Here Thar Be Monsters!

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Holy Ghosts, Dog Stars And Oil

I am an avowed contrarian.  Now, a contrarian is different from just plain ornery.  Ornery is good old fashioned hardheadedness.  A contrarian, on the other hand, takes an opposing side based on well-considered principles.  I believe in cultivating vices because, frankly, the people I know without them are boring and lead pointless lives.

I'm not sure what any of that has to do with anything, but I do like the word ornery.  Oh, and among my favorite vices is gambling, which leads me to a little story:

Years ago, I was at a horse track in Arkansas (Ar-kun-saw) not having much luck.  I ran into one inveterate hide-smacker who taught me a little trick called "Holy Ghosting".  I wouldn't mention this, except it works.  Basically, if you see the same number come up in close proximity to each other, bet on it to win a third time.  I taught the trick to a buddy of mine who then went to Maccau to, among other vices, gamble.  He was playing roulette and sent me a photo of the tote board showing the number 9 having come up twice in a row.  I urged him to bet heavily on 9 again, much to the shock and incredulity of the crowd at the table.  He won $1,000.

Now, as any gambler knows, when that happens, you walk away.  Quickly.  He didn't.  He lost it all in subsequent play.  Such is the nature of gambling.  That's why I only play Blackjack.

I hear you sitting there: So, B, what has any of this got to do with the price of tea in China.  Honestly?  I haven't a clue.  It's just the end of July, we've survived two apocalypses (apocalyptae?) in the past seven months, and I'm betting heavily to survive the next one, based on the Holy Ghosting theory.

I was pondering Giordano Bruno, who was bar-b-qued by the Inquisition for daring to state that there were many worlds in the Universe with many civilizations.   It took 400 years, but he's been partially vindicated.  Just goes to show you, never trust government.

In fact, that brings me back to the contrarian thing.  I have this view of things that says that if a government agency promotes, or causes to be promoted, a certain belief or point of view, it should be rejected out of hand, or at the very least confirmed by competent authorities, such as gutter alcoholics and strangers at horse tracks.  If they are in short supply, then turn to your local curmudgeon.

My father was vehemently opposed to my desire to work in the legitimate theater and performing arts.  Naturally, I went whole hog into it and managed to have a reasonably successful career and do many really interesting things while getting paid for it.  He also told me I was crazy for marrying my third wife, so naturally I did it.  One of the few times he was right and being a contrarian didn't work.  However, he also horse-whipped me into marrying my first wife, and that didn't work either, so it all balanced out, I suppose.  At least it proved I should have followed my contrarian instincts.

Call it midsummer doldrums or the full moon, but there's just nothing in the current events or net discussions that spark a fire.  I mean, a new JFK theory?  C'mon.  That horse done been whipped.  Snowden?  Old news.  Manning?  Did you expect anything less?  Detroit going broke?  Just another symptom of the disease that's been eating the global economy since 2000.  Bammy having lunch with Hil or touting his 'jobs' program at Amazon?  Puh-leez.

Call it the Dog Days of Summer.  The helical rising of Sirius and Leo and Canis Major.  Everything seems to go on hold about now.  It's too hot to get flustered about anything...or if you're in the southern hemisphere, too cold.

But speaking of the southern hemisphere, there is one news story that isn't getting a lot of play, but which has long-term implications for the balance of power in the world.

In the Arckaringa Basin in the state of South Australia, reports are of an oil field that puts Saudi Arabia's to shame.  It's a good thing that they've been using US companies to consult on this huge new find, otherwise the marines would likely be sent in to 'liberate' the country and dip everyone's fingers in purple ink as a sign of their new!  Estimates are that the field holds 200 to 400 billion barrels of oil.  That's more than enough to keep the Anglo-American empire running free of Saudi input for a long time.

Keep watching this story.  It will have long range implications on Western hegemony in Asia, as well as the whole Peak Oil discussion.  One wonders if finds like this and the Canadian/North Dakota shales have been hidden until the Middle East was nearly depleted.

If nothing else, it certainly makes for good Happy Hour ponderings and adds impetus for those looking to expatriate.  Should be enough work for a roughneck to last a career there.

At any rate, what will Australia do now?  After all, they've been cozying up to China in the past couple of years, even adjusting exchange rates with the renmembi to make business a little easier.  Australians are an ornery lot, and they may just remember that they were a penal colony for the UK back in the day, if push comes to shove.

If I were a gambling man, I'd say the odds are even as to which way this boat will tip.  Also, with two major discoveries in the past few years on A-A empire-controlled territory, the Holy Ghosting principle states that it's a good bet that a third is forthcoming in the near future.

Ain't vices fun?  As Lady Bracknell said upon hearing that Jack was a smoker, "I'm glad to hear it!  A man should have an occupation of some kind."


Designed Obsolecense

I used to think I hated Mondays.  Then I came to realize that I pretty much hate any day during which I have to work.  It's not that I don't like work.  Lord knows I make enough of it for myself.  But I hate having artificial schedules and deadlines forced on me.

I once thought it would be cool to have a Star Trek world where you just walk up to the wall and speak and out pops food, beverage and clothing to order.  But then I realized that all the characters on the show had to give up significant amounts of their lives to 'serve the good of all Mankind' to get all the freebies.  Even in the 24th century, there ain't no free lunch.

It seems, though, as if we are coming to a major nexus in history.  As our technology evolves, we have less and less actual work to do.  Eventually, 3-D printing will replace most manufacturing and transportation of goods.  3-D print files will (and already are) become a form of currency.  Most people won't have to travel more than a few blocks from their houses to work or get the things they need.

With one tiny little problem.

Sure things like 3-D printing will free up a lot of time and effort and literally destroy millions of jobs worldwide.  But worse, there will ultimately form a tiny minority of people producing the food and raw materials for the rest of our lifestyles of vast leisure.

What happens when the vast majority of us become designers and traders of ideas, and only a small number are doing all the work of mining, refining and growing all our necessities?  Not only will those people demand far more attention, but they will literally hold the world hostage.  As a consequence, the leisure classes will be required to 'hold a gun to the heads' of the underclasses, or face the utter collapse of society.  In other words, slavery.

This seems to be an intractable conundrum.  The global economy is on an inexorable march towards everyone thinking and no one working.  Even on Star Trek, the replicators have to be fed raw materials to produce all the products on demand.  The crew of the Enterprise blithely fly around talking about how humanity has reached a point where everyone is an intellectual, yet every other episode involves some mining planet or food planet in trouble.  Obviously, not everyone gets to be an intellectual.  Yet the issue of who actually does all the work is never really addressed unless one of the labor planets has a problem.

We all talk about great new inventions and labor-saving devices, but there is very little discussion about what will happen when there are 4 billion people without jobs.  How will they make money?  Who will supply all the raw materials to support this enormous class of non-productive humans?  Will we each own a labor machine and make money based on its output while we sit around pursuing our intellectual advancement?  And what about all the people now who use all their free time watching TeeVee and playing games?  Will we have created a labor-free world so that we can turn our brains to jelly, since it seems most people don't want to read or pursue intellectual hobbies?

Obviously, all this talk of utopian lifestyles imply either a vast reduction in population, or a small minority who actually get to live that life while the rest of us toil in the salt mines to support their utopia.  From the looks of things, we are already at the latter stage.

I, for one, can't see how we achieve our technological dreams without some radical changes in how we do things.  Sure, it's great to talk about living Olympian lifestyles, but what happens to the part of humanity that still has to do the labor?

It's easy to say that we will ultimately produce machines to do all the work so everyone can enjoy the leisure life, but even having all those wonderful machines means that someone has to make them.  Unless they are self-designing and replicating, which has all sorts of unsavory implications itself.  Frankly, I just can't see how we achieve the liberal wet dream society without somewhere along the line having an underclass to serve the needs of the ubermenchen.  At that point, we arrive at Huxley's Brave New World of selective breeding and designer worker bees.

There are already a great number of folks without jobs and they are living in poverty, not wandering around the garden reading Emily Dickinson and discussing the symbology of T.S. Eliot.  The idea of zipping around in star ships while listening to opera and quoting Shakespeare seems a long way off, even though all these folks have the time to do it.

Though the headlines crow about each new breakthrough in technology, we need to keep in mind - and earnestly discuss - what we are going to do with the people already out of work, much less those who will be displaced by the new technology.

As the pace of innovation increases, there is less and less time to process the displaced workers and guide them into new careers.  We are obviously not at the point where one can live a life of intellectual pursuits without the need for income of some kind, and that means work, which is increasingly hard to find.

