Here Thar Be Monsters!

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Jingo Bells

I make a sharp delineation in my mind between patriotism and nationalism.  The words "patriot" and "nationalist," at least in American usage in the 20th century, have been severely diluted and warped.  To me, and according to older dictionaries, a patriot is someone who defends and protects the land, culture and history of a place, while a nationalist is someone who defends the government of that place.

Frankly, I have little to no use for government of any kind.  The only things I have ever gotten from governments are things they told me I had to have, like identification papers, and that I had to pay for them and renew them on a regular basis, since my identity changes regularly.

I certainly have never received any benefit from government.  I have, on the other hand, paid a pretty penny to maintain government, but to what end I really don't know.

I've heard hundreds of times that I have to pay my fair share, but for what?  What share am I supposedly getting that I have to pay so dearly for?

Well, security and protection, I'm told.  Yet, my home and those of pretty much everyone I have ever known have never been attacked by foreign invaders, though I must say my home has often been attacked by domestic invaders - government goons worried about what I am doing in my home, for the most part.

When it comes to security, I am ready, willing and able to defend my home and family without help from any goons.  I am also under no illusion that there is such a thing as security.  Every lock can be broken and I would rather be responsible for losing my own stuff, thank you very much.  Depending on government for security is like keeping a rabid dog in my bed for defense.  It tends to bite the hand that feeds it.

As for protection, well I was a registered marksman and owner of a fine collection of firearms.  I still maintain a formidable collection of knives that I am pretty handy with.  I have also learned to make a wide range of booby-traps from household items, just for shits and grins.  My assumption is that if a bunch of goons ever come around wanting to protect me, they will probably draw fire and do more damage than if I was left to my own devices.

I was raised in the ancient tradition that any able-bodied male is a defender.  I never saw much use for the armed forces, since my country has not been attacked since 1864, and that attack was carried out by the very folks claiming to be my protection.  Sounds like a mafia protection racket to me.

Most of what I have ever seen from government was a bunch of lard-ass blowhards looking all serious about making laws that have little intended effect, but make nifty reasons to harass people, when the need arises.

These glorified mountebanks get a lot of my money to sit around in fancy buildings thinking up new things to me to do.  They wear splendorous titles and expect honors and deference, yet they are nothing more than common crooks in three-piece suits with nifty little flag pins on their lapels.

Under them are thousands of uniformed goons who run around enforcing laws they have never read and couldn't care less about, as long as the paycheck and benefits keep coming - out of my pocket, by the way.

I'm a patriot, I suppose.  I love the land and the people, the culture and the language.  I would defend those things to my death, so that my children could also enjoy them and further enrich them with their own contributions.

I am not a nationalist, though.  I have little use for government.  I want nothing from it but to be left alone.  It offers me nothing I need, and takes everything I have to support a privileged few at the expense of the many.  Under all the pomp and circumstance, government is nothing more than a bunch of hoods with bigger guns than me that they bought with my money.

What puts me in the frame of mind is watching the US elections.  All I keep thinking about is the brilliant humorist P. Jl O'Rourke's book title, "Don't Vote, It Just Encourages The Bastards."  And as comedy genius George Carlin said, "If you vote, you have no right to complain."


Wish Upon A Star

A topic that has fascinated me since childhood is astronomy.  As a young teen, living on the farm, I had a pretty nice telescope that I spent many hours in the thick darkness of central Texas nights staring into infinity.

When stories such as the recent discovery of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, now called Proxima b, is announced, I immediately start clicking away.

For those who aren't as geeky as I am, the reason this is big news is that Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun, at only a little over 4 light years away.  With chemical rockets, such as are popular in public acknowledged space programs, it would take a probe about 25,000 years to get there.  Makes you wanna jump in the family wagon and head out, don't it?

It's often difficult for most folks to imagine just how incredibly vast the Universe is.  The fastest moving craft ever publicly announced is the New Horizons probe that recently made headlines as it barreled headlong past Pluto on its way to oblivion.  That little sucker took nine years just to get to the edge of the solar system.  Proxima b is a few trillion miles beyond that.  You'd have to run back and forth from the Earth to the Sun 270,000 times to equal a one-way trip to Proxima Centauri.

Don't make your holiday plans just yet.

Proxima Centauri is a, alien star.  It is a little bit bigger than Jupiter, is a deep red color, and is part of a 3-star system called alpha-Centauri.  The other two stars are a bit more like our Sun.  The new planet orbits closer to Proxima than Mercury does to the Sun, yet the cooler temperature of that star puts the planet in a relatively comfortable position.

Just to be clear, since you would never know this from reading the mainstream "science" reporting, is that the planet has not been seen directly, so any talk of being "Earth-like" or rocky is complete conjecture.  All we really know is that the star wobbles a bit, implying a planet about a third bigger than the Earth is pulling on the star as it orbits...assuming the planet is roughly the same density as Earth.

In other words, everything we think we know about this planet is inferred from secondary evidence.  That is to say, we heard what sounded like a gun shot several blocks away and assumed that a robbery was in progress at the local Stop-n-Gobble because the sound came from that direction.  That's in effect all we know at this time.

What all of this is getting to, in my characteristic round-about way, is that no matter how many amazing discoveries they crow at us in the media, in reality we know next to nothing as fact.  Most of it is piles of calculations based on inferences and conjectures.  Even if we wanted to verify the facts with our current technology (at least publicly admitted), it would take two or three times the history of civilization to get there and look around, and four and a half years to report the data by radio waves.

