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Be Afraid - The Great Awakening

Howdy howdy, friends and neighbors.  Welcome to another long-suffering installment of the Far Side journal and toilet supplement.

To all our screaming reader-fans out there who have patiently demanded yet more advenures on the Far Side, we apologize and remind the gentle readers that we have been very busily putting our money where our mouth is by leading the effort to create a massive arts and entertainment complex in Jakarta, unique in the country at this time, to put into practice our constant harping on culture and aesthetics being the key to "taking it back".  Only by contemplating the highest of arts and liberating the mind and spirit from the constant attempts by the PTB to keep us in fear and loathing, can we hope to defeat the wave of evil cynicism and control sweeping our great planet at this time.

Thus, your front-line war correspondent diligently reports on the advancement of Good over Evil from the very point where the two clash and mix in a turbulent maelstrom of life and death.  For those who would like to see what the front lines look like, we steer you to the Ciputra Artpreneur website, where the various weapons of Enlightenment are prominently displayed, as if on some ephemeral May Day parade.  Anyone stopping by and mentioning this column will be treated to a comprehensive behind-the-scenes tour by yours truly.

For those already grumbling and demanding that we come to some kind of point today, let us launch into the topic of "Awakening," since it is tightly related to things such as art and aesthetics.

Around the net, and for several decades now, a lot of folks have been tossing around this term awakening, like so many sacks of philosophical potatoes.  Commentators talk about folks waking up, and others hail the coming awakening, as if it is the New Age version of Pentecost.

Awakening, however, is a much more painful and frightening process than most assume.  It is not something where one wakes up one day in a blissful state, having been freed from the cares of our sick society.

Awakening is, in fact, the complete and total failure of all the framework upon which we hang something called reality.  The first inkling that you are awakening is the realization that reality is not.  Loss of this critical lynchpin causes a chain reaction in which all those systems we use to define reality collapse: family, religion, education, history, government, etc.  It is a terrifying, for most, process that modern psychology labels as mental disease, and for which a great number of people medicate themselves into a stupor to avoid confronting this process.

Suppose you are working on a scaffolded platform several stories above a field of razor-sharp spikes embedded in concrete, when you realize that the scaffold has begun to collapse far below you and you are unable to stop the process.  That sick feeling in the bottom of you gut that blossoms into panic is what is euphamistically called awakening.

My own awakening came while I was in the process of reading The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and a companion collection of essays by Henry Ford (yes, THAT Henry Ford) called, "The International Jew".

For the record, I am not anti-semitic nor anti-jewish.  Those who call themselves Zionists, and who have Germanic or Russio surnames are not semitic peoples, nor are they religiously Jewish.  They have usurped the titles as a smoke screen for what they are trying to accomplish.  Bear in mind that the modern Zionist movement was founded by the Rothschild family and promoted by the Askinasim jews, who are Caucasians (in the strict sense of the word).  If you need an example of true anti-semitism, you need look no further than Israel'treatment of Palestine in the news.

That being out of the way, reading those above-mentioned texts were a crushing blow to my scaffold. 

Keep in mind that I was raised in a political household by History and English teachers, and my education was solidly based in the Trivium and Quadrivium, with immersion in logic, rhetoric and philosophy, I was already a critical thinker who didn't buy most of the rubbish that passed for "culture".  Add to that my vocation in the arts and media, and I was able to see through and even participate in the indoctrination process that oozes from our TeeVee sets.  In other words, I was closer to awake than most folks are when the moment comes.

Despite all that, when the scaffold collapses, it is not a pretty sight.  The final prop of my scaffold, which was my lifelong indoctrination in the Roman Catholic cult, was the most painful and disconcerting.

It is at the point of collapse that the awakening mind is most vulnerable.  It scrambles for some ledge to grab onto in a desperate attempt to remain suspended above the crash point.  Like a cartoon character that has just run off the edge of a cliff, the mind flaps wildly trying to defy gravity and imminent doom.  The overwhelming fear of having nothing to believe in causes panic as the mind seeks to magically erect a new scaffold at terminal velocity.

If you have not felt this, then you are not yet awake.  Sorry.  It is an inevitable part of the process.  It is the reason that secret societies have levels of mastery, so that the mind is carefully prepared for weightlessness.  Most of us, unfortunately, don't have a Master at our side guiding us through the process.  I was a lucky one, but only because my educational background had put me on the road to awakening and the right people were already in my circle of friends.

The exponential rise of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs is a symptom of the Great Awakening happening to people ill-equipped to handle the transition.  In a society where people are highly discouraged from reading the classics or learning art history or immersing themselves in real self-improvement (Habits of Highly Effective People and 10-Minute Abs do not count), people do not have the tools or foundation to guide them through such a profound experience.  Thus, they feel rudderless and depressed with no idea what to do with these novel feelings.

Few people realize that awakening is a very old experience and one for which there is a lot of literature to ease the transition.  The problem is that most of the beneficial literature is very old (and considered quaint or forbidden), and it is written in cryptic prose that is hard to interpret until you are in the middle of the transition.  For instance, alchemical and hermetic texts will seem dense and undecipherable at first, but once you are in the midst of an awakening, suddenly they will seem to be maps, complete with signposts and landmarks.  Until you have experienced something this profound, the vocabulary seems byzantine and overly complex.  In other words, what appears to be mystical and esoteric at first glance will suddenly become crystal clear and meaningful once you are in the same landscape.

In our age, there are precious few gurus to walk us through this perilous transition.  The nature of the transition is exacerbated by the fact that we no longer trust any of the institutions or systems in our society.  A certain paranoia sets in and we become afraid to follow anyone, much less the matrices that have held us captive for generations.  We are thus cast loose in a wild sea with no compass or sextant and are expected to navigate to safe harbor without charts or knowledge of the stars.  We are truly on our own, and that, for most of us, is a deeply frightening prospect.

The first and most important step in one's awakening is to realize that you are going through it.  The second, and equally important step, is to have absolute faith that the tools you need will come to you when you need them.  This doesn't mean do nothing.  You must read and study the ancient wisdom.  You must find like-minded folks and join together in solidarity.  But know that the key pieces that you need to rebuild your Universe correctly will come to hand - to that I can attest - and they will most often seem small and insignificant until you plug them into your thirsting mind and spirit: a seemingly offhand remark from someone you trust, a bit of text in a book of wisdom, a sudden shift in perspective in a scene you are looking at.

The first part of awakening is very much like Saul being struck from his horse on the way to Damascus, but the genuinely frightening part is that there rarely seems to be any follow up to guide your now-open mind and spirit.  Don't be afraid...or as Douglas Adams so succinctly put it in the Hitchhiker's Guide, "DON'T PANIC!"

At this point, you've taken the first step.  Go about your business as usual and be aware of everything around you.  The tools will start coming quite rapidly, and once you get used to finding them, you will see them everywhere.

The best analogy I have yet found in pop culture, believe it or not, is the scene in "Interview With A Vampire," when Brad Pitt goes through his conversion, and suddenly everything around him seems alive.  That is very much how it feels and what it looks like, and in fact you are entering the realm of eternal life, though it is quite a bit more pleasant than the movie implies.

Avoid imitations.  When the real Awakening comes, it will feel, if not look, exactly like the painting at the top of this column.  You will be struck hard and your initial reaction will be very near terror.  I had a series of shocking visions, to the point that my parents even offered to get an exorcist to help me out.  Don't let the fear win, and most importantly, keep your mind and spirit open to receive the tools that will be coming shortly, and for the rest of your life.

And stay focused on the fact that you are now Neo Unplugged.  You are emerging from a long sleep and soon your body, mind and spirit will begin surging with new powers and sensations you have never experienced before, nor even considered.

Run with it!


News Trifle

So let's get this straight, Mr. Empty Suit...

The US, which operates the world's - and history's - most egregious and powerful espionage infrastructure, that includes billion-dollar facilities in Utah, hundreds of whirly-gigs in orbit, and has turned the nation of Iraq into a puppet regime did not see the ISIS coming?

And what was that?  The puppet government in Iraq doesn't have the will to fight for, with, against (choose your own preposition here) a bunch of yodels that gathered billions of dollars and piles of weapons without anyone finding out?

So, any old yahoo can gather up a bunch of wild-eyed mercenaries, amass piles of crowd-funded dollars, buy huge caches of weapons, and the US espionage infrastructure would never catch it?

So what you're really saying, Mr. Empty Suit, is that none of the groping, jack boots and Constitution shredding achieves a single thing, other than the illusison of safety?

And what about all those folks swarming over your southern border?  Could it be that bad "intelligence" is allowing a bunch of wild-eyed yahoos to import a bunch of mercenaries, amass piles of armaments, and collect billions in crowd funding?

Are we all really that stupid to have bought into this whole security state?