So, while the Enterprise is zipping around the galaxy with a host of neo-Platonists onboard, the rest of us are stuck with the drudge work to maintain their lofty lifestyles.  How long do you think that will last?  It won't be long before those of us doing the dirty work will start to resent the privileged few who live off our sweat.

There's some serious contemplation to do in our afternoon walks through the cloister pondering the Universe's Great Mysteries.


The Doors Of Perception

It is estimated that our Milky Way galaxy contains roughly 300 billion stars.  Further estimates are that the Universe contains roughly 170 billion galaxies, some with far more than a trillion stars in them.

Over the past two decades, a combination of techniques and studies have so far found 925 planets in 713 systems (presumably excluding ours) in a bubble centered on Earth roughly 300 light years in diameter.  Considering the Milky Way is 250,000 light years across, that's a tiny fraction of one galaxy out of 170 billion.  I won't post any links.  You can verify the numbers easily enough.

There are a lot of estimates out there, but the median guess is that there are a couple of billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way alone, meaning roughly the same size, water/oxygen environment, Goldielocks Zone, etc.  Just 20 years ago, we could put any number here, but using statistical reasoning (take it for what you will), we now have a fairly reasonable assurance of some kind of validity.

A number of years ago, a fellow by the name of Drake came up with a back-of-the-envelope equation as a talking point for a symposium.  The idea was to somehow quantify the idea of possible life in the Universe.  Some of the variables were fairly well agreed upon, others were just plucked from the air, but no matter how you sliced it, you got a pretty big number for an answer.

This led to the Fermi Paradox.  You have probably heard of Enrico Fermi in high school physics, but you may not know his paradox:

  • The Sun is a young star. There are billions of stars in the galaxy that are billions of years older;
  •  Some of these stars likely have Earth-like planets[2] which, if the Earth is typical, may develop intelligent life;
  •  Presumably some of these civilizations will develop interstellar travel, a technology Earth is investigating even now;
  •  At any practical pace of interstellar travel, the galaxy can be completely colonized in a few tens of millions of years.
In other words, why aren't we up to our Blessed Assurances in extra-terrestrials?  Another question that arises is how likely is it that Earth is a colony of some other civilization?

Aye, there's the rub.

Without empirical data, i.e. some 'authority' offering us plebes indisputable 'proof' that we are not alone, then we cannot reasonably say without a doubt that we are not alone.  However, given the statistical estimates based on observation that fall out of the data we have, it is unreasonable to assume that we are alone.  We have found life in virtually every possible habitat on Earth, so why wouldn't life take to pretty much every habitat we observe in the Universe?

There is a growing minority that believes some combination of the following:
  • the Universe is teeming with life;
  • we are a legacy of some other civilization;
  • we are being visited by other civilizations;
  • we are actively engaged in contact with other civilizations.
The first premise I find hard to resist.  Everything we have observed about life on Earth argues that the Universe produces life as a normal function of its existence.  Given the umpteen trillion possibilities that we can reasonably assume to exist, we cannot possibly be the only result achieved.  Whether all results have the ability to recognize each other, much less contact each other, remains to be seen.  After all, we are still debating whether we are the only sentient beings on Earth.  India just recently declared dolphins non-human persons and chimpanzees can learn and manipulate human language.  We can't even agree on what constitutes intelligence.

The second point is a bit more contentious.  There is a growing body of evidence that human civilization is a legacy of some past advanced society.  Even if we dismiss myths such as Atlantis, there are still profound questions about the genesis of monolithic structures that predate anything approaching recorded history.  There are hundreds of submerged structures, roads and cities all over the planet that exhibit advanced architecture and are obviously part of some earlier time when the Earth's coastlines were radically different.

There is also the mystery of our DNA.  A large chunk of our genome is referred to as 'junk DNA', but a significant number of researchers question that designation.  Others speculate that it serves some as yet unknown purpose.  Still others say that it encodes data from a more ancient civilization waiting for us to discover how to read it.  Much of this involves belief, which still requires a leap of faith.  In other words, there is no surety, at least on the level of 'generally accepted' reality.

The third proposition is that we are being visited by other civilizations.  Here we step firmly into the UFO argument.  I think it is unreasonable to deny that there is a phenomenon called UFOs.  I personally have had three experiences with aerial events that I still cannot explain with 'normal' means.  There are also a great many respected and intelligent people who have witnessed these things, from astronauts to beat cops, and are presumably sober and professional in their descriptions.

Furthermore, the observed behavior of many UFO sightings show some kind of intelligent control, since they seem to do things and go places that exhibit premeditation and reaction to environmental conditions.  Whether they are man-made, powered by ETs, or just dolphin technology remains to be seen.  Too many of the reported sightings of beings inside the objects smack of religious delusions for my tastes.

I must conclude that they exist and that many of the phenomena exhibit intelligent control, but I reserve judgement on who or what that intelligence might be.

The final proposition is the most controversial: that some groups on Earth are not only in contact with, but are actively involved with extra-terrestrial societies.  It would seem that the former Canadian Defense Minister believes this to be true.  One assumes that he is a sober and reasonable man based on his title, but I also apply the "Weiner Filter" to any and all public officials.

From von Danekin to Linda Mouton Howe to Richard Hoagland, lots of people speculate on this particular idea, and (in the case of Hoagland) present a lot of evidence worth pursuing, to boot.  Yes, the evidence warrants further investigation, but it is a bit premature to dive head-first into the "contact" camp without some evidence that meets 'reasonable doubt' tests.

What we can reasonably conclude is that there is a large and growing body of evidence that the Universe is full of life and likely other civilizations.  We can also see plenty of evidence throughout the solar system that appears to be manufactured architecture, even massive spacecraft, that deserve much greater investigation, and not just swept off the table as 'tricks of light and shadow'.  Far too much of it cannot be explained by generally accepted phenomena and methods.

There is a huge body of research on ancient myths and legends across hundreds of human societies that show remarkable similarities despite the common belief that far-flung humans had no contact in ancient times.  Wallace Thornhill, Joseph Campbell and Joseph Farrell have, among many others, presented compelling arguments linking ancient myths to real phenomena.

What it comes down to is that we must approach these ideas with open minds.  That doesn't mean unqualified acceptance, as is expected with religious beliefs, but sober and thoughtful consideration of the facts, and support of those efforts that seek to prove or disprove the conclusions.

Among those who believe that ancient human societies had no contact with each other, they posit that the distances and natural barriers between societies was greater than the technology of the time could overcome.  Thus, they were unable to exchange ideas across great distances, such as the Pacific Ocean.

In the same way, those who argue that Earth cannot be in contact with other civilizations because of the vast distances and natural barriers that exist between star systems.  Cosmological Pacific Oceans, if you will.

Yet, there are petroglyphs in California that bear ancient Chinese symbols.  There are ancient Chinese records that show drawings of prickly pear cacti.  There are Egyptian mummies that test positive for cocaine, and pyramids in Central and South America.  There are symbols, such as the swastika, that span ages and continents.  Obviously, there is an error somewhere in our currently 'accepted' history.  It is thus reasonable to assume that if there are other civilizations, that we could have had contact at any point in our history, and the knowledge has been lost, hidden or suppressed for whatever reasons, and certainly undiscovered.

And that is the point.  Clear thinking means that we may come to conclusions based on the evidence at hand.  In fact, we must make conclusions in order to function with any amount of effectiveness.  However, we must be open to new evidence, even if it contradicts what we have already concluded, no matter how seemingly fantastic it is compared to what we previously believed.  All knowledge is open to new evidence, otherwise there is no use to calling ourselves 'thinking' beings.

Nor can we even call ourselves alive.

As J.B.S. Haldane famously said, "Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose."


Clearing The Air

It's 2:30 in the morning and the bone-head idiots who think they are doing a public service by marching through the neighborhood beating drums to wake everyone up for the big meal before fasting begins at dawn are doing their level best to make me lose my cool.

I am all for folks having their religions.  I have no problem with it.  But there are some Islamic traditions that predate alarm clocks and cell phones with programmable alerts that just annoy the stuffing out of us non-Muslims.

Take for instance the very old tradition of calling the prayer time from the minarets.  It was great up until electricity became widely available.  Here in Indonesia, the mosques use public address systems that are invariably turned to 11 on a scale of 10, and the cantors have no idea how to use a microphone.  Consequently, they place the mic practically inside their mouths and the result is horribly distorted sound.  Add to that the fact that many of the cantors are quite old and their singing voices (to use the term loosely) have long since gone the way of fingernails on chalkboards.

As if all of this isn't enough, each mosque in Jakarta does its own thing on its own time, so they all start at different times and add their own flourishes.  Multiply this by the fact that the mosques number about one for every 20 houses, and you have complete cacophony at ear-bleed amplification with voices slightly more harmonious than rutting bullfrogs.

