Here Thar Be Monsters!

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30.11.10

Herding Cats

Damn this traffic jam
How I hate to be late
It hurts my motor to go so slow
Damn this traffic jam
Time I get home my supper'll be cold
Damn this traffic jam

Now if I die, I don't want a coffin,
I've thought about it all too often,
Just strap me in behind the wheel
and bury me in my automobile.

- chorus -

Now I almost had a heart attack
Looking in my rear view mirror
I saw myself the next car back
Looking in the rear view mirror
'bout to have a heart attack
- Traffic Jam, James Taylor

Rome? Nope.
Paris? Child's play.
London? Piffle.
Beijing? Trifle.
New York? Child's play.
Los Angeles? Don't make me laugh!
Mexico City? Not even close!

The traffic in Jakarta can bring all of you to your knees! And I don't say that in theory, I have sat in and dodged through the worst that each of those cities has to offer, and trust me, you ain't seen nothing!

Eve my dear home city of Houston, during a massive flood when freeways are closed and arteries are hopelessly clogged doesn't compare to rush hour in Jakara. Lest you think I exaggerate, then consider this:

Jakarta has called in the army (TNI) to help fix the problem.

Now that's almost a late-nite stand-up joke. You know it's bad when you call the army to direct traffic.

There are so many reasons for the problem, it is hard to know where to begin: corruption, lack of mass transit, road conditions, weather.

One of the major reasons is just a complete, profound and utter disregard for traffic laws. Not that I'm complaining really, because it is a source of entertainment for me. Motorcycles drive anywhere and everywhere: sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, alleyways, and all over the roadways. Red lights are a mild suggestion. People stop in the middle of the road to take phone calls and send text messages. Motor vehicles share the road with a dizzying array of pedalled and pushed carts. Pedestrians march out into traffic with little regard for cross-walks. Motorists pay little attention to cross-walks. Buses drop off and pick up pretty much anywhere they please, including the inside, middle and outside lanes. Special lanes designated for the sole use of TransJakarta are clogged with every form of private conveyance imaginable.

In other words, the streets of Jakarta are thinly veiled, complete, anarchical chaos!

I personally only use ojek, which are motorcycles taxis. Supposedly they are illegal, which only means that there are thousands of them, waiting in groups at key locations, with large signs that read, "OJEK," in big, hand-pained block letters. Every day, I am treated to a game of bumper-cars, sometimes to the point of severe bruising on my legs, as we bounce around in traffic. I have sailed down the wrong way of a very budy 3-lane road, at night, doing 40 kph with push-carts, bicycles, pedetrians, cars, and buses flying at me. I have ridden up and down sidewalks, through drainage ditches, over pedestran bridges...it's very exciting.

Motorcycles are like flies on shit here. They are cheap and manuverable, so thousands of people buy them as alternatives to sitting for hours in a car to go a handful of kilometers. The irony is, that many people use motorcycles are a way to get around congestion, but there are so many now that they become one of the major problems with congestion. Of the very entertaining sights in Jakarta traffic, one of the best are those 'pink' lights. The cars generally come to a rolling stop for them, but the motorcycles wend and weave through the cars and pile up at the head end like a shotgun start to a rural moto-cross event. When the light turns to the right shade of 'pink', they all fly out into the intersection and begin honking horns madly at the cross-traffic who didn't bother to stop for the other 'pink' light. If any of my fridnds are family come to visit, the first order of business will be to put them on an ojek and send them across the city on what will likely be one of the seminal events of their lives.

Another problem with Jakarta traffic is just the sheer numbers of transportation options. There are private cars and motorcycles, of course, but there are also private and public buses, mikrolets and ankot (like Chevy Suburbans with bench seats in the back), bajaj (auto-rickshaws), baijek (pedalled rick-shaws), delman (horse carts), and pedestrians. The sidewalks are crammed full of street vendors, so people have to walk in the streets. The various forms of public transportation don't have regular stops, so they come to complete halts pretty much anywhere they please. The smaller rick-shaws are like berserkers, liable to turn, stop or reverse direction without warning.

The TransJakarta is half of a good idea. They are very nice and clean and cheap, BUT they have no posted schedule and there are precious few route maps in any of the stops or on the buses, so you can where you are going and what stop is next. They are supposed to have an announcement system on-board, but it is manually operated by the driver and only works about half the time. During peak times (sun up to sun down) the buses are so jammed packed that you couldn't fall down if you got a running start at it. Furthermore, the bus lanes that are supposed to be exclusive to make the busway more attractive simply serve as express lanes for every form of vehicle known to man. On the best days, they are turn lanes, thus bringing the busway to a dead standstill.

Back in 2000, the city launched the Millennium Monorail project, which got as far as building a bunch of pylons in certain parts of the city before the contractors absconded with all the money. They tried a second time and that was even more abortive. Now people are stealing the exposed re-bar for melt, even as the city is talking of reviving the project.

There is commuter rail, of a sort. Trains run between the city center and large suburban centers, such as Bogor. They even have a posted schedule, which primarily serves to give travelers false hope. One of the major problems with the rail service is that people steal the rails and sell them for melt, or to contractors who in turn get money to re-install the rails. On good days, the trains run fairly close to a regular schedule, but on many days its just a crap0-shoot.

One of the key problems here is Ipardon me while I laugh hysterically) law enforcement. To set this scene, I have litterally been in the car when people just roll up the window and drive away from cops because the cops are just nit-picking to get bribe money. In three years, I have seen one person actually get a traffic ticket. Most of the time, the driver simply pops Rp.20,000 into their registration book and hands it to the cop, who thanks them with a warning and waves them back into traffic (by the way, the standard bribe for white people is Rp.50,000 - don't pay more). If there's an accident, you must pay the cops to show up and take a report. If someone is injured, or God forbid killed, you must not stop, but run immediately to the nearest police station for your own safety. Trust me.

In addition to the lack of real enforcement, the law itself is quite flawed. In an accident, the smaller vehicle is always the injured party. The natural result of this is that motorcycles have little or no regard for cars, and cars will cut off trucks and buses without a thought, since the larger vehicle will be held at fault, no matter what the circumstance. That goes for pedestrians, as well. If someone crosses a busy freeway and gets hit (inevitably) by the fast-moving and non-stop traffic, then the driver is at fault. Always. Even at night when the pedestrian is wearing black clothes and there is no street lighting because someone stole the copper wiring so they could sell it back to the city.

That brings us to the two big wild cards in all this mess (if that can be said of the extant situation): weather and location.

The weather, of course, can not be changed. It is subject to the typical tropical situation in that there are two primary seasons, Wet and Dry. That's not to say it doesn't rain in Dry season, only that by comparison, the Dry rains are weak cousins to the torrential, ark-building events in the Wet season. We are currently in the middle of Wet, which means you can set your watch by the afternoon and evening deluges that are perfectly timed with rush hour (not that rush hour is much different from 3 a.m., mind you). Wild lightning and thunder are accompanied by blinding rainfall that quickly overwhelms the legacy Dutch canals and city storm sewers, which are crammed full of garbage, which piles up and dams off grates and the intricate system of locks that control the canals. Almost immediately, the streets and rivers fill and overflow, so that within minutes everyone is ankle deep or worse in water. Naturally, traffic grinds to a complete halt, further exacerbated by the thousands of motorcycles that jam up under overpasses for shelter.

On top of this issue is Jakarta's location. You see, Jakarta is built on the deltas of a couple of rivers that drain out of the mountains sourth of the city. Most of Jakarta is at or below sea level, the sea being the entire northern border of the city. If there is heavy rains in the mountains (almost daily year 'round), there is a frighening wall of water that rushes down out of the mountains and inundates Jakarta. If those rains are accompanied by heavy rains in the city (almost weekly), well, you can imagine the situation. For those reasons, everything in my house sits on tables one foot off the floor.

Trust me when I say that this only scratches the surface of the problem here. I haven't even mentioned the world-famous 'force field,' whereby pedestrians simply march into speeding traffic while sticking their hand out in the general direction of hurdling masses of steel and expect it to stop or go around them. Nor have I mentioned that streets with two painted lanes have four actual lanes of traffic in the posted direction, two couter-flow lanes on the outside edge, and a melange of pedestrians outside of that.

So, now when I tell you that the city has called in the army to assist with the traffic situation, instead of laughing at the obsurdity of that statement, you may be nodding your head in agreement. It truly is one of the modern wonders of the world. I highly recommend everyone come and experience it, because you will return home knowing that the worst your local area can throw at you is nothing compared to the daily commute of a Jakartan. Not only is the the chaos a thing to behold, but the fact that people face it daily with such dispassion and resignation!

So now I point you back to the title of this column, "Herding Cats." Make a mental picture of that, if you will. Now you know what daily life in Jakarta is like, and it is much the same through-out the country, though magnitudes smaller in scale. Oh, how I miss those six lanes of insanity around the Coliseum in Rome!

Next time you are cursing the traffic at home, think about this: if you can open the door and step out, then it can always get worse. If you haven't bumped into two other vehicles in the last ten minutes, then it can always get worse. If the two feet between the front of your car and the back of the next is not crammed full of motorcycles and pedestrians, it can always get worse. And if your city has a public transportation system, with a posted schedule and way-finder maps, and it keeps fairly close to that, then it most certainly can get worse. And IF, in your city, people general follow the rules, and the rules are enforced by a professional police staff, then you are NOT in Jakarta, my friend!

Mexico City, eat your heart out!

29.11.10

The Omega Man

"O what tangled web we weave,
When at first we practice to deceive."
- Marmion, Sir Walter Scott

In the Middle Ages in Europe, a plague struck that, in the span of three years, killed an estimated 25 million people. To this day, Westerners still say, "Bless you," when someone sneezes, and children still sing "Ring-Around-The-Rosie" to commemorate it. The cultual memory of it has affected the entire civilization for 600 years.

Yet, from the year 1901 until the year 2000, a plague struck every nation on Earth, killing the equivalent of the entire population of the United States with its direct effects, and probably close to half a billion people altogether. This virulent plague is still killing to this day, by the hundreds, if not thousands daily, and nothing is being done to stop it.

WHO has issued no alerts. Pharmaceutical companies are not developing vaccines. No NGOs are running around calling for global conferences and treaties to stop it. And most of us are doing everything we can to maintain the current infection, but spread it even further and make it more virulent than ever. In fact, I'm willing to bet that everyone reading this column have had someone close to them killed by this plague, and than each reader is doing something to continue spreading it.

The plague is called government.

It is by far the deadliest thing known to Man. Over the centuries, some form or another of this plague has killed millions of people, and it does not discriminate between friend and foe.

Every tine you pay taxes or tolerate some new form of outrage or allow illegal wars or support the status quo, you are, in effect, placing your infected, contagious hands all over your children and grandchildren.

Many times, this plague can lie dormant, even appear beneficial to those that come in contact with it. But, more often than not, it becomes a ragin infection that eats the life our its victims, stripping their flesh, roasting them alive, blowing holes in them, gassing them, burying them alive.

One strange side effect of this plague is that individuals think their strain is better than most others, and some even become fanatic supporters, deny ineir own senses tell them is true.

There are many mutations of this plague: the democracy, the republic, the socialist, the fascist, the communist, and often one form will mutate into another, often violently killing many victims in the process. It is so bad, that most people can't imagine living without this organism eating them alive and are willing to die to protect their variant of it.

What seems to be the key to the violent mutations is a very simple factor called 'secrecy.' Once the plague has convinced the host that it needs secrecy, then almost immediately the organism begins to lie. Once it reaches that stage, then it must lie and lie again to continue covering all its previous lies, until someone or something exposes the lies the infection becomes extremely virulent and begins killing wontonly, lashing out at anything that seems to be a threat to its existance.

Here it reaches the most dangerous and deadly stage of its growth cycle. Now it begins to consume everything in its environment and killing even its own host, which it now perceives as a threat. It starts to launch attacks on other tissues, using the very global immune system against itself. It becomes so enraged and gluttonous that believes that it must kill everything to continue to hide its secrets. Finally, it sees its own survival as more important than the hosts which have protected it and nourished it.

Finally, in a great orgasm of death and destruction, the global body manages to kill off the deadly strain, only to cause another to rise up and take its place.

The truly amazing part is that, despite thousands of years of proof that this organism is deadly and inconsistant with free will and self-development, humans have not reached the point where they think they can live without this horror. Instead, there are repeated attempts to modify the plague, to give it more or less power, to channel it, limit it and modify it. Regardless of every attempt to tame the beast, it comtinues to maim, kill and destroy.

There seems to be little hope. As long as the hosts believe they derive some benefit from this horror, they will continue to infect themselves, and to spreak the disease indiscriminately. Those who have attempted to wash their hands and take even minimum precautions against this killer are ostracized and/or slaughtered.

The truly odd part is that there are segments of the host population who are absolutely convinced that some outside power will come down from the heavens, destroy all existing strains of the plague and install a new, benign form that will benefit only the true believers, while all other hosts are tortured in eternal damnation.

Seems like more of the same to me.

28.11.10

Hidupan, Alam Semesta dan Semuanya

One reason I write a blog is to exchange ideas with other minds out there, whether they see things the same as I do, or not. The mail I get is often inspirational and thanks to my blog, I have made new contacts in various parts of the world. A big note of tanks goes to George Ure, at UrbanSurvival, for giving me a wider audience!

Because of my eyesight (or lack thereof), I am a bit slow on reading and responding to email, but this morning I received an email that really inspired me, to whit:
"My daughter has enrolled her son and daughter in cyberschool. What a difference it makes. It gives them a lot of room for self expression. You are right about doing the same old thing over and over again.My daughter is an artist in mosaics, but when she was in school, if she dared to step out of the teachers way, she got into hot water, never allowed for self expression. It is a different mode now and if more parents did it, there would be more free thinkers. If the USA goes the way it looks like it is going, the schools won't be able to affort to run busses anyway.And I despise the fact that every school has a cop in it. What is wrong with these people. I always say it was created by the "puckerbutt Mamas" who had nothing better to do than go to PTA meetings and harp about a teacher touching their children. Lets face it "we have been had by the PTB and it is up to the free thinkers to change things."

In addition to giving me a wonderful new adjective, 'puckerbutt,' this letter also inspired me. I therefore replied in my usual brief and concise manner:
Please pardon my delay in replying, but WOW what a great letter to receive!

It's gratifying to hear that there are folks out there who are opting out of the system. Freedom of self begins with freedom of thought, and we can't think clearly nor freely if we are sent to cookie cutter schools.

I'm an artist, as well. I spent 40 years of my 50 total (so far) working in theater, film and TV. I had some brilliant, real teachers, beginning with my mother, who not only encouraged free-thinking, but demanded it.

Your letter reached me at an opportune time. I am currently developing a system for teaching English online so that it can reach students in Indonesia who are very remote and don't have access to the resourses available in Jakarta. You see, English is a way for people to move up here. They can use it to get good jobs and expand outside their villages and borders. They can access a much larger world of ideas by learning a single skill. However, when I teach English, I use ten different languages to do it. I show the students that language is simply a way to encode and decode information, just like math, computers and art. I come at the problem from a different angle than the standard rote memory curricula available on the market. Language is an organic, living thing and cannot be taught in a cold, rigid manner, just as plants cannot be raised without water and sunshine and exposure to the environment.

Anyway, I could wax philosophical for hours, as you can see from my blog. I am verygrateful to you for writing me. You inspired me with your ideas. Tha is one rreason I write, so that I can exchange ideas with a wider audience, and not only be inspired, but translate that into inspiration for the next generation.

I wish the best for you and yours. I am overjoyed that someone out there is seeking something different from the same ole same ole. We can win this Thing one mind at a time. It's daunting, but not impossible.

Thank you kindly for your letter, I know that to inspire someone to write back, there must be some ideas in my writings that move and motivate, and that is gratifying. Best of luck to you all, and blessings on you and yours.

Best regards,
Bernard

Education.

That's the key. That's how we defeat the PTB. One mind at a time. It took generations of indoctrination to get to where we are as a civilization, and it will take the same to get out. We just have to have the same resolve to be truly free that the bastards have to enslave.

Great books, such as Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, show us where we are heading now. But books such as, Shang-gri La and Stranger In A Strange Land and 2001: A Space Odyssea, show us where we could go.

People such as Richard Hoagland and David Icke, even if they are wrong, show us that thinking bigger can free us of so many constraints. People such as the reader who wrote me above show us that something as simple as art can elevate us above the mundane and propel us to new thoughts, new heights and New Frontiers of Humanity.

And it all begins with Education.

I was a threat to the United States. They castigated me and persecuted me because I did such radical things as forbid vaccinations for my children, filtered their water of things like flouride and chlorine, and homeschooled. I refused to follow the proscribed path and for that, my wife was killed and my children were used as weapons by the State.

the danger of free thought is very real. Trust me.

Ask Galileo. Ask anyone who presents to true and credible challenge to the status quo. If you push against the GAP (Generally Accepted Paradigm), you will be punished severely. People don't like their apple carts upset, especially those who profit from building the carts and growing the apples. They only profit when the apples are neatly stacked in a controlled area. If the apples are rolling down the street, then anybody can pick them up.

It comes down to this: who controls the mids of our children?

I've had some great teachers in my life. They were not famous nor did they want to be. They had one goal, to make me think.

There's Mrs. James and Mrs. Speck. There's Mr. Z and Stan. There's Swilley and my trig tutor, whose name I don't even remember, but who taught me that math can be understood.

But, at the core of it all, after years of education that has yet to stop, there's my mother. She taught me language and art and the most important thing of all: to read.

It's all there in a book somewhere. The collected knowledge of the ages is written down and waiting for discovery. To read is to be free. Because of reading, my teachers include: Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Plato, Aristotle, Ovid, Pythagoras, Nietzsche, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Benedict, Lao Tsu, Sun Tsu, Gengis Khan, and scores of others.

Because I learned art, I was trained by Monet, van Gogh, Michaelangelo, da Vinci, Rodan, Orson Welles, and so many more it would take an encyclopaedia.

There were my language teachers for Spanish, Latin and German. There were the incredible cast of characters I have met traveling. There were monks at Christ in the Desert.

All the great thinkers, artisits, writers, and philosophers of all time came to me through one simple skill: reading. Thanks Mom!

So, if you want to teach your children to think, not parrot, you have one job, and only one job...get them to read. Open the doors to the Universe by turning off the TV and the video games, and turn on the books, essays, manifestos, and papers. Give them inspiration, and the rest follows. Stop trying to be you kid's best friend and start thinking for the long term, far beyond your lifetime.

What can you do now that will affect generations?

I don't teach to get rich or even to make a living. I teach because I have a burning desire to open the mind of fresh, young thinkers who can change the world I will never live in. And in the end, that's the thing that must change: what is it that benefits us? Is it what car we drive or what house we live in or the luxuries in our lives? Or is it the world we can build through our children and their children, and the faces we will never know and the world we will never inhabit?

To paraphrase another great thinker, 'Ask not what the world can do for you, but what you can do for the world.'

And for God's sake, stop being a consumer. The real economy is not what we buy, but what we offer. Change your mind and change the world is the simplistic slogan that came out in the 80s. Though the intention was to sign folks up to comsume something, it is never-the-less true.

The difference between freedom and slavery, between wealth and poverty, is nothing more than a point of view.

It's that simple.

27.11.10

A Bit Of A Mind Flip

RiffRaff:
It's astounding;
Time is fleeting;
Madness takes its toll.
But listen closely...

Magenta:
Not for very much longer.

RiffRaff:
I've got to keep control.

I remember doing the time-warp
Drinking those moments when
The Blackness would hit me

Magenta:
And the void would be calling...

Transylvanians:
Let's do the time-warp again.
Let's do the time-warp again.
- Time Warp, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Where do I start? The insanity has so many fronts: economics, politics and even out-of-comtrol consumeris (and here).

It's utterly amazing...

If Orwell were alive now, he would be reeling from not only seeing his Nineteen Eighty-Four distopia fully realized, but far worse and more frightening than he could imagine. To paraphrase J. B. S. Haldane, the Universe is not only queerer than he imagined, it is queerer than he COULD imagine.

There exists a document that is roundly castigated because it shows Jews to be evil, coniving cabalists who want to rule the world. It is called The Twenty-Nine Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is worth a read by any aware person. Though the Jews are just a convenient cover for the true masters who follow this outline for domination, they are never-the-less eerily accurate in predicting the world in which we live, especially considering the document was discovered on a park bench at the end of the 1800s.

One must read the Protocols with an open mind. There is a large pile of bullshit on both sides of the argument, but none of it dismisses the truth that is written therein. The Jews are nothing more than whipping boys for the true evil that is behind them. The prophetic written in that document are far more than predictions, they are a roadmap for controlling mass populations.

Consider that they were foundin 1897. That presumes that they were written at some point before that date. Now picture that world of that time and the things that made up society. Now, as you read the Protocols, you will see mentioned the use of mass-media and marketing to keep the rubes chasing gee-gaws and distracted by greed and avarice to the point that they not only don't see their entrapment, but also pay to erect the prison walls, going so far as to produce the fence and lay it in place!

Now add to your reading list: Das Kapital, Mein Kampf and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Taken together, they are the road map, the very blueprint, that leads to Tyrannical Sexual Assault (TSA), a surveillance society and the total and complete control of the global population, through the use of multi-national corporations, religious organizations and scientific research.

What's more, nearly to a man, the population of the world is converted into a world of Judas goats, all leading both themselves and others to the slaughter. We have become so addicted to glashy things, mindless entertainment and creature comforts, that we cannot imagine giving these things up, even when our very lives and those of our progeny are at stake.

Human beings are visual thinkers. We use images to contemplate the Universe around us, and them encode what we see into language in order to transmit those images to others, who then decode the language back into picutres. In other words, our brains are constantly creating JPEG files, and then uploading and downloading them to and from the Universal internet.

Now, if you study mass media and marketing theory, you learn that an outside party can control and manipulate the images in your brain, and thus control your thoughts, motivations and desires, by manipulating the icons and images with which we perceive the Universe.

With sufficient repetition, we can no longer determine if the images in our minds are original or implants. Our reactions to stimulus beome suspect. Our motivations may be subliminal suggestions planted in ill-prepared and insufficiently filtered brains. In other words, the enemy is no long at the gate, it is standing in front of us, posing as our reality, well within our internal security zones. We are told to trust these phantoms and soon hand them the keys to the gates, and before we know it, the Visigoths are running rampant through our reality. We can not longer separate friend from foe. Our shields are down.

In effect, the world has become a tri-lateral cult of greed and self-interest. People like Joel Osteen and others promote this selfishness through the medium of religion. Madison Ave. promotes it through gee-gaws and useless consumerism. Political systems promote it as a us-versus-them sports mentality. The physical world is divided into teams: the Americas versus the Eur-Africans versus the Asians. Just bread and circuses writ large -- Oceania, EurAsia and East Asia, to use Orwell's terms.

The telescreens are installed, the scanners in place, the Two-Minutes' Hate is broadcast, MiniTruth is at work, and the Though Police are on the prowl. It's all here, right now, at your dorrstep and in your pants (thank you TSA).

Instead of being alarmed, we are all chasing the carrot dangling in front of us while pulling the cart of our doom behind us. Like Marley, in A Christmas Carol, we have forged the chains of our own damnation and now we must wear them. And the truly sick part is we are not forced into this, but happily pick them up and carefully position them on our bodies while calling it fashion.

Many years ago, I recall an ad campaign, as part of Nancy Reagan's inane 'Just Say No' initiative, against the use of cocaine. A man is in a padded cell, walking in circles, saying to himself, "I need cocaine, so I can work harder, so I can make more money, so I can buy more cocaine..." That man is you, now, this very minute. Just substitute cocaine with whatever gee-gaw, like TV or video games or whatever, that you tell yourself you can't live withou.

In fact, there are only three things we can't live without: water, food and Love. Everything else is just plain bullshit.

The question becomes, do we have the will to free outselves? If not, then I suggest the following as the new common greeting:

"Good morning! My what nice chains you have!"

26.11.10

Kasihan Deh Loe

The title is an Indonesian expression that means, more or less, "Poor pitiful you."

The royal 'we' is back! And boy are we tired! As we sit here, staring at a blank screen, we ponder the day's events.

We just polished off Thanksgiving dinner. Yeah, so it's Friday, so sue us. There's no day off here, so we had to wait a day to have our celebration. And as they say in Indo, we had 'makan-makan -- a feast!

This was our first official Thanksgiving in Indonesia. It took three years to get here, but we made it. Until now, we haven't had a decent kitchen arrangement, much less an oven, to do the do.

Pardon me whilst I take another swig of homemade margarita...

OK, we're back.

So, anyway, it was a roaring success. How do we know that? Because Indonesians don't eat without rice. It's unthinkable. It doesn't happen. The Universe would turn inside out if an Indonedian didn't have rice with their meal.

Guess what? The Universe turned inside out tonight. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Pardon me whilst I take a swig of margarita...

OK, we;re back.

So, anyway we made chicken because turkey is so obscenely expensive here that even a rich man would balk. In fact, we have seriously considered going into the turkey business. We'd own the Asian market, man.

The fun part was buying the chickens (we made four to match one turkey). We went down to the local traditional market, which most white boys are afraid to do, and with good reason. When they see a white boy coming, they raise the prices 300%. But they are afraid of us because we are over six feet tall and speak Indo pretty good and we aren't afraid to negotiate.

So, we brought home four pullets, completely denuded of feathers, but still with head and feet attached. It's a bit disconcerting to look a naked chicken in the eye, but we managed. After relieving the chickens of their heads and feet, which our girlfriend hoarded for some mystical homecookin' later on.

Sorry about that, needed another swig of margarita...

So, anyway, we made the traditional sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese, and our world-famous (on three continents) spaghetti sauce. Our girlfriend added meatball soup and these damn little coconut things wrapped in banana leaves that are just damn good, but won't keep until tomorrow, so she keeps stuffing them into our over-fed mouth and making us very uncomfortable.

Wait while we get another swig here...

So, anway, we had 25 Indoensians here, of which we were the only white boy. It's safe to say that none of them had ever tasted anything like our cookin' before. And here's the best part...no one ate rice!

Now this may not seem like a major victory to you, but to us it's just down right miraculous! For an Indonesian to be so full as not to eat rice is just...well, a miracle! The stuffing and potatoes were major hits. We were asked repeatedly for the recipes, to which we could only reply, "We don't know." And it's true.

You see, when we were a kid, we learned to make the stuff at our momma's elbow. We know the ingredients, but when it comes to how much...we just don't know. We keep throwing stuff in till it smells right, feels right and tastes right.

The killer is, it's Indo tradition when you are invited to a feast (makan-makan), you bring something to throw in. Well, good Lord, we got cakes and snacks and stuff we can't pronounce in our current state of inebriation.

'Scuse us while we get another swig...

So, anyway, we all ate until it just plain hurts.

In another fine Indonesian tradition, guests all loaded up to-go places and doggie bags, and we STILL have more damn food! The refrigerator it packed to the gills, and we almost forgot to mention the ice cream we ordered - bars on a stick, fruit tarts in a cup, and little cake and ice cream squares. Afraid we wouldn't have enough, we now have a life-time supply in the freezer. Our cholesterol is pegged out just thinking about it.

Sorry about that...had to fix us another homemade margarita...

Speaking of which, they got these little limes here that make Key lines taste like sugar bombs! these little suckers will make your face cave in on itself like a black hole just formed at the back of your mouth.

So, anyway, we won't have to lift a finger to cook for the next three and a half months. Wich is fine by us, since we got up at 4 a.m. to cook all this stuff and didn't get our regularly scheduled nap this afternoon, since delivery people kept waking us up.

So, as you can imagine, we really resent having to write this here column when we could be sleeping soundly next to our already snoring girlfriend. So, why are you so demanding anyway? If it we're for you, we'd be lying in a blissful coma dreaming of naked chickens full of sage stuffing!

As it is, now we have to make yet another margarita just to stay awake lond enough to finish this damn thing.

sorry about that. We went ahead and huffed a fag while we were at at. That means smoked a cigarette. Get your mind out of the Hershey Highway, buddy.

So anyway, we learned a fun fact tonight. Indonesians have never heard of a wish bone. Seriously. We had to explain all about drying them and then getting someone else to yank the other side, and whoever gets the big piece gets their wish. We had to laugh. Imaine that...never heard of a wish bone! So now we have four of them drying in the kitchen and we're thinking about selling them, since now everyone thinks they are so cool and they want one. We told them they can get their own damn chicken, know whatwe mean? We are guessing there'll be a wish bone yankin' festival here come Sunday.

Which reminds us, we want to go see Harry Potter tomorrow. We've waited a decade for this series of movies to wrap up and we are getting impatient! We're lobbying JK Rowling to bring us in to ghost-write the sequel: Harry Potter and the Naked Chicken Carcass.

So, anyway, that should be enough for you to chew on for now. We really need to go to bed, since it's already quarter to twelve at night, which means that we've been up twenty hours now, and we just poured a margarita that was primarily tequila with a whiff of lime juice, which is fine since our face is already caving in on itself from the first seven. Gotta make a pie with these limes. We bet it'd be yet another hit! We should open a restaurant and call it Tex-Indo a la Mode. Don't ask us why we added the a la mode part. Just sounds good, OK? And since the Indo flag is a red bar over a white bar, it would mesh perfectly with the Texas flag to make a very cool logo.

