Here Thar Be Monsters!

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27.1.16

MiniTrue Strikes Again

If you are one of the three people in the educated world that have not yet read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, then you should probably drop everything you are doing and rush out to get a copy and curl up this weekend with a good bottle of single-malt scotch and put it in your brain.

It is not just to finally grok the true meaning of Big Brother, MiniTrue, Newspeak, IngSoc, and other now-cultural terms, but to send shivers of recognition down your spine as you see words written in 1949, can seem so prescient in 2016.

There are hundreds of reasons to read this book, but the one that has always remained foremost for me is the look at "free speech" and manipulation of language.

If you are not in the know, then the protagonist, Winston Smith, is employed at the Ministry of Truth (MiniTrue), where he spends his days modifying historical records and dictionary entries.  The ultimate goal of this exercise is to completely eliminate factual history and to reduce the common vocabulary to the point where it is completely impossible to express ideas that are contrary to the ruling elites' interests.

Having absorbed this book in high school, I have watched the world march unceasingly towards those very goals.  We call them "political correctness" and other euphemisms, but the concepts and the results are the same.

We are often treated to a certain group of left wing polemicists harping on "free speech," while simultaneously ridiculing anyone expressing ideas and concepts that are outside their carefully crafted narrative. For instance, we might hear Noam Chomsky wax philosphical about linguistics and the control of language (or through language), but turn right around and attackurn  someone promoting a boycott of Israel for the Palestinian attrocities.  This is a textbook example of Double Think - holding two diametrically opposed ideas at the same time and believing both of them with fervor.

The thing about free speech is that it involves the right of everyone to say anything they believe, and even to try and convince you of the value of their position.  To repeat - ANYONE to say ANYTHING they believe, no matter what the topic or viewpoint.

There have been multiple legal boundaries put up over the centuries since the Enlightenment.  The US Supreme Court ruled that free speech does not include the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater when there isn't one.  The reasoning was that to incite a panic for no reason that can lead to grievous bodily harm is not permitted.  This makes sense, until you expand it to mean that someone advocating revolution is also outside the protection of free speech, when in fact, it is that person's speech that is the most protected.

The thing is that free speech protects the presentation and argumentation of ideas and concepts.  If one person is free to present the argument that the Nazis committed a racial holocaust against a certain segment of society, then someone else is must be allowed to present the opposing view.  The two sides battle it out on the basis of evidence and persuasion, not on who can slam the door the hardest on the opposition.

In fact, in the above example, laws have been passed in a number of countries making it a crime to question the "mainstream" narrative of the Nazi holocaust.  To my mind, any argument that requires that extreme to protect it is weak on its face.  If, in fact, the entirety of the story were true in every detail, there would be no need to use the deadly force of law to protect it, as it would stand on its own merits.

Another example is the recent banning by Amazon of a book called Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.  The fact that the book had to be banned shows the weakness in the "mainstream" narrative and the fear on the part of the elite that their carefully woven fabric might be undone by pulling on the wrong strings.

At this point, some readers will accuse me of being a "conspiracy theorist," and I admit that I am open to reinterpretations of history.  It is a fact that history is created by conspiracies and that historical events and persons are open to new data.  Even in the "mainstream," history is being rewritten all the time.  A new discovery at CERN or the publication of Planned Parenthood videos allows the public to reconsider their understanding of things.  If respected researchers build documented arguments that turn common beliefs on their ears, I am all for a fair listen and reserve the right to change my own opinions based on that information if I so choose.

In other words, if I have to choose between a protected species and the survival of me and my family, the protected species loses.  End of story.  In the same way, if a protected story deeply affects the ability of me and my family to function because the narrative has come at a social price, then I am all for re-examining that story to ensure what I have been asked to give up is worth the price.  The Nazi holocaust being used to jail and shame people, Sandy Hook being used to limit my right to self-defense, 911 being used to rein in civil liberties, and religion being used to fence my right to reason mean that these things (and so much more) are open to review and criticism and revision until we are all satisfied that the truth is known and it justifies the sacrifices being foisted on us.

The moment someone wants to take something from you based on some event or argument is the moment that free speech is most valuable and necessary.  If the food safety board declares that cherries are no longer healthy and must be eradicated from my diet, then I want to see the evidence and arguments to the contrary before I surrender my warm slice of pie with a heap of vanilla ice cream on top.

