Equal Opportunity Offender?

Alec Baldwin pled guilty yesterday to a harassment violation in New York. He was accused of punching a man over a parking dispute. This is funny.

Actor Alec Baldwin leaving a New York City police department as reporters attempt to question him. [Formatted]

As many people know, Mr. Baldwin has gotten a lot of attention in the last couple years for parodying Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 . How perfect would it be if SNL invited Donald Trump to play a boiling-over Alec Baldwin in a skit about his recent NYC parking dispute?

Unfortunately, the producers at NBC and SNL would never in a million years allow something like this to happen, even though it is EXACTLY what they should do.

Sci-Fi Enterprises

Every time I take a moment and tune in to what’s going on with Elon Musk, I inevitably start to wonder if he watched too much Star Trek as a kid. It’s like every month he is unveiling a new superscience company or project. This last week, his 2016 startup, The Boring Company icon-external-link-12x12, showcased its 1.14 mile subterranean road in Los Angeles that allows high-speed unidirectional travel for traditional-style cars equipped with special wheels.

The inspiration for these tunnels was apparently Musk’s ‘soul-crushing’ commute from Bel Air to his rocket company SpaceX in Hawthorne icon-external-link-12x12 .

The main idea here is that the addition of underground tunnels transforms the conventional flat, or two-dimensional, commuter grid into a multi-layer (three dimensional) system. It’s sort of like adding a basement or a second story to your house instead of building around the existing structure: new rooms can now exist above and below whereas before they had to exist on the same plane (which produces something called sprawl icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 , a term the Los Angeles population knows all too well). The more transportation layers that exist, the more cars that will be diverted from surface roads. This results in less traffic and the excision of gridlock… at least, in theory.

The failure here is that these tunnels will do nothing to address the real problem: way too many people live in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Creating more lanes of transportation may somewhat alleviate the utterly absurd traffic congestion that currently exists, but the effect would be only temporary. In reality, increasing transportation infrastructure will only stimulate increases in population density, and commuters will find themselves back at square one.

If Musk really wanted to make a meaningful difference in Los Angeles, he would solve their water problem. Unfortunately, there weren’t any Star Trek episodes where Captain Picard and his trusty crew beemed down to the surface of a planet and helped the local population build efficient and affordable desalinization plants. Thus, to Musk, this is not a very sexy idea. (But Captain Kirk recently came up with his own solution icon-external-link-12x12 !)

So until The Boring Company is able to solve the world’s traffic problems, Los Angeles residents are encouraged to keep a gregarious Sasquatch icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 in their cars at all times:

Harry and the Hendersons freeway scene where a bigfoot imitates a siren and clears traffic. [Formatted]

Oh yeah, and for what it’s worth, the real future of transportation is cars that drive on rails (eventually powered), and also have the ability to detach and drive on plain old paved residential streets. The self-driving car as we know it now—that is, a computer-controlled vehicle that isn’t attached to a track—is one of the dumbest fucking ideas ever and has the potential to become the grandest misdirection of financial and engineering resources in the 21st century.

The Casualness of Fearmongering

Carr Fire ravaging the town of Old Shasta. [Formatted]

Hey local-, state- and nation-level newsmedia fucks, Redding doesn’t “look like a warzone,” it looks like a small Northern California city that is somehow being singed (rather severely) by the typical summer fire in these parts. This is what a fire looks like—more specifically, this is what a forest fire looks like when it has been horribly mishandled.

It is certainly not okay to transmute the surprise and shock at ineffective response into increased hopelessness, confusion and disorientation. The most crucial aspect of a media outlet is to report the facts and inform the public so that they may make effective decisions to protect themselves and their families in times of crisis and otherwise. It is certainly not to release information piecemeal and maintain uncertainty; this creates a dangerous void that is filled by rampant speculation and misinformation through social media, such as Facebook.

People need to be equipped with accurate details—that which is known and that which is not known—so that they can support and protect themselves when no other support or protection exists. For these reasons and others, media must always serve the people, like the government, but function independently and even be distrustful of the government.

My hometowns are on fire and some amount of this destruction could have been prevented. To add insult to injury, many people have unnecessarily lost important possessions and pets in addition to their homes, and at least five people are now burnt to a crisp. Information that could have been available was missing at critical times, and this has resulted in more needless grief and loss.

By Means of Convenient Environmentalism

Carbon footprints per country; China (10,540.8) and the US (5334.5) come out vastly ahead of everyone else. [Formatted]

This is a snapshot of a handy little web app icon-external-link-12x12 on British Gas’s website that shows every country’s carbon footprint from the year 1992 up to the year 2014. Take a look and see what you think.

Here are my own takeaways from this data:

If you live in America, you are not an environmentalist. (I consider these terms to be mutually exclusive.) Anyone who has ever read anything about Americans’ lifestyle habits will already know how badly we over-consume compared to people of other countries.

If you live in China, you may or may not be an environmentalist. This is because there are still plenty of rural, nonindustrialized societies—at least for the time being—but holy shit… the industrialized societies are doing a tremendous amount of extra damage.

If you live in Ethiopia, you are likely an environmentalist, but you are so hungry you don’t even know, or care.

Right now, there are 7.45 billion people in the world and all of them want to consume like Americans do. There is no way this is possible, and it makes me wonder if World War III will be started over something ridiculous, like a coconut oil dispute.

I now feel obligated to point out that if you drive a Toyota Prius, wear Birkenstocks and think you are doing your part to save the planet, you are a serious asshole.