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Friday, January 9, 2015

Old home week.

You can't just look through the telescope. You have to squint really hard to see them. That's because, well, they're either really, really small or really, really far away.

What are we doing now? Good question. Aside from working on yet another episode of THIS IS BIG GREEN, our somewhat-monthly podcast, we are trying to catch up with some of the incidental characters in the shaggy dog story of our lives. Isolated from the world as we may be here in the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill, buried in a mountain of snow, we still have a fitful internet connection and at least one hand free. We can track down pretty much anyone on the other end of that "series of tubes" known as the Web. (Precious little else we can accomplish, at least until Spring.)

For instance, what is Mitch Macaphee doing? Well ... a quick investigation using various search engines turned up next to nothing. So I guess what I said in the last paragraph is not entirely true, at least when it comes to the nut jobs that hang around with this band. In any case, Marvin (my personal robot assistant) suggested clicking on Trevor James Constable's orgone generating device and just shouting Mitch's name into the swirling space-time vortex it creates. We did that and, interestingly, heard back almost immediately. He's in Colorado. I don't think I probably have to tell you why. (Things usually look a little cloudy through the time portal, but I don't think that's the reason we could barely see the guy.)

The Pillars of CreationThen there's sFshzenKlyrn, our occasional sit-in guitarist from the planet Zenon. It seems sFshzenKlyrn has gotten back together with his old band, "The Pillars of Creation". I didn't actually find that out from him directly. They apparently did another photo shoot with NASA, using the Hubble Space Telescope. (I hear they're doing a promo spread in Sky and Telescope). If you look closely, you can see how sFshzenKlyrn has changed over the past couple of years. A little older, a little wiser, a little cloudier, perhaps.

So, sure ... keeping our hands busy, our minds engaged. Recording new numbers. And calling old friends out of the blue. Sounds like winter to me.

Back at it.

The year is just getting started, and already there are too many things to write about. Let's start with the obvious.

New Congress. The all-new, all-GOP controlled Congress is now in session, with old Kentucky Mitch holding the gavel in the first Republican-led Senate since 2006. You might think you could resist, even for a single moment, the impressionThe Keystone cop that the GOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America, the energy companies, and Wall Street ... but that wasn't possible even on the first day of the session. Our representatives are ready to push forward the Keystone XL pipeline, repeating all the bogus claims that this project will create jobs, jobs, jobs, make America more energy secure, and is only opposed by "environmental extremists". Sure, blow up the atmosphere on your first day. Good going, Kentucky Mitch.

Charlie Hebdo. The sickening murder of 12 people in Paris by extremists has focused our media-driven culture on the issue of speech freedom. The principle is a good one. I have to say, though, that we live in strange times when the symbols of free speech are somewhat vulgar and childish cartoons about the prophet Mohammed and some dumb-ass Seth Rogen movie. You'd like to think that if people are going to sacrifice their lives and those of their colleagues for freedom of expression, it would be over something that really needed saying. In any case, for all of the anxiety over a threat to free speech, I hope people save some concern for ethnic Algerians in France, who will now be the target of even greater abuse than the substantial measure typically meted out to them.

P.S. - Just so no one understands me, I think Charlie Hebdo and anyone else has every right to publish whatever the hell they want without fear of harassment, imprisonment, or terror attack. People also have the free-speech right to say a particular piece is dumb, inflammatory, gratuitous, childish, etc. (I've said as much about our own podcast. Useless rubbish!)

Palestinians and the ICC. I'm not a big believer in the International Criminal Court. The minute they haul a powerful nation in and put them on the dock, I'll start believing. As of right now, it's victor's justice. That said, it's always a positive thing when there's a move in the direction of real justice, however modest. Establishing the principle that, say, Netanyahu might be held accountable for killing more than a thousand Palestinians last summer, is worth doing. That would be a far cry from accountability, but a place to start at the very least.

Do that and Cheney might need to start sweating a little. Not much, but ... a little.

luv u,

jp