statement of ,”We are not aware of any robbery that took place at that gas station that night. Until the American swimmers contact us to make a formal report, no action on our part is required. We do not act on social media reports, thank you”. That would have worked just fine.