Ryan says neigh

>> Thursday, October 22, 2015

Yes, that's right, this was real news, or as real as news gets these days, and not an Onion piece.  The Prime Minister of Israel--you know, the country founded in 1948 as a Jewish state in the aftermath of the Holocaust--the Prime Minister of Israel told delegates to the World Zionist Congress that Hitler didn't mean to kill all those Jews, he only wanted to deport them, but then a big, mean Palestinian (Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1941) told Hitler that if the Jews were deported they'd end up on his doorstep and he didn't want them, either, and so Hitler asked what he ought to do (because he had no idea, apparently), and al-Husseini said Hitler ought to kill them and the thought just hadn't even occurred to Hitler but he decided to take al-Husseini's advice and I guess that's why it's okay to build Jewish settlements on the West Bank and a two-state solution won't work.

You need a minute or two to digest that?  'S'okay.  Take your time.  We'll still be here.

Right, so I'm reading this article, and--this is great, this is actually the good stuff, here--and this happens:

An advertisement from something calling itself, "Public Advocate of the United States," accusing Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin of being a well-hung gay man (possibly carrying or wearing a prophylactic, which is a good thing and to be encouraged).  Which may or may not be some kind of euphemism.  I'm not sure where they got this idea--
Image via Gawker.
--hey!  No, no, no!  Now you're just stereotyping.  Yes, there's a popular stereotype that homosexual men are body-obsessed and work out all the time, but so what?  There's also a stereotype that gay men dress well, so take another look at that goddamn backwards baseball cap.
I kid, I kid.  It's utterly absurd, of course, but says a great deal of how batshit crazy the country is and how Ryan's initial gut instinct to turn down the Speaker's position if offered was.  I mean, I'm not at all sure what the "Homosexual Lobby" is (if it isn't the waiting area between the main exit and floor area of a gay club, at least), or why they need a "Trojan horse," but even assuming purely hypothetically that the "Homosexual Lobby" is a thing and they're engaging in some kind of political ninja-sneaky-shit, the idea that Paul Ryan is their guy is just kind of absurd.

Besides, if Ryan is a Trojan horse for anything, it's Objectivism.  If he's elected Speaker, he's going to bore the country with three-hour speeches about looters and try to convert everyone to atheism while trying to wife-swap with everyone in the whole damn House on principle.  Duh.  Times are gonna be great again for R.J. Reynolds and Amtrak.  Everybody else may be a little fucked, but it'll be their own damn faults because it always is.

I don't know, folks, I just don't know.  I've always tried (usually unsuccessfully, but still--) to take the broad-minded, historical approach and remind myself that things have always been crazy and weird and kinda, well, bad.  Yet I don't recall another era when the news looked so completely like something that was just made up on the fly by somebody who didn't care and wasn't even trying very hard.  Paul Ryan is a gay lobbyist, the Prime Minister of Israel says Hitler wasn't that bad (at least not to start with).  Although I've been an atheist since I was a teenager, it makes me wonder if there really is a God--a lazy, insane God with some kind of attention-deficit problem, or possibly a God who has decided to troll the universe.

There's a nutty, pretty useless hypothesis out there that suggests that we're all part of a computer simulation because if you figure that eventually some real species is going to invent the ability to model an entire universe, your odds of being in a model universe are greater than your odds of not being in a model universe, so statistics.  It's basically useless, though perhaps entertaining, because not only is the hypothesis basically untestable, but it doesn't change anything even if it's true.  Even if we're inside a simulated universe, it's indistinguishable from a real universe, so whatevs.  Besides which, isn't it most likely that the creatures simulating us would themselves be simulations, so it's, what, turtles all the way down or something like that?

But I mention it because I suppose there is one way it's testable, which would be if the code was so buggy that after a few gajillion processing cycles it just started turning out implausibilities like Donald Trump and daily school shootings and so on, and these bugs were somehow manifest to the simulations "observing" the program from within.  Basically, you know, if we all woke up one morning and realized we were inside Windows 8.  Which could have already happened.

Or maybe the notion disproves itself: would you let the universe run so badly for so long without bringing up a task manager and killing all those errant processes?  Of course not.  Hell, at this point with the whole thing freezing and crashing you'd probably curse and shrug and just CTRL-ALT-DEL the damn comput


David Friday, October 23, 2015 at 8:43:00 PM EDT  

As a historian, I do try to keep in mind the idea that times were bad in previous centuries and eras too - that this is nothing unusual. But you know, that doesn't help much once you realize how bad things can get for how long and how generally well things had been running since the 1950s for so much of the planet (not all of it, of course, perhaps not even most of it, but a lot of it certainly).

Because things can go to hell quickly, thoroughly, and for a long, long time, and for everyone. I'm reading a fascinating book on the utter shitshow that was the 17th century for the entire globe, for example.

And we may be reaching that point now.

I'm not sure how Paul Ryan fits into that, really, except that the idea of him being a gay lobby fifth columnist just amuses me all of of proportion to what it should.

David Evans Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 1:00:00 PM EST  

I don't think it's possible to simulate an entire universe - the data storage needed would itself fill more than one universe. What you could do is simulate the part you were interested in - the Earth, maybe, or the Solar System - and provide whatever observational data the simulated inhabitants needed to convince themselves it was all real. This might become difficult once they started building starships, but that should be easy to sabotage.

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