Even when I get sick of my wonderful life I feel grateful, but it’s that grudging sort of yeah-I-know gratitude that makes you feel even lower. I had no reason to be in the Slough today, but I was – gloomy skies, much work to do in the morning, and a deep desire to be doing something different. Anything. Sometimes I really do miss the office. That’s how bad it was.

Gnat, sensing my grousy mood, cheered me up with jokes:

Why is it raining poodles and cats?

I don’t know. I can’t possibly imagine why. The circumstances under which such a meteorlogical event might transpire are -

Because it’s a poodle night day!

That’s a good one, honey!

I have another joke. Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because the neo-con agenda demanded it, as set forth in the Protocols of the New American Century?

No! To get to the other side!

Yesterday was different; yesterday was hot and sunny, and we went to the pool. An all-American event. Screaming kids, the glorious smell of chlorine, and lolling moms around the periphery. I knew a few from preschool, so we caught up on what we’d been doing while making sure the kids weren’t face down in the deep end. (There is no deep end, but still.) Afterwards we went home and laid in the grass and looked at the clouds and had popsicles. No wonder today was dim. You can’t beat that.

Perhaps it all started last night; I went to bed pissed off, mostly because I’d wasted the prime fillet of my night arguing with a drunk. I get 90 minutes at the end of the day to just relax – no writing, just the sweet pale irradiation from the cathode ray tube. I ended up fast-forwarding through a show I’d seen 677 times already. An old Star Trek, for heaven’s sake. Star Trek! I’m going to be watching these reruns in a nursing home. They don’t get better as the years go on – in fact, as TV sets get bigger, they look cheaper. I first saw them at age 10 on a 13” black and white set, it’s been downhill ever since. Last night was an old favorite, though – “A Taste of Armageddon.” Would you like some Armageddon? Just a taste, please. Kirk beams down to invite some guys into the Federation, only to discover they have been waging computerized war with Vendikar for half a millennium. (In these shows no one ever started the war last week; they always have been going on for five hundred years.) Long story short: he phasers some computers, which ruins EVERYTHING, and now the warring parties have to talk, finally. Or not – they never did head back to the planet, so for all we know it was a smallish smoking cinder a week after the Enterprise merrily warped on its way. But my favorite part: Kirk manages to contact Scotty, and issues General Order 24 to be carried out in two hours if Kirk doesn’t check back in. It’s the command to destroy everything on the planet.

I’d love to know the circumstances that led to General Order 24. All right, gentlemen, we have 23 General Orders to guide our missions of interplanetary exploration. Have we left anything out? Yes, Dr. Strangelove.

Thank you. Ve haf neglected to provide fur der possibility zat a Kapitan may vish to eelllllliminate all life on ze planet und EXTERMINATE THE UNDESIREABLE – sorry. Heh. As I vus zayig: zere may come a time vhen it is necessary to cllllleanse a planet of its VERMIN? Und so I proposed General Order 24.

It’s just surprising to know that Starfleet had the nuke & pave option, but it tells you something about the 60s. Star Trek was very much a liberal show in its day, but it’s early-60s liberalism. JFK-New-Frontier liberalism. We come in peace, and we’d like to invite you to join us; if not, so be it, but if you honestly think I’m going to beam my crew down to walk into disintegration chambers to fufill your treaty obligations, you’re going to start losing cities. Capisce?

I was supposed to do a Father’s Day column this week, and I wrote about something else entirely. If I write it tonight there’s a chance I can get it in. Crap! It’s ten PM. There goes another night. Reduced to fast-fowarding through a Tivo'd pixellated 1992 COPS at high speed for entertainment. More tomorrow. Apologies.


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c. 1995-2004 j. lileks