Here Thar Be Monsters!

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31.7.16

The Body Electric

Sometimes, you gotta laugh, and in Texas we got plenty to laugh about.  I posted this one several years ago, and it needs the occasional re-run.  It's got adult language in it, so if you act like a child, you should go away. This went around in email in 1999, and I have never found proper attribution, so please, if you created this story, let me know so I can give you proper credit.  Enjoy!

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Thought y'all should read this in case you're thinking of installing an electric fence!

We have the standard 6-foot fence in the backyard, and a few months ago, I heard about burglaries increasing dramatically in the entire city.

To make sure this never happened to me, I got an electric fence and ran a single wire along the top of the fence. Actually, I got the biggest cattle charger Tractor Supply had, made for 26 miles of fence.

I then used an 8-foot long ground rod, drove 7.5 feet into the ground. The ground rod is the key, with the more you have in the ground, the better the fence works.

One day I'm mowing the back yard with my cheapo Wal-Mart 6hp big wheel push mower.... The hot wire is broken and laying out in the yard. I knew for a fact that I unplugged the charger. I pushed the mower around the wire and reached down to grab it, to throw it out of the way. It seems as though I hadn't
remembered to unplug it after all.

Now I'm standing there, I've got the running lawnmower in my right hand and the 1.7 gigavolt fence wire in the other hand. Keep in mind the charger is about the size of a marine battery and has a picture of an upside down cow on fire on the cover. Time stood still. The first thing I notice is my balls trying to climb up the front side of my body. My ears curled downwards and I could feel the lawnmower ignition firing in the backside of my brain.. Every time that Briggs & Stratton rolled over, I could feel the spark in my head. I was literally at one with the engine.

It seems as though the fence charger and the POS lawnmower were fighting over who would control my electrical impulses.

Science says you cannot crap, pee, and come at the same time. I beg to differ. Not only did I do all three at once, but my bowels emptied 3 different times in less than half of a second. It was a Matrix kind of bowel movement, where time is creeping along and you're all leaned back and BAM BAM BAM you just crap your pants 3 times. It seemed like there were minutes in between but in reality it was so close together it was like exhaust pulses from a big block Chevy turning 8 grand.

At this point I'm about 30 minutes (maybe 2 seconds) into holding onto the fence wire. My hand is wrapped around the wire palm down so I can't let go. I grew up on a farm so I know all about electric fences.... but Dad always had those POS chargers made by International or whoever that were like 9-volts and just kinda tickled. This one I could not let go of. The 8-foot long ground rod is now accepting signals from me through the perma-damp Ark-La-Tex river bottom soil. At this point I'm thinking I'm going to have to just man up and take it, until the lawnmower runs out of gas.

'Damn!,' I think, as I remember I just filled the tank!

Now the lawnmower is starting to run rough. It has settled into a loping run pattern as if it had some kind of big lawnmower race cam in it. Covered in poop, pee, jizz, and with my  " boys" on my chest, I think, 'Oh God, please let it die... pleeeeze die'. But nooooo, it settles into the rough lumpy cam idle nicely and remains there, like a big bore roller cam EFI motor waiting for the go command from its owner's right foot.

So here I am, in the middle of July, 104 degrees, 80% humidity, standing in my own backyard, begging God to kill me. God did not take me that day... he left me there covered in my own fluids to writhe in the misery my own stupidity had created....

I honestly don't know how I got loose from the wire.... I woke up laying on the ground hours later. The lawnmower was beside me, out of gas. It was later in the day and I was sunburned. There were two large dead grass spots where I had been standing, and then another long skinny dead spot were the wire had laid, while I was on the ground still holding on to it. I assume I finally had a seizure and in the resulting thrashing, had somehow let go of the wire. Upon waking from my electrically induced sleep I realized a few things.

1- Three of my teeth seem to have melted.

2- I now have cramps in the bottoms of my feet and my right butt cheek (not the left, just the right).

3- Poop, pee, and semen when all mixed together, do not smell as bad as you might think.

4- My left eye will not open.

5- My right eye will not close.

6- The lawnmower runs like a sumbitch now. Seriously! I think our little session cleared out some carbon fouling or something, because it was better than new after that.

7- My  "boys "  are still smaller than average yet they are almost a foot long

8- I can turn on the TV in the game room by farting while thinking of the number 4 (still don't understand this)

That day changed my life. I now have a newfound respect for things. I appreciate the little things more, and now I always triple check to make sure the fence is unplugged before I mow.

The good news, is that if a burglar does try to come over the fence, I can clearly visualize what my security system will do to him, and THAT gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, which also reminds me to triple check before I mow.





29.7.16

Kabuki Apocalypse

I really enjoy writing about politics, because no matter what I say or which side I appear to be on, it always elicits a lot of responses that span the range of human emotions.  It's no wonder the Reader Survey had politics as being the number one topic that people loved to hate.

I get accused of shilling for this party or that, or being a "fence sitter" for declaring myself to be a political atheist.  I should mention, for those confused by the term, that a political atheist refers to a complete disbelief in establishment politics and has little or nothing to do with religion.  That's a completely different conflict.  In the end, I get accused of being everything, since I believe in nothing, is the way I read it.

But how does one get to be a political atheist, you ask.

As I've mentioned before, my father was a politician.  He was first elected in 1960, as a Democrat from Houston.  He served three terms in the Texas House before switching parties, due in large part to the corruption and pure evil of the Johnson Machine.  For those unfamiliar with this term, Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was a Texas politician who became president upon the death of John F. Kennedy (in Texas, but there are books on that connection).  Johnson's network ran Texas politics with a platinum fist, fed by oil money and raw lust for power.

In 1966, Dad jumped parties and was elected to the Texas Senate as a Goldwater Republican, and in 1972, ran for governor, coming within 200,000 votes of becoming the first Republican to hold that office since the Civil War.  Of course, the jump came just in time for the corruption and paranoia of the Nixon years, which ultimately resulted in Nixon's impeachment and resignation in 1974.

Watching all this as an impressionable kid, I grew disgusted with politics, having seen that there were no sides with clean hands.  I also saw the toll it took on my father - the frustration, anger and ultimate withdrawal from the process, since one could never get a message directly to the voters.  There were always layers upon layers of control in between that had their hands out - ass, gas or grass, nobody rides for free.

When the time came for me to receive my enfranchisement, I didn't want it.  There was nothing there that I found appealing or desirable.  What I did learn, though, was the power of the media.  I had already spent my entire life to that point on stage.  I was a political prop, rolled out at the appropriate moment to enhance the "family man" image.  I instinctively understood this.  I saw how it all worked, and I liked the power of controlling people without ever being seen.

I spent many hours in TeeVee studios and back stage.  I was agog at the technology and machinations that turned into programs and productions.  I loved listening to the production meetings - throwing out ideas, anticipating responses, calculating demographics.  It reminded me of all those WW2 movies my father loved and forced me to watch.  The generals in dimly lit rooms, smoking furiously, moving pieces around on a map.

I knew what I wanted to do with my life - and what I didn't want.

What I didn't want was to be in the political system. I preferred the position of being on the outside, watching the rubes argue and lambaste each other.  When they were done, they came to me to polish and present the results of their bloody in-fighting.  I enjoyed being above them, looking down with mild distaste at their grubby faces as I bestowed my talent, knowledge and skill upon their message.

Through all of it, politics and politicians were potential clients.  I never invested any importance or meaning in their system.  All I wanted was their money, and all I gave them was a product.

Eventually, I came to realize that I was deceiving innocent people in the process.  Sure, they donated to the parties and were active in campaigns, but they honestly had no idea what went on behind the scenes - the cynicism, corruption, greed and lust.  The masses truly believed that they were doing some good by supporting this or that cause, party or politician.  They were completely unsuspecting of the blackness that sucked their money and passion away and spit it back at them.