Ultimately, for all the reported "discoveries," we really know little more than we did 100 years ago.  Based on gravitational theory and some observed light curves from a distant object, "scientists" have announced a new exoplanet.  Frankly, that kind of evidence wouldn't hold up in court.  It is generally labelled hear-say and circumstantial.

This leads us to two possible conclusions: (1) some "scientists" are looking to pad their grant portfolio by announcing a newly "discovered" planet, aided and abetted by know-nothing "science" media; or (2) this information is coming from first-hand data using a technology that is completely off the books, and the information is being "seeded" into our culture as a way to slowly reveal the tech.

The arguments for the first conclusion are well established.  We are well aware of how the media are nothing more than press-release editors and do precious little questioning of official pronouncements.  The unquestioning reporting of black holes, gravity waves and other fantasies shows this quite well.

On the other side, folks like Richard Dolan and Joseph Farrell have made strong arguments for hidden technologies and break-away civilizations living at a level of knowledge, and thus culture, far above the rest of us.  Certainly, being able to get to Proxima Centauri in a matter of hours or days would help quite a bit, and add quite a bit of credence to the always-anonymous "scientists'" pronouncements.

In either case, we are staring at a massive, steaming pile of horse puckies.  One way of the other, a bunch of folks are hiding either a great deal of ignorance, or a great deal of information.  It's difficult to say which is worse, since both involve a massive deception, although I suppose hiding real information is slightly worse than making it up, since it implies that someone knows more than the rest of us and can make better decisions based on it.

At any rate, just some thoughts on this fine Augustian Friday in the Year of Our Deception 2016.

And by the way, what ever happened to those mysterious lights on Ceres?  For some reason, the "science" media went completely dead on the subject, just as the Dawn probe reached optimum mapping orbit.  According to the NASA website, we seem to know an awful lot about what's inside the "dwarf" planet, but golly-gee-whiz, we just can't figure out what's sitting on the surface.

And the pile gets deeper.


And Children Of All Ages!

Folks, I got to tell you, the US Presidential election has taken a turn for the truly hysterical.

Donald Trump has toned down and found a new hair-doo, while Hillary Clinton...well, pick a catastrophe - health, pay-for-play, email, &c and so forth.  Even the more reliable polls show the third-parties (Libertarians, Greens) are outstripping Clinton, while Trump looks to be headed to a landslide.

Some people may dismiss an ABCNews online poll, but look at it this way - all those "official" polls supposedly use landline telephones to reach respondents.  How many people do you know who still have landlines?  Most folks have gone completely to cell phones and those aren't listed in any "phone book" that I know of.  Either this means that they are outright lying (not impossible), or they have a very non-representative sample of likely voters.

And I hand it to the Libertarians - ABCNews asked, "Who are you voting for?"  The Libertarians quickly corrected the grammar to read, "For whom are you voting?"  Snopes was quick to dismiss the poll, but I trust Snopes about as much as I trust a politician.  For the record, I voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson...three times from different devices.

It should be noted that the ABCNews poll has been scrubbed.  Though I have found a number of references, including a link in one of my previous articles, the actual link goes nowhere, and all Google results refer to third-party sites with screen shots of the results.

More to the point, most people have portable numbers now, so a nutcase living in Jakarta for the past nine years could have a Houston, Texas number, watch zero TeeVee and not really care who wins, since we all lose.  So how can the pollsters be sure of any of their metrics, such as location, length of residency and likelihood of voting.

Bottom line is I am more likely to trust an online poll at a MSM website that shows Trump galloping over everyone else, than I am a telephone poll by Zogby any day.  Besides, how many times in your life have you ever been randomly polled by anyone?  Your friends and family?  Their friends and family?  In fact, has anyone you've ever know been randomly polled by any organization for any reason?  Makes you wonder where the results are coming from.

There's also the matter of rally attendance, not to mention holding rallies.

Clinton's schedule looks like someone who either thinks she will win due to good rigging, or has given up due to health/reality.

Hard to know what Trump is doing.  After half an hour proving I'm not a robot, his site only gave me August, so no apple-to-apple here.

If you go by butts in seats, Trump looks to be riding a massive wave of support.  Videos that I have seen of various events slways show close-ups of Clinton and never pull out wide enough to see the crowd, while Trump videos make a point to show the full houses.

As for the upcoming "debates" (the definition of debate in US politics is rather fluid), it will be interesting to see IF they actually take place.  The "health" theorists say that Clinton will find some way out of them.  It will also be fun to see how Trump handles them, after all, it was his antics in the primary "debates" that propelled him to the nomination.

The Big Question is how honest and fair the election will be.  Clinton, right or wrong, has a lingering reputation for fixing votes. Certainly, the ability and likelihood of computer voting terminal hacking has been proven many times, and there is no doubt that digital data can easily be manipulated with no physical, paper-based backup.  If the ABCNews poll has any basis in reality, then any attempt to rig the election will be readily apparent and could lead to some rather nasty backlash.

Regardless of the outcome, the election has at least been entertaining.  Given that the campaigns started over a year ago, and the conventions were held a month early due to the Olympics (that no one watched), people are just burned out.  The world is scratching its collective head wondering if the US has finally gone round the bend with these year-and-a-half circuses for a job that pays $400,000/year.  Sure, it's a lot of money, but how does one justify sending billions of dollars and vast amounts of resources to receive $1,200,000 for a single term.  Both major candidates probably earn that a month through their businesses and (ahem) charitable foundations.

And speaking of charitable foundations, Clinton is catching a world of hurt on that issue.  What no one seems to mention is that these "charitable foundations" are all over the place.  Most US politicians have one, and movie stars too.  They are a means to receive bribes while looking all warm and fuzzy at the same time.  The foundations are basically the way First and Second World politicians hide the corruption that Third World politicians always get caught receiving.

