The ten billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope began its journey on Christmas Day. The Webb is reputedly a hundred times more powerful than the Hubble– a garage sale find, costing a mere billion and change. The giant eye is scheduled to get down to serious peering by “mid year”–which I call June. Considering how it goes with NASA and associates, I think we can safely assume that June will happen no sooner than September–or at a time when I do not start three consecutive sentences with “The.”
Webb will be able to look into the early days of the Big Bang. It will see back in time at a cost of roughly seventy-three cents per light light year, assuming that the age of the cosmos is 13.7 billion, as estimated. Among Webb’s other super powers will be a deeper study of exoplanets, which may possibly lead to the discovery of extraterrestrial life.
Frankly, I need the Webb to do something more than take better pictures of an endless splay of galaxies retreating to the vanishing point in every direction. I admire the great works of science accomplished during the still relatively young Space Age, but, personally speaking, the little deadworlds explored and photographed ad nauseum by the Apollo program and intrepid Martian Rovers, are boring. There, I said it. The Moon and Mars are definitely a couple who have overstayed their welcome; even as the lights are dimmed, the ashtrays emptied, and their coats have been handed to them, they refuse to get the picture.
Ten billion smackers should buy nothing less than Aliens. And not microbes or primitive algae, either. I mean hard core, highly advanced, phaser packing, hell weird-looking, saucer flying Aliens. I’ll even settle for monsters, as long as there’s a suitable distance between them and us–but, goddamn it, Science, enough with the extolling the mightiness of magnetars, black holes, and gamma ray bursts that neither scare nor impress nobody nowhere no how. Think of it this way, NASA and gang, for every Klingon you produce you can ramp up your budget by another ten billion. Keep serving up the same old same old your budget will lose the zeros faster than huffing Reddi-Whip kills brain cells. Of course, if you ever wind up hurting for money, call me, and for a nice consulting fee, I will advise you on the development of Asteroid Lotto. The idea is to let people put a buck on one of those carefully numbered stones you are proud of. Any rock with money on it that nails the Earth pays. If the asteroid is large enough, we won’t have to cut a check.
But maybe it is all for naught. Whether it be by supreme intent or a random accident, it could be that the human race can only know so much, and will always know it alone. For instance, I recently had a dream (perhaps aided in no small part by the six Jack and Cokes I was sleeping off). I dreamed that the James Webb Space Telescope stared into the remnants of the Big Bang and saw a giant white cursor circle, visibly swirling fruitlessly, conveying movement even at 13.7 light years.
I awoke and sat up in bed. I lit a cigarette and asked the nearest Cat, “What does it all mean?” I figured if she answered I was still asleep. But she ignored me, which confirmed my presence in reality. But all day I found myself wondering about the great mysteries of the cosmos. Are we alone in a godless void, so ephemeral in the run of eternity, so widely spaced between species, that by the time another race takes hold even our fossils will have blown away as dust? But mainly, I wondered how I was going to get out of this bit and on to this week’s stories. Such is the ten billion and one dollar question.
The Week That Was
You need something with the aperture of the Webb to hold Tom Sheehan’s LS canon in focus. As he steadily approaches the unheard of two-hundred mark, such diverse tales as Monday’s A Fair and Dear Damsel in Distress come into focus–and how. Get even more used to seeing the great Mr. Sheehan, 2022 is his year for appearing almost every week, and deservedly so.
I read first time site contributor Cataldo Carroll’s A Dose of the Glitters, three times. Twice to get a handle on the language and once for the fun of it. I had to have Hugh translate some of it, but even those ignorant of the idiom will derive pure joy from seeing “Ketchuppy fecknut” and many other colorful observations during this account of what is essentially an outer space speed trap.
This week featured five definitely different tones, with the only constant being high quality. This was further evident on Wednesday when Rachel Sievers made her fifth appearance with Trailer Parks and Sagebrush. Rachel continues to grow rapidly as an author, and this concise and yet imaginative piece vouches for that sentiment.
Kindaka Sanders debuted Thursday with his harrowing, Soul Under Siege. It is a blend of energy, surrealism and pathos. The piece is one of those that grabs your mind and doesn’t let go until well after you have finished reading it. And even then, it lingers.
Steven French closed the week proving that something original and full of happy surprises can still follow the words Loch Ness Monster. It’s one of those wonderful little things where you find yourself slapping your forehead and cursing yourself for not thinking of it first.
There they are, out for a bow; I beseech anyone who missed one or more to take a look. After all, it doesn’t always take billions of dollars to see interesting things.
The Big Finish
I have never held a job that lacks soul crushing potential. That includes my present position as a civilian government employee. Maybe I should say especially, in regards to my current job. Whenever I begin a new pursuit for my daily bread, I think to myself “What a wonderful world. Certainly this position won’t go soul crusher on me.” But I’m always wrong. Sometimes as soon as orientation and rarely longer than a month, the soul crushingness of my latest occupation makes itself clear to me via the stunningly useless array of players who unerringly locate my position for at least eight hours a day, five days a week. The following is an alphabetized list of synonyms for such persons and explanations where I feel necessary. I have randomly left B,I,K, U and V open for suggestions.
A. Asterisk (Spoken via fake sneeze-“assy kiss”)
C. Crapbomb Creationist (Only happy in moments of crisis of own invention, yet abnormally useless during the same.)
F. Fecal Frisbee
G. Glooner (An amoral individual who artfully makes her work yours–a smart slug who never leaves a slime trail.)
J.Jonestown Kool Aid Pitcher
L. Life Without Parole Coach
M. Meet Between the Ears Tenderizer
O. Offal Orator
P. Pronoun Policethem
Q. Quart Shy of a Pint (Something my grandfather used to say.)
R. “Rainbow Bright” (Waaaay too cheerful My Little Pony cheerleader type.)
S. Salary Scorekeeper (Only displays curiosity on the subject of other people’s pay grades.)
T. Team Player (For other side.)
W. Wanker (Sometimes you just have to go with the classics.)
X. X-cruciator (A coworker who either loses a bunch of weight or kicks an addiction that you still participate in and never shuts the fuck up about it)
Y. Yo, duh, Yoda (Sniveling toady who excels in pointing out the obvious.)
Z. Zeeker (Able to instantly fall asleep standing, with eyes open, nodding affirmatively, as you are explaining something of vital importance to him. Upon awakening he does the opposite of what you just told him.)