Saturday, November 12, 2016

James Comey may have singlehandedly destroyed modern civilization

100 years from now when our grandchildren survey the wreckage, they may look back on October 28, 2016 as the darkest day in the history of human civilization.  When the children of the future contemplate going back in time it will not be Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin that they fantasize about killing to save the world, it will be James Comey, because there is now good evidence that his October surprise swung the election in favor of Donald Trump.  And unless we somehow manage to persuade a man who has never in his life seen reason, who believes that making money is the only virtue, who is about to appoint a young-earth creationist as secretary of education and a climate-change denialist to head the EPA -- unless we somehow manage to persuade this person that climate change is real, then future generations are going to learn it the hard way.

I know that there are climate skeptics among my readers.  A few of you even seem to have come to your views in good faith (as opposed to those who just bury their heads in the sand because they can't stand to face reality) and with a fair amount of thought and research.  It has been on my to-do list for a long time to do a deep dive into this issue to find out whether skepticism is warranted.  But in the meantime here are a few facts that, it seems to me, no sane person can deny:

1.  The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising dramatically.  We're over 400PPM now, up from pre-industrial levels well below 300.

2.  CO2 is a greenhouse gas.  If we put enough of it in the atmosphere, we will heat the planet to the point where civilization can no longer be sustained.  The only question is how much is enough.

3.  These processes play themselves out over very long periods of time: decades to centuries.  By the time it becomes evident that we've crossed the Rubicon it will most likely be too late to do anything about it.

4.  The planet is warming.  The 15 hottest years on record have all been in the last 20 years.  The last time we had a coldest year on record was 1909.

5.  The vast majority of the people who study this stuff say that the most likely explanation (indeed, the only plausible explanation) is that the planet is warming because of the CO2 we're adding to the atmosphere.

Now, maybe all of those people are wrong.  Maybe the denialists are right and the warming trend is just a natural phenomenon.  Maybe civilization is more resilient than we think and it can survive more than 2 degree rise in temperature.  Maybe we can relocate all of our coastal cities, or come up with some technological solution that will prevent disaster.  But here's the question we really need to ask ourselves: is this an experiment we really want to do?  Because what if the scientists are right.  Is that really something you want to find out the hard way?  Do you really want to put your children and grandchildren through that?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Well, that sure didn't take long

Donald Trump has been the president-elect for less than a week and he's already starting to reneg on some of his signature campaign promises. I'm shocked. Didn't we vote for Trump because he "tells it like it is"?  Next you'll be telling me he wasn't really the anti-establishment candidate.

I'd write more but I'm still having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that this is actually happening.  I mean, Ben Carson as secretary of education?  Seriously?  I guess it could have been worse.  It could have been Sarah Palin.  But, wait, Carson is a young-earth creationist.  AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!  I think my head is going to explode.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump's America, day 2

One day after Donald Trumps conciliatory victory speech where he spoke about unity and coming together as a nation, a good Christian left a helpful note on someone's windshield in North Carolina. It says:
Can't wait until your "marriage" is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. #Trump2016 #Repent #GodBless
If you voted for Trump, this is on you, because preventing Hillary from appointing a Supreme Court justice was one of his flagship issues.

Calexit is starting to sound like a good idea to me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016


I am so stunned I can barely formulate a thought.  The last time I felt this way was in 2000 when George Bush Jr. beat Al Gore.  Back then I thought to myself: well, maybe it won't be so bad.  And I was right.  It wasn't that bad.  It was worse.  Much, much worse.

On the plus side, it's kind of good to know that the people can still stick it to the elites when they put their minds to it.  But oh my God, Trump?  Trump???

I also find myself clinging to one other glimmer of hope: now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they will not be able to blame the coming catastrophe on the democrats.  (Well, OK, they will still blame the Democrats.  But maybe people will stop believing them.)  So even though the Republican party emerged victorious tonight, maybe it will not rise from the ashes when this train wreck ultimately plays itself out.  (But who the hell knows where all the horcruxes are hidden.)

If you are a young person who voted for Trump as a protest vote I pity you, because Donald Trump and his cronies are about to take our last hope of averting a global climate catastrophe and flush it down his gold-plated toilet.

Brace yourselves, folks.  There are very dark days ahead.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Please God, let the Democrats take the Senate

And please let them find the backbone to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees so that Hillary can appoint a ridiculously liberal justice to replace the ridiculously conservative Antonin Scalia.  Because the Republicans really need to lose this election, and they need to lose it badly.  They need to be utterly humiliated.  Squashed.  Trampled.  The evil stench of racism and misogyny and patriarchy needs to be driven back into the darkness and the shadows, along with the Donald Trump and the cockroaches who crept out of their hiding places to follow him.

The Washington Post thinks it could happen.

I'm not quite so optimistic.  The election is close, much closer than I ever in my wildest nightmares imagined it could be, and Trump and the Republicans might still pull a rabbit out of their asses (because that seems to be where they're pulling everything else from.  I mean, Melanoma Trump is going on a crusade about, of all things, cyber-bullying?  Seriously?  Does she not even know who she is married to?)

So while I'm hoping for a Republican rout, I'm not betting my life savings on it.  But a boy can dream.

However it goes, I just wanted to go on the record before election day as being absolutely, unequivocally, 100% opposed to Donald Trump.  I oppose his racism, his deceitfulness, his glorification of ignorance, his degradation of women, his utter lack of respect for the First Amendment, and his basic lack of humanity.  The man has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  He's not a good business man, nor a good entertainer, nor a good politician, not even a good human being. The only thing Donald Trump is good at is self-promotion.  But at that he is the master of masters.

Please, for the love of all that is good about the United States of America, don't vote for him.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Hacker News ranking algorithm weirdness

Yesterday I submitted this story to Hacker News.  Here you can see it in the record of all the stories I've submitted:

It didn't get a lot of traction at the time, which was not surprising.  Not many people look at the /new page, and there are a lot of submissions.  So most stories languish.  You generally have about a 30-60 minute window to garner enough points to make it to the front page before your story drops off the first new page and enters HN limbo, never to be seen again.

So I was really surprised when this morning my story was on the front page, apparently having been re-submitted somehow five hours previously:

(Both of those screenshots were taken within a minute or two of each other.)

I really wonder how that happened.  I wish I knew how to make it happen reliably :-)