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President Idiot
I may have been premature in my blog of October 11 last year. “President Moron” was the title. As I explained in that piece, it was not I who was calling our president a moron, but rather his hand-picked Secretary of State, the estimable Rex Tillerson. Who better, I suggested at the time, to judge the intelligence of his boss than someone who worked closely with him on matters of great import?

The answer could only be someone who had worked even more closely with the President over a longer period of time on a broader range of issues. His Chief of Staff John Kelly, for instance, might be able to give a credible, informed assessment of the Commander in Chief’s mental state. We learned this week that General Kelly has provided that assessment (repeatedly, according to sources), and for the record he considers the President to be an “idiot.”

Again, this is not my opinion that I am reporting. It comes from a person close to the President who was also hand-picked for his position by his boss. It is that person’s opinion we are talking about here. He is an ally and a servant of the man he is judging, and he thinks that man is an idiot. I don’t have any regrets about the “President Moron” blog. I was citing the most reliable information available when I wrote it. Still, I don’t like having to update such findings. I try to be accurate in such matters just in case someone’s feelings may be hurt somehow in the course of my eagerness to inform others.

Perhaps I worry too much. “Moron” and “idiot” are often used interchangeably in ordinary discourse — to mean deeply stupid. My guess is that Kelly and Tillerson, though they apparently had differences on matters of style and policy, would surely agree that the President is deeply stupid. However, it is possible that they were actually quite careful in their choice of words. There was a time when psychologists parsed IQ scores in differentiating between idiots and morons. Under this now-outdated system, idiots (whose IQs ranged between 0 and 24) were classed lower than morons. A moron’s IQ might go as high as 70.

As I say, psychology has moved on from these unfortunate classifications, but they might still be useful today in answering this question: Just how stupid is Donald Trump? If his two close associates were using their words precisely, then we can say that General Kelly thinks the President is a lot stupider than Secretary Tillerson does.

But who to believe? Is he a moron or is he an idiot? In the interests of even-handed reporting, perhaps we should split the difference. In that old rating system there was a third category between the other two that described those whose IQs ranged between 25 and 50. Such people were referred to as “imbeciles.”

So, I will henceforth refer to Donald Trump as “President Imbecile.” Just to be fair.
To Summit Up
Kim Jong Un is
A dingy despot
He keeps The Button
On his desktop

He’ll discuss those nukes
With Donald Trumpfish
Whose expertise
Is Forrest Gumpish

A lunatic
An ignoramus
What could go wrong?
Ask Nostradamus
WWUD?
Protestant Christians often recommend that we ask ourselves “What Would Jesus Do?” before committing to action. The idea behind this simple screening device is to put ourselves in the shoes of the nicest guy that ever was (please use Buddha, if he’s your pick). If he (or she) would do it, then you are certainly good to go.

I’m an agnostic, but I have to admit that this is a pretty nifty little trick. For one thing, it takes you outside of yourself and away from your personal demons, including those pesky animal urges. Then it asks you to be as nice as you can imagine being. You don’t have to believe in God to think that might be a good approach to decision-making.

The trick also encourages you to reach beyond your grasp, which is also thought to be a good idea. Jesus may have been a man, but he was also a God. He had superpowers like walking on water, controlling the weather, and raising people from the dead. We are never going to be able to live up to that guy’s standards, but by trying we might accomplish some wonders of our own.

Still, if you are an agnostic you might have a hard time finding an appropriate model. And if you are an atheist (someone who, I am told, is absolutely certain that there are no deities) it might be even harder.

I’ve never met anyone with superpowers, though there are plenty of people who can amaze me with what they can do. That said, I don’t necessarily want to emulate someone just because they can balance five chairs on the tip their nose or solve a Rubik’s Cube in seven seconds. Also, most of the people in the Top Ten of Nice People are devoutly religious. Where does that leave me as a person who doesn’t believe in God? I’m never going to be as nice as Mother Teresa just by trying to do the right thing.

So is there some other way to get there? Is there some non-religious High Standard you can shoot for and therefore catapult yourself into the Top Ten? (Hypothetically, at least — I don’t know if I would have the energy to be that good.)

Well, how about this: WWUD? What Would the Universe Do?

At first blush, this may seem like a bad idea. Non-believers often see the universe as a vast, cold emptiness that does not care about the puny bits of protoplasm wiggling around on a tiny speck of dust in the Milky Way. That doesn’t seem like an attitude we’d want to adopt in our own lives. On the other hand, think of the upside. If the universe doesn’t care about us, then it’s not out to get us, either. There is no all-powerful force trying to make our existence more unpleasant. No Satan, in other words.

