Here Thar Be Monsters!

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The Meaning Of Life

Gaining and holding power is a deceptively simple thing.  It is absolutely dependent on ignorance.  More specifically, it requires either the fact or illusion of knowing something that no one else does, and the desire of others to possess that knowledge.

Whether you run a religion selling the image that you monopolize some Universal truth and only you can show me how to find it, or you are a bankster selling the illusion that acquiring wealth is a secret process and you are depent on me to make that happen, all power and control stem from the same root - complete ignorance and dependency.  In fact, the Secret to Life, the Universe and Everything is convincing as many people as possible that you have a vital secret and the only way anyone else can learn it is through you.

Religion, easily the greatest scam of all time, is nothing more than an individual receiving secret knowledge that only he can interpret and pass on.  People have paid billions of dollars and spent their entire lives trying to learn the Secret, little realizing that the big secret is the process itself.

Governments are absolutely dependent on secrets.  As fast as you form a government, it starts creating secrets, and thereby creating power and control, as a means to keep people in line.  As long as the people believe that government has all the answers, they will spend their lives begging government to release just a little of that information to them.  Witness the whole UFO scam or global warming or whatever you care to choose.

The whole body of intellectual property is based on ignorance.  If I discover some new technique, process or fact, I want to control knowledge of that thing in order to enrich myself before anyone else figures it out.  My getting rich depends on your ignorance of my fact and your desire to get it  Government inserts itself into the equation by offering to help me protect my fact long enough for me to get rich off of it.

Parents use ignorance to control their children.  How many times have you been told, or said, "You'll understand when you get older"?  Why do children yearn to grow up?  It's all based on control of information and the desire to obtain it.  Children are controllable only so long as you keep them ignorant.  Once they have information, they no long need you to guide and steer them.

And so it is that the 'elite' are in a panic these days.  They have built elaborate command and control systems based solely on the illusion that they are authorities through whom we must go to obtain information.  Only the 'elite' know certain things and we must be initiated into the fold in order to touch the hidden wisdom.

The system is beautifully self-perpetuating, too.  After all, if you spend years of your life and a small fortune seeking knowledge, and when you find it, it is so incredibly simple and benign, are you going to tell the whole world?  Or are you going to perpetuate the system so that you can be reimbursed for all your trouble and expense to find the secret?  Chances are pretty good you won't tell anyone.

It's like this: you spend six years of your life and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get your MBA because you want to know the Secret of Finance.  At some point in your career, you realize that it's all just a big scam, a confidence game.  Now, you are faced with two choices: either you tell the entire world what a joke it all is, or you look out at those masses of folks with fist-fulls of money wanting to buy your Secret.  What do you do?  More than likely, despite any impulse toward truth and light, you continue the scam so that you can pay off your student loans and buy that mansion up the street and stuff it full of designer gee-gaws.

The people who really profit from these confidence games are the ones who start the scams.  They just sit back and reap a lifetime's profit from watching piles of people scrambling up the hill to get your Secret.  They even measure it and show us the results of our scramble.  It's called Consumer Confidence, and they sit there and laugh at us rubes stepping on each other to get just a little taste of...nothing.

Pick any religion, it's the same scam.  The pope sits on a mountain of writhing souls all clamoring to understand the Great Secret.  But only the pope knows there is no Secret.  It's just a fairy tale told again and again so that you and I will do anything, obey anyone, follow any edict, just to have a small taste of the Big Secret.

In the end, all power and control is like the Zen puzzle - what is the sound of one hand clapping.  Mu.  Nothing.  If a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a sound?  Mu.  Nothing.

That is the Big Secret to Life, the Universe and Everything.  It's 42.  It's meaningless clap-trap designed specifically to keep masses of people completely and totally focused on obtaining your Big Secret.  It's Mu.  Nothing.

Any power game involves you believing that I have a key to something you want.  In the end, my power is predicated solely on how much you are willing to give and give up in order to get what you think I have.  It's so deceptively simple that most people never figure it out.  They layer piles and piles of hopes and dreams on top of their never-ending struggle to obtain some Secret.  If they ever get there, they realize there was no Secret in the first place, but now they must perpetuate the scam in order to be made whole again.

And so it goes on down through history.  People arguing over the meaning of obscure texts.  People killing and maiming to get just a little closer to the Secret.  All of it to find out that you had everything you needed before you started.

What a cruel joke it all is, and how cynical and evil one must be to dangle such carrots before our eyes for fun and profit.

Perhaps the internet will finally be the Great Liberator one day.  Perhaps we will amass all of human knowledge and experience and realize en masse that it was all pointless in the first place.  All we had to do was to sit down on the stream bank and watch leaves float down to the distant ocean.

What will that moment be like?  Will humanity commit mass suicide at that point, realizing that all of our collective striving was for nothing?  Or will we laugh at our foolishness as we all head for the beach to build a massive bonfire and dance till dawn?

In the end, there is only one answer:



Imitating To Death


I've seen a very particular change in Indonesians and the only cause I can make fit every case is food.  In the past six years, I have seen Indonesians get fatter and children become more hyperactive and distracted.  There are a number of possible causes, which we'll look at, but the one that seems to fit every case is a change in diet based on advancing economic conditions.

The three causes to which I can attribute the changes in folks here are electronic gee-gaws, maids and nannies, and food quality.  Each has its own distinct contribution to the way people are changing here, but food cuts all of them.

First, the electronic gee-gaws are a curse on humanity.  To a great extent, kids have become so engrossed in them that they hardly notice what most of us refer to as 'the real world'.  A bit of people watching at the local mall finds nearly everyone walking around in a daze as they focus on cell phones, tablets and other 'lights and wires in a box'.  They literally trip over each other or narrowly avoid colliding because they can hardly look up from their electronic revelry.

Watching TeeVee and movies causes folks to become bored with real life.  The act of writing and editing programs is one of distilling time.  All the little side-trips and time used to go from place to place are magically taken out so that only the most interesting and active parts of life are portrayed.  Having grown up on a steady diet of TeeVee, movies and games, kids become bored incredibly fast because real life is much slower and unfiltered by editing.  They grow bored almost instantly when they can't cut to the next action scene, or fast-forward through the slow bits.

They have lost the ability to communicate in analogue form.   I have witnessed my own family sitting at the dinner table texting and BBMing each other, rather than simply talk across the table.  Reality is no longer what we are all immersed in, it is what comes from a lighted box.  I also notice students, forbidden to use electronic devices (at least in my classes), going through a form of withdrawl.  They are distracted and agitated by the inability to text and BBM their classmates and whoever else is in their electronic universes.