Lest you think I have no right to criticize, then I point out that drum corps at 2:30am, followed shortly by every mosque for miles around starting the morning prayers, and I believe I have every right to answer.  Indeed, the inharmonious intrusion on my private space gives me cache to complain.

Most Westerners who have not had direct experience with large Islamic populations most likely have a Hollywood image of the calls to prayer: a lone figure silhouetted against the setting sun chanting with perfect pitch and clarity using his native voice.

The reality in most Islamic countries now is a centralized system of recordings that are broadcast simultaneously through the mosques.  However, in Indonesia, the reality is usually an elderly man with a poor voice using an ill-tuned PA system to belt out the calls at torturous volumes.  What's more, each competes with the dozens of others in any given area in completely mistimed and malpitched jumbles of sound.

It would be far more pleasing and far less intrusive if Indonesia, or at least Jakarta, adopted a more sensible system.  There is no reason why the mosques have to be so loud, or that they can't be wired to a centralized system using a voice that is melodious and soothing.

Given that one passes at least two mosques in a 100-yard dash, one need not fear that someone won't hear the call.  So turn down the speakers just a tad.  Also, most Muslims that I know now have cell phones programmed to give the call at the appropriate times using recorded voices of superior quality.  Furthermore, every TeeVee station in town broadcasts the evening call to prayer.  Why can't the entire city simply carry that recording in synchronized broadcasts?  And if each mosque insists on using its own cantor, is the PA system really necessary.  The aforementioned plethora of mosques across the city ensure that any human anywhere in town can hear at least one cantor at any given time without the use of speakers.

It is now 4:30am on Saturday morning and I can hear distinctly four separate mosques all doing different chants at the same time, each having begun at a slightly different time than the others.

To make the final point, it is bad enough that this din be broadcast via PA across the surrounding neighborhoods, but to stand directly in front of one of the mosques while this is going on is literally painful.  One has to yell to be heard by someone standing right next to them.  Is this really necessary?  Does this invite prayerfulness and contemplation?  Rather, I think it is frightening to young children and small animals, as well as doing everything possible to negate a contemplative mood.

I have no problem with Islam or its traditions.  When properly done, the calls to prayer are pleasing and inspiring.  They induce the appropriate mood and setting for prayer, even among those who do not follow the religion.  However, as it is currently practiced, it repulses and annoys.  It drives one away from peacefulness and calm to the point of distraction.

It's time to rethink the current system.  There is no need to do away with tradition, simply realize that there are enough mosques to ensure everyone hears without the need for a PA system.  Also, a centralized system broadcast in synch with a professional voice would seem to be a win-win situation for all concerned.

I can hear the usual hue and cry.  "This is an Islamic country," they always say.  I beg to differ.  The Indonesian constitution gives equal weight to four religions, of which Islam is only one.  A few slight concessions on everyone's part would lead to greater harmony on many different levels.  (Use headphones to listen to the recording and get the full effect)

Certainly, if your goal is to propagate the faith, it stands to reason that you don't want to frighten and annoy the prospects from the get-go.

And as for the over-zealous men with their drums at 2:30am, stow it.  This is a fine example of brass horns for beggars.  The devout who are fasting are fully motivated to use their alarms to wake up for the morning meal.  The rest of us prefer to sleep before a long day at the office or, more importantly, our day of rest.  Your calamitous revelry serves no purpose than to give excuse to be asinine.  I'm quite sure that the practice was necessary in the 15th century before electricity and wind-up clocks, but it is little more than an excuse for otherwise insignificant people to draw attention to themselves.  It is not religious fervor that compels you, but insecurity.

In short, raising Hell does not praise God.


More Than Me

Back in the 60s, there was a truly pointless TeeVee series called Bewitched.  I say it was pointless, like it was unique in that catagory, but in fact all TeeVee shows are pointless - except for Star Trek and Kung Fu.

Anyway, this Bewitched show featured a neighbor named Gladys Kravitz.  Gladys had a fuddy-duddy husband and a vanilla lifestyle that was so empty and meaningless that she spent all of her time watching the neighbors.  She was convinced that everyone else was having more fun than she was, and was determined to put a stop to it.

The whole world has turned into a bunch of Gladys Kravitzes.  For the most part, people are so bored, so empty and so unable to entertain themselves, that they have turned to watching everyone else.  Reality shows on TeeVee are just a form of legalized voyeurism.  Most entertainment - movies, TeeVee, even the internet for the most part - are completely passive activities that generally involve spying on other people's lives.

On top of that, we are all saddled with governments that have nothing better to do than to catalog, categorize and investigate every last minute detail of our lives, down to the size of our toilet tanks, which light bulbs we use and what we say to whom and when.

Is life really so empty and devoid of interesting things to do that the only form of entertainment left is to watch each other for signs of having fun?  If so, then let me off this merry-go-round from Hell.

Once upon a time, you could put a child in a room alone with a stick, a rock and a book and they would entertain themselves for days at a time.  Now they go hyperbolic if they don't have something that plugs in, lights up and makes a thousand nerve-jangling sounds.  And that's just the first five minutes, then they get bored and need new stimulation.

We've become a world of people incapable of introspection and self-occupation.  We can no longer carry on inner dialogues and generate extended mental exercises.  We have lost our imaginations.  If it isn't manufactured for us, it doesn't exist.  And we are suspicious of anyone who can think and act independently.

When you think about it, the whole War on the Noun Terror is about demonizing independence.  All of the All-Star terrorists are non-state actors who live transnationaly and off the grid.  The message is consistent and undeniable.

If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about, right?  In other words, you should not think or carry on internal dialogues because those things are hidden.  You should turn in anyone who looks suspicious - in other words, they enjoy being alone sometimes and pursuing hobbies that are self-enriching.

To ensure that you never have a moment alone with yourself, you are now surrounded with cameras, microphones, drones, online surveillance, and people who have been brainwashed into turning in anyone who deviates even slightly from the proscribed social life.

Go to a modern church.  They are nothing but non-stop noise, preaching, music, and distractions.  There is no time or desire (apparently) for quiet meditation.

Go to a school.  There is no reading or thinking, just constant activities and stimulation.  God forbid a child should have a moment to digest the blazing onslaught of information.

Go to a typical home.  There is no social interaction or conversation, just people frantically gestering and punching at their iFads and SmackBerries.

Lurking over all this are the electronic snoops, the infrared scans and the unceasing obsession with identification.  By the time a person is 18 years old, they have been carded, papered, stamped, and numbered.  And God help you if you venture outside your door without the approved ID documents.

All of this because we have become a world of Gladys Kravitzes.  We can stand the thought that someone else might be having more fun than us.  We have to quantify everyone's possessions and make sure that each individual has the opportunity to buy the same goods.  If your kid is smarter than mine, or your dreams more vivid, then by God there'll be Hell to pay!

Why do so many people feel compelled to climb all up in everyone else's business?  I suspect it's because those people are deathly afraid that you and I might have something they don't.  It's a game of 'keeping up with the Jones' gone completely awry.  It's me-too-ism taken to psychopathic degrees.  If you are exceptional in any way, then you are a terrorist and must be destroyed.

It used to be that everything was geared toward the lowest common denominator.  Now we have the greatest surveillance culture ever devised to ensure that everyone gets pounded into LCD compliance.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and there was the really annoying brat that checked everyone's stuff and if you had just a tad more, he would whine and complain until he got the same amount.  It's kids like that who have taken over the world.

Gladys would be proud.


By Any Other Name

I have long though that one of the major failings of the English language is its lack of ability to distinguish types of love.  In English, there is only one way to express love and that is,

In the Greek language, they recognize four different forms of love: eros, agape, philia, and storge.  Some people add mania, but I understand this concept to be a state of being rather than an emotion, so I leave it off.

So the Greeks break love down into "physical or passionate love", "spiritual or transcendent love", "brotherly or mental love", and "parental or familial love".  Note that in Greek, there is no room to love ice cream or Boston cream pies.

I have always found this concept intriguing.  Certainly, in English, we have to qualify our love with a litany of adjectives or negatives, like the classic, "But I don't love you like that."  I always wondered how different our society would be if we could distinguish between kinds of love.

In Indonesian, which is essentially a dialect of sanskrit, there are three kinds of love: cinta, kasih and sayang.  They are defined as "physical love", "transcendent love" and "compassionate love".  Most dictionaries translate sayang as 'pity', but that completely misses the mark.  By the same token, cinta and kasih are defined as 'love', which fails to translate the more subtle aspects.