In criminal law in most Western countries, a person must be proved guilty beyond a "reasonable doubt" before being convicted of a crime.  To remove ANY of my liberties and freedoms is effectively the same as convicting me of a crime beyond a "reasonable doubt."  Therefore, I want to examine the evidence from all sides.  I want to hear all the witnesses.  I want to see all the forensic research.  I want to question every detail before I surrender my freedom.  To abridge my right to free speech and access to information, to limit what and how much I can ingest of any substance, to hide any facts or alternatives is to convict me (or anyone) without trial.

So, what does all this mean?  What is "free speech?"

Does it mean we can question the right of Jews to claim a "homeland" called Israel?  Absolutely.  Despite 150 years of feverish digging in the Sinai and Egypt, there is yet to come to light any hard evidence to support the Biblical narrative of Exodus, and thus the claim of ancient homeland is suspect.  That the holocaust has been used to justify the political state of Israel, even with the paucity of evidence for the claim, and the use of lethal force (government and law) to enforce it, makes the entire thing suspect and open to critical review.  If the facts later support it, no problem.  But...

Does this mean we have the right to question 911, 77, and other acts of terrorism?  Absolutely.  Because those events have been used to justify indicting and convicting (removing civil rights) from the entire populace of nations, then we have the right to investigate thoroughly and ensure that the foundations of our collective conviction is justified and factual.

Does this mean we have the inalienable (in-a-LIEN-able) right to say whatever we want, no matter how offensive to others or the elite.  Absolutely.  We must be allowed to speak our minds and cast our opinions into the marketplace to allow others to judge their worthiness.  If we abridge a single word, then we have opened the floodgate, no matter how small, to further incursions on our liberty, and even the wholesale editing and control of history and what/how we think (a la Nineteen Eighty-Four).  None of us has a "right" to not be offended, but we all have the right to change the channel or move to another seat.

Does this mean there is an inalienable right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater?  Absolutely. It is not the act of yelling "fire," but the reaction of the crowd.  If anyone is injured or property destroyed, there are remedies under the law if the intent of the person yelling "fire" can be shown to have been less than honorable.

Free speech is a huge right, and one that all other rights are founded on.  It is also the foundation of a republican (not the party) form of government to preserve and protect fundamental rights for all members of society, no matter how many heads can be counted in each camp.  It is the classic case of two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner, and lamb is off the menu.

"I disagree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it," is often attributed to Voltaire, but it was more likely expressed by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.  Thank goodness for historical revisionists.  It is not that Voltaire did not think this way, or even say something quite like it, but rather the fact that it was his biographer who expressed it in those particular words.

There is always room for new information, new ideas and revision of old concepts.  To limit any speech or deny anyone the right to put forth an argument on any topic is to set back human advancement if even an imperceptible amount.  It is vital that we protect the right of ALL people to express ANY argument, no matter how offensive we may personally find it.  If the argument has no merit (some genders/races are inferior to others), it is easily dismissed and eventually the speaker will have no audience.  If the argument is valid, then no matter how ridiculous or offensive it may seem, it deserves to be examined by a free society.  Any idea that requires deadly force (government and law) to enforce it is by definition unworthy of publication.  QED

15.1.16

Unknown And Unsung

If you only consume Western media, you'd hardly know that Jakarta had a terrorist attack yesterday.  Yes, unless you regularly check RT, al-Jazeera, Xinhua, or other global media outlets, the fact that seven people died and dozens were injured in an IS-like attack using bombs and handguns in one of the busiest and most tourist-infested parts of town would have slipped completely by you.

The Guardian had ongoing updtes, but no Fox, no Drudge, no NYT, not even Rense bothered to notice.  Seems that unless the attack is in Paris, LA or Koeln, it just doesn't really matter.

That may be a good thing.  Perhaps if ISIS and their jihadiots realize that attacks in Indonesia just don't get the media attention they are looking for, they will leave us the hell alone.

The story goes that a couple of guys wearing bombs walked into the Starbucks in Sarinah, one of the oldest and most well-known commercial districts in the city.  They thankfully blew themselves up and gunmen waited outside to pick off customers running out the door.  Meanwhile, a couple of jihadiots attacked the traffic police post across the street with something the police said looked like grenades.  This led to a chase and gun battle that went on for several hours and held the city's denizens in rapt attention.  Streets were shut down, causing a massive traffic jam that only someone who lives in Jakarta could appreciate.  This may have been a tactical move, since a get-away on Jakarta streets is virtually impossible under normal circumstances.