The other day, I posted a link to an Infowars video on my private Facebook account.  It was a hidden camera recording of a DNC delegate saying Hillary would ban all guns and destroy the Second Amendment (right to own guns).  Almost immediately, I got a response from a good friend and the person I interned with lo, these many years ago:

"Stop posting these links to bullshit sources.  Can't you see what he's doing?  He's leading that poor idiot to get her to give the answers he wants."

Incredulous, I replied, "Really?  You and I have done that exact thing to elicit the response we wanted from an interview hundreds of times.  And Infowars has more followers than many cable news hosts.  What makes them less legitimate than any other source, especially given the revelations in the past two weeks concerning Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Reuters, and Politico?"

I thought about it for a few minutes, then added, "You know as well as I do that there is no such thing as an objective reporter.  Every story has at least seven people injecting their personal views into every story that goes on the air.."  I was referring to the producer, reporter, editor, news chief, owner, sponsor, and viewer.  Each places their prejudices and assumptions into a story at every step of the process.

There was no response, and there can be none.  It is true.  Because I grant more credibility to one source over another does not change the process itself, which is the same for any media outlet.  For every form of communication, there is a standardized process for encoding and decoding information.  Regardless of who or what is communicating, the process is the same.  In any given language, the rules of grammar must be followed or the message is scrambled and unintelligible.

Ultimately, I have withdrawn from politics, media and as much of the bullshit as I can.  I prefer pure entertainment now, like the stage and film.  The reason is that at some level, everyone in the audience understands that the actors and scenery are a lie.  TeeVee crosses that line by pretending to reveal reality - but whose reality?

As I disucssed previously, it is all magic.  It invokes spirits and presents possession as a mirror of reality, however distorted.  As a professional in "show biz," I have come to see media as either benign (theater, film) or malignant (TeeVee, especially "news").  In the benign form, the audience is aware that they are being manipulated, so they have a fighting chance.  In the malignant form, the audience believes what they are seeing is at least some form of truth, which of course, none of it is.

In the end, I have washed my hands of politics and mass media, and have tried in some small way to absolve my sins.  Generally, though, people don't want to hear it.  During election season they dive in, regardless of how much distance they keep during the "off" years, and most people reach for the TeeVee remote almost immediately upon coming home from another day as corporate drone.

We have all been so conditioned that we can't imagine, much less remember a time when life wasn't like this.  It seems quaint to think of days when TeeVee didn't exist and campaigns rode around in trains, giving stump speeches along the route.  We have pulled the wool over our own eyes, seemingly as a choice, but really what choices do you consciously make?

When you vote for a candidate, do you think, "I can't choose a third party because they will lose.  I want to go with a winner."  Ask yourself this: regardless of which party won, have you ever won?  Have you ever been happy with the choice you made?

Remember back when Obama was first elected?  There was a kind of religious aura about it.  None one could say a cross word about him.  It was a sacred moment.  Now, it is hard to find someone who will admit to voting for him.

That's why I'm a political atheist.

28.7.16

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Many readers will immediately dismiss this link as being "conspiracy theory," though I thought it was rather level-headed about the whole thing.

At its root is some very true and very powerful information that every human being should know before they are ever allowed to sit in front of a TeeVee or watch a movie.

Many readers here will know that my long and rather eclectic career began in the theater at the tender age of 12.  I played Christopher Robin is a semi-professional production of Winnie the Pooh.  That and my life-long fascination with Orson Welles started me down the circuitous path that (so far) brought me to Indonesia.

What precious few people realize about the entertainment business is that it has very deep roots in occult practices.  Oh yes, you read that right, and no I don't mean since the 1800s, I mean since the 1800s BC.

The theater is actually a descendant of, for all intents and purposes, a temple.  All the modern schools of acting and stagecraft and art are little more than window dressing on a mystical experience that has, or often has, a very profound effect on the minds and spirits of anyone who participates in it, regardless of which side of the stage you are on.

Originally, scripts were mystical intonations and spells designed to invoke the actual gods themselves, or a circus (in the original sense) of demons and spirits.  The purpose was to guide and inform us on the proper way to behave and how to solve our everyday problems.

When an actor dons a mask and costume, they are actually creating a vessel for a spirit to inhabit.  I have heard actors (and said it myself) a thousands times saying that they really didn't feel a role, until they saw themselves in full costume.  Suddenly, it was if they had become someone else.  The words and actions came from "somewhere" and they simply allowed the character to "come out."

When Thespis first assumed a role as a character, and not just as someone reciting words, he became the first actor - a vessel through which the gods and unseen world could speak.  He was no longer Thespis, but had assumed the words and manners of another being, and incorporate being until that point.

We often talk of actors "inhabiting a role" or "becoming a character," but we rarely stop to consider what we are actually saying.  We are, in fact, admitting that we pay someone to be possessed by a spirit for our entertainment and edification.  In this sense, stage fright is actually fear of letting go of one's self and allowing an incorporate being to inhabit our bodies.

You may, at this point, be thinking, "What hogwash," and "Superstitious balderdash," or words to that effect.  Yet, how many times have your heard something like, "So-and-so IS __________!" (insert your favorite movie character)

I have invited friends and family to shows that I was in, and at the end, they were genuinely perplexed.  "Where were you?" they would ask.  "I was the lead character," I would respond.  "GASP!  That was YOU?!"  Truly, on the nights when everything was "on," actors don't think or act as themselves, they feel remote from the event, as if they are watching someone else that kind of looks like them.

What is even more powerful than the actor's experience is the effect on the audience.  Regardless of what we think about going to a show or watching TeeVee, we are part of a spell that is teaching us to act and react in a certain way and in certain circumstances.  As the audience, you are being manipulated emotionally and intellectually at a level most of us hardly understand or think about.

As jaded and suspicious as I am about media, I know it works on me.  I cannot watch Titanic or Apollo 13, without crying at the end.  I have actually tried on several occasions.

This is remarkable because I know what is being done.  I don't watch movies like most people.  I don't see a drama, I see lighting, set and sound design, camera angles, microphone placements and music cues.  I analyze movies, I don't enjoy them the way the general public does.  And yet, when Rose tosses the Heart of the Sea into the ocean, or the parachutes open as the capsule floats down, tears are streaming down my face.  I know I am being manipulated.  I know how it is done.  I can and have done it to other people.  And yet...

Think back to when you were a kid, and be honest here.  When you played with dolls (or "action figures" if you prefer), did those bits of plastic - in your mind - have unique personalities?  Did they say things and act in ways that were NOT YOU?  Did they have to do or say certain things to be who they were?  If you answer "yes," then you were part of a magical spell.  If you answered "no," I am deeply suspicious of your honesty.

The fact of the matter is that those who control the media are quite literally casting spells over the audience.  We are being told who to emulate and admire.  We are being told what we want out of life.  We are being shown how to behave and what is expected of us.  That's why the good guys get the girl and admiration, and the bad guys get rubbed out.  That's why stereotypes exist and how they form.  That's why we have memes and archetypes.  They are occult workings and you are the target.

Ask pretty much anyone who their heroes are, and I will lay good money that they will give you a list of media personalities or fictional characters.  That we even have heroes is a function of media telling us who to emulate, for whatever reasons the gatekeepers have.

Entertainment is a form of mind control, and even more profoundly, an occult magic.  It is manipulating reality in such a way that many people come to believe it is real. That is the definition of magic.  It bypasses our natural filters and goes straight to the parts of our minds that control how we perceive the world.

Still don't believe me?  Look at Pokemon Go.

People actually follow virtual cues to physical locations to collect things that don't exist!  It astounds me that nearly everyone I talk to, especially the players, don't see what is happening to them.  If, at the top of this article, you had any doubts whatsoever that the media are performing magic and mind control on a mass scale, then I rest my case on this one example.

Having been trained in media, having performed nearly every function on and off stage/before and behind the camera, I can attest that anyone consuming entertainment of any kind in any form is being manipulated.  It is an ancient and powerful ritual of incantations and actions that invoke very dark forces.  No matter how one tries to rationalize it, in the end it is true when viewed with an unprejudiced eye.

