Jeff Spevak, Writer

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The Critical Mass

OK, so call me a Twit

I continue to arrive in the the 21st century: Follow me on Twitter @jeffspevak1.

I started Tweeting last month because Steve Martin wasn’t doing interviews. But Martin is a big Tweet guy, with 2.7 million followers. Maybe, if I sent him some Tweets, he’d respond. That would be like an interview, right? So I directed four quick Tweets to him, each one focusing on an aspect of his life. Collecting art, playing the banjo,  his comedy and his writing:

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

@SteveMartinToGo $120 million for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream?” Isn’t Thomas Kinkade a better investment?

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

@SteveMartinToGo Has the banjo ever figured in the commission of a serious crime? If so, I can’t find it.

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

@SteveMartinToGo What’s this about a curse on those who first enter the tune of King Tut? Are you OK?

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

@SteveMartinToGo In “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” the painter encounters Albert Einstein in a bar. Ty Cobb could out-drink them both.

As best as I could figure, Martin never replied. Unless this was directed at me, I’m not sure:

Steve Martin @SteveMartinToGo

Working on reality show based on Venus’s transit across the Sun.

So he’s saying he’s too busy to respond right now. But I’ve made lots of new friends. Twitter recommended that I follow Alton Brown, who is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. And the actor George Takei. And comedian Albert Brooks. I’ve also discovered that I can use Tweeting for self-promotion:

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

I’ll have copies of my book “Chasing the Wind” at “First Fridays” at the Hungerford Building, 1115 E. Main St., Studio 307.

And restaurant reviews:

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

Favorite restaurant Mr. Dominic’s re-opened today. Just had the swordfish au poivre and grilled Lonsberry.

But mostly, it’s important stuff:

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

I just found a three-leaf clover. Pretty damn close!

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

UPDATE: The God Particle was found in that kitchen drawer where you keep twist ties and the keys to the car you traded in five years ago.

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

The Sadies at Abilene: I am comforted by any band with half-empty beer bottles sitting on the amps.

Jeff Spevak @jeffspevak1

Looking forward to “Zappa Plays Zappa” tonight. And happy Pat Boone’s kids didn’t have the same idea.

The Critical Mass

I hate Jackie’s new friend

My friend Jackie’s Christmas Day potato pierogies were awesome. She’d also spent the day watching a couple of the big Christmastime epics. No, we’re not talking Elf. This was Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. Jackie may be Jewish, but she’s really into the holiday. As an educator at one of our top institutions, she mused, “I wonder how many of those Bible epics they made?”

“Depends on how broad your parameters are,” I said. “Ben-Hur is about chariot racing.”

She ignored me and turned to her new friend for an authoritative answer. As she has been doing for what seems like the past year. The new friend who knows everything. You know how annoying they are.

But this time, no. “Argh!” she wailed. “I can’t get on your WiFi!”

Indeed, Jackie’s new best friend, her iPad, was at a loss for words. Finally. And I was damn happy about it. Maybe I’m jealous, but I’m getting fed up with Jackie including that thing in every conversation, as though it were a real person. It’s dominating the Saturday afternoon gatherings at Java’s at the Market. It always remembers to bring the pictures from the latest trip to Jerusalem. It always knows what goes into a classic fruitcake. It always knows where to find her husband John.

Bible epics? “Why don’t you just ask us?” I said.

Spartacus!” Dick suggested.

“Yeah,” I said. “How about Davey and Goliath?”

But no, her old friends were not good enough. The answer had to come from a Higher Authority. The Internet.

Here’s what you can find on the Internet. Obama was born in Kenya. Death panels. The 9/11 government conspiracy. Anchor babies. Bigfoot. Archaeologists have uncovered a cemetery for extraterrestrials in Africa. The Apollo moon landings were faked. Tim Tebow is God’s quarterback. Sarah Palin’s son Trig is actually her daughter’s baby. The War on Christmas. The ACLU wants to ban crosses from Arlington National Cemetery. Jon Bon Jovi is dead. Michael Jackson is not dead. Need a recipe on how to deep fry a cat? JFK was shot by… well, at least a half-dozen different groups.  Jersey Shore‘s Snooki says the ocean is salty because its full of whale sperm.

Jackie, your new best friend is a liar.

The Critical Mass

The dim bulbs of Congress

Republicans had a bright idea: Tuesday night, they orchestrated a vote in the House of Representatives calling for repeal of light-bulb efficiency standards that will take effect at the beginning of 2012. Their argument was that these regulations were an assault on liberties dating back to the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson may have been ambivalent about the slavery issue, but we can say with a great deal of certainty that he never envisioned a future in which the government could tell you how to illuminate your home.

“This is about more than just energy consumption, it is about personal freedom,” said Rep. Joe Barton, the Texas yahoo who helped sponsor the bill. “Voters sent us a message in November that it is time for politicians and activists in Washington to stop interfering in their lives and manipulating the free market. The light bulb ban is the perfect symbol of that frustration. People don’t want congress dictating what light fixtures they can use.”

We have regulations for supermarket meat. We have regulations for jet airline engine maintenance, and how much explosive gas can be present where coal miners are working, or how many lead-paint chips their kids are allowed to eat. Cars have to be inspected, so that we know the guy barreling toward you in the opposite lane of a rain-slick highway isn’t riding on bald tires. We even have regulations for rating movies, so that the children living in Joe Barton’s district aren’t exposed to too much pornography, lest they get too many crazy ideas in their heads

It’s a regulated world. Societies have to make decisions about what’s right, otherwise chemical companies would still be dumping toxic waste in the most-convenient river.

And in a planet where energy consumption is literally draining the life from the earth, it’s irresponsible for the United States to not take steps to reduce its role as the consumer of one fourth of the world’s energy.

And according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, the new standards don’t even specifically ban incandescent bulbs, so Barton’s wrong there. The new rules are technology-neutral, and more-efficient incandescent bulbs have already been developed and are available today. It’s the same as telling the auto industry that it had to produce cars that get better gas mileage.

It’s estimated that the new standards would save the country billions of dollars per year, perhaps $6 billion by 2015 alone. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, estimates that Americans’ energy costs would drop by an average of 7 percent, or about $85 per household every year. Nationwide savings would be more than $12.5 billion annually by 2020, when the new standards are fully in place.

Wiser heads prevailed, and the bill failed to pass. But the kooky ideas will be back. This wasn’t really about light it was about two things. It was about creating another fake issue, which Republicans prefer working on, rather than tackling tough issues like debt, jobs and wars. And it’s about trying to create an atmosphere favorable for de-regulation. Gotta protect those oil companies and banks from scrutiny.

Conservative political candidates are big into signing pledges these days. Anti-tax pledges. Anti-gay marriage pledges. They’re anti-pro choice. Anti-universal health care. Anti-clean energy.  It’s as if they’ve all signed pledges to not move into the 21st century.

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