This has always been one of the more fascinating aspects of languages - the things you can and cannot say in any given language, and even more fun, the idiomatic expressions.  Even in the English language, there are so many dialectical differences that many folks can't understand each other.

For instance, in British English, you call up to someone's house and ring them on the phone, while in American English, you go over to someone's house and call them on the phone.

Back to Indonesian, it's curios how certain things are expressed.  Emotions aren't so much expressed and directed.  That's a bit of a difficult concept.  For example, in English one says, "I love you," but in Indonesian the expression is, "Aku chinta pada mu."  Translated verbatim, that is saying, "I love to you."  In fact, all emotions in Indonesian are expressed in this way, as if they are directed at someone.

In English, you can love a thing, but in Indonesian, that is a foreign idea.  You can't love ice cream in Indonesian, that would sound ridiculous.  The habit of English speakers to love just about anything seems to cheapen the word and make it pale and meaningless.  If only we had a better way to express a strong liking so we could reserve love for less trivial things.

If the English word 'love' were more powerful and meaningful, how much differently might we native speakers view the world?  How many misunderstandings in relationships might be avoided?  How much more sensitive might we be to our fellow humans?  Suppose we could express as many forms of love as Eskimos can forms of snow?

"Look, honey, I feel agape and philia for you, but the eros is missing.  Sorry."

When you learn other languages, I mean really learn them, it changes your perceptions of the world.  Suddenly, you see variety where you didn't see it before.  You acquire new ways of expressing subtleties that don't exist in your mother tongue. 

One of the handiest words I've ever learned is the German "gemütlichkeit".  Another great word is selamat, which comes from the same root as swastika.  Perhaps if more people looked up the actual meaning of swastika, the world might reclaim a great concept.

"William and Kate just had their baby!"  "Swastika!"

At any rate, just some fun things to think about.  Couldn't hurt if we added some new words to English, or at least reclaimed their original meanings.  English has never had much of a problem stealing words from other languages.  Why stop now?

Just another day-dream on the way to the slaughterhouse.


Have You A Fag Mate?

In the past month or so, the spate of news on "gay marriage" has created an environment that begs the question, "What is marriage?"

In what has to be a headline writer's dream, the Queen signed the British gay marriage act into law, making it now possible for men to marry men, women to marry women, and for sheep to start trembling with foreboding.

Headline?  Queen of Queens

Before that, the US Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriages, thus setting up a flurry of lawsuits and bureaucratic hand-wringing about what new regulations and such must be promulgated.

Headline?  Supremes Love Queens

So, what is marriage?  Why should this sea-change in what is and isn't legal marriage cause so much vitriol on both sides of the issue?

What we think of today as marriage is really a fairly recent development, beginning in earnest in the 1800s.  Before that, it was primarily reserved for royalty and upper class as a means of securely transferring wealth to heirs and to aid the blue-bloods obsession with breeding themselves like show dogs.  Before a couple could marry, one had to know what the intended breedstock's Dam and Sire history was, much like the vetting of Kate before William could officially call her his intended.

With the rise of the middle class, us regular folks started getting some goodies, like land and other property, and we wanted to ensure that the proper heirs received it all after we entered the Undiscovered Country.  Since title to real property was registered by government agencies, then it stood to reason that government agencies had to register our marriages and breeding habits to legally protect inheritance.

After the 1930s, and the rise of employee benefits and insurance, we had greedy companies who didn't want to give away more bennies and coverage than they had to, so one had to be 'legally' married in order to share those bennies with a spouse.  And if one died without a will and no 'legal' spouse or children, well old Uncle Sugar could avail himself of the family wealth, after the lawyers quit arguing over it.

Under English Common Law (for us commoners), marriage used to be simple.  You shacked up with the farmer's daughter, called yourselves husband and wife, and *POOF* it was done.  This was often used in old-Timey America when a man and woman would meet for a tryst at the local motel and register as Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  Under the Common Law, that made them a married couple.

Since government was given the power to register and sanction who was and wasn't married, for the purposes of inheritance and social benefits, then the government was given the power to determine who it would and wouldn't consider 'married'.  Very simple process with far-reaching implications.

Let's strip away all the paperwork, celebrations, traditions, and rhetoric and see just what marriage is.

In effect, humans require pretty much a lifetime of raising.  A parent's work is never really done, though around age 18 or so (much later for some), the children become independent and require much less intensive nannying.

What this means is that the male and female of the species find it efficatious to guarantee each other's support for at least 20 years to raise and care for the offspring.  There are as many variations on this practice as there are human cultures, but they all boil down to the male promising economic input, while the female promises emotional.  Along with this arrangement, the female desires fidelity to ensure that her offspring receive the full attention and resources of the male.  The male desires fidelity to ensure the progeny are his.

Some societies see this mutual exchange of promises as a covenant, meaning each party is bound regardless of the actions of the other party.  Some consider a single spouse for life enough, while others are a bit more liberal in their interpretation, with multiple wives being the norm, but there are examples of multiple husbands

Add to this the whole mystique of female virginity.  In the pre-DNA-testing era, motherhood was certain, but fatherhood was not.  A virgin wife more or less guaranteed the sire's legacy.  This would seem to be a rather antiquated notion any more.  DNA testing has roughly a 98% certainty, compared to virginity's significantly lesser amount.  There is at least one famous case of virgin birth on the books.

In light of the history of marriage, it would seem that gay marriage is a joke.  After all, two males or two females are not likely to produce offspring (see virgin birth) unless they steal or adopt, which brings the whole legal system back into the matter again.

In fact, until the dawn of social welfare programs, insurance and employee benefits, the whole concept of gay marriage was pretty much pointless.  The irony of this is that all the social and legal protections heterosexual couples have fought for to aid and abet their breeding cycles has led to a situation that almost cries out for gay marriage.

If duly and legally registered marriage is a prerequisite for receiving tax benefits, spouse insurance, social welfare payments, and the like, then it stands to reason that only allowing male/female marriages excludes some portion of the population from participating in all the goodies.

You may argue the old way of doing things was just fine.  What?!  There was an old way?  Sure.  Male and female homosexual couples used to marry each other's partners and then live in close proximity to each other in order to enjoy all the bennies of heterosexual lifestyles, as well as provide plausible deniability for their predilections, should prejudice rear it's ugly head.  This practice is well-documented in 1940s and 50s America.  Lest you feel appalled, there were similar arrangements among polygamists in heterosexual unions.

To summarize, legal marriage was created to ensure 'legal' right of inheritance and provide assured breed-stock for the 1%-ers.  As the middle class grew, this practice filtered down.  With the rise of the nanny state, increaded social and political benefits were granted 'legal' marriages to encourage the production of cannon-fodder for the state.  With the world moving toward democracy, everyone felt entitled to the benefits, being equal to all others under the 'law'.  Therefore, it follows that the 'law' must recognize all sexual unions to grant all bennies to all people equally.

So really, heterosexuals set up the system for themselves which had to be shared eventually because those same heterosexuals believe that democracy is a great thing.

So quit yer bitchin'.

If you are one of those who believe that gay marriage is an aberration and against the natural law, then you must follow though with that and return to natural law.  You cannot worship the state and beg on bended knee for scraps from Uncle Sugar's table, and then complain when crowds start developing around the scap heap.  It doesn't work like that.  The more power you give to government, the more it will take.  It is a fact of life so entrenched that it is nearly as axiomatic as needing a male and female to produce children.

Government loves these kind of issues because people always turn to government for answers, which empowers it to do whatever it wants, which is take more power.

People are completely missing the point on the gay marriage issue.  It is not whether government recognizes this or that kind of marriage, but that it has the power to so in the first place.  The entire matter boils down to our attitude towards government and the culture we have built around that attitude.  Simple as that.

In the future, don't be surprised if the age of consent is lowered to 9, or human-beast marriage is sanctioned.  The government will do whatever necessary to capture the most amount of power and revenue, and that means ensuring the greatest number of people come to it begging for permission.  Nor can you depend on lawyers to protect the common sentiments, since their vested interest is to create the maximum amount of strife to ensure a steady flow of customers from prenuptial to divorce, and all the filings in between.

You cannot have a little bit of government.  That is akin to being partially pregnant.  Either you have a cancer on society that will grow until the society is destroyed, or you have a healthy organism.  Despite the best efforts of the best minds throughout all of history, no one has found a happy medium.

If you enjoy any benefits from government at all, then you are part of the problem and have no room or right to complain when others nudge you down the slop trough.  It is a fact of life as sure as the birds and bees.

If you are considering getting married, then consider doing it without the blessing of government.  And don't register the births of your children, either.  if you can do that, then you can get in line at the complaint window.


