Last Week(s) in Weird

Bumbling Bees was dark all last week due to technical difficulties. Our apologies! Now to get back to business, and business is weird!

The one good thing about Hillary Clinton

She’s old and infirm, and, seventeen years after her humiliating electoral defeat, it is highly unlikely that she’ll still be haunting around trying to destroy human civilization for fun and profit. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Al Gore, whose pet foundation, the Energy Transitions Commission, is hard at work attempting to end energy generation for the sake of global fairness and also oh didn’t you see that picture of the polar bears on the ice floe??

In particular, the group has released a report outlining its plan to save the world from the dread existential terror of possibly being very slightly warmer than it is now, while at the same time also battling global inequality and presumably paying off your student loans too. It’s going to take a bit to build toward the punch line on this one, but it’s worth it.

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You're gonna carry that weight a long time

Last Week in Weird

Golden slumbers fill your eyes

There is nothing so bizarre that the mainstream press won’t report it — so long as they think it’ll make Donald Trump look bad, anyhow. To wit, Buzzfeed simply couldn’t help itself; in a move that it desperately wants the American people to believe is just normal, everyday journalistic practice, Buzzfeed’s highly-paid staff of journalismic integrisaurs published this report — without verifying it at all — which is riddled with typographical and factual errors, reads like something written by a less-than-especially-bright teenager, and, above all, makes the following startling claim:

According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.[everything sic]

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I ain't even got an oesophagus!

Last Week in Weird

Ain’t no rest for the wicked

Bumbling Bees loves you. You know that. And Bumbling Bees is good to you. Other web sites are phoning it in this time of year — wasting your time with boring retrospectives and "Best of 2016" lists, as though said lists don’t begin and end with the utter annihilation of Hillary Clinton. Well, you’ll have none of that here. We’ll be soldiering boldly onward into 2017, because the weird don’t rest, so neither do we.

And neither does Slate, which has just published the absolute worst opinion piece of the year. I know what you’re thinking: mighty bold claim for January second. Still and all, I am confident this piece will survive 363 days of challenges. It’s a piece about a big problem with self-driving cars. Now, let’s play a little game. Take a minute or so and think about what this piece could possibly be saying. What could be this big problem with self-driving cars? What mind-bogglingly stupid thing do you suppose Slate has chosen to ring in the new year? Think of the dumbest thing you can possibly imagine, and then check and see how close you were.

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MUH LECTIONS

Last Week in Weird

I was away all last week, to be honest. I’m sure we all agreed not to do anything weird while I was gone, right?

The Phantom Menace

Now that the election is over and Countess Parkinson von Dracula has been returned to her eternal slumber in the crypts of the damned, the more naïve among us probably expected that the Russian-baiting would recede juuuuuust a bit. Fortunately for America, the Washington Post is too busy seeking out the cold, hard truth to allow made-up fairy tales about evil Soviet hacking teams to die! Here’s an entirely sober story in this entirely serious, respectable paper about how absolutely everything is a Russian plot.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human "trolls," and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

Is that the delicate aroma of sour grapes I detect? Could it be that the professional propagandists at the Washington Post are attempting to cover up their obvious (and hilarious!) failure by inventing imaginary dragons to pretend they weren’t equipped to slay? Is it possible, do you suppose, that this is the passive-aggressive way regime mouthpieces ask for a raise in the face of an embarrassingly bad performance? Further research: learn what a "botnet" is, and then come back and tell me if you really think the Russian government employed thousands of distinct botnets in its attempt to get Donald Trump elected president.

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Hope and change and also death

Last Week in Weird

Government in microcosm

On Wednesday, CNN did one of its hilariously phony "Town Hall" bits, in which a carefully-screened group of people asks prearranged questions, and president Obama uses them as an excuse to talk about how great he art. This week, the widow of a soldier who committed suicide asked the president what could be done to reduce to rate of veteran suicides from its current level of twenty-two per day, and the president, in between two different anecdotes about how many lives he personally has saved through the awesome power of bureaucracy, dispensed this pearl of wisdom:

We are hiring more mental health professionals. But the fact that there’s still 20 a day who are feeling hopeless means that we’ve got to do more. And, you know, anybody who’s watching right now, if you call the, you know, veterans help line, there’s going to be somebody there to answer.

So, really, all those suicidal soldiers need to do is call up the government’s suicide help line, where the highly-trained professionals from the government will be there to help. I guess this story would have a happy ending, then, if it weren’t for one niggling little detail: quite often, when people call the suicide help line, there actually isn’t anybody there to answer.

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PIkachu, I mug you!

Last Week in Weird

It’s super effective!

