Well, you certainly can’t doubt Elon Musk’s ambition

With America’s focus shifting back towards the presidential election in the days leading up to Monday night’s record-setting debate, a few other notables news items have sort of slipped through the cracks recently. So let’s catch up.

For one, protests surfacing from racial unrest throughout the country continue, in the aftermath of police shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a way, both movements achieved results. In Tulsa, a female officer was charged for shooting Terence Crutcher. In Charleston, public pressure forced the police department to release video footage of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

But they were small victories in what will inevitably be a very long march towards justice.

News from the sports world took a tragic turn last weekend, amid the sudden death of 24-year-old Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. A beacon of light in the sport, and one of the game’s best pitchers who escaped repression by defecting to the U.S. from Cuba as a teenager, Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning has left all fans of the game in a state of shock.

Jose Fernandez.jpg

He will certainly be remembered as one of the most talented young players to see their life and career cut short, and it’s a loss for anybody who is a fan of the game of baseball. One of its brightest stars is now lost.

Sports also lost Arnold Palmer, at the more elderly age of 87. He’s one of the greatest golfers ever, and he popularized a very tasty iced tea-lemonade beverage that you’ve probably drank at some point in your life.

Next time you drink one, pour some out for good ole Arnie.

But what I would like to focus on today is the ambition and vision of Elon Musk. Dubbed by some as the real life Tony Stark, Musk is the CEO of Tesla Motors and the founder of SpaceX — two companies that have pioneered amazing breakthroughs in technology but have also suffered setbacks in recent months.

On Tuesday, Musk laid out his plan to colonize Mars. Not to fly to it, or even land on it, but to colonize it.

In short, his plan involves a giant spaceship that would be launched into the Earth’s orbit by a giant rocket. The rocket would return to Earth, and make multiple trips back to obtain fuel (the lighter it is per trip, the less expensive). The launch window would occur every 26 months, when Earth is closest to Mars.

The spaceship will then travel 62,000 miles per hour to Mars over the course of six months. Ideally, Musk said, thousands of ships would be launched every 26 months carrying a couple of hundred people, so that there is enough to create civilization.

Done and done.

Elon Musk.jpg

You can’t really blame a guy for trying, right? I mean, one day we probably will get to Mars, right? So why not think about it now? And in Musk’s defense, his plan was more thorough than anything we heard regarding any other topic during Monday’s debate.

Bear in mind, Musk is the same guy who thinks there’s a one in a billion chance we’re not living in a computer simulation (although if you read his rationale, it’s hard not to believe him. But that’s a topic for another day).

Either way, he’s a visionary and thinking light-years ahead of everybody else. And actually backing up his words with a plan.

NASA, too, has long had its own plan of getting to Mars. But unlike Musk, the federal agency is limited by bureaucratic red tape.

What’s that corny saying? Reach for the moon, because if you miss, you’ll grab a star?

Well fuck the moon and the stars. You heard me. This isn’t some inspirational fairy tale you tell kids to soften them for inevitable failure.

We’re reaching for Mars. And thanks to innovators like Elon Musk, we might one day pull it off.

As for me, I’m still mapping out a plan for how I will leave my couch to walk to the refrigerator.

I can’t believe how many people believed this Facebook copyright notice was legit

Facebook feeds across the world were barraged the past few days with a declaration that people amazingly thought would legally protect them from any invasive policies the social networking giant imposes in the future.

Posts like this that get recycled over and over are annoying enough. It’s like the Facebook version of an AOL chain letter. But when they’re so obviously fictitious, and people still somehow believe they’re real, it really makes you shake your head.

The hoax copyright notice went something like, “As of September 29, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future…” and rambled on for several more sentences of nonsense to make laypeople think it was legit.

Firstly, the fact that people thought simply copying and pasting this message constituted a legally binding document is maddening enough. I’ll admit, I have some Facebook friends who did not surprise me in the slightest by posting this. But there are some other people I now learned are much less smarter than I thought.

HoaxThis message pops up every few months. And it’s always immediately shot down as fake. 

Even Facebook basically laughed about it.

The other thing that peeves me is that if you possess a Facebook account, you just have to concede that you are a slave to them. If you haven’t deleted your account yet, you’re never going to.

Facebook can do whatever they want, and we’ll stay right there with them. If you actually care about your information and photos being taken and disseminated, then don’t publish anything that you’d regret being seen. It’s that simple.

Anyone who actually wants to enlighten themselves as to what Facebook does do with your information simply needs to click on its Terms page, which is easily accessible on everyone’s homepage. However, I’d fathom a guess that there are maybe nine people in the world who have ever bothered to read a terms of service page. And those nine people also probably read the instructions before playing board games.

It’s especially bothersome because this stupidity detracted from another piece of news this week that is scientifically groundbreaking. Mars has liquid water. It’s a discovery that means life could exist there.