Three Reasons To Renounce Citizenship

I envision the US as similar to the face-hugger in Alien.  Remember that scene where John Hurt is on the table with that thing on his face.  When the crew try to remove it, the claws dig deeper and the tail tightens around his neck.  That thing is the gang of criminals running America, and John Hurt is the rest of humanity.

I've come to the conclusion that it is time to get out.  I need to find a viable alternative to holding a US passport.  All that document is, is a target for both the every-increasing enemies of the US, and the thugs that operate a so-called government in the name of US citizens.

I've boiled it down to three key reasons to quit:  One, the little-known and even less understood Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA); Two, the NSA and NDAA; and Three, the deplorable state of American culture.

The FATCA was passed in 2010, and requires foreign banks to report on all accounts of US citizens or lose their ability to invest in securities that originate in the US.  It also requires anyone with a US taxpayer number (what used to be called the Social Security number) to report and pay tax on all income from whatever source and all assets held overseas.

Now you're thinking, "Hey!  That's great!  All those rich guys and corporations can't hide their money offshore."  Well, it ain't that simple.  First, this law assumes that the US has the right to dictate to foreign banks how to go about their business and require them to spend additional time and money to comply with a domestic US law.  Last time I checked, a nation's jurisdiction ended at its borders and the only legal means of compelling performance on foreign powers was through treaties.

Second, I have lived outside the US for nearly six years.  I have not earned a single dollar in all that time.  I do not receive any benefits from government, and the only services I have utilized are my passport and notary service, which I paid for - in cash rupiah as required by the US embassy in Jakarta - on the spot.  I ask for and receive nothing from the US government at any level anywhere.

Third, I pay 25% income tax, 10% VAT and a host of other fees here in Indonesia, where I use publicly funded roads and services, and derive some benefit from living here.  Furthermore, if I held any property here in Indonesia, it has nothing to do with the US government, nor do they have any interest in my ownership, so I feel no compulsion to pay tax on my assets here or anywhere outside the US.

Fourth, the law specifically states that it applies to "all US persons".  In legalese, a person is a corporate entity.  It is different from the organic "person" in that the plural is "persons" and not "people".  Since I am a human being and not a corporate fiction, the law obviously does not apply to me.  However, try arguing these fine points with bureaucratic pinheads or foreigners who don't understand the intricacies of the English language.

That list alone would be enough to drive a sane person to find citizenship elsewhere, but it gets worse.

Next, there's the NSA/NDAA fiasco.  I have nothing to hide, and I like hiding that fact from any and all government prying.  You see, I was raised an old-school Texan.  We don't trust any government, at any level, anywhere, for any reason.  Very simple point of view.  The fact that I have nothing to hide is NOT an invitation to government operatives to catalog and record every single bowel movement I make.  I like my privacy.  What I want the world to know about me can be found right here on this blog.  Anything else is my own business.  So piss off.

Furthermore, both the NSA and the NDAA assume and treat US citizens as enemies of the state by virtue that they breathe.  You don't have to commit a crime, be convicted of a felony, spout off or protest.  All you have to do is wake up in the morning and you are an enemy of the state.

Excuse me?

Grousing about government is a time-honored American tradition.  Not agreeing with 99% of the crap that comes out of Washington is every citizen's right and duty.  Believing that unmanned cameras are not witnesses and unmanned drones are not law enforcement requires little more than reading a couple of documents - specifically the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Most egregious are the so-called rights to indefinite detention and warrantless search and seizure.  The right to face an accuser and the right to be secure in one's property date back to the Magna Charta and are fundamental to Common Law.  These two features of the NSA and NDAA radically change the nature of American legal and political life, and are far more subversive that any individual could ever be.

Finally, we come to the culture.  Something is terribly wrong with America.  The crassness and slimy nature of its so-called 'entertainment', and the sleaze that is promulgated in the public schools have created a public sphere that is bereft of any redeeming qualities.

Once you get out of the constant noise of it all, as I have, then even a few minutes of American TeeVee will make you nauseous.  The women are all domineering sex-fiends who spend all their time fixing the messes that the emotional, indecisive men make.  Every show includes a gay man that the women all fawn over.  This is the role model which the American male is supposed to emulate to get women to pay attention to them.  There's always a Jewish character who is the only one allowed to talk about religious matters and to have an opinion on things like race, religion and politics.  No other character can do that.

Racial minorities are predominantly criminal, but they are forced to be by white male society.  Once they are understood as victims of evil white men, then they are redeemed.  In fact, any character who adheres to traditional roles and mores is ridiculed and forced to change by some contrived event that shows how evil the old way of doing things is.

In any event, everyone is a victim (except while males).  Everyone has been downtrodden and their victimhood defines their character.  Without being victims, none of the characters have any existence or purpose.  Unless...

They are government agents.  Then they are heroic and all-knowing.  They can go anywhere, do anything with impunity.  Their hunches are always right and they are allowed to break-and-enter, confiscate private property, torture and terrorize to get their suspect who invariably caves in and confesses all under the omnipotent stare of Big Brother.

Once upon a time, there were TeeVee shows where men were wise and strong, and you could go ages without seeing a government agent of any kind.  If you did, it was usually Barney Fife bungling his way around being generally ineffective.  The roles have been reversed now, and every single episode and every single show has some interaction with a government agency.

I won't even go into the mental rape occuring in the public schools, or the physical rape occuring in medical institutions.  I won't mention the noxious stew of chemicals that infest every level of the food pyramid, and especially water.  One need only look at the number of Americans on some form of happy pills to know that the society is sick and getting sicker.  If the populace needs to escape that badly, something is definitely wrong.

I think it's time to start shopping for a new country.  The unfortunate thing is that the US has taken upon itself to infest as many countries as it can.  It's not enough that it has placed every soul within its borders in jeopardy, but it must export its error to the world.  It has no moral superiority nor legal authority to do such a thing.

The only reason it has gotten away with it so far is that the US threatens the lives and property of every single person on Earth with its military might.  If it keeps up, eventually the world will push back and that is the moment I surely don't want to be identified as an American.  I have not been part of the error, I have done what I can to corrent the error, and I sure as hell won't go down for the error of a rogue nation.

It's time for the American people to wake up and see what is being done in their name.  It is no longer enough to hide behind willfull ignorance and psycho-active drugs.  It is especially time for men to stand up and act like men.  Don't follow that rubbish on TeeVee.  Women respect strong, decisive men and they'll quickly back down.

You know what would really be interesting?  Go to Mexico, renounce your citizenship.  Re-enter the US illegally.  Then get amnesty and preferential treatment when Congress screws the pooch on the immigration bill.

The first step in setting things right is turning off the damn TeeVee.


Diverse Just Like Me

You know what I can't stand?  People who run around wailing and gnashing their teeth about 'tolerance' and 'diversity'.  For one thing, they have no clue what they are talking about, and for another, they just irritate me.
These knee-jerk, bleeding heart liberal fools who flog people with their tolerant and divere propaganda should crack a dictionary every now and then, because when I look up those words, I don't see goose-stepping followers anywhere in the definition.  You see, diversity means you tolerate my differing opinion, and if you don't like it, then there's plenty of other square meters in the world to go stand in.

Don't get me wrong.  The goose-stepping conservatives are just as bad.  If they had their way, the whole world would look like pablum, and I can't tolerate that either.

You see
Here's the deal - if I happen to not like green people with zits, then that's my opinion.  You are welcome to try to convince me otherwise, if I want to listen, but the world is made up of millions of opinions and this is mine.  In the name of diversity, you have to accept that I have an opinion that is different from yours.  You also have to accept that I am right and you are wrong.

Diversity does not mean I have to accept the laundry list of idiotic jerks someone holds out as being today's list of acceptable different people.  How in the hell can someone call it diversity if there is a list of things that are and are not acceptable?  That, in point of fact, is the antithesis of diversity.  Frankly, I have spent half a century developing my prejudices and I like them. 

If I see someone dressed like a gang-banger on a dark street in LA, I'm not going to try to hold hands with him and sing Kumbaya.  I assume, due to my prejudices, that he is trouble and I will take the appropriate counter-action.

If drama queens make me crazy and I dont' want to be in the same room with one because I will throttle him after about 2 1/2 seconds, then in the interest of diversity, you must tolerate my wish.

That's the whole thing about all this 'political correctness', 'diversity' and 'tolerance' crap - it is the exact opposite of what they are supposedly preaching.  Here's what I've found:

Those who hide behind "political correctness' are often blithering idiots whose arguments are so indefensible that they must force the rest of the world to accept their non-sense at the point of a gun.  They can't argue their case, so they force you to swallow the rubbish whole.