The US is just waking up from a two-week stupor of media manipulation called the political conventions.  Depending on you predispositions, one or the other of them have left their followers feeling more energetic and enthused, ready to fight the final battle.  This is a magical working.  Those viewers have been manipulated.  They are under a spell now.

And it is precisely why I haven't watched TeeVee in a decade.

27.7.16

Echoes And Hypocricy

The Watergate Hotel
I have yet to read anyone pointing out the Time Echo of the WikiLeaks email scandal.  Like a Mandelbrot fractal, the iterations proceed from the smallest scale to the largest.  It's a real joy to watch how time is truly circular and history is always folding back on itself.

Just to refresh our memories, let's see what Wikipedia has to say about Watergate:
"Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and President Richard Nixon's administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the U.S. Congress, the Nixon administration's resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.[1]"
Perhaps you are starting to see the echoes?  Exactly 44 years after the infamous break-in, the Watergate Hotel reopened in June 2016.  This time, instead of five "Plumbers" breaking into the Democratic National Committee's offices, some mysterious "Hackers" broke into the DNC's email server.  Instead of humiliating the Republican party and the administration, the email have backfired on the Democratic party and the administration.  In 1972, Hillary Rodham (not yet Clinton) was a junior attorney working on the Impeachment Inquiry Panel investigating Richard Nixon.  Now she is the focus of scandals as she runs for president.

To me, though, what's most deliciously hilarious about this whole affair is that it has shown in stark relief the hypocrisy of the Democratic party and the utter emptiness of the liberal establishment.

The Democratic party is the political wing of US liberalism, which claims to be all-inclusive and sensitive and diverse and champion of minorities.  Instead, the DNC email release shows the party elite to be cynical, biased, racist, anti-Jew and utterly without conscience.

It's as if the Democrats have taken careful aim and shot themselves in every foot they can find.  Oh, the irony!

In an earlier post, I explored the echoes of the election in 1968, and now it seems that the 1972 election is also ringing in our ears.  We have literally come back to the future.

The part that entertains me the most is the cynicism of the party elite.  They claim to champion minorities, but have selected two white deep insiders who know nothing of real life.  They claim to champion rights and liberties, yet have erected a huge fence around the convention to prevent the voices of the disaffected from being heard.  The party that claims to disavow hate speech wrote email denigrating Bernie Sanders' Jewish heritage and wanting to weaponize it.  The party that claims to want safety and security has a nominee whose actions led to numerous deaths in Benghazi and whose private email server exposed untold national secrets to prying eyes.  The party that espouses Political Correctness and anti-racism can't stop using racial slurs.

And I'm just hitting the highlights here.

If Hillary were to be elected (a big if - see my article here), then the Time Echo Theory says that she would likely be impeached and forced to resign within a couple of years after taking office.  That assumes that health problems didn't force her out of office first, of course.

It's almost as if the elite have resigned themselves to a Trump presidency, but are granting Hillary the first female nomination as a consolation prize for being such a good lackey all these years.

If this were fiction, no one would believe it.  The whole thing is a massive farce being played with an absolutely straight face.  Certainly, everyone in the public eye is looking quite serious about the whole thing, but surely somewhere someone is laughing their fool head off at this tragi-comedy.

It is some of the best free entertainment around, and as an added bonus, there is something strange, even sinister, lurking just under the surface.

The most interesting part of it, at least to me, is the Time Echoes.  If I were to draw this out ad infinitum, I could even draw parallels between fracking and Tea Pot Dome, Cold War II, or the New Space Race.

You know, now that I think about it, it's almost as if the Baby Boomers are - consciously or unconsciously - trying to recreate their lost youth for one last hurrah before they start checking out.  And Hillary, Bernie and Trump are certainly in that group.

You'll forgive me if I take a moment to buckle up.  The year ahead looks to be a bumpy ride.

26.7.16

And The Winner Is...Um

John Quincy Adams
I'm a political atheist.  I don't believe in any of it.  I have never contributed a single cent to any campaign, I never check the box on the tax form to give $1 to whatever fund that is, and I have only voted once in any election anywhere for any reason.  I think the whole damn thing is rigged top to bottom and no amount of lever pulling, hole punching or screen tapping will change what THEY want.

Anyway, to say that the world does not understand the US election process is an understatement.  Most perplexing of all, though, is that most American citizens don't understand it either.

The US has done such a fine job of public relations that a majority of the global population actually believes the US is a democracy.  In fact, it is about as far from a democracy as one can get and still have popular elections.

The reason this becomes rather important this year is that America's lack of democracy may play a rather major role in the November general election.  It may, in fact, be decided in the US House of Representatives, an occurrence that - as far as I know - has happened only once, in 1824.

You see, the US has this quirky thing called the Electoral Collage.  In fact, the US president is not chosen by popular vote, but rather by 538 electors who are apportioned to the States according to population size.  To be elected president, a candidate must get 270 of the electors, or a simple majority.  And that is probably the most democratic part of the whole process.

The reasons behind this strange and convoluted system are rather murky and lie buried in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.  The simple explanation is that the framers of the Constitution deeply distrusted democracy and majority rule.  As a hedge against it, they created this diluted structure to act as a buffer against a State or group gaining too much power.

For the most part, it works just fine and most people are completely ignorant of how it works or even that it exists.  The inherent problem with the Electoral College, though, is that as the rules got modified, it became less flexible until it practically demands a two-party system in order for anyone to win.

Originally, the idea was that there would be no political parties.  People would run for president, the electors would be apportioned the the candidates according to the popular vote, and then the top two winners would become president and vice president respectively.

The system was thwarted almost immediately with the introduction of political parties and Prez/Veep teams.  States began to adopt winner-take-all rules to increase their power in the process, and ultimately the entire thing became something of an anachronism, though its rules haven't been modified since the early 1800s.

Even more bizarre is what happens if the Electoral Collage fails to give 270+ votes to any one candidate.  In this case, the election would go to the US lower house, where one elector would be selected from each State (50 in all), and they would cast a secret ballot for president.  At that point, exactly none of the popular vote would matter.  In 1824, Andrew Jackson got the majority of the vote, but not of the electors.  No one got a majority of the electors.  And so the US House of Representatives duly elected John Quincy Adams.

Why is all this important?  Well, this system almost ensures Donald Trump will win the election in 2016.  Because the majority of Americans find both major candidates unpleasant, the interest in third parties has leaped exponentially.  Yes, there are quite a few other political parties in the US, but people are carefully steered into one of the two biggies in order to avoid the Electoral College Trap.

Of interest this year are the Libertarian Party and Gary Johnson, their candidate, and the Green Party, with Jill Stein being their candidate.  It's really hard to find, but there are a couple of polls showing all four candidates.

The wild card in all this is Bernie Sanders.  He pretty clearly got the dirty end of the stick from the Democrats.  Even though Sanders is an independent running in the Democrat primaries, that hardly excuses the vile email traffic we were treated to via WikiLeaks.  Sanders has built a rather large following and sympathy could drive more folks to him now.

What we end up with is an independent candidate who really got whacked by the DNC and a very unpopular witch named Hillary.  Sanders could jump to the Greens or Libertarians, pulling his followers and sympathizers with him, and draw enough votes from Hillary to dash her presidential aspirations.

Similarly, Trump is reviled enough that a popular independent could spring up and throw in with the Libertarians, pulling the Ron Paul and Tea Party voting blocs and deny Trump the necessary majority in the Electoral Collage.

In most scenarios, the third parties don't win, but they deny a majority in the Electoral Collage, throwing the election to the House of Representatives.  At that point, it could go any way, since the votes are strictly secret; however, with the House being majority Republican, the odds are that Trump would win.

Any way you slice this election, it is going to be very interesting.  In keeping with out theory that 2016 is rhyming with history, we wouldn't be surprised to see 1824 replayed.  There is even a slight possibility, depending on how Hillary handles the convention and Bernie going forward, that one of the third-party scenarios could have Sanders winning for the Greens, or the Libertarians stealing the Electoral Collage by a careful strategy of getting just enough electors.

What is sure is that 2016 has all the right pieces to be one for the history books.  If you thought the 2000 Florida recount between Bush II and Gore was fun, stand by...this year may have just gotten more fun.

In any event, it is safe to say that Trump truly has rewritten the books on US elections.  It is likely that no matter what happens, strategy and rules have been altered permanently.

25.7.16

Fungal Monday

Ever have one of those days where you feel like you've done pretty much all you're going to get done and everything from this point on will be anti-climactic?  Yeah, me neither.

Don't know what I did right, but for the past week, Russia has been lighting up like a Christmas tree.  We've been getting about 1,000 hits a day from there, in addition to the regular traffic.  And there's no rhyme to the hits.  It's like folks are randomly reading the entire archive...which is fine.  About time someone did.  I figure it's the CIA using Tor to pop out in Moscow to cover their tracks.  Makes me feel important.  But, to all our new friends in Russia: Добро пожаловат!

At any rate, been a busy weekend, what with shooters and bombers and the Indonesian National Police knocking off the Number One Most Wanted Guy Around Here (NOMWGA).  As usual (here or anywhere else), this has little effect on controlling terrorism.

See?  The fundamental flaw in the War on Terror is that every time you get one, two more spring up because all this whole mess achieves is pissing off more people.

Look at the States.  First, they ban drugs, so that creates a blackmarket, which increases prices and attracts more unwanted types, who start fighting the law enforcement, so the cops get military style weapons and training, so the the bad guys do too, which makes the cop twitchy and start killing folks, who get pissed off and start killing cops.

It's all just one endless circle.  Violence begets violence, one smart guy once said.  The more you piss in someone's Wheaties, the more they want to poop in your garden.  You get nastier, so they get meaner.  You up the ante, so they raise the stakes.  All of these Warons (copyright and registered) will eventually lead to complete collapse, and at this point, I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing.

One thing I am absolutely sure of is that someone is making a fortune off all this mess.  In the West, they say, "Order out of chaos," and in the East they say, "Opportunity in chaos."  Pretty much the same thing.  Stir up some shit and then sit back and invest in the outcome.

In the end, we are all to blame for it since we buy into it.  We obey authority.  We bow to governments.  We swallow our pride and dignity to serve corporations.  Worst of all, we consume the society that was created for us, and it was created for us because on an individual level, I don't know anyone who wants all this crap.

And so we come to the axiom that a person is smart, but people are stupid.

We've all been conditioned to turn to authority figures any time life gets out of hand.  The problem is that those same authority figures are the one causing life to get out of hand.  The result is that we increasingly depend on authority to save us from...in effect, authority.

What's worse is that we have been further conditioned to call anyone who sees this particular insanity "conspiracy theorists," even though just a brief read of history tells us that pretty much all of history is one big conspiracy.

Like mushrooms, the visible caps are just a tiny part of the organism.  Beneath the soil are massive networks of interconnecting filaments that ultimately create a network of seemingly unrelated items.  I call this the Fungal Theory of History (FTH), and we are the ones being kept in the dark and fed shit.

In the rich loam of society, the tendrils of FTH spread out and suck nutrients out of each of us.  The FTH has no chlorophyll and depends on decay and rot to feed its massive network.

I am afraid that the only way to rid the Earth of this subterranean infestation is to completely uproot society.  The more we fight and kill, the more rot and decay we create to feed the fungus.  We must remove the food source - move into the light where fungus is scorched and dies.  Without the shadow and the rot, fungus cannot survive, since it cannot convert light into food.

Where I lose hope is that uprooting involves some pain.  There won't be any more TeeVee or PokemonGo sucking our life-force out of us, but only by disconnecting from this digital infestation can we hope to rid our world of this slimy parasite.  However, looking around, I see little will to do the necessary.  Folks are pretty happy handing their lives over, it seems.

I'm not a Neo-Luddite and I think the internet is the greatest learning tool every devised by humans, but the Fungus is working overtime to distract us from realizing the incredible promise that is literally at our fingertips.

I am afraid that the whole thing must come to a crashing halt.  There doesn't seem to be a way out otherwise.  One could, say, buy a huge ranch and set it up under a set of rules that are written into the deed restrictions, but that violates my love of free will and sovereign ownership.  However, I am unable to think of another way to demonstrate the benefits of complete freedom from the FTH and the "authoritarian" mentality.  It is so completely bound into society and culture now, and the "education" system has robbed us of the ability to think independently.

So on this fatalistic Monday, I pull back from the Fungus and wonder what the result will be of this infestation.  In the end, by the time we figure out what's happening, we are old and the young folks have been taught to dismiss us.  By the time they are old and realize we were right, then their kids won't be listening.

It's a vicious circle...kind of like a Fairy Ring.


22.7.16

Ambassador From Planet 9

I rarely plan it this way, but it seems that each week my columns take on a theme.  It doesn't matter if I write them all in one day, or if I wing it as the week progresses.  It just happens.

This week has played out as Space and Stupidity.  You are probably thinking, "Wait, didn't you just write about the RNC?"  Yes, that was the Stupidity theme.  Einstein, Star Trek and the rest all fall into the Space them.  And they both seem to overlap quite a bit.

Take today's rant, for instance.  "Scientists" say that Planet 9 tilted the whole Solar System...except for the Sun.  We need go no further than the first line to be knee-deep in Stupidity:
"A jealous Planet Nine may have shoved its siblings for attention. If a massive ninth planet exists in our solar system, it might explain why the planets are out of line with the sun."
You can be forgiven if you think this Planet 9 actually exists.  Reading the space headlines this past year would lead you to think this piece of fiction was already in the textbooks and that "scientists" had autographed portraits hanging on their walls.  Rather, it is - like nearly 90% of so-called astronomy - completely and entirely made up out of computer models.

In case you haven't devoted a lot of time to studying this issue, since roughly the 50s, "science" stopped being about OBSERVATION of the natural world, and started being about mathematical MODELS of the world.  In short, theoretical mathematics took over real science and started speculating on physical phenomena by building artificial Universes inside computers and mucking about with the variables to see if something matches what is really 'out there.'

In some cases, such as Type Ia supernovae, even the computer models can't make a star explode, but you'd never know that from reading the "official" narrative.  Hell, these supernovae are observed all over the stinking Universe, to hear "scientists" tell it.  Same with black holes, gravity waves and a bunch of other stuff.

For the most part, "scientists" have created their own version of Genesis and have spent the better part of the last few centuries trying to wedge the real world into their fantasy stories.  It is NOT science.  It is nothing more than ancient tales of thunder gods banging the heavens with their magical hammers, and they've got the mathematical models to back them up.

Here's a perfect example  The media and "scientists" love to ridicule folks who don't believe in Evolution.  What they never tell you is that there is little or no proof for evolution.  Most of the story is based on a handful of bones - and I do MEAN handful.  No one has ever witnesses one species evolving into another.  Oh sure, there are mutations, but no bacterium has ever spawned an amoeba; no dog has ever given birth to a cat; and no goose barnacle has ever spontaneously generated a goose.

What Darwin actually said, and which most folks don't know because they've never read Origin of Species, is that WITHIN a species, certain mutations can be favored if it provides better adaptation to the environment.  He never said that the environment would favor certain mutations to the point that birds became lizards.

The sad part of all these rants on "science" is that the average person is so inadequately ignorant of what "science" is that he/she takes all of this speculation and mathematical wizardry as the Gospel truth, and I say Gospel truth because "science" and the Bible are pretty much the same.

Planet 9 is complete fiction.  It has never been observed and not even its shadow has fallen across a telescope's mirror.  All it represents is an attempt by a handful of people to explain some phenomena using only gravity as their whole and complete toolbox.  And as the saying goes, when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Ultimately, this is the biggest problem with modern "science."  Whether it is global warming or Planet 9 or some other pop panic, the facts are completely occluded by computer models and speculation.  These things are complete fictions or half-truths based on flawed observations and assumptions.  Even worse, they are presented to the public as facts and are used to justify billions of dollars in grants and public funding for projects that can never be verified or may never produce results at all (see SETI project).