What’s more, the universe doesn’t seem to care about itself either. All it is concerned with is being, and — if you accept the current thinking about what black holes are up to — creating more universes. It’s a pretty simple formula, really: live life to the fullest by exploding supernovas, colliding galaxies, and spawning life all over yourself, but maintain your ultimate focus on the generations of existence that will live on long after you have died from the complications of entropy.

To me, that seems like a pretty good plan. Be, in the fullest sense, and do it with an eye to posterity. The universe doesn’t need to perform miracles in the manner of Jesus Christ because the universe is itself a miracle. If you ask WWUD?, that’s the shining example you’ll get back from the void.
What It Is
I had to cancel the presentation of my paper to the annual conference of the IAAA. It was a difficult decision, especially since I am on the board of the Intergalactic Association of Armchair Astrophysicists.

I had planned to detail my most recent work establishing the Pulsating Nodes Theory (PNT) as the appropriate visual metaphor for everything-that-there-is. My research, however, has uncovered some new findings that have led me to abandon that formulation. My apologies to my brothers and sisters in the Association. I promise you that my search for imaginary truth will not end here.

Still, I do not make this change of mind without some regrets. The PNT remains, in many ways, an apt analogy to the concepts that mere science has brought to the table of lay understanding. It imagines all existence as a 4-dimensional “mist” of pulsating nodes, each of which “blinks” (pulsates) at its own unpredictable rhythm, offering us a vision of a shimmering, layered cloud of multiverses existing beyond even meta-time.

A beautiful image, yes (especially if we had eyes to see beyond our three pathetic little dimensions), but I cannot sustain my support for this visualization. My communications with members of the other IAAA (International Alliance of Actual Astrophysicists) have opened my eyes to some inconvenient truths that undermine my theory. One concerns the Red Shift discovered by the astronomer Edwin Hubble over 90 years ago. The logical extrapolation from this phenomenon is that our immediate universe will continue to expand — with the rate of expansion actually speeding up — until it runs of of “gas,” leaving an unimaginably huge dead thing where once there was life and energy and light.

Not only is that a depressing prospect, it runs counter to the fundamental premise of the Pulsating Nodes Theory. The PNT posits a universe that expands, then contracts on itself, over and over again. Ours, along with an infinite number of other universes, would go on like this forever, thereby producing the light show of an infinite number of Big Bangs illuminating the cosmic fog of Is/Is not.

I have struggled (just as brother Einstein did) to explain away the Red Shift. Some of my friends in IAAA #2 were with me in this effort, including Christof Wetterich, a theoretical physicist at the University of Heidelberg. Chris proposed that the apparent shift was caused, not by an expansion of the universe, but by a change in mass in the observed phenomena. Such a change could mimic the symptoms of an expanding universe, thereby allowing the PNT conception to remain viable. I am sorry, Chris, but I cannot continue this charade any longer.

I had also clung to the hope that the hypothetical existence of white holes might somehow save the PNT from the junk pile. But no. The whole white hole idea felt like a desperate conspiracy theory aimed at denying the obvious: this universe (like all multiverses) will end up becoming nothing more than a vast headstone on its own grave, cold and dark and dead forever. The PNT might as well be buried there too.

There are some new hypotheses coming out of IAAA #2, however, that give me hope for a new meta-metaphor. I am calling it, for now, the Bubbling Multiverse Stew Theory. Indiana University physicist Nikodem Poplawski has cranked out some mathematical models suggesting that black holes represent other, newer universes a-birthing right here in our own. Those universes would not be included in our dead zone, but rather would live separate lives of their own. Those fledgling multiverses would end by producing their own self-made cemeteries, but on a different clock than ours. And, like this one, they would be creating new universes through their black holes.

It is as if each multiverse is a morsel of food in the Big Stew of eternal is-ness, and each bit is fully cooked in its own good time. Some bits are hunks of meat, others are celery or carrot or a pinch of spice. (I like to think of our universe, incidentally, as nice piece of lamb shank.) New morsels are being added all the time to this Eternal Crockpot, but eventually every ingredient becomes part of the broth.

Or whatever. As you can see, I’m still working on the Bubbling Multiverse Stew Theory (including the name). But I think it has promise as something-we-can-grasp as an explanation for everything-that-there-is. Watch this space/time.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon