Ted Cruz, In A Nutshell: The Problem With Anti-Obama and Cuba Arguments


Ted Cruz is a fantastic and fanatical liar, the kind who believes that whatever he is saying is not just true, but divinely inspired, and that if you point out he is lying, then you are an unpatriotic leftwinger who wants to destroy America, and probably shoot God in the face. It isn’t just the lying, though: it’s his ability to say complete nonsense with utter self-righteous conviction that makes him so loathsome. His statements on President Obama’s visit to Cuba, written for Politico, are a perfect example. 

Before we get into the heart of his “argument”, it is important to look at how he opens. This is why Ted Cruz is the preeminent culture warrior of our time. Luxuriate in the connections here, in his ability to conjure up every fear that an aging white reactionary might have. No one is a better name-dropper than Cruz. Trump is an amatuer compared to him. Angela Davis!

Communist Havana has always been a magnet for the radical chic of the left, drawn like moths to the flame of this western outpost of totalitarian Communism. Back in the 1960s, the visitors included Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael, while Che Guevara himself received Jean-Paul Sartre.

Now this scene will include a president of the United States. On Sunday, President Barack Obama, a retinue of celebrities in tow, is expected to arrive in the Cuban capital to hang out with Raul Castro and his henchmen, all of which will be breathlessly documented by the media mavens along for the ride

Stokley! Che and Sartre! Ted Cruz imagines himself the perfect melding of Buckley and Spiro Agnew (see, it’s easy!), and he quivers with the privileged anger of every sort-of-smart Young Republican.

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Life on Pluto?



The dark parts are the “heavily craters and ancient terrain of the Ctulhu Region”, and that’s just awesome. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via Scientific American

No, of course not. That’s just clickbait. But as this amazing Scientific American post by Lee Billings highlights, Pluto is far weirder and more inexplicable that we had imagined. If this paragraph doesn’t give you chills, you’re made of sterner stuff that you should be.


The biggest surprises have been Pluto’s surface and atmosphere, which are restlessly active and diverse despite average temperatures of only tens of degrees above absolute zero. Some scientists expected New Horizons would find Pluto to be little more than an inert, sunlight-starved orb. Instead, the spacecraft encountered a world where nitrogen glaciers flow down into plains of frozen methane from towering mountains of water ice. Sunless half-frozen oceans lurk deep beneath the surface, and multiple moons tumble overhead through hydrocarbon-hazed red skies that tinge to blue at sunrise and sunset.

You really owe it to yourself to read the whole piece. What strikes me- beside the haunting beauty of an ancient distant object that has billions of years of scarred and shattering history, without realizing it, and without having any connection to our magnified insignificance- is that the solar system is far stranger and more unexpected than we had even imagined.  Pluto is bizarre. Its moons are bizarre. Its oceans are mind-blowing.

To me, I think that our with knowledge that even the parts of the universe relatively right next to us are capable of enormous surprises, combined with the recent awareness that there are billions of planets potentially capable of holding life, we’ve passed the point where anyone can reasonably say we are definitively alone in the universe. There was no single point where that happened, but we are in the middle of a major turning point for our species.

We almost certainly won’t discover life in my lifetime, the only thing that actually makes me depressed about a finite existence, and we might not ever in the timespan of humans, an end to which we weirdly accelerate. But since there is no way to reasonably of logically think that life can’t exist elsewhere, and since in an essentially endless universe that which can happen almost certainly does, it’s pretty clear we aren’t alone. I think as that awareness seeps in, over the next few generations, regardless of a major discovery, we’ll have to start to really reckon with it, morally.

I don’t, of course, think there is any impact in the knowing that somewhere, there might be life. It won’t affect us directly. But we’ll have to reconcile that with our narcissistic mythologies and increasingly witless eschatologies. That isn’t a bad thing. It might actually be the most incredible development in human history, as breathtaking as nitrogen glaciers, with no measure of man, tumbling silently to a sunless sea.



In Which I Converse With My Dearly Departed Father About a .207-Hitting Muppet And His Son…


A scenario in which one can reasonably assume that the dead can interact with the living, but can’t get ESPN. 

Bob: Hey!

Me: Whoa! Oh, hey.

Bob: Isn’t it a little early for a beer?

Me: It’s uh…I don’t think…I mean

Bob: (laughs uproariously, in surround sound)

Me: (laughs uproariously)

Bob: So, how are our beloved White Sox doing? How do they look this year?

Me: Well…they’re the talk of spring training! Every news outlet is doing a story on them. Even People magazine!

Bob: Well, that’s great! They must have gotten some powerful lumber-wielders and slick leather-slingers to complement their already fearful coterie of flamethrowers. 

Me: Well…actually, it’s about a 14-yr-old boy.

Bob: …

Me: Yeah

Bob: I assume he’s some kind of phenom? A Griffey-esque prodigy who the suits at MLB won’t let play, due to some kind of rules against taking kids too early- a policy, by the way, about which I’ve been meaning to complain to Management, that we don’t have here. 

Me: Nope. Just a kid whose dad wants him in the locker room all the time. It’s sort of tearing the team apart. It’s all anyone can talk about. So yeah, big news. Big, big news.

Bob: …

Me: …

Bob: I gotta go. I’m having dinner with Groucho. 

Me: Oh, tell him I said hi!

Bob: Nope.