It is critical that people begin educating themselves on the real facts and begin to dismiss "press release" science for what it is - science fiction.  Furthermore, parents should take an active role in demanding that schools offer real science programs and not the finger-painting and basket-weaving farces that currently pass as science education.

Most importantly, we must all turn off the spigots of public funding.  Our taxes are literally being shot into the sky for nothing of value in terms of real research and science.

As far as I am concerned, Planet 9 is STILL Pluto, and nothing the flat heads in academia say will change my mind.  A planet orbits its star directly.  Period. End of story.

And mathematical wizardry and computer models are not proof of the existence of anything, except maybe a gullible population willing to have its tax money wasted.

I mean honestly, they talk about this stuff like it's real!  Either these guys are hallucinating, or they are scamming the entire world!

21.7.16

Circus Maximus

I am proud to say I haven't seen a single second of the GOP convention, and the same will likely go for the DNC, as well.  Judging from the headlines, I haven't missed anything, either.

For all the huffing and puffing leading up to the event, the biggest story to come out of it was Melania Trump stealing a couple of lines from Michelle Obama.  You'll forgive me if I don't get all lathered up over this non-issue.  After all, if you took away plagiarism, political folks would not have much to say.  Politicians absolutely depend on their ability to steal other people's stuff, though normally we call it "taxes."

All the Stop Trump furor and threats of radical protests pretty much fizzled.  There was a brief hurrah on the first day that got squished right out of the box.  One bit of fun was a handful of people getting arrested when someone set himself on fire while trying to burn a flag.  First rule of protesting, don't shoot yourself in the foot.

My favorite highlight so far was the stand-off between Breitbart and the Daily Show.  If you haven't seen the video yet, it is well worth a minute for the laughs - not from the show, but at the show.  Watching a liberal 'comedy' production trying to disabuse a conservative news outlet of free speech outside a party for gay conservatives hosted by Breitbart is just priceless.  Funnier than anything the lousy 'comedy' show could ever come up with on its own.

Ted Cruz, the - I'm ashamed to say - Senator from Texas (though not Texan) managed to turn a standing ovation into a hearty round of booing.  Apparently, this bozo hasn't learned the First Rule of Sore Loosing: don't try to take your opponent on his own turf.  Like the obnoxious drunk at a garden party, Cruz pissed in the flower boxes and then got belligerent about it.  So much for his career in politics.

It seems that the biggest news from the RNC didn't even take place anywhere near the event.  The Big Story was the media itself, as Roger Ailes quit FoxEwes and left Rupert Murdoch fighting to keep his stable of loudmouths intact.  Apparently, Ailes has been dodging accusations of being a male of the species, with such luminous personalities as Megyn Kelly, who accused Ailes of an enthusiastic hug TEN FREAKIN' YEARS AGO!  Reports said she had blood coming from her 'whatever' over the whole matter.

A shark feeding frenzy comes to mind.

One is left with the impression, as this quadrennial political orgy comes to a close, that all the huff and puff has been nothing more than the media trying their damnedest to stir up some ad revenues.  Betting on Trump doing something - anything - to cause controversy, the nets have gone out of their way to speculate on eyeballs tuning in for the fun.

The whole thing reminds me of a walk down Bourbon Street in New Orleans (pre-Katrina), with barkers warning the crowd that the female mud wrestlers have taped their nipples in case their clothes are ripped from their bodies.

In other words, all the hype has been nothing more than a bunch of carnival midway promises of fun and adventure that always seem to be just less than imagination.

The lesson that everyone should be taking away from all this hubbub is that if elected, Trump will be like every other president in US history.  He might be charismatic and say lots of funny things, but in the end, his administration will be just as effective - or ineffective - as all those before him.

Campaign promises come and go.  Obama promised "hope" and "change."  What the country got was "same ole shit."  Trump won't be any different.  He may improve some things, and make others worse, just like anyone else sitting in the White House.

I maintain that the greatest American president ever was Chester A. Arthur.

"Who?" you say.

"Exactly," I reply.

20.7.16

Einstein Is A Senile Old Fart

Ugh!  I get so tired of Corporate Science ramming complete fiction down our throats.  Even worse is the way we "lay people" just swallow it and move along.  No one ever stops to say, "Hey!  Wait a minute..."

The thing is we are all conned into thinking we can't handle such lofty thoughts as General and Special Relativity, and that we can't rise to the Olympian heights of Einstein and Hawking.

The fact of the matter is, these guys are just making this shit up in order to sound like they know what they are talking about.  Honestly!  They have no more idea than you or me how the Universe works, so they cover their ignorance in meaningless symbols and sell it to us as Life, the Universe and Everything, so they can pocket the grant money and Nobel Prizes for...well, nothing.  Literally.

Bear with me for a few minutes, and I will prove that you are smarter than Einstein and Hawking combined!  I'll even throw in Neil deGrasse Tyson just to up the ante a bit.  This will require a tiny bit of thinking, but I promise it won't hurt, and that crashing sound will be all the rubbish you learned in school collapsing to the ground.  When we are done, you can read this article and laugh out loud at the ignorance behind it, just like I did.

1. Time
OK, this is the hardest part of the whole thing.  Right now, without thinking about it, point in the direction of Time.  Got it?

Now, which way did you point?  Ah, see the problem?  Time isn't a dimension.  It's a concept.  It has not existence in reality.  We just made it up by dividing all the various cycles in our world into small pieces so that we could all be late for our appointments.  A second is the average length of a human heart beat.  An hour is 1/24th of the Earth's rotation.  A month is one orbit of the Moon around the Earth.  A year is one orbit around the Sun.  A Great Year is one precession of the Earth's poles (~24,000 years).  The only thing important to the Universe is that effect always follows cause.  That's not Time, the way we think of it, because there is no standard amount of waiting between cause and effect without some reference system, such as the human heart beat.

2. Space
Space is nothing more than a set of coordinates.  It is not tangible, can not be rippled, and it has no relation to time other than we measure how many heart beats it takes to get from one point to another.  Space is defined as six discrete points on 3 axes: x, y and z.  Why five points?  Well, in order to define the location of an object, we need six references: we need an object, an observer, two x points left and right of the object, and two y points above and below the object.  Since there are only three spacial dimensions, why do we need six points?  Good question.

You need an object to measure (point one).  You need an observer (point two).  Together, these two points give us the z axis.  Then, you need reference points in order to define x and y.  These points define an imaginary surface, or plane, on which to project a scale (inches, feet, meters, kilometers, etc.).  Notice that none of this involves time, since time has nothing to do with locating something in space.

Since space is nothing more than a set of coordinates used to local objects in reference to an observer, it has no physical existence.  It is not a plasma, liquid, gas or solid.  It can not be rippled, waved or bent.  It is just a set of numbers so I can find, or tell you how to find, an object.

3. Gravity
The best way to think of gravity is static electricity.  Objects stick to the face of the Earth because, like dipole magnets, opposites attract.  The positive Earth attracts out negative body to it's center.  We stop because the the bonds between the atoms of the Earth's surface repel the bonds between the atoms of our bodies.  So we are stuck to the surface like socks are to your shirt in the dryer.  If we could change the polarity of the Earth, everything would fly off of it, rather than stick to it.

Most importantly, there is no gravitational constant.  Sure, on Earth gravity always works at 32 feet/second squared, but it changed when you go into orbit, or the Moon, or Mars, or the Sun.  To force Earth normal on the entire Universe is...well, ridiculous.

Finally, gravity is 20 billion times weaker than the Weak Nuclear Force (see below), so it has little or no effect on the structure and function of the Universe.

4. Forces of Nature
Everything in the Universe is some manifestation of electricity.  All objects interact using one of more of the Four Natural Forces: 1) Electro-Magnetic, 2) Strong Nuclear, 3) Weak Nuclear, and 4) Gravitation.  Given what we already know about gravity, we can probably eliminate this one and put all the effects of it under #1.  Of the remaining three, they guide the way all particles in the Universe interact, from the atomic level to the super-galactic level.  They are observable at every scale, and can be reproduced in any laboratory with the right tools.

