By now you have almost certainly heard about #NotMyPresident Mad King Donald J. Trump's proposed suggestion to stop hurricanes before they hit the US of A. An August 25 Axios piece by Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev reported that on several occasions Trump has asked senior Homeland Security and national security officials about the idea of using nuclear bombs to disrupt the storms as they're making their way across the Atlantic from Africa. A source said that the attendees at one such meeting were stunned into silence at the suggestion, a silence so profound that "you could hear a gnat fart."
Which raises a whole new series of questions about whether gnats really do fart, but I don't want to get too far off point.
Let's get the really important stuff out of the way first.
What Trump said about nuking hurricanes was... Well... okay, since you didn't ask, but might ask at some point, and I want to save you the effort of Googling, I did some further research on the gnat-fart question. I may be a lazy blogger, but I will always, always go the extra mile, or at least an extra few feet, for my four or five faithful readers. Gnats are insects, and it seems that some insects do fart, though it is highly unlikely that the farts are audible, no matter how quiet a room might become in response to a profoundly stupid utterance that a given Oaf of Office might make.
According to entomologist and presumed bug-fart expert Elsa Youngsteadt of North Carolina State University, it's possible to hear insects masticating (that's masticating, you naughty person) and defecating (apparently insect poop is called "frass," and when the frass hits the grass it can make a sound if someone's around), but there is no literature suggesting that insect farts can be heard, at least by humans. Youngsteadt helpfully adds that termites are the fartiest insects, but she seems closemouthed about gnats. I keep my mouth closed too when gnats are around, and there are far too many of them around in my neck of the woods this time of year.
In any case, if you care to do further research, you may or may not find the answer to the gnat-fart mystery in a 1994 study titled, "Methane production in terrestrial arthropods" by JH Hackstein and CK Stumm. My careless perusal of the abstract leads me to believe that gnats, of which there are numerous species in the dipterid suborder Nematocera, are not among the farters, although cockroaches and millipedes are, which as far as I'm concerned is yet another reason to intensely dislike cockroaches and millipedes. (And yes, I know that millipedes are not insects, but they are arthropods.) We have had an infestation of millipedes here this year, and they're especially thick after it rains, and they are just plain icky. Now that I know that every individual in those big clusters is not only looking disgusting but is also probably farting his or her little brains out, my life is nearly complete. A nearly complete nightmare, that is, at least after the rain.
But gnats? Not gas-passing arthropods, apparently.
So does all of this mean that the un-named source who said that "you could hear a gnat fart" is unreliable, and that we can therefore conclude that Trump did not in fact suggest bombing hurricanes?
Well, Trump himself has repeatedly dismissed the reports about his hurricane Rx as "fake news." He tweeted it on August 26, for instance, and got mightily trolled, so you owe it to yourself to follow that tweet link. And here's another one, for good measure.
But Jonathan Swan, co-author of the Axios piece, responded to Trump's initial accusation by tweeting:
I stand by every word in the story. He said this in at least two meetings during the first year and a bit of the presidency, and one of the conversations was memorialized.Who you gonna believe, then? A fake-news journalist, or a man for whom truth-telling has always been a sacred duty?
The tough-love approach
As you are probably also aware, Trump did not just pull the concept of nuking hurricanes out of his aperture. Well, maybe he did, but the concept didn't originate with him. He simply swallowed it whole, repeatedly, and it came out of his other end, repeatedly. (Allegedly.) Or maybe he regurgitated it; it's difficult to tell, but either way there's a smell.
But apparently the idea can actually be traced back to the Eisenhower era. That said, it has been debunked, repeatedly, though it keeps resurfacing, to the point that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a fact sheet online to explain why nuking a hurricane would not work and would almost certainly create far more damage than it prevented.
But my guess is that Trump does not read factual stuff like that. (I know, I probably lost some of you at the concept of Trump reading.)
Of course Donald Trump is far from the first and will be far from the last person to allegedly suggest a wackadoodle plan for battling a natural disaster. WaPo ran a good capsule history of some of humanity's harebrained ideas to fight hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and whatnot. F'rinstance:
Yeah, what Jones said.In the early 1960s, the U.S. Army decided to dispose of more than 150,000 gallons of nerve gas by drilling a well deep into the Colorado earth and pumping the toxic waste into it. Soon after, earthquakes began breaking out in the Denver suburbs. The implication was tantalizing: if they could figure out how to set off small earthquakes, maybe they could do so selectively, thereby relieving seismic pressure and preventing “The Big One.”
“They actually proposed this idea, to drill wells and pump in water and trigger small earthquakes along the San Andreas,” William Bilodeau, chair of the geology department at California Lutheran University, told VCReporter. “And they got fairly far along in the planning process and then people began to say, ‘Wait a minute — what happens if we set off a really big earthquake?’ ”
We should know by now, Jones said, that we can’t stop earthquakes, we can’t stop plate tectonics. And if we keep trying, we might just make them worse.