The other means of doing this is for politicians to write books and some big donor step up to buy all the copies.  Same result, but looks oh so squeaky clean and intellectual-like (see Dreams of My Father, which no one seems to ever have read).

The most interesting bit of this three-ring circus is the Trumpster.  Back in the day, we called Ronald Reagan the "teflon" president, since no scandal seemed to stick to him.  With Trump, it's an even more amazing phenomenon.  Whatever scandal is thrown at him, it not only does not stick, but flies back in the face of the one casting it.  Too bad this effect can't be patented and sold to all of us.  Think how much self-esteem could be saved!

As entertaining as this has all been, it's becoming something akin to Nightmare on Elm Street sequels...can we just get this over with?

No matter what the outcome, there will be masses of unhappy people wanting recounts.  In fact, we've probably got another year or so of reviewing the election results to come.  And the worst part of it all is that just as everyone finally gets used to whoever gets elected, the process will start again and old wounds will be opened.  Hell, Obama will finally go away in January, and we are still hearing about the birther mess.  Sorry folks, have to wait for the deathbed confession to put that one to rest...unless the Trumpster is elected.

One thing is quite clear, at this point.  The Clinton campaign, her "foundation" and anyone connected with the Democratic Party should stop sending email of any kind to anyone.  It's starting to look like a hoe-down, what with all the folks shooting themselves in the foot.  Apparently, all those "progressive" types haven't caught up with the 21st century, in terms of cyber security.

Just for kicks, the two biggies should jumble their slogans: Make Her Great Again, and I'm With America.  Oddly fitting, doncha think?


The War On Fun

For the last seven years, we have lucubrated beyond the bounds of propriety around here.  It's gained us a loyal little following of very smart people, and we really appreciate all the folks who stop by regularly to listen to us enumerate our inner-most hopes and desires.  Thanks y'all!

Just thought I'd get that off my chest, because I was starting to asphyxiate from the weight of it.

So what's going on around the ranch, or tempat pertanian yang luas berikut gedung-gedungnya as they say around these parts ('ranch' is one of those words that doesn't translate into Indonesian).

As you regulars already know, we've started up Indonesia's first cabaret.  Like the word "ranch," it's a bit hard to translate a 500-year-old Western tradition into Indonesia.  Things like satire, double-entendre and dry wit just don't exist in this culture.  It is hard to translate something that is untranslatable, and humor is one of the hardest.  Doesn't stop me from taking up the challenge, though.  There is certainly enough interest in it, and being the only one of anything is usually a good thing.

The kicker is trying to raise investment.  How do you describe something that doesn't exist?  Basically, to fully appreciate what I want to do, I have to actually produce the show, and at that point, I don't need the investment.  It's one of those glorious Catch-22s in life.

There is a method to my madness, though.  Or so I like to think.

Since economic tracking became wide-spread, it has become axiomatic that entertainment and education are the two best industries to survive an economic downturn.  The problem is, you can't be like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and say, "Hey kids!  I've got a barn, let's do a show!"

Entertainment is a fickle business.  To me, Monty Python is hysterical, but to a lot of people I know, it just mystifies them.  To me, Citizen Kane is a brilliant character study that broke every single rule of camera movement in place up to that time, but to many people, it's a boring old black-and-white movie with no special effects.

So how do you make fun of politics in a country where, for 30 years, such a thing got you a personal firing squad?  How do you play with sexual mores in a highly conservative culture where children still marry off in birth order and kids live at home until they get married?  How do you make literary allusions in a culture with precious little literature?

You can begin to appreciate the rather fine line I am attempting to tread.

But the biggest challenge is not culture, or language or any other controllable factor.  No, it's government.

I'm not the brightest monkey in the tree, but if I know enough to understand the relationship of entertainment to economics, then you can bet someone in government does too.

Sure enough, the Province of Jakarta went and raised a 30.5% tax on all entertainment, except oddly, golf.  As one might expect, government in desperate attempts to support useless bureaucracies  will, like all parasites, kill the host by sucking it dry.  Obviously, this kind of egregious tax has a massive chilling effect on people's desires to operate venues, bring or produce shows, and especially attend shows that are expensive enough just to cover costs.

Thinking that it will cash in on the survivability of entertainment in slow economies, the geniuses in government will do everything possible to kill operators and audiences, thus having the exact opposite effect of what was desired.

In the end, what we have is social engineering, whether intended or not.  Just when people need a couple of hours of escape from their misery, the government steps in to make sure that even that tiny relief is equally miserable.

More importantly, though, what we see here is a kind of proof that bad times are coming.  Governments, who steal our money to perform studies to figure out how to survive at our expense, are obviously seeing the writing on the wall.  And the evidence comes from a place where most people wouldn't look...entertainment.  I'm willing to bet there are similar moves around the world to suck on entertainment revenues, but I am also willing to bet that the horrific box office numbers from this past blockbuster season are a symptom, as well.

My bet is that we will start to see the rise of a massive underground entertainment market.  People will seek entertainment, and suppliers will find a way to circumvent the burdensome taxes and regulations trying to cash in on it.  Look for things like underground cinemas and cabarets presenting home-grown fare at very reasonable prices.  And since the places where these things will arise are not registered venues with broad market awareness, the place to start looking is in underground publications.

It is one of Nature's Laws that when government tries to squeeze the population a little tighter, more of them will slip through the fingers.