Riding Madison Avenue

Let's see if we can get this straight:

Ebola kills just shy of 1,000 people, and it's a global emergency.
Israel kills about 3,000 Palestinians, and no one notices or cares.
Kiev has killed somewhere around 1,000 good folks, and the only thing that gets people jumping are the 290 souls on MH17.

Just wanted to put that in perspective.

Looky here:
"CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases."

What's that?  You mean that 2/3s more Americans die each year of food poisoning, than have died globally of ebola (to date, of course)?  And (this is going to hurt) a thousand people out of 7.5 billion is what...less than 1% of the population?  (you do the math)  So, fewer people have died in the recent ebola outbreak than were killed by cars in North America in 1909?

You'll excuse me if I don't panic.

I have found that life is much healthier and less stressful when I completely ignore "authorities", "experts" and "media" (AEM).  These people all makes livings off of scaring the shit out of large numbers of people, who then turn to the AEM for guidance and comfort. It's a huge bloody scam, folks.  They are playing like Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in that silly little film called "Outbreak".  Seriously, go watch it again and then read the AEM headlines.  It's like a freakin' script!

Which brings us to ISIS (most of our fan mail centers on our uncanny ability to connect non sequiturs).

Here in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority nation on Earth, ISIS YouTube videos have been banned, the organization is being demonized and word on the street is that many of the recruiters for ISIS are Western Europeans - which tells you a lot about who is behind it.

At this point, you eyes are glazed over and your brain is trobbing as you try to find the link between ISIS, the Ukraine, ebola, Israeli war crimes, and car accidents.  So I'll help you out.  The link is "fear".

At the highest levels of the AEM, a bunch of morally bereft jerks are sitting in their posh Riviera flats, smoking cigars and laughing as the people of the world run around in a panic out of fear of manufactured boogymen.  You've got a virus that was manufactured and patented, you've got an ostensible nation that was created by Western oligarchs (the Ukraine), you've got another nation that was destroyed by western oligarchs (Palestine), a terrorist organization created and funded by western oligarchs (ISIS), and a machine that was created by western oligarchs (the car).  See the thread here?

Out of sheer panic, you will allow yourself to be rounded up (Outbreak) and inoculated with God-knows-what.  Out of desperate fear, you will support more war in Iraq and back Israeli war crimes.  In blind terror, you will ignore the geopolitical games in a country that doesn't really exist (the Ukraine).  And in pure desperation, entire nations will behave exactly as the musty old bastards on the Riviera planned for us.

Yes, folks, it's time for us to tune out the AEM and take back our lives.  We are being herded like ruminating animals, and if we stray too far in any direction, there are mental cattle-prods to coax us back into line.

Hell, most of this crap in the world is just the US doing a bit of Madison Ave. marketing.  Problem-reaction-solution.  Poor Ukraine gets pooped on by Russia - Uncle Sugar to the rescue.  Poor Africa gets sick with (Daddy's) fear bug, Uncle Sugar to the rescue.  Poor Israel gets scared of some righteously angry Palestinians - Uncle Sugar to the rescue.  The Muslim world gets overrun by a mystery organization that didn't exist a few months ago - Uncle Sugar to the rescue.

It's the perfect image rehab plan, as any top-flight PR firm would script it.  Take a weakness - in this case, Uncle Sugar's need to kill people - and turn it into a virtue - Uncle Sugar bombs the bad guys and cured diseases that he created with the "untested" secret cure that he tucked away for just such a moment as this.

In other words, folks, what you are witnessing is a massive campaign to rehabilitate Uncle Sugar's tarnished reputation.  This is Public Relations/Spin Doctoring 101.  Look it up.

Maybe I'm just weird.  To me, this whole friggin' charade is so transparent.  I guess that's what Obama meant when he said his time as emperor-du-jour would be the most transparent in history.  But a lot of seeming intelligent folks have been sucked into this script without seeing the Big Picture.  I won't publish the reader mail I've gotten on this topic, because I don't want to embarrass anyone, but honstely folks, it's all a bag of wool being pulled over your eyes.

Turn off the AEM and stop watching all those psycho-social training films (Outbreak).  The proper film to watch at thsi point to properly open your brain synapes is "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb".  It's about as accurate a portrayal of who's really in charge here as I've ever seen.

If you feel yourself starting to panic, put a bag over your head, breathe deeply and steadily, and remember that in 2012, 33,561 people died in North America from cars.  The Ukraine, ISIS, Israel, and ebola all put together are a mere fraction of that number.

Amazing how a little perspective clarifies things.


The Smoke Rings Of My Mind

Let's see...where were we?  Obviously, we've slept since the last post, and well, at our advanced age, things just kind of slip away.  Oh yes, we were on about the election here.  You might want to sit down for today's post, because it's going to be all over the place and we don't want you to get dizzy and fall down on the mass-people-mover.

So, the winner was Jokowi (a.k.a., the white hats)...or was it?  After the July 9th election, the margin was apparently so close that the black hats made a fuss and wouldn't concede, so we all had to wait until July 22, when the KPU (national election authority) announced their final count.  Well, that came down on the side of the white hats with 53% to 46%.  But that didn't satisfy the black hats either, though they promised they would accept the KPU's count.  So they threatened to burn down the country (like good patriots do when they lose) because of "massive fraud" in the system.  Of course, they should know, they were behind a lot of it.

Anyway, the black hats announced on 22 July that they were disgusted with the KPU and were pulling out of the election, which was more or less conceding the count.  Then on 23 July, the campaign announced that "quitting" wasn't really what they meant...they were pulling out of the counting process - two hours before the official announcement - because of "massive fraud and corruption".  In other words, that count didn't go in their favor either.  So now they are filing an appeal with the Indo Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, alleging "massive fraud" in the system.

Oh, they also filed a police report alleging that various election agencies "lost" thousands of pages of "evidence" of that self-same "fraud".  Gee, they just don't have all that "evidence" because a government agency "lost" it, your honor, but take their word for it...lots of "fraud".

What's really going on is that the ruling oligarchs and military-industrial complex that have run Indonesia for decades lost fair and square to a populist reformer furniture-maker, who grew up in the slums of Yogyakarta and rose up through the ranks to become Indonesia's seventh president.  It's akin to the Bush Clan losing complete control of America, and the Bushes threatening to destroy the country because of it.

Fun to watch.

Meantime, a group named after an Egyptian goddess (Isis), who was the model for the Virgin Mary (look it up), has taken a chunk of Iraq, is trying to take Syria, has likely taken Libya, and currently has a bunch of (white) folks here in Indonesia recruiting.  We mention the "white" part, because these are Europeans, not Semitics, who are recruiting for ISIS.  We'll let you make up your own scenario on how all that works.  We have a pretty good idea.

Also in the past month that we've been actually doing productive stuff and taking a well-earned vacation at the Far Side World Headquarters - Java Branch (FSWHJB), another Malaysian airliner went walkies.  Yup, that makes TWO planes from the Malaysian national airline - a country that tried and convicted George W. Bush of war crimes in Iraq.  See previous comments.

This brings up some interesting thoughts, too.  We know what you are thinking, "Oh God, here he goes again."

Have you noticed over the past few years the globs of experts that seem to all die in clumps?  First, there were the microbiologists, then bankers, then Chinese IT experts (Malasia 1) and finally HIV/AIDS experts (Malaysia 2).  If you're one of those people that likes math and statistics, which we don't, then please calculate the odds and send us the result.  Please show your work, even though we wouldn't have a clue how to check it.

The first two groups have all be suicided in rather interesting ways - nails and bullets to the back of the head and so on - while the latter two groups have all been snuffed by the same airline with one plane vanishing off the face of the Earth and the other being shot down over a war zone.  Don't forget to add those events into your calculations.  There also seems to be a smell of relatedness about the groups, in that microbiologists and HIV experts, and bankers and IT experts, all seem to fit into a strange looking puzzle just so.

We figure the odds are like trillions to one, or impossibly random, but we don't trust our math - that's your job, remember?

While all this was going on, there was this event called the World Cup, of which we watched all of exactly zero minutes of, as usual.  It was held in Brazil and attended (conspicuously) by high-ranking officials from the BRICS nations, and their wanna-bes (Germany and Argentina).  Notice too how the wanna-bes were the two finalists.  More calculations from the math-savvy folks out there?  The finalists also happened to be the two countries from where the last two popes were born.  click-click-click on the calculator...  We lump "coincidence" in with things like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

While all this has been going on, Russia and China have been making new friends in far-away places and installing their own version of a kinder-gentler IMF and World Bank.  China's also been busy making currency-swap deals with a bunch of folks, including the very hub of Western banking - Switzerland.  In case you are history impaired, this is how the US dollar took over the world after WW2.  First, you hand piles of your paper to other countries, then sell them vital resources to build/rebuild their infrastructure all denominated in dollars.  We don't know about you, but we shifted all our two dollars in the FOREX market to renmimbi options.  But don't listen to us, we aren't "certified" money advisors, and we tend to do stupid stuff like sell all our stocks in 1999, and buy gold at $270/ounce, then sell it all at $1800/ounce to buy real estate for cash in the hinterlands.