Though this is not explicitly a gaming publication, I have no concern about my readership’s familiarity with Pokémon Go — Nintendo’s augmented-reality monster-catching phenomenon is redefining what it means to be a hit mobile game, having long since drawn a larger user base than previous efforts such as Candy Crush Saga, Twitter, and Google Maps, while bringing in so much revenue that one has to suspect the Bernank himself is giving Nintendo advice on how to print money. Indeed, Pokémon Go has been such a runaway success that New York City assemblyman Felix Ortiz has decided that the game now requires his personal oversight:

"Like any new technology, it has its advantages and disadvantages, and like any new technology, it has to be looked at very, very carefully. Everything comes down to people’s responsibility as well as corporate responsibility," Ortiz said Tuesday. "Every single one of us who might want to play this game have to be very cautious. Who’s sending what, and what is the follow up? Everyone should be cautious to make sure that no intruders will be able to tap into this and have people think they’re going to the park when in reality they’re going to a be targeted by some rapist. People could think they’re going to the bank, but in reality, someone is waiting to take their money."

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Last Week in Weird

A new low in identity politics

The big shocking news this past week was that Donald Trump, the most hateful man in America, running for president on the Hate Party ticket with the slogan "Make America Hateful Again," hatefully spoke hate speech about how much he hates the Jews. What horrible effluence of hatred emerged from the Donald’s Twitter feed this time? This hatefully anti-semitic hate picture of Hillary Clinton:

(((Hillary)))

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Turn me on, dead man

Last Week in Weird

What an astonishing coincidence!

Sometimes strange things happen that may seem to have some sort of causal relationship with one’s actions, but are really just pure coincidence. The classic example would be "street light interference phenomenon" — people who believe that, when they approach street lights, those street lights are disproportionately more likely to turn off. While boring reality suggests that, actually, the mysterious phenomenon is primarily a product of confirmation bias, to one experiencing it, the effect can seem pretty profound. Similarly, while it’s no doubt purely coincidental, it can certainly seem suspicious that John Ashe, former president of the United Nations General Assembly, accidentally crushed his own throat two days before he was set to testify against Hillary Clinton. Man, what are the chances?

The New York Post’s Page Six reported that after Ashe was found dead Wednesday, the U.N. claimed that he had died from a heart attack. Local police officers in Dobbs Ferry, New York, later disputed that claim, saying instead that he died from a workout accident that crushed his throat. [Lack of italics original]

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Math is hard! Let's go take a diversity class!

Last Week in Weird

Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!

Wayne State University in Detroit has a long and proud history — it’s been in existence since 1868, hosts almost thirty thousand students every year, and may or may not be bankrolled by Batman through his Wayne Foundation. In a move nearly as creepy, disconcerting, overflowing with the social and moral philosophy of the 1970s and generally stupid as a Pink Floyd song, Wayne State University has announced that it will no longer require all students to study mathematics, but will now require them to take "diversity" classes instead. If you’re interested in the sort of word soup that can pour forth from the word extruders of the university’s General Education Reform Committee, which proposed this wonderful "reform," here’s a choice sample:

Year 1 focuses around a paired set of "Year 1 Core" courses designed to generate excitement, build key academic and practical skills, and build a sense of community… These core courses are intended to help excite students about the promise of a university education, build key skills essential for student success, and to increase a student’s feelings of "belongingness" to the university community…

[W]e feel that the Student Communities and the Capstone courses will increase a student’s meaningful interaction with their peers and the community, thus leveraging the incredible diversity of our university. Finally, we are proposing the creation of specific "Diversity" courses, with students required to take one course in this designation. These courses will provide opportunities for students to explore diversity at the domestic level and consider the ways in which it intersects with real world challenges at the local, national and/or global level.

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Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do

Last Week(s) in Weird

(We’ve been dark for a few weeks, so, to celebrate the return of Last Week in Weird, we bring you a collection of weird and wonderful tidbits from the last several weeks!)

Vaporizeware

A few months ago, I bought a USB floppy drive. I know what you’re thinking: what’s a floppy drive? See, back in the dark age of technology, data was stored on removable media that could hold up to — up to, mind you — 1.44 megabytes. I distinctly recall carrying all the data I owned in the world around in my breast pocket on three such diskettes. Nowadays this technology has fallen by the wayside, and only crusty old codgers like your humble narrator still remember it.

Crustier even than I is the United States Department of Defense, which recently revealed that the coordination of the nation’s entire nuclear arsenal — which amounts to more than five thousand warheads — is performed by software loaded on original 8-inch floppy disks running on a 1976 IBM Series/1 minicomputer.

Defense has plans to upgrade its nuclear-related technology system soon. Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, department spokeswoman, said: "This system remains in use because, in short, it still works. However, to address obsolescence concerns, the floppy drives are scheduled to be replaced with Secure Digital devices by the end of 2017. Modernization across the entire Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3) enterprise remains ongoing."

I’ll be honest with you: it’s fun to pick on the government, but the argument "this system remains in use because… it still works" carries a lot of weight with me, especially considering that you and I will be paying the tab for any upgrades. Honestly, I want these things (assuming they must exist at all, of course) upgraded as infrequently as possible. Since CNBC is shocked at the downright gaucheness of the government using "creaky" technology, I would like to suggest that CNBC foot the bill for upgrading it and leave the rest of us alone.

On second thought, I’d like to suggest that it not be upgraded at all; do we really want the Treasury Department’s ability to assess tax liability to be more efficient or (God forbid) user friendly? Do we really want the tax system or the nuclear launch codes to be an option when the next Guccifer decides to take the United States government for a ride?

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