One thing is absolutely certain - art is like life, it finds a way.  No matter how hard tyrants and dictators have tried to control and suppress art and entertainment throughout the millennia, it has always found expression some how.  If there is a defining feature of human beings, it is that they create art for the enjoyment of others and the elevation of the spirit.

At a time when people will demand entertainment as an escape, governments will try harder to both control and profit from it, which will in turn cause art to (once again) go underground.  The one big hope is that when this has happened in the past, it led to great periods of creativity and explosions of expression.

That's one thing Hollywood has never figured out - it's not the budgets, but the limits that make creativity happen.


Rant Du Jour

If it's any comfort to you folks in the West, Asia's economy has slammed on the brakes, too.

When I first came to Indonesia in 2008, the country had 8% growth, the energy industry was going gangbusters, and foreign investment money was pouring in like a waterspout in monsoon season.  Cina was on a building spree to end all Building sprees, buying up Indonesian coal like it was the last supply on Earth.  Everyone was making money hand over fist.

Then the bottom fell out.

The US and EU economies tanked and China's exports were chopped off at the knees.  Western sanctions against Russia put the halt on the next hottest economy around (which was the real intent).  Southeast Asia, which was basically the low-cost labor supplier to China, along with the coal, suddenly found jobs drying up.

A combination of oil price cuts and really, incredibly short-sighted bureaucratic blunders on the part of Indonesia's Energy Ministry caused the bottom to fall out of the industry here.  And when I say bottom fall out, I mean the backup to the backup of the bottom fell out, too.  The sudden black hole in the government's budget has caused it to go on a tax hunt like never before in this country.

They are scrutinizing tax returns.  They are going through every title and deed.  They are hog-tying mud-caked tribesmen with bones in their noses (oh, yes, still have them) and forcing them to get tax numbers and start reporting their non-existent incomes.  The government is terrified also that a bunch of out-of-work, bored folks will suddenly realize how cushy and out-of-control all those ministries have gotten.

See 1998 for an example of what happens when that occurs.  People have gotten quite accustomed to upward mobility around these parts.

The areas of Jakarta, like Kemang, where all the ex-pat execs used to live have dried up.  Houses that used to rent for a month what a "normal" house gets for a year have stood empty for months.  All the oil companies have pulled out most of their ex-pat staff and are running on skeleton crews until the ministry comes to its senses.  By that I mean that current rules require exploration risks to be 100% on the company, all equipment imported for drilling can never leave again, and the government gets a majority share of production for doing nothing.  This is not to mention wonderful cabotage laws that require only Indonesian-flagged vessels to operated in national waters.  Bye-bye ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total.

A combination of greed, corruption and the attitude that good times always continue are sinking the ship of state.  Can you say "panic?"

None of this is to say that it's not happening in the rest of the world, too.  The Globalists have pushed too hard and tried to jump too far on the final leg of their take-over plans.  The blow-back comes in the form of all the nationalist movements worldwide, such as Brexit, Trump and the astounding rise to sainthood of Vlad the Putinator.

Alternative economic systems, such as ASEAN and BRICSA, that still respect national boundaries and cultures, while replacing the over-ripe and rotting carcass of the Western banking system, are coming into their own.  China's battle for the 9-Dash Line in the South China Sea is a direct dart in the eye of Western hegemony.  The unbridled gold-buying spree in China, India and Russia show a long-term plan to reinforce monetary foundations and stabilize economic shocks that are coming as the post-WW2 alliances and agreements start to unravel.

Honestly, I have no problem with globalism, per se.  The problem has been that for the last 60 years, the push has been to free corporations from national boundaries and level the playing field for faceless, soulless entities, at the cost of individual freedom and the sanctity of culture.  I would be quite happy to get rid of the money-making scam that is commonly evident in visas and passports for human beings.

However, the Western concept of corporations has shown repeatedly that these monster "legal entities" cannot be trusted and should never be allowed to slip the regulatory leash.  In other words, free the people, not the mega-corps.

When free to choose, people will always gravitate to areas with their common language, culture, foods, and sensibilities.  On the other hand, corporations don't care about any of that.  They are predatory and will slither into every nook and cranny, and gut the place of anything valuable unless they are tightly controlled.

People will care for their land.  Corporations will suck every penny of profit out of it until there is nothing left but waste.

When I say "people first," I am not referring to the liberal catch-phrase that hides a multitude of "diverse" evil.  I am referring to taking the yoke off of all us individuals.    Yes, it's a libertarian pipe-dream, but one that has the benefit of never having been tried. There's been a lot of lip service to "liberty" and "freedom," but in fact that has only been shared with the privileged few and not the masses.

In many ways, Karl Marx was right, but the execution has failed miserably, because true communism only works on small scales with ethnically and culturally homogeneous populations.  Massive state infrastructure that forces "diversity" and jumbled populations to work together is doomed to fail, as it has repeatedly.

People will smoke.  People will do drugs.  People will eat fatty foods.  Let them the hell alone.  Just don't steal my stuff, leave my family alone and don't murder anyone who isn't trying to do one of the previous two things.  What more do you need for a decent life?

If left the hell alone, people will do what is right for themselves and the ones they care about.  And they will collect in groups of like-minded folks who all have similar goals and cultures.  Let them.

But when Uncle Globalist wants to come in and rape and plunder your wealth using the deadly power of the government, well he should be roped, chained, tarred and feathered.  Maybe even a good turn in the pillory for some humiliation and ridicule might do him some good, as well.  But for gods' sake, don't enable him with TPP and TTIP and all those other alphabet fuels on the fire.

Kind of got off topic there, didn't I?

Well, that's why you come here and lurk in the corners, isn't it?