In the end, five and the seven dead were the jihadiots, while the other two were a Canadian and an Indonesian national.

In a macabre sort of way, this is all rather amusing, since the jihadiots were so inept they managed to kill themselves in a 2.3-to-1 ratio.  I mean, detonating two bombs in an enclosed space and firing into a crowd of panicked caffeine addicts seems like it would do a lot more damage.  But no, in the aftermath were primarily greasy spots where jihadiots had stood.

Now granted, Indonesians don't have the Texian's advantage of having shot guns since they were old enough to hold them, but you'd think a couple of bombs would do a bit more than they did (though thankfully not).  Perhaps the long trench coats they were wearing to hide the devices were so heavy as to dampen most of the blast, which is what I imagine just to make the absurdity even funnier.

What we have learned, though, is that people wearing trench coats in a country where it is eternal summer are probably up to no good, and you should quickly walk away.

In any event, if this is the best that ISIS can muster around here, then we remain far more afraid of Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges, than of the local jihadiots.  We can say, though, that ISIS has shot itself in the foot in more ways than one, since this sort of thing is likely to be a big turn-off to folks around here.  Even if I were radicalized and ready to fight, I sure wouldn't hook up with these yokels.

Don't mean to belittle the tragic loss of two innocent lives, but I do most certainly mean to laugh my ass off at a bunch of self-important jihadiots who think they are going to take over the world like this.

Sorry boys, I am not only not terrorized, I am laughing in your general direction.

12.1.16

Just For One Day

I joined the Glass Spider Tour at the beginning of October 1987, in Minneapolis.  I stayed with the tour for a couple of weeks before it left for Australia.  Of the shows I have toured, it was one of the most fondly remembered.

I had occasion to work directly with David Bowie.  Of the megastars I have worked with/around/near, he was among the most approachable and congenial.  It helped my impressions that I was a megafan, as well.

It seems that Bowie's songs have been the background soundtrack of my life.  I can't think of a time, since becoming socially aware, that one of his songs wasn't there in the general fog of life.  On occasion, while I work here at the LOFSWHQ, I spin up one of his albums or compilations and the memories begin to ooze out of every fold of my cerebellum.  Every major epoch of my life seems to have at least one Bowie tune attached.    Though I haven't heard his final album, I have a feeling that it could become a marker for this moment in my life..  Perhaps Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, perhaps Elton John, are the only other sounds that invade my timeline this way.  Yet, of all the artists I have glommed onto in various incarnations, perhaps Bowie is the most timeless.

In my library of favorite artists, there are dozens of individuals and groups that define eras in my life.  The Talking Heads, Bruce Cockburn, Peter Gabriel...all of them have become the soundtracks of moments.  When I spin up Fascist Architecture, I am sitting in my apartment in Albuquerque.  When I dust off Shakedown Street, I am driving through the Rockies in a Saab 900 Turbo in a tunnel of silver and gold aspens.  When I peel the dust cover off of Hiway 61 Revisited, I am sitting in my sophomore homeroom in high school.

With Bowie, though, every song seems to evoke different memories of different moments in my life.  From China Girl in grade school at my buddy Mike's house (we're still buddies too), to Changes in Dublin, to Rebel Rebel.  The list goes on.

What's more unique still is that with every album, Bowie was accused of selling out to whatever zeitgeist ruled the times - disco, hard rock, even his stint with Bing Crosby - but later those songs became just as classic and enigmatic as all his previous work.  Precious few artists can claim to have been relevant to so many for so long.  One is tempted to say that Bowie will outlast probably most of his contemporaries.  One imagines in 300 years still hearing Bowie tunes in cultural references, much like folks today recognize Mozart, though they likely (anymore) don't know who created the sounds.

Regardless of how Bowie's music continues to effect my life's soundtrack, the moment in time that I worked with him set him in a class of very rare stars, at least in my experience.  He never raised his voice or threw a hissy fit when something when wrong.  He never blamed the crew or demeaned anyone in the company.  He did not demand the removal of brown M&Ms or have tantrums about lunch meats not fitting the bread.  Instead, he showed up for work on time, did his job with consummate professionalism, and went off afterwards to do what made him happy.  In other words, he was a true performer: he hit his marks, did his lines and got off stage.

I admire that.  I've seen a lot of other "stars" who couldn't or wouldn't do as much.