And if you've got some left-over turkey you don't know what to do with, give us a hollar. Even after shipping, it's bound to be cheaper than what we can get here. Oh, and throw in some pecans, would ya? The suckers don't grow here and that was a significant piece missing from our dinner tonight: pecan pie.

Pardon us while we take a long, meaningful draght on this here margarita...

So, anyway, Happy Thanksgiving ya'll. Hope yours was as much fun as ours. And as you're adding up things to be thankful for, don't forget duty-free prices. Nothing like low-cost hooch to round out the holidays!

To hell with these margaritas...we're going for shots now!

Come to think of it...our girlfriend probably took the chicken feet and heads to do some weird jungle voodoo thing.

Pardon us...looks like more hooch is needed to ward off the evil!

23.11.10

On The Cusp

I was in Prague the year after the Velvet Revolution. I stood in front of the John Lennon wall and looked at all the rebuilding and cleaning up after decades of Soviet decay. The excitement was palpable and you could feel the energy of the nation as it surveyed the future and liked what it saw.

It was a heady time there and then, with bursts of creativity and limitless horizons. The arts exploded and a poet, Vaclav Havel, had taken the reigns of power. The dead wood had been cleared away, and now the garden could florish and the vital middle class would thrive.

I arrived in Indonesia ten years after the fall of Soeharto. It was a mean and ugly time back then. I have listened to first-hand accounts of fear and rage, stories of riots and looting. But the result has been another clearing of dead wood, and a great awakening of fresh blood and energy. Indonesia sees itself now standing at the threshold of global prominance, and likes what it sees.

There is a boom in the middle class here and a vital energy that infuses the culture. People are finding a new experience called self-determination and they are excited by its possibilities.

Imagine you live in the early 1900s in America. The nation is primarily rural and agricultural. There are pockets of electrified wonders and cars are a new and wonderous thing.

Now imagine that you leap-frog to the 1950s, where suddenly America stands at the head of nations as an economic powerhouse, with a vast and growing middle class full of vitality and creativity, yet struggling to hold on to conservative values and traditions.

If you can conjure that mental image and allow the feeling of that kind of sea-state change within your neighbors and society, then you can start to imagine what it feels like to be here now.

Leap-frog is fun and exciting, but there is an element of danger. Once you have catapulted into the air, you are committed to whatever vector you were on when you left the ground. It is extremely difficult to change direction once you are unbounded. Where you land is entirely dependent on where you took off, and should you realize new hazards mid-flight that were invisible when you leaped, you must decide quickly what must be done before making contact with the ground again.

Indonesia is at the precise moment when it had hit full stride, placed its hands on the hips of the 'frog,' and is just at the cusp of going into full flight. The country has one last, albeit brief, moment to adjust course before launching into the rare air of the world stage. Now is the moment to look ahead and see what other players have done, both right and wrong.

Indonesia is a unique case, in that it contains cultures of vastly differrent wants and needs. There are peoples here who literally span the course of human development, from just at the brink of Stone Age up to ultra-high tech virtual reality. All of these cultures are struggling to maintain their traditions while looking to join the properity that is infusing the country as a whole.

It is at this precise moment that Indonesia must look at where the previous players have landed, and decide whether it wishes to go that way, or adjust its vector.

Europe went the way of moral decay and spiritual disease, which has eaten its heart and left a hollow carcass. America went the way of unbridled greed and consumeristic self-absorption. The German and Soviet reichs collapsed under the weight of power-lust and overly centralized concentration of it.

Indonesia must ask itself what outcome it wants. It must look carefully at the global history of the West and of its immediate neighbor China. The people must steer a course between greed and me-too-ism, and outright political despotism. It must walk the delicate balance of regional autonomy and national interests.

If Indonesia allows the severe concentration of wealth and power that is found in America and Russia, then it will dissolve into a fascist oligarchy of control freaks. If it abandons its rich traditions and cultural heritage, then it will become another Europe without moral compass. And if it creates a society that chases things rather than ideas, then it will be at the mercy of those who dangle the things in front of them.

The ongoing Gayus case here illustrates perfectly Ovid's haunting admonition:
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?"
Who watches the watchers?

For those unfamiliar with the Gayus case, imagine Eliot Ness has just bagged the tax accountant of Al Capone. While the accountant is in protective custody awaiting trial, he is able to use his great resources to bribe Eliot to let him out on weekend furlogh to go meet Al in Atlantic City for gun and games before the legal proceedings begin.

Centralized government and corporate power can not and must not be trusted. The only authority able to judge what is best for the individual is the individual. If the individual cedes too much power and authority to others, then one day the individual will wake up and find he has no power and no authority. A profound distrust of other men and their institutions is healthy and necessary to prevent such abberations as Stalin, Hitler or the gross situation in America now.

As the Founders of the united States realized, power is best kept at the local and regional level, where it can be monitored and controlled. If it is allowed to leak into a central pool, it will someday drown you in your sleep.

Indonesia has placed its hands on the hips of the 'frog.' It is poised to leap into the air to experience the joy of boundless flight, like the garuda soaring on updrafts, effortlessly gliding over the land. But, the wise man remembers that even the garuda must land sometime, and having a clear idea of where that landing will be can mean the difference between success and miserable failure.

It is not enough to wish and dream. In Western culture, we speak of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant labors while the sun shines and builds its nest and reserves, so when the winter comes, it is ready. The grasshopper plays and doesn't have a care for what the future holds, and so when the snow comes, it dies.

Consider this:

When a pilot or sailor is preparing to let go of the ground, he makes a detailed plan, checks the weather reports, checks the charts for known obstacles, and has a firm idea of where he wants to go before slipping the surly gonds of Earth.

Now is the time for Indonesia to use its schools and institutions, not to parrot globalist propaganda, like warming and other rubbish, but to explore with a clear eye what has come before, and plot a course to avoid the graveyards of ships. That's not to say there won't be new hazards, but at least the known ones will be in focus.

It's an exciting time to live here. The future is wide open and Indonesia has the talent and the materials it needs to become a global economic player in its own right, not as the colony of some distant force. It must take care, adn the people must educate themselves, and not trust others to lead. Remember, if the outside world had done such a great job, why would the world be in such a mess now?

Indonesia must decide what it wants for itself, and that decision should enrich and empower all the people, not just a priviledged few. This country has been blessed with natual wealth and intuitive creativity. Use is wisely and carefully.

Leap-frog was one of my favorite games as a kid. We'd all spend hours playing it on a warm summer afternoon. But, I quickly learned that it was not just me who controlled my launch, but the 'frog' on whose back I broke free of Earth.

Do you trust your 'frog?'

22.11.10

The Root Of All Evil

Aristotle gave us the Golden Mean:
"All things in moderation."

The Wizard of Id gave us the Golden Rule:
"He who has the gold makes the rules."

There is a cancer that is eating the soul out of Humanity. The time of its inception can be traced to the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages of Europe. The very date of its metastasis can be pin-pointed on December 24, 1913, with the late-night passage of the Federal Reserve Act and the subsequent creation of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Income Tax. At the moment, the disease became fatal.

Way back in the time of the Crusades, the Knights Templar reportedly discovered 'something' beneath the ruins of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem that gave them remarkable power. Because of 'it,' they created a tight network, based in the Netherlands, that was the seedling of our modern banking system, whereby they issued certificates that allowed someone to travel safely to other countries and later trade in the certificates for the denominated amount of gold at the destination. Thus, they single-handedly created paper money in the West (China is credited with creating the concept of "flying money"). This allowed merchants to travel great distances without fear of being robbed of all their earnings. It also gave the Knights vast wealth and power, as they now had access to large amounts of gold and the fees they charged for the service.

Because of this network, they discovered that at any given time, only a portion of the gold was demanded for withdrawl. Therefore, they could lend portions of their reserve with interest and make even more money. They also had a secure and well-connected network that gave them the most precious commodity of all...information.

A rather infamous example of that network in action was the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. The Baron von Rothschild, titular head of the modern Templars, received word of Wellington's victory hours before the general public. He spread the rumor that Napoleon had won and the markets in London crashed. He was able to buy up vast sums of securities at deep discounts, and when news of the victory hit the general population, he was able to sell at astronomical profits.

In fact, the telescope, which Galileo later turned to the Heavens, was invented by Dutch bankers in order to see returning merchant ships before anyone else, and thus use the information to their profitable advantage.

The Templars, and their modern equivalents, also lent money to monarchs across Europe. In times of war, they would fund both sides, so that no matter who won, the Knights would profit. Later, as the network grew in power and wealth, they were able to manipulate outcomes and entire countries by having the monarchs indebted to them. Their power became so fiercsome that the Cathoic Chruch and the French royals routed the Templars and hunted them mercilessly for years, a period of history that gave us the Inquisition and Friday the 13th.

The spirtual heirs to the Templars are the current central banks, and indeed, the entire global banking cabal. For the past 200 years, the bankers (now commonly known as the banksters) have used the wealth of nations against the people, using their network for insider trading and manipulating information, wars and economies to their advantage. They have created laws which treat soulless corporations as 'legal persons,' thus giving things the same status and rights as living beings. They then use the collective wealth of these 'persons' to manipulate media and information, election outcomes and virtually every aspect of modern life.

Like a festering rot, this cancer has grown and spread throughout the world, slowly but surely confiscating the wealth of nations and installing minute control over real, flesh-and-blood human beings.

This cabal has successfully misdirected people, first by sacrificing Jews, then Communists, then Freemasons, and dozen of other groups. They have kept aware people so befuddled and crasing their own tails that they are ineffectual at routing out the true evil. They further foster racial tensions and xenophobia to keep us fighting among ourselves and distrustful of each other. Thus we are distracted from the real culprit and waste our energies on useless, and ultimately profitable (for them) conflicts and wars.

Their one true weakness is that in order to make the final move, they must drop their disguise and reveal themselves as our supposed masters as part of the endgame. Their hope is that we, the people, will be so befuddled by flouride and anti-depressants that we won't recognize that moment.

Even now, one can perceive the cloak is slipping and revelations are piling up. The question is, how aware and mentally capable are we to recognize this fact?