Just bear in mind that life does not mean aliens. Minuscule things like bacteria and microbes are also alive.

However, if Martians did exist, it makes you wonder if they’d be as stupid as Earthlings.

I guess there’s only one way to find out. Give them a Facebook account, and if they post, “As of September 29, at 9:30 p.m. Mars time, I do not give Earth or any people associated with Earth permission to use my water,” then yes, they are as stupid us.

The world’s worst camping trip

I’ve never been much of a camper.

I have a great appreciation for nature, and I’m certainly not one to object to a roasted marshmallow session around a campfire. However, I prefer to sleep in a comfortable bed in my own room.

We’re in the 21st century now. The need to camp involuntarily is pretty much obsolete. Unless you’re a Boy or Girl Scout. And if that’s the case, bring me Somoas. Now.

However, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t camp for a day or two if I needed to. Some music festivals, for example, are popular camping destinations. And we’ve all done that trip in high school or college where we pack a cooler with 100 cans of Bud Light and hit the woods. Because, bro, why not? YOLO.

What I could not tolerate, though, is camping for a year.

NASA simulationAnd that’s basically what six astronauts are doing near a barren volcano in Hawaii in order to simulate life on Mars. And it sounds miserable.

The six brave souls — three men and three women — will live in a dome, without fresh air or fresh food. For a year.

One of the major experiments of the trip is to test the human element, and see how six people get along while living together in a confined space with virtually no privacy. Basically, it’s NASA’s version of Real World Mars.

The worst part is the simple fact that these people aren’t even going to Mars. They’re simulating it, sure, and by all means pretending they’re there, but … they’re not. They get to experience all of the abject misery of Mars habitation, without receiving any of the glory that comes with actually exploring it.

No one will ever know who they are. And yet, they’re doing it for the good of science. God bless them. And looking at the picture of the sextet, I’d say that one of the three women are bangable. Trust me, that will come up.

On a related note, I recently read The Martian by Andy Weir, which is being released as a movie soon starring Matt Damon, about an astronaut who actually does get stranded on Mars, and must find a way to survive given the limited resources he has. It was pretty damn good, and one million times more exciting than anything that will actually happen during this yearlong simulation.

But I think NASA should keep experimenting along similar lines. Next one? Me and a group of supermodels living together in isolation inside of a mansion for a full year.

Let’s do it for science.

An exercise in political theater

It’s been a very interesting last few days if you care about politics.

Actually, screw politics. What’s been happening in this early road to the 2016 presidential election has been pure entertainment. The Republican debate last week was political theater. Virtually nothing could have happened last Thursday that would have any impact on the election. Why? Because it’s still 15 freaking months way.

It was pointless. And the only reason it happened was to give Donald Trump a platform to speak, for better or worse.

Trump KellyAnd speak he did. Honestly, I have to give a little credit to Fox News. They’re Republican apologists, sure, but they went pretty hard at these candidates. They made each one answer for their shortcomings. Which led to some controversy.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said that Trump has called women he didn’t like “pigs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals,” which Trump took offense to, and later remarked that Kelly “has blood coming out of her whatever.”

Trump then said his comment was not meant to be an insinuation towards menstruation, and that he’s too smart to say something that stupid. Could have fooled me.

But the fact that this is the prevailing news coming out of the debate showed that Trump is all anybody really cared about. Fox News knew that, and that’s why he had by far the most speaking time of any other candidate, and more than double that of the candidate with the least speaking time, Rand Paul.

For moderate politicos, just sit back and enjoy the show. it’s not until next February or March at the earliest when we actually need to start caring who emerges from this cast of characters that, if it wasn’t for the original cast of Jersey Shore, would be the most hopeless group of humans ever assembled.

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, the Bernie Sanders train is picking up more steam. He garnered much attention when he was interrupted on a campaign stop by the Seattle chapter of the advocacy group Black Lives Matter. Internet people (mostly of the white variety) reacted by noting that Bernie is the candidate who has spoken the most strongly about racial justice.

Days later, 28,000 people showed up to see him in Los Angeles.

I’m not going to lie — I think I’m starting to lean more towards Bernie with each passing day. He’s the furthest thing from a demagogue, and he actually had the balls to challenge Hillary. It’s not that I think she’s a bad candidate, but I want to Mars womanhave a choice. I appreciate the competition and I hope the Bernie train keeps rolling.

Finally, let’s end with Mars. The planet no one cares about until an adorably-named space robot lands on it.

A woman-like figure has been spotted in a photo taken by NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, that has made conspiracy theorists jizz their pants.

It’s probably just a rock. But let’s pretend it’s a definitive sign of extraterrestrial life. It’s way more exciting.

Real or not real, Donald Trump already thinks she’s a disgusting animal.