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Friday, December 4, 2015

Ice ball diary.

Break out the ice cube tray. I need to warm my hands up over it. Yeah, that's better. It's all relative, my friends.

Ned Trek, the podcastWell, here we are, out on GJ 1132b on the first and final leg of our Fall 2015 Tour, entitled BIG GREEN’S CAPER BEYOND THE KUIPER (BELT), brought to by Hegemonic Records and Worm Farm, Inc. (Slogan: If it says Hegemonic, you know it's for keeps.) Hey, nobody told us it would be this freaking cold out here, way beyond the limits of our solar system. That's probably because nobody asked. In any case, we're here on this frozen piece of real estate, some 39 light years from Earth, trying to chip a performance venue out of the rock-solid CO2, and having very little success I'm sorry to tell you.

How is the tour going? Well ... let me put it this way. Have you seen the movie "The Martian", by any chance? How about "Marooned"? If not, the essential point is this: never rent a spacecraft from a dodgy neighbor of Mitch Macaphee. (If that ever comes up, take if from me and refuse! REFUSE, I tell you!) Yeah, the sucker's ion drive leaves a great deal to be desired. That is to say, it's very existence was just a desire on the part of the ship's owner. The actual propulsion unit runs on cottage cheese and ketchup, and we appear to be fresh out of those commodities. (And to paraphrase Warren Oats, there are no 7/11's out yonder.)

Think warm thoughts.Not to put too fine a point on it, we are going to have to Mad Science the shit out of this thing. Mitch Macaphee is working overtime (as much as 3 hours a day) trying to adapt Marvin (my personal robot assistant)'s solar power unit to the ship's main drive. It is by no means a walk in the park for old Mitch. Good thing we brought some decent gin with us. (Though we left the rummy back at the mill.)

I'm not sure why the creator of the universe bothered to conceive of this shriveled little world. It's basically just a rock in space, orbiting a random star, spinning out its eons in total obscurity. Sounds a bit like us, actually. Maybe we should name this place after ourselves. Or just call it Preplanus - I don't think that's being used anymore.

Four-foot gun.

My first thought when I heard the name of the male shooter in the San Bernardino massacre was of American Muslims across this country. My primary sympathy is for the victims and their families, but this incident is a disaster for the killers' co-religionists, particularly in the midst of a political season that features major party candidates calling for registration of Muslims and attempting to incite blood vengeance for invented celebrations of the 9/11 attacks. I have to think that just about every practicing Muslim in America is cursing the name of this crackpot kid and his wife. In the current atmosphere, this could get very ugly.

All legally obtained.Much as the press is obsessing over the terrorism / not-terrorism question, this is in essence another story of the proverbial three-foot creep with a four-foot gun. That these people were prepared for some kind of attack seems clear, but what they had was not all that exotic except in the respect that there was an awful lot of it - something like 4,500 rounds of ammunition. The guns were legally acquired by someone. They're not very hard to get, frankly, even military-style assault weapons. And as far as ammo is concerned, I am reminded of a kid I knew in my late teens, a musician, whose family maintained a sizable ammunition factory in the basement of their suburban home. I remember rehearsing some songs down there, in a small clearing between the casings, as siblings continued to add to the arsenal. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that my friend and his family had filled 4,500 rounds down there. They never shot up their workplace, but if they had, the basement armory would have been part of the news story.

With regard to the terrorism question, I am not sure what difference it makes. Honestly, if someone is shooting up my workplace, I could care less what his or her motivation is. Typically people are motivated by more than one thing - even jihadi terrorists. Part of the motivation is often provided by their distorted Salafi belief system, but I sometimes think that sham religion acts more as an enabler than an inspiration: you will be okay with the big guy if you do this. That may be mixed with political or personal goals. Nevertheless, the thing that brings Syed Farook and Dylan Klebold together is the freaking gun. They shot a bunch of people to pieces, for whatever harebrained reasons they may have had, and they were able to do so because it's just too motherfucking easy to get your hands on an AR-15.

We can fix this. We just don't want to badly enough.

luv u,

jp