Here Thar Be Monsters!

Read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. Now at Augenguy.com! The original Indonesia Bureau brings you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor Monday thru Friday at 9a WIB (8p CST), from the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send comments_to luap.jkt@gmail.com, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all!

29.1.13

A Pause For The Cause

The new Far Side mascot
Once in a while, we like to slow down for a minute and take a reflexive look at what we're doing around here on the Far Side.  When we do, we try to find things we can do to improve the site to make it more interesting for our readers.

In the past three years, we've gone from flat zero readers to a steady 300/day.  That pencils out to roughly 9,000/month, with around 40% being return visits.  We figure that means about half of the folks who come here either like what they are getting, or are like race fans watching to see the next big wreck.  Interestingly, our audience seems to be evenly split between Eastern and Western hemispheres.  That's pretty cool, in our humble estimation.

At any rate, as the site grows in popularity, we try to gauge what readers want by looking at the things they click on.  Certain topics, for instance, seem to draw a healthy response, so we put a little extra focus on those things.

Also, Radio Far Side is starting to catch on.  We've posted 5 interviews, with number 6 coming up shortly, and the clicks are climbing slowly but surely.  We assume this is because our programs aren't just random.  We select the individuals with a specific purpose, kind of like multi-media footnotes and references for things we write about here.

Based on the numbers, we assume also that about 4,000 folks per month come here because we DON"T amalgamate headlines.  Lord knows there's plenty of that out there.  Instead, we try to context things with a long historical view, tracing ideas and events through the maelstrom of history to see how we got here, and what that implies for our future.  In other words, we prefer thinking, pondering and navel-staring to random samples of pop culture.

Through it all, we take feedback from readers very seriously.  We get lots of links and thoughts and criticism that go toward improving what we do here, and it is steadily attracting eyeballs.  We find that exciting and frightening at the same time.

In any event, our Alexa rating has climbed from 13,000,000 to 500,000, and that is entirely due to fine folks like you sitting there reading this.  To you, we say, "Many thanks!"

As our little corner of the net attracts more attention, we look for ways to expand and improve things.  To that end, we've added a couple of features that are visible in the side bar under "SHAMELESS PROMOTION".

First, we have the Vimeo and YouTube channels.  The Vimeo channel is where we host Radio Far Side, though we encouage folks to use the RFS link at the top of the page, since the program pages have background info, guest bios and links to additional information.  The YouTube channel is a work in progress.  We haven't really decided what to do with that, but we're considering creating regular 'blip-verts', as they used to say in Max Headroom.  These would be short 5-7 minute video chats on whatever topics won't get out of our collective head.

Next, we broke down and created a Twitter account called @RadioFarSide.  Here we are putting out links to interesting stories and videos, accompanied by our customary brief sarcastic remarks.  We promise not to abuse this outlet with useless crap like what we ate for breakfast or the latest in hobo fashion trends.  Hopefully, you will get information that spurs thought, which is what this internet stuff should be all about.

Finally, in the process of our complete break-down, we set up a Farcebook page called Radio Far Side.  If you are on Farcebook, look up the page and 'Like' it to keep up with developments there.  We really haven't decided what to do with it, but something will leap into our collective head at any moment now.

On top of all this, we are converting everything over to use our new mascot, the kerbow or ox.  We figure this has multiple layers of meaning, like being the Boss Man's (me) Chinese zodiac sign, as well as evoking a bit of Texas flavor in a Southeast Asian way.  At any rate, we figure this iconographic image will tie all our efforts together under a brand image.

And really, that's what all this about.  As we grow and expand, we are trying to create a marketable image that will hopefully allow us to earn a buck or two, even with failing eyesight and relentlessly advancing age.  Of course, the blog will always remain ad-free and without membership fees, because we think good information has no price.  But we also want to tie in our commercial efforts like a store and peddling our services with the overall Far Side brand.

As George Ure likes to say, "Everything's a business model."

For our long-time readers, this might make a good B-school case study in online business models.  On the other hand, it may be a train wreck in slow motion and a colossal waste of time.  Won't know till we try, and at least it's something we enjoy doing...and it may occasionally be entertaining.

In the end, we are happy that so many folks are enjoying our efforts.  It's truly gratifying to receive email from readers who enjoy the things we put up here.  We encourage folks to send along comments and suggestions, which we take very seriously.  We especially love it when you send a link to friends and family.

Thanks for your support, and remember, the Far Side is not just a place, it's a perspective.

Sampai jumpa!

27.1.13

The Swartz Is With You

American folk culture, from the earliest days of the country, has recognized a sort of Satanic Trinity of god the government, god the banks and god the Wall Street cabal.

Early American culture glorified the independent individual who shunned the Triumvirate of Evil for a life of 'going it alone'.  The pioneer man and woman were the ideal, forging a life in the wilderness based on good moral compasses and strong work ethic.  Law enforcement was little more than hired guns with tin stars protecting small communities on the open range.  Your neighbor backed you and you backed your neighbor, and that was all the social programs you needed.

American folklore includes such notable characters as Paul Bunyan, the Lone Ranger and other fictional sorts.  But more importantly, it was populated by such actual figures as Judge Roy Bean, Jesse James, Pat Garrett, Bill Cody, and even gadflies like Will Rogers and Mark Twain.

What they all share is the status of 'lone force for good' and a deep mistrust of government and the established powers.  In many cases, they actively worked to undermine the financial elite and the spread of centralized government.  They had a sort of Robin Hood aura, so that even when they broke the law, they were doing it to protect the little guy and to prevent the gross accumulation of wealth in the hands of industrialists, financiers and government.

Will Rogers and Mark Twain openly ridiculed the Powers That Be.  They belittled the establishment and were the founders of the America's tradition of stand-up philosophers, such as Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Bill Hicks.

Characters like Judge Bean and the Lone Ranger were men who followed personal moral and ethical codes and used fairness and justice as the sole measure of a good outcome.  They represented the idea that the individual was more than capable of making sound moral decisions despite and in the face of establishment power.

America saw the resurgence of the anti-hero in the Depression.  Characters such as Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, and many others were secretly admired and ensconced in the American folklore because they stood up to overreaching establishment power.

Al Capone refused to obey Prohibition Laws because they were wrong-headed and went against the long-held ideal of American individual sovereignty.  Capone also refused to pay income tax at a time when many folks still remembered that the tax was unconstitutional and went against the founding ideals of the country.

During the Depression, the American grassroots knew full well that the bankster/Wall Street classes were the cause of their misery, and so anti-heroes like Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde became legends because they attacked the heart of the offending order.  These 'crooks' were idolized by regular folks because they were seen as having the guts to strike at the root of the problem.  The people recognized a higher morality than following legal abstractions that favored white-collar criminals over the real people.

One would assume, given this background, that we would see a similar rise of anti-heroes in today's financial morass.  Certainly, in light of America's past, we could assume a quiet popular support for folks who were able to strike at the root of society's ills.  So can we identify modern equivalents of the Wild West Loner or the Depression Gangster?

I think so. Today, they are the cybernauts, the Aaron Swartzes the Kim Dotcoms, the  and the Julian Assanges of the world.  Notice I don't include Anonymous in this group because there is no identifiable anti-hero, leaving it open to speculation that it is a front organization for covert PTB operations.

The cyber cowboys of today are cut of the same cloth as the anti-heroes of yore.  They are the new Robin Hoods, Lone Rangers, Judge Beans, and Bonnie and Clydes in the contemporary world.  They have identified a great social injustice that may be 'legal', but is not Lawful, and there is a grave distinction between the two.

These folks are the ones striking at the root of society's ills at great personal cost to themselves because they believe, as do a great many real folks, that entrenched corruption at the core of many institutions is the cause of society's ills.

Granted, the playing field has changed.  No longer is it the loner bringing justice to a wild land, or the robber taking from the rich in the name of the regular folks.  Rather they are fighting in a world where information is the currency and virtual battlefields are the arena.  Yet the modus operandi and the results are the same.

The response of the entrenched powers is the same, as well.  They use questionable legal maneuvers and even outright killing to protect their ruling status, just as in the cases of Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde.

Whether these folks are successful is not as important as the fact that they exist.  They become heroes and martyrs that remind the common people that there is a deep problem in our system.  They show us where the battle fronts are and what the PTB are willing to do to protect their positions.  They tease out the PTB's strategies and weaknesses, and display for all to see that the entrenched powers are not infallible.

