May 31, 2015

Jonah Goldberg – The real Republican primary contest

Filed under: Humour, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Jonah was taken aback by something Kevin Williamson wrote — not so much at the article itself, but at the casual assertion that his favourite presidential candidate was “the mighty Cthulhu (‘Why Vote for a Lesser Evil?’)”. Jonah explains why:

I found this curious. Kevin’s preferred candidate is Cthulhu? Don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal. Cthulhu gets things done. He doesn’t pander. He certainly seems to believe in a kind of sound-money policy (by the way, I’m using the masculine pronoun for convenience, not descriptive accuracy; Cthulhu is beyond sex and gender). But Cthulhu poses some problems as a presidential candidate. The first that comes to mind is that he is evil.

I should note that the claim that Cthulhu is evil has actually sparked some controversy on Twitter. Some of his devotees tell me that he’s beyond mortal conceptions of evil which, of course, is what evil people always say. Moreover, his campaign slogan is “Why vote for the lesser evil?” Is he lying? Will he be a flip-flopper, refusing to follow through on his platform of full-spectrum evil? The last thing this country needs is an EDINO — Evil Deity In Name Only. No, I take him at his word.

Call me old-fashioned, but even though I take a back seat to no one in appreciating the appeal of a cleansing fire that shall sanitize this corrupt husk of a planet, choosing evil still strikes me as morally problematic.

Jonah’s preferred choice? SMOD:

I suggest that for the principled conservative looking to chuck it all in and give up, there’s only one candidate with the credentials and philosophy the times require. I’m referring, of course, to the Sweet Meteor of Death, Smod to his friends.

Smod describes himself as a “pre-cambrian conservative.” He has no cultists looking to rule in his name. He doesn’t endorse evil, merely the sweet release of planetary destruction. While Cthulhu can be a bit of windbag, Smod makes no speeches, he makes no sounds at all as he glides through the cosmic ether. Calvin Coolidge looks loquacious by comparison. Meanwhile, Cthulhu’s will is unpredictable, he vows chaos and anarchy here on earth. Smod provides what the market demands: certainty, predictability, and simple rules for a complex society. Who knows what Cthulhu will do tomorrow? With Smod there is no tomorrow. He has the single-minded focus only a cold and soulless inanimate object can provide.

Last, Smod is real. We don’t know when he’ll get here, but odds are he eventually will. Sure, “Why Choose the Lesser Evil?” is a great bumper sticker, but aren’t we tired of fakes who fail to deliver? To borrow a phrase from Seinfeld, Smod is real and he’ll be spectacular (for a fraction of a second. And then silence. Sweet, sweet silence).

Kevin responds:

Jonah, I thank you for the kind words. But, hesitant as I am to disagree, I think you might need to think through this a little bit. I am second to none in my admiration for Sweet Meteor O’Death, and I pray devoutly that he arrives in one piece every time I turn on MSNBC, but there is a strong case to be made for Cthulhu in 2016.

Smod is a little bit like Rick Santorum: You may sympathize with what he stands for, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want him to be president. Imagine the fear, the absolute terror, the despairing wails of the entire human race at the moment of his arrival: You could get all that by nominating Santorum for secretary of education and saving the presidency for surer hands.

Jonah, I think this is another case of the tension between more libertarian-leaning conservatives such as myself and the more traditional Burkeans such as you. I am perfectly comfortable with a reign of eldritch chaos on Earth, while you, in spite of your own warnings against the totalitarian temptation, present us with the ultimate one-size-fits-all solution. Yes, solving all of our problems in a blinding flash of planet-ending mass extinction is, given the current political environment, a genuine feel-good solution — but what are we, hippies?

Sure, Smod is bound to have some clever campaign ads, e.g. a big picture of the Earth over the slogan “I’d Hit That!” (Another possible Smod motto: “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.” You’d think he’d have thought of that.) But we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by that kind of shallow demagoguery.

February 18, 2013

Chelyabinsk meteor provides impetus for enhanced detection network

Filed under: Space — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:11

Along with all the jokes about the meteor that streaked over Siberia last week, there has been some useful re-orientation of thought about the demonstrated need for better detection tools:

For decades, scientists have been on the lookout for killer objects from outer space that could devastate the planet. But warnings that they lacked the tools to detect the most serious threats were largely ignored, even as skeptics mocked the worriers as Chicken Littles.

No more. The meteor that rattled Siberia on Friday, injuring hundreds of people and traumatizing thousands, has suddenly brought new life to efforts to deploy adequate detection tools, in particular a space telescope that would scan the solar system for dangers.

A group of young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who helped build thriving companies like eBay, Google and Facebook has already put millions of dollars into the effort and saw Friday’s shock wave as a turning point in raising hundreds of millions more.

“Wouldn’t it be silly if we got wiped out because we weren’t looking?” said Edward Lu, a former NASA astronaut and Google executive who leads the detection effort. “This is a wake-up call from space. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s out there.”

Astronomers know of no asteroids or comets that pose a major threat to the planet. But NASA estimates that fewer than 10 percent of the big dangers have been discovered.

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