Dialing up road rage

That’s one way to deal with a driver on a cellphone. But that’s Russia, and they probably don’t have drivers with guns waiting to take advantage of “stand your ground” laws.

The nuclear threat (in a chart)

It’s pretty clear where the nuclear threat is:

nuclear-weapons-world

There are two countries that can easily blow everything else off the face of the Earth. The ones that everyone freaks out about (Pakistan, North Korea) would be gone in a flash, literally, if they ever launched anything against anybody.

Once you get by Russia and the U.S., everyone remaining on the list could still be a danger. But if the U.S. or Russia launched their arsenals, we would all go the way of the dinosaur.

 

Czech mate: A desperately needed geography lesson

This was released Friday by the Czech ambassador to the United States:

As many I was deeply shocked by the tragedy that occurred in Boston earlier this month. It was a stark reminder of the fact that any of us could be a victim of senseless violence anywhere at any moment.

As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.

As the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that.

Petr Gandalovič
Ambassador of the Czech Republic

Yes, people in this country don’t know much about anything outside of our borders. But for God’s sake, the Czech Republic isn’t Chechnya.

Here’s the Czech Republic on a map:

ez-mapYou see that the Czech Republic is northwest of Slovakia. They once formed a country called Czechoslovakia. Stop, before you say it. Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore. It hasn’t existed for 20 years. But we still hear American politicians refer to Czechoslovakia as a trusted ally, as if it’s still there. Americans in general think it’s still there. I heard the ESPN America feed out of the U.K. of this year’s NCAA basketball final between Louisville and Michigan, and announcer Dick Vitale, in one of his normally overly excitable moments told viewers to call their friends in Canada, France and Czechoslovakia and tell them to watch the game. And no one told him Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist.

Here’s Chechnya on a map:

mchechnyaStop before you say it. No, the capital of the Georgia that’s south of Chechnya on this map isn’t Atlanta. Georgia is a country. It has its own flag. It has its own language. Georgian. And when they refer to a group of people in this Georgia, they don’t say “y’all.”

No wonder the world thinks we’re a bunch of idiots.

The sky is falling!

Well, that was a confusing space odyssey Friday.

Everyone was told days ago that an asteroid was headed toward the Earth, but (Not to worry!) it was going to miss us by thousands of miles and wouldn’t even show up on the radar. For some reason, I woke up about 3 or 4 a.m. Friday morning and looked at my iPad, and there was a news alert that said a meteor had hit Russia and hurt hundreds of people. And soon afterward, every news site in the world was showing things like this:

So the asteroid DID hit us, right?

No.

This was a meteor. The asteroid is still out there. Still not a danger. In fact, by Friday afternoon, it had passed by unnoticed and was on its merry way. This was something else, and we didn’t know it was coming.

Gee, that’s reassuring, because I’m thinking of the movie “Armageddon” and how Paris didn’t see the closing credits:

So the meteor was a sliver of the asteroid that broke off, right?

No. The Washington Post says:

It was a day when the Earth was caught in a cosmic crossfire. The big rock came from the south, the smaller one from the east. They were unrelated objects, with different orbits, one the size of an apartment building, the other slimmer but with better aim.

The larger asteroid missed by 17,000 miles, as expected, but the Russian meteor stole the show Friday, fireballing across the Ural Mountains in spectacular fashion and exploding into fragments, creating a powerful shock wave that blew out windows, collapsed roofs and injured 1,200 people, mostly from broken glass.

Here’s an illustration of how the meteor came down when it hit Russia.

diagram

It was traveling at 40,000 miles an hour. It was about 50 feet wide and weighed about 7,700 tons. It exploded high in the atmosphere with the force of 20 to 30 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs.

Gee, that’s reassuring.

Do you remember the 1950s science-fiction “Uh oh! Here comes the killer asteroid” movies, where a group of scientists have built ONE SPACESHIP to take a couple of hundred people to another planet — that just happens to support human life — so the species will survive.

Thing is, unless we’ve missed the announcement, there’s nowhere to go. If there was a planet in range that would assure our survival, we’d be sending probes there already.

NASA launched the two Voyager spacecraft more than 35 years ago. They are literally at the edge of the solar system. Other satellites have examined the giant planets past Mars. We’ve got robots on Mars for now going on 10 years looking for minuscule signs of life.

What they’ve found so far? Maybe there’s water on a moon of Saturn.

And even with that, we’ve never met anyone with one of those Willie Wonka golden tickets that are good for one seat of the survival rockets. Which don’t exist, unless there’s some top secret project in China like there was in the movie “2012.”

