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Friday, April 27, 2018

Thumbs sideways.

Hello, this is central control. Central control to Marvin (my personal robot assistant). Do you copy, Marvin? Of course not. Who on Earth would copy Marvin?

Well, I seem to have the mill to myself today. The place is as quiet as a grave, albeit a very drafty one. Dank, too ... or maybe the word is acrid. Musty ... that's what I'm looking for. Anyway, everyone seems to have taken the week off. I hear it's spring break week for the kiddies at all the local schools, so maybe my various associates all have secret lives involving school age children and tickets to Disney World. Can't say for certain - Anti Lincoln has been looking a little extra suburban just lately.

For my own part, I have filled my time with something very unproductive - watching TV. I binge watched all ten episodes of the new Lost In Space reboot, and I think I'm ready for some kind of high tech media purge. Since I have no self-control and even less in the way of formal responsibilities, I will take this opportunity to render a brief review for your edification. Ahem ... it doesn't entirely blow, but there are aspects of it that do. Fun to watch, but it has some issues that are not unlike the original, super-campy TV show. Let me 'splain. First I'll put my T.V. critic hat on. You know, the one that makes you mean and nasty.

Was it THAT bad, really?First off, the basic premise of the Lost In Space reboot is, if anything, weaker than the original. They land on the planet Colorado, it appears. Mind you, they have reconfigured some of the plot devices used in the original, so the alien world has an eccentric elliptical orbit that brings it waaaaay too close to a black hole (in the original, it was the planet's sun) causing everything to burn to a crisp. They aren't clear on what the annual cycle is, but I assume it's short since they seem to be heading for the hot spot of the orbit. So ... they're saying that everything on the planet dies and is reborn, but we're seeing massive, mature stands of forest, complex animal life, including apex predators ... what the hell? A random scientist on the show tells us the trees have only one ring. They're eighty feet tall! Ridiculous.

Then there's that robot. For chrissake, they could have just rented Marvin from me for a few weeks. We could have used the revenue, frankly. And instead of re-orchestrating the original third-season heavy-on-the-french-horns theme song, we would have been glad to provide them with suitable space music. Not a problem, producers ... all you got to do is call.

Bottom line: it's kind of meh, but watchable. Well, is that the time? Thanks for taking that detour with me. Tune in next week - I'll be reviewing Father Ted.

Persian rug.

Trump and Macron had their meeting of the tiny minds this last week, and it doesn't look good for the Iran nuclear deal (a.k.a. the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - JCPOA). The French president appears to think he can save it by expanding it, but that's not likely to happen; Iran may be less than a democracy, but its leaders have constituencies just the same as ours do, and I can't think the Iranian people are going to be willing to trust this process a second time - not when they've checked every box, met every requirement, and continued to suffer as Trump calls them every name in the book and hires a National Security Advisor who gave a regime change address to the terrorist MEK last year.

There are also the other parties to the agreement to consider, two of whom (Russia and China) are adamant against changing the deal. As Juan Cole has pointed out, the Russians are calling bullshit on Trump's vacuous claim that the U.S. gave Iran $150 billion as a kind of signing bonus. I heard some cat calls about this on Facebook when the deal was struck, and it's frankly laughable. These were Iranian assets in U.S. banks, unilaterally frozen by the U.S. government as punishment for stepping out of line. Whatever you may think of the government of Iran, any capitalist should understand that they have every right to that money. (Good luck finding that kind of capitalist in Washington D.C.)

The unknown countryIt's not hard to see why Trump is on the same page as practically every political leader in America in treating Iran like a muck room rug. Israel wants us to attack them. Saudi wants us to attack them. The UAE wants us to attack them. And the majority of Americans are under the spell of the propaganda campaign about the incomparable evils of Iran. We've been fed this with a fire hose since the immediate aftermath of the Iranian revolution and the "hostage crisis" - basically my entire adult life. It has been reinforced over the intervening decades, through the Iran-Iraq war years (recall the "hostages" in Lebanon), the confrontations in the 90s, their inclusion in the "Axis of Evil", and so on. Trump is a product of the same smear campaign.

Scuttling this deal will likely make the current confrontation with Russia deteriorate even further. Worse than that, it sets us on a short path to the war John Bolton has wanted practically forever. That war would make the Iraq conflict seem like a folk dance, and could easily trigger a response from other world powers.

In short, let's keep the JCPOA. If it's a bad deal, it's only bad for the Iranians. It gives us way more than we deserve.

Peace in Korea? Just a brief coda - I'm very hopeful about the prospect for peace on the Korean peninsula. When the dust settles a bit, I'll return to this very important question.

luv u,

jp