The second problem is one that affects any group of economically advantaged folks.  The Western 1%ers have the same problem, there's just more of them here.  By long tradition, middle-class Indonesians on up hire entire armies of domestic servants.  There are nannies for the children, maids for Mom and drivers/valets for Dad.  No one has to do anything for themselves, they simply speak the command and *POOF* it is done.

The main problem are the nannies.  Parents wander through life oblivious to their children because young women are charged with chasing the kids around like 3D shadows.  Parents don't demand strict behavior and discipline from their children because it is the maid's duty to take care of all the mundane chores.  Instead of sitting at the table to eat, the nanny chases the kid around with a bowl of rice, taking every opporutnity to shovel in a spoonful when the child pauses long enough.  If the child gets dirty, the nanny whips out a fresh outfit from the ubiquitous backpack and *PRESTO*, all clean.  No need for self-discipline, since the parents only interact with the children for a few minutes of the day.  The rest of the time the 3D shadow is there.

Later, when the children enter school and are expected  to sit quietly and behave, they have no concept of how to do this.  They have spent their entire lives having every little inconvenience catered to and have come to see most folks other than their parents as servants who chase them around cleaning up their messes.

As a result of gee-gaws and nannies, young Indonesians have serious attention deficit and impulse control issues.  They have been raised like nascent stars with orbiting devices and servants to distract and entertain them.  When it come to paying close attention for 40 minutes at a time, or sitting in one spot and engaging in dialogue, they are nearly incapable of it.  Life moves too slow and they don't know how to respond without clicking something.

The worst influence on Indonesia's younger folks has to be food.  Above a certain income level, the diets have become almost exclusively processed foods.  Where once most Indonesians ate freshly picked or slaughtered foods, now they exist on canned diets and fast food junk.  They've gone from healthy living food to things that have been boiled, soiled and stamped.

Processed foods have the life cooked out of them.  All bacteria must be killed before canning, and long cooking times remove vast quantities of flavor and nutrition.  To compensate, artificial flavors, preservatives and other noxious chemicals are added: artificial flavors, color dyes, MSG, huge quantities of refined salt and sugar.

Consequently, Indonesian waistlines are rapidly expanding, heart disease and diabetes are on the rise, and children are becoming chemical waste dumps.  Overloaded by sugar and toxic chemicals, children's brains are forced into overload.  Added chemicals in the food break down into various toxins that affect brain function and autonomous body systems.  Fats, sodium and chlorine swamp the blood stream.  As a consequence, overall health declines and mental functions get short-circuited.  A child's body, overloaded with refined sugars, becomes a furnace cranking out energy to the point of nervous overload.

As Indonesians become wealthier and the middle class grows, they are adopting the absolute worst of Western culture, things they once watched with envy on TeeVee and in the movies are now within their reach.  McDonald's meals, once too expensive for the average Indonesian, became status symbols that now everyone consumes to show their newly obtained status. 

It's an unfortunate result of the infusion of Western media and entertainment that much of the world sees our unhealthiest habits as symbols of attainment.  One of the most successful exports of Western civilization is deadly food.  Complicite with media, the food industry has expanded (along with waistlines) into so-called 'emerging' nations.

Indonesia would do well to rethink its values.  Using gee-gaws as educational and developmental tools rather than mindless distractions would be a good start.  Reversing the trend of consigning their children to servants and taking a more active role in interacting and disciplining their children would help a lot, especially if they want their children to get the fullest benefit from their education.

Most importantly, Indonesians must rethink their diets.  One of the many benefits of living on the equator is fresh fruits and vegetables year-round.  Visiting the local pasar for fresh meats would bring immediate benefit, as well.  Finally, getting away from processed fast foods would have life-long benefits for health and mental well-being.

Indonesians must resist the temptation of using media as a guide to status.  Adopting the absolute worst habits of Western civilization as symbols of wealth is a dangerous habit in the long term.  Instead, apply the greater economic ability, increased educational options and increasing global attention to improve the best of native Indonesian life and export that to the world.

If Western lifestyles were so good, then there would not be the health crises, the economic decline and general cultural decay of the West seen today.  Yes, it is tempting because the media make it look like so much fun and so terribly interesting, but that is a function of Madison Ave. sales jobs, not reality.  All the gee-gaws you can imagine won't change the fact that we must exist in the here and now.

Once upon a time, cars were a status symbol for Indonesians.  With the advancing economy, now millions of people own at least one and Indonesia's cities are clogged to the point of grid-lock with cars.  What benefit is status if you can't get from one part of town to another to do business, which in turn pays for the better economy?  If this is happening to the cities, imagine what is happening to your body with the influx of chemicals and fats from a changing diet.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it only works until you follow the other guy off the cliff.


L'art Pour L'art

What is art?

Related to that, what is creativity?  Few people stop to think about these things in their daily lives, though we are surrounded by things called art nearly every moment of every day.  Many large cities have public art on display.  Counties maintain museums to display art.  Some people call TeeVee, movies and pop music art.  There is no lack of folks around that call themselves artists.  But what is it?

Can we be objective about art?  People commonly say that art is in the eye of the beholder.  One man's trash is another man's treasure.  Art is a statement that provokes emotion and even fistfights.  But is all that really art?

Robert Mapplethorpe's Pisschrist at one time was the center of tremendous controversy, with pickets and heated public debate over its merits.  It was defended as art on the grounds that it was self-expression.

Andy Warhol became famous for taking pop culture icons and removing them from context to show them in isolation.  Who can forget the Campbell's soup can or the Marilyn Monroe four-panel?  Are they art?

Are the works of Steven Spielberg or The Beatles art?  In fact, are any movies, commonly called a collaborative art form, definable as art?

The central problem here is whether we can measure art objectively.  Everyone has a favorite movie, book, painting, or song.  They can be very moving and meaningful to us and evoke strong memories and emotions when we encounter them.  However, the smell of frying bacon does the same thing for me.  Does that make cooking bacon an art form?

I submit that creativity and art are two very distinct things, and that just because something elicits strong emotions does not make it art, but simply a memory trigger.  Art is not necessarily emotional, though art can bring forth emotions.  Creativity is not art, though art is creative.  How does this work?

Well, one can do something creative that is not art.  Mapplethorpe's Pisschrist is creative.  I juxtaposes two things that no one in the public sphere had done before (mostly out of fear of being burned at the stake).  Placing a crucifix in a jar of urine was a creative act.  It took two objects that had never been combined before and did so in a way that provoked comment and emotion.  Some people thought it was sacrilege, other thought it was poignant.  Some felt compelled to look at it as a challenge to their personal paradigm, others felt compelled to cause damage and injury to prevent folks from looking at it. was not art.