Civilization's Waterloo

There's a weird kind of insanity sweeping the world.  It's a feeling of extreme anxiety.  Everyone seems wildly impatient, yet profoundly apprehensive about getting started.

The feeling seems to be coming from the top down.  Leadership, and by that I mean the "elite" power behind the babbling faces in the media, appears to be itching for a fight, yet terrified of getting one.  It's like a heavy-weight prize-fighter going up against a bantam-weight challenger and feeling dread that this may be the mouse that roared.

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, a group of French, British and German philosophers devised a rather amazing set of concepts that became the Enlightenment.  They proposed that a well-educated populace was more than capable of leading itself without the need for "divine" monarchies.  They also proposed that individuals were endowed at birth with rights that were above human ability to amend or edit.

Governments, they said, were devised by the masses to protect those basic rights from any individual or group that wanted to take them away.  This included secular and religious leaders and institutions who claimed "divine right" to do so.  In effect, every single person was his or her own "sovereign" within the confines of his or her property, which included one's self.

I am convinced that a group, founded in Ingolstadt, Germany in the late 1700s, that called itself the Bavarian Illuminati (lit. the Enlightened Ones), was founded based on the ideals of the Enlightenment and charged with undermining social institutions, especially the Roman Church and the various European monarchies, in order to bring about the Great Awakening, the New Atlantis or Golden Age, that they believed was possible using this revolutionary new philosophy.

Certainly, the US and French Revolutions can be traced directly to the work of this group.  World Wars 1 & 2, which did away with most of the monarchies and left the Roman Church severely neutered would easily fall within their charter.

But then the backlash happened.

The Bavarian Illuminati were infiltrated by loyalists and conservatives who liked the Old World Order.  They thrived using complete control and "divine right," especially the Roman Church, which under Pope Bonaface VIII, had declared dominion over the entire world and everything in it in the form of the Unam Sanctam.  They didn't take kindly to having all that wealth and privilege swept out from under them, and sovereign individuals in no way fit their worldviews.  As Mel Brooks so aptly put it, "It's good to be da king!"

Seeing their thousand-year reign of absolute power and privilege slipping away, these desperate folks made a deal with the Devil, so to speak.  They allied with forces that had no one's interests at heart.  As Alfred put it in The Dark Knight, "Some men just want to see the world burn."

These deposed kings made a deal with forces whose only motivations were to destroy everything.  They didn't want power or wealth, they wanted death and destruction.  The great kinds of old didn't understand this mentality and thought they could easily control the dark forces with carrots and sticks.

It didn't work and it set up an epic battle that began in the 20th century, with deeply entrenched forces on both sides that would never give up until they were ultimately victorious.  The dark forces infiltrated every secret society on both sides of the battle, and like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, each time one of these dark minions were cut down, the pieces would animate and come back in greater numbers.  And just when either side thought they had things under control, and would make their next move, everything would spiral out of control, making any plan, any action a parody of itself.

Thus, we find ourselves in a world no one understands.  We normal folks can't comprehend forces that do not have any motivation other than utter destruction.  The Old Powers and the New Powers unleashed something they can't control, and all their intricate and centuries-old plans fly quickly out of hand any time they try to advance their causes.

So here we sit, caught between two entrenched forces, one trying to reestablish "divine right," and the other seeking the "sovereign individual."  Both sides think their goal is to bring about the Great Rebirth of the Golden Age, yet both have built their redoubts on the foundation of a dark force neither can control.  Every attempt they make to advance their cause results in several steps backward.  It's a Chinese Finger Puzzle of massive proportions, and what was ultimately a European battle has now engulfed the world.

Suppose every act of kindness you made resulted in death and destruction.  Your natural instinct is to help people in need, but every time you do, you cause unspeakable pain and suffering.  How would you react?

That is where we stand.  Civilization is fighting its own greed and lust for power.  Two formidable and diametrically opposed ideals went to war with each other.  Out of desperation, one or both of them made a deal with a third force that neither could control, and which wanted neither to win.

It's as if we face another Tower of Babel.  Seeing that humanity will join together to "achieve whatsoever they imagine to do," the gods have stepped in, by our own invitation, to scramble our efforts and reduce everything to rubble once again.  It at least explains a great deal of the insanity and anxiety that we see in the world now, and to an even greater extent the insane brinksmanship that is evident in global events.

Everyone is gearing up for a war no one wants, with goals no one understands, using weapons and tactics that are doomed to fail.  It's the proverbial rock-and-a-hard-spot writ large.

If you've got a better explanation, I am all ears.


The Big Durian

Here in the Big Durian, where 12 million people are piled on top of each other trying to beat the odds and get rich, no matter how many people they have to screw, life has made me rather morose lately.

Not only has the government gone on a robbery campaign (see yesterday's rant), but nearly all of the internet access providers - whether cell-based or cable - have all decided to crap out at the same time.  Out of 24 hours, they are usable about 8-12 hours a day.  No reasons given.

On top of that, the public water system, at least in my neighborhood, has also decided to crap out.  We have a 150-gallon reservoir in the house, which is only getting partially filled each day by a pitiful trickle from the city supply.  No reasons given.

Electricity in some parts of the city has been spotty.  This would be just an inconvenience in most cities, but in the Big Durian, there are only three stoplights in the whole mess, and one of them happens to be near the heart of the city.  When it craps out, it causes a ripple-down effect resulting in a traffic jumble of epic proportions.  And that's on top of the epic traffic situation already caused by the "odd-even" license plate scheme being implemented to try and ease the epic jams in the city center.