Damn kooks we are.

Oh, did we mention the real estate has appreciated 50% or more in the past three years?

Big damn kooks.

Anyway, back to the Indonesian presidential elections.  Bet you hadn't noticed that WW2 is still being played out.  Yes, that's right, we're still fighting it.  On one side, we have the fascists who represent the very old New World Order, founded in the 1600s, and widely known as the British East India Company, symbolized by red and white stripes on their banners (look it up).  On the other side are the Socialists represented by solid, blood-red banners.  The former believe in corporations owning government, and the latter believe that government owns the corporations.

We, frankly, don't have truck with either side, since they both believe that own us.  We reserve that right to ourselves and our God, thank you very much.

So, that pesky election thing...

The black hats have their red-and-white coalition (look it up), and the white hats are all but Socialist in name, since they want to redistribute wealth through a variety of schemes and keep government firmly planted on top of the nation's resources and the companies that want them.  The two sides are at each others' throats, as they have been for the past century across multiple nations.  in fact, the world seems to be dividing quite nicely along a line that more or less follows the Prime Meridian through the Pacific Ocean, then turns down the Caucasus Mountains through Europe.  The Southern Hemisphere is still up for grabs, which is why the new pope is from Argentina and Africa is a corporate battleground.  And why the Indonesian elections were/are so important to those with half a mind given to free thinking.

Which brings us around to the "border crisis" in the US.  Bet you thought we'd never get to that, right?  But hey!  It took some setup to show how Indonesian elections, dying experts and financial shenanigans are all connected to Mexican/US borders...

What do you do when your Socialist ponzi scheme (commonly called Social Security) is going broke because the largest breeding festival in history is getting old and wants their money back?  Furthermore, what do you do when your arch enemies in the Eastern Hemisphere are making good friends on your southern flank by treating folks decently, rather than stomping on their faces with steel-shank boots?

Why, you throw open the border and allow millions of fresh new tax-payers come running in, who just happen to be from all those countries south of the equator that you've crapped on for nearly a century.  That way, they all have a vested interest in cozying up and keeping you safe from those evil BRICS folks, because - gosh - half your family lives up there, right?

Who's behind it?  Why those pesky corporations who want cheap labor at home to shore up the flagging economy in their back yards, and who want to raid the pensions for capital without causing too many shooting wars at home.  After all, if folks lose both their Social Security and their pensions, they're liable to get just a little irate.  At least they won't bite Uncle Sugar's hand if he's handing out welfare checks.  The corporations can always shift their execs to overseas offices, but it's kind of hard to move politicians.

Everybody wins!

Except us, of course.


Pins And Needles

The line from the great Bob Dylan ballad, Lilly, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, goes, "anyone with anysense had already left town," and that's where things stand in the Indonesian presidential election on this strangely silent night just hours before the polls open.

For those unfamiliar with the country, DKI Jakarta is an actual province of Indonesia, unlike Washington, D.C., which is a bastard child of Maryland and Virginia.  The city has a mayor and a governor, and is the home base of the president, which makes for fun budget meetings.  This little fact will come in to play in a moment, so keep it aside.

For now, let's meet the cast of characters:

In one corner, we have Prabowo, a former general and son-in-law of Suharto, who was dismissed from the army for his role in kidnapping and torturing a number of pro-democracy activists in 1998, during the fall of his daddy-in-law.  He swears he didn't kill anyone, but several of those activists have never been seen again.  Prabowo spent a decade in exile in Jordan, was refused entry to the US to see his son's graduation, and is widely suspected of having a role in the Timor L'Este massacre and the Bali bombing.

In the other corner is a populist reformer called Jokowi.  This guy was governor of Yogyakarta, then governor of Jakarta and is credited with cleaning up graft and corruption, and stream-lining governments where he has been in charge.  His oratory skills are lacking and he has, in classic political fashion, promised the Moon if elected, but he is known as a man of the people and has often been found with sleeves rolled up down among the people.

And this, as they say, is the choice.  Some background:

First, the election laws were changed a couple of years ago to say that only parties or coalitions that had achieved 20% of the parliamentary vote several months before could field a candidate for president.  Next, the law was recently changed to allow winner take all, rather than having a simple majority.  Finally, only a Muslim is allowed to be president, despite the fact that the Constitution recognizes five religions equally and there is a substantial and growing minority of the other four.

The net result is that we now have the classic left/right horse race that the PTB so enjoy, rather than true democracy.  The need for a run-off has been elminated, making it far easier to steal the election (a time-honored tradition here), and Jokowi's Chinese Christian Vice Governor in both Yogyakarta and late in Jakarta could not be on the same ticket because of his religion.  He is, however, now the first minority governor of Jakarta, which is no small feat.

The reason so many people have left/are leaving is that Prabowo has openly said that if he is not elected, he will burn the country down, if elected he will roll back the Constitution to the 1948 pre-amended version that allowed Suharto to take hold for 30 yeats, and that he doesn't think much of all this Western influence around here, though he sent his son to attend college in the States.  According to his statements, he believes that spending ten billion rupiah alone means he deserves the post, regardless of whether anyone wants him there or not.

So, as we mentioned at the outset, anyone with any sense has already left town.  Folks here are widely anticipating riots if the election doesn't go one way, and a rather dark future for Indonesia if it does go another.  The value of the rupiah has fallen 20% since the beginning of the year.  Foreign investment has beaten a path to the exit.  And local investors have been sitting on their wallets and shopping for real estate in Australia for the past three months.  It appears that not everyone is feeling confident passed today.

Oh, did we mention that Probowo's own brother, a Christian convert, has been speaking out against him and has also stated that he will leave the country if his brother is elected.

Like Janus, we sit here with one face in the future and one in the past, wondering if Indonesia will continue the reforms of the past 15 years, or throw it all out and start from square one.  It would seem that the wildly prosperous new middle class would chose to move forward, but it appears that there is still a strong backlash against just leaving people alone and letting them get about with their lives.  In short, it is a microcosm of the forces at war in the world at large.

One the one hand are the forces of fascism and iron-fisted government, and on the other are those of laissez-faire and freedom to choose one's own path in life.  It would seem that World War III will be a continuation of World War II, which itself was the direct result of World War I.  Perhaps future historians will call this period the Second Hundred Years' War.  Certainly, the Middle East mess, particularly Iraq, is the result of T. E. Lawrence's meddling at the behest of his masters in the West during WW1, and the alignment of parties worldwide is seemingly following those of WW2.  The one hacke in der sacke is the rising affluence of Asia in this sequel.

Indeed, this whole mess sounds like a PTB film franchise with everyone eagerly awaiting the explosive conclusion of the trilogy of films in this particular story arch.

One thing we can say for certain is that the internet around here has been a conplete mess for the past 24 hours, leading one to assume that someone is trying to control the flow of information to and from the outside.  We may bave to crank up TOR just to publish this installment of the Far Side saga.

In any event the results of our election here bear watching even by those with no obvious iron in the fire.  Indonesia has become a powerful force in regional events, and a growing one worldwide.  It makes for a fine canary in the coal mine for those seeking a taste of things to come.  As for us, we are firmly planted and in it for the full ride.  We suggest the proper reaction at this point is malaise-faire.

One need only look closely at the national emblem of Indonesia back at the top.  You may recognize the phoenix, commonly used by countries that are franchises of the PTB.  Further, notice the logo at his feet, which translated from Sanskrit means, "Out of many one," or e pluribus unam.  We further draw your attention to the red and white stripes of the flag, which symbolizes ownership by the British East India Company (look it up...).  That's what we're up again around here.

Perhaps we will take a further clue from Dylan's classic ballad and, "move into the corner, face-down like the Jack of Hearts."

And the winner is...


Lumpy Koalas And Other Stuff

Dateline-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: For many years, I've wanted to come to KL. Imagine my cisappointment when it turns out to be Singapore, Jr.

Regular readers will know my animosity towrds the saccarine neo-fascist state called Singapore.  Western gourists love it because they can tell all their friends they've been to Asia without ever leaving the safety of their nanny security state.

KL is a rubber stamp of that grotesque place.  From the same damn plastic money that won't fold, to the painfully clean streets and clockwork traffic, KL is as bland and unthreatening as Ohio.

Oh sure, there are the Petronas towers and the dancing water show, which to me are just more ant piles and attempts at a cultural life, to be found in any major metropolis near you.

Hell, even the gobs of palm oil plantatioms passed on the endless journey from the airport to city centre look like Disney-fied versioms of jungle. Even the colors seem carefully chosen by Imagineers to be painfully unthreatening.

