Friday, June 07, 2019

In which I try my best to make sense of nonsense

Believe it or not, I do try to be fair. Presidents and other high-profile politicians have a spotlight on them 24/7. Anyone who is the focus of constant attention is going to say a bunch of stupid things on a regular basis. But in most cases, when people make a badly worded pronouncement, you can usually tell what the speaker meant to say, even if the literal meaning of the words comes across as really dumb.

But I honestly have no idea what Trump meant when he tweeted that the Moon is part of Mars today. I cannot conceive of a non-dumb intended meaning for that one.

... okay, here is a almost not-stupid interpretation I just thought of: What if Trump thinks that getting a human astronaut to Mars would require a stop on a Moon base first? In that case, Trump's tweet that "[NASA] should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part)" could be using the word "Mars" as a short-hand for a mission to Mars and not the planet itself. Maybe the President means to say that the Moon is part of the Mars mission because landing on the Moon is a step towards getting to Mars.

That interpretation could work, until you look at the first half of the tweet. Earlier, Trump says quite clearly that "NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon." If the President thinks that a Moon landing is a necessary step towards a Mars mission in the second half of the tweet and he wants a missing to Mars, why would he be criticizing NASA's plan to land on the Moon?

UPDATE: And we have an answer, the "Moon is part of Mars" tweet is just a rage tweet in response to something he saw on Fox. It doesn't make any sense beyond that.