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Friday, December 11, 2015

Roam for the holidays.

I'm not a big fan of zero gravity typing. It's kind of hard to keep your fingers on the keys, frankly. Marvin (my personal robot assistant) - can you take dictation? There's a good chap.

Ned Trek, the podcastOkay, well ... as you may have surmised, we of Big Green are in transit this week. Our brief stint on GJ 1132b, the newly discovered world parked on the very edge of human knowledge was not hugely memorable. Thinly attended, let's say. Sure, we set up our gear and cranked through a few of our better known numbers. The venue was a cave. And I don't mean that it had bad acoustics, though it did; I mean it was literally a cave on a frozen world, populated by ethereal beings whose very existence is a matter of disputed mad science. (Mitch Macaphee tells me that they are real, but then he talks to elves and fairies, so it's hard to be certain.)

Okay, so BIG GREEN’S CAPER BEYOND THE KUIPER (BELT) is kind of a bust. No surprises there. We played that one sorry gig, wearing our pressure suits, then pulled up stakes and headed off into the eternal night of deep space, pointed in the general direction of Earth - at least, something that looks like Earth. Lots of time to kill on these interstellar voyages. We actually took that opportunity to work on this year's Christmas podcast - another holiday extravaganza, filled with music, mirth, and mangled impersonations of famous people. (Acting would be a lot easier if we could ... act.)

I'm bored.I'm here in what passes for my cabin in this rented spacecraft, editing the audio play we recorded a few days ago. We've also recorded a few songs, as is our tradition, to accompany the hack-job melodrama we'll be posting in the coming weeks, so those will take some finishing. Work, work, work. I thought this trip was going to be something of a getaway, a chance of rest and relaxation, a hiatus in our otherwise hectic existence of hammer-mill squatting. Fat chance.

Well, there's a festive note. Don't mind me. I always get a little grumpy at 40% light velocity. Call it motion sickness.

Faith and politics.

I'm guessing you don't need my opinion on Donald Trump's proposed ban of all Muslims from entering the United States - you've probably heard the full gamut, from Steve King to Bernie Sanders. My first thought was for all of the Muslim students I have known and met, both natural born U.S. citizens and visa holders from countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, and others. I hear this insane rhetoric, growing louder by the day, and I think of a young fellow from Afghanistan - about the nicest person you could hope to meet - and what his thoughts might be about the people who "liberated" his country, then overstayed their welcome for 14 years.

Christian jihadistThis is what happens in America when anything like a foreign-inspired terror attack takes place: we want to corral all Muslims and start bombing some country most of us couldn't find on a globe with both hands. I've lived through many cycles of this, from the Iran hostage crisis through the first gulf war, to the embassy bombings in the late 1990s and on into the 9/11 era. I can remember a Muslim friend from Bosnia being a bit taken aback by the rhetoric and the kind of full-on nationalism pushed through the corporate media that came about after Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998. It's times like these when Muslims - and yes, people with beards and headscarves more generally - feel compelled to start looking over their shoulders.

There's a push, primarily by Republicans but with Democratic assent as well, to view international terrorism and specifically ISIS as a grave, even existential threat to citizens of the United States. Opinion polls have been showing that this is paying off - people are good and scared, which is music to ISIS's ears. But what the hell - thousands of people in America are killed by the domestic terror of gun violence every year, some of it motivated in part by extremist religion. I would say that that was more unambiguously the case in the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting than in the San Bernardino attack, just on the basis of the rantings of the shooter, Robert Dear. We are far more likely to be shot by someone like Dear than by someone like Farook.

So ... why are we encouraged to fear the lesser danger? It's the political magic of otherness. Always a winner in America.

luv u,

jp