We're here on business, and lest you think that affects my perceptions, disabuse yourself of the notion.  I spent three months in deep jungle on business and had the survivalist wetdream.  The experience would have scared the hell out of those pretenders on that survival 'reality' show I never watched.  So, I am ready for about anything on business trips...

Except more of this bland Western imperialistic crap that passes for much of Asian culture anymore.

Perhaps this is what the Visigoths felt when they finally got fed up and sacked Rome.  They just couldn't take any more of those damn coliseums and vomitoriums.  Probably because they came with those damn Roman legions groping you at the door.

Anyway, back to KL.

I'm here to tour the national theater and look in on the rigging system before it ships.  Four days at the Hangingtree hotel in a rubber-stamped room over a consumer orgy called a mall.  I can't even bring myself to buy the usual refridgerator magnet because it looks just like the one fron Singapore.  The only difference is it, like all the tourist crack here, has two ant piles on it.  At least Singapore has their nifty little seahorse-lion logo.  It's the only thing that distinguishes it from all the other imperial strongholds of the world.

One thing here feels like home. Even though the roads are in good repair and there's almost no traffic - wildly different from Jakarta-there' not one damn right angle to be found.  So it takes for-freakin'-ever to go anywhere.  You have go jump down, gurn around and pick a bale cotton just to cross the bloody street.

Food, bed...doggie style?
Who'da thunk this Texas farmboy, Mr. Solitude, would miss the anarcho-silliness of life in Jakarta, a city of 20 million nuts packed into the space of Houston's innerloop?   I guess it's because Indonesia still has a flavor. Despite the empire's best efforts, it just can't turn that country into a rubber stamp.  You gotta respect the tenacity of those folks.  I love people who see law and order as something to be actively ignored and dismissed.

Hell, Facebook won't even let me log on because I'm not in my usual cubby hole.  I hate when corporations try to nanny me.  I'll watch after myself, Mark Zuckerburg.  Get the f¥£k out of my business!  Like FaceBook is so dzmned important I can only log on from my home country?!  Worried that someone won't get tagged correctly, or what?

Oh yeah, back to KL...what do you call someone from here?  Oompa-loompa?


From Hell's Half Acre

Dateline - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: So, here we are in KL taking a little time to work on the cultural life of the world and do all we can to elevate the spirit and increase intellectualism, and you guys let the planet go to hell in a handbasket.  What gives?  Can't we leave you guys alone for 10 minutes without all hell breaking loose? we have to do everything around here?

Here we've got Obammie letting slip the dogs of war and *POOF*, we've got ISIS popping up in Iraq withing days, and no one says the obvious that Obammie was in on the whole ISIS thing?  C'mon, this is such an obvious ploy to draw Iran out of its comfort zone and provide grist for the now-30-year campaign to take over and carve up that ancient land.

We're not even going to tread on the whole ISIS name thing and how it refers to an ancient Babylonian goddess names Eshtar (Easter) and how the goddess Isis is the model for the whole Mary Mother of God and Jesus thing.  We have an undying faith in the native intelligence of our readers here to put those pieces together all by themselves.

Then, we have the whole Pope wants new Third Council of Nicaea with his homey the Patriarch of Constantinople (aka Istanbul) on the 1,700th anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea in AD325.  In case your church history is a bit rusty, the First Council is the one that decided what was and wasn't canon for all of Christianity, and thus created what we call the Bible.  The second council in AD787 was notable for authorizing the worship of graven images, called icons lest you confuse them with the Old Testament ban on such things.  Both of these councils were part of seven ecumenical councils of the day to determine what was 'good' religion, and what was 'bad'.  So, what can we expect in 2025, when the Third Council gets done pontificating?

Not that any of it did much good, because a couple of centuries later, Pope Bonaface VIII declared the Vatican the center of the Universe and everyone ended up getting a divorce, called excommunication in relgion-speak.  By the way, if you're watching such things, it appears that Francis I is re-asserting Bonaface's Unam Sanctum making the Vatican the de facto One World Government and Official One Worl Religion...a papal decree that lies at the heart of our current state slavery issues.

And the worm turns...

Meantime, the US is experiencing an immigrant crisis, not unlike when the Irish, Italians, Russians, and all the other waves of immigrants came over.  The central factor in this problem is that the white folk ain't breeding fast enough to pay for the aging Baby Boom drag on Social Security, so the state needs more taxpayers and will hand out citizenship to anyone stupid enough to take it.  There's a reason that the number of folks giving up US citizenship is skyrocketing.  Why in the hell would a bunch of illiterate, nomadic farmers want citizenship?  Oh, looks like we answered our own question.

In other news, the Indonesian presidential elections are coming to a head on 9 July, with Soeharto II versus a not-so-eloquent JFK type.  It's neck-and-neck, if you believe the bought-and-paid-for polls, with accusations flying that one candidate is a closet christian, while the other is a closet dictator.  It's all rather exciting and a lot of folks are threatening to leave the country is one or the other gets elected, though the consensus seems to be that the JFK type will clean up corruption better than the Fascist.  Folks are banking on the rupiah to tank if the Fascist gets in.  Place you bets accordingly.

In Russia, Putin continues his campaign to be Alpha Male of the Year, and having some success at it.  All we know is that we attended the Russian National Day affair here in Jakarta and it was swank.  Ritz-Carlton ballroom, lots of fine food, free-flow vodka, and a slick multi-media presentation of the national anthems and a not-so-subtle plug for Russian business.  Considering the American ambassador is xenophobic, we hardly expect the US National Day to out-shine, especially since budgets have been tight for such things.

On the hearts-and-minds front, the Russian embassy is working to bring the Bolshoi Ballet to Jakarta, while the US embassy is now strip-searching people entering their compound.

In related news, our little 3-story, 3,000 sqm art and culture project proceeds apace.  The galleries are now open, with the museum and theater coming up fast.  We're working 15-hour days trying to get all the duckies in a row, though it's a bit like herding cats.  Who'da thunk there were so many damn moving parts in art?  We're wearing so many hats that our hair is falling out from the friction of changing them so much, not to mention the stress.  But hey!  No one can say we don't put our money where our big mouth is, right?  We go on and on about culture and art raising society and advancing intelligence, so here we are working our little deer-ee-ear off to make it happen.  So there.

So, it's all good.  God is in his heaven and all is right with the world, if you keep your sense of humor about the ridiculous games the so-called Poopers-What-Be keep playing.  These numb-nuts haven't changed their playbook in something like one-and-a-half millennia.  Talk about entrenched thinking.  Makes it easy to run circles around them, though.

In case it's been upper-most on your mind wondering what we've been doing here on the Far Side, now you know: laughing at the PWB, traveling to strange lands and laying waste, going to swank diplomatic parties, and bringing ice to the natives (see Mosquito Coast for this obscure reference).

Stay tuned for some impressions on KL.  To prepare yourself, see our many rants on neo-Fascist Singapore.

Peace, love and chili peppers...


The Gay Divorcee

The high-level game of one-upmanship is progressing apace.  You've got the Russians shutting down AEGIS-class destroyers and the Americans blowing up Proton-M rockets with the latest communications satellite on-board.  The Crimean banks just switched to the new Russian financial clearing system and the Americans leaving scorched earth in Ukraine.

You've got China quietly sitting in the background.  These guys are shrewd.  Their rhetoric is clearly aligned with Moscow, but they haven't taken a direct action towards either camp.  They are playing their own game of watching and learning, while toodling around on the Moon with their little buggy learning all the stuff that has been so carefully hidden from the world for 50 years.

The EU is looking rather silly and confused.  On the one hand, they want to stay aligned with the US masters, but on the other, they see the US leadership has completely lost touch with reality.  They are teetering precariously on the fence trying to decide which side has the most king's horses and king's men to put it back together again.

Australia, historically a staunch US ally, is starting to waver.  They see the US playing a dangerous game of destabilization in the Pacific, which is soiling the Ozzie back yard.  They may have cultural and historical ties to the US,  but they also know which side of the toast is buttered when it come to trade and playing well with neighbors.

The US has obviously lost a lot of points in South America.  Brazil, a long-time ally and hot economy, is finding much greener pastures elsewhere.  Columbia and Venezuela, having been invaded by the US decades ago under something called the "War on Drugs," struggling to get out of the US tent and breathe a little fresh air.  Even quiet little Ecuador is tired of being ridden by economic hitment and want to get a little taste of their own resources.

Argentina hasn't had much luck the past few decades getting their economic cow pies together, but they are quite sure that playing in the US sandbox (and by extension the UK box-read Faulklands) is not in their best interests.

Underneath all of these macro currents, the number of secessionist movements globally has jumped dramatically in the past few years - Scotland and Venice being notable examples.  On this point, I am definitely torn.  Having worked many years in the Texas independence movement, I know the impulse and drive that makes a people want to throw off oppressive slavery and make a few decisions for one's self, for a change.