Perhaps their most valuable contribution is to expose the existence of a problem.  In the absence of such pioneers, the common folks can deny any wrongdoing on the part of the PTB, but when these legendary people step forward, the depth and depravity of the system is exposed and we must eventually choose which side of the argument we stand on.

Make no mistake, the war is on.  Our lines are being drawn and our modern Davy Crocketts and Bill Travises are already standing up.  In the coming months and years, we will all be forced to acknowledge and ally with one side or another.  With the false righteousness of the entrenched powers exposed, there can be no plea of ignorance.

In many ways, the anti-heroes perform a valuable service to both sides.  For the entrenched powers, they become examples the keep the sheep in line.  For the forces of liberty, they become trip wires exposing the boundaries of the enemy camp.

The anti-heroes may be flawed, but they always come down on the side of securing more freedom, not less.  If they are criminals, it is only because the PTB have arbitrarily drawn a line in the legal code to protect themselves.  Being legal does not make right or Lawful.  In fact, freedom is the right to be imperfect, just like the anti-hero.

The root has been struck.  Which side will you choose?  Me?  I've always liked underdogs and anti-heroes, and especially the right to make my own mistakes.  I'll take Lawful over legal any day.

24.1.13

Pardon My Oopart

To me, one of the most intriguing mysteries to ponder are things called 'ooparts', or Out Of Place ARTifacts.  There are hundreds of them that we know of, and who knows how many that are hidden or forgotten.  They include everything from nails to jewelery to finely crafted vases that date conclusively to times when dinosaurs were the (supposedly) dominant lifeforms on Earth.

There have been entire catalogs produced of these objects.  They are often found in mines embedded in coal or sandstone or solid rock.  The ones that have been carefully documented show no signs of the geology being disturbed, thus no evidence that they were buried at some recent point in history.  The materials surrounding these objects was formed in place and was not disturbed for millions of years.

These ooparts are not like the Babylon Battery or the Greek Computer that simply challenge our ideas on when certain things were invented.  These objects completely blow our entire pre-historic record out of the water.  That's exciting stuff!

After all, these objects had to have been created either by humans at a time when science tells us our race was little more than field mice, or they are the products another intelligent species that once roamed the Earth.

The only other alternative is that our entire understanding of geological processes is completely wrong, and that is even more terrible to contemplate.

Is modern humanity actually millions of years older than the official narrative would have us believe?  If so, the implications are astounding.  How many great civilizations have risen and crumbled in the last 300 million years?  Wouldn't this strongly imply that the ancient myths and legends of highly advanced societies are true?

And if that answer is false, then was there another intelligent species here before us?  And if not, then was there an extraterrestrial species that spent a considerable amount of time hanging out on Earth?

One thing is certain, ooparts represent evidence that is so frightening to the scientific establishment that they are never discussed in polite company.  To do so invites speculation of a kind that would expose the calcification of academia.  Instead, the very existence of these objects is denied, or at best, snickered at as being fodder for fundamentalists and the unwashed masses.

Ooparts would not be such a problem if it could be easily shown that they were buried or otherwise placed where they were found.  The problem is that the geology is irrefutable without throwing out hundreds of years worth of study.  Also, the carbon-14 dating is conclusive, showing dates in the millions of years.  To refute this data is to throw out our entire understanding of radioactive decay.

Given the Catch-22 of denying solid evidence or entire bodies of knowledge, ooparts are instead squirreled away in a bin in the basement of a museum or university.  Only the Forteans give any attention to these humble academic atom bombs.

The problem with ooparts is that they are everywhere.  There's the iron pillar at Delhi that dates to a time when supposedly humans did not have the technology to smelt iron, much less work it.  There are small, perfect spheres with a divot in one hemisphere and an equatorial band that look remarkably like recent photos of the Saturnian moon Japetus, yet they were found deep in a South African diamond mine.  There are carvings and paintings from India and Egypt that resemble delta-winged aircraft and helicopters in many details.

Even without the ooparts, Mankind's history is constantly being pushed back beyond academia's hardened timelines.  Discoveries such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey has hundreds of finely carved columns arrange over a large area that has only been partially excavated.  This alone is not remarkable, but that it dates conclusively back 12,000 years and was purposely buried with sand from a great distance away is remarkable.  Despite all the evidence of advanced technology, all that the calcified academics can say is that it is a religious site erected by a bunch of hunter-gatherers.  A rather pat answer for anything they can't fit into their world views.

Just as interesting is the way in which academia only supports their own knowledge when data fits the party line.  One fine example is the work of Robert Schock, whose studies of the Great Sphinx show weathering that could only have occurred some 12,000 years ago using sound geological reasoning.  Of course, that evidence is dismissed because everyone knows the Giza plateau is only 4,000 years old.  If not, then a lot of grant money is left dangling in the wind and entire careers are at risk.

It's almost a new form of entertainment to watch grown men and women, degreed professionals, theorticians, intellectuals, and academicians frightened out of their wits by such seemingly mundane objects.  Such is the power of denial.

I say "almost" because of the vicious way in which these people attack serious researchers who dare to open Pandora's Box.  The researchers are shunned, castigated and ridiculed simply because they ask questions, and the results of their research are soundly ignored simply because it doesn't fit the official party line, no matter how well documented.  In fact, the more sound and unassailable the conclusions of the avant garde, the greater the attacks.

The thing about science, real science, is that if observation finds any exception to the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is falsified and one must start from scratch.  Modern science, though, is so tightly bound to it's fairy tales of Big Bangs, evolution and the methodical development of human civilization that it will do almost anything to protect its sacred writ.

Hardly different than religion, though the burning stakes and pillories are more metaphorical for the most part.

Advances can only be made when we stare directly at the evidence and try to honestly reconstruct our history and that of our Universe with the sum total of data at hand.  Turning a blind eye to reality does not make it go away, but rather holds us back from achieving that of which we are truly capable.

The possibilities are really exciting, and the truth is liable to be far more stunning than anything we are currently willing to entertain.  One thing is certain, the truth will out.  It cannot be hidden forever, despite all efforts to the contrary.

Imagine is humanity really is millions of years old and we are just now emerging from a millennia-long Dark Ages to rediscover our true heritage.  And even if the ooparts are traces of a past intelligent species that has long since vanished, what can we learn from them that will help us avoid the same mistakes?

One thing is certain: refusing to consider ooparts serves only the entrenched powers and cushy grants of the select few, while denying Humanity of its real legacy.

22.1.13

How Fragile The Mind

Weltanschauung.

It's a German word composed of welt (world) and anschauung (overview).  Germans are masters at hooking together a couple of simple words to make really complex ideas.  The word means 'one's view of life, the Universe and everything, and one's place in it'.  Not what you'd call a narrow word.

From birth, we spend years on our parents' knees, in school and in our personal experiences building a weltanschauung.  We decide what to include and what to exclude, what our definitions are, and most importantly what boundaries we place on the Universe.

Some of us erect very narrow and simplistic walls, such as God is an old, bearded man in the sky and my country right or wrong.  Others construct much broader realms.  Still others place no limits on their Universes and instead allow for ever increasing information and ideas.

Those with the most narrow weltanschauungs are the most vulnerable.  They can have their Universe destroyed quickly and decisively by a single idea.  Their boundaries are so close to home that any attack whatsoever will hit dangerously close to the core.

Those with broader weltanschauungs push the point at which their definition of the Universe is challenged further out, until some reach the point where they have no expectations or definitions to destroy.  We call those people Buddha or Christ.

Our weltanschauung is the foundation upon which all else is built.  When it is undermined, all that we know and understand is completely destroyed.  Suddenly, we are faced with endless possibilities and boundless space.  Most people are terrified of this and work quickly to re-erect the walls of their Universe.  They don't want to deal with such vast unknowns.

Weltanschauungs can be very difficult to destroy.  Like putting a stick into an ant pile, thousands of little workers spring into action at the first signs of trouble and start piling the bricks up as fast as they can.  Without their definition of Universe, people are at their most vulnerable and pliable.  Their weakest flank is exposed and they will do anything to seal off the howling winds of Unknown.

For each of us, the Universe is created when we are given a Name.  If you read sacred texts, they almost all begin with the idea of some being 'speaking' the Word and creating the Universe.  How many of us consider that when we speak a Word, we create a Universe?  This is why we are forbidden to speak the Name of God, because that would limit God to some Universe, which cannot be done.