Those who hide behind 'diversity' are usually such offensive nutballs that they must force the rest of us to hang around them in the name of being diverse because they can't get friends any other way.

As for 'tolerance', well those are just those mental ants with the giant sound systems in their cars who drive around at 3am with the volume at ear-bleed levels because their manhood is so shriveled and decayed.

If anyone really believed any of this crap, they wouldn't need little terms and thought-police to make us all conform to their idea of diversity.

Here's an idea: why don't all the people of like mind hang out together and leave the rest of us the hell alone?  Go play with your unborn gay baby whales, while I eat my bar-b-qued seal pups.  If you're into obese nudity while flogging yourself with endangered California rock eels, then please go right ahead...just close the door so I don't have to see it from my window at dinner time.

And really, that's what all this silliness comes down to.  Some slimeball wants to parade his perversions in the public sphere and he wants you not only to have to accept it, but to be forced to watch it.  A handful of freaks have hijacked the public discourse and have implanted trigger words like 'tolerance' and 'diversity' so they can force all of us to accept that they are moral degenerates.  If has nothing to do with dogs and cats living together.

I'm hereby starting my own social movement.  It's called eschewal.  From now on, anyone who says I need to be diverse and tolerant will be shunned and avoided.  I can no longer tolerate those who can't tolerate me.  Think how much happier the world will be with eschewal.  Little green people with zits can hang out with people who like to squeeze zits, and none of them will be forced to hang out with Clearasil sniffers.

I am all for discussion in the public sphere, but don't parade your perversions and peccadilloes in front of me and expect me to put up with it.  As part of the deal, I will respect your private space to be just as weird and flaky as you want to be.  If you try to force me to accept or watch your strangeness, I will eschew you.  Fair enough?

I am one of the most diverse and tolerant people you'd ever want to meet, but if you force me to believe the way you do, you will quickly find the limits of my tolerance.  The real meaning of diversity is that we are all different, and the real meaning of tolerance is vive la difference!

In parts of India, 5- and 6-year-old girls are pushed into prostitution and at 12 or 13, are given away as second and third wives.  The alternative is mass starvation in the streets.  Stick that in your diversity and tolerate it.  Until you can figure out a way to solve something like that, which is a centuries-old lifestyle, then I don't want to hear a single word about putting up with your desire to tie your nipple rings to your nostrils.  I just don't have the patience to listen to that crap.


INTERVIEW: Santos Bonacci on Radio Far Side

For our long-time listener and supporter Linda, who's waited a long time for this one.  Thanks for your patience.

Welcome to another thought-provoking installment of Radio Far Side.

Today we’ll explore questions of religion, history, something called astrotheology, and what it means to be human, with one of the stars of alternative research.  It’s a fascinating hour with a remarkable thinker, so stay tuned.

Santos Bonacci joins us from Melbourne, Australia, where he has spent the last 30 years researching what he calls Astrotheology.  Santos has been studying the ancient works, compiling and translating them into more accessible terms.  He is a prolific producer of video lectures and special DVDs, he hosts a weekly radio show on American Freedom Radio and presents regular Seminars and webinars on demand.

Please welcome Santos Bonacci…


Addional Links:

Santos Bonacci website
AstroTheology search page

Thank you for clicking in and listening.  If you'd like to help support out efforts, please look for the BitCoin donation button in the sidebar.

We hope you enjoy this installment, and look for many more interesting guests and topics to come!

Sampai jumpa!


Salt And Prepper

Been reading a lot about prepping lately, and naturally, I have a bit of a different take on it.

Before I launch, I should help those not familiar with "prepping" to catch up, which includes most of the world outside the US.  Prepping is the practice of storing food, medicine, water, and tools in preparation for large-scale disasters.  Over the past 25 years, it has gone from a fringe obsession to mainstream chic, with reality shows and so on.

Preppers do everything from store up months-worth of survival rations, to hundreds of gallons of diesel/gasoline, equal amounts of water and filters, and some even go so far as to install elaborate solar and wind electrical systems.

It has become a hobby for many and it can be as simple or expensive as you want, as most hobbies are.  A one-year supply of MREs (meals ready to eat) can set you back more than $5,000.  A good water filter, like the Big Berkey, runs just shy of $300.  Fuel supplies obviously get rather pricey and have limited storage life, even with optional preservatives and extenders, which also are not cheap.

The part where I think everyone goes wrong is the idea that they want to hunker down in one spot, usually at home.  They spend outrageous amounts of money on things that can not be carried easily, and no matter how much you store up, it will run out eventually.

Sure, I have a generator, but I don't anticipate it being useful for more than a month, at most.  At some point, I will run out of gasoline and motor oil.  It is very handy for blackouts and other temporary situations, but as a long-term solution to electricity needs that is portable, it is worthless.

In the world envisioned by preppers, most of what they prep will only extend the inevitable a few days, weeks or months.  If we are talking about the total collapse of society for a decade or more, all the underground bunkers and generators and food supplies will soon become useless.

Having given considerable thought to prepping, and having been through various disasters to test my theories, I have come up with a number of ideas that make a lot of sense.

First of all, I start with the premise that I do not want to be stationary.  That is completely contrary to most preppers thinking.  I assume that I will want to move around due to weather, mobs and other regional problems and advantages.  For instance, it might be nice to be in the mountains during the summer and further south in the winter.  In my case, I live on the equator where it's always high of 90F and low of 75F, with predictable rain and dry seasons.  I have a house in the mountains and one in the city, with some good farm land.

The next problem was food.  Yes, we have a small store of canned foods and such, but only enough to cover the time from planting to harvest, roughly three months.  Instead of storing food, I am storing seeds.  I can put an entire acre of food in my pocket if need be.  I also grow a lot of food now and carefully seed plants that are superior for the next round.

The most important thing in my prepper's arsenal is what's in my head.  I have spent years building up carpentry skills, knowledge on how to build everything from lean-tos to brick houses, and even how to build carts and wagons.  The things I have stored in my head require no extra baggage, are fully portable, and can create necessary items from whatever materials are most widely available wherever I happen to be.

To go with that information, I have collected hand tools.  Saws, planes, augers, and the like would be without price if everything went to hell tomorrow.  They don't need electricity.  One thing I have learned from Indonesians is how to make these tools from found materials, as well.  If I can, then I will carry the tools I have.  If that's not an option, I can make them when I get somewhere I can settle down.

I've even thought about entertainment, and by extension, transferring culture.  I have identified three books that I can't live without.  First is the abridged edition of the Tripitaka.  Second is the collected works of t. s. eliot, and third is Alice in Wonderland.  I chose these volumes because the first is one of the oldest books on spiritualism in the world, the second is some of the finest poetry that uses several European languages, and the last is a fine example of why the world collapsed in an entertaining format.  Together, they cover body, mind and soul in the least amount of space possible.  If electricity is an option, then I have a massive library of film, audio, books, and images spanning the past three millennia, and it's all on a single disk about 3" by 5".

I listen to all the folks talk about prepping, and most of what they say depends on life returning to some sort of normal withing months of a major global meltdown.  I figure if the world gets slapped that bad, we shouldn't be thinking in terms of months, but decades.  Furthermore, we shouldn't be thinking of locking ourselves down in one place, but be prepared to move around quite a bit as events warrant.

My idea of prepping is to get as much into my head and a single, large pack that I can carry on my back.  Sure I've got the sport Berkey filter, but in my head, I have detailed plans for building a sand and charcoal water filter anywhere I go.  I also know how to find water in the desert and get both drinkable water and salt from the sea, solving both thirst and long-term preservation of meat.  I have seeds for medicinal herbs and I know how to prepare a lot of different medicines from them.  And my food supply goes wherever I go with no more effort than carrying a book.

A lot of folks might laugh to see my entire survival kit packed up, since it fits in one and a half cubic meters.  But I will stake my long-term survival on what I have versus a lot of what I see and hear out there.

When I give prepping advice, it is this: stuff as much as you can in your head.  It doesn't weigh anything, requires no extra space to store and pack, and has its own electrical supply built in.  Beyond that, learn how to make what you need from the world around you, and more importantly, be very sparing on what you need.  What you want is a whole different issue.

I don't look like you average prepper because I don't have entire rooms stuffed with things.  What I have fits mostly in my brain and the rest is easily portable.  I'm willing to bet my life that my prepping will go a lot further than a thousand MREs and three drums of diesel.


Contumely I Offer Thee

JAKARTA - The plea of leadership this year is for a peaceful Ramadhan.  What few realize, even those who adhere to the tenants of Mohamed, is that violence and destruction is hypocritical of the teachings of the Prophet and the Words of al-Quran.