The problem with this is that you run smack into the old "devil you know" situation rather quickly.

Anyone who has ever been divorced knows that weird feeling of suddenly missing what was making you miserable.  You'll fall for anyone almost instantly just to replace that comfort of the familiar as fast as possible.  In a different situation, it's called the Stockholm Syndrome.

Once you have gone through all the court proceedings, and your friends have long since tired of hearing your litany of reasons for wanting out of the marriage, you find yourself in a position of being solely responsible for your well-being and the choices you make.  Even those moments when you just want someone to lean on, even a barb-wire covered post is better than nothing.

Furthermore, you no longer have anyone to back you up, regardless of the cost to your dignity and self-respect.  It's like the escaped slave running through the bramble, stepping on sharp stones with bare feet, and tripping over unseen obstacles - evenutally he will have the thought that at least he had three squares and knew where all the hazards were back when he was in captivity.

Finally, the main problem with independence is that one tends to cast wildly for new friends to work with, and this is where nefarious types step in to take advantage of one's weakness.  This is the classic divide-and-conquer scenario.  Break a member of the herd off alone and they are quickly very vulnerable to your evil machinations.

Herein lies the rub...people want independence and freedom, which is a good and, some would say, holy desire.  But there are wolves at the gates waiting to rip the flesh from bone as soon as those people are free of their protective shell - whether by stealth (sheep's clothing) or the direct take-down.

The PTB have acted in concern as a single, if not factionalized, entity for centuries.  They are above nations and without loyalty to anything but themselves.  Though they may disagree on the methods and tactics, they are united in their desire to rip us apart.

Smaller and smaller political units means the PTB have an easier and easier time of conquering.  That is why you see such effort to tear apart the Ukraine, or slice Scotland off the top of the island, or divide the various political forces within Iran, or keep the 'Stans ancient rivalries and hatreds stoked.  The larger the group, the harder it is to attack.  Exploiting weakness is a sure-fire way to win.

Humans have an instinct to 'circle the wagons' when under attack.  Obviously, the bigger the circle, the harder it will be to attack, and the opposing force risks a great deal in doing so.  Ideally, you want to get each wagon alone, so that there are no protected sides, no layered defenses and far more vulnerabilities.

The one major weakness of independence movements is that they rarely have long-term plans for when they succeed.  Cast loose, nations are like new divorcees, they will bed down with anyone who shows the least interest in them in order to feel the old comfort again, and that's where the PTB usually win.

Independence movements should first put their efforts and momentum into reforming what they have.  Failing that, they should corral their best and brightest to come up with a long-term strategy for survival once independence is gained.  This includes listing one's assets and deficits, and carefully forging relationships that include parsing the other sides' agendas.

One thing is certain, most independence movements fails right at the point where they succeed.  Since most do not have long-term plans, the general populace reacts with rebound syndrome and will run back to the devil they know rather than face an uncertain future.

Long-term plans must, perforce, include cultural, legal, diplomatic, educational, and economic solutions to the future.  It is easier to change an existing plan, than to plow forward in the dark with no clue.

One thing is sure - those outsiders who will support an independence movement from the start often have hidden agendas.  It is only after a successful divorce that worthy potential suitors will step forward.  It is key to remember that 'divide and conquer' always serves the divisor and never the divided.

The first step to independence is to act like you are already independent and start making clear-headed and long-reaching decisions for yourself, and especially taking full responsibility for the outcome of those decisions - good or bad.

Oftentimes one finds that by thinking and acting independent, one becomes independent.  Revolution by arms is never so efficient and clean as revolution by mind.  Stop thinking like a slave and the rest follows.


The Best Medicine

Once in a while, we here on the Far Side like a good laugh or two just to keep things light.  What follows is the actual joke noted in the famous Monty Python skit, "The Funniest Joke Ever Written."  Fair warning, you will want to have a bottle of oxygen and a defibrillator on-hand, just in case.

Recently, ol' Frank from back East was visiting friends down Texas way.  He was a bit of a celebrity because foreigners didn't often make it to these parts, being somewhat isolated in the Big Thicket, as it were.

Anyway, ol' Frank was asked to be a judge in the annual chili cook-off.  Now folks 'round these parts didn't think nothin' of it.  In fact, it was an honor to put him in there, since usually the folks selected only the most experienced tasters for this very serious event.

Well, as part of ol' Frank's obituary, we thought we'd publish his last words as a celebration of his life, especially since we don't get much interesting stuff happen around here.

Here are the scorecards from the event:

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on the tomato for the palate. Amusing kick in the finish with an interesting nose.
JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild, velvety palate with a smooth finish.
FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove asphalt from your driveway with this stuff. I needed two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst of it. These Texans are crazy.

JUDGE ONE: Smokey, with a hint of pork. The armadillo might have sat out a bit longer. Slight Jalapeno tang.
JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor. The dried 'coon was an exciting touch.  Needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich manoeuvre. They had to call in three extra beers when they saw the look on my face. And that rice looked more like maggots!

JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.
JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili. A bit salty. Good use of red peppers.
FRANK: Call the freaking EPA!!, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano and my esophagus is so raw I'm hacking blood. Everyone knows the routine by now: Sally the barmaid pounded me on the back till my backbone became my breastbone. I'm getting positively shit-faced putting out the fire!

JUDGE ONE: Black Bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing and drab.
JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods. Not much of a chili.
FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but couldn't taste it. Sally the barmaid was standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300-lb bitch is starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear-waste I'm eating.

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
FRANK: My ears are ringing, and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from corroding by pouring beer directly from a pitcher into my mouth. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Freakin' Rednecks! ! !

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.
JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions and garlic.
FRANK: My heart stopped twice in the past 10 minutes.  My intestines are now a roiling sewer pipe filled with gaseous, sulphuric flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally.  I'm sure I've got permanent damage to my intestines. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum. Tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am worried about Judge # 3.He's had to be resuscitated three times and there's some kind of noxious gas coming from his orifices.
FRANK: You could put a freaking grenade in my mouth, pull the goddam pin, and I wouldn't feel a damn thing. I've lost the sight in one eye and can hardly see out of the other, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which fell out of my goddam mouth, which is insensate at this point. My pants are full of a lava-like substance.  I can't really tell, but it looks like buzzards are circling overhead, but it could also be spots in front my my eyes. At least during the autopsy they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful. I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the four inch hole in my abdomen.

JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending. This is a nice blended chili, safe for all; not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence.
JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 passed out, fell on the chili pot and pulled the whole thing on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor Yank.
FRANK: - - - - - Urk...

Frank's funeral will be held at 3p today at the Bethany Grace Baptist Church, with Rev. Billy Joe officiating.  There won't be a casket, since we sent what little we could salvage back East to his family before the dogs ate it all.  The family asks that in lieu of flowers, folks make a donation to the Rockefeller Center for Congenital Diseases.

The mayor has declared that next year, the chili festival will be called the Frank Memorial Cook-Off and Clean Up.


A Word, If You Will

by Ji Lee (link at end of page)
When the Elohim became alarmed at the doings of Mankind, their response was to scramble His languages.  In other words, they attacked the words.

When a wizard or witch wants to manipulate the medium, they use magic incantations - words of creation or destruction.

Words are the very fabric of our reality.  We perceive what is real to us by which words we use to describe the "out there" to ourselves.  Scarier still, when we listen to others and ascribe to their words some sort of uber-importance, then we allow someone else to create our reality for us.  If you are listening to Flox Gnus right now, then you are allowing the various functionaries within that organization to create your reality for you.

We manipulate picture and symbols as a form of highly condensed words.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then think how much reality is created within you by simply looking at images.  It is a powerful thing to be the creator of images - to create within many souls the very fabric of their reality.  So what kind of reality must people see when they view vomit as art?

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell graphically illustrated the concept that people cannot conceive of realities for which they have no words.  By slowly reducing the dictionary of New Speak over generations, eventually people could not imagine whatever things the State wished them to avoid.  How like our current cultural situation is this?  Just look at what passes for language in the average text message.

Words are magical things.  All religions use them, whether it be Ohm, or nam myoho renge kyo, or the Lord's Prayer, or chanting Arabic phrases, those who follow such things are generally unaware that they have been socialized into creating a magical reality that someone else designed.  Why else would preachers preach, except to manipulate the medium of reality?

In most revolutions, the first to be slaughtered are the intelligencia and the artists.  The reason is simple - they people, wittingly or not, know how to use words and they cannot be tolerated in times when control of reality is of the utmost importance to those who seek to control it.

The Chinese culture knows the value of words.  They have a long tradition of meditating on characters and then transferring that essence to canvas in a process where the very language itself becomes art.  People like Wayne White do similar things with English words, while poets like e. e. cummings paint pictures with words (there is a difference).