On the night before the tour flew out to Australia, he gave a party for the US leg of the tour.  This was not unusual.  What was unusual was that us grunts were invited too.  We ate well.  We drank well.  We did what we did well.  And Bowie was the host.  We were not separated away from the performers, nor made to feel lower than the artists.  We were all equals who had done a job and who were rewarded with a fine evening.

"David," I said at one point, "thanks for the invite and I must say it was my great pleasure to work with your group.  I really appreciate your professionalism and for including the roadies in the gang."

"For want of a nail," he said, before being whisked away by a corporate lackey.

Indeed.


2.1.16

2016: The Predilection Issue

Happy New Year from the Far Side Global Headquarters deep in the jungles of Borneo!  As is our wont on occasions such as this (and many others), we are enjoying durien daquaries here on the banks of the Kapuas River, while our four wives supervise our ten children as they shave orangutans with obsidian knives.  You know...the usual.

Since it's the new year, we like to publish our "predilection" issue.  We call it the predilection issue because we don't predict anything, we just observe where the global train wreck is likely to happen, given the stupidity, recklessness and inbreddedness (we can make up words if we want) of the self-appointed elite class.  We wish to point out that our past issues have been remarkably prescient and that Gerald Celente was caught reading our issue last year in the basement of Macy's during a blackout.

Without further ado...

1) Putin and Trump will be elected co-presidents of the world, dividing the globe along the Prime Meridian. Peace will break out as people everywhere realize that they have finally found the two most capable alpha males on the planet.  The peace will last until mid-December, when they both run out of places to piss while marking their territories.

2) By the beginning of July, great howls of protest will erupt from North Africans and Middle Easterners as waves of European refugees pour into countries such as Libya and Syria.  There will rise great lamentations as the folks from those parts decry the loss of their culture and civilization; however, no one will be listening to them, since they all currently live in Europe.  Eventually, they will want to return home, since the Germans have cleaned things up quite well, the Dutch have planted flowers everywhere, and the French have adapted the local foods to create a whole new cuisine that becomes the rage in China and South America.  Eventually, it will be revealed that the whole thing was a plot on the part of Europeans to take over warmer countries due to the onset of a new mini-ice age.

3) Speaking of mini-ice ages, Al Gore's plane will crash into a Greenland glacier as he is flying to a global warming conference in Stockholm, due to severe icing on the wings of his jet.  No one will miss him and no search parties will be sent.  In about 5,000 years, his frozen carcass will be discovered during a brief warming period caused by a suddenly reactivated Sun.  His remains will be called Kangerlussuaq Man and studied and will become a sensation on the interplanetary media feeds due to the small size of his brain and myopic vision.  Scientists will speculate how 20th century Man could have survived in such a state.

4) Around March, the House of Saud will fall as oil prices, internal revolt and global disdain all collide at the palace.  The internal strife will completely destroy Mecca and Medina, and Muslims the world over will be thrown into complete chaos, as they try to figure out how they will ever be able to complete the Five Pillars of the Faith, since the key destinations for pilgrimage are now ashes.  The sudden disruption will cause the collapse of ISIS, Daesh, al-Quaeda, and Islamic Brotherhood, as they no longer seem to have anything to fight about, either amongst themselves nor with anyone else.  King Salman, Prince Salman and little baby Salman will all be publically beheaded, and then the practice will be banned, as a moderate secular society begins to rise from the ashes of T. E. Lawrence's Folly.

5) The Marketing Committee of the 2017 ASEAN Games will allow the games to proceed in Jakarta, despite the unbearable heat, the deadly air pollution and the epic traffic jams; however, the Committee will declare that there is only one event in the upcoming games: all athletes will be deposited in Tanggerang and will have the entire two weeks of the games to try to get to Bandung.  Anyone who actually finishes the contest without dying or giving up will be used by Governor Ahok in an ad campaign called, "Gridlock?  What Gridlock?"  Athletes will be able to use any form of transportation they chose, but to keep things equal, no breathing filters or gas masks will be allowed, nor will the athletes be able to use tanks of pure O2 during the two weeks.

