Thursday, May 5, 2011

Meteor Strike

Say what you will, for or agin' him, you have to admit that President Obama has some big, giant gonads. Or, if Obama was a she, some big giant ovaries.

I mean, all that jowl-shaking, turkey-wattle, war-wimp pufferfish talk about how Reagan was The Man... Obama puts Reagan's soggy, half-inflated, crumpled-up, watery old ball sack in perspective. It makes the coming 2012 candidates coming from the right look like so many shit-covered flies buzzing around a wet smelly little turd called the Republican party.

And then, to pound a few nails into the soft cheese-filled skull of the foul, rancid puss-filled D-bag Trump is just, wow, almost an imperial afterthought. Let's face it, fucking Trump's got a ratty old vermin-infested cum-stained mattress where his soul should be, and he was put down the way he should be with all his vile racist shit posing as curious inquiry. Obama's casual flick of the finger, banishing that rich (poor) white trash putz into an orbit beyond Pluto was Classic! Classic!

The Pakistan raid was a huge political gamble, and we need to recognize, as in any risk-taking activity, that the negative outcome vastly outweighs the payoff. Had things gone south (*cough* Desert One Carter *cough*), as they could have in ten thousand horrible ways, that would have been the end of the Obama presidency. Further, in fact, the end of any person of a color darker than, say, bone white ever having any kind of position within our primate power structures.

For good or ill, that bold act all on its lonesome got my vote come November 2012.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

Today, walking around campus, I smelled the smell of Spring in the air.  Spring, hopefully, after this rather over-worked and elaborate finding of keys to unlock Winter over the past two months, is finally here. And I experienced a powerful memory smell association with the smells of Spring. A smell memory as fine as a rich cup of coffee, with all the musical metaphors that accompany such a smell. The earthy bass line, the rich nutty melody, the dense sweet fruity harmonic companionship. Or is the melody fruity? Who fucking cares.

I had a vivid memory of going down to Hannah's Nursery with my father. It invaded my consciousness like the Russian Army. It's a wonderful memory, accompanied by the feel and sight of warm sunlight in a greenhouse enclosure. I've always felt greenhouses, like libraries, are the first and best examples of human civilization. In a way, greenhouses are libraries, but with plants for books. Anyway, it's a good memory and I will savor it as much as I can.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

Charlie Stross recently expressed a dark fantasy involving the utter annihilation of the Royal Family of England. Or Great Britain. Or the United Kingdom. Whatever.  It's all just idle speculation, I'm sure. Just a spot o' fun to play with. Also, probably partially Charlie crowd-sourcing for ideas, fishing about for interesting contingencies. A partial reading of his commenter's thoughts basically devolved to line of succession and King Ralph scenarios.

But it got me to thinking... Charlie's instrument of destruction is a meteor strike. Specifically, Charlie says:
"The devastating explosion that ripped through Westminster Abbey less than an hour ago is confirmed to be a meteorite. The 10 meter object was tracked on radar by National Air Traffic Service (NATS) prior to impact. According to Project Spaceguard it was considered to be of low significance, Official sources say terrorism is not involved."
  The wedding party is very accurately wiped out by this celestial object. But really now, given our species tendencies towards misinterpreting events, and reading significance into random accident, and intent into unfortunate coincidence, what exactly are the chances of some type of conspiracy theory developing around this 10 ton object from Outer Space? Hands? Anyone?

Fucking A right there's gonna be a conspiracy theory! A meteorite that only takes out the Royal Family and the British government? Which makes me wonder just how large the  smoking hole has to be before it moves from human agency to act of God. Just how large the object has to be. The interesting thing here is that it is similar to problems in music and art. In visual art, it would be a matter of scale impacting the viewer. The equivalent of scale in music would be some combination of tempo or volume, I suppose. But the interesting thing here is how the continuous range of a parameter (meteorite heft and size, scale of a sculpture, etc.) results in an abrupt and discontinuous change in perception or behavior.

In math, this is called an inflection point. In dumbed-down middlebrow-speak, the term is "tipping point". The interesting thing is, is there an exact, precise inflection point? Or a range? Since we are dealing with human psychology, I'd go with range.

A meteorite that takes out Westminster Abbey versus, say, the structure and five hundred yards out, so that a substantial part of the commoner crowd dies as well, turns the catastrophe into a chance event. But two hundred yards, fifty? How large a crowd has to die to kill off the conspiracy theory? Probably a term paper in this somewhere...

I probably think out things like these more than is necessary.

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