They are making their final play now. The TSA gropings, the wats in the Middle East, the Chinese rivalry, the economic collapse of America and Europe are all playing cards in their deck. The problem is that we, the people, haven't figured out that there is a very simple and elegant solution: stop playing their game.

Of course, there will be consequences. There will be consequences if we continue. By slowly weaning ourselves from the banking system and moving to barter and gold/silver based trade, we can utter crush this evil within a year. However, you must conquer your fear of doing something new, and everyone must stand in fearless solidarity against whatever they will throw at us.

It will not be pretty. The banksters will throw up a huge fuss. They will conjure ghosts and phoantoms to scare us into submission. They will pull out all the stops to frighten us back into the corral. They will bomb and kill and maim without mercy, and we must prepare for it by keeping a clear image of our goal: freedom from oppression. Imagine a 3-year-old child who is spoiled and over-coddled when it is told to take a nap. Now imagine that child with bombs and diseases and armies ready to do its every bidding. As any parent knows, the only way to break an unruly child's tantrums is to ignore them, and that is what we must do now to the banksters.

The only reason they have power is because WE GIVE IT TO THEM.

So, here's our choice: we continue using banks and supplying the lifeblood that is killing all of humankind, or we simply walk away and start trading amongst ourselves again. It must be a mass movement and it must be done with resolve, no matter what boogey men they throw up at us. They will try to conscript our organic networks with their artificial beings (corporations). They will put up Judas goats to lead us back to the fold (Sarah Palin). They will present us with all sorts of false choices (Republican/Democrat). They will tease us with toys and gee-gaws and sparklie things. We must walk away forever. There is no choice. To give them an inch is to give them our lives. They are spoiled children hooked on our money and labor, and we must starve the Beast of both until it is thoroughly and completely dead, no matter what the pain or sacrifice.

It's the only way.

As Jesus famously said, "If your left eye offends you, pluck it out." Well, that's what we must do now. People can only be lead if they choose to be lead. In order to be corralled, you must freely walk into it.

Put down the remore, unplug the TV and turn off the video games. Those are the tools of submission. Instead, form a neighborhood co-op, plant a garden, sew clothes, creat something! Then, trade it for other goods and services, or accept gold and silver coins instead of the cancerous paper notes that have enslaved us. Form networks of real human beings. Pay off your house and car notes and get out of debt. It's not too late...yet.

But, stell yourself. People will die. Terror strikes will increase. Ghosts will pop up everywhere. Remember, it's not real. It is manufactured to herd you. Oh, sure, the bodies are real, but we must be prepared to die in order to save our children from this curse. It is the only way.

They can ticket some girls for selling illegal cupcakes, but they can't put 100,000 people in jail. Sure, they will try. They will do anything and stop at nothing to protect their empire of lies. All you have to do is ignore it, no matter what the pain is. It will end at some point, you just have to prepare yourself to go through with it. Remember, when you set a broken bone, you must yank the limb and reset the bone in place. It hurts like hell, both for the victim and for the person doing it, but it is the only way.

It's our choice now. We allowed this evil cancer to grow by conforming to their rules, but we can kill it just as easily. We gave them the power and we can take it back. Stop following and leaders perish.

IT WILL HURT, BUT IT MUST BE DONE!

Imagine how good life feels when it's free and liberty is the norm. We haven't been slaves forever, and we can be emancipated soon.

It's up to you.

21.11.10

Thanksgiving On The Far Side

American ex-pats occasionally bring some of their home culture with them. You have to keep in mind that many ex-pats live outside the country because of the oppression and tyranny back home. I'm no different. I was attacked and impovrished by Child Protective Serives (CPS) because of my politics.

I was intimately involved in the Texas separatist movement for many years. They tried a number of times to get me. My father was also a major enemy of the Bush family mafia, and since he was dead, they wanted to pound me into submission.

Basically, my wife got hooked on Xanax, which like other depression "cures", causes a complete break with reality. When she disappeared with our children, CPS at the behest of political forces saw an opportunity to get me. They could find nothing to hang on me. They had no proof that I had committed any crime. So their solution, which they use quite often, is to delay and hem and haw until you are completely broke and can't fight anymore. My fault was nothing more than disagreeing with fascism and having the gaul to fight back.

So, like many ex-pats I know, I have left the American pile of pullshit behind. But, I still have certain customs that are a part of my life and my memories. Thanksgiving is one of them. Giving thanks to the Universe for my life and my small successes seems like a pretty darned good idea.

furthermore, a lot of Indonesians are deeply curious about Americans and the life we live. The only image they have of us is what they see in movies and on TV. Think about that. How much of what you see in the media actually reflects your real life? None.

So, when I said I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, a number of friends wanted to join, taste some of the traditional foods and take part in a well-known American holiday.

I had to make some concessions: some of my friends are muslim, so the food has to be halal; I have to work Thursday, so the celebration will take place on Friday; and turkey is about $100 a kilo here, so I will use chicken instead. However, I will make the sage stuffing, my famous mash potatoes, my world-famous spaghetti sauce, and cheese brocolli. My girl-friend is making bakso soup (bakso is a Chinese meatball) and some other Indonesian favorites.

So far, there are about 20 people on the list for dinner. To a person, they have all asked me what is the story of Thanksgiving, so I've had to discuss the whole history of European invasion of North America.

The first time I celevrated Thanksgiving outside America was when I lived with my family in Dublin, Ireland 30 years ago. We could get a turkey, but it was tough and dry...not like the factory-raised Butterball. What was special about that holiday is it drew us together to perform a ritual we have all celebrated all our lives. There is a warm feeling that comes with rituals.

This year, I am using ayam kampung (village chicken). Ayam kampung is halal, not to mention healthier than the factory birds available at home. They are raised within a mile of my house, have never had growth hormones or vaccines, and are young pullets, so they should be tender and juicy.

The chickens will be slaughtered and plucked on Thursday morning. I will pick them up and prep them Thursday night. Friday, I will cook all day to make enough food for the folks who are coming. Indonesians love anything free, especially food, so I figure at least 30 will actually show up. I'm cooking four chickens, five pounds of potatoes, an acre of brocolli, and enough meatball soup to feed an army. I even bought an oven just for the occasion.

Oh, and the best part is I am making a traditional Texas beverage to compliment the food: margaritas. Picked up a liter of Sauza in Singapore just for the celebration. None of the Indonesians coming for dinner have ever had one. Should be fun!

This is my first Thanksgiving since coming to Indonesia. I have finally reached to point where I can host the celebration, so I have something to celebrate. Thank God for success for hard work. Thank God for a good woman to help me. Thank God for friends who took care of me when I went blind. And thank God for the freedom I have found here in Indonesia.

Just hope my friends and family back in the gulag can one day celebrate also.

And thank God that my children are healthy and growing up well. I hope someday they will take up my fight and finish the job.

I hope they will continue to celebrate this tradition, mindful of its real meaning.

And finally, thanks to the people and nation of Indonesia for letting this crazy foreigner to come here and live his dreams and be part of this amazing country.

I can't wait for the chicken and stuffing sandwiches on Saturday!

20.11.10

Got My Butt In A Singapore Sling

If there is such a thing as a benign fascist st
Just arrived home from a two-day sojourn to Singapore, and the whole time I was thinking about my mixed feelings, both about Singapore, and about fascism in general. Granted, there are some advantages to vorporate-owned states. Everything is about making money, so if you want to make money, they are a great place to go...for a while. Granted, Singapore has existed for quite a while now, teetering on the brink of total, in-your-face fascism.

For instance, the cops aren't allowed to carry guns, BUT if you so much as drop a cigarette butt on the street, you are slapped with a S$1,000 fine and held until it is paid. There's a famous T-shirt that everyone buys as a souvenir (or maybe a reminder) that has twelve common infractions and the fine for each underneath. If you piss in a public toilet, but don't flush, S$1,000. If you don't clean up after your dog, S$1,000. The list goes on.

That probably seems mild by American, or at least Texan standards, where the police simply shoot you or TASER you into submission. Ask Joe Campos Torres. The average American would actually feel relieved to be in Singapore.

The streets are painfully clean. People don't step out of line. The public transport runs sharply on time. Everything is highly efficient and so clean, you start to feel like an infection after a while.

People are stacked in concrete hives. There are almost no private homes in the whole city/country. Everything and everyone operates with cock-work efficiency to the point where you wish you could make a mess just to feel organic again.

The minute you step off the plance, you are whisked from the gates to the duty-free shopping. It takes a minute, but you suddenly realize that there is no area for domestic flights. Every arrival and departure is international. Everything else is train, bus, taxi or private car. And there are precious few traffic jams, because most people use the cheap and highly efficient pulic transportation.

As you board the train for the city, you notice no trash, no grafitti, and everyone queues up nicely to the side so that arriving passengers can exit first. The people are all blank, self-absorbed in text messages, MP3 players and other electronic time-wasters. No one looks up or notices the rest of the world, although unlike New York, if you ask a question, people respond with police discourse rather than fear and loathing. The average obcessive-compulsive personality would feel right at home there, though normal people would feel naked without white gloves.

Now, the reason I call it a benign fascist state is because it is not intrusive into your personal space. It knows where to stop. Compare my experience with yours this holiday season:

I boarded in ZJakarta, where I beeped at the detector (if was actually plugged in that day). While being wanded, I engaged in polite banter with the staff and was even offered the phone number of the very nice young lady running the X-ray machine. When leaving Singapore, I passed through a metal detector at the gate and the only question was did I have a laptop. Since I didn't, I was passed through completely unmolested. The funny part was that zI was carrying a large bottle of bath/shampoo, which no one cared about, AND in my pocket I was carring a small knife.

You see, when I left the states, I went and got a few items at the local sporting goods store. At the check-out, there was a display of impulse items, one of which was a Swiss Army card. About the size of a credit card, it has a knife, pen, pin, phillips and flathead screwdriver, a magnifying glass, and a ruler. Probably the handiest thing I brought with me, save for the Sport Berkey water fliter. I carry that tool with me everywhere. Yesterday, i forgot to leave it at home and I still have it, after going through security in two countries.