The Quran exhorts its followers to live peaceful and measured lives.  The Golden Rule shows up in many forms, even in the teachings of Buddha, Christ and Mohamed.  The Quran teaches that those who desire peace should be offered peace, regardless of whether they are Moslem or not.

Why is this an issue?  Well, Ramadhan started this week...Wednesday to be precise, with the New Moon.  Ramadhan is a time of quiet contemplation and soul-searching by those who follow the teachings of the Prophet.  It is a time to deny the body's cravings and strengthen the Spirit's resolve towards Enlightenment.

Of the three Great Jehovah religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - Islam is the least evolved.  Now don't get your panties in a twist.   Islam grew out of an offshoot of the Hebrew religion.  Of the three, it is the least reformed for modern times and sensibilities.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is an inconvenient one when it comes to co-existence with other branches.

There is nothing inherently "wrong" with Islam, just as there is nothing wrong with any other faith.  To each his own.  When things become wrong is when they turn to violence to impose one set of beliefs on others.  The most successful political systems in history have realized that the best way to rule is to allow all faiths the freedom to practice their beliefs.  That's why the US Constitution gives wide latitude to religion.  The Indonesian Constitution recognizes four official religions.  Genghis Khan allowed several religions.  Rome gave space for a number of faiths.

In other words, if you monopolize religion, you end up with the Vatican whose citizens even today commit financial crimes, torture young children and condemn people to Hell for nothing more than denying that a loving God could conceive of something like Hell.

And so, in the nation of Indonesia, which is 75% Moslem, and which has groups such as Front Pembela Islam, or FPI.

The FPI is a radical group who thinks that running around beating people and destroying private property is a virtue that somehow defends their faith.  I have news for you're about a millennium behind the times.

The way to convince people that yours is the better way is not hurting innocent people, but respecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I have to tip the hat to Jokowi (governor of Jakarta) who has called for toning down the rhetoric and demonstrations, and to the imam at the local masjid who are echoing that call.  There is no need for PA systems blaring at 3am, or drum corps marching through the neighborhoods at the wee hours, or violent gangs attacking individuals or businesses that cater to the non-Moslem.  We do not all fast at the same times or for the same reasons.  You do not make a good impression by forcing your beliefs on others.

I brought certain customs with me.  Thanksgiving is something I have written about for several years now.  The Indonesians in my circle love the custom and eat copious amounts of food at my feasts.  I do not force anyone to take part in my custom.  Those who join and enjoy it do so because it is a feast of thanks and peace and enjoyment of the good things in life.

There is nothing wrong with Islam and I respect it as far as it does not intrude on my habits and customs.  I am not fasting at this time.  Come Buddha's birthday, I will do my own fast and I do not expect others to follow.  In fact, I do not expect anyone to follow any of my customs.  I perform them for myself.  If they appeal to others, all the better as I have someone to share with.

What the FPI and its ilk doesn't seem to understand is that their actions make their religion despicable at best.  People naturally shy away from groups that use violence and harm to press a point.  After all, didn't the FPI participate in the overthrow of Soeharto?  They obviously understand the desire to be left alone to pursue one's own course in life.

I am all for folks enjoying their customs and the certain feel and flavor that those customs bring to a place.  If I didn't appreciate them, then I wouldn't have kept the ritual of Thanksgiving here in Indonesia, nor would I have won over so many folks to enjoy the holiday with me.  I tempt with fun rather than force with pain.

Yes, I fully understand that Moslems fast at this time of year.  I fully respect you right to do so, so long as you respect my right not to partake.  I have my own rituals and I win converts by carrot rather than stick.  Frankly, I respect a man much more when he can keep his beliefs in the face of overwhelming distractions.  Those who need to resort to violence obviously don't have the strength of their own convictions and must force everyone around them to participate in order to feel justified.

I respect Ramadhan and all that it stands for.  I believe that any man who can pass through the test of a month without swallowing his own spit 12 hours of each day deserves my respect, and that's the meaning of Ramadhan.  It is not forcing others to participate, but showing that one's depth of commitment goes beyond constant temptation.

If a man dare demonstrate that his force of will can overcome temptations of the flesh, then I give him my deepest respect.

If, on the other hand, he must beat people unconscious, detroy businesses and private property, and demand submission at the point of a gun, then I have no respect for your views.

Force, according to al-Quran, is only justified when the opponent uses force against you.  I ask the FPI, when has anyone used any force against you?  Drinking a bottle of water on the street doesn't count, even if you are Moslem.

As a former Catholic monk, I know that the church allows for the health and well-beng of the individual.  You are allowed to perform as much pain and torture on yourself as your body can medically endure.

Having watched three people die because they strictly adhered to the strictures of Ramadhan doesn't dispose me to being patient.  Drawing blood is only justified when others draw yours first.

I, for one, can not believe in a religion that preaches hate, death and destruction as a means of recruitment.

FPI - your time has past.




Doa-Doa Perjalanan - Traveler's Prayer
SINGAPORE -- As you may have guessed by now, your intrepid reporter has trekked across the Java Sea to land on yet another island, though one considerably smaller than the one on which he dwells.

Lion Air provided the transportation, which was unremarkable (something most air travelers want) except for the amusing game of runway hopscotch at touchdown.  Fortunately, Lion provides for just such occasions by placing prayer books for six different faiths in the seat-back pocket.  I read all of them, being one who dislikes flying commercial, since I'm not the one making life and death decisions, especially when it comes to my own life and death.

Once inside the terminal at Changi Airport, you quickly realize that if there is any place on Earth you have to be Snowdened (c), this is it!  Cactus and butterfly gardens, shops and amusements, piano players at sundown, sleeping lounges, digital theaters, free internet, even a hotel inside the customs zone.  It's a place one could live for a while and not get bored.

Changi is, however, HUGE.  You will get some serious exercise dashing around that place.  Keep in mind that Singapore is not only a major Asian hub, but also every flight in or out is an international flight...there are no domestic destinations.

Once freed of Changi's charms, you break out into the blazing daylight to try and get a taxi.  I say try because, as I've noted before, Singapore is the only place in the world where the taxi drivers tell you where they are going, and with a bit of luck, it's close to where you want to go.

Me: "How much is it, sir?"
Driver: "Let's call it $20."
Me: "Let's call it whatever the meter says."  It was turned so only he could see it.
Driver: "$15.80."
Me: "Let's call it $16, then, shall we?"
Driver: (Mandarin cuss words)

I alight (it's a former British colony after all) on the sidewalk.  One thing I will grant Singapore, as much as I hate the place, is that it has wide, clean sidewalks, many with overhangs for shade.  It's a radical difference from Indonesia, where if there are sidewalks, they are covered with warung and kaki lima (tobacconists and makeshift eateries).

I'm on a visa run, which for those in the audience who are transnationalists know, is the bane of every foreign domiciliary outside the US, where immigration control is little more than a bad joke.  I've arrived at my agent's office building.

We all use agents around here.  If I were to try this myself, it would cost me $75 and two or three days in Singapore.  An agent can get it done in a day for $230 (Sing dollars, by the way).  I show up, fork over the passport, entry card, telex (authorizing my visa), a photo and a pile of cash.  I spend the next seven hours wandering the streets of Singapore, and POOF, I can go home with my shiny new permit to live in the country where I have a family and property.  Of course, that doesn't give me the work visa.  That's a whole different process that begins tomorrow when I'm back home.

Singapore has a number of benefits.  The mass transit is, in a word, amazing.  In another word, it's cheap, too.  All the way across the island is less than three Singbux.

In addition to the aforementioned sidewalks, it's also very clean, organized and runs like clockwork.  On top of that, this being the first day of Ramadhan, there are lines out the doors of the restaurants, whereas at home, the FPI is waiting to pounce on and trash any establishment that caters to non-Moslems (i.e., those of us who continue to eat during the fasting month).

On the bad side, Singapore taught long last...the real definition of fascism.  You see, the definition of fascism is not the lost of freedom, but the commoditizing of it.  You can have all the freedom you want, as long as you have the money to pay for it.  For instance, you can have a car here as long as you buy the license to buy the car.  The license costs about the same as the car.  You can have a fully detached house as long as you buy the license to buy the house.  You are perfectly free in Singapore, as long as you got the Beeg Bux.  Same in all the other fascist countries.

Speaking of money, Singaporean money is a bitch.  It's made of plastic, so it is smooth as a baby's bottom.  While this may seem like a cool idea - the bills don't get wadded up and you can wash it and disinfect it if you want - it is impossible to fold and even harder to keep a grasp on.  If you have several bills in your hand and a stiff wind comes along, it slips right through your fingers.  I suppose that's the idea.  The fascists don't want you hanging on to your cash.  It slows the economy.  It's all about velocity.