One reason I have felt compelled to write since I was just a boy is that I have had an instinctive recognition of the power of words.  Like all writers, people who feel this truth seek to harness that power to some degree of success or another.  No one can deny that such men as the one known as Shakespeare mastered the technique.  Modern writers such as Tom Robbins are well aware of the power they wield.

As a child, I learned the old saw, "Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  What a sad little saying, since it inculcates a disrespect for the power of words that we all know is true, but which such sayings encourage us to deny.

Thing about it: the most powerful noun can be modified by a deceptively simple article like "a" or "the".  The largest and most active verbs can be completely turned around by nothing more than adding "to" or "for".  If these simple little articles and propositions can control the most powerful things and actions, then how much more power must other words have?  If we can invoke Satan with a word, then can't we do the same with God?

Words are reality.  We know no other reality but that which we can speak.  The more powerful a language, the larger its vocabulary, and the more it comes to dominate the thing we call reality.

In light of these thoughts, doesn't it behoove us to build our vocabulary and to take control of the language we use and that which we allow into our minds?  In fact, knowing these things makes it imperative that we turn off the corporate media and take control of our language and learn the power we have sitting right in front of us.  By taking control of our language, we control our reality, and conversely take away the power of others to create our reality for us.

Words are the core of majick.  They are neither good nor bad, but serve the intent of the speaker.  Take the word "cow".  To a Hindu follower, this is the word of a god.  To an overweight woman, this is the word of insult.  To a person urging action, it the word of blind obedience.  A simple word with so much power.

Consider your next word.  Use it carefully.  And the next after that.  Be aware of how you define your reality.  Control your inner dialogue.  Choose your terms to invoke the world you want.

We are all gods, and the power of that station is within our minds and at our fingers.  The smithing of words is more vital that we often imagine.

Most importantly, actively filter those words which you allow into your mind.  Consider the source that their intention in using the words.  Don't let others define your words, for in so doing, they are controlling your reality.


The ArtWords of Ji Lee


I See Your AEGIS And Raise You...

Update: I see your Su-24, and raise you a Proton-M with state-of-the-art CommSat.

A funny thing happened on the way to World War.  The bully got his pants handed to him in a most deliberate and quiet way you can imagine.  In fact, the bully was so humiliated that he ran away with his tail between his legs and all his henchmen tendered their resignations.

So what the hell am I talking about, you ask?  Great question!

First, the US Navy's officious version of it says that the USS Donald Cook, an AEGIS-class missile defense frigate, was over-flown no less than 12 times by an unarmed Russian Su-24 bombers in simulated attack runs.  Shortly thereafter, the Cook made a run for Romania and the Navy brashly and bravely called the Russians "unprofessional".

That's one side of the story, and the other side is a bit harder to dig up, but according to this post, the Russian bomber was carrying their latest electronic warfare gear.  As the Su-24 began its first pass, the AEGIS system locked on and started loading targeting information, such as speed, distance, et cetera.

Then suddenly, the screens went black.  The Su-24 wasn't just evading RADAR, it had completely shut down the Navy's star air and missile defense system, and according to some other sources out there, they couldn't reboot or get the multi-billion dollar system to respond in any way.

Seemingly corroborating the story is Zero Hedge's take, saying that the NATO partners are just a bit alarmed that their protection racket ain't worth the money spent on it, especially since it turned tail and ran just half-way into it's "reassurance" mission.

Certainly, in the days since that incident, the US has become quite a bit more subdued in its sabre rattling, as the Masters of War sit in their hidey-holes scratching their highly decorated heads wondering just what the hell happened to their vaunted "defence" system.

You see, the fun in this story is not that the over-priced, over-sold and over-reaching US military got its butt in a sling because of those 'puny backward' Russians.  It's that the Russians have just told the entire Western empire that it can be shut down very easily and within minutes.

Suppose this Russian 'scrambler' technology were mounted on satellites that could whizz by US intel and comm birds and click them off?  Suppose it were quietly set up at key internet backbone sites?  Suppose they could blind the US/NATO war-finance system with the flick of a switch?  How much of this stuff do they have and where is it?

You can just hear the awed silence in the DC and Virginia bunkers as they try to figure out just what exactly they saw happen.

Right on the heels of this incident, Premier Putin signed a bill to establish a financial clearing system completely independent of the Western banking system.  This system would likely serve Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil, the so-called BRICS alliance.  So what, you ask?

Well, one thing the Western empire has had going for it was that it sat atop every international financial transaction everywhere, and they were all denominated in dollars.  Forget petrodollars, this is where the acton was, using high-speed transactions to front-run markets, manipulate FOREX and tinker with LIBOR.  If the most powerful emerging markets in the world were to suddenly yank the plug on dollar trades and clearing...Katie bar the door.

That should happen about July, according to the new Russian law.

When the US leveled sanctions against key banks in Russia, cutting off the credit card accounts of key members of the Russian inner circle, that could only be done because the West holds the keys to the SWIFT system, which handles all MasterCard and VISA transactions, as well as inter-bank and international money movements.  If you've ever transferred money to an overseas account, then you know that you need the receiver's name, bank account number and the bank's SWIFT number to do it.  Think of it as the routing address for money blips on a screen somewhere.

Hell of a lot of power to have in a few hands when you can not only see all the transactions gong on around the world, but stop them on a whim.

Hell of a lot of power you can take away if you can go around that system, too.

Now, not only has Russia shown that it can switch off the SWIFT system by killing a few key satellites and backbone servers with a switch, it has stated quite openly with a public law that it will set up its own clearing and finance system by mid-year.


Guess the banksters shouldn't have bet so many cookies on the Ukraine.  Even worse, the oligarchs are over a barrel because the battle can now be taken to the 'high ground' of space communications, which has been the centerpiece of Western hegemony for so long.

The Russians can switch off satellites, the Chinese are releasing half-century old secrets with their little rover on the Moon, and India is going to Mars.  It's the death of a thousand cuts writ large.

The US/NATO bullies are in a position now where they must either reveal one of their secret weapons, too, or face the fact that they are at least a couple of years behind and need to get the lead out or lose their precious strangle-hold on the world.

You might have missed it.  The world changed pretty radically in the past couple of weeks.  That clap of thunder in the distance was the sound of impending doom for the Western oligarchs unless they have some nifty tricks up their sleeves that they are willing to flash now.

The problem is that the US has no manned space program and its heavy lift system is still largely untested.  They are hitching rides to the high ground with Russia, and in fact, Russia and China are the two leading space programs at the moment.  If it doesn't have some amazing technology tucked away in a 'black' closet somewhere (as many suspect), then they are in a precarious spot trying to rule the world without access to the one thing they need to do it.

It's truly amazing what one little unarmed bomber can do flying around the Black Sea on a sunny afternoon.  Hang on, though, the real fireworks should get underway any time now.


Oh My God!

A White Russian is a drink intended to be served layered.  The Patron is the one who is responsible for mixing those layers, not the bartender.  This is one of those little-known facts of life that should, but often fails, to guide our conscious lives.

There is a common image of the artist as a bedraggled loner ensconced in his studio (artists are always male in the common mind).  Whether the artist is a writer, painter, sculptor, or whatever, he is moody, disheveled and teeters uncertainly on the cat-walk of sanity.

The writer sits alone in his rat-infested flat above a whore-house with red neon light screaming unheeded warnings across the walls of his mind.  There is a single lamp spilling unnecessary light on the termite-eaten desk.  He hunches over an Underhill Upright - upright referring to the writer, not the machine - a bottle of squalor stands guard at his right hand as he bangs out veiled autobiographies to an uninterested world.

The painter lives alone in a dingy, cavernous room with wooden planks for flooring.  Alone, that is, unless he has just sold a painting and can pay a local night butterfly to pose nude - nude is on purpose, naked is not - while he dispassionately outlines the curves and ignores the scars.

Painters have beards, writers do not.

Amidst these land mines of solitary creativity and psychological case studies, there is one art form that stands out as unique in all of art history.  It is the single art form that thrives on socializing and public adulation.  It is the one art form in which mental instability is paraded and glorified, rather than castigated and clucked at.  It is the one art form in which there are job descriptions and career paths, and whose jargon has invaded the natural landscape of communication.

The theater.

I hear you...what about the military and pro sports?  Those are destructive, not creative, and the mental illnesses on display are not favored in polite society.  A soldier or a linebacker cannot quote Shakespeare and Ionesco, nor can he distinguish between the five conventional plots.  Most certainly, these Cretaceous outcasts could never understand the deus ex machina, though they pray fervently for just such a thing.

No, in the theater, there are educated and erudite folks who just happen to like taking off their clothes for money in acts that require no consummation.  These beasts of the boards know the subtleties of body language, they rehearse for hours to place just the right inflection on a syllable, they thrive on the praise and applause of their peers, and most of all, they live for the blood-screaming immediacy of the theater.