Art is taking raw materials and, according to certain rigid rules, creating beauty by making the raw material conform to opposing rules.  Now that all sounds fine and dandy, but what does it mean?

Michelangelo's David took raw stone, and by the rules of symmetry, balance, rhythm, and context, converted the stone into flesh.  When one views the statue up close, one can see the ripples of sinew, the veins, the pensive look in the eyes.  The stone was forced to assume an unnatural state for the material.  The assumption was predicated on certain rules of 'beauty' that all people everywhere consider true and verifiable.  The pose of the subject creates the expectation of further motion and emotion, something which stone is not supposed to possess.  For that reason, the statue has endured for centuries as a treasure and work of art because it forces the natural (raw) to appear soft and flexible, while at the same time making flesh appear to be inflexible and eternal.

The artist not only accomplished an unusual juxtaposition in textures, but did so while creating a remarkably beautiful object.  Both in subjective and objective measures, the statue   The figure has perfect symmetry, is visually balanced, and the pose implies forward motion and thus rhythm.  Combined, these elements are the hallmark of true art.

By comparison, Mapplethorpe took two manufactured items - one produced by involuntary processes in his body and other by some manufacturer - and put them together without value added to either object.  The materials do not deny their basic natures and functions.  There is no rhythm, balance or created symmetry.  The crucifix is simple dunked in the urine in a more or less random manner.

While this might be considered a creative juxtaposition, it is not art.  It does not bear any of the hallmarks of subjective or objective measurements.  There is no beauty.  There is no modification of raw materials.  In fact, the only real labor involved was an involuntary body function requiring no conscious effort at all.

We can say this about much of pop culture.  Music is little more than organized chaos.  Most movies do not rise above being cuss fests and car crashes.  Even much of painting and sculpture can not be considered art.

One key factor of art is the hardest to judge because it takes a lot of time, and that is that art must withstand the test of time.  True art rises above contemporary fashions and trends.  It is as fresh at this moment as it was 400 years ago.

Art also exists above culture and, in fact, creates culture.  A work of art from any place and time can be appreciated in any other place and time.  The works of da Vinci, Mozart or the creators of King Tut's funerary pieces have fascinated and enthralled audiences across time and space.  You do not need to be Egyptian, nor even know anything about Tut's culture to marvel at the incredible workmanship and beauty of the art.

I find it hard to believe that the works of Jackson Pollock or Roy Lichtenstein will survive this century as anything but curiosities.  Some of The Beatles' music has withstood a half century and is greatly enjoyed on every continent.  It may well be that we could apply the term 'art' to some of their work, particularly that of John Lennon and George Harrison.

As for Steven Spielberg, the only thing artful about his work is the amazing way he has risen to the top of the movie world.   In 20 years, I would be surprised if anyone remembers who he was or what he did.  For that matter, after nearly a century of Academy Awards, how many Best Pictures can you name?  If you can think of two or three then there's a job as a film historian waiting for you.

Art never causes revulsion.  Things done for shock value can not be art.  Art does not shock.  It is elevating and inspiring.  It is timeless and exists outside the culture in which it is created.  Real art has no need to be anything but itself.

And can we please stop calling those brainless, clueless bucketheads in the recording industry "artists"?  At least in the movie and TeeVee industry, they call the actors "talent" and not "artists".

When it comes to art, at least there is one thing we can all agree on: Life on the Far Side is high art!


Clearing Out The Brain Box

When you spend a lot of time thinking about the Universe, questions start to pile up.  Once in a while, you have to clear them out, or they start to go bad and smell up the place.  The problem is that these questions just don't have obvious answers and if you let them continue to pile up, then you start tripping over them looking for other stuff.

So, time to clear out the Ponder Pan and ask the readers to take partial responsibility for chewing on these persistent problems.  If you have some answers, be sure to share with the rest of us.  We'd all like to know.

If you lined up two mirrors so that they would reflect light from one to the other and back again, would a laser beam keep bouncing back and forth forever?

How did 'faggot', meaning a bundle of twigs, come to mean a homosexual male?

Why do they lie to you in high school and say you can't take the square root of a negative number, then in college they tell you it's i?  Why not just say you'll learn about that later, like sex?

If all colors have compliments (blue and yellow, etc.), what are the compliments of silver and gold?

Who invented the Thai alphabet and were they shot shortly afterward?

If you work in the entertainment industry, does that take the fun out of it?  If you work in the leisure industry, what do you do when you retire?

How come a stitch in time saves nine?  Why not 10 or 8?

I must have gotten a good computer, because my cursor never says a harsh word.

Isn't a near miss actually a crash?  If you don't crash, isn't that a 'near hit'?  (that was George Carlin's, but worth the ponder)

Why do we call things on a computer 'pages' and 'tabs' and so on?  Aren't they really just colored dots arranged in patterns that don't exist in real life?  We should make some new words for this stuff.

Back in Roman times, how did they mark a place when they were finished reading?

Why is north always at the top?  Related to that, why are left-handers 'south paws' but right-handers aren't 'north paws'?

Who invented the neck tie and were they instantly shot dead?

Is the sky really blue?  It could be red, but the first guy called it blue by accident and so everyone after that thought red is blue and we've all been wrong all these years.

How come all the planets are named after Roman gods except Earth?

Why is Greenpeace violent?  Can you really have a passive activist?  Do animals actually receive any money donated to the World Wildlife Fund?

People are so stupid.  Companies pay huge amounts of money to display their logo, yet people pay huge amounts of money for items with the same logos.  Think how much money they could all be earning!

How come there's a Medieval period in history, but no Early Eval or Late Eval periods?  Is someone hiding large chunks of history from us?  Million Dollar Idea: Renaistrants - A chain of theme restaurants serving northern Italian food.

So many things taste just like chicken, but how do you describe the taste of chicken?  Tastes just like frog legs?

Did you know the little dent between your nose and lip is called the philtrum?  Whose job was it to come up with a name for it?  Were they paid or shot?

 Why does half the world drive on the left side and the other half drive on the right?  Couldn't they just put the driver in the middle and save all the trouble?

I think the two most useless jobs in the world are politician and hair dresser.

On the telephone, why does the person answering always talk first?  I think it should be the caller's job to start the conversation, since they initiated the call.

Finally, if Monsanto and DuPont wanted to do something really valuable, they'd create money that really grows on trees.


Wolf-Crier's Festival And Pancake Breakfast

Ya know?  If we Far Siders weren't so darned smart, we might think that the US is purposely squandering its moral and economic leadership.

Not the the US has/had any real moral superiority, but it was a position into which it thrust itself/was thrust by the currents of history.  It was an enviable position for a group of people to be in, had they something to offer beside bombs and grifts.