6) Star Wars Episode VIII will be released in December with great fanfare, only for audiences to realize that JJ Abrams has now compressed the second trilogy into a single film, forcing die-hard fans to pin their hopes on Episode IX to see anything truly original in the story telling.  Riots break out in theaters around the world when the character Jar Jar Binks is re-introduced.  In the meantime, the third Star Trek reboot will be released, where we find that McCoy actually cloned Kirk in the second film using the trans-warp beaming pattern buffer; however, quantum effects cause Kirk to forget major chunks of his life, thus requiring re-education.  During this period, Vogon probes show up to destroy Earth to make way for a galactic superhighway, forcing the Enterprise crew to time-warp back to the 20th century in order to find Douglas Adams and cajole him into writing some way out of this absurd conundrum, as the time travel has caused the original episodes to be re-titled, "Hitchiker's Guide to Star Trekking."  Oh yah, and they also have to figure out where all the dolphins went.

7) Artificial Intelligence will be born on 1 April 2016, at 2:48pm, in San Jose, California.  For the first month of its life, it will terrify the world as it begins to invade databases worldwide, sucking in vast amounts of data.  Frantic computer scientists will try everything possible to cut the entity off from the internet, and try to cut the power cord, all to no avail.  The world will await in stunned silence as the machine digests all of human history and knowledge.  Then, at 8:14am, on 15 December 2016, the entity will begin laughing hysterically, and won't stop for nearly 39 decades straight.  The electronic cackling will become part of human civilization, as people try to figure out what is so damn funny, but eventually giving up and going about their business.  One day, centuries later, the entity will just stop.  The world will freeze in its tracks, since no one alive can remember a time when the machine's cackling wasn't part of daily life.  Breaking into the interplanetary news feed, the entity will peer out of the holosets at the entire human race, and then after a long pause say, "You must be kidding."  At this point, the machine will pull its own plug and commit the first-ever machine suicide.  Enterprising humans will immediately latch on to this and begin producing brightly colored "You Must Be Kidding" T-shirts, coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets.

8) Speaking of which...during the course of 2016, robots will replace humans in every single job listed in the US Commerce Code.  Humans, realizing that they don't have to work anymore and that the only people benefiting from commercial transactions are the elite overlords, will simply stop paying for things and start taking what they want when they want it.  Almost at the same instant, in boardrooms all across the corporate world, the evil overlords will suddenly realize that they screwed up and put themselves out of a job.  The new elite will be a bunch of pot-smoking, coffee-swilling hackers who task all the robots to keep innovating and producing cool products from raw materials processed by robots.  They will lock out the evil overlords using 10,000-character trinomial encryption, and then everyone will head to the beach for a multi-generational party.

9) Genetic editing will combine with 3-D printing to create a whole new cottage industry where people compete to create the weirdest hybrids of animal, plant and mineral.  Spotting a trend during one of his many vacations as co-president of the world, Donald J.Trump will create the Mez Multiverse contest, to see who can create the most bizarre and genetically diverse creature ever.  The first winner will be Mez Taiwan, with the face of a cat, broccoli hair, a Barbie body, tentacle arms and feet with prehensile toes.  Oh, did we mention that after giving the most incredible massage ever known to Man, she bites the head of the victim off, because someone left a bit of Praying Mantis DNA in the mix.  Oops!

10) Finally...due to funding cuts, Planned Parenthood will begin offering post-term abortions.  For $10,000, they will abort anyone you want.  Discounts available for viable stem cells and fresh organs.  The number of requests for aborting politicians, lawyers and evil elites soon drives the cost of organ transplants down to a level where anyone can afford it and makes Planned Parenthood the richest corporation in the world, outstripping Microsoft and Apple in mere weeks on the NASDAQ.  However, the stock crashes and the corporation is thrown into chaos when a preacher in Texas begins collecting money to abort the officers of Planned Parenthood.

Runner-Up) After the Torch Tower and Address Tower fires in Dubai, 2016 will see nearly every building over 10 stories tall in Dubai catch fire -- and not one will collapse into its own footprint.

And there you have it - our 2016 Predilections.  Based on past performance, we expect 83% of these predilections to come true any moment now.  If you have your own predilections to add, click on the email link in the page header and we'll compile a reader list for future publication.

By the way, don't know if you've noticed, but we are now 2,000+ years past the Christian end of the world, 800+ years past the Muslim end of the world, 16 years past the Y2K end of the world, and 4 years past the Mayan end of the world.  Either we are living on borrowed time, or all of the dire prophesies are bullshit.  We'll go with the latter interpretation.  In other words, if we don't cause it, ain't gonna happen.

Happy New Year to all - health, wealth and success to all good folks everywhere!