My partner was on the radio yesterday discussing space junk, and sounding quite thoughtful and knowledgable while doing so. Give it a listen. She did quite a fantastic job. 

This photo of Mars’ moon Phobos transiting (nearly) over Jupiter in the sky is kind of stunning, especially when you check out the hi-res version and realize you can see the bands in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Thanks Mars Express!

I hope I’m not alone in thinking that Norm Macdonald is a know-it-all jerk who defaults to juvenile humor. He’s said a lot of really problematic things like this about the Brandon Teena murder: 

"In Nebraska, a man was sentenced for killing a female crossdresser [sic] who had accused him of rape and two of her friends.  Excuse me if this sounds harsh, but in my mind, they all deserved to die." 

 Just as “integral” to his schtick on “Weekend Update” were a constant harping on black public figures like Marion Berry, OJ and Michael Jackson, who he constantly referred to as a “homosexual pedophile.” Which like, yes we get it. These people did not do very good things, but it was a repetitive animosity he exhibited toward them as part of his schtick was an odd fixation. His constant white targets aimed more at mediocrity: Frank Stallone and David Hasselhoff. 

He ranted on and on about sex workers, stretching it from his “Weekend Update” schtick into Dirty Work, where of course they were racialized as Vietnamese prostitutes. 

It’s all been juvenile humor at best, and he’s exhibited the sort of smart-ass personality that you later realized isn’t as funny when you view who he’s aiming at. It’s not that there wasn’t reason to joke in the public sphere about the transgressions of the time. Marion Berry, the mayor of our nation’s capital, was found smoking crack. OJ trial jokes were ubiquitous and unavoidable. Michael Jackson was all over the headlines. But it’s the way he zeroed in that reflected a reactionary undercurrent that, years later, you realize he wasn’t an irreverent comedian so much as a jerk with iffy politics. 

I understand when, after a high in the 90s followed by a career mostly hocking marginal car insurance, you might want to drum up support for a bigger and better job. But Norm Macdonald’s career is not one in need of a renaissance. 

I’m watching “Cosmos” with orbital-decay and we were thinking that, when the original came out, we didn’t know Pluto had four moons or a group of bodies just like it out there in the Kuiper Belt. We didn’t know there were other planets beyond our solar system yet. We didn’t know that there might be life on Europa, Enceladus or Ceres. We didn’t know the extent of water on Mars. We had never had a Hubble telescope.

By the time this “Cosmos” wraps up, we will still have more news out of the Kepler data, five to ten instances of the next earth like planet yet. A series of massive land based telescopes will give us unprecedented views of other stars and let us directly image exoplanets, something we’ve done fewer than a dozen times. James Webb Telescope will put Hubble to shame.

Basically, if we revisit “Cosmos” in 30+ years again, our understanding will have drastically changed again. If we even bother to still use TV at that point.

I hate finding out what a waste Wayne Coyne has (publicly) become. I mean, the Erykah Badu thing, was step one in finding out about his awfulness, and here’s another chapter in that. It’s so strange to read about considering the role the Flaming Lips played during college for me. Hearing he laughed at protestors is disheartening to me. 

My latest for popmech on the ISEE-3 Reboot Project.

Enjoy!

I couldn’t help but notice something in this article. When they posted a picture of Mr. Cool DC Bro here with musician Dan Deacon, Dan Deacon (probably rightly) asked them to clarify that despite the looks of the picture, he was not, nor had he ever been, friends with Scott Greenberg, the new face of GOP astroturfing by appealing to the hip, young, edgy crowd. Which in and of itself reminds me of the joke on The Simpsons about cartoons trying to appeal to Gen-Xers, or maybe something closer to poochy.

But I digress. In Deacon’s clarification, via his manager Susan Busch, is this tidbit at the end: 

Scott had Dan listed, with many many other bands he’s interviewed, as a client on his CV but removed his name upon request.

Now, there are a lot of ways to interpret “client.” As a freelancer, most of the time I go with “people I have written articles or other copy for” or occasionally, other projects I take on. Website migration, database research. Because that’s what most people would do, theoretically. 

Now, I’ll try to give Greenberg a benefit of the doubt, as he appears to have some PR experience. However, there’s a difference between, say, having a consistent band or artist you work with on a contract basis creating press materials for, and someone you interviewed for Paste Magazine. The difference is huge.

Because an interviewee is not a client, and an article is not an endorsement. When I write about space technology for Popular Mechanics, I don’t think of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a client suddenly. Because I’m not reporting for them. I’m reporting about them. In no way has this created a client-contractor relationship. While lines between media coverage and PR may have been blurred with the rise of online media, surely it hasn’t obscured that far. I interviewed Ian MacKaye for Hear Nebraska. A 45 minute call talking about Fugazi playing in Lincoln 20 years ago didn’t suddenly create a rapport with him, nor constitute him being a client for me. 

Let’s say, at some point, that Greenberg actually DID write a press release for Deacon, in fact creating that kind of relationship. 1) It was likely through the intermediary of a firm he was working for, and 2) if he was providing that same client with both press coverage and press promotion, that’s a big red conflict of interest flag. 

So either he’s crappy at recognizing what does and does not constitute a client relationship, or he’s crappy at recognizing the line between journalism and PR. Either way, this is idiotic.