At any rate, they were there for whatever reasons, and they went and tossed it out the window.  Of course, maintaining such a position requires at least a modicum of wisdom, which is a commodity of which Washington has never been accused of having a surplus.

As the so-called "leader of the free world," Obama had a chance to unseat China as the elephant in the living room of Southeast Asia.  When he was selected the first time, Indonesia went nuts.  The whole country was ready to be annexed into the US.  They built statues to him and made his childhood home a museum, nay a shrine is more accurate.

Then Obama kept delaying a victory lap around Southeast Asia, and the fervor cooled a bit.  When he finally came to Indonesia, he was aloof and even a bit disrespectful.  In fact, everyone was waiting for his big speech in Indonesian, but the whole time here, he spoke all of four words of the local lingo.  That left folks scratching their heads.

Then there was the APEC meeting just recently in Bali.  Indonesia spent several millions of dollars to meet the US delegation's security demands, jumping through dozens of hoops to make sure the Terrorist in Chief wasn't accosted by his competition.

Obama cancelled at the last minute.

Suppose you're throwing a big party and it is centered around the Guest of Honor.  In order to attract the GoH, you spend lavishly to make sure there are no crusts on the sandwiches, no brown M&Ms and no paprika in the egg salad, even though all your other guests love crusts, brown M&Ms and paprika.  All is in readiness.  Guests are arriving.  The phone rings.  GoH won't be able to make it after all.

In a panic to rescue your party, you turn to GoH's biggest rival, who was gracious enough to show up...and early at that.  You dub him GoH and proceed as if nothing happened, but you'll never forget the snub.

And so China once again has snatched the role of leadership out from under the US, whose bloated self-importance and intense self-interest is wearing thin on the rest of the world.

Americans seem either incapable or unwilling to view themselves as others do.  This lack of empathy is generally diagnosed as sociopathic when it occurs in individuals.  It is common in the offspring of wealthy, powerful people, since the children inherit without the pain and suffering that tempers hubris.  This leads to an inflated sense of self-importance and an inability to comprehend that those called friends are only there because you throw great parties and your left-overs are better than most people's first rounds.

But when you ultimately become withdrawn and the parties become less frequent and perhaps there's a little trouble in paradise, those 'friends' will not only not come to your aid, they lie in wait to pounce on you, should the opportunity arise.  Since you can't afford to pay your bodyguards anymore, those opportunities start becoming very frequent.  In your paranoia, you become a recluse, thus further reinforcing the perception that you are not worth hanging out with.

Look what has happened to America.  Once upon a time, it sent people to fight its wars and people to venture into the unknown (such as Moon landings).  Now, it sends drones to fight while the people hide deep in mountain redoubts.  It sends robots to explore, while the people go home at night to their cushy southern California manors.  Classic signs of paranoid reclusivity. 

Instead of throwing lavish parties, the US argues over who will pay the tab.  Once upon a time, the US was fun and everyone wanted to hang out with him.  Now, to be his friend, you have to take his gifts.  Instead of the cool electronics and gadgets he used to give away, now he only gives out guns and bombs, and he expects you to fill in as his bodyguard in your part of town because his regular staff up and quit and the current staff just want to sit in bunkers under mountains.

The worst part is that the world got hooked on Uncle Sugar's gifts.  Everyone wanted to have some of those green bits of paper that he handed out and the world got used to having them around.  Of course, Uncle Sugar handed out so much of the little green paper that it seems like everyone has a pile or two laying around these days.  Used to be you could trade them with other folks for neat stuff, but now everyone's got so many of them that no one will trade anymore.

Not to mention Uncle Sugar's habit of borrowing money and not paying it back.  Oh sure, he says he always pays, but really all he does is give you more paper in exchange for the original paper.  The new stuff has different magical symbols and incantations on them, but really it's just more paper when it come down to it.  People start losing interest in Uncle Sugar's stuff and wander off to look for more novel entertainment.  Besides, Uncle is really paranoid and grumpy these days, so who wants to hang around that attitude?

Folks start doing things without inviting Uncle Sugar.  He gets upset and starts throwing his weight around.  He threatens everyone by saying he'll start throwing his pieces of paper from helicopters to keep everyone using them, but all that does is make folks look for alternatives.

And lo and behold!  There's Uncle Chin Xiao just chomping at the bit to step in an be the new party house.

Heck, even Uncle Sugar's own family is turning its back on him.  Not a good sign.

Probably too late to fix it, too.

Oh, and the whole budget crisis charade?  Just histrionics to get everyone panicked and rallied around old Uncle Sugar again.  But this time, the world just shrugged and went about its business.  All the apocollapse tales and fear porn don't work anymore.  Call it 'boy who cried wolf syndrome'.  World's got better things to do.


To Lance And Squeeze

Regular readers may recall that sometime back, we looked at the word 'sequester', as in the program the US government instituted back in January of this year, to cut costs.  If you look up the legal definition of 'sequester', it means to take possession of property from a debtor until the bills are paid.  Although no one ever seems to talk about this, the US government being chock full of lawyers would certainly have chosen that word for a reason, which is what lawyer types are paid to do - dissemble, prevaricate and obfuscate.

Given that the US government has been running a sequestration program for the past year, is it any wonder that it has shut down?  Is this really a "budget battle"?  Or is it instead the prime lenders cutting off the flow of money?  Is Ben Bernanke going out and Janet Yellen coming in because she has the longer curriculum vitae in public sector economics and her husband is a Nobel lariat economist able to handle things like entire nations in receivership?

The reader is advised to scan down the right column and find the links on this page.  The first one is the US National Debt Clock.  This sobering website tells us that the US has a total of $126 trillion in unfunded liabilities and total taxpayers of 115 million people, so that every man woman and child in the US owes $1.101 million on total assets per capita of $332 thousand.  Even if we remove things like Social Security and Medicaide (now Obamacare) and count only money already borrowed, then each man woman and child in the US owes $190 thousand. In other words, if you confiscated all the assets of all the citizens of the US, it would only pay one-third of the national liabilities.

That is the textbook definition of BROKE, referred to in polite circles as bankrupt.  No amount of lawyering will change the facts, only the terminology.

"It is not, perhaps, unreasonable to conclude, that a pure and perfect democracy is a thing not attainable by man, constituted as he is of contending elements of vice and virtue, and ever mainly influenced by the predominant principle of self-interest. It may, indeed, be confidently asserted, that there never was that government called a republic, which was not ultimately ruled by a single will, and, therefore (however bold may seem the paradox), virtually and substantially a monarchy."  - Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, (1854). Universal History: From the Creation of the World to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century, Vol. I. Petridge and Company. p. 216.

