Friday, March 21, 2014

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) I think I broke my boss, the Bag of Salted Rat Dicks, last night. I dislike power plays, but I dislike being bullied even more. There’s no winners in this, I recognize it, but there are degrees of losing and – here’s a Pro-Tip, kids – the minute you have to say you’re in charge, you’re not.

2) I think this sums up Malaysian Air 370 succinctly. Even if they found a debris field today, and they haven’t, it will likely still take weeks to find the actual plane wreckage and recover bodies.

3) There’s a movement afoot at Wonkette to try and get this girl a pizza party for her actions in saving a classmate from at least serious injury and possibly suicide. Yours truly is a trouble maker. J

4) Question: How does one just “find” a virtual currency? It’s not like they were buried in a coffee can in the backyard.

5) Hey, you know what has the largest genome in the natural world? Here’s a hint: It ain’t human.

6) I’m not sure whether to applaud this kid or be horrified.

7) Fred Phelps is dead. There will be no funeral. Ironic, I suppose. Certainly, there’s a measure of cowardice there. Assuming it wasn’t all one giant trolling.

8) Apparently, Honolulu cops get to taste the merchandise to be sure it should get arrested.

9) Can the SCOTUS build a ruling so big it can’t be overruled? We’ll find out.

10) Finally, toe sucking in the news.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

NASA-funded Study: We're Screwed

Apparently, despite the fact that we humans have put men on the Moon, mapped our own genome, and peered into the furthest reaches of time, we still can't not kill ourselves. According to a new study sponsored by the Goddard Space Flight Center, human existence as we know it is headed for a "precipitous collapse". Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "WTH I've been ignoring all of those emergency shelter and freeze-dried seed commercials and now the world's going to end and... WTH?" Well, kind of yes.

Noting that warnings of the collapse of society are often fringe and conspiratorial, the study tries to explain the compelling historical data that reveals "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Oh, good. That's a relief. For a second there I thought this was going to suck. The study explains that even the most "advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent." So exactly the opposite of a Sharpie magic marker.

The interrelated factors in this whole sordid story that is our imminent demise are, not surprisingly, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy. All of which we have been keenly taking care to respect, conserve, and not at all use them like they are infinitely abundant.
Unfortunately, for us humans there are two key social issues that, when combined, create an awful no good situation for civilizations. Take it away, Guardian UK:
These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
That doesn't sound remotely familiar.

Now combine that unnerving fact with this similarly unnerving fact from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch research and we get a real shit sandwich. In 2015 we will be seeing a huge male youth boom. And we all know when young men don't have much to do they start in with the masturbating OK, I crossed it out but there will be lots of that too I'm sure upheaving.
There’s a close relationship between surging populations of young men and “revolutions, wars and upheavals,” argue Ajay Kapur, Ritesh Samadhiya, and Umesha de Silva. The Bank of America/Merrill Lynch analysts cite ”civil war in medieval Portugal (1384), the English Revolution (1642-51), the Spanish conquistadores ravaging Latin America were secundones (second sons), the French Revolution of 1789, and the emergence of Nazism in the 1920s in Germany.”

2015 sounds like its going a lot of fun. Please continue, quartz dot com:
When there aren’t enough jobs to employ the supply of young men, that can galvanize conflict, argue the analysts—as can stagflation, rising income inequality, unaffordable property, and other problems facing emerging markets. Particularly if they’re unmarried, these young men have less to lose by banding together and committing crimes, unrest or violence.
To recap, income inequality + strained resources + lots of unemployed, pissed off young men = Fuck the coming decade.

I think I may go sign up for that one-way ticket to Mars. At least there we never had a chance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We Don't Even Have to Life a Finger

The morons in Conservativeville have been braying their lust for President Putin, the overweight exhibitionist who shoots sedated tigers and calls himself a hunter (no wonder rightwingers love him: he shoots guns at defenseless animals then calls himself a man). In turn, they call Obama weak, feckless even.

But here’s the thing: Putin has already lost.

The U.S. can’t save Europe when it comes to energy. And it can’t impose truly effective sanctions without Europe’s cooperation. Thing is, it probably won’t have to. Putin’s petrostate will eventually implode all by itself.

Even before the Ukrainian crisis began, Russia was headed toward a major decline. Despite oil prices being more than $100 a barrel, its economy will be lucky to grow at a rate of 1% this year–about one-third of the U.S. rate. The fact that the American economy is growing faster than not only Russia’s but also Brazil’s and those of other emerging-market nations is truly amazing. A decade ago, the BRIC countries were supposed to be the world’s economic salvation. Since then, they’ve become complacent, and their growth has been cut in half. Some, like China, are brewing up epic debt crises. Others, like Russia and Turkey, are ruled by autocratic strongmen trying to grapple with tumbling markets and foreign-capital flight on a massive scale.

The world, in other words, has turned upside down economically. Russia’s pain will continue to be the U.S. markets’ gain, as investors seek safety in U.S. Treasury bills and blue-chip stocks. In economic terms, the war over Ukraine has already been won–and not by Putin.

Here’s a situation that all the sabre-rattling and stare-down contests can’t possibly win, but time can. Let me put Foroohar’s already cogent phrasing into an analogy that even a conservative can understand: Vladimir Putin is George Bush in that he can’t make money on a business literally swimming in it.

A one-percent growth rate is practically an economy in a recession. In a time when Europe has some of the strongest growth (particularly Germany, who is substantially reliant on Russian oil and gas exports) on the planet, Putin is somehow managing to run the nation’s productivity and profitability into the ground. The Moscow stock market lost 200 points in one day (from 1500 to 1300) based on the news about Crimea but also by the fear investors have that Putin can’t manage this slack time in domestic product.

His solution – to annex a province that likely would have remained Russian even after the breakup of the old Soviet Union if Kruschev hadn’t given it to Ukraine – is hardly a long-term strategic asset, at least economically. Its major component is tourism and while Crimea has some untapped oil and gas reserves to draw upon, those can hardly be developed in a short enough time span to be of value to the Russian economy as a whole for a decade or two. By then, the world may have moved onto new energy sources.

President Obama has done the right thing here: He’s let his EU allies bear the brunt of the sabre-rattling while he allows Putin enough rope to hang himself.