Now, tell me about your experience being groped, molested, yelled at, humiliated, threatened, and fined for non-compliance back there in the Land of the Free.

Yeah, if it weren't for the flouride forcefully dumped in your dinking water and the 'anti-depressants' your doc gives you to cure the cognitive disonance, you'd probably be pissed.

But, as it is, you just tolerate it because, gosh, somewhere, sometime, a terrorist named Okel Sam may strike.

All in the name of safety, you know.

I think what really disturbs me about the whole 'safety' industry is that you let your guard down. You put your personal well-being off as someone else's responsibility. You become a mindless drone passing through life as painlessly as possible, hoping and paying that nothing will violate your personal space. The irony is that you give up your personal space to a third-party vendor so you can go about your business making money to pay for the vendor.

That's why I love Indonesia. You can't let your guard down. You, and only you, are responsible for your safety and well-being. You can't trust anyone without them truely earning it. I prefer that. I prefer having full and complete responsibility for my and mine. I feel alive here.

Most Americans I meet hate it here. They can't handle the daily contest for food and shelter. They can't stand the 'kill or ge killed' mentality. How far we have come from the people who built America. My great aunt travelled with her family, at the tender age of two, in a covered wagon from Kanasa to Texas. There were no state police, no rest stops or Stuckey's, no interstates, and nothing to eat or drink but what you carried and what you found.

That is life. That is living. When you give up the idea that someone else can protect you, you find a deep sense of power and self-satisfaction. You lay down at night knowing that whatever is in your belly and whatever safety you have, you EARNED it with your vare hands.

Talk about a sense of accomplishment.

There are precious few frontiers left on Earth for spirits like me. The 'Final Frontier' is, alas, still the realm of governments and militaries. If someone offered me a one-way trip to Mars, I'd take it for two reasons: one, I'd see and experience things precious few have before, and two, I'd live or die on my efforts, not some vague police-state that sees me more a threat than any outside force.

Singapore is cool, sure. For a day or two, it's a nice respite from the gritty contest of daily durvival in indonesia. But, if offered a choice, I'd take Indonesia any day.

Most Westerners can't hack it here. Good. I like being a big fish in a small pond. But, it makes me sad that my fellow countrymen have lost the spirit that created the country they live in.

Nothing makes a man feel more like a man than to have a good wife and children who depend on him, and to fight every day for them, so that the food on the table is a precious gift from Universe, not some bullshit nanny state.

Patrick Henry famously said, "I care not what others may say, but for me, give me liberty or give me death."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

When I comes right down to it, a real man feels like a man when he can difend and build despite all odds. No matter what the hardship, it feels so good to sit on a pleasant evening on your porch and watch the sun set, knowing that you have a roof and food in your belly because you really earned it.

And nothing makes a woman feel more like a woman than having a man who can fight the good fight.

So, you can have America. You can have Singapore. You can have all the fascist control nanny states. I like the feeling of being a real man. And I really like having a real woman who appreciates it.

Now fetch me my dinner, woman!

18.11.10

Wuzzup Dawg!

(Originally published in 2008)

n the far northeast corner of the island of Sulawesi, there is a quiet little place called Menado. Few westerners know of it, and few Indonesians have been there, but it boasts one of the largest marine reserves in the world and better diving than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It also holds some interesting experiences for the brave souls willing to venture into the culinary unknown.


This particular morning, I am awakened bynothing. No sound but faint voices in the distance and the crash of waves. It takes a minute, but I come to realize there is no cantor on a loud-speaker chanting Islamic prayers. Menado is predominantly Christian and the daily sounds of the mosque up the street are conspicuously missing here.

I am told that today is special in that I am to be treated to a couple of Menado delicacies. I am both leery and excited. In my travels, when I have been told these very things, I have been treated to cobra blood, monkey brains, locusts, and fried termites. Not to say that I didn't enjoy them, but there is always the initial revulsion and wave of nausea that I have to overcome. It takes quite a bit of discipline to focus my mind and forget the source of item.

I have a personal policy that if anyone offers me something to eat or drink that they value highly, I am obliged to try it with the sole exception being if I believe it will cause me personal harm. One can not learn a culture and understand a people if one is not willing to partake fully with them.

Today, my adventure will be cap tikus (CHUP-tee-koos, lit. kiss of the mouse) and erway. The term is very old and most Indonesians now know what it is, but I am blissfully ignorant and for all I know, erway is a local fruit.

My host takes me for a short walk to a spot that is more or less like a commons shared by several families. In the center is a large vat covered with a rubber tarp and a maze of bamboo pipes coming from the top. The bamboo is a little over an inch in diameter and there are about 20 lengths joined together to form a rough coil ending in a spout with a good number of empty bottles nearby. My interest is piqued! It's a still! This is going to be fun!

Looking around I see a very large pile of coconuts, over six feet high, with the tops cut off. I inquire of my host who informs me that we are going to enjoy cap tikus, which is distilled from pure coconut milk. As I observe the precious drops coming from the spout, I see that the first bottle is only a third full, and that there are about 20 bottles around. This tells me it's going to be a long process. The vat holds easily 20 gallons and will produce roughly 20 liters.

Several of the women are busy cooking. Some are making steamed rice, others vegetable stir fry, and still others are cooking erway. I sneak a peak. The aroma is exciting and thankfully, it appears to be some form of meat. The cook informs me that it is very spicy as she throws a handful of chilis into the mix. I see bay leaf and anise and other spices I don't immediately recognize sitting on the counter. Perhaps this time, the delicacy is in the sauce and not in the source.



I join the circle of men and begin talking with them. They are talking to each other in the Menado language and to me in a mish-mash of English and Bahasa Indonesia. One offers me a bottle and a glass. It is cap tikus, he says. It is translucent, but cloudy. I pour out a shot and smell it. The aroma is somewhat like absinth, but with pepper overtones. There are very earthy sub-notes and an overall tropical flair. At first taste, it is smooth and slightly bitter. There is no overwhelming alcohol bite, like I expected from moonshine. Again, there is a subtle anise flavor and the earthiness, but also a very strong "wild" taste, like deer or wild boar. I search for something to compare it to, but nothing comes to mind. It is truly unique.

The men are looking at me with apprehension. I describe my experience to the host, who says that this is a special preparation, not like what we will drink later. This version takes over a week to prepare. I inquire what is done to this version that is different. In the back of my head I hear that voice saying I don't want to know the answer, and sure enough, I don't. This version is poured over a fetal deer and allowed to sit for a week or more while the flavors blend (there's that wave of nausea again). I struggle but manage to nod my appreciation. By the third shot, they could have filtered it through elephant dung and I wouldn't have cared.

The day is spent discussing my travels and impressions of Indonesia. Talk ranges through independence from The Netherlands, World War II and the oil/logging/mineral boom here. I am asked a number of times about my thoughts on Indonesian women and my enthusiasm never fails to elicit a laugh. They are very curios why a bule would want to leave America when so many are trying to go there and we discuss the effects of good marketing, even when the product fails to live up to the hype.

By sunset, we are ready to eat. Bowls and platters are laid out with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and of course, erway. I am handed a plate, fork and spoon and ushered to the table to serve myself first and everyone makes sure that I don't skimp on the erway. I load my plate to overflowing and walk back to my chair. The food is incredible with a range of flavors and smells that are almost overwhelming.



Everyone watches anxiously as I taste the erway. It is a red meat with small bones cooked in oil and spiced until my eyes water and I break out into a sweat. The entire audience is entertained as my face turns beet red. Not that the heat bothers me. I was raised on jalapenos and have enjoyed Thai and curry for many years. This is particularly hot, but not so that I can't eat it.

The erway is greasy, but not annoyingly so. It is cooked nearly to the point of being fried, but not quite. I detect soy sauce, bay, anise, and a spice that is almost minty. There are copious chilis tangled up in the matrix. I muse that it would be perfect with fresh mushrooms, which are impossible to find here, and perhaps some bell pepper and red onion. The crowd is pleased that I enjoy it and react excitedly when I ask if I may have more.

We wash the whole affair down with an ocean of cap tikus. The children wander off to watch TV and the women clear the dishes. I offer to help, but am firmly told to sit. My head is beginning to swim from the liquor, but the buzz is not quite like any other I have had. My eyes have a hard time focusing and I feel distinctly drunk, but not debilitated. Fortunately I am walking a block to the house. I yawn deeply, and a couple of the men laugh and point. One says that the cap tikus is working since I am ready to sleep.

Eventually, I stand and make ready to leave. There is a round of hand-shaking and two or three of the single women give me the double kiss on the cheek. Obviously, they wish to leave an impression, and it works.

As I start to leave, I stop and remind the host that I still don't know what erway is. He asks if I enjoyed it and I say of course! I can hardly walk I am so full! He explains that R.W. (err weh) stands for two words in the Menado language that translate as "small head." He smiles broadly, obviously full of pride at his hosting success.

"Anjin!"

I look puzzled.

"Dog!"

17.11.10

Law Of The Jungle

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
-Lord Acton

One thing is clear in Indonesia: the only law is Jungle Law. Would that it were this clear in
America.

The seminal event that is raising a fuss around here is the incarceration of one Gayus Tambunan. Gayus is a low-level minion, who through his mafia ties and position of public trust has become rather wealthy. He was convicted of corruption and sentenced to several years in jail. So, why would anyone be surprised to see him in Bali watching a tennis match, wearing a wig, sitting near one of the richest and most powerful people in Indonesia (Bakrie)?

Turns out Gayus had paid US$40,000 to the warden and a much smaller amount to the other 'watchers' to get released on a regular basis to go about his business. Oh sure, if there was a bed-check, he was sitting there, but on holidays and special occasions, and for all we know, just about any other time, he was comfortably jetting around the country having the time of his life.