It is now the point in US history when things will continue to worsen until the people cry out for someone - anyone - to fix the problem.  As in every other instance, this 'savior' will not be beneficial to either the American people, nor the world.  Experience has shown that the person who ultimately gets tapped for the job usually ends up causing more problems than are solved.  In recent history, we need look no further than one Adolf Hitler.

It is important to keep in mind that, no matter what else may have happened, Hitler did a bang-up job of fixing the German economy.  The people went from abject poverty under the Weimar Republic, to living the high life and nearly taking over the world in less than ten years.

One can feel the moment coming when the US citizens will cry out against a do-nothing Congress.  They will search, find and install a powerful and charismatic leader who will assume the entire powers of government in a popular mandate to 'clean up Washington.  This leader will be wildly successful at reversing decades of economic mishandling and America will get back to work - only it will be at the sacrifice of liberty and the well-being of the rest of the world.

Things could be fixed by simply repudiating the debt and returning to some semblance of sanity, much as Russia did when the USSR fell.  It is now much healthier and able to dictate policy to the US, it seems.  However, given the American public's predilection for doing nothing out of fear and/or ignorance, it is safe to assume that within the coming decade, a new global menace will emerge at the helm of the most powerful and pervasive techno-dictatorship ever built.

The reason there is so much fear and trepidation over so simple a solution as repudiation is that Americans have enjoyed about 70 years of high living based solely on the fact that it was 'last man standing' after WW2.  That's it.  Because that represents roughly three generations of good times, no one can imagine what it will be like to tighten the belt and trim a little fat.  That, however, does not make it less necessary.

In order to keep the illusion - commonly called the American Dream - going, history tells us that Americans will chose the worst of all possible solutions.  They will rally behind a single powerful leader perceived as able to cut through the Congressional morass and make things work the way they used to.  Without thinking of the consequences, the people will choose the most destructive and dangerous path out of fear of pain.  They will not lance the boil because it will hurt.  In turn, the boil will fester, causing blood poisoning, organ failure and death.  All preventable had they chosen a little pain up front.

At this point, it all seems rather unavoidable.  The American people appear unwilling to take the necessary steps to fix the problem correctly because it will mean ending a system of largesse and lard on which they have grown dependent.  Suddenly taking full and complete personal responsibility for one's life, after years of shoving it off on government, is terrifying to the average American.  Decades of voting themselves a free lunch, couching in terms like "The Great Society" and "social safety net", they must now face the prospect of going it alone - the skills for which have been lost over the past several generations.

Very soon, we will see a leader rise up who will promise not to stop the gravy train, but only if he or she is allowed to side-step the usual channels of Congress and courts.  This leader will ask to be given extraordinary powers that will be returned when the 'Great Work' is done.

America must admit two things: it can not continue monopolizing the world's resources for its pleasure, and there is no painless remedy for the current problem - either it will hurt a little at first, or a lot at the end.

As for the rest of the world, we should be prepared for uncountable troubes ahead.  If Hitler's Germany destroyed a major part of the world to stop, how much more will it take to stop a far larger nation with many more resources and technology only dreamed of by the Nazis.  And if the US goes (more) rogue, this will encourage others to launch their own initiatives without any moral stops, such as Israel, North Korea and any of dozens of non-aligned interests.

It has already begun.  Iraq and Afghanistan were the Poland of our generation.  Obama was supposed to be our Hitler, but he fizzled out like a wet fuse.  The big danger is the 2016 US elections.  We should look for someone much like Obama started off to be, with 90% approval ratings, Nobel Peace Prizes and a sort of quasi-religious support base.

The new Hitler is likely visible, though low key just now, just as Obama was after making his big speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.  The person won't be entirely new, but won't be anyone with much of a track record to distract from the message either.  We can be reasonably sure that he or she will rise up out of the US, though.  The die has been cast in that regard.

Why not Obama?  Because if he tried to take the kind of control necessary, fully half the country would start shooting.  Bad public image for a dictator.  No, it will be someone fresh who can rally the masses on all ideological sides.

We still have the option to bite the bullet and allow the US to collapse in a controlled and contrived manner, or allow the scenario painted above to play out, with nothing less than the complete disruption of the globe as the consequence.

How desperate are you to pawn off your personal responsibility to Uncle Sugar?


Machiavelli Versus Sun Tzu

In the 50-year history of the Star Trek franchise, one of the most memorable and poignant lines, packed with metaphor and subtext, was Spock's observation that 'only Nixon could go to China' (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country if you're keeping track).

Indeed, 41 years ago, when Nixon went to China to 'open' the nation to global economic participation, he likely had no idea the can of worms into which he was prying.  To the Western mind, it was a vast supply of cheap labor and a billion potential consumers.

China has always been inscrutable and mysterious to Westerners, not unlike a tiger.  The West was ill-prepared for wrestling tigers, especially the US, which was a mere babe in arms when it came to global hegemony.  The Chinese had conquered the world many times before Nixon boarded Air Force One.  His nation had only shown up yesterday in Chinese history books.

In the 40 short years since Nixon's visit, China has gone from a closed, intensely self-absorbed nation to an economic dynamo sitting squarely atop the globe and directly threatening the century-long plans of the 'exceptional' Americans for world domination.

America's weakness has always been its hubris.  From the days of religious refugees spilling out of Europe to seek peace in North America, there has been an underlying current of 'exceptionalism' in American culture.  When America looked in the mirror, it saw a Shining City Upon The Hill, a civilizing force among nations, a power to reshape the world in its own image.  Balancing precariously on this fragile pedestal, the US has applied its resources and ingenuity to casting a New World Order, with itself as Greek god enthroned on Olympus.  More literally, a new Rome stretching forth its hand to own all it touches.

However, as anyone who has played King of the Hill knows, having the high ground is not enough when you occupy the most desirable position.  Being a leader is a fun place to be, with the perks of power and dominance, but there is always someone waiting in the wings to topple you from your throne, and China has three millennia of experience at doing just that.

China, for better or worse, has sat ensconced on the Eastern hemisphere for centuries.  It has been the center of power, learning and economics on this half of the globe since long before the US ever thought to lead the world.  In fact, it is highly likely that Admiral Zheng He was traipsing around present-day California before Christopher Columbus was even born.

Suffice it to say that China has watched empires rise and fall.  Its own ambitions have touched every continent.  Genghis Khan's Mongol empire, seated in Beijing, knocked at the door of Europe and so scared folks that even today, the expression 'Mongol hordes' still infects the English language.

