|11 October 1999|
"We have ended so many of our stories with gunfights, with showdowns and death, and millions upon millions of simpletons have mistaken our stories for models for modern living. We ended our stories with showdowns and death so often because we're so lazy. Gunplay is no way to live -- but it's a peachy way to end a tale."
-- Kurt Vonnegut, from Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons
Still basically on hiatus (see cutesy graphic), but I had to post these.
I started to write about this whole situation, including Fred Moody's worse-than-useless columns on it (column 1, column 2), and it quickly started ballooning into a full-length column which I don't have time to finish and polish right now. For the moment, I'll just point to the latest information from the folks at Brookhaven National Laboratory about the risks and non-risks of their new heavy-ion collider. See what you think after reading their explanations:
- Committee Report on Speculative "Disaster Scenarios" at RHIC [BNL]
Three different kinds of "disaster" scenarios have been discussed in connection with high energy particle collisions:
(Regarding A:) In other accelerators operating at both larger and smaller energies, say the authors, "in no case has any phenomenon suggestive of gravitational clumping, let alone gravitational collapse or the production of a singularity [i.e. a black hole], been observed."
- Creation of a black hole that would "eat" ordinary matter.
- Initiation of a transition to a new more stable universe.
- Formation of a "strangelet" that would convert ordinary matter to a new form.
As reassurances go, I thought this was pretty well argued as a whole. A more rigorous report is available at the bottom of their page.
Even though Salon published this last Wednesday, I still haven't heard anything about this from other news organizations; everybody's still talking like a Donald Trump Reform Party candidacy is conceivable. See what you think after reading this:
- Trump bombs in first Reform appearance [Salon]
"I'm strongly in favor of a very deep tax cut for the working people of America." People in the room started shaking their heads in bewilderment. If there is one thing all the various Reformers agree on, it is that paying down the national debt has to come before everything else, including tax cuts.
How about moving toward a flat tax or a national sales tax? "We have a system that's working pretty well, and big changes can do big harm," Trump answered. There were more expressions of dismay from the audience.
"I thought Trump was a lot of bad answers and empty answers. On three of our core issues: reducing the debt, he didn't care; campaign finance reform, he said he likes buying politicians; and corporate welfare, he said he doesn't see a problem."
Sure, I'd like a tax cut as well as the next person, but it seems to me to be willfully stupid to hand out a tax cut while we're still ridiculously deep in debt. Why wouldn't it be best to pay off the debt first and then give out a tax cut?
Anyway. That's a tangent. The point here is: Trump doesn't seem likely to win a lot of support from Reform Party purists.
Garrison Keillor on Jesse 'the Brain':
- Let Jesse be Jesse...Somewhere Else [CNN/TIME]
His success has been discouraging to people in politics, much as the success of The Blair Witch Project is discouraging to filmmakers: if the public embraces something so shallow and tedious, what future is there for the professionals?
Minnesotans are polite people who tend to deal with provocation by sidestepping it, ignoring it, chuckling at it, trying to find a charitable explanation. But the Governor, in plain English, is a Yahoo who ... struts around St. Paul ... emitting a great air of celebrity, scorning the local press while courting the national media. People do their best to grin and go along with it, but eventually you have to tell him to shut the hell up.
Fairly recent pieces by Kurt Vonnegut on the big odometer-turn (2000, that is):
- Last Words for a Century (Playboy Interview) [Duke U., seen on MrBarrett]
That the odometer is slightly out of whack, that Jesus was born in 5, 6 or 7 B.C. shouldn't be allowed to spoil the party.
The actual millennium has come and gone, as unremarked as a sneeze.
- The Work to Be Done (Rolling Stone essay) [Duke U.]
What painters and sculptors and writers do, incidentally, is put very small properties indeed into good order, as best they can. A painter thinks, "I can't fix the whole planet, but I can at least make this square of canvas what it ought to be."
Moxy Früvous will be on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on Tuesday, October 12th! (Tomorrow as I write this.) Do not miss these four talented, nutty guys. Thanks to Windowseat for the heads-up.
Okay, back to being on hiatus. Don't expect me and you won't miss me...