Throughout our lives, we pick up Names.  At birth, we are given a Name that creates our family.  In school, we earn nicknames that create our social groups.  As a Catholic, I was given a Name at Confirmation that created a Soldier of Christ.  Most of us are given numbers, which are just Names with different letters, that create things called Taxpayers and Citizens.  We give ourselves Names so that when someone asks, "Where are you from," we can create a thing identified with a certain piece of dirt.

If you are lucky, you learn more than one language in your life.  One language limits our Universe to only those things expressed by that language.  But learning other languages expands our Universe to include things that cannot be expressed in our Mother Tongue.  In this way, our Universe expands.
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A few of us, though, push on into the realm of Things With No Names.  This weltanschauung is very hard to attack, since you cannot destroy something that doesn't have a Name.  No one can take from you that which cannot be named and defined.  Without a Name, things don't exist.

Those who understand this concept have remarkable power.  They are able to destroy the weltanschauungs of others and reconstruct them in any form they like.  If you can yank the Universe out from under someone, then in their mad rush to rebuild, you can hand them whatever materials you like.  They will dutifully stack them up to rebuild the boundaries of their weltanschauung.  This is how mental manipulation works.

This mental control can be done on a mass scale, such as the JFK assassination or 9/11, or it can be done on an individual scale, such as punching someone when and where they least expect it.  In the resulting confusion and cognitive dissonance, the aware Name can recreate another's Universe.

If the Name is the brick by which we build our universes, then Belief is the mortar by which we stack them.  Beliefs are those things we hold to be true despite all evidence to the contrary.  These things color our Universes because we deny all reality to believe certain impossibilities or non-sequiturs.  For instance, believing that one;s country is exceptional or that it can do no wrong, or one's god was slaughtered but rose from the dead three days later, are examples of things that shade and skew our view of reality.

The problem with weltanschauungs, especially those that are too narrow or fragile, is they make us vulnerable.  We can be controlled by those who have the power to manipulate our world view.  They can force us outside our mental constructs and put us on very shaky mental ground.

When you build a house, you want to believe that it is a solid, secure house.  But then something happens to cause your house to collapse and you are left in the cold, shivering and shaking with the rain falling on your head.  Someone comes along and says, "Here, come in my house."  Now they are in control.  Now it is their house that gives you shelter and you must accept their construct if you want get out of the cold and rain.

This is why it is so important to challenge our weltanschauung all the time.  We must constantly re-evaluate the bricks and mortar that we built our house with, otherwise it will be all too easy to destroy our house and leave out in the cold.

For this reason, we must listen to conspiracy theories and alternative researchers.  We must consider their arguments, if they are well-built, and look around us to see if there is evidence that supports the argument.

When we do this, we expand the walls of our house and find stronger and stronger bricks and mortar with which to build.  Granted, we might reject an argument because we don't see credible evidence of truth.  But sometimes we come across a strong argument, good mortar, that allows us to expand and strengthen our house.

The reson for this is that if our weltanschauung is large enough and strong enough, we can never be at the mercy of those who would use us by destroying our world view and offering their own as shelter.  We cannot be controlled if our house cannot be destroyed.

If we have properly considered alternative ideas, then when something happens to challenge our world view, we can deal with it and not be left in the cold.  If one day, NASA announces the existence of life off the planet Earth, our world view has already considered the possiblity and cannot be shaken by this new fact.  If one day it is proved that the government was complicit in 9/11, this new information cannot shake our foundation because we have already considered the possibility and incorporated it into our world view.  If it is proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is a massive conspiracy to defraud the world through the financial system, we have already made that part of our Universe and we cannot be controlled by those who would use our disorientation to control us.

The more possibilities you build into your weltanschauung, the less likely you are to be prey for predatory powers.  If we are certain that life is only a small part of our existence, then the threat of death has no power over us.

It is most important that we take time to regularly push the boundaries of what we hold to be true.  Even something as simple as acknowledging the possibility that some outrageous idea could be true gives us a strength that cannot be attacked.

The ultimate weakness of every human being is the limits of their weltanschauung.  Once those limits have been pierced, we are prey to whatever force that offers us shelter.  It is vitally important to constantly push the boundaries of possibility, to challenge our beliefs, to entertain new and strange ideas.  If we don't, then our walls of reality are too narrow and we are vulnerable.

The next time you feel compelled to reject an idea out of hand, stop.  Instead, listen to the idea.  Examine the evidence.  And if you can allow that something is possible, no matter how improbable, then you have just strengthened your world view against attack.

Many of us stop learned even before we leave school.  Our 'teachers' spend a lot of time building a world view for us.  Our job is to break those walls and expand them ourselves.  We are tasked with spending our entire lives pushing the limits of what we know, believe and consider possible.  The more we do this, the less likely it is that someone can take control of our reality.

Those who live in glass houses cannot throw stones, but those who live in double-paned, Kevlar reinforced quartzite glass houses can play baseball indoors, if we wish.

18.1.13

Noah, Where Are You?

Drinking water?  Check.  Food?  Check.  Beer and booze?  Check.  Ark?  Damn, forgot something.

Here in beautiful west Jakarta, the rains have hardly stopped for four days now.  We got a little break today from about noon on, and blessedly, the flood waters run off rather quickly, so folks have been able to escape flooded homes or make repairs or get some supplies.

What a mess!  Yesterday, the West Canal levy broke and an eyewitness friend of ours working in the UOB Building at Plaza Indonesia reported seeing a "tsunami" rushing through the vast open area around the national fountain.  Cars were swept along and piled up at the downhill end.  At least 12 people are reported dead so far, with more than 18,000 homeless.  Water in some areas exceeded 3 meters/12 feet.

In our area of west Jakarta, we are literally on a peninsula, with only one major road open into and out of the area.  If the rains keep up, we will become an island in a sea of destruction.  Only a few hundred meters south of my house, one family we know spent two days on the roof of their house when the waters rose to the ceiling.

One friend, a British teacher who lives with his family about a kilometer behind us, sent this text, "Totally f#&ked. Water in house at knee level. We're stuck on top floor which thankfully is main part of house.  Still have gas, some food and water but the neighbourhood is up to chest level water..."  We offered to rent a Zodiac boat and come for them, but he waved us off after the waters started receding a bit.

Another family escaped by pushing their motorcycle through chest-deep water with Mom carrying the baby on her head.

The case study here is not the flooding, but the 'normalcy bias'.  People were panicked last night as the rains fell in incessant buckets and lightning split the sky.  By noon, when the rain let up, suddenly everyone went back to business as usual.

The problem is that the forecast is for eight more days of heavy rain, and the real threat is the run-off from the mountains to the south that have already swamped levies and are straining the flood gate system throughout the region.

At some point, flood gate operators are faced with a critical decision: either open the gates or lose them.  Opening them affords some amount of control, however it still releases a mass of water into certain areas and people and things will be lost at that point.

For our part, we've had a chance to put our preparations to the test, and have found some weaknesses that will have to be addressed.  Some examples of what we have done to mitigate our risk in this type of situation:
  • 50 gallons of drinking water and 300 gallons of sanitary water stored on a regular basis;
  • A healthy stock of rice and dried noodles, along with seasoning packets and other condiments;
  • An electrical generator capable of running the refrigerator, a couple of lights and one A/C;
  • An extra bottle of propane for the stove giving us about five months of cooking gas;
  • Enough sandbags to block the front of the house;
  • 10 inner-tubes on the top floor, along with a hatchet, to make a raft and escape through the roof (two tubes would be used to hold 5-gallon water bottles);
  • And finally, we chose our house based in large part on a topographical map of the city, showing this area to be one of the highest points.
Most people don't take the time to go to this level of preparation.  In fact, famiy and friends laughed at our inner-tube contraption...until today.  Now at least two families went out this morning and did the same thing.

Our fall-back plan is to paddle like mad towards the mountains and escape to our Far Side World Headquarters - Java Branch.  There, we have a full, working garden complete with bearing fruit trees and a second supply of food, water and gas, as well as clean clothes and a hand-pumped water well offering potable water.  Our farm is not far afield, as well.

Folks who go to this extreme of readiness (though we don't consider it extreme) are often laughed at.  One may recall the parable of the ant and the grasshopper, which I took to heart, even as a young age.  I also like my creature comforts, even in the midst of disasters.