When it comes to business, the Americans have found themselves outmatched.  Unless you have sat across from Chinese at the negotiating table, you will not understand and fully appreciate the word "ruthless".  When it comes to business, the Chinese will slit your throat while bowing politely and offering soft words of praise on your business acumen.  They are able to scale this technique from one-on-one to nation-on-nation.  Where the US bombs its way into hearts and minds, the Chinese buy and trade, and one can infer which method engenders more loyalty.

When Nixon entered China, he saw himself as liberator.  He was going to undermine the Communist system by showing the Chinese the glory of democracy and capitalism.  Forty years later, the US dangles from a rope and China is tying the other end to the tree.  Welcome to Chinese business dealings.  One can be reasonably sure that when Nixon sat down with Deng Xiaoping, he likely wasn't thinking that the culture behind Deng had invented gunpowder, paper money, state lotteries, and even spaghetti and meatballs - all the tools of US hegemony were, in fact, made in China.  'Opening' China to democracy and capitalism was actually throwing Br'er Rabbit into the briar patch.

One of the US's main strengths, being the new kid on the global block, is also its primary Achilles Heel.  Being new to the list of empires gave the US a certain amount of deference and laissez faire on the part of the world, since it had no operating history, no track record, and folks were willing to offer the benefit of the doubt.  However, this advantage was turned to the dark side and was taken over by greed and lust for power.  Blinded by pride, Nixon marched into China to unwittingly unleash the tiger that would turn to maul the supposed trainer.

Empires are like Super Bowl champions, every year there's a new one, and history is no different.  America got its ring, the trip to Disneyland and enjoyed some endorsement contracts, but this season has seen many injuries and the loss of some key players, so another team has risen to dominate the game.

The US team is a new franchise and has only held championship status once in its history.  The new champion China has been around for a while and has won many Super Bowls before.  Within the culture of the franchise, they recognize that you only sit at the top for a short time before being toppled by the next champion.  While you're at the top, you make a little money, store up some wealth, get a few things done, and then wait for the inevitable losing season.

The US has squandered its position because it has no history.  It forgot its Reformation roots of humility and work, and instead of storing wealth for the eventual fall, it went all-in, like a cocky poker player in a Vegas tournament.  When the deal went south, it could do little else but watch as the pile of chips moved to the wrong side of the table.

The mentalities and strategies of the two sides are vastly different.  The US makes blind bounding leaps throwing caution to the wind and over-extending itself in the quest for glory.  The Chinese advance in increments.  They extend a little, secure and shore up, then extend a little more.  The Americans are brash nouveau riche - spoiled and profligate - while the Chinese are ancient dynasties of wealth and privilege.  The former throws money and caution to the wind, while the latter quietly amasses wealth and fortifies position and influence, yielding when the occasion requires it.

The two sides are like yin and yang.  They are the perfect compliment to each other.  They can not defeat each other, nor can they dominate each other.  They will always return to equilibrium because they can not exist without each other.  In the Chinese view, they are happy to have the flamboyant Americans to hide behind, like a courtier to Louis XIV.  Let the gaudy sun king take all the glory...and the blame.  Meantime, sit quietly behind the throne directing the action and save every scrap that falls from the royal table.  It is the tortoise and the hare writ large.

Indeed, the Chinese and Western banksters are equals, and on the stage of history, it is not the rise and fall of the American empire that is the real drama of our times.  Kings come and go.  Rather, it is the clash of these two hidden powers - the Eastern and Western dynasties - that will be the true action of the play.  Even now, the Eastern bloc is establishing its own system of alliances and finance to compete head-to-head with the mere apprentices in the West.  To add insult to injury, the Eastern dynasties are using the tools of the West against them, like Xiao Lin adepts turning force against itself.  The hapless West keeps throwing empty punches and spends a lot of time on its back staring up at the sky, not quite sure how it got in that position.

For those with eyes to see, it is an epic death match between two fundamentally equal sides - in one corner sits Niccolo Bernardo Machiavelli and in the other Sun Tzu.  Those of us with front row seats will get spattered with blood and body parts, like an audience at a macabre Gallagher concert.  The rock has met the hard spot, the tiger and the bull, and we the world are caught between.  It is not the first time, and won't be the last, but it is the latest event of the season.

It's Rotschildt versus Li in the classic rivalry that has entertained the world for centuries.  Both sides are master manipulators, and both know that empire is just a show to distract from their real plays.  They are adept at avoiding the spotlight.  One side uses the blunt weapons of Machiavelli: the ax, the hammer and the sword.  The other uses the refined weapons of Sun Tzu: deception, stealth and redirection.

Nothing much to do now, but buy some snacks and settle in for a real show.  In the game of empire, these are Princes skilled in the Art of War.


It Takes An Irishman

Above the Drudge, 9 Oct 2013 - Doomsday
Oh joy.

As the Mogambo Guru likes to say, "We are sooooo screwed."

Yup, those poor American dupes, who are indeed dumber than your average bear, who have been up in arms (sort of) about banks repossessing their houses and cars, are now supposedly cheering because soon, the banksters will foreclose on the entire country.  I forget who said it, and I'm too lazy to look it up, but..."No one ever went broke underestimating the American public."  The Federal Reserve is case and point.

Here's a private bankster institution that lends money to the US gummint with compounding interest, and they're going to print money like two-ply toilet paper and stuff their banks full of it so they will lend it into the economy, thus creating incomprehensibly vast sums of debt and this will 'cure' the economy?

Someone pass the box of hammers that Americans are dumber than so I can hit myself over the head.  This must be a, nightmare, and I want to WAKE THE HELL UP!

Let's see...what's an apt metaphor for this?

You go to the doctor with a case of gangrene in your right leg.  He says, "Hey, let's cut op the left one and put some of that pus in there so they'll be even!"

Hmmm...that's close, though it should really be a patient with gangrene eating half his body, I suppose.

Or maybe we're Dr. Mudd (you know, the guy who treated Abe Lincoln after he got shot and whose name yours'll be) and we're pondering what to do with ole Abe.  We hit on the idea of ventilating the other half of his head so that the damage will cancel out and ole Abe will jump up off the table!


If ginormously huge mounds of festering bankster paper got the world into this pickle, then by golly, another ginormously huge festering pile will get us out!  Ain't that a great idea?

Who found this Yellen buckethead, anyway?  A box of hammers is too good to describe their IQ.  Oh...that's was O'Bammie's idea, wasn't it?

If'n ya allus do what yer allus done, you'll allus get what yer allus got.  A finer Texas expression you'll not find for this situation.

There's nothing left to do, really, but republish the Letter from a Kerryman's Mother.  The Irish have a terrific sense of humor, and it will take that sort of self-immolation, I mean, self-defication - ah heck, you know what I mean - to get through the isht storm that's a brewin'.  Pay special attention to the P.S.  That's what Americans should be pasting all over their tax forms these days.  Well, they should, but that'd require an IQ above the mean summer daytime temperature at the North Pole.