No need for CERN, LIGO or any of these other multi-billion dollar BOHICA machines whose results can never be verified because there are no other machines to duplicate the results (e.g. it ain't science).  From the quantum to the macro, everything works on the same principles.  The only difference between an atom and a galaxy is scale.

So, now we come to Black Holes.  These are conceptual things that do not exist, but were created to correct some of the many problems with Einstein's Relativity.  See, Einstein simplified a lot of things to make his formulas easier to solve.  In doing so, he made it impossible for his results to be scaled up to the Universe at large, and thus a lot of chewing gun and bailing wire had to be used to make it work.  Black Holes are a huge piece of chewing gum.

One of the biggest problems with Black Holes is one of the easiest and most obvious to see.  Hawking, Tyson and all their drinking buddies will tell you that the Universal speed limit is the speed of light, and the escape velocity from the surface/even horizon of a black hole is the speed of light.  But black holes are black because light can't escape.

Immedicately, they are in a bind.  Either light can escape because it is travelling the speed of light, or the speed of light is not constant in the Universe.  Either way, the entire foundation of General Relativity comes crashing down.  See the problem?

Instead of admitting this inherent contradiction, they cover it up with lots of mathematical mumbo-jumbo and a few $64 words and keep going, knowing that the educational system is so bad, no one will ever question this slight-of-hand.  Rather, what we get is a menagerie of black holes, from micro to super-massive, and folks like NASA claiming to have "found" 2.5 million of them.  For us smart folks, every time you read about a new black hole, just think to yourself, "Ah, another mystery they can't explain."  That's the purpose of black holes, really.  They just cover up mysteries with them so they don't have to do real work and can get billions in free money to investigate their own slight-of-hand.

All modern cosmology is little more than a bunch of magicians telling us they don't do "tricks."  It's "real magic" and by the way, we don't understand how it's done, so could you slip up a few billion to try and figure this out?

And by the way, you can prove the speed of light is not constant AND explain "gravitational lensing" with a very simple experiment in your kitchen.  Take a clear glass.  Fill it with water.  Take a spoon and put it in the glass.  Now look at it from the side.  See how the spoon looks bent?  You've just proved Einstein, Hawking, Tyson, and a whole bunch of other numbnuts wrong.

Don't you feel smart now?

19.7.16

REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond (film)

Title: Star Trek Beyond
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban
Runtime: 120 minutes
Language: English, Bahasa Indonesia subtitles
Tech Spec: Dolby Atmos, 2D/3D, 2.35:1
Bintang: 4/5 for action, characters, performances

Time out for a little mindless escapism.  In fact, if there's a fault with Star Trek Beyond, that's it.  One of the long-standing pillars of the franchise has been its ability to hold the mirror of the Final Frontier up to our society, without threatening or blaming anyone in particular.

That said, this should have been the second film in the current iteration.  It truly goes where no one has gone before, and does so with far more subtle nods to its 50-year history and some great fun.  The only fault I give the film - in and of itself - is that the pacing is so frenetic, there is hardly a moment to catch your breath and arrange all the pieces of the story.

The film opens where the original series left off, three years into a five-year mission.  Malaise and routine have got everyone in a funk.  In a moment taken directly from the original series' first pilot (with Tab Hunter as Captain Pike), Kirk and Bones mull over the weight of command and self-identity while enjoying a Saurian Brandy.  Anyone who has been around since the first show first aired, as I have, will recognize the scene immediately.

Kirk is morosely questioning his purpose in space after a less-than-stellar diplomatic mission where, finally, humans don't look like the all-wise, all-knowing beneficent Keepers of the Universe, which one might believe from all previous hours spent in the Trek Universe.

We are then treated to Space Station Yorktown, which for hardcore Trekkers/Trekkies, is the original name of the Enterprise when Gene Roddenberry first conceived of the show.  After the introductory montage, one is convinced that all the Klingons and Romulans be damned, space exploration looks pretty damn cool.

Shore leave is cut short in order to go find a missing ship somewhere in the middle of a nebula.  The crew saddles up for a search-and-rescue gig, but on arrival, find a bit more than they bargained for.

The crew ends up marooned on and scattered across an alien planet after a pretty spectacular battle, where we are finally shown what it's like to be in the rest of the ship while all hell breaks loose.  Once on the planet, the crew slowly reassembles itself while trying to figure out just what hit them and how they are going to get back into space and save the Earth.

This allows for some fun pairings and much needed character insights and development.  There are some genuinely good moments as unlikely pairs try to get to the rally point.  Of primary focus are the Bones/Spock team, and Scotty with (presumably) new alien character Jaylah.

There are some fun nods to Things We've Always Wanted to See, like alien mouths not synched to the Universal Translator, or less-than-enlightened break-ups between couples.  The much-touted Sulu-is-gay scene is so generic that one could be forgiven for thinking it was a reunion between old friends.  In all fairness, the Indonesian Censorship Board may have cut out a scene, but I have no way of knowing until I can see an uncensored cut.  By the end, though, we feel like we have truly been someplace new and seen things not seen before.

The plot centers around a McGuffin introduced in the opening scene.  Kirk is presenting a new race an ancient artifact as a peace gesture.  Turns out, a la Joseph Farrell's Cosmic War, that the object is a piece of an ancient weapon of incredible power that was scattered across the galaxy way, way back.  The crew is marooned by an alien (Krall), who is seeking to reassemble the device and destroy Earth to settle an old score - that is really never too clear.

In some ways, this is a rehash of the Wrath of Khan plot, in which the Enterprise is lured by the titular character to obtain a powerful weapon, while at the same time exacting revenge, though it is done with some fresh perspectives.

As mentioned before, the one key element missing from this film, and really from the entire three-film reboot, is the commentary on current events.  One thing that made the original series (half a century ago) so popular was that it dealt with issues, not just action, and took place in the head, not the heart (and adrenal glands).

While the J.J. Abrams rethink has done a fairly credible job of capturing the Next Generation's flair for interpersonal relationships - something set up in the first pilot scene recaptured here - it fails to show us ourselves, in all our faults and glory.  The original series left the viewer with something to chew on, whether it was a commentary on racism, greed, freedom, geopolitics, or any of a number of other moral and ethical issues.

Star Trek Beyond glosses over several ideas that would have made for some very interesting aha! moments.  It could have explored an ancient progenitor race, or Spock's imperative to breed now that his race faces extinction, or even the wisdom of humans mucking about in things that don't concern them.  All of these and more are left dangling, with us hardcore Trekkers/Trekkies begging for some meat on the bones (pun alert).

The original episode that introduced Khan dealt with eugenics and human intervention in genetics.  One episode had two aliens battling to the death of their race because the white and black halves of their bodies were reversed.  Another episode dealt with the wisdom of robotics and greed.  Why can't one of these reboots deal with how a race like the Vulcans deal with near-extinction and the serious choices they face to survive.

Instead, we get popcorn-munching action and adventure light.  All eye-candy with little real substance to take away after the credits roll.  I know it's a summer tentpole blockbuster franchise (and all those other Syd Schienberg mogul phrases), but the one thing that has always distinguished Star Trek from all the other swashbuckling westerns (to mix genres) was its ability to use outer space as a mirror on ourselves.

It is said that no matter how far the traveler goes, he always comes back to himself.  The genius of Star Trek has always been that no matter how many new worlds and new civilizations humans encountered, in the end it was humanity's own strengths and failings that we found.  In this way, the show/films were modern retellings of the ancient hero stories of Man vs. Gods.

Star Trek Beyond stands on its own.  You don't need to be a fan of any stripe to enjoy it with a tub of popcorn.  It leaves us with the impression that this may be the end of this iteration, though there is certainly plenty of Universe left to explore.  The future is open, as it always is  Let's hope that future installments, in whatever form they take, will return to the spark that made Star Trek one of the most enduring pop cultural phenomena ever.