I have always deployed my resources in a manner that offers me the most options for the least cost.  More than a couple of times, that mentality has saved my hide.

I invest a certain amount of time in any place I live to learn every possible route out of the area, including overland.  I don't like being trapped and I especially revel in the ability to skirt around traffic pile-ups and other signs of idiocy.  In some ways, being a mild enochlophobe (or is it misanthrope?) has its advantages.

I don't consider myself a 'prepper'.  A prepper is someone who simply hordes stuff for the sake of lording it over others when the s#&t comes down.  I prefer to think of it as being the one level head in a rag-tag group of panicked humanity who has an actual plan for getting back on track.

It's events like the current flooding in Jakarta that help one to evaluate who can and can't be trusted to act decisively in an emergency.  A lot of people like to think they would, but those are usually the ones sending frantic text messages and leaping out of windows to their deaths.  It is very rare to find someone who is cool and rational in the face of disaster, and who can act deliberately to remedy situations, rather than exacerbate them.

The thing is, most people will never know how they will react until confronted with an emergency.  It is very difficult to react deliberately and rationally when the flood waters are over your head and you're trying to push someone's fat butt through the window so you can live.  It's easy to think of these things in the abstract, but what happens when your lungs are burning, you're three feet under water, you have a large knife in your hand, and the only thing between you and living is that fat butt?

Hopefully, most of us will never be faced with that choice, but it is one to ponder deeply.  After all, is it better for one out of two to live, or both die?

I have long pondered the meaning of being human.  Philosophers have come up with a myriad of answers, from the ability to use tools to the ability to laugh.  I have come to the conclusion that to be human means to maintain moral and ethical behavior even in the face of certain death.  When you think about it, that is probably the most difficult choice any person could ever make, and the result would distinguish a human from an animal.

Emergency situations, such as the current flooding here, leave one with a lot of time to think, if you're not busy trying to survive.  On more than one occasion in the past two days, we've been faced with aiding people whose stupidity and lack of foresight left them very vulnerable, while our planning and deployment of assets has given us the ability to ponder such things.

We could have easily brushed off the other folks and justified it as survival of the fittest, but that is an animal response.  A human doesn't distinguish between stupid and smart.  One simply opens the door to anyone who asks, and shares what they have to the best advantage of all involved.

The global population, according to some soothsayers with fairly good records, may be faced with just these sorts of choices in the near future.  This flood may be a rehearsal for the coming disaster, a way to see who will and won't survive.

Preparedness is not just stocking up on food and water and having backup plans.  Real preparedness is pondering the really tough questions, playing out scenarios, and deciding up-front what your reactions will be when faced with an overwhelming threat.

If and when such things come to pass, will you lead the way to aid, to shelter and to rebuild?  Or will you step on any head to save yourself?  This is the most basic question we, as humans, can ask and answer.  It involves us assessing our place in the Universe and whether we see death as a finality or as the beginning of another phase.  We must decide whether we go out with dignity or survive with shame.

It is the rare person that can live a lifetime without coming face to face with these choices.  Some may face them many times.  How noble or ignoble are we as denizens of Universe?  And what example, what legacy do we leave behind?

Update Jan 19; 6:50pm: A number of people are making money offering raft services.  They will deliver you to a dry spot for about $15, or take orders and run to the store and buy goods for you at a premium.  I'm seriously thinking of buying a Zodiac boat as a business model.  Stupidity does have a price.  Normalcy bias running rampant!

 These are horrible choices to contemplate, and even worse to experience.  How many other lives is one life worth?  Jengis Khan famously said, "Every man must kill another to make room for himself in the world."  There is a perverse logic to this statement, but how willing are you to confront that moment?

If there is some Grand Accounting in the Sky, and like the pharaohs of old, we will stand in the balance with our hearts on the other side, will we pass the test?  And if this isn't the case, what have we gained or lost by being kind and helping others?  Are we truly nothing more than advanced animals?  Or are human beings, like the old stories tell us, something far more interesting?

Think of it this way: you have just survived a disaster and all you know is gone.  All you have is two cans of beans.  A perfect stranger walks up and asks for some food.  Do you freely hand him the second can, or do you kill him so he won't tell others?

It may seem like an abstraction, but it could happen at any time.

It's not enough to be a 'prepper' with your vast stockpiles of food, water, medicine, and the like.  You must also ponder the deeper questions of who and what you are.

This is the road less traveled.

All images from the last 24 hours...


16.1.13

INTERVIEW: Farrell & de Hart on Radio Far Side


On today’s program…Is humanity undergoing an alchemical process to reverse the Fall of Man?  Has literature been warning us since at least the 19th century?  Is Frankenstein an allegory for the Illuminati?  Are GMOs being used to experiment on mass humanity to perfect transhuman technology for a select few?  All this and much more on today’s program.  Stay tuned.

Today, we are speaking with two remarkable gentlemen.  They both hold Ph.Ds from the University of Oxford, and they have written nearly two dozen books, together and separately, on topics that literally span the past 3.2 million years.  In the field of alternative research and thought, their scholarship is impeccable, and they bring considerable resources, in terms of education and research, to bear on topics that are vital to understanding the global situation today.

Dr. Joseph P. Farrell joins us from North Dakota, USA, where he devotes himself exclusively to writing and research on topics as diverse as the Great Pyramid, post-war Nazi influence, ancient myths and legends, the origins of our financial system, and the development and current state of physics.







Dr. Scott D. de Hart joins from California, USA, where he is a professor of philosophy, theology, humanities, and English literature.  His writings explore sacred spaces and places, theology, ancient and modern technology, and how literature plays an intimate part in the Grand Scheme of history.
This program promises to be mind-blowing.





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Related Links:
Giza Death Star - Dr. Farrell
Shelley Unbound - Dr. de Hart
Frankenstein - Mary/Percy Shelley
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Summa Theologica Part I - Thomas Aquinas
Aurora Consurgens - attributed to Thomas Aquinas
The Inferno - Dante Alighieri (from The Divine Comedy)
E-books by Joseph P. Farrell

We thank you for dropping in and enjoying this fine interview.  If you would like to help out, please consider making a PayPal donation at the top of the side bar.  As is everything here, we present this information ad-free and without charge of any kind.

Keep checking back for more great interviews, orginal articles and essays, and many new features coming this year.  Please pass this link to your friends, as well.  Information is power!

Sampai Jumpa!
Bernard

12.1.13

Eure Papieren, Bitte!

Slave Market
Once in a while, a bit of propaganda comes out that is so blatant even the rather dense get it.  I've sat on this article for a couple of weeks, but it doesn't make the information any less infuriating.

The title is, "Helping Parents Fight for Legal Identity in Indonesia."  Just that much of it should clue you in on how much BS you're about to dive into.

First of all, the headline presents the issue as being some problem with registering children 'legally' in Indonesia.  We are (not so) subtly led to believe that parents are crying out in unison for the right to plaster their children with legal paperwork because, well gosh, they just don't exist without it.

Then, we start into the deeeeep BS that follows.  As is typical with propaganda like this, the article starts with a sob story about a pre-schooler, female just to push the emotional hot buttons, who is playing at a street carnival after having learned her lessons.  But, and here comes the ominous Big Bad Wolf, she may not be able to continue her education in the national schools because she doesn't have...GASP!...a birth certificate!

What horse shit.

By the second paragraph, the agenda becomes clear.  Unicef, the UN agency assigned to make sure all kids everywhere are up to their eye teeth in 'legal' paperwork and vaccines, tells us that 60% of Indonesia's children are NOT REGISTERED SLAVES!  Can you imagine such a thing?  What a horribly backward country this is!  (I hope you recognize the sarcasm).

A more appropriate title for this article should be, "Parent Outraged Children Can't Received Services Already Paid For With Taxes."

Let's play reporter...I mean REAL reporter, not press release regurgitator.  First question: If registering children with birth certificates, etc., is a national issue, why in the hell is the UN all flustered about this?  Follow up question: If the parents pay taxes with every single purchase they make, why can't the children receive public education as promised without a bunch of bureaucratic BS?  Third question: What's so damned important about having every bloody human being on Earth registered and papered that Unicef has to interfere in the sovereign operations of Indonesia?

Those questions are just for starters.  If we aren't thrown out of the press conference after the first one, there's a whole lot more, too.  Maybe we should write them all down and pass them around and encourage other 'reporters' to actually do their jobs.