When the story broke in the newspaper Tempo, the police were satisfied to slit a couple of minion throats, but the media, and now the people, are not finished. The situation has opened a whole can of worms and shown the justice system for what it is: freedom for sale.

It's akin to the O. J. Simpson case in the States a while back. If you have enough money, you can buy your freedom. Of course, corruption in America works a little different, but in many ways it is far worse than the situation here.

One need look no further than George W. Bush. This vile criminal, who has blatantly violated national and international laws, ordered the deaths of millions of people, is responsible for torture and limitless internment of innocent people, is writing books and living in Texas. He charges money to give speeches or goes about his life completely unmolested. If someone tries to bring a case against him, the courts protect him. The color of law surrounds him.

In fact, the whole damn Bush family, at least since pappy Prescott, have flaunted the law and profited from criminal activity. Prescott was actually investigated by Congress for aiding and abetting the Nezis in WWII, but some well-applied campaign donations made that go away quietly. Daddy Bush was equally corrupt and evil, but he lives quietly in Houston, in the Tanglewilde subdivision, with some rather rich and famous neighbors.

So, Gayus getting out on personal recognizance by the application of some well-placed bribes hardly shocks me. Besides, I have personally witnessed police taking bribes in lieu of traffic infractions, and one wonderful individual tried to extort Rp.400,000 from me because I refuse to carry origial ID documents, preferring notarized copies instead. Fortunately, I have the personal phone number of the number two man in the police.

Law of the jungle.

I like my corruption open and clear, just like what I see here. In America, it is well-hidden and covered under the color of law. It all looks so official and legal, once the lawyers and judges finish with it. It's all because the American legal system has taken a lesson from the Bible: you write enough words and you can find a passage to justify anything.

To be sure, America and Indonesia are not isolated cases. Every political system on Earth is corrupt, to varying degrees. One thing is certain, though, the more wealth and power a system controls, the more corruption there is, until you reach the pinnacle in the crumbling empire of America, where vast sums of money flow and lives are bought and sold in boardrooms. You can be absilutely sure that under the fading facade, there is a seething, rotten core of evil and stench.

Look at Obama, for instance. Here is a man that was a UK citizen at birth, by virtue of his Kenyan father. He gave up any pretense of US citizenship when his mother married an Indonesian and moved here. Later, because his mother and step-father worked for the CIA, he was able to get a US passport again, but it is still questionable whether he has ever been a US citizen.

A great number of people have actively challenged his legal ability to be president under the Constitution, yet every single challenge has been rebuffed. Obama has spent well over US$1 million getting cases thrown out of court. Judges are either on the take or too fearful for their lives to allow a simple inquiry into the citizenship status of one man.

All Obama has to do, to save money and clear up the matter, is to present one document, similar to the one I have to carry with me and had to show the embassy to replace my passport: a birth certificate. But, graft and corruption are not cheap. They require a lot of money to get people to do things that in their hearts they know are wrong. After all, a notarized copy of a birth certificate costs US$20, but preventing exposure costs more than US$1 million.

Compared to what I know about he American 'justice' system, the Gayus case here seems mild. A convicted corrupt official pays to get out of jail. Hmmm...can you really be surprised by that? How many copies of G. W.'s witless tome were bought as political favors? Who did Al Gore pay to get an Oscar for his piece of clap-trap? The real inconvenient truth is behind the wizard's curtain, not in the atmosphere.

If there's money and power involved, there is deeply entrenched corruption. That is a foregone conclusion. I mean, I haven't even touched the banksters and Wall Street yet. Too easy a target. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

The Law of the Jungle is eat or be eaten. Money has teeth and those without it are prey. Corrupt systems are characterized by small groups of people controlling vast amounts of wealth.

Sound like a government/corporation you know?

16.11.10

Fear and Loathing in Indonesia

Tomorrow is Idul Adha, which is the Muslim feast of atonement. It's a holiday like no other, although you'd think it was rodeo time in Texas with all the livestock rolling around town.

During Idul Adha, those with means buy a goat, and those with more means buy a cow, and the animal is scrificed at the local mosque as an offering for the forgiveness of sins. The carcasses are then carved up and the meat doled out to needy families.

To that end, there have been trucks bringing loads of animals into the city for the occasion. I've seen dozens of trucks with a cow or two in the back and three or four guys keeping a hand on them. I've seen goats bound up and slung on the back of a motorcycle on its way to a mosque.

Tomorrow what will happen is that the penitant will present the animal to the imam at the front of the mosque. There is a round of praying and asking for forgiveness. The animals throat is then slit and the blood is poured out as sacrifice for sin. Richer folks may offer up more than one animal, and of course, cows being more expensive, a wealthy man will bring the larger animal for sacrifice.

Later the meat is divvied up and given to poor families and individuals, so that the sacrifice serves two purposes. Given that Jakarta has over 12 million people, and about 80% of them are Muslim, you can imagine how much meat is available for those who need it.

Blood sacrifice is one of the oldest forms of atonement that I am aware of. Of course, the Muslims still practice it. The Jews seemed to have stopped around the time the Secdond Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. Christians, especially Catholics and Episcopelians, still practice blood sacrifice, albeit in a symbolic form, by slaughtering and then cannibalizing their own God.

The practice is curious to me. Of course, there's the aspect of ingesting the Life Force of that which is eaten. Many ancient hunting societies were keenly aware of the fact that they were taking the spirit of the dead animal into themselves. i can imagine expanding that idea into one where the Deity is pleased by receiving the animal's spirit in sacrifice, and even more so by the aroma of the burning flesh. Lord knows I like a good steak myself.

Last year, I told someone back home about the practice. His only response was, "Barbaric." No more so than many religious practices I can think of in Western religions. The Jews have a whole list of rules about sacrifices in the first few books of the Bible. There's a list of sins and then a proscribed remedy, giving what animal, if blood or burnt, how much should be donated to the priests, et cetera. In fact, Jesus' whole rant at the Temple was against the crass commercialism that had grown up around the practice.

As far as I can tell, the Buddhists are one of the few religions that not only did not practice live sacrifice, but strictly forbid the killing of animals for any reason.

The Aztec and Maya of Central America went a step further and carved out the beating heart of human sacrifices, drained the blood down the pyramid steps and then cast the bodies down the steps to pile up at the bottom. There is a rather graphic re-enactment of the practice in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which I found to be a fascinating film. Having been to several Mayan cities, including Tikal, I can easily visualize the scene.

Dan Brown dealt with the subject extensively in his latest novel, The Lost Symbol. The concept of freeing and absorbing the life force of other creatures has roots deep in European culture, as well. The majik arts and occult practices have used killing as a means of gaining spiritual strangth for centuries.

So, the slaughter of goats and cows is now shocking, really. In the abstract, one might think that it is a brutal and arcane ritual, but to witness it is to remove the mystery. It's no different that what is being done all over Texas right now, during deer season. The difference being that here it is a ceremonial begging for forgiveness. In Texas, it's a ritual form of spraying hot lead and testosterone all over the place.

An interesting anecdote from last year's holiday. A noted politician had purchased a cow for his sacrifice. When the animal was butchered, its liver was eaten up with paracites, which led to rampant speculation on what sins he had committed. You see, Indonesians view the liver the way a European would view the heart, as the center of a person's being. So, the liver being shot was a curious sign.

Anyway, a blessed Idul Adha to my Muslim readers. And to my other Indonesian friends, enjoy your holiday in the middle of the week.

Back on Thursday with more views from the Far Side.

15.11.10

Readin', Ritin' n Cypherin'

You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known.

But something is happening here
And you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?
-Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man
What is education?

Looks like the current, near-global paradigm is stuffing kids into a room and filling full of the exact same information, sprinkled liberally with propaganda. At some point, they are encouraged to 'specialize' into so field or another and then spend the remained of their matriculation focusing on one thing.

Seems to me this is completely bass-ackwards.

Once upon a time, there were different schools of thought. There were platonics, aristotelians, nihilists, religionists, and scientists. There were weltanschauungs and competing viewpoints. That model produced legendary thinkers who drew upon multiple disciplines to gain insight and inspiration.

Somewhere along the line, we got derailed into this conformist model, where everyone must learn the same mountain of 'facts' and the same interpretation of those facts, and then, to the exclusion of all other information, begin a career building walls to protect just certain 'facts,' to the exclusion of all other 'facts.'

From where I sit, this seems to have produced legendary morons.

During my college days, the most memorable moments were when I tied some historical event to a scientific break-through or social change. One really good writer to this kind of thinking is Daniel Boorstein, who could effortlessly connect the invention of sewing machines to the development of credit cards, or so it seemed.

Things like transcepts and flying buttresses led to explosions in architecture and grand works such as the Hajia Sofia and Chartres cathedral.

The concept of the photon led to pointilism and ultimately to digital photography. Photography freed paitners to explore impressionism, cubism and geometrics.

Knowing little things can be fun also, like knowing that 'terrific' comes from 'terror,' which comes from the Latin, which equals the Greek 'deimos,' which is the root of 'demon' and a moon of Mars. The moons of Mars are called Phobos and Deimos, which can be translated as 'fear' and 'loathing,' which was a popular title for Hunter S. Thompson stories. Not to mention that the names were suggested by Johnathan Swift in 'Gulliver's Travels,' 200 years before the discovery of the moons.

Swift also wrote a famous essay called "A Modest Proposal," in which he advocates eating the children of Ireland as a means of alleviating poverty and unemployment in 17th century Ireland, which oddly sounds like the EU's current proposal to fix Ireland's current economic crisis. Thus, the 'war on terror' is a 'war of the worlds,' and a war on the children of Ireland, and everyone seems to think that just terrific. Reductio ad absurdum ipso facto annuit coeptis.

See how much fun it is?

One can successfully argue that thinkers such as Einstein, who was mired in his focus on calculations, has done more damage to physics than the Newtonian/Keplerian schools ever did. But what's worse is that schools teach Einsteinian space/time as gospel, when in fact nearly every observation of the Universe dispels the theory. Yet, competing schools of thought, such as Eletric Universe are roundly dismissed because the people who conceived of it weren't physicists.

