Alternative Facts

I rode 12 miles with our bicycle Hash House Harrier group on Sunday. It was my first bicycle hash since a knee replacement in July. Despite hours on the stationary bike at the gym and fairly frequent but short bike rides with our friends Mary Anne and Darrell, my knee is still stiff, sore, and reluctant to get over the top of the pedal stroke. I’m a little concerned, and will have to give the orthopedic surgeon’s office a ring.

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Stopping for holiday cheer at the foot of A Mountain near downtown Tucson

Memory, they say, is unreliable when it comes to pain. I remember the same pain and stiffness after my left knee was replaced six years ago, but can’t remember how long it lasted. In any case the six-year-old knee’s fine now, and the new right knee is probably somewhere on the same healing curve … I hope. For now, continued exercise, ibuprofen on workout and bicycling days, horse-sized glucosamine/chondroitin tablets.

Polly, our live-at-home daughter, starts a new call center job today. Not a great job, and she has to drive clear across town to get to it, but it’s full time with benefits. We’re hoping she can move out and live on her own before too much longer. Wish her (and us) luck, okay?


Yesterday, at the end of my first tram tour at Pima Air and Space Museum, a visitor asked about a plane we’d driven by. It’s a Dutch plane, he said, pointing to a row of jet fighters off in the distance, too far away to identify which one he meant. I knew he couldn’t have seen what he thought he saw, because we don’t have any jets with Dutch markings. Not wanting to pop a paying guest’s bubble, I politely said I didn’t think we had a Dutch plane, but I’d look into it. There he was, two hours later, waiting for me at the start of my next tour. He’s taken the trouble to walk back to the airplane and photograph it, then hang around until I showed up again. This is his Dutch jet.

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Egyptian Shenyang J-6A

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Egyptian roundel & flag


I know that airplane well—it’s one of the ones I used to talk about to visitors, but had to drop from my narration with our new shortened tours. It’s a Shenyang J-6A, a Chinese-built MiG-19. The markings are Egyptian. You’d think no one could mistake a MiG with Arabic script on the nose for a Dutch jet, but I quickly realized the gentleman was fixated on the flag on the vertical tail. The Dutch flag is similar, with red, white, and blue bars. Egypt’s flag has red, white, and black bars. Now I’ve always had trouble distinguishing between dark blue and black, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt on that. But the roundel? Not even close. And Dutch fighters don’t normally wear the flag on their tail fins.

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Dutch F-104G Starfighter

It’s one thing to give correct info to museum visitors, but another thing entirely to argue with them. You make visitors feel small, they’ll complain, and it’ll double back on you. I explained that the jet was a Chinese-built MiG and that its markings were Egyptian, but tried to mollify him by saying I agreed the flag on the tail could be mistaken, from a distance, for the Dutch flag. He nodded, but I know he left the museum thinking he was right and I was wrong, and there’s nothing I can do about that. Dutch MiGs, though … now there’s an alternate reality for you!

I’m following two crazy women on Instagram.* They’re both QAnon conspiracy theory believers, but there’s room for only one QAnon queen and they both want the job. They spend a lot of time denouncing one another, even though they share a belief in the same illusory “facts,” and remind me of the museum visitor who’s convinced an Egyptian MiG is really Dutch.

I know better than to get in arguments with people who believe in what Kellyanne Conway calls “alternative facts.” Ever argue with a self-professed Christian who always comes back to “because the Bible says so”? Same thing with these folks. Some asshole said the word “pizza” in an email from John Podesta to Hillary Clinton was code for having sex with children, and all the rest follows.

Here’s something one of them posted this morning:

Me trying to explain to my parents all night that Bush Sr’s funeral was a military operation & all the criminals with sealed indictments got envelopes and that I spent every second of the past week attempting to foil a Deep State terror attack plan to make Q & Pizzagate truthers look bad & JFK JR…aw f*ck it. So what’s on the Fake News?

Oh, nothing, just real stuff, not nearly as funny as your news.

*Look, I hate vaguebooking as much as you do. If you can stand the insanity, look up robotinteriors and lizcrokin on Instagram.

© 2018, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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