As we read a little further, we notice that the family moved to Jakarta from a small village, where everyone is backwards and doesn't properly paper their children.  Notice that we know the girl's name and the mother's name, but the father remains anonymous.  Another tell-tale sign that father's are just useless meat that have no responsibility but to work their asses off and hand over the money to care for the state's (as yet unregistered) property.

Slave Registration
The next paragraph is classic propaganda.  The mother (again the father is unimportant) frets because back in the village, there was no budy-body bureaucrat standing in the deliver room slavering to register the state's newest property upon first breath.

What's even more classic is the mother says she doesn't have a slave registry and never had a problem getting an education, but NOW everyone has to have their slave papers or, GASP!, they can't get a non-productive fat-ass, useless government job!  OMG!  What horror!

Now here comes the agenda:
"The Indonesian government has prioritized birth registration to track demographic statistics and ensure accurate planning and implementation of its policies and programs. The right to legal identity is one fundamental precondition to realizing social and economic rights, including subsidized health care, basic education and as a deterrent against child labor abuse and underage marriage."

This paragraph is so fraught with fascist BS that it's hard to know where to start.  Of course the government wants to ensure that it's chattel property is registered.  How else can they track and trace every soul in the country and make sure they extract every last rupiah of tax from them?  Of course, they call it "planning and implementation", but the real meaning is "we want a pound of flesh".

I nearly fell out of my chair when I read that we all have a "right to legal identity".  WHAT?  Having slave papers is now a right?  If it's a right, then how come I have to be forced to take it by the government?  What hog wash!  But the truth comes out in the next sentence...it's a "fundamental precondition" to receiving other 'rights'.

AH HA!

So rights are only rights if we register and submit to some governing 'authority'.  There are no natural rights inherent to every human being as a condition of simply existing.  You have NO RIGHTS unless you have LEGAL IDENTITY.  Funny how they bury such an important concept way down in the story after yanking your heart strings and burying the truth with pure, unadulterated BS.

The whole thing is predicated on being able to get what you pay for with your taxes: health care, education and protection.  I really love the part about 'underage marriage'.  After all, we have to preserve the pre-pubescent virgins for the master race.  No one else is allowed this privilege.  Barf!

As if the foregoing is not enough, we come to the next paragraph, where the fascist BS gets even deeper:
“Children are the future of our nation. How can they go to school if their legal origin is not clear? A birth certificate is also related to a child’s right to inheritance,” says Marni Emmy Mustafa, chief judge of the North Sumatra High Court.

So, let's see here...the future of the nation is dependent on having slaves.  OK, I can see that.  But the child can't go to school if they don't have a legal identity?  Wait a minute, didn't Mom just say she never needed slave papers to go to school?  Only now is it required?  Why can't the daughter get the same thing?  And suppose the child is homeschooled?  Suppose someone opens a school based only on payment of tuition and not on slave papers?

And here's the kicker...you can't get your inheritance without slave papers.  Ah, so the 'authorities' reserve the right to steal your entire life's work if you don't register your kids.  Now we see some real agenda going on here.  Health care?  So what...use the local witch doctor.  School?  Who cares?  Learn the alphabet and start reading books.  Best education there is.  The real stick is 'we will confiscate all you've worked for if you don't submit your children to the state'.

Next comes the inevitable laundry list of white people caring for the poor, downtrodden brown people.  That's right, AusAID (the queen of England) is fighting in the trenches with those poor, abused brown people to make sure they have the right to become slaves.  After all, how else can we get them in the system and brainwash then in school and pump them full of noxious vaccines and make sure we destroy the family cohesion by getting everyone hooked on government handouts?  It's the Western Way!  All brown people must submit to the way white folks do things or they can't get the prizes.
 “Through this program, AusAID is helping poor women register the birth of their children, which puts them on the path to a better life."

Only poor women?  What happened to the dads here?  Don't they get a say in all this?
 Changes in the regulations were brought to the forefront this week at a forum organized by Pekka, the woman-led households empowerment program, and AusAID in Jakarta. Officials from district and religious courts and civil registry offices from 18 different provinces discussed ways to work together to provide improved services and learn from the positive work being done.

More anti-male horse shit led by white people who are themselves slaves to the crown of England.  Slaves making more slaves.  And dads are completely out in the cold.  Gee, the government can offer so many things your useless, hard-working male head-of-household can't buy for you.  Leave him and follow us.

 The remainder of this happy load of hog wash just makes me angrier and angrier with every line.  It goes on the denigrate religious institutions that are the traditional backbone of families and social support.  It never once mentions fathers, except as ancillary characters whose sole job was to supply semen.  After that, they are nameless and useless and only get in the way of a good agenda of papering the planet with slave identities.

Not once in the whole article does the 'reporter' question the agenda or the reasoning behind all this.  The way this sort of propaganda works is that, in this case, AusAID offered a pre-written story with blanks to be filled in by the local 'reporter' with whatever sob story they can find.  If they can't find one, the article package is offered with some 'suggested' story lines that fit the overall agenda.  The laundry list of 'suggestions' in packages like these are so leading as to prevent any possibility of the local 'reporter' finding the 'wrong' story.  The local blank-filler is told what kind of story fits and how they can go about finding the 'right' story.

If we go back to the headline, it says "Parents", yet in the whole story we only talk to ONE parent, if she really exists.  The father is only mentioned because he is a good worker bee out there installing the equipment to allow even MORE fascist propaganda into people's homes.  We never even know his name or what his opinion is about all this happy horse shit.

This article, and all the crap like it, pisses me off for two specific reasons: 1) it is such blatant propaganda with such a thinly veiled agenda, and 2) the 'educational system' is so bad that the 'reporter' and the readers are unable to see what a load of swill is being shoved down their throats.

Frankly, folks are far better off NOT registering their children and NOT accessing the so-called 'education' offered by the state.  All the schools are these days are institutions operated by corporations and NGOs to turn out good little worker bees who install satellite dishes and fret about registering their children.  Obviously, they avoid at all costs teaching people to reason, at least far enough to recognize the fascist crap being placed before them as 'information' and 'issues'.

Future of Fatherhood
This article is the Hegelian Dialectic in action.  A series of false choices are presented as the only possible outcomes.  Then the audience is subtly (or in this case, clubbed) into picking one of the preselected answers, all of which serve the agenda of the state.

In the coming week, we will be posting interviews with Joseph P. Farrell, Scott D. deHart and Santos Bonacci.  Between them, the listeners will get a pretty good idea of how all this works and who, ultimately, is behind it.  We hope you'll tune in and have your eyes opened in a shocking and alarming way.  It's very important that we all start looking at this horse shit critically and start making informed choices.

This sort of one-size-fits-all mentality of state and corporate actors shows how little they care about human beings or our lives.  All they care about are cranking out automatons to run the tools of industry, and they are replacing us as fast as they can with robots and computers.  If they think so little of us now, imagine how we will be treated when they have successfully replaced us with machines?

Then we'll really be in the way.


7.1.13

Of FarceTwits And iBerries

I consider it a supreme irony that time-wasters like FarceBook, TWITer and others are called 'social media'.  If anything, they are the most anti-social inventions ever devised.  On top of that, they are destroying the language...any language...all languages.  Not to mention the fact that these distractions are killing the fine art of conversation.

Ive all but given up on the family dinner.  Used to be the family, ideally, would gather together each evening to break bread and share tales of the day's adventures.  Value was placed on those folks who could regale with the best-crafted stories and entertain with witty and mildly sarcastic observations of human nature.  Over the last few decades, though, this time-honored tradition has eroded until today, there is hardly a gathering around the table, much less stimulating conversation because of it.

It all started, of course, with the democratic distribution of TeeVee.  It wasn't long before some 'genius' gave the world the TeeVee dinner, a vaguely appetizing collection of yellows and browns that kind of tasted OK, but who'd notice since the family was entranced by the flickering lights in a box.

This form of anti-social socializing reached a crescendo when programming execs split the viewing schedule so that kid-attractors came early on in the evening, while adult-attractors were set for later.  Throw in a microwave oven and you had the recipe for quickie meals for the kids at 5 or 6 in the evening, while Mom and Pop would have slightly more elaborate gruel after bedtime...all ingested while spewing alpha brain waves in front of the Boob Toob.