Oh, one more thing: the lens flares are gone!  Hallelujah!

Kudos to the team that handled the Jakarta premier.  It was well-done and having Justin Lin on hand to discuss his experience was great.  Who knew he spoke Bahasa Indonesia?  I saw the 3D version, which honestly I wouldn't have paid extra to do, since it really adds nothing to my experience of the story.  And thanks to Epicentrum XXI for hosting the event.

18.7.16

Juxtaposing Paradox

Ya know, eventually it just gets to the point where all the stuff us fringe whackos have been saying for years is plain ole MSM headline news.  Eventually, I have to ask myself, "Self?  Where do you go from here?"

Not only was the answer not forthcoming, but my cat was staring at me, as if to say, "So, now you're talking to yourself?"

What's worse is that the news is coming so hot and heavy this year that one faces to problem of having too much to say, rather than too little.  I am reminded constantly of William Wordsworth's brief but powerful poem:
The world is too much with us; late and soon, 
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— 
Little we see in Nature that is ours; 
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! 
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; 
The winds that will be howling at all hours, 
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; 
For this, for everything, we are out of tune; 
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be 
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

The constant clamor of modern society is enough to drive one to the jungle.  At least there, life is more direct and simple: survive.  Fighting with bats and monkeys for a hand of bananas seems a bit more direct and one can easily understand both the goal and the means.

Any more, it is impossible to discern motives.  Of Friday night, when the Turkish military attempted to oust Erdogan, one begins to hope that something random has entered our entirely too ordered sphere.  Within hours though, it is cast down and quickly the speculation begins that Erdogan staged his own coup in order to separate the loyalists from the insurgents.  

This is typical of today's world.  No one seems to have a grasp on what exactly is going on.  What seems clear is that the world is rushing head-long into another major war.  Even now, the pieces are in place.  The social disruptions in the US and EU/UK.  The territorial saber-rattling in Asia over the South China Sea.  The tempests of teetering South American economies and governments.  It's as if someone has thrown a switch in the past year or so and set off a series of Rube Goldberg mouse traps.

The plot twists of recent history are becoming tiresome.  It's like Lawrence Kasdan's flick Body Heat, the viewer is plumb worn out by the end from all the twists and surprises.  Just when you think you have a handle on what's going on, the rug gets yanked out from under you - over and over again.

Prime example: Trump picks Pence as running mate.  Huh?!  That's like oil choosing water as a mixer.  There may be some wisdom to this, but one of the words I don't associate with Trump is "wisdom."  "Bull in a china shop" is more likely to come to mind.

Just now, another fine film metaphor comes to mind: David Lynch's Blue Velvet.  The opening scene shows us an idyllic montage of small-town America.  A man is watering his picture-perfect garden, with white picket fence and swelling sentimental theme.  Suddenly, the man has an aneurysm, falls dead, and the camera tracks beneath the Chem-Lawn surface to the grotesque insect wars lurking just beneath.  It's one of those perfect visual queues that tells an entire story in a few brief frames.

Like the Fourth Principle in the Kybalion, we are being forced to reconcile polar opposites.  Eventually, a circle comes back on itself.  There is no true paradox.  At some level, the world appears to be an Hermetic working.  Nothing else explains entirely the sheer depth and breadth of contradictions to be found.

We are asked on a regular basis to hold mutually exclusive thoughts and to believe both with firm resolve.  Black is white, and white is black.  This is best shown in the two color palettes.  In the additive (light) palette, all colors mixed equally become white.  In the subtractive (pigment) palette, the complete lack of color gives us white.  It is at once a contradiction and a tautology.

As we plow forward into the undisturbed soil of future tense, we would do well to watch our backs.  Like the god Janus, we must be of two minds and two faces at all times..  This is a doubly apt metaphor, since Janus is the god of gateways and threshholds.  As we enter somewhere, we are also mindful of where we have come from and the dichotomy of inner and outer spaces.

There is no contradiction but the one we create with our beliefs.

15.7.16

The Angst And The Apathy

Well, the proverbial cows are coming home to roost, to butcher a couple of metaphors at once.

What I consider to be one of the most cloying, namby-pamby and ridiculous movements in history is finally starting to pay dividends in the form of an entire US generation - termed the Millennials - who have no spirit or identity at all, outside of their complete lack of motivation.

About 20 years ago, the slimy liberal education system won out and instituted the "self-esteem" movement.  The idea was that the smarmy leaders of this movement (think bowel here) didn't want our little babies to ever feel left out, incapable or to get their feelings hurt, because this would damage their precious little psyches.  Instead, the reward system was reversed, and instead of glamorizing achievement and exceptional contribution, these sick psycho-babble numbnuts began rewarding every meaningless utterance and finger painting that the class morons made.

This has produced an entire generation of individuals who have no volition at all.  The smart ones are not motivated to achieve because there's no incentive, and the stupid ones are not motivated to try because they get rewarded for sucking up air and generating heat.

I never thought that I would agree with Martha Stewart on anything but recipes (occasionally), but when I saw this article the other day, I had to think that perhaps she does have some redeeming value.

Where I depart with Martha is that I don't entirely blame the kids.  I put most of the onus on the parents and the system they created.

Having bought into the Socialist programming, the parents completely forgot that Capitalism requires, nay demands competition.  By raising a generation of emotional basket cases who think that that they are owed the world, the parents have done a massive disservice to their progeny.

The whole Self-Esteem (bowel) movement posited that children receive permanent psychological damage from losing.  Games were modified or banned if there was the least possibility that someone could lose.  It also claimed that competition is harmful and everyone should receive everything in equal dollops, rather than the exceptional ones getting bigger dollops.

This had a two-fold effect on the kids.  The exceptional ones decided there was no point in striving to achieve, because no matter how well they did, the morons got the same attention, adulation and rewards.  Meanwhile, the morons came to believe that they didn't have to strive harder because they could sit in a corner and drool and get the same attention, adulation and rewards as the geniuses.

Result?  An entire generation who doesn't care.  The exceptional Millennials figure there's no point in trying and the moron Millennials believe they will receive all the benefits without trying.

Add to this rather toxic mix the Psycho-Babblists, who told everyone that they should never control their emotions.  They had to let it all out the very nano-second they felt anything.  They told us that if we controlled our emotions in favor of rationality, we would all end up damaged goods.

As a result, the Millennials are emotional basket cases, too.  The least little discomfort will cause them to break down in hysterical blobs.  They can't deal with human society out of fear they will face a situation that causes them emotional pain.  Without the capacity to reason, the Millennials are at the mercy of marketers and advertisers, who can easily push emotional hot buttons to make an entire class of society do whatever they want.

Put all this together with technology that allows these under-achieving, emotional kids to retreat from real interactions and disappear into a digital world of their own making.  The cell-phone zombies are people terrified of interacting with real life.  If they look up, they may encounter something that will cause emotional damage or require them to achieve a goal.  Instead, they retreat into Pokemon Universes.

Part of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be laid directly at the feet of Socialism.  The Russians had built a society in which no matter how much or how little one worked, one received the same (poor) return: everyone got the same squalid apartments, went to the same mediocre schools, and stood in the same lines to buy the same useless toilet paper.  There was no incentive to excel, so the economy ultimately collapsed because of it.

The US, being incapable of learning from history, pursued the same course.  It added the same Edu-Babble and Psycho-Babble that destroyed the Soviet system.  Now, the US is harvesting the first generation of useless and unmotivated individuals.

The Millennials want to enter to workforce at the upper management level, or better, have all the perks and pay without the work.  They want everyone to stop and acknowledge their emotional outbursts.  They want everyone to be absolutely equal, even if that means bringing everyone down to abject poverty, rather than lifting everyone up.

All of this came about because somewhere back, someone convinced the rest of us that Capitalism was evil.  Since people weren't educated enough to distinguish between Mercantilism and Capitalism, they were sold down the river and this Socialist rubbish became institutionalized in the US.  The Millennials are the consequence.