There is no other art form in existence in which a happenstance assemblage of artists, technicians and machines must work in perfect synchronization for two and a half hours every night to create magic.  And there is no other art form in existence in which the consumming public expects that magic on demand.

Image a gaggle of art lovers hovering around a painter screaming nightly for a new masterpiece.  Or how about stuffy readers seated in the flat of the writer awaiting their due on time and on cue.  You would more likely receive cacophonous hissies about the vagaries of the creative muse, than steamy dressing rooms choked with anxiety and pheromones, and full of painted liars ready to offer their souls for your applause.

Yes, in the space of time that most of us slough off on the couch in front of the TeeVee, this group of highly suspect human beings emote to the point of leaving a physical residue on the stage - not just actors but crew as well.  In a quiet moment, if you listen very hard, you can hear the Stage Manager having a cow in her corner backstage.  She has screamed every curse and epithet known to humankind trying to push the talent onstage.

Pulses are pounding, the hairs on the nape of the neck are standing erect, pupils are dilated - just another night in the theater.

Before and after, the entire company gets sauced.  Before to calm the nerves and focus the fear - nay terror - of stepping in front of an audience.  After because the thrill of the moment and living in the eternal now is something humans are ill-equipped to survive.  Ram Daas would be envious of the showman's life: there is no future or past, just now.

That is why persons of the theater are so prized among the lesser artisans of film and TeeVee.  In those bastard arts, only the stage-trained and tempered can hold up under intense pressure and deliver identical performances time after time.  "I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star," roared Peter O'Toole's character in My Favorite Year.  He spoke from the heart in that singular line.

The theater is a mystical place.  Great brotherhoods are forged in 10 short weeks, though they fade just as quickly.  Indeed, the stage has produced some of the greatest talents ever to emote a catharsis.  Even their deathbed scenes are truly of note. 

The great Victorian actor Edmund Keene is still quoted "on the boards" for his Earth-quaking last thought as he expired, "Dying is easy...comedy is hard."

Perhaps the uninitiated will not remember Wilfrid Lawson, but there is a tale of Titanic proportions among theater folk:

Sir Lawson met an old friend on the street after a long absence.  They retired to a pub for a long list of courage.  At one point, the friend suggested they take in a show, and Sir Lawson said there was a show up the street that was "fair".

They stumbled their way over to the theater and, with luck, were able to get two tickets in the back of the house just moments before the curtain rose.

As the show went on, the friend remarked, "Seems a bit slow, old boy."

To which Sir Lawson replied, "Hold on, it will get quite a bit more interesting in just a moment."

The friend inquired, "How so?"

"Do you see that woman on stage there?" said Sir Lawson.

"Yes," came the reply.

"When she finishes dressing, I'm supposed to enter," he hissed.

Such incredible toying with the Eternal Now are not possible in film and TeeVee.  They are edited out.  Theater is immediate and gut-real.  There is no "cut" and do-over.  There is only NOW...

Film and TeeVee people are known for drugs and overdoses.  That doesn't happen in the theater.  The high from just one tiny show is so overwhelming that there are only two answers: one, the orgy, and two, drinking heavily to bring you down.  Theater people don't need drugs, they live the greatest of them all - NOW.

 In Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, he noted that one could look into the eyes of a traveler and see how far they were from home.  When Arthur looked into Ford's eyes, he was nearly thrown from his stool.  This was a metaphor not for aliens or travelers, but for theater people.

We know each other across time and space, no matter the distance or medium.  We can look into each other's souls and know that both of us have stood upon the threshold of Time and touched the Big Lie at the center of the Universe.

Theater is a unique and wonderous thing.  There can be no other experience like it, for even the shamans know theater.  It is the deepest of all human experiences, which is why audiences crave a taste, though they dare not step into that abyss.

Theater has no rival.  It is mystical in a way that no solitary artist will ever experience, for ultimately he cannot share his experience with anyone, even those looking at his tints or brushstrokes.  Only those who have journeyed to the Center together and survived can ever share the Mystery that is theater.

That is why the very stitching of culture uses the lines from the stage.  That is why the undergarments of God are the Costumes of Ages.  That is why even the Universe uses make-up to show us her best face - though we call them flowers or so other appellation.

Once you have tread the boards, you cannot see the world in the same drab way that the rest of humanity envisions it.  Once you have played on the Far Side, nothing less will suffice.

As Shakespeare himself noted, "The play is the thing in which we shall catch the conscience of the king."

Theater is dangerous and should be handled with the utmost of care.  Those who toy lightly with it are bound to receive radiation burns.  The older the play, the deeper the magic.

Can you name a single work of art that is more than 2,000 years old?

I thought not.

But the Greek plays and the Roman plays are still produced today, as fresh and alive as they were millennia ago.  They don't need restoration because they have not faded.  They don't reside in a single place but are available to anyone anywhere at any time.  Theater IS immortality.  Shakespeare is just as relevant now as he was 400 years ago.  So too Aristophanes and Thespus, Ionesco and Wycherly.  The past lives in the eternal NOW, and it is connected to the future, because at some point those great plays will be produced long after we are dead.

Show me a Mona Lisa that can achieve that.

Oh, to tread the boards once again and live in the immortal moment for just one second longer.

Human, meet thy true god...


The Curse

Make no mistake about it: I am cursed.

Some, like my father the historian, might jump up and down, waving his hands wildly, exclaiming in breathless eptithets that 'we are witnessing history!'  I prefer to see myself as an esoteric surfer pipelining a tsunami, watching as it swamps culture after culture, but helpless to ameliorate even the slightest part of its fury.

I am doomed to relive the 1960s US over and over again.  At first, it was exciting to 'witness history', but having seen what it did to the US, and then to Ireland, Germany, the Czech Republic, I am loathe to watch it replay.

Here's the playbook:

One generation becomes fabulously affluent by mistake or design (listen to my interview with John Perkins).  That generation becomes overly indulgent of their progeny, to the point of completely ignoring them.  Meanwhile, the prevailing political system, ashamed of its own history, has altered the past, and in most cases has ceased teaching it at all (such is the sin of public education).

As a consequence, the children become completely self-absorbed.  They are like tumbleweeds in a California drought - without roots and subject to the vagaries of the wind.  They become mindless consumers, unable to save or even survive on less than an opulent lifestyle.  They being to question everything.  They see the old structure as standing in the way of their insatiable need to self-gratification.  The old rules are as quaint and divorced of meaning as Carter's Liver Pills.

As their parents age, they come to the crashing conclusion that they have erred in some fundamental and horrible way, but it's too late to rectify the situation.  The children, having attained adulthood themselves, no longer listen.  The parents become alarmed and swing wildly in the opposite direction, toward unbridled conservatism.  Infuriated, the younger generation openly rebel and the culture suffers a massive upheaval, a convulsion of epic proportions.

Thus, the wisdom of centuries is lost, locked away in dusty tomes that no one reads anymore.  History becomes radically uncool and no one with any snap will touch it, for fear of being rejected as part of the 'old way' and a sympathizer with the System.

Now, utterly without guidance, both by design and by choice, the new generation goes on a bender, consuming and lusting in way that would instantly kill their elders.  But they survive and thrive and pass it on to their own children, who take it even further.

In Ireland, the were blinded by greed and avarice, and have ended up in the crushing poverty that their grandfathers knew all too well.  In Germany, they idolized the mechanistic part of their souls while leaving the humanistic part to wither like picked over grapes.  In the Czech Republic, they frittered away their cultural heritage and revolutionary fervor to languish in near obscurity.  In Russia, they have returned to the Czarist Orthodoxy in a way similar to neo-paganism - all form and no context.

In the US, they have realized their worst nightmares, as envisioned for them by Hollywood.  They created an empire of good intentions.  The unique dystopia that is contemporary America would go down in history as a warning to the future, except that no one will remember because history is a dirty word.

Now it is happening in Indonesia.  They are following the playbook step by faltering step.  The government has banned history lessons to hide its sins.  The current generation in power has become fabulously affluent.  The children have been left behind as mere consequences of the high life.  The younger generation has no tempering of struggle and want, and so blazes forth with unbridled desires.  Even the outgoing president is analogous to Eisenhauer, and the heir apparent is warmed-over JFK.

There's the oppressive and over-reactive religious majority determined to reform or bring the whole thing down in ashes.  There are simmering civil rights issues that are willfully and callously unaddressed.  Half the population, called female by most, are suddenly realizing their power.  And pork and package liquor can be found most anyplace now (a significant development, I assure you).

The tide is coming, in a way that will make the 2004 Aceh wave look like a Sunday picnic at the beach.  There will be no cultural stone unturned and ultimately rejected out of hand.

Yes, it is a curse to watch this happen again and again, for not once have I seen good come from it.  It has left ancient and rich cultures hollowed out like worm-eaten apple flesh - what remains is but a shell of its former glory.

