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I have tragic news to report. Following Dennis Tito’s example, someone else has purchased a ticket into orbit from Space Adventures Ltd. The ticket cost buckets of cash. I have also learned that Space Adventures is already marketing a cheaper, sub-orbital adventure for those slightly less skilled in the game of means.

The Resolve System of office furniture, designed by Ayse Birsel. Photography from the Herman Miller Web site.

Eighty thousand dollars, payable in monthly installments, reserves a seat on a new kind of sub-orbital spacecraft, which should be ready for launch by 2005. This spacecraft will safely ferry passengers to the minimum altitude necessary to gain official astronaut status. That’s anything over 50 miles above the surface of the planet, in case you were curious. Space Adventures guarantees flights will reach altitudes beyond 60 miles — to be on the safe side.

On this petty astronautisme. A certain unfortunate mentality — often fond of banking and exchange, for instance — finds safety and truth in simple, quantitative measurements. We lament this horrid disease, which infects the mind of men like few others. Disinclination to this scourge builds in us. A telling shudder courses over our bodies in its presence. No matter how subtly or slightly it announces its presence, we cannot fail to smell its disgusting odor and immediately seek to protect ourselves.

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This week our attention is drawn to the dramatic events all across Argentina which challenge the real efficacy, if not the idea, of the liberal state. Rioting, looting and mass demonstrations abound, we are told, in reaction to the failure of the economy to produce acceptable material well-being.

Of particular note, in the major city of Cordoba, 475 miles northwest of Buenos Aries, workers have ransacked their offices, smashing and overturning furniture. As much as we applaud the vitality and the highly artistic nature of these freeing gestures, it is a pity that it required blatantly bad conditions to drive these office workers to such orgasmic heights. And we are disappointed by what satiated some looters" desire. In the pandemonium, some people stole televisions, as if a better picture at home (of the same old shit) will mean a better picture at home (of the same old shit), once the violence subsides.

Forgive me. It occurs to me that none of us is ever satisfied along the slippery slope of desire for freedom. Argentina wants what we already have. The healthiest among us, on the other hand, want more. But that is a good thing. Even in times of plenitude, any of us might scrape our palettes clean for new reasons, higher up the chain of requirements, closer to The Beauty of All Beauties.

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I visited an advertising agency’s new offices this week. As my guide led me through the cell area, I noted the seductive power of the work-is-a-breeze Herman Miller furniture.

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Briefly, we are displeased with John Rocker and with David Horowitz, for similar reasons not to be elaborated. Also briefly and obviously, we are maintaining Brian Appleyard‘s status in the negative category.

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An old friend from Haltom City, Hector Lieblicht-Zusammen, sent a holiday card to me this week. Inside, in his now shaky handwriting, he wrote of a dream he had on December 1, 1999, in which several male and female ballet dancers, grasping flying exclamation points, hovered above him as he lay in the street. "My dear Jeff, I awoke with better hearing than I have had in some months."

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In closing, the text of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (best sung on this site), dedicated to a future group of lost but happy space wanderers:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light.
From now on your troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay.
From now on your troubles will be miles away.

Once again as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who are dear to you,
Will be near to you once more.

Through the years we all will be together,
If the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.


– Jeff Dalton

Jeff Dalton is a writer living in Dallas, Texas.

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