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Friday, November 20, 2015

Up to the sky in ships.

Next week? That's kind of short notice, isn't it? Usually we have a few weeks to arrange for interstellar transport, provisions, sound company, etc. But five days? Sheesh!
Ned Trek, the podcast
Let me 'splain. A newly discovered planet 39 light years from here (and when I say newly discovered, I don't mean it was discovered by Anthony Newley, because he's dead and not an astrophysicist) named GJ 1132b has been described as Earth-like. And since we are natives of the planet Earth, we take that as an open invitation to go visit this strange new world, seek out its new life and new civilizations, and boldly try to book a gig there ... where no one has gigged before. Tall order? Perhaps. But frankly, we've been a little short on tall orders just lately here in Big Green land.

This, of course, means scrambling. (For Mitch Macaphee, it means poaching - he HATES scrambled eggs before a rocket launch, HATES them.) We're having to pull a major interstellar journey out of our collective asses, and that can be a problem. That said, it is kind of exciting to think that at this point next week we will be venturing forth on the surface of a world no human has ever seen before. (Though why we need to go fourth, I don't know. If we're going to see something no one has seen before, we should rightfully go FIRST.) Did I just say that? Yeah ... I was afraid so.

Eureka.There is one slight wrinkle, of course. Planet GJ 1132b reportedly has a 450-degree surface temperature. Obviously, we can leave the winter gear behind. I've asked Marvin (my personal robot assistant) to pack some extra box fans into the space craft, once we HAVE a space craft. The real problem is going to be keeping our axes in tune. If you've ever left your guitar sitting in the sun for a few hours you'll know what I'm talking about. MARVIN ... PACK THE EXTRA GUITAR TUNERS!

Mitch Macaphee assures me that he can rent a suitable spaceship in time for this journey to an unknown world. So, we shall see. If by Sunday afternoon I don't see him backing that sucker into the courtyard, I'll start to worry. Til then, take a deep breath.

Land of the (not so) brave.

It's happening again. A terrorist attack occurs somewhere in the developed societies and right-wingers are falling over themselves to prove that terrorism works. They start railing against Islam writ large, slamming the door shut on refugees from the Arab world, calling for bloody vengeance, and so on. The level of hysteria is almost shocking, given the fact that the attacks they're obsessing about happened in France, not America. (They don't seem perturbed by the Beirut bombing, as it was targeted on Hezbollah, which they hate worse than ISIS.) MSNBC's Morning Joe has become a bullhorn for invading Syria. I can only imagine what Fox News is like these days. Facebook has blown up with people defending (I kid you not) the crusades. This thing plainly goes up to eleven.

Some asshole's good old days.It's hard for me to see how these calls for military action and pulling up the drawbridge aren't simply appeals to cowardice. Seriously - the vast majority of the loudest hawks and anti-immigrant fanatics are also fierce defenders of an over-broad interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Given that many, many more Americans are killed by heavily armed family members, neighbors, or strangers than by terrorism, this is an almost astonishing level of hypocrisy. Even more disturbing is the ludicrous background assumption, expressed most consistently on Morning Joe and by career hawks like John McCain, that if we had simply invaded Syria in 2012, all would be sweetness and light in that sorry nation today. Is there any factual basis for that assumption? The question never arises.

We really need to stop reacting to retail, non-state terrorism in precisely the way the perpetrators hope we will: by sending in the money, the guns, and/or the Marines. Our outsized support for the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s spawned both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Our sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s and our invasion in 2003 launched Al Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into ISIS in more recent years. Our "rat line" to the Syrian rebels fed ISIS and facilitated the non-man's-land that is now the territory of the nascent Islamic State - a consequence our DIA was well aware of, according to declassified documents. Hundreds or even thousands of U.S. troops on the ground will fuel their growth and spawn other, more virulent movements, following on the line of radicalism proselytized by the Saudi Kingdom, our closest ally in the Arab world. ISIS wants us to invade Syria because they know how that works. Do we?

I don't think we do. From what I've seen over the last week, I'm growing more convinced that the American people will tolerate a wider war. (The fact that most presidential candidates are talking about that is proof enough.) So ... more war. That will be our legacy to the world.

luv u,

jp