Perhaps I am over-sensitive.  Maybe being raised by an historian has colored my glasses a sickly green, rather than rosy pink.  Perhaps I'm just one of those curmudgeonly grouses that try to hold back progress out of some warped fixation with the past.  One could easily dismiss my observations as longing for the 'old ways' or misplaced conservatism.

Having witnessed up close the gutting of so many great cultures and the stench of cynicism and hopelessness left in its wake, and having seen it happen in one country after another, I begin to detect the outlines of A Plan.

Without roots, the greatest trees are easily toppled, and if one has designs on dominating nations, one could not do better than to sever the roots of a nation before giving a light push in any direction one so chooses.

Perhaps Indonesia would do well to step back a moment and inventory the past.  Lessons are often hard-won by people who had no choice but to fight.  At the moment, we have a choice.  Shouldn't we take one last long breath of cool breeze before leaping blindly off the cliff of the unknown?

Pay special attention to patterns because that's how career thieves and murderers give themselves away.  They are locked into self-reinforcing feedback loops from which they cannot escape.  All we need to do is look for the telltale clues that will guide our thoughts going forward.


In A Whole New Light

Original image - upper left horizon
Have you seen the light?

It's been making the rounds on the 'net and "awfuldumb" has not been very forthcoming with answers.  Those answers they have parted with have been disingenuous and ridiculous.  This is how they typically respond when they don't have an answer, or don't want to.  It's called reductio ad absurdum, and it's a fallacious form of logic used by people who think they are superior to those asking the questions.

I really hate when these puffed-up jerks think they are smarter than all the rest of us.

So, how about some real answers.  After all, they've pulled out everything from cosmic rays to alien bonfires to avoid giving the folks who paid for the toys any real information, because they think you and I are too stupid to 1) know the difference, and 2) figure it out for ourselves, without "awfuldumb" spoon-feeding us what we are to believe.

To begin with, a bit of my credentials: I have a degree in Radio/TV/Film (before they called it mass media) and 35 years of experience as a photographer, videographer and cinematographer.  I am proficient in lens theory and have a solid working knowledge of CCD imaging sensors.  In other words, I know a little about the subject.

Next, the "light on Mars" is an imaging artifact, but not in the way they are telling us.  It is an imaging artifact caused by an actual point-source of light on the horizon overloading the sensors.  If you want the longer explanation, please stick around and I'll tell you how this is true.

First, the MastCam tool on the rover is two cameras, commonly called "left eye" and "right eye," with different focal lengths and f-stops.  The "left eye" is a 10mm lens with an f-stop of 8 (f/8).  What this means to you and me is that the lens is 10mm long from the outside edge of the glass to the focal plane where the image has the sharpest focus.  The human eye sees roughly equivalent to a 50mm lens.  A smaller number is what we call "wide angle", and a larger number is "narrow angle" or "zoom."  The "fish eye" lens, or extreme wide angle is about 8mm.  So, now we have a frame of reference.  The "left eye" is a wide angle lens, and with an f-stop of 8, that would give us a good exposure on a partly cloudy day with diffuse sunlight.

The "right eye" is a 100mm lens with f-stop of 10 (f/10).  What we know now is that the lens is 10x longer than the "left eye" and the amount of glass blocks more light, so the iris aperture (f-stop) must open more to provide the same illumination that the "left eye" does.  Therefore, the "right eye" is a zoom lens that requires more light to make an image because the amount of glass used in the lens blocks more light.

One other bit of important information is the "contrast ratio."  All imagining devices, including the human eye, have a ratio of light to dark where detail can be seen.  You can demonstrate this by walking from the bright outdoors into a darkened room.  At first, you see almost nothing, but as your eyes adjust more and more detail will emerge.  The contrast ratio is a sliding scale of light to dark in which the eye or sensor can see detail.  Below the scale is black, and above it is pure white.  At both ends, no detail can be seen in those areas.  The human eye has a ratio of between 400:1 and 10,000:1, depending on which source you check.  The commonly used value is 2,000:1, meaning that in any scene, the eye can see detail in objects that are either 2,000x brighter or darker than the average light in the scene.  Typically, if something goes off the top of the scale, we call that "glare", "flare" or "glint."  The average HD-CCD chips have a contrast ratio of 2,500:1, or roughly equal to the human eye (the old TV system was 30:1).

It's important to note that sensors designed to record visible light are not sensitive to "cosmic rays".  Those types of radiation generally cause a fogging effect in the image where focus appears to be lost.  They don't cause bright flares or glints.

The important thing to remember about contrast ratio is that it is dynamic (moving up and down depending on f-stop aperture opening).  Contrast is where we get detailed information, such as texture, depth and so on.  Finally, at the extreme ends of the ratio, we only see black or pure white with no detail.

So now we have a working idea of how cameras and sensors work and we can analyze the Mars photo - and NASA's disingenuous non-answers - intelligently.

First, they tell us that there are two photos - one from the "left eye" and one from the "right eye".  The "right eye" shows a bright spot on the horizon line, while the "left" does not, even though the images were taken either at the same time ( or a second apart (  Either way, it doesn't matter.

Zoom lens (right eye) compress distance so that various distances appear to be piled on top of each other.  Since the right eye is "zoomed" in, it would make distant objects appear larger and closer than a normal or wide-angler lens.  Thus, simultaneous photos of the same scene using a wide and zoom lens would "see" different things, including point sources of light.  What is a large and bright object in the zoom image would be tiny and probably less than one pixel in the wide image.  A point-source of light in the zoom image would look large and might fall off the top of the contrast ratio, while in the wide lens, it may not even be visible, much less exceed the contrast ratio.

Furthermore, the "left" and "right" eyes may have the same contrast ratios, but the different f-stops mean that the top and bottom of the scales are different.  What may appear normal in the "left eye" would flare or glare in the "right eye" because white end of the scale is higher in the "left" than in the "right".

So, there are two primary mechanisms at work here.  Both cameras have similar resolutions (1200x1200 dpi), but they have widely varying focal lengths (10x versus 100x) and f-stops (f/8 versus f/10).  This means that the way the two imagers will have different distance compression and contrast ratios, meaning that both cameras could image the same scene at the same time and have glare in the "right eye", but not in the "left".

One last point: having spent many hours trying to figure out where glare is coming from in a frame, I know that glare has different characteristics depending on whether it is caused by reflection or a direct source.  A reflection generally causes glare (in electronic sensors) with spikes all the way around in even numbers (2, 4, 6, etc.).  Reflections also tend to have the shape of either the source or the reflecting surface, so that square sources appear square and round sources appear round.  The sun or a light source reflecting off a surface will make a star-burst pattern and will often have a shape.  A direct source will look like a blob because the sensor is picking up the full amount of light, rather than a reduced amount caused by scattering off the reflecting surface.

Now look at the photo at the beginning of the glare from Mars.  Notice that the glare appears to be a vertical rectangle with two spikes coming out from either side.  I interpret this as being a reflection off a square or rectangular surface that exceeds the contrast ratio of the sensor.  Since the lighting looks to be fairly low (not mid-day), the source must be more than 2,500 steps brighter than the ambient light in the scene - like a large spotlight or the sun on a surface.  Since the glare is geometric, the reflecting surface must be geometric and small enough so that the entire surface is reflecting light toward the camera.

Crop from original - note shape
Conclusions: the glare is from a real object and not a sensor artifact from "cosmic rays".  The glare is reflection and not a direct source.  The reflection is a couple of thousand times brighter than the general lighting in the scene in order to cause glare.  The reflecting surface is geometric and relatively small.  Finally, due to different lens focal lengths and f-stops (distance compression and contrast ratio), it is quite feasible for the glare to appear in the zoom image, but not in the wide-angle image, even if they were taken at the exact same moment.  It is also possible that the reflecting surface is so small that the distance between the lenses would be enough that one would be in the direct path of the reflected light, while the other is not, especially given the distance.

Speculation: The reflecting surface is not a natural object - it is geometric.  The light source being reflected is very bright - could be the sun (if the angle is right) or a large studio light designed to illuminate large areas (5kW or 10kW fresnel instrument).  The glare disappeared in subsequent frames because, 1) the rover or MastCam moved, 2) the source moved, 3) the source was turned off, or 4) the reflecting surface changed in some way.  Given the small size of the glare relative to the overall image size, it would not take much movement in any component to eliminate the glare.

In order to create a glare that is geometric, the surface would have to be very smooth and shiny.  A rough or uneven surface would cause too much refraction and would not create a glare in the first place, especially at the distance implied by the image.  Materials that could do this would be polished metal, glass and similar materials not found in Nature.

Therefore, either the source, the reflecting surface, or both are artificial.  Either one, some or all moved in subsequent frames to eliminate the glare (sun angle, etc.).  Finally, all of the arguments put forth by NASA and their mouthpieces so far are either deliberate obfuscation or the mark of complete incompetence (take your pick),