The people are nice enough, but it's the kind of nice you would get if you lived somewhere where they throw you in jail for being unhappy.  You know the kind of smile folks give where the mouth does all the right moves, but the eyes refuse to join in the fun and games?  It's that kind of nice.

Singapore has all the vices for those stricken with them.  There's casinos, but if you are a citizen, you must pay 100 Singbux to get in.  Foreigners are free.  There's a whole section of town devoted to whorehouses, and you can find women from all over the world there.  Doesn't matter the country, you can find at least a dozen representatives from the Social Club there.

Booze is cheap and beer makers compete to see who can make the brew with the highest alcohol content.  The winner so far is one with 9% squeege.  That's a hefty beer, bro.  But I guess if you live in a fascist regime, it helps to be drunk a lot so's you don't really notice the right good a$$ pounding you're getting every day.

One can't escape the feeling of being cattle here.  People all seem to move in lock step.  They all wear Dior and Giordano.  They all reek of the latest designer pheromones.  The laws cover everything down to your bathroom habits - I kid not.  1000 Singbux if you don't flush a public toilet.  Makes you wonder if someone runs in after you leave to check, perhaps even measure.

Singapore is very sterile.  The longer I'm here, the more I feel my testosterone leaching away.  It's kind of like kryptonite to Superman.  Imagine an entire country full of Michael J. Foxes in The Secret of my Success.  Scary really.

I have received one good inspiration since coming here this time.  I am now determined to learn Mandarin.  That will be the international language of the coming century, replacing English in board rooms all over the world.  English may remain as the primary language of the plebes and proles, but if you want to enter the heady realm of corporate globalism, Mandarin is where it's at.  It's a stiff barrier to entry, which makes it perfect as a means of separating the executives from the wannabies.    If you want to be one of the privileged boot-lickers, I highly recommend Malay.

So, tonight I'll return home after a 21-hour ordeal.  Tomorrow, I'll give my passport to the agent who will initiate the IMTA (work permit) process.  In a couple of days, I'll have to go to immigration to give yet another set of electronic fingerprints, yet another digital signature, and yet another photo (they already have half a kajillion on file).

By the way, you may have read in the past week or so about the smoke from fires in Indonesia choking Malaysia and Singapore.  Singapore had near-fatal levels for a day or two.  Both countries complained loudly and bitterly about Indonesian farmers slashing and burning their fields.  Global press reports made Indonesia out to be the bad guys - international polluters.

What the stories didn't tell you is that the farms that were being slashed and burned were owned by Malay and Singaporean corporate palm oil interests.  Ain't fascism grand?  You slash and burn countries for profit and then blame them on the global stage for polluting your air.

A word to Singaporean corporate plantation owners - F%$K YOU!

So, now you have a little insight into transnationalist living.  It's all kinda wild and wooly.  There are competing business, lifestyle and religious interests all trying to claw over the other to get on top, because only on top can you buy more freedom.

Tote Board at Changi Airport
I'd give you more tastes of the Far Side, but I've got to catch the 2120 back to Jakarta after I hit the duty free and buy a jug of reasonably-priced hooch to tide me over the fasting month.

One last bit of news...when I do these day-trip things, I only carry a satchel, what the fags call a man-purse.  I've been back and forth to Singapore six times with my satchel, which I haven't really added or subtracted from in all that time.  Tonight, the security witch in Singapore confiscated an X-acto knife I've had in the bag for years across half a dozen countries and two continents.  Forgot I even had the thing.  Couldn't do much more than carve my initials in the seat-back with it.  Even made me sign a confiscation report, which I refused to do.

Agent: Would you sign here, sir?
Me: Why?
Agent: (pause) I need your signature.
Me: For what?
Agent: It's an acknowledgement.
Me: You're stealing my property and you want me to agree to it?
Agent: We have to confiscate your knife.
Me: Confiscation is theft with legal authority.
Agent: Please sign here.
Me: No.
Me: Thank you for stealing my property.

Probably all because I always put "TEXAS" in the area where it asks for nationality.  They hate when I do that.


The Fifth Of July

Prussian flag
Now that all that silly American chatter about 4th of July, freedom and independence is over and done with, I thought I pop up with my take on things.

First of all, anyone who still celebrates the 4th of July is either, 1) a hypocrite, 2) an Orwellian mind-control slave, or 3) lost in a maze of wishful thinking.

See, that thing that everyone calls, or rather called America is dead.  It died back around Kent State or so, though really it started dying about the time the Constitution's ink was drying.  Thomas Jefferson himself hauled off and bought the Louisiana territories, though for the life of me I can't find the power to do so anywhere in that document.

Abraham Lincoln put a stake in the heart of that thing called America when he issued General Order 100, suspended Habeas Corpus and muzzled the press.

The last tattered shreds of the Constitution blew away in the wind with the combined efforts of Woodrow Wilson and his Federal Reserve and IRS, and Harry S Truman entered the Korean War without a Congressional declaration of war.

The was a brief flicker of life under John F. Kennedy, but they shot him and the American people bought the Warren Report hook, line and sinker.  There was nothing left to do but start the 4th Reich.

In fact, that is the real 4th being celebrated yesterday.  It wasn't the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but rather the birth of the neo-Nazi 4th Reich.  Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't have their eyes open, whether willfully or out of ignorance.  The America of Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau and Norman Rockwell never existed, but even the dream (hallucination?) died a long time ago.  What we see today is the resurrection of something much darker and horrific.  It is the continuation of a line in history that keeps popping up like Frankenstein's monster.  It refused to die, though it often doesn't quite look like it did the last time it was destroyed.

The 4th Reich looks quite a bit different than the 3rd.  The brown shirts are now cops in blue.  All the technologies the Nazis were trying desperately to develop are now realities: jet planes, nuclear weapons, mass chemical/biological/radiation weapons.  The Gestapo is largely replaced by rooms full of faceless technicians punching buttons and pulling levers on a vast surveillance machine that would have sent Goebbels into ecstatic fits.  He could even wipe out entire ethnic groups with tailor-made viruses that would have given him plausible deniability.  Think about that question coming up at Nuernberg.

Hell, even Hitler's little toy project, the Volkswagen Beetle, has staged a come-back, and how many Mitsubishis do you see driving down the road next to your BMW or Mercedes?

Yep, the 4th Reich is alive and well, and that is what folks celebrated yesterday.  It certainly wasn't American independence.  That country hasn't been free or independent for decades now.  It was taken over by corporations and secret agencies and hidden systems of finance.  The only vestige of that old country is the English language, and that is fading fast, as well.

If the First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire, and the Second was Bismark's United Germany, then Hitler's Third would segue nicely into the American Fourth, since so many Nazis were brought to America after the war, bringing their technology and philosophy, the latter of which was really already strongly rooted in much of America even before WW2.  The CIA and NASA were more or less started by Nazis, and those two agencies alone account for much of the rise of the Fourth Reich.  In fact, future historians may well see the Third and Fourth Reichs as little more than continuations of the Second.

If you find that a bit startling, then you have to look no further than America's public school system.  It is deeply rooted in Prussia, which was, of course, part of the German unification of 1871.  The Prussian educational system and philosophy is virtually mirrored by the American public school system and Prussian influence in the US has a long and vital history.  The emphasis on sports and 'citizenship' alone is one obvious connection, but there are many that merit deep and protracted study on the part of us arm-chair researchers.

At any rate, I think it's safe to say that the Fourth Reich has arisen in North America and that the sheer number of ties to not only Nazi Germany and Prussia are self-evident, but that the NSA's apparent fixation with spying on Germany would seem to imply quite a bit of ongoing interest in all things German.

Heck, old Ben Franklin himself, besides recommending that the US adopt the turkey as the national bird, also suggested adopting German as the official language in order to sever all ties with English.  Perhaps if he had won the argument, things would look quite a bit different today.  The Anglo-American Empire would likely not exist and Germany probably would have won least more obviously won it, I should say.

If you are American and you are enjoying a bit of "free" time this weekend, you might want to spend a little time investigating the ties and commonalities between the Third and Fourth Reichs, and throw the Prussian educational system in there, while you're at it.

Perhaps you too, will agree that yesterday was the Fourth Reich of July.

Fortunately, I've never been an American.  I was born a Texan and never had much truck with those folks north of the border, and we celebrate independence on the 2nd of March.  Of course, that was from the tyrannical Mexican government.  We are still fighting the US takeover in 1863.

Happy Hot Dogs!