Then you’ve got to think if something really big is falling out of the sky, one of those “planet killers,” why tell us anything? We can’t go anywhere. If it’s big enough, we’re going to see it days before it hits. And unless there’s a global “shoot the rock out of the sky with nukes” game plan, there isn’t much to look forward to. Maybe this:

Or this:

Given the choice, I’d prefer to listen to Pink Floyd over Richard Wagner. (In case you’re looking for the MP3, the Wagner is the Prelude from “Tristan und Isolde.” The Pink Floyd is “The Great Gig in the Sky” from “Dark Side of the Moon.”)

Cute today … lunch tomorrow

Way back in the early 1970s, there was a Pepsi commercial that was generally seen as one of the cutest, most heart-warming television ads ever …

… and the first thing I thought back then was, “Wow, I don’t want to be that kid with those dogs in five years.”

The thing that brought that commercial back to mind was this cute, heart-warming story I saw today from Russian television …

… and all I can think is, “Wow, I don’t want to be that dog with those tigers in five years.”

Yeah, yeah … I know. How dare I think that animals would want to eat something that nurtured them when they were small. The dogs like the kid and would never gang up and bite him. The abandoned tiger cubs love their dog mother and would never consider her a nutritional substitute for wildebeest.

Then I saw this …

Yeah, yeah … I know. This story was amazingly overplayed. If you had just seen the headlines, you’d have thought the Sea World dolphin had ripped the girl’s arm off and dragged it down to the bottom of the pool. As you can tell from the video, the bite isn’t really that bad. That’s amazing restraint on the part of the dolphin. Remember the killer whale that drowned its trainer back in 2010? That happened at the same Sea World.

Look, the kid and the parents should have been paying attention to their surroundings … the dolphins sure were. I mean, what do dolphins want from humans other than fish? You read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” didn’t you?

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Sea World tells you that when you’re feeding the dolphins, don’t wave a plate full of fish in front of them. There’s a reason they give that warning. Dolphins go for the fish because “THEY’RE HUNGRY!” I’m sure this has happened before, but news has been slow since the election, and when there aren’t any shark attacks, this is the next best thing.

So remember … dolphins bite, dogs maul and tigers rip to shreds.

Cute can get ugly really fast.

Pussy Riot: the song and the sentence

When you hear there’s a punk band called Pussy Riot, you’re going to expect performances like this:

As you can tell, this is in another language (Russian) and it needs a translation. Something like:

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love

Holy shit, shit, Lord’s shit!
Holy shit, shit, Lord’s shit!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, Become a feminist
(end chorus)

Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class – bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believed in God
Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

So what do you think happened to them for performing this in a church in Vladimir Putin’s Russia?

Revolutions come when you tell the young to shut up about political matters. Putin’s election was rigged and everybody knows there wasn’t going to be any other outcome. The performance was in the church because the Russian Orthodox Church leader backed Putin in the last “election.” The church turned itself into a political outlet and turned itself into a target for political protest.

Are we going to see a revolution here? Or are the women going to be sent off to Siberia like Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky, the billionaire (and 16th richest person in the world) who ran the world’s largest oil company, Yukos, until he threatened to run against Putin in a presidential election? Now he’s in a prison in Siberia.

The Russian people weren’t going to rise up for political reform over a billionaire. Will the Russian youth rise up for a bunch of feminist protesters?

There’s a nice piece on Slog on the history of Pussy Riot. The group is more extensive than people realize.

Palin according to the world (part 2)

Remember Pravda? Back during the Cold War, the official state newspaper of Russia was constantly referred to when U.S. officials were trying to get a fix on the Soviet Union’s official policy.

The Soviet Union no longer exists, but Pravda is still the marker for Russian perceptions of America.

We already know what the Taiwanese think of Sarah Palin (a machine gun toting, seal clubbing maniac). What does Russia think?

Pravda columnist Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey writes under the headline “Spankin’ Sarah Palin: A clown short of a circus“:

If Sarah Palin is not some kind of a massive political joke in the USA, wheeled out to liven up the political scene from time to time with nonsensical and pastiche (one hopes) displays of sheer and utter ignorance, then it is worrying. It is even more so if anyone other than a manic depressive suffering from a chronic lack of lithium takes this…female…seriously.

President Obama after all knows the difference between North and South Korea, he knows that Hawaii is the largest US island and not Kodiak and he does not use the expression “refudiate”.

If anything is a threat to the national security of the United States of America, it is this screaming, unrefined oaf with as much class as a searing release of flatulence followed by hysterical giggling at a state banquet. Is this what the people of the USA deserve?

And then he gets really mean.