Take it away, Mom...
Dear Son,
Just a few lines to let you know I'm still alive. I am writing this letter slowly because I know you can't read fast. You won't know the house when you get home - we have moved.
About your father. He has a lovely new job. He has 500 men under him. He cuts grass at the cemetery.
There was a washing machine at the new house when we moved in, but it hasn't been working too good. Last week I put in 14 shirts, pulled the chain and haven't seen the shirts since.
Your sister Mary had a baby this morning, but I haven't found out whether it's a boy or a girl, so I don't know if you are an aunt or an uncle.
Your Uncle Patrick drowned last week in a vat of whisky in the Dublin Brewery. Some of his workmates tried to save him but he fought them off bravely. They cremated him and it took three days to put out the fire.
I went to the doctor on Thursday and your father went with me. The doctor put a small tube in my mouth and told me not to talk for ten minutes. Your father offered to buy it from him.
It only rained twice this week, first for four days and then for three days. Monday was so windy one of the chickens laid the same egg four times.
We had a letter from the undertaker. He said if the last payment on your grandmother's plot wasn't paid in seven days, up she comes.
Your loving Mother.
P.S.:I was going to send you five pounds but I had already sealed the envelope.

And so on...sampai jumpa!


The Storm Front

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Some time back, I waxed poetic about Texas northers as a metaphor for world events.

Texas northers are like nothing I've experienced anywhere else.  You can see the storms approaching for hours.  The sky bifurcates, with a part being hot, humid and sunny, and the other part being black as night with a greenish cast and ominous lightning flashing in all directions.

You can tell they are coming in a hundred different ways.  Cows in the field will all line up with their hind ends pointing in the direction of the approaching storm.  The cow flies, normally heavy on a hot Texan summer afternoon, suddenly look like shimmering blankets on the backs of the cattle.

The air gets deathly still and heavy.  It's like trying to take a deep breath in a Turkish sauna.  It is so thick and hot and laden with steam that it fills your lungs before you can take a deep draught of it.  Walking through it is like pushing yourself through cream of mushroom soup with the heavy smell of mold and mildew laced into it, and the humidity is so high that you sweat profusely just sitting on the porch.

At some point, the storm line appears on the horizon, looking like Sauron's evil spreading over Middle Earth.  The rain is so heavy, it forms a solid curtain of silver gray that the eye can not pierce.  The line of clouds itself is so straight you could draw a surveyor's bead from it: in the leading edge are low, smooth clouds that curl down in the bow shock, and behind them are towering thunderheads that seem to stretch to Heaven itself.  Lightning leaps across the heads then stabs down at the Earth, momentarily casting a strange blue light over those things which have been engulfed by the advancing drapery of doom.

Far across the endless Texas horizon, you can see the fields of grain bow down to the relentless fury.  The line is so sharp that if you could stop the storm for a moment, it would be possible to stand half in and half out of it.

That line of subdued grain comes toward you in a way that seems both slow and plodding and blindingly fast.  Because of the vast views, you can watch the storm line come across miles of sorghum and corn. Now you catch a whiff of pungent wet Earth - the smell of hot, dry soil suddenly doused with unbelievable amounts of ice water.

Occasionally, at the leading edge, a cloud will curl back on itself, and within moments a tornado has formed. All around its tip, crops are flying up in a cloud of debris, whipping around the sky in a furious parade of destruction.  Just as suddenly, the tornado dissipates and the plants float, almost lazily, back down to the ground.

One minute, the storm seems miles away - hardly a threat.  The next, the line of doom is marching across your fields towards the house.  The cows seem to freeze in place, bracing for the impact.  The hot still air kicks up into a slight breeze, then turning to a furious cold wind.  The temperature drops ten degrees in seconds.

And the rain...

A moment ago, you thought you had time to refill your glass of lemonade.  Now your only thought is to find a wall against the driving rain.  The wind carries the drops sideways, first this way, then that.  Sometimes, you see gravity itself shut down as the drops fall upward for the briefest of moments.

The sky turns the most hideous shade of yellow-green as you dash for the tin barn to escape Nature's wrath.  Inside the barn, the noise is deafening, as hail pelts the tin.  Through the doorway, you watch as pearls fall from the sky and pile up like manna.  You shiver from the sudden cold and the good dousing you got running the few short feet to shelter.

Outside, it seems as if the world is ending.  At noon, the sky is blacker than midnight.  Through the various doors and windows of the barn, the rain seems to fall a different way in every direction - from the east over there, from the west over there, and on the north windows, torrents so heavy as to block the view past the panes.  By the south door, a fan of dampness spreads out on the cement floor as the mist swirls in the opening and settles down.

Inside your gut, the feeling is overwhelming.  You are hit with a sudden burst of fear and excitement, like a case of butterflies on steroids.  You have a powerful urge to run in circles and whoop and holler, though you have no clue why.  The air itself is charged - even the chickens out back are raising a furious racket, with roosters crowing and the hens clucking like Life itself depends on it.

Then, as suddenly as it began, the rain slows to a gentle drizzle.  The wind dies to a calm fall breeze.  The animals quiet down and that feeling of boiling emotion in the pit of your stomach ebbs away.  The pearls of hail have already started to melt and the clouds slowly loosen their choke-hold on the sunlight.  Green gives way to black, which parts to blue.

When you emerge from the barn, the world seems renewed, fresh, clean.  Even the dirt seems less dirty (though one step into the red Texas mud will ruin that illusion).  The sky appears scrubbed clean and the air itself has an effervescent quality, like the molecules themselves are sparkling.

In the fields, the plants are all bowed in the same direction, as if a giant foot had trampled them.  Look closely and you see a dozen fountains of dirt as the field creatures kick residue from their homes.  The grasshoppers, silent before the storm, are now clacking like crazy in all directions.  Across the fields, a tenuous cloud of insects forms just over the tops of the plants as they stretch to the Sun to dry their wings.

Here we are...

We see the storm approaching across the fields.  We've known for a long time it was coming.  The air is just starting to stir and all the signs are of impending cataclysm.  It's time to run to the barn.  The storm is here.  The fear and panic will start to rise shortly.  The animals, whose memories are dangerously short, will give in to the fear, but we have seen this before and can calm that simmering kettle of emotions in our bellies so that we are able to marvel at the power of Nature, rather than flee the temporary maelstrom around us.

The sky is turning, the wind picking up, the lightning leaping all around.  The storm is here.  It will pass, of course, but we must go through to enjoy what's behind it.