Jakarta - the Big Durian - is a mess.  It is a 2,000-year-old settlement with donkey trails for roads that has been paved over a hundred times to stuff more people into a tiny space.  You could put the entire city inside the Inner Loop area of Houston, with enough space left over for all the damn parks Jakarta doesn't have.  And Houston has three loops, with the outer one being about 75 miles from side to side, accommodating 4 million people.  Jakarta has 12 million crammed into what amounts to the inner city of Houston.

What's worse is that Jakarta is the political, commercial and financial center of the country.  All the jobs are here that amount to more than selling coffee and cigarettes in a warung.  Any good jobs outside the Big Durian were centered on minerals and energy, and in case you haven't noticed, those industries have been pounded for the past two years, forcing even more people to come here looking for scraps.

Imagine Washington, D.C. being the only place in the US where decent jobs could be found.  That's the problem here.

On top of all that, every day, millions of people migrate from the surrounding area, called Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tanggerang, Bekasi), raising the population to around 20 million daily, and all using trucks, cars, motorcycles, bajaj, angkot, trains, buses, bicycles, and push-carts on roads that are barely an improvement over dirt and gravel, with an incomprehensible toll system of freeways that require every - single - car - to - stop - and - pay.  There is no EZ Tag or automated payment system, since Indonesians would quickly find a way around it.

In fact, that is the nation pass-time - finding ways around the rules.  It starts with five lanes of traffic on roads barely wide enough to handle two.  Then there's the motorcycles, which flat refuse to follow ANY rules.  Oh, and let's not forget the aging city buses that like to race each other to the next stop to get the customers.  Top it all off with sidewalks that are so crammed with food stalls and warung that people walking are forced into the streets to get around - that is WHEN there are sidewalks at all.

The pièce de résistance is that the Big Durian is a city, a state and a national capital.  That means there are presidents, vice presidents, ministers, members of parliament, governors, vice governors, mayors and vice mayors all trying to plow through traffic with their police escorts, making an untenable mess even worse.  And, of course, being Indonesia, every company CEO and his brother hire police escorts to do the same thing, since their time is FAR more valuable than us peons.

The public transportation system here is a joke.  The TransJakarta busway is built at street level, and where it crosses U-turns and intersections, there is a gap in the barrier, so hundreds of cars, trucks and motorcycles jump in the bus lane to try and get around the traffic snarls, causing - naturally - more snarls that now include the mass transit system.

They are installing an MRT system, but of course, the construction causes more snarls and I frankly will never use it because the last place I want to be is trapped in a tunnel with thousands of panicky people during an earthquake or flood, both of which are part of the scene here.  Not to mention the fact that Indonesians are not especially known for their ability to maintain complex systems, and the national pass-time of trying to find ways around the rules.

One great example of finding ways around the rules was an earlier, abortive attempt to reduce congestion in the city center.  The then-governor created a 3-in-1 zone, requiring three passengers in every car during peak times of the day.  Well, since a great number of folk here use drivers (so their lives aren't frittered away behind the wheel), that left only one additional person to get round the rule.  An entire cottage industry sprang up of "jockeys" who would stand on the sides of roads at the 3-in-1 borders and get paid to ride along as the third head.  Result?  Absolutely no effect on congestion, and instead caused worse jams at the borders as people stopped to pick up jockeys.

Just yesterday, I noticed the new improved system to beat the "odd/even" system: electronic digital license places that can be changed at a moment's notice.

Yes, living in the Big Durian is a true adventure, one I have never experienced before.  There are days when it is extremely difficult to keep laughing at it, and today is one of them,

It's a good thing I am producing a musical comedy right now.  I need the laughs.


Tax Man Be Damned

Marco Polo
Folks who've been around here for a while already know that I am back into a major project, thus causing my unusual silence this past week.

Never one to hold still, I am now partnering up with some good folks to bring cabaret to Jakarta - something heretofore unknown.  In fact, a search for "cabaret in Jakarta" will return one hit for one show on one night last year at a rented venue.  Well, we can't have that, so I'm going to open a new venue with original shows and create a whole new form of cabaret unique to Indonesia.

But in the meantime...

I am really cheesed off at the whole damn tax situation - not just here, but globally.  I'm even more cheesed off at those slave-minds who dribble platitudes like, "Gotta pay your fair share," and "Taxes allow the government to operate."

For the latter, one EXCELLENT reason to banish taxes altogether.  Never met a government worth the price of admission.  All they are is make-work for folks who don't create anything but paper-trails and headaches.

As for the former, I could get hopping mad about that one.  My fair share of what?  Murder, mayhem, lying, cheating, corruption, graft, and a dozen other choice accusations.

Taxes do not pay debt, they pay private corporations called "Central Banks" for the pleasure of using their money.  They can issue it in great huge piles and fast as they want to, and we all pay the price in inflation and debt service for the rest of our natural lives (and maybe beyond).

Taxes are a mechanism for social control.  They are a means to bend your personal habits to satisfy the international banksters.  They have NOTHING to do with repaying government costs or debt.  The banksters WANT us in debt, so they are happy to shovel out more cash to keep governments running.

Instead, taxes are used to force you and me to adjust our behaviors.  If the banksters don't want us to smoke, they get the governments to make new laws and raise taxes on cigarettes to make them too expensive for us little folk.

This makes sense to the banksters, not because they give a good holy damn about our health, but because nicotine protects the pineal gland - and thus the brain - from remote control through brain-wave entrainment through media and other electro-magnetic outlets (cell towers, etc.).

Beef is too healthy.  Makes us strong and all the protein builds muscle.  Can't have that, so the banksters want to raise taxes on beef until it is just too damn expensive to eat.

