• The Crossing Paths Issue

    Bad News: Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams

    The Crossing Paths Issue
    4 20

    Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers, things standing shall fall, but the moving ever shall stay.

    Bad News

    Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams

    As I write this introduction, a lukewarm cloud of mist envelops our little building in industrial north Brooklyn. It’s unclear if it’s a cue that the weather is finally shifting to the gently warm spring precipitation I’m accustomed to this time of year, or simply the waftings of an entire army of depressed twenty-somethings roasting bones and sparking bowls to celebrate this, the highest of holidays, April 20.

    Whether you’re blazed, rolling, still awake, still asleep, toking, smoking, or just plain reading about the anniversary of the BP oil spill (me) ... I suggest you wait until you’re of sound mind and body before operating this terrifying account of human history as it happened over the last 168 hours. Bad News is not just an affectation: last week was a comfortless cataclysm of studies, findings, and events proving once again that we’re failing to properly cope with the consequences of our actions as a species.

    So open a box of your driest cookies, wipe the potato chip grease off your hands, drop a needle onto the sountrack and let’s take a journey through time:

    Monday, April 13

    The week began with a few moments of dark and smokey images captured by the transforming robot sent deep into a reactor containment core in the ruins of the Fukushima power plant. The robot, which was designed to survive for a whole day in the extremely radioactive environment, broke down after only three hours of exposure. The objective was to locate and retrieve melted fuel rods in one of the three reactors destroyed in 2011. The fuel has yet to be contained, and the specialist engineers in charge of developing robots that can sustain such high levels of radiation have concluded that “the technology for robots to retrieve the nuclear fuel has yet to be developed.”

    NASA is making progress developing systems to significantly reduce a person’s metabolic system, effectively enabling human bodies to experience hibernation. The use-case here should be obvious: to send humans on long-timetable space voyages to nearby planets, lowering the amount of resources like electricity, oxygen, food, and ship volume necessary for long trips. In related news, I’ve been developing my own methodology for a near-comatose reduction in body function: Seamless, Netflix, and dysthymia.

    Today, the US Department of Defense came under fire for offering courses on structures of oppression, namely classes on prejudice and discrimination, sexism, and racism. The curriculumn reportedly criticizes the Bible, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence for perpetuating institutional oppressions. No word yet about whether or not the military gives a fuck about militarizing those structures, but they certainly do care about the public relation implications of this revelation: they’ve suspended the classes after outrage from the Right.

    US veterans who speak out against the Department of Veterans Affairs’ dismal track record of treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal tendencies are claiming that department officials are illegally accessing their medical records in an attempt to discredit them by – you guessed it – publicly accusing them of mental instability due to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Speaking of medical records, news today that Apple, IBM, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, and other medical industry players are teaming up to parse the vast but mostly unprocessed store of medical data with artificial intelligence. “You are ready for an upgrade, would you like to restart?” Remind me later.

    Amidst crude oil market dynamics – falling prices, rising surpluses, exchange rate woes – Russia and Iran have developed a strategy to avoid buying and selling with US dollars and could begin trading consumer goods and military products for crude oil as early as June, when a proposed UN sanction lift would open Iranian oil to the global marketplace. I’m reminded of the strange wisdom passed on to me by characters that used to show up to anti-war protests, saying things like: “money is like, evil man, I think we need to start using, like, the barter system, you know?”

    A little good news to conclude day one of the worst week in history: the European Science Foundation released a report today detailing all of the ways human civilization is completely unprepared for “Extreme Geohazards” and the risk major “natural and anthropogenic hazards” pose to human life on Earth. So, what’s the good news? Justin Bieber got put in a choke hold at Coachella.

    Tuesday, April 14

    Here is a word you’re probably going to start hearing more often: de-extinction. That’s what paleobiologists call the process of cloning or hybridizing extinct DNA back to life. You know ... like that movie Jurassic Park or the CBS show 60 Minutes (ay-oh!). But seriously folks – we’re closer than we ever have been to resurrecting Woolly Mammoths, Passenger Pigeons, and dope-as-fuck Thylacines. I have a DIY recipe for de-extinction if you’re interested: end industrial civilization and stop driving animals into extinction.

    More exciting news on the miniature military drone front: the latest crop of military-grade helicopters the size of vape pens with night vision HD cameras is rolling off the production line. You don’t have to use your imagination to anticipate the coming dystopia, just check out Lexus’ demonstration video of synchronized collaborative micro-drones. In completely unrelated news, Google just patented a system which controls a ‘plurality of robotic devices’. See you in the human battery pods!

    Otherwise it was a quiet Tuesday. Unless you count the right-wing militia assembling in southern Oregon to conduct armed patrols of gold mines threatened with Bureau of Land Management shutdowns.

    Wednesday, April 15

    Public trust in “the Internet” is slowly collapsing. Or so says the Global Commission on Internet Governance. Word to the wise: don’t trust the internet, it’ll just hurt you, leave you, then come crawling back. Song as old as time.

    Public trust in “water” is eroding, too. Water wholesalers in southern California have cut their water deliveries to farmers by 15 percent in the ongoing drought. If you’re a plant in California and feeling a little parched, might I suggest a refreshing bottle of Brawndo?