And not all of the loony-tunes schemes proposed have been in the service of saving hapless human creatures from the wrath-o-God. Some plans have apparently been proposed for no higher purpose than to advance a big dick war. I'm thinking of a certain Cold War era plan by the US to detonate nukes on the Moon, just to show Russia who was boss.
On the other hand, there was a mathematician and crackpot named Alexander Abian (1923-1999) who thought we should just blow the whole Moon up, which, Abian theorized, would solve virtually all of the problems of human existence. He claimed that a Moonless Earth would not wobble, which would eliminate seasons and associated events such as heat waves, snowstorms, and hurricanes. He was full of crap, but at least he had a higher purpose in mind than showing Russia who was boss.
The TLC approach
If the idea of blowing stuff up -- of fighting destructive forces with yet more destructive forces -- does not appeal to you, you will be delighted to know that there is an alternative, which involves meditation, prayer, and direct loving communication with the destructive forces of nature, most especially hurricanes. Intrepid reporter that I am, I have reported on this alternative numerous times on this Whirled (hint: you'll get more results if you follow the Google image search). One of my favorite hurricane communicators is a woman named Lynn S. Marks, who also calls herself "Phoenix" and SpiritDiva, and who actually channels messages from hurricanes. She believes that contrary to their bad press, hurricanes are forces of love, and if you talk nice to them, especially in groups over the phone or the Interwebz, you might be able to persuade them to kill fewer people than they would if left to their own devices.
I have been writing about SpiritDiva since the early daze of this blog, back in 2006. A more recent post covered her communications with Hurricane Irma in 2017. Here's a direct link to SpiritDiva's messages from Irma.
But Lynn/SpiritDiva/Phoenix is not the only wind whisperer in crazy town. There's also Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, an even more frequent snarget here. By his own objective self-assessment, Mr. Fire has not only been able to neutralize hurricanes with his love-and-light techniques, but also oil spills and even wildfires. You can get an idea of his magickal powers right here, and there are links to previous musings on his awesome wind-whispering skills. I remain especially impressed by the way he and his group of meta-taters neutralized Hurricane Ike in 2008.
As you may have predicted, thinking about Joe Vitale leads back to the topic of insect farts. I am pondering now on how bug farting might possibly be harnessed for the greater good. I know that farting and burping, at least from cows, supposedly contribute to global warming and the climate crisis, but Trump et al. claim that that all of that climate stuff is a hoax, so one just doesn't know what to believe. Be that as it may, I was thinking that it might be possible that insect farts could somehow be channeled to fight... well, something -- maybe those dangerous murderous rapey immigrants who are constantly threatening the US's Southern border. After all, it has been proven that in the insect world, farts can be deadly, at least to other insects. So maybe bug toots can be weaponized to fight greater threats.
But that is most likely worthy of a whole other blog post. We were talking about hurricanes, and, all things considered, if I were forced to choose, I believe I'd opt for Phoenix the wind whisperer's tender-love approach over the nuclear option. Pretending to channel storms might be totally useless, but at least it's harmless and entertaining.
As for the deeply unnatural disaster currently infesting the White House, though, I think the solution lies in getting a sufficient number of rational, informed, and intelligent people out to vote in 2020. It's our only hope. Otherwise, it's four more years of loony ideas and policies from the White House and Mar-a-Lago. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if Trump did actually promote the weaponization of bug farts.
PS ~ Here are some marginally saner ideas about weather modification, but most of them probably won't work either. And besides, we have enough weather-manipulation conspiranoia already.
PPS added 3 September 2019: When it comes to dealing with hurricanes there's another tough-love advocate, who also happens to be a yuuuge Trump fan: a pink-haired "Christian" prophet named Ket Kerr. Upon hearing that Hurricane Dorian might be threatening Herr Twitler's "Winter White House," Mar-a-Lago in Florida, Kerr declared that she would not tolerate it. From what I can understand of her babbling, it seems that hurricanes are created by God but have been co-opted by Satan, but Kerr said that she and her "Weather Warrior" followers have taken authority over this evil, with the help of Jesus H. Christ Himself, whom Kerr claims to know personally and who she says is a big Trump fan too. I guess the Weather Warriors' directed fury was effective, because as disappointing as it may be to many, Mar-a-Lago will most likely be spared from a direct hit from the storm. Better luck next time, Satan.*
* NOTE: I want to make it clear that I absolutely would NOT wish any physical harm on any human being or other living creature, not even a Trump, as a result of any given storm. But if Mar-a-Lago itself were flattened, let me just say that I would not grieve.
Other posts about wind on this Whirled:
- September 2008 -- After the storm: a wind whisperer and a Bible thumper weigh in
- July 2009 -- Horse farts and related matters
- August 2017 -- The dirty side of the storm
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