Modern banking and economics, the core and root of the global money mess, are the product of a man called Keynes, whose mental masturbations have become dogma, thus trapping economists into thought boxes from which they can not escape. The Austrian school, on the other hand, is derided and ignored, though its paradigm makes far more sense and is historically sound.

And so the Box Paradigm is perpetuated across time. Schools pound one viewpoint into a child's head, and then for life they are trapped in an artificial construct of someone else's making. If they dare think outside the box, they are failed and relegated to ditch-digging for the rest of their lives.

Finally, not only do we force children to constrain their thoughts within narrow boxes of perception, but we do so by stuffing them in boxes 8 hours a day. No wonder we can't seem to produce great thinkers any more. The most exciting thought exercises in a modern school occur when globalist change agents come and pretend to have think-tank like sessions, but where conclusions are masterfully steered towards pre-ordained 'facts.' Case in point: Al Gore.

With the judicious application of multi-media and internet, combined with platonic dialogues and true investigative thinking, we could be producing Leonardo da Vincis by the hundreds. We could realize a tremendous New Age of Wisdom by teaching children to really think, to investigate multiple lines of inquiry, to open themselves to new connections and conclusions.

Instead, we close their minds, lock them in Schroedenger's Box and throw away the key. We continue to bus them into boxes and stuff them full of 'that's the way we've always done it' and hope for a better future. No wonder we are mired in one pile of stupidity after another.

Given the modern tools available, and simple discussions that cost nothing, children could be taught to really think. They would be encouraged to make connections where none existed before. They would stretch their minds to apply a 'fact' from one discipline to solving a 'puzzle' in another. The most prized degree would become a PhD in Everything, rather than some increasingly narrow line of thinking that leads ultimately to a cul-de-sac. Children would join dots rather than separate them, thus causing an explosion in true understanding of the Universe!

But, alas, perhaps that's the point: we can't have people thinking now can we? They might devise some way to extract energy from the ether for eternal free power. They might devise modes of transportation that are cheap, private and don't require vast infrastructures to operate.

They might become free individuals, sovereign and whole, answerable to their own God and unhindered in their exploration of our vast and wonderous Universe.

We can't have that, now can we?

14.11.10

Twenty Eighty-Four

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!
-Winston Smith, Nineteen Eighty-Four

In some ways, my blog is like Winston's diary. I'm not sure if I'm writing to the world I knew as a child, or the to world my daughter will inherit.

Certainly, it's for the reader, a way of connecting with strangers across the globe, who hopefully find in my words a solidarity of thought or experience. It's a way to clarify my own thinking and test drive ideas: kick some philosophical tires, as it were.

Today, I wax introspective. Why? Well...one, it's Sunday, and my Sunday musings usually stray far afield. Two...my colleagues Clif High, over at HalfPasHuman, his faithful henchman Igor (EYE-gor) and George over at UrbanSurvival have jointly been predicting and speculating about some Earth-shaking event(s) that will commence at roughly 6pm Jakarta time and will reverberate through January, with particular attention on the date of January 7th.

What is it? Heck, I don't know. I'm not qualified to speculate on the nature of future events, but I have a pretty clear bead on the past. I do know, from about ten years' worth of experience that Clif's webbots have been spectacularly right about many things. From 9/11 to large-scale blackouts, from the Columbia shuttle explosion to Banda Aceh, from Katrina to Chinese wedding quakes, the bots have been eerily right again and again.

Whatever the event(s) turn out to be, the effects will appear in history books in the year 2084. Our progeny will read with the dispassion of those long separated from horrific events about whatever IT is that the bots have been harping on for better than two years now.

What can we do to prepare? Well, like any normal, red-blooded Texan, I armed myself, bought some farm land up in the mountains, loaded in water and food, seeds, gold and a generator. The salient point that I take away from all this, though, is it is NOT what you do to prepare, but how you react after the fact. As Douglas Adams might have said, DON"T PANIC!

We know from experience that fascists always use crisis to advance their control structures. That's a given. They will put up Judas goats who will make pseudo-logical and impassioned pleas to follow the Party line. They will point the panicked sheep to Onkel's waiting breast, where he will suckle us and nurture us through this difficult time -- for a price, of course: your immortal soul.

I hear so many folks talk big. "I'll never go down quiet," they boast. "I'll give up my gun when they pry my cold, dead fingers off the trigger," they growl. Fact is, most people don't know how they'll react under severe stress. When something so horrible presents itself to your eyes, most people shut down reason and start acting on pure instinct. I've seen it dozens of times. They talk big, but they don't look deep inside and find the trigger of their panic, and corral that sucker.

Furthermore, we have all been trained and conditioned by mass media to turn to "authorities." We can't trust ourselves to make good decisions, we must seek out the proverbial gurus at the tops of corporate/government mountains to give us sage advice and thoughtful direction.

Bullshit!

There is only one authority that I trust with my life and the lives of my family: me. My mother will tell you, when there was a crisis, I was the one you could count on not to panic. Even as a kid. Maybe I have my great-aunt Tish's genes. In 1910, during the Halley's comet panic, she was 12 years old. Her mother told her to get on her knees and plea to the God of Our Fathers to spare the Earth from the comet's deadly effects. Tish's answer? "If we're all going to die, why do we need to pray?" (She arrived in Texas in 1899 in a covered wagon...I loved that woman)

At the tender age of 13, I gashed my forearm down to the artery. Sure, I cried, but I calmly wrapped my arm while my dad nearly went into orbit, not to mention damn near killed all of us on the way to the hospital. A 18, I saw a Canadian man have a heart-attack in the Gare-de-Nord in Paris. His wife was, well...hysterical and there were about 50 gawkers all standing around watching him die. I doffed my pack and applied CPR and kept him alive until the ambulance arrived. Several years ago, the neighbor's kid broke both his radius and ulna, so that his forearm had a new elbow. I set the bones and slung the arm while his mother looked like a loose balloon. In Guatemala a while back, I was on a bus when a woman went into labor. Half the bus was stunned into statue-like indecision, while the other half were in complete panic. Since I had done a video on childbirth, I had a pretty good idea what to expect, and so delivered the baby somewhere near San Isidro. I wasn't prepared to go blind, but when it happened, I began to make a mental list of things I could still do, rather than focus on what I couldn't do. It all boils down to one thing:

DON'T PANIC!

Self-reliance and self-trust is a lost art. The media have been used for decades now to implant deep in our minds the profound distrust of our own abilities and to seek the all-knowing, all-seeing counsel of "experts" and "authorities." I mean, just watch the news. How many reporters do you see anymore that give you thoughtful analysis of their own. Most are incapable of such mental legerdomain. Instead, they act nervous, concerned and near-panicked, and immediately turn to some "authority" to give us an idea what is happening and what to do about it.

Us? HA! We're just little helpless babes that can't make an informed decision without the guidance of our "betters." You watch. IF this 'thing' happens today, what will be your first reaction. Pay close attention to your thoughts the second you hear about it. Do you panic and start trying to figure out which "authority" will give you the best instrustions? Will you run for the SuperDome and beg your maters for deliverance? Or will you take immediate steps to protect your own first. Will you gather you bug-out pag by the door, arm yourself and get into a defensive posture before turning to media for more information on the situation (not instruction, mind you...big difference).

The key to Life, the Universe and Everything is how you react. That is closely related to how you prepare, and preparation is 90% mental. Think about how the military, police and other "authorities" are trained. They are given repeated preparation to act and react in a particular fashion so that under stress, it becomes automatic. They don't have to think (which shows). You job is to prepare your mind so that in a stess situation, you react automatically, but the trick is, don't turn off your mind. Always think and always listen to your gut. Your gut will tell you the right thing, if you've been careful to filter out the subliminal training you've been getting lo these 60 years of TeeVee.

Remember that telegraph from the future, called "Nineteen Eighty-Four?" The US is at war with Russia. The US has always been at war with Russia. No, wait! The US is at war with China. The US has always been at war with China. Oceania, EurAsia, East Asia...we live in the tri-lateral world of Winston Smith. You are now, and have been trained for your whole life to love Big Brother. The question now is can you uninstall the buttons before 'whatever-it-is' happens today?

What if the bots are wrong? Good! Can't wait to think that. I don't seek out disaster, I just don't panic when it comes. Do I believe the bots? No. Not one bit. They are just like all other predictors: you make enough predictions, some are bound to be right. So what good are they? They are thought experiments. They present scenarios which I use to mull around possible reacts, so that if a situation presents itself, I'm not surprised or panicked, but simply begin to execute the plan.

So why have I prepared for 'whatever-it-is?' Simple, being armed is a natual state for a Texan. I'd feel naked without tools of defense. Farmland is useful for generating income, building a retirement palace and having a weekend escape from the big city. Extra food and water? Well, there's earthquakes, storms and volcanoes here, not to mention utilities in Indonesia are, well...unreliable. A bug-out bag? Ever since I started living on my own at the tender age of 17, I've had a bag of necessities within easy reach. Just plain prudent, and has come in handy on more than one occasion. I haven't done anything to prepare that I wouldn't do on a warm, sunny day in the Texas hill country. It's just a case of ant and grasshopper.

And so I send this out to the people of the past, or the people of the future. The message from this time is, "DON"T PANIC!"

In the end, you're either Ford Prefect or Winston Smint. I'll take Ford any day. Have towel, will travel.

Clif, George, Igor...no one has any idea what thing is coming at us tonight/tomorrow. I certainly don't. Reading the bot output, to me, is like reading Revelations in the Bible. Makes no sense but has some cool images. I'm watching the news to spot when the moment arrives, though according to Clif, the show-shine boy up the alley will be talking about it. I'm curious though...what is this thing that has been sitting like a dead elephant in the middle of the predictive output for better than two years, and is bigger than 9/11 in orders of magnitude? All Clif and George can come up with, besides a dozen scenarios, is that the world will change profoundly next week.

Well, shucks! That happened when my daughter was born.

Next?!