    Oh fuck, this is so good. Get this. Last month, the names and addresses of at least 100 top Homeland Security officials were leaked online by a group claiming affiliation with ISIS. But today, the Feds announced that they believe right-wing extremists from the United States were in fact behind the data dump. Before you launch photoshop to make some steel beams memes, it gets better; the authorities were tipped off when they found this message associated with the leak:

    “LET THESE EVIL NWO SATANISTS KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY FOR THEIR 911 TREASON, AND THEIR FUTURE FEMA CAMP PLANNED PUBLIC CRACKDOWN TREASON ALSO JESUS IS LORD, AND THE PUBLIC IS IN CHARGE, NOT THESE SATANIC NWO STOOGES”

    A new study telling us what we already knew came out today: getting too little light during the day, and not enough dark at night is seriously effecting our health. The CDC in the US calls it an epidemic. The Royal Society in the UK says it’s giving us breast and prostate cancer. The British Medical Journal says it’s an inevitable consequence of using electronics in bed. If you’re not laughing out of hopelessness at this point to be honest I’m not sure a joke about this will help.

    Thursday, April 16

    The chronic-sleeplessness-related-to-electronics-use news from yesterday didn’t sleep either – this morning Netflix shares jumped a whopping 13 percent. Almost 1 in 50 adults in the US pay Netflix for a streaming subscription, making the company larger than CBS or Viacom and quickly gaining on other major media networks. Sleep tight!

    Today, WikiLeaks published more than 200,000 files obtained from the breach into Sony Pictures which occurred during North Korean tensions around the movie The Interview. Actually, I was kind of disappointed by the leaks so far. What’s there? Basically just celebrity social security numbers and aliases, and Alex Trebec’s mustache sponsor.

    Not that I give a shit, but you know, maybe it’s notable: high income earners are also living paycheck to paycheck and having a difficult time accumulating savings.

    Writers at Gawker announced today that they would be unionizing and joining the Writers Guild of America East. I won’t say anything snarky about it because it’s never a good idea to piss off clickbait gossip columnists. Good luck! Solidarity Forever!

    I close one tab, and I open another: a new report today claims US army morale continues to worsen. You want a depressing image, imagine 403,000 soldiers saying quietly to a mirror: “I rarely count on good things happening to me”. That really happened: 52% of those quizzed were not optimistic about their lives. But I report on this just about every week, so what’s new? The US Army paid $287 million for a six year anti-depression ‘resiliency’ program that has apparently not accomplished any of its paltry goals of convincing at least half of American soldiers that things will eventually feel/be/seem better. What is the military’s solution to this problem. Get your Kleenex ready: “the Army calculated new findings but lowered the threshold for a score to be a positive result. As a consequence, for example, only 9% of 704,000 score poorly in optimism.”

    Lastly on this dreary April Thursday, Boeing reports that they sold a startling zero jumbo jets last year. That’s zero jets with one zeroes.

    Friday, April 17

    You’d think that five years after the catastrophic oil spill caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig we’d be at least one or two years closer to less risk of a similar disaster, but according to an analysis published by The Guardian we’re exactly zero years closer to avoiding the next disaster. That’s zero years with one zeroes.

    Thousands of Iraqi refugees are pouring out of Ramadi as experts predict ISIS may be capable of taking the entire city. No jokes here: shit sucks.

    Wal-Mart said that the reason they spontaneously closed five stores was due to ‘plumbing issues’. Officials familiar with the matter say it has nothing to do with the Black Friday protests workers there organized because officials familiar with the matter are fucking liars.

    Don’t look now, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon are nearly done testing a medium-range retina scanner capable of identifying a person by patterns in their irises at a distance of forty feet. Some critics say that this could lead to privacy violations, citing every single aspect of this new technology.

    All things considered, the year 2015 has been a great year so far. A great year for apocalyptic dust storms caused by the desertification of Africa and central Asia.

    Saturday, April 18

    How we survived the week so far, I’ll never know. It’s been a real gross one. But hey, weekends are usually slow news-wise so maybe I’ll find something to raise our spirits and faith in humanity?

    Ah, here we go: The FBI admits today that since 1989 they’ve been overstating certainty in forensic hair matching which has lead to hundreds of wrongful felony convictions. In fact, FBI examiners gave flawed testimonies in 95% of cases decided based on hair DNA evidence. Remember: law and order is all that separates us from those beasts which somehow manage to coexist in symbiosis for millennia. So much for a pick-me-up.

    Sunday, April 19

    Nothing happened today unless you count the deadly blasts in Afghanistan, the claim of responsibility for an attack on the United Nations in Mali, yet another major migrant death disaster in the Mediterranean, or when police open fire on a separatist protest in Kashmir. Other than those things and a bunch of other especially depressing developments, Sunday was pretty much like every other Sunday.

    Tune in next week:

    I put a fresh coat of lilac semi-gloss on the pantry of my subterranean bunker! My phone battery dies for 45 minutes when I’m stuck at a party and I start crushing a lightbulb into my bowl of salsa! The mysterious hyper massive super void coming into focus at the edge of the universe turns out to be the underworld!

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