The one I really love is when a population starts to get too wealthy and independent, they spring all these new rules on you, or suddenly remeber rules that have been hiding for years, and then tell everyone they have to fork over penalties to shovel great piles of cash back out of the common man's hands.

This last one is especially egregious.  In Indonesia, they suddenly sprang this (obviously) little known procedure that requires everyone to file property tax receipts with their annual income tax returns.  But hey, at least they are nice about it, you have until September to fess up and pay a 2% penalty, or December to get a 3% penalty.

Keep in mind, this is NOT about paying the taxes.  When you buy a house or car here, you go down to one of the State banks and pay the VAT and get a receipt for payment, called a bukti.  No, this is all about not having attached a copy of the bukti to your annual income tax.

Considering NO ONE I know has ever done this, nor even knew it was required, everyone is running around in sack-cloth and ashes trying to figure out how to pay the penalties, which are levied against the purchase value of the property.

To call a spade a spade, this is complete and utter bullshit.

What this is - and no one in "government" will admit it - is an attempt by the banksters to cool down inflation.  Since the economy here is no longer running at a growth rate of 7%, as in years past, they need to siphon cash out of the market to cool things off, and this previously UNKNOWN regulation has been trotted out to basically yank millions of rupiah out of each and every person who owns property.

This is nothing more than social control and has nothing to do with the government's ability to pay debt or add services.  In fact, since the freakin' amnesty program started, the public services have gotten considerably worse, as if to show everyone how the poor widdle gummint can't pay to keep things going and needs to steal more money from us.


Taxes are, and always have been, a means of controlling populations, from the time King George III raised the Stamp and Tea taxes and caused the American Revolution, to modern-day efforts to control out eating and smoking habits.  Taxes have nothing to do with paying government debts.

Let's take, for instance, the US.  In the first half of 2016, the US government COLLECTED a record US$1.4 trillion in taxes!  Under the Obama administration alone, the US government has collected US$20 trillion in tax revenues, while at the same time, leaving the country US$9 trillion deeper in debt.  The current US debt is US$19 trillion.  That means that Obama could have paid off the national debt and had a trillion or so left over to play with, but that's not the point, is it?

No.  If taxes were meant to pay down debt and offer public services, most countries would not have any debt.  But that's not the game the banksters play.  They want us bent over a debt barrel so they can harvest us for their pleasure.  And frankly, a government that can't operate on a trillion a year ain't worth having, is it?

By comparison, Indonesia's national debt is US$222 billion, or IDR4 quadillion, or just 27% of GDP.

It's time all these slave-minded folks who talk about "our fair share" and "supporting government services" get hog-tied and force-fed reality.

Taxes are nothing more than a control mechanism.  Since the banksters are more than happy to print money and pay national bills, for a price, and use the strings and levers of government to make us all dance to their tune, there is obviously no incentive for anyone IN government to admit they are stealing our money for nothing.  Hell, it's not even money.  It's just paper with fancy colors and pictures all over it.  It has no value at all, but what we invest int it.

Best to let the great Marco Polo, who brought the concept of paper money back from China in the 1200s, tell us all about it:
"How the Great Kaan Causeth the Bark of Trees, Made Into Something Like Paper, to Pass for Money All Over his Country: The Emperor's Mint then is in this same City of Cambaluc, and the way it is wrought is such that you might say he hath the Secret of Alchemy in perfection, and you would be right!  And the Kaan [Kublai Khan] causes every year to be made such a vast quantity of this money, which costs him nothing, that it must equal in amount all the treasure in the world.  And all the while they are so light that ten bezants' worth does not weigh one golden bezant.  Now you have heard the ways and means whereby the Great Kaan may have, and in fact has, more treasure than all the Kings in the World; and you know all about it and the reason why."

Hmmm...and who is kicking the world's economic blessed assurance these days?

As George Carlin reminds us, it's all bullshit and it's bad for you.


Casting Notice

Anda dapat terjemahkan pilih bahasa di kanan. ====>
As part of our on-going quest to celebrate culture, promote the arts, entertain audiences, and educate everyone, we are excited to announce the following:


Open casting call for Jakarta's newest destination attraction: CABARET INDONIQUE

We are seeking Jakarta's most talented performers to join us in creating a truly unique show, blending Indonesia's rich cultural heritage with the classic cabaret style of theater.  As a cast member, you will be part of creating a whole new form of entertainment that will attract audiences from around the world, performed in Jakarta's newest and (so far) only venue of its kind.


Committing to this project will require you to work every day except Mondays, create new material when not performing, and possibly tour in future.  Pay and benefits will reflect this commitment.

Anyone with talent is invited to audition.  We are looking for:

  • Multi-talented individuals who can sing, dance and act, especially those who can combine traditional and modern styles;
  • Magicians;
  • Soloists - musicians, singers, comedians, actors;
  • Creative performers with unique abilities and talents.

  • When:   Monday, 22 August 2016; 10:00 - 21:00
  • Where:  Club Revolution, Lotte Shopping Ave., Lt. LG (dekat Gonzo's TexMex), Ciputra World 1, Kuningan, South Jakarta;
  • How:     Bring a recent photo and list of experience, plus a 3-5 minute prepared routine/performance;
  • Who:     Ages 18+, men and women, especially with multiple abilities to dance, sing and act;
  • Information:   email, or, or Twitter @cabaretindoniq or @theatrixentserv ; SMS or WhatsApp +62-858-1060-6083

Target opening in mid- to late September.  Shows will run 6 days per week, with matinees and late shows on weekends.  This is a full-time job.  When not performing, cast and crew will work together to create new material, design costumes and perfect our craft.  Cast members will be pushed to deliver their creative best, and will be rewarded for it.

