Hot Air: Thanks But No Thanks

It’s A Crime

Mashrou’ Leila

There was talk after the recent Mashrou’ Leila show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The Lebanese alternative rock band is notorious in the Middle East for its confrontational and subversive songs. Perhaps most infuriating of all to certain Middle East tyrannical regimes is band front man Hamed Sinno’s open homosexuality. The chatter after the band’s Bloomington gig on November 8th centered around Egypt’s latest crackdown on gays.

The Egyptian government of late has decided that ridding the ancient land of homosexuals would go a long way toward making this crazy, mixed-up world a better place. Whether such strategy would clean up the planet’s air and water or promote world — or even regional — peace is left unsaid. In any case, Egyptian cops are engaging in clever ruses like posting come-hither messages on social media and gay meet-up sites, luring men to designated places and then slapping the bracelets on them for the crime of “habitual debauchery.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt but law-enforcement authorities won’t let a triviality like that stop them. After the men are thrown in jail, acc’d’g to multiple sources, they undergo intrusive physical examinations including tests to determine if they’ve recently engaged in anal sex. I’d imagine these tests are only effective for catchers, as opposed to pitchers, which makes perfect sense. After all, a participant who gets it is the bad guy; the one who gives it is…, well, merely doing what men do.

Twitter Image: @hithamalkashif

Anyway, Mishrou’ Leila played a big show in Cairo, Friday night, September 22nd. At one point during the proceedings, a few audience members down in front unfurled a rainbow flag. The flag raising was posted on Twitter. Next thing anybody knew Egyptian TV and newspaper opinionators as well as aghast politicians were screaming bloody murder. The following Monday, the Egyptian national prosecutor ordered the arrests of seven people. The seven were rounded up and tossed in the slammer where, presumably, their nether orifices were eyeballed. In addition, one concert-goer, it was reported, had been pinched on his way home from the show and charged with “debauchery,” apparently for getting a little hotted up with a same-sex partner. Why only one of the participants therein was clipped has not been explained, but it’s safe to assume the aforementioned pitcher-catcher dichotomy was in force. The man already has been tried and convicted. He is now serving a six-year prison sentence. Justice is awfully swift in Egypt

For all the rotten madness going on in this holy land these days, GLBTQI Americans are not being jailed for their indulgences. Oh sure, gay and trans men and lesbians are being beaten to pulps here and there but at least such extra-judicial corrective actions are not being sanctioned by local or national police forces. Hate crimes of that sort are the acts being prosecuted on these shores, not acts of love.

Hell, it’s Thanksgiving week and I’ve got to find something positive to be thankful for in 2017 America.

Let’s Talk Science

● Hello Out There!

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been going on for decades. It’s only reasonable, considering terrestrial intelligence is in such short supply. The very act itself is embodied in the name of the world’s foremost group (the SETI Institute) looking for signals from alien creatures who’ve mastered the arts of electromagnetic communications as well as those of watching and listening.

Now comes a gang doing the same thing in reverse: METI International (for Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has sent a communique out toward a little star system known as GJ 273, a red dwarf around which circles a couple of Earth-like planets that seem to be in its Goldilocks zone. That is, the planets lie within a region around their host star that conceivably could be supportive of life.

Luyten’s Star [Artist’s Conception]

GJ 273, AKA Luyten’s Star, is a mere 12.36 light years from us. Before you pack the station wagon in hopes of making a quick jaunt there, keep in mind each light year is the equivalent of 5,879,000,000,000 Earth miles. Those are trillions, just to hammer the point home.

Acc’d’g to Einstein and Morley and Michelson and all the rest of the spacetime geeks who determined such things, a radio signal travels at the speed of light, and a light year is the amount of roadway a beam of light travels per annum, so the METI love letter won’t hit Luyten’s Star until sometime in the year 2029. It’s hoped some sharp-eyed and/or -eared Luytenian will catch the message and send a response back, which itself will take another 12 years to get to us. So we won’t know if the METI message has been received and decoded until at least 2041.

I’ll be 85 years old then and — I hope (I suppose) — still kicking. And, man, I’ll get a hell of a kick out of the news that smart guys live on a nearby planet.

Won’t you?

● A Changing Climate May Have Brought The Trumps To America

File this under Ironic.

Our climate change denier-in-chief is a big orange ball of contradictions, natch. He reached the White House largely by demonizing immigrants even though his family came to this holy land, like all other white families, by, um, immigrating here.

German Immigrants

Now it turns out the reason the Trump (or Drumpf) clan sailed to America could have been because the climate in their native region of Germany was — get ready for it — changing!

Yep. Here’s a snippet from a Science Daily post about a study of German immigration to America 150-175 years ago:

In the 19th century, over 5 million Germans moved to North America. It was not only a century of poverty, war and revolutions in what is now Germany, but also of variable climate. Starting at the tail end of the cold period known as the Little Ice Age, the century saw glacier advances in the Alps, and a number of chilly winters and cool summers, as well as other extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.

“Overall, we found that climate indirectly explains up to 20-30% of migration from Southwest Germany to North America in the 19th century,” says Rüdiger Glaser, a professor at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and lead-author of the Climate of the Paststudy.

Now, climate change deniers’ll howl that climate change has been a feature of our planet since it came together out of that orbiting mass of rocks, dust, and sundry space detritus some four and half billion years ago. That, of course, isn’t the point. Humans have only been obsessive-compulsively burning fossil fuels — and frying the planet — since the onset of the Industrial Age in the mid-18th Century and the recent upsurge in temps is surely related to that.


Healing Words

Do me a favor: Drop whatever you’re doing and check out my latest Big Mike’s B-town in the Limestone Post.

This month’s feature focuses on Osunbimbe Abegunde, also known as Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde, visiting lecturer in Indiana University’s African American & African Diaspora Studies Department.

Abegunde helps the descendants of slaves and other folks who’ve been traumatized either directly or historically heal by writing.

Big Mike’s B-town is a regular feature in Bloomington’s premier online magazine, Limestone Post.


One glorious day, conservative icon and commentator William F. Buckley invited the esteemed theoretician Julius Henry Marx onto his public television program, Firing Line.

The two squared off in a formal, moderated debate. The topic: Is the World Funny?

Well, sure, Julius Henry Marx was none other than Groucho Marx. And he more than held his own against the revered orator.


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