Now-a-days, even if/when the family gathers to shove genetically-modified organisms down their gullets, the only thing social about the occasion is the relatively close proximity of their corporal beings.  Otherwise, all individuals are engrossed in their iBerries barely acknowledging either food or their dining partners.  Occasionally, someone will stir ever so slightly to take a picture of everyone else with their noses glued to their iBerries and the last bit of steam rising from the untouched dinner to take a photo to post on their FarceTwit.

There is one redeeming value in all of this.  I used to talk to myself a lot, but now I can at least look like I'm conversing with other people.

Call me a neo-Luddite.  I really despise all these gee-gaws.  I do manage to find some entertainment in it all, though.  I like to watch people when I receive a text or call and I don't leap over tall buildings to answer it.  At first, people stare at me waiting for me to grab the device and breathlessly absorb the mostly-meaningless gibberish.  After a short time, though, they being to hyperventilate and turn pale as they begin to worry that I'm missing the latest update on someone's bowel movement.  Before long, they're in an all-out panic, since I haven't skipped a dozen or so heartbeats to find out who just discovered toe jamb.

Maybe I'm now considered old-fashioned, or should I use 'old school'?  I still believe that having a conversation with a living, breathing human being takes precedence over electronic communications from non-present folks.  Furthermore, I find no artistry in FarceTwits.  A good conversationalist can enlighten and stimulate thought, while 99.999999% of FarceTwits are benign, at best, and banal in the norm.

Of course, I've never liked phones either.  I hate talking to someone when I can't see their face.

E-mail, too, has destroyed the letter.  No one uses salutations or honorifics anymore, and the notes usually start and end in mid-thought, as if the recipient were injected into a stream-of-consciousness ejaculation, but that assumes that most people are conscious these days.

All of which brings us to the destruction of language.  The effect is not limited to English, but to every language used on the 'net.  They have all begun to devolve into crass forms of short-hand with a near-total absence of adjectives, adverbs or metaphors.

No one struggles to turn a phrase or creatively string sounds together in a meaningful way.  Instead, most communications now are little more than prehistoric grunts and growls trying to cram some amount of meaning into 139 characters or less.  The written word has devolved into a string of consonants masquerading as profundities.  And since these media are so cheap and fast, people no longer take the time to distill their thoughts, leaving us with verbal grape juice rather than fine wine.

Not that it matters much, since the attention span of the average mediot is shorter than Planck's Constant.

Back in the day, when I used to read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four as prophesy rather than history, I used to wonder how the authoritarians would get folks to sit still while they snipped the language down to the bare bones to the point it was impossible to even have certain thoughts.  It never ceases to amaze me that it was achieved voluntarily, and people were even enticed to spend money on the devices to do it.  In fact, the younger generation is even beginning to talk in Newspeak.

Double-plus good wot?

Language and culture go hand in hand.  Culture influences language by adding new words, redefining old ones and adding subtext and context to the meaningful use of them.  Language, on the other hand, transfers culture from one generation to the next.  Without it, we cannot pass on the things we have learned, in the hopes of giving insight and instruction to future humans.  The destruction of one is the destruction of both.

There may come a time, sooner than later, when no one will be able to read Plato or Shakespeare, when humor and wit are limited to body noises and pratfalls, when subtle differences like 'hear' and 'listen' are lost.  We are already at the point where students know more about putting condoms on cucumbers than they do about W. B. Yeats or t. s. eliot.  Already, folks graduate from university without ever having read a single word of Aristotle, Kant or Lao Tzu.  They call themselves educated, yet they can't recite even a single stanza of Dante or Cicero.  At best, they've heard of Justin Bieber.

I have to wonder what great things would happen in our world if families returned to Sunday night dinners - check all electronics at the door.  Or how about turning off the TeeVee a couple of nights a week so that the kids could do poetry recitals.  How about banning the use of the word 'friend' for anyone other than close personal relationships?  Certainly, we know that the dissolution of public school systems would greatly improve general education, and along those lines, anyone with a degree containing the word 'education' in it should be banned from all contact with children.  We should call them 'cognitive predators' and register them like sexual offenders.

The path we are on has led to decaying social interaction, not enhanced.  It is destroying our languages and swallowing whole the time we used to give towards bonding with real friends and interacting with real human beings.  We waste so much time FarceTwitting that we have none left for meaningful, profound communication with people.  Rather than coherent thoughts, we assail each other with malformed mush and empty utterances.

Think how much time we throw away on gee-gaws and accessories, upgrades and replacements, apps and downloads.  Suppose we applied just a fraction of all that effort to simple human-to-human interaction and real-life adventures?  Suppose that instead of mindlessly inhaling TeeVee, we used that time to memorize the great soliliquies of Shakespeare or the poetry of e.e. cummings?  What profound and amazing changes would take place?

At a minimum, it would at least limit our exposure to the 24-hour propaganda cycle.  Who knows?  It could also repair the language.

The iBerries and FarceTwits are just an endless circle of tail-chasing, trying to keep up with the latest nonsense and fads.  Instead of becoming exciting communication tools, they have become annoyances, at best, and destructive weapons, at worst.  Even scarier are the generations coming whose only memories and relationships exist as bits and bytes in a global ether.  They will know strangers a thousand miles away better than the people living in the same house with them.  They may even evolve into a Tom Robbins nightmare of creatures with grotesquely large thumbs and no survival skills in the real world.

If the philosophers are right, and we do live in some kind of holographic matrix, then what an amazing strangeness that are creating a matrix withing a matrix.  Life is becoming a hall of mirrors punctuated by glowing rectangles of light, a Dali-esque stellar tapestry with little substance and invisible borders.

Our increasing reliance on electronics as a replacement for familiar and intimate human relationships can only end in disaster.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the apocalypse was a voluntary surrender of thousands of years of civilization for a few seconds of electronic gratification?

3.1.13

Caught In The 'Net

A few readers were struck by the idea of money/anti-money in yesterday's "But Seriously, Folks..." diatribe.  Enough so, that they were moved to write in.  Looks like we'll have to develop that concept in upcoming posts and show the link between physics and economics that a number of high-powered thinks have hit upon, including Joseph Farrell, whose book "Babylon's Banksters" is a damn fine read.

One of our long-time readers and correspondents in Thailand followed up his comments with this:
Hello again, Bernard --
Your thoughts on this topic would be most valuable:
What happens if no Internet?

Mike Adams, in Austin, Texas, publishes a high-falutin web site,
"Natural News".
In a post today he writes:
"You can expect websites like NaturalNews.com ... and many others to be
seized by the government following a declaration of Martial Law. The
purpose of this is to prevent people from asking questions or being
informed. ... Natural News is right now working on an "information
underground railroad" technology that can allow readers to stay in touch
with us without using websites, browsers or email."

URL: http://www.naturalnews.com/038512_2013_predictions_insanity.html

Have you given any thought to what life out here will be like with no
Internet?
We thought that was an excellent question and well worth a few column inches to explore.

One thing I have learned in my travels across six continents is that banning things only makes it a little harder to get, but never impossible.  Here in Indonesia, a gun ban has done little to keep guns out of the hands of private individuals.  Of course, the price goes up, but if you want one bad enough, it's there for the taking.  In the US, even the talk of banning guns has sparked a frenzy of buying all across the country as folks scoop up what may become a difficult item to buy.

The short answer to our reader's question is this: if they ban the internet, the internet will go underground.

Now the long answer.

The internet grew out of the simple concept that linking two computers together was more powerful than either alone.  Also, data could be distributed so that memory could be more efficiently utilized, while still making the sum total available by giving addresses to individual files.

Back in the Dark Ages of the early 70s, when I was learning about computers in high school, you had to dial up another main frame, place the phone in a cradle modem and then you could use the resources of the other machine.  Most terminals were dumb, meaning that the machine in front of you had little or no computing power until it was linked with the main frame.

By the 1980s, I had an enormous, ugly IBM 8086 with monochrome monitor and dual 5.25" floppy drives.  My first modem was a 300 baud stone axe, but it allowed me to link to other computers.  At that time, the rage was something called a BBS (bulletin board service).  Everyone was scrambling to get a copy of Dana Wood's list of phone numbers for various BBSs, each run by someone called a "sysop".

Each BBS had their specialty.  Some were matchmakers, others for games, still others were exchanges for various hobbies and interests.  Each registered user had an address that allowed them to exchange mail with other users on the system.  Later, many of the BBSs would link up in the middle of the night and exchange mail with other remote systems allowing users to expand their contacts to other cities, and in some cases other countries.  Later still, they added live chat functions.

