To slot demo Boldy Go…
August 16, 2022 | by Crouse Linwood
No Spain today. No Russia either, although (surprise!) Putin won, commenting “I promise you that the democratic achievements of our people will be ensured and guaranteed. We will not rest at what has been achieved, we will strengthen the multi-party system. We will strengthen civil society and do everything to ensure freedom for the mass media.” Uh huh. Sure you will. And I’m slot demo be singing bass for the Red Army Choir.
Instead, let’s chat for a minute about science. It was reported today that scientists have discovered an “object” beyond Pluto. As is usual with people who have extremely specialized interests and far too much time on their hands, there has been a bunch of wrangling amongst astronomers over whether this object can be considered a planet, a planetoid, a plutino, or a penguin.
I hate to be the one to ask this question, since I generally think space exploration is pretty fascinating, but does anyone care?
Big deal. There’s a frozen ball of rock eighty gazillion miles away from here that’s in a 10,500 year orbit around the sun. Yet all of the major media outlets have picked up on the story, and if I had television (don’t gasp, Dawn — it’s a choice!) I’m sure I could turn on a local news broadcast and have the story regurgitated to me in 30-second format, complete with a neat little graphic that shows an “artist’s rendition” of what the new planet/planetoid/plutino/penguin might look like.
Over 30 years ago, we put astronauts on the moon. That was pretty fucking cool. Then came the Voyager probes, carrying out a five-year mission that turned into a multi-decade mission to hurtle past each of the planets of the solar system and beyond. Also pretty fucking cool. Earlier this year, we sent two little robots to the surface of Mars, where they are scooting around to their robotic hearts’ content, chiseling away at rocks and poking around dust. That, too, is pretty fucking cool, although probably not as cool as sending people to the moon or sending spacecraft further out into the universe than any other human spacecraft has ever gone. After all, these are only robots, and, well, Mars is turning out to be not-that-interesting a place. Still, cool. Proving black hole theory? Also cool, even if most f it goes over my head.
But a tiny ball of ice and rock, that some people won’t even call a planet, on the edge of the solar system? Pardon me while I yawn. Someone found one of those 75 years ago. I think it’s called Pluto. Call me back when one of the Voyager probes bonds with another living being, becomes self-aware, and comes back to Earth looking for its “maker”.
Yesterday, I was determined NOT to write about the terrorist attack in Spain.
Today, I saw a picture of the thousands upon thousands of people demonstrating in Madrid, though, and I changed my mind, because the picture made me shudder. It reminded me of my own feelings of anguish over the uncertainty of the fates of friends who worked in the World Trade Center (they lived), and my feelings of rage that anyone would carry out such a barbarous act against MY city, against ME.
The picture also reminded me of my time in Moscow in late 2002. The first news report that I watched when I arrived showed pictures of people joined together in solidarity after the carnage of a terrorist attack in Bali. A few weeks later, a hostage drama played out at a theater in Moscow less than a mile from my flat. Then, too, there were pictures of anguish and pictures of protest. Some might argue that the FSB bungled its attempt to end the hostage stand-off and should share culpability for the loss of life that occurred, but should that matter? The terrorists who seized a theater full of supporters of the arts went in prepared to die. They strapped bombs to their chests. They rigged the theater with explosives. One bomb I saw, which had been placed in a chair in the center of the theater, was the size of a mini-refrigerator.
Now Madrid has joined the list of deadly terrorist attacks. The cycle just seems to be repeating itself, over and over. It doesn’t matter whether this was an attack carried out by Islamic fundamentalists or Basque separatists. Anyone who would commit such a heinous atrocity against unsuspecting, unwitting civilians is a terrorist. Period.
I know our President has declared a “war on terrorism”. Presidents like to declare wars. It makes them more re-electable. But haven’t we been fighting this “war on terrorism” for two and a half years now? What have we got to show for it?
When I was 12, I went with my family to visit some relatives in North Carolina one summer. I remember standing on the deck at the back of their home on a hot summer day with a fly swatter, swatting as many flies as I could find. My uncle tried to explain to me that no matter how many I killed, the flies would keep coming, attracted by the food on the picnic table, and I’d never be able to claim “victory” over them unless there was something more appealing to grab their attention.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we round up Tony Blair, George Bush, Vladimir Putin and others, tie them together, and place them on a big bullseye target in the middle of a Kansas cornfield. But maybe the U.S. and its allies should be working to give terrorists less reasons to want to blow up buildings and night clubs and theaters and trains in the first place, rather than responding with deadly force after the fact so that the cycle perpetuates itself.
We shouldn’t have to see pictures in the newspaper and on television of people joining together to mourn victims of terrorism and demonstrating for peace. Spain, I feel your pain.