One of the most profound aspects of culture is that it requires a continuity of education from one generation to the next.  If the chain is broken for even one link, there is a very real risk that it can never be repaired.  With the Millennials, there is a very real risk that US culture has been destroyed forever.  If this generation is unable to overcome the failure of their parents to give them a proper education, then the nation may be irreparably damaged.

Given that Millennials are already without motivation, emotionally impaired and unable to educate themselves due to a lack of tools, the situation is dire.  If they are not able to change themselves, there doesn't seem to be a will or ability on the part of their seniors to do it, either.  As it exists now, the US is most likely lost.

Given the horrors that country has unleashed on the world in the past century, that may not be entirely bad.  However, the founding principles of the US were rooted in the Enlightenment, which represents the first time in history that humanity began to codify individual rights and promote concepts like equality under the law.  Since the US has squandered that rich heritage, it may be quite some time before another generation takes up the fight that brought down the monarchies of Europe and began the long fight to end slavery, both political and abject.

The Millennials, while seeming ridiculous and pitiful on the surface, may represent the end of the Enlightenment, at least for this epoch in history.  This is no doubt by design, and the ongoing effort to make those who believe in a malevolent "elite" out to be "conspiracy theorists" and thus unworthy of attention have effectively prevented the majority of people from seeing the problem, and rather dismissing it as pure fantasy.

Perhaps you think I am engaging in a bit of hyperbole, but I think the case cannot be overstated.  The Edu-Babble, Psycho-Babble and Socialist movements can be traced with some accuracy to various "elite" groups, and it seems rather certain that they have manipulated systems to install these programs to achieve the current ends.  The reader can find ample research on these matters.

The issue becomes one of trying to reverse the damage before it is too late.  Can an entire generation be remediated?  That remains to be seen.  Without the will or desire on their part, as well as the ability of the previous generations to repair the damage they have done out of (willful) ignorance, there is little more to do than sit back and watch the return of medieval servitude and the destruction of centuries of philosophical and societal advancement.

The damage has been done.  The question is, what will we do to fix it, if anything can be done?

13.7.16

The New Prometheus

If you follow @RadioFarSide, then you know that I've been twisting off on robots for a while now.  This has prompted some readers to ask what I have against robots.

Well, let's start with just about everything, and go from there.  And it's not necessarily against robots, so much as against pushing ahead so fast without thinking things through.

For a little lite reading, there's the story about the "police robot" that was deployed in Dallas, and which killed the "shooter."  Then, there's the repeated stories of driver-less cars crashing, resulting in one reported fatality.

On a Big Picture scale, I oppose robots paired with AI.  The very best scenario here is that humanity will create a race of mechanical slaves.  The very worst scenario is that those slaves get fed up and fight back.

In the best case, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to become sentient.  At least that's the theory and plan.  Even if that level is never achieved, humans who use the machines as servants or slave labor will grow accustomed to less-than-civil behavior with the machines.  Since they presumably will resemble and act like humans, this behavior will become ingrained and transfer over to interactions with real people.

But we've already covered this ground in previous columns.

More to the point of today's thought experiment is the legal ramifications of this head-long rush to create a new race of machines.

Let's take the car story first.

You are cruising down the highway.  You get tired.  You turn on the AI autopilot and drop off to sleep.  The autopilot fails or makes a poor choice and your car flies off the highway, does a triple roll and lands upside down, and your back is broken.  You are confined to an iron lung for the rest of your life.  Who is liable?

The car manufacturer sold the car as having artificial intelligence built into the autopilot.  This AI system is capable of thinking for itself and learning from experience.  It can even carry on conversations with the driver to discuss routes, road conditions, etc.  The AI is making its own choices and decisions completely independently of the driver or the manufacturer.

After your horrible accident, it is determined that the AI was functioning completely within manufacturer's specifications.  When you bought the car, you were informed of the system and were given a special class in how to operate it.  You signed a release and received a certificate showing that you had received the training.  You owned the car for more than a year and had used the AI autopilot a number of times with no problems.

The AI autopilot relies on Google Maps to navigate.  An investigation showed that the map had an exit that was closed for repairs, but not noted on the map.  The AI autopilot chose to use that exit and ignored sensor data in favor of the map notations leading to the terrible accident.  You obviously received egregious bodily harm due to this choice.

Who is liable for your injuries?  Was it the manufacturer, who sold you the AI system, informed you of its operations, trained you, and certified that the system was within operating parameters at the time of the crash?

Is Google liable for not maintaining its maps with the latest data on closures and construction?  Is the AI system liable for making an independent choice?  Are you liable for having bought the thing in the first place (caviat emptor)?

Can a machine ever be liable for its independent choices?  If so, who pays damages?  Does the manufacturer/programmer have any liability for a machine that is capable of thinking and acting of its own volition?

These are just some of the hundreds of legal questions that come to mind in this situation.  Neither the law nor society have even begun to consider the implications of this technology, yet we are screaming down that highway with hardly a care for any of these issues.

Now, let's look at the "police robot" case.

There is an active shooter situation.  Police have responded to the scene and there are several dead bodies lying around the area.  Instead of risking a human police officer, an AI robot is sent in to remedy the situation.

The robot is unleashed and trundles into the building using its sensors and publicly available floor plans of the building to guide it to the suspect's location.  It crashes through the door of the room where the "shooter" is located.  A figure is squatting by the window with something that looks like a rifle in his hands.  The robot makes no attempt to disable the "shooter," but rather decides on the spot to kill the suspect while recording all of its sensor data.

Later, it is determined that the "suspect" was a janitor hiding near the window to try and figure out what was happening.  He had a broom in his hands.  The police investigators, worried that this incident could turn into a major legal battle lasting several years and costing millions of dollars, decides to falsify the sensor data of the robot.  Using CGI, they modify the video and still photos to show a gun in the "suspects" hands.  All associated text files and decision trees generated by the AI are also modified accordingly and a real rifle was planted in evidence.

In this situation, the AI robot made its own determination on the spot.  It is a machine, and so cannot give testimony in court as a witness, its sensor logs can be modified without a trace and can even be programmed to falsify data on the fly by some crafty programming (kind of like computer voting machines).

Even if the cover up in our scenario is discovered, are the police only guilty of modifying evidence to hide a crime?  Did the machine make its own choice to kill and is it liable for that choice, or are the police?  Can the manufacturer/programmer be held liable for the machine's choices, since the machine is AI and capable of making informed decisions and learning from its mistakes?  If it comes to light that the janitor was a wrongful death, can the machine be punished or held accountable in any way for its actions?

Again, these are just a tiny sample of all the legal, moral and ethical questions that have not been addressed.  In fact, very few voices in the public sphere are even bringing these questions up for debate.  They will become an issue sooner or later.

It is very likely that the drivers of the AI cars will sue for damages.  It is also likely (unless they are complete fools) that the Dallas "shooter's" family will sue for wrongful death.  These and many more questions are going to come to public debate sometime in the near future and humanity has some serious issues to consider.

These are not just legal questions, they are very serious societal issues that we must deal with, and quickly.  Whether we play god by creating a race of mechanical or biological (or combined) individuals, this choice comes with profound questions that we have never answered for ourselves, much less our creations.

These are not dumb objects, but fully autonomous creatures capable of independent thought and volition.  After thousands of years, we seem incapable as a species of answering these questions about our own existence, and into this quagmire, we intend to introduce a whole new species of our own creation that is innocent and unknowing.

All of this can only end badly.  In effect, by not considering these issues in detail before we create new species, we are collectively and individually responsible for the consequences.  This is not like creating a toaster, this is new life, regardless of the form it takes.

It is sad that so few people have read Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus.  The myriad movies that have been made from this novel hardly do justice to the serious moral and ethical questions it raises.  It should be required reading every year from age 10 on.  It is not a horror story, it is a cautionary tale, and we should be taking its lessons with deadly seriousness.