All of this was really amazing at the time.

In the Middle Ages of the 90s, I was working at a major hospital in the Houston Medical Center, were online networking was in its infancy, linking the various institutions of the center with each other.  Initially, we had to use various programs like Archie, Veronica, Fetch, and others.  Each did a specialized function, like search, read, etc.  Later, a program called Mozilla showed up that allowed a user to arrange files graphically and provided search and read functions built-in.  This program later became Netscape and was the first official browser. Over time, the browser took on more and more functionality, while designers tried to develop more aesthetically pleasing layouts for what became known as web pages.

So what does all of this have to do with the possible shut-down of the net?  Simple.

We know that if governments ban the internet, folks will find some way to subvert the ban.  Witness China, Saudi Arabia and other countries where the internet is severely limited.  There are plenty of people using a variety of means to get the banned information.  There are dozens of ways to 'spoof' and 'route' and slide past firewalls.  If there wasn't, WikiLeaks wouldn't have much to do.

As fast as the net was banned, a black market would spring up selling hardware and software that allowed buyers to create the links that have been lost.  Think of all the people who have private servers, and the many more who have vast libraries of information.  I've got one and a half terabytes of data stored right here, and there must be millions more like me.  I've even got some old BBS software that would allow me to set up my own dial-up service.

So what would happen if 'they' shut down the internet tomorrow?  Let's say 'they' only allow access to corporate media (propaganda) and corporate marketing sites.  How would people exchange information?

As soon as something like that scenario happened, people like me would set up old-style BBSs using landlines and clandestinely distributed phone numbers.  Eventually, the various BBSs would link up at set times to exchange email and data, say in the middle of the night.  It would be a hell of a lot slower and folks would probably stop sending trivial things like jokes around, but it would allow contact again with distant folks.

It would put ice water on instant and wide-ranging searches making it very hard to get information, but not impossible.  People would have to carefully consider their search strings to maximize effectiveness and networks of peer-to-peer links would eventually solidify into reliable info-gathering chains.  The most reliable links would eventually shake out and firm up.

OK, you think, but they also cut the phone service or limit what numbers you can access.  In this case, folks with Wi-Fi transmitters can easily modify them to set up discrete networks.  The range wouldn't be very far, but overlap would allow for expansion until entire regions could be linked via small home-based transmitters.

The limit on this sort of thing would be roving police thugs tracking down transmitters and confiscating them while imprisoning the operators.  At this point, lessons from underground movements during wartime would be appropriate.  Rotating schedules, detection ability and other work-arounds would be needed to prevent detection.  Also, spoofing transmitters would keep such enforcement busy tracking down useless links and mask real broadcasters.

Another way things would work is to have central link points that would send and receive information via shortwave, copy it to portable media (disks, USB drives, etc.) and distribute them to the owners.  Very risky, I think, but feasible.  And the technology to send data and images via shortwave is established if somewhat limited.  In a pinch, though, creative minds would solve a lot of issues rather quickly.  Never underestimate the Mother of Invention.

The next step in control is simply cut power.  This would be a radical step as it would alienate both sympathizers and radicals, which would be a bad move on the part of 'them'.  It would also severely limit 'their' capability to propagandize, which is a central tenet of fascist states.  TeeVee is one of the most wide-spread and effective mind-control devices ever invented and 'they' aren't likely to cut off their own nose to spite their face.  Also, electricity is central to their ability to offer creature comforts as a prime tool in placating the masses.

But let's suppose 'they' cut off the power.  Now we are back to hand presses and paper distribution.  In other words, a return to pamphleteering, which even as recent as the 1980s was a staple of underground communications.  I can remember going into underground bookstores all the way up to the 90s to buy banned information.  It isn't difficult to restart that sort of thing, and in many parts of the world they still have brisk operations.

The thing is, people communicate.  Throughout history, we have invented faster and broader means of communication with out far-flung relations.  Books, pamphlets, telegraph, wireless radio, internet, even strings pulled taut with paper cups on the ends, humans will find ways to communicate.  On tops of that, the genie is out of the bottle and it would be virtually impossible to put it back in.  Granted, things would slow down tremendously, but we have to keep in mind that the internet is just an extension of ancient communication techniques.  The real revolution is the digital storage medium.

I have built a considerable physical library over the decades, but the digital library I have amassed puts it to shame.  I have hundreds, if not thousands of e-books from Aristotle to Zemekis, movies, TeeVee shows, essays, how-to instructions, recipes, and letters I've sent over the past 30 years (I don't trust remote storage, so I save everything locally).  The beauty of multi-tasking is that I can be downloading dozens of documents while I read others.  And I know I'm not alone.

One of the best parables for the fascist age is Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.  You need to read this book.  In a future where books are banned, people become living books by memorizing them and transmitting them to others who want them.  It is the model for a post-internet world.  In an hour, I can copy a fairly good sampling of world history and literature to other disks and distribute it making 24 in a day, one at a time.

I learned a long time ago that information is the life-blood of civilization, and because of that, my idea of 'prepping' was to collect as much information, both in my head and on my drives, as I could amass.  People who store up food, water and such are only fighting half the battle.  The other half is storing culture and art.  Take a lesson from the wars and revolts of the past two decades.  What's the first thing people do?  The run to the museums and loot the art and culture: Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Greece, Spain, Syria, and on and on...they all have this one thing in common.  It's the reason that the Sphinx' nose sits in the Edward and Victoria museum in London, and not on the Sphinx.

From pony express to Gutenberg's press to runners, humans have always sought mass communications at the fastest possible speeds.  The internet is a major advance in the ability to transfer information, but it is the information itself which is the key.  Transmission has never been much of a problem, only content.  That we can store all of civilization on a couple of hard drives is the real wonder, and that is what everyone who worries about this problem should be focusing on.

My hard drive and CD collection may not rival the Library of Alexandria, but it would fill a wing quite nicely.  We should be putting our efforts into saving all the information we can.  Memory is cheap and readily available.  The means to transmit it is inconsequential by comparison.  If you want to get serious, print out your e-books on acid-free paper and store them in air-tight, fireproof safes.  Short of that, there's power in numbers.  If everyone takes the time to download a couple of great books or how-to manuals every day (no sweat to do right now), and stores them on good quality CDs or solid-state memory sticks, then the ability to distribute that information will take care of itself.

I see all the hand-wringing over the internet as a red herring.  The real battle is for the information it contains.  Never in history have so many had access to so much literature and culture so cheaply.  It is a great thing, but it is not the main focus.  We should be making personal efforts to save and pass on the information this tool allows us.  That is the real value.

By analogy, look at Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Until the 1800s, we were up to our eyeballs in pretty pictures and interesting scribblings.  In other words, we had plenty of transmission, but no content.  Then we found the Rosetta Stone.  Suddenly, those pretty pictures (transmission) started delivering mass amounts of content (information).  How we received the information was useless until we had the key to unlock the information stored inside.

We will always find ways to transmit information.  It is in our nature.  And one thing I've learned from living on a farm, and now in Indonesia, is that tools can be cobbled up out of chewing gum and bailing wire.  Creating something with the tool is the trick.  A hammer without a nail is pretty useless, in other words.

If you find content that you think is important enough, save it.  Save websites and books and articles and pictures.  Build yourself a library.  Take the time to collect the information that is important enough to pass on.  How you get it out to the world in a post-internet world is not important.  Once we invent a technology, it can not be uninvented.  All we can do is lose the reason to use it, and the reason is information.  The means will always be there.

It's like banning guns.  So what?  There's still a hundred different ways to kill at a distance.  Maybe not as efficient or far as a gun, but still bows and arrows, catapults, blow darts, and crossbows are pretty effective, if not a lot quieter.  Banning a tool does nothing to prevent the task at hand.

It's the task at hand that matters, and the internet is a tool for information.  Don't focus on the tool, focus on the reason for the tool.  You can ban speach, but you can't ban thought.  You can ban cars, but you can't ban movement.  You can ban houses, but you can't ban shelter.

Lately, I've been watching the old TeeVee series Hogan's Heroes on YouTube, not for the comedy, but for the creativity with which the characters approach problems.  Very good writing, by the way.  What it has reaffirmed for me is that the defining aspect of intelligence is creativity, and humans are nothing if not creative when they want to be.  We are tool-makers and will always make the tools we need to do the job.  The trick is having a job to do. 

