Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, December 05, 2003

Images: Reuters, Barbarella Headquarter
Barely two months away from another stilted and quasi-factual State of the Union speech and the snowy media landscape is already colorfully dotted with inflating trial balloons.

A gaudy one now rapidly expanding with gassy blasts from this morning’s Washington Post and the New York Times and with the reported involvement of the (uh-oh) Vice President and the Political Advisor concerns a, no doubt, militarized and Halliburton catered return to the Moon.
According to the Washington Post, the President's political dramatists:

Are considering a new lunar exploration program…as they sift ideas for a fresh agenda for the final year of his term…some aides appear to relish the idea of a "Kennedy moment" for Bush…"a lot of simultaneous efforts have been launched" in a quest for such an idea…aides are promoting big initiatives on the theory that they contribute to Bush's image as a decisive leader even if people disagree with some of the specifics. "Iraq was big. AIDS is big," the official said. "Big works. Big grabs attention."

L1 between Earth and the Sun

Buzz Aldrin, unconcerned with milking American myths for political advantage and, go figure, the second man on the Moon, knowledgably writes in a New York Times Op-Ed that the goal should not be the Moon’s “past glory” but one of Earth’s five Lagrange points:

L 1 would be the most sensible position for a base that would function as a test area and way-point for robotic flights as well as a support station and safe haven for human exploration of the solar system…and we can probably get it up and running for $10 billion to $15 billion, significantly less than the International Space Station.

It seems that if humanity wants to seriously begin exploring deeper into space, the Lagrange points are natural next steps after the realistic vehicular priorities are completed.
Sure I’d love to see a booming economy that would allow further Lunar exploration but I don’t think future advances in space travel will come at the bottom of another gravity well or through the endless big corporate largesse of this administration.
Space, as any enthusiast can tell you, is a completely deadly environment.

Cover art, 1st Edition 'Visible Light', 1986

Human habitation in space, even pure science under the most liberal guidance, would require extreme personal regimentation to ensure group survival.
I must candidly say that I would fear a Bush-flavored corporate militarization of any future near Earth population within, what would be from the start, heavily regimented habitable environments.
If we are to maintain American democratic values in space the President would be wise and blessed by History to maintain civilian command in that deadly off world environment.
In short, as some here in Kentucky say, “I ain’t gonna hold my breath!”

Though she has not written a major work in years I would highly recommend some of the science fiction novels of C. J. Cherryh to your attention.
Rimrunners, Cyteen, Downbelow Station or 40,000 on Gahenna, to name just a few, are excellent projections of what we could create, intentionally or not, and encounter out there in the inky void.
As long as I have waited for Sam Delany to publish the second volume to Stars In My Pockets Like Grains of Sand, it seems, I’ve waited for Ms. Cherryh to produce some large Compact Space encompassing volume.
He hasn’t and she hasn’t.
Perhaps some things are simply too large and grandiose to be accomplished by any being other than the most hubristic and dictatorial.
And, possibly, these sensitive writers couldn’t publish such material in the corporate dominated publishing environment that has merged into being over the last twenty years.

Images: Reuters, University of Montana, David A. Cherry

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:34 P.M. EST

...What we always try to do for you all in the press corps is to provide you a little color of important events, because we believe that's helpful to you for your stories, and to do your reporting to the American people.

I'm thankful McClellan cannot resort to a hoary stalling chestnut used by former presidential briefers:

The President is busy doing the job the American people elected him to do.

Images: Boeing, the White House

Air Force One’s imaginary intercontinental encounter with a British Airways jet, while trivial, illustrates an administration drunk on a hubris emboldened by dissolute journalism.
According to my well-thumbed and heavily underlined copy of Harriss and Johnson’s The Complete Reporter,“news is ‘an account of something that has happened’—something that, to distinguish it from fiction, has ‘actually happened’…for material that is characterized as human interest the reporter has gone beyond the event into the human background…These are not events but the background of events…An event acquires significance through its context of circumstances.”
Sealed in their Air Force One compartment and swaggered into a drama of top secret silence by White House Communications heavy Dan Bartlett, the ever status conscious press pool were spooned a Cliff-noted theme diet rich in the elements, tragically imaginary, of classic journalism.
Remember folks (wink, wink) these formerly ink-stained wretches are just so darned busy with their cable commitments and paid special interest group speeches.

This morning’s Washington Post, perhaps as an embarrassed mea culpa to the British Airways Thanksgiving fakery, further illustrates how, contrary to White House desires, events can acquire an unintended significance through the context of additional circumstances.
Mike Allensays:

In the most widely published image…the beaming president...cradles a huge platter laden with a golden-brown turkey…administration officials said yesterday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate.

In an amusing and equally far-fetched echo of the Mission Accomplished finger pointing, Allen reports:

Officials said they did not know the turkey would be there or that Bush would pick it up.

Allen also offers a clue as to why the delicate palate of our secretive gourmet-in-chief didn’t sample the screened soldier’s holiday fare:

The 600 soldiers were served from cafeteria-style steam trays.

I imagine Mr. Bush’s heavily guarded and crocodile teary two-hour airport visit gave his personal chef a chance to whip up, in the gleaming Air Force One galley, something truly yummy for the return flight of our prop turkey and steam table weary Executive.

Photos: Boeing, Reuters
Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Did I just see Air Force One?

Gulfstream 5.


The Washington Post, this morning, reports British Airways denies this exciting element of the President's faux hair-raising and expensively secure quickie secret trip to the Baghdad Airport.
According to Honor Verrier, a spokeswoman for British Airways:

We have spoken to the British Airways captains who were in the area at the time and neither made comments to Air Force One nor did they hear any other aircraft make the statement over the radio.

This administration loves to sweeten the pot with little fibs, big fibs and middling fibs.
Why did the White House Press Office make this complete fabrication a part of the official story of the secret Thanksgiving trip?
Why bother? Wasn't the decoder ring quality of the trip excitement enough?
We live in, to say the very least, amazing times.

Images: British Airways, Boeing

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