Conspiracy Theory

March 4, 2020

HOW happy is he, as all may see
Who has the good fortune a fool to be,
And what you tell him will always believe!
No ambition can grieve,
No fear can affright him
Which are wont to be seeds
Of pain and annoy.
This doctor of ours,
‘Tis not hard to delight him–
If you tell him ’twill gain him
His heart’s wish and joy,
He’ll believe in good faith that an ass can fly,–
Or that black is white, and the truth a lie,–
All things in the world he may well forget–
Save the one whereon his whole heart is set.

–Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527).

There are people who believe that the Earth is a flat disc, the sky above a sphere of acrylic with stars painted on its inner surface; the sun and moon are, according to these folk, mounted upon some sort of trackway that allows them to move, with the seasons and the days, above a stationary, flat Earth. This would not be surprising if the people who so believe were savages, with no knowledge of astronomy, geography, physics or any other science. But they are not; they are reasonably well-educated, not all unintelligent, citizens of modern, 21st century industrial nations. They believe that the powers-that-be know the truth–that the Earth is truly flat–but for some sinister reason are keeping it from the ‘sheeple,’ who must be kept in the dark (presumably on the underside of the disc), and not allowed to know the truth.

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Space Plumbing

July 22, 2009


 Space station toilet breaks down

The main toilet has broken down on the International Space Station (ISS), currently home to a record 13 astronauts, Nasa said.

BBC News 20 July 2009


ISS:  Houston, we have a problem.

CAPCOM:  What now, ISS?  We have problems down here too, you know.  The espresso machine is screwed again, for the second time this week.

ISS:  I sympathise, really I do, but this problem is serious.  It’s kinda delicate, I don’t know how to say this, you know, gracefully, but we have experienced malfunction of our Human Waste Processing and Disposal Facility.

CAPCOM:  Oh, God.  Not the HWPDF again.  Have the Russians been using it?  Last time they put something disgusting in and we had to get a plumber up.  The callout charge put paid to half our budget.  What’s happening?

ISS:  Well, um, nothing goes down.  It just sits there, hovering.  If you don’t close the lid real fast it floats right on up out.

CAPCOM:  Stand by, ISS, we’ll get someone on it.


CAPCOM:  Come in ISS.  Do you copy?

ISS:  (Sound of coughing) Roger, Houston, loud and clear.  The smell’s getting kinda bad.  Any news?

CAPCOM:  Plumbing wants to know if the fan’s working.

ISS:  What fan?

CAPCOM:  The one inside the toilet that sucks the stuff down into the pipe.

ISS:  How does that work?  Wouldn’t the shit hit the fan?

CAPCOM:  Of course the shit hits the fan.  (Sigh).  It’s supposed to.  The fan pulls it into the pipe and chops it up.  You haven’t got any gravity there where you are, you know.

ISS:  Ok, I understand.  How do I find out if the fan’s working?

CAPCOM:  You stick your head into the toilet and see if you can hear it.  Its supposed to make a sort of whirring noise.  If you can hear it it means the strum box is blocked.  If it’s that, you have to stick your hand in and clear it manually.

ISS:  Roger wilco.  IVAN!  Little job for you.  Go stick your head in the toilet and see if you can hear anything.  CAPCOM, what happens to the shit after it’s been chopped up?

CAPCOM:  That’s classified.  But, since it’s your last trip and you’re a buddy I’ll tell you.  A machine  adds some chemicals, presses it into casings and you guys recycle it.

ISS:  What do you mean we recycle it?

CAPCOM:  You know, first thing in the morning, before work.

ISS:  What?  No! Not…not the sausages!

CAPCOM:  Have a nice day.  Over and out.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 South Africa License.