Archive for April, 2011

Disconnected

This is kinda sad. Somehow or other there doesn’t seem to be government money anymore to fund the Alien Telescope Array, a field of more than 40 radio dishes that scan the skies hoping to suss out chat from extraterrestrial beings.

These dishes are located along Hat Creek, which is up the road here some. It’s a nice area, and the dishes haven’t wrecked it any. I always found them kind of hopeful-looking, those dishes. Faces squared to the sky, mechanical expressions of the human yearning to not be alone.

Folks from the SETI Institute had planned eventually to scatter 350 of these dishes across some 90 square miles. But that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Federal National Science Foundation funding for the Hat Creek project has been slashed to one-tenth its former level, and that delirious panhandler known as the State of California says it doesn’t have any Hat Creek money, either.

And so, the project has been put into “hibernation.”

“Effective this week, the [Allen Telescope Array] has been placed into hibernation due to funding shortfalls for operations of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory where the [array] is located,” wrote SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson, in an open letter sent late last week to project donors. “Unfortunately, today’s government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found.”

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It Is Accomplished

Place Of The Skull

“Profit motive” means very simply: you give less than you take. If you give less than you take, you grow mean and stingy. Everybody suffers. Morality is totally impossible.

—Lew Welch

Fukushima is still leaking and steaming and bubbling and melting, and will be, best guess, for at least another nine months.

And yet, the vultures are already out there, flying high, circling, “eager” to rake in the billions in profit they estimate will come their way, through decades of “cleanup” efforts, transforming the dead zone of Fukushima into a place where human beings may tread without fear that blood will immediately spout from their orifices, or tumors later sprout all over their bodies.

Both companies [Hitachi and Toshiba] have large nuclear-related businesses and appear to be eager to speak about endgame possibilities for a crisis that has heightened global public mistrust of nuclear power. Billions of dollars are likely to be at stake in the cleanup, which could help Hitachi and Toshiba improve their bottom lines.

Making money: I guess I get it. A primitive stage in the development of primates, as they evolve towards beings of light. But aren’t we there yet, to the place where there are at least some limits? Why should people be permitted to get fat off sealing a glow-tomb?

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Seasons Bleedings

Periodically appear here updates on the doings of my daughter, the well-known deviant, the award-winning deviant, the award-winning deviant poet. This is one of those.

She has written another poem, “Elegy Of A Lost Season,” published again to the deviant people, again winning a deviant award. And this one is devastating. As I told her, it’s a makes-you-want-to-shoot-heroin-in-both-arms poem. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Because, too often, it’s a makes-you-want-to-shoot-heroin-in-both-arms world. Which is why there are poppies in it.

On this Good Friday, it is well to remember that Jesus of Nazareth was not the only human being possessed of divine spark who suffered. Lots of other folks suffer, too. Though nobody writes holy books about them, casts them as idols. They just suffer. Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Four And Twenty

Yesterday, the 20th day of April, was Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

This is a bummer for other people born on April 20. Because it’s like you’re supposed to be sort of embarrassed, being born on the same day as Hitler. You can’t really, fully celebrate. For it’s just too shameful, sharing a birthday with Hitler.

I know somebody who was born on April 20. And throughout her childhood it was a happy day indeed. Because, well, it was the day on which she was born. Then Hitler showed up. Then he got bad. Then he got worse. Then he became The Colossus Of Evil Who Bestrode All The World.

Even today, 66 years after Hitler went up in flames, she has to hear every year that she was born on the same day as Hitler. It’s like she’s expected to be ashamed. To keep it secret. Like her birthdate is some mad aunt stashed up in the attic, or a peculiar porn collection burrowed away in a disused drawer.

Similarly, I know a guy who was born on November 22. And that was a good day for him . . . until 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Now he’s expected to hang his head in sorrow, to have been born on such a day. And I know a young one born on September 11, who had that day ripped away from her before she ever entered her teens: how can she now celebrate such a day, a day when America Was Attacked?

I myself was born on a date upon which occurred an event that, when I was young, was in this nation considered a Good thing . . . but is now regarded as Shameful and Wrong. I can’t tell you what that day is, because there are Mean People out here on the intertubes, some of whom Hate me, and, if they had my birthdate, together with my name (which some of them have), they might embark then on Great Wrongness. Hack and Ruin me. Destroy, say, my credit rating. If I happened to have a credit rating.

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Gut Check

This is interesting. Science Men have discovered that “human gut ecosystems may fall into distinct types.” That is, just as there are four different blood types among human beings, so too do there appear to be distributed among people three distinct bacteria-worlds roiling around in human innards.

As the New York Times archly put it: “blood type, meet bug type.”

And so we are reminded again that Western medicine is still in a primitive stage of development. Science Men and their sawbones adjuncts have been peering and pawing at guts for centuries, and yet they’ve just now figured this out.

Just as everybody once thought they knew everything there was to know about blood . . . until the early 1900s, when it was suddenly Learned that there is an A, a B, an AB, and an O, and that correctly typing a person’s blood would result in more efficient and beneficial medical treatment.

As it is now presumed that gut-typing will produce its own benefits. Such as designing diets or proffering prescriptions based upon a person’s gut culture. The new gut wonderment may even offer an alternative to the waning efficacy of antibiotics: “instead of trying to wipe out disease-causing bacteria that have disrupted the ecological balance of the gut, they could try to provide reinforcements for the good bacteria.”

There does not appear at present to be any official names for these three gut cultures. Instead of something boring like A, B, AB, and O, I suggest dubbing the variants Curly, Moe, and Larry. Or Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, with D’Artagnan reserved in case the Science Men happen to run across a fourth type.

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High Hopes

I grew up deciding the world was nothing but a sad, dangerous junk pile heaped with shabby gee-gaws, the bullies who peddled them, and the broken-up human beings who worked the line. Some good people came along, and they softened my opinion. So I’m open to any evidence they can show me that God’s not asleep at the wheel, barreling blind down the highway with all us dumb scared creatures screaming in the back seat.

—Michael Malone, Time’s Witness


When I Worked

April 2011
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