2.1.13

But Seriously, Folks...

One of the rituals of new year celebrations is nursing the hang-over of over-indulgence, not necessarily from copious libations, but from the realization that all the old problems haven't gone away.

This year marks the third in which the BP Gulf oil spill continues, if marginally abated.  It's easy to hide mistakes that are 10,000 feet underwater.  Most folks have forgotten this little problem and moved on to various other topics du jour, but the problem remains.

What a lot of people don't realize, thanks in large part to a massive media blackout of real information, is that the south central US sits on a massive lake of oil that rides under Texas, Oklahoma, Louisana, and parts of other southern states.  It extends out beyond the continental shelf and has been a major driving force in the development of deepwater oil exploration.

The Mississippi Canyon 252 block, where the blowout took place, is in 5,000 feet of water, where the pressure is roughly 3,000 psi and the temperature is at or below freezing.  These factors require the use of remotely operated vehicles at the wellhead, since the danger and expense of sending people that deep is formidable.

The sheer weight of the water and land mass sitting on top of the oil lake is mind-boggling, which is why, when BP punctured the oil-bearing layer, the resulting spew had massive pressure behind it.  The gushing oil and gas also eroded the rock and sand around the bore hole, causing fractures and fissures that spread out and away from the actual well.  To say the problem is fixed is laughable, at best.

Furthermore, the resulting loss of oil and gas pressure from the oil lake causes a number of cascading effects far from the actual well.  In parts of the lake closer to the surface, the land mass on top would slump and push the oil and gas into deeper crevasses.  This would result in sinkholes as pressure was released from under the overburden.  And that is exactly what has happened.

Another problem that is likely to result is an increase in earthquakes along the New Madrid fault.  This would be caused by the release of subsurface pressure, causing the various faults and rifts in the central US to slip and slide around.  According to various sources, there seems to be an increase in activity along the New Madrid zone.  This is not conclusive evidence that the BP spill is to blame, since EQ activity worldwide is ranging upward, but the coincidence in timing certainly gives pause for thought.

And all of this is overlaid with the inestimable damage to the Gulf coast region.  Beaches, marshes, estuaries, animal breeding grounds, and more have been badly damaged by oil and tar.  There is a thin layer of oil riding just under the surface across the whole Gulf, not to mention a vast pool of oil and liquified methane resting on the bottom of the Gulf, held down by the pressure and temperature of the water, but needing only a slight disruption, like a major hurricane, to bring that little surprise to the surface.

They're still recovering from the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, and that was ship-based.  The BP spill released more oil into the environment than any other spill in history, and the resulting release of pressure from the subsurface geology will have long-ranging effects for years to come.  The problem is that those responsible will skate because few folks will connect events 10 years from now with this one event.

In 1986, a single reactor at the Chernobyl plant in Russia ran wild and melted down.  Twenty-six years later, the effects of that disaster are still being felt.  In 2011, four reactors ran wild at Fukushima, Japan, and depending on who you listen to, somewhere between one and four of the cores have melted down releasing massive amounts of highly toxic radioactive materials into the local environment, the northern Pacific Ocean and all across the northern hemisphere of Earth.

No one can say with certainty what effects will stem from that event.  The only things we have to measure by are the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bomb attacks, and the Chernobyl disaster.  In all these cases, the outcomes were...well, disastrous.

Almost 70 years later, people are still suffering the effects of radiation in the atom bomb attacks.  Physical and mental scars, birth defects and other serious medical problems persist, though rarely discussed anymore.

As for Chernobyl, the town of Pripyat, Ukraine is a ghost town.  Piles of documentation show massive mutations in local wildlife and plants.  Radioactive fallout was measured all across northern Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and Canada.  Who knows how many folks have suffered numerous medical problems that have not and never will be tied to Chernobyl...at least in the public sphere.

Now we have Fukushima.  The sheer scale of this ongoing disaster is mind-boggling.  The core or cores are still spewing radiation, millions of gallons of waste water are still being dumped into the ocean, plants and animals are showing mutations far from Fukushima, and radioactive fallout directly tied to the plant has been detected nearly everywhere in the northern hemisphere.

It will be generations before a full assessment of this disaster can even begin to be assembled, assuming there are generations to come that can make the measurements, and the public has the necessary facts to track.  That such a massive and ongoing problem has slipped blithely from the headlines is telling, though.

Finally, there is a disadter happening in slow motion that is affecting every human soul on the planet.  We have planted a time bomb at the very core of our civilization.  We all know it's there, yet we refuse to do anything about it, whether at the 'leadership' level, or at the collective level.  That problem is debt.

Few people stop to realize that economics are little more than a branch of physics.  Money is momentum, and momentum is energy.  Where money accumulates, it sparks creative force and spurs growth.  It fuels ingenuity and productivity.  There is as much a metaphysical element to money, as physical.  This aspect of money is what drives greed and gives it the power that it has.

In the physical universe, all things have an equal and opposite counterpart.  Bringing the two together usually results in a massive and destructive release of energy and the annihilation of the two objects: electrons and positrons, matter and antimatter, quarks and antiquarks.  Money is no different.

In the realm of money, there is currency and debt.  Think of it as money and anti-money.  Just like our universe, where matter rules supreme, if anti-matter built up to a sufficient mass, it would ignite and destroy Life, the Universe and Everything.  In the same way, if debt builds to a sufficient level, it will destroy an economy and wipe out pretty much everything worth talking about.

It's happened repeatedly throughout history.  Most civilizations that have collapsed and disappeared were victims in one way or another of economic collapse, whether from outside or within.  In those collapses, the destruction was limited to secluded regions because global economies had not been integrated until the last 100 years or so.

Now we face a rapidly growing amount of anti-money within the universe of our global economy.  Any efforts to stem the tide have either failed or were non-starters due to lack of political will and ignorance of the general public.  Consequently, we are facing a cataclysmic collapse when the money-anti-money ratio reaches critical mass.  At some point, if not already, the reaction will become self-sustaining and nothing will stop it.  Many argue that point has come and gone.

In any event, we are careening headlong into a global economic melt-down as the debt ratio continues to climb, and it will annihilate our civilization.  Is it the end of the world?  No...but it will sure set us back a century or two while we sort out the pieces.

Meanwhile, our media feeds us sports 'news' and celebrity faux pas as real issues and information.  Folks blissfully go about their business thinking someone somewhere will solve all these problems for them so that they don't have to drop the TeeVee remote.

As a civilization, most of us are completely ignorant - willfully or not - of the major problems at the foundation of our modern civilization.  Thousands of years ago, Hammurabi was able to fix Babylon's debt problems by declaring jubilee yeats every so often and cancelling all debts.  That's hardly feasible these days.  The nuclear and petroleum disasters are frankly beyond our capability to fix...at least for now.  We have so fouled our nest that we are no longer in control of our destiny.

Perhaps that is the source of our collective desire for a savior.  Perhaps at some level we realize that we are incompetent to remediate our mistakes.  Therefore, we have replaced hope with a burning desire to see the whole thing come crashing down so we can get about the business of rebuilding.  However, rebuilding without having learned the lessons of our mistakes will only lead to more of the same.

The time is long past to begin a global, public debate on where we are and where we want to go as a civilization.  Perhaps collapse is the best answer, but what then, and can we do anything to lessen the blow.  These issues need to be addressed in frank dialogue on a scale never-before attempted by our species.

The problems we face are global and affect every soul on the planet.  The dialogue must therefore involve every soul on the planet.  We have the technology to do it, but not the will.  Nor do we have sufficient information because a variety of interests want to limit liability, control images and wield power.  We can not allow it to continue without severe risk to ourselves and our species.

We only have two choices: demand open and universal dialogue and put all the chips on the table, or die.  There is no weasel room.  The die is cast.  The disasters are piling up and they will run their course regardless of whether we acknowledge them or not.  And we ignore them at a tremendous cost to our civilization.

We must place our 'leaders' in boxes and not allow them to wriggle out.  We must hold our organizations and institutions accountable and demand that they 'fess up so that we can figure out where we stand.  All the dodging and lawyering is destroying us, and secrecy only buries the infection, not cures it.

We have the means, but not the will.  On our current course, we will be like deer in the headlights when the truck of history runs over us.  Only we, mass humanity, have the power to hold our leaders' feet to the fire.

Or we can just watch the tidal wave coming and hope we become fantastic surfers before it gets here.