We've seen this coming from a long way off.  We saw the line of clouds, the angry tornadoes, the wall of rain.  We've made our preparations as best we can and taken shelter in the barn.  Nothing left to do but marvel at the dangerous beauty of what we call Life.  Many will be hurt, some will die.  There is no accounting for the seeming randomness of Universe.  Sometimes the rain falls up.

All is as it should be.


Pick A Vlad, Any Vlad

Oh man, we humans are so FumBucked.

Just to put a fine point on how nutz the world is these days, Vlad Putin is being pushed for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Now that in itself is not so crazy, but his name comes up because he stopped a Nobel Peace Laureate from prosecuting a war on Syria.

We are so screwed.

Most of the insanity is coming out of America today.  World War 2 vets are catching flack for assembling at the World War 2 monument in DC.  If you think this is something new, then you should read up on the Bonus Army.  Keep in mind that then-Majors Patton and Eisenhower were riding through the protesters hacking and slaying with their swords.  Now they just use microwaves.  So much cleaner and doesn't provide unseemly photo ops.

More fun?  Just as full-blown socialism arrives in America (Obamacare), the country crashes and burns.  No wonder a dozen countries all want their gold back.  There may not be anyone to load it pretty soon.

One good thing about the government shut-down...the US won't be invading any countries for several days.  One bad thing...if it goes on too long, old Bammy might just start exercising Emergency Executive Powers and finding it much easier to operate without that silly old Congress in the way.  Remember some guy names Hitler?

This is likely the beginning of the end of the Anglo-American empire.  The country is already in receivership - euphemistically called sequestation (note definitions 3 and 4).

As the London Telegraph notes, this is no way to run a country.  Of course, being stupid hasn't stopped the polidiots yet, and London has little room to talk on the subject.

At any rate, these events will likely, and may already be causing a crisis of confidence in US bonds.  Even more to the point, Russia and China may be holding US by the short and curlies with the threat of a mass sell-off of US debt instruments, which is at the root of all this mess.

We shouldn't be surprised if Germany, Venezuela, Finland, Poland, Romania, and a number of others start getting very cozy with the BRICS alliance.  Furthermore, we should look for Russia and China to kick their efforts to establish a seperate system of finance into high gear.  They've got to get their safety net in place before the last few threads break under the Evil Empire's behind.

What's a real head-slapper here is that the more we see, the more Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was right.  He said many pressient things, but the one that stands out just now is, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope by which we will hang them."

The US sold its soul to Russia and China thinking that by owning piles and piles of US debt, they would never stand up to Anglo-American hegemony.  The neo-whatevers apparently never considered that the transfer of wealth and manufacturing to points east, as well as the decades-long effort to completely destroy family cohesiveness and educational excellence at home have completely destroyed capitalism and the empire in one fell swoop.

The Capitalists not only sold the rope, they tied the knot, found the tree, and stuck their head into the noose.  Lenin is stunned into a catatonic state just pondering how right he was.

Where to now?  Well, if you're in the US, you might want to get out.  If the collapse of Rome is any indication, that country will be no place to live pretty soon.  All those post-apocalyptic movies, like Mad Max and The Postman are probably mild compared to what's coming.

As one Texas politician put it some time back, "Rape is like the weather - if it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."  Heck, if nothing else, we may get to see two Nobel Peace Laureates go to war against each other.

Won't that be entertaining...


Let Them Eat Bugs

Kid:  Hi Mom, I'm home from standing idly on the street corner all day hoping something interesting would happen.  What's for dinner?

Mom: Cockroach paste and margarine.

Kid:  Oh Moooooooommmm!  We had that last night!  Johnny's mom made centipede canapes last night.

Mom: Sorry honey, I had to sell your brother's kidney to the CEO of Monsanto just to get this.

Yup, those jolly old bastards who run the world just can't find enough ways to show their contempt for humanity.  Sure, there are plenty of people who eat bugs, but to pronounce that bug powder is going to save the world from starvation is just pure...well, I can't find a polite word for it that has the same emotional content.  Wasn't that the same damn line they fed us with GMOs?

I think all politicians should only receive the local minimum wage and have to pay all taxes and use all services that they force everyone else to comply with.

What really chaps my inner thighs, though, is the way they sell us our doom and make it sound like the greatest thing since water-based lube.

Remember all those films in the 40s, 50s and 60s that sold us the load of horse crap about labor-saving devices and how our lives would be completely free of drudgery in the new age?  That was back when dad could make a decent living and mom could stay home with the kids.  Now mom and dad have to work two jobs each and sell the kids into slavery to make the credit card payments on all the cheap-ass rubbish that lasts two years at best and then must be replaced at premium prices with hefty interest rates to help things long.

By this time, according to World Book Encyclopaedia, we were all supposed to be zipping around in flying cars and hundreds of people, if not more, would be working off-planet on a rotating basis.  Well, we got the rotating part, all right, but not quite in the way we had thought.

Then there was the computer revolution.  Yessiree, we were all going to be working online in air-conditioned comfort whizzing documents back and forth.  Oh sure, we got it.  Now we all sit in vast open rooms staring at monitors day in and day out performing menial tasks while having our eye movements tracks for the least little sign that we may get violent at any moment.

Oh, and who can forget the robot revolution?  We were going to be freed from those mundane, repetitive jobs of putting A-tabs into B-slots.  Now machines would do it all and we could sit back and punch buttons.  Oh, we got it alright, only the robots eliminated three-quarters of all those mundane jobs and the button-pushing was exported to least-cost labor nations.

And now, brace yourself for the 3-D printing revolution!  Yup, those three remaining white-collar jobs will be able to do it all with the press of a button.  They just call up the plans for whatever gizmo they want, hit print, and the printers and robots will jigger it all up and deliver it to their door.

No more need to humanity.  Us useless eaters will be reduced to eating bug paste and watching reruns of Buck Rogers, trying to figure out where the hell we got bumped off the fast-track.

The more you look at it, the more the past century looks like a steady series of steps towards a human-less manufacturing process, with real live working middle-class humans slowly being bumped out of the way by the cold metalic hands of C3PO and R2D2.  It really pisses you off when you realize just how polite and cute those damn machines were while they were impoverishing you.

Pass the bug guts, would ya?

What a load of crap we were sold.  There are precisely six people working off-planet at any given time.  The only flying cars are desperate folks doing a Thelma and Louise off the top floor of the parking garage.  And the miracle of GMO foods has come down to bug paste for dinner.  Hell, those of us who are still working are doing little more than tidying up the place before the last automated process takes over and we are all obsolete.

Makes you wonder if it wouldn't be worth it to tear the whole damn thing down and start over again.  Either way, we'll all be eating bug guts.