Hot Air

American Dis-Ingenuity

Okay, so, like, I’m sitting here trying to think of the one thing that most made 2013 2013 and, man, I just can’t get past this:

Screenshot from Raw Story

I’d been thinking of the Phil Robertson dust up about gays being bad and Jim Crow being good and, really, that is very, very American and 2013-ish, indeed. But how can we ignore a congressional effort to silence scientists because they just might want to teach Americans something?

See, at first Congress was cool with the idea of naming an unpaid, ceremonial American Science Laureate whose job would be to fly around and tell schoolkids how fab science is. Honestly, how could anyone object? Someone did; namely the American Conservative Union‘s Director of Government Relations, Larry Hart, who, upon hearing of the idea, began a threatening-letter-writing campaign to Right-leaning members of the House. The threat being, of course, that if you even think of approving this, kiss your chances at re-election goodbye.

And you know what? The congressbeings caved! Yep. Whereas the whole Science Laureate idea was on a fast track to be rubber stamped by early September, after Hart brought the legislators to Jesus, House Republican leaders yanked it from their voting calendar.

Hart explained that with the nation being held hostage by our current Kenyan-in-Chief, the Prez himself likely would make one of his Schutzstaffel lackeys the Science Laureate and that guy would further the commie lie that there is such a thing as climate change and, just for kicks, take all our guns away and force our daughters to get pregnant just so they could have abortions.

Only the House bill did not call for the President to appoint a Science Laureate. That person would be chosen by, um, the House itself.

Oh well, the whole idea has been flushed down the Capitol toilet. America.

Just so’s I don’t depress my readers (and myself) too much, I’ve also chosen a positive, definitively American thing from 2013. That is, the discovery and announcement that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed the putative edge of the Solar System and continues on in its journey through interstellar space. Voyager was launched in the late summer of 1977 and has traveled nearly 12 billion miles in the ensuing 36 ½ years.

Here’s a photo that Voyager 1 took of the receding Solar System when it was some four billion miles out in June, 1990. The Earth is the “Pale Blue Dot” in the reddish-brown streak on the right side of the image. Try as I might, I can’t even make out the Monroe County Courthouse in this photo:

NASA/"Pale Blue Dot"

The Earth From 4 Billion Miles Out

Keep in mind that in 1977, there were no personal computers, widespread wireless technology was still years in the future, the Internet hadn’t even been invented yet, and Miley Cyrus hadn’t been born. Such a backward time, no?

Nevertheless, science geeks beginning nearly 50 years ago ideated, designed, and created a spaceship that has so far visited the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, has left the whole caboodle behind, and is still sending signals back to Earth.

And I can’t even get a good, solid broadband signal from Comcast in my home. Something’s amiss, babies.

Anyway, Voyager 1 is zipping along at a shade over 38,000 mph. It’s got enough battery power to continue sending signals back to us for another 11 or so years. After the year 2025, it’ll be on its own, crossing the “interstellar medium” (geekspeak for outer space nowheresville). And just in case some alien dudes and/or dudettes spot it and have the capability to capture it, the forward-thinkers at NASA placed upon it a gold-plated disc containing sounds of various forms of life on Earth, pix of dozens of human societies, a roadmap to the Solar System, and a bunch of other stuff that’ll show all those ETs who we are.

Voyager 1 Golden Disc

Hi. It’s Us, Your Neighbors.

Thankfully, the disc includes no pix of current members of the House of Representatives nor of tailless monkeys like Larry Hart. We’d like to give the rest of the Universe a good first impression of ourselves.

No Sir

Terry Gross ran a repeat interview with Elton John today on her Fresh Air show.

Not that I care all that much about Elton John; I’ve found one or two of his hits bearable but usually his music bores me to tears. So, under normal circs. I would leap for the radio dial to turn the interview off. But I was at the sink washing dishes from last night’s delicious New Year’s Eve lobster dinner (kudos to The Loved One) and so wasn’t able to react like a jungle cat.

Because of this I heard Gross’s intro to the interview and was mightily pleased when she continually refer to him as, well, Elton John. As opposed to Sir Elton John.

John

Plain Old Elton John, 1975

Loyal readers will know I loath all references to the British empire’s antiquated and money-wasting royalty-cum-class system. You know, queens and princes and earls and lords and all the rest of those interbred goofballs. And something that makes me even more irate is the fascination we Americans have for English royalty and and all those assorted “nobles.” Why any one of us here in this holy land would care a whit about that new brat who was born to the Windsor tribe last year is downright bizarre.

CBS-TV Image

De-Evolved Zoo Denizens Cheer The Arrival Of The Royal Baby

After all, we have our own royalty and nobility here: the Bushes, the Clintons, the Kardashians, and the Cyruses, as examples.

Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of Terry Gross and today, I’m even more so. I guarantee she omitted the Sir bit intentionally. People refer to other rocks stars by their artificial tiles all the time, witness intros for Sir Paul McCartney or Sir Mick Jagger.

Terry didn’t go down that road and that’s a very cool thing.

As for the interview itself, well, it was pretty much as uninspiring as most of John’s music. He talked about how wonderful all the fellows who died in World War II were, how strong and wonderful his mother was, and how the 1950s were very bad times for a gay kid growing up. I’d bugged out by the 20-minute mark.

In any case, thanks, Terry Gross

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