Please join us and send this notice to anyone you know who is interested in becoming a professional entertainer.

This is your chance to help create something completely new and exciting, and to have it promoted to international audiences as THE entertainment destination in Jakarta.

CABARET INDONIQUE!  Because it is time to move to the next level.



There are seven basic types of cabaret, named after the cultures in which they originated.  We intend to create the eighth.  By mixing traditional Indonesian culture with modern theater and contemporary themes, CABARET INDONIQUE will offer something never before seen on any stage.

Where is the venue?
CABARET INDONIQUE is located on the lower ground floor at Lotte Shopping Ave., in the same complex with the Ciputra Artpreneur, in south central Jakarta.  This type of venue is the first of its kind in Jakarta and offers an intimate audience area, mixed drinks/beer/wine, and optional dinner prepared by the head chef at Gonzo's, directly attached.  CABARET INDONIQUE seats 110 people, with booths, tables or stools, depending on ticket options and pricing.  Tickets will be less than IDR400,000/person, with dinner, and all tickets include 1 or 2 drinks, depending on options selected.

What is the show like?
CABARET INDONIQUE will feature dancing, singing, comedy, magic, sketches, and surprise guests.  The show will run six days per week (except Mondays), with a midnight show on Saturday, and an early matinee on Sunday.  Show times to be announced.  The show will change on a regular basis about every 4-6 weeks.  The show will feature everything from Vegas-style ensembles, to solos and duets, with headliner acts.  The show will run approximately 90 minutes.

How long will the show run?
CABARET INDONIQUE is a perpetual show.  It has no closing date and we hope that it will expand to other venues, as well as tour at some point.  The show will be updated regularly, so each month will offer fresh material and new headliners.  And the best part of live productions is that they are never the same, even when they are the same.

How do I make a reservation?
The CABARET INDONIQUE website will offer an online reservation system, or tickets can be purchased at the door, though we anticipate demand to be high and shows shows to sell out frequently, especially on weekends.  We will post more information on the CABARET INDONIQUE Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channel, as it becomes available.

Who can come to the show?
The show is rated 21+ due to alcohol sales and adult themes.  The venue is accessible by wheelchair and there is a drop-off directly outside the entrance.



Thinking Our Way To Freedom

One of our loyal FarceBook fans called us out on our assertion yesterday that we don't need leaders.  Let's let R.E. state it in his own words:
"trusting and focused are better words... most of us see the world as too complicated to navigate on our own and we are right. We can be ever vigilant and forego police... but you have to sleep sometime. We can forego government in totum but then we sit in a minor spot to grow our food, until fate or another person takes it away... the "birthright" is an illusion, just like honest government and security"
Points well taken and definitely worth a response.

While I greatly respect R.E., I must first state unequivocally that there is no such thing as security, nor safety for that matter.  It is all an illusion, and the sooner we are disabused of it, the sooner we can free ourselves and our minds.  My view of security is best represented by my own experience.  I used to have a gorgeous 1970 Pontiac Catalina 400 rag top with a custom-designed and installed Blaupunkt sound system that I did myself.  People said I was crazy putting that system in a rag top, but they were aghast that I left the top down and the doors unlocked most of the time - weather permitting.

I explained that with a rag top, getting in would take about 10 seconds, no matter how many precautions I took.  So better to just leave it open so that I would only lose the stereo, and not the top also.

In fact, no one ever touched my car.  At one point, a BMW next to it was trashed in a parking garage, but not a scrap of paper was missing from my car.  I owned that car for 10 years and never had a problem.  My experience confirmed, to me at least, that the more you try to protect something, the more challenge it presents to someone to break it.  Thus, the best security is none at all.

So, having dispensed with that argument, let's turn our attention to the idea that we need leaders because life is so complex.


I view life as a three-dimensional matrix, and it greatly simplifies life and makes it rather manageable, without sacrificing the detail needed to function effectively.

Imagine a cube divided into seven sections on all planes - 7x7x7.  That means there are 343 smaller cubes within the larger one.

The X axis I label the Seven Deadly Sins.  OK, it's a hangover from my Catholic catechism, but it neatly sums up all the evil in the world.  To refresh our memory, the seven deadly sins are: Pride. Envy. Wrath, Gluttony and Lust. Sloth and Greed.  Honestly, can you think of any bad emotion that doesn't fit in one of those categories?

The Y axis are the seven Virtues.  Again, to refresh: Prudence, Justice, Moderation, Fortitude, Faith, Hope, and Love (charity).

On the Z axis, we have the seven Plots (a la Christopher Booker): Overcoming Monsters, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth.

To fully grasp the nature of this matrix, take a moment now to pause, reflect and internalize.  Can you think of any human situation that does not fall within at least two of these categories?

I didn't think so.

So that means that all of human society, history, art, and civilization can be plotted somewhere within this matrix of 343 choices.  Everything you do, from waking up in the morning to cooking dinner falls within two or three of these axes.  If you really want to encompass Life, the Universe and Everything, then simply label the axes: Motive, Opportunity and Means.

In a nutshell, this means that everything we know, have known or could know is summed up in 343 points within a 7x7x7 cube.

See how simple life really is?

Knowing this, and having the matrix firmly in our minds, what need do we have for leaders?  They are nothing more than points in the matrix, just like us.  Everything they do is a point in the matrix, just like us.  Everything the want is a point in the matrix, just like us.  So how, exactly, are they qualified to lead?  After all, they are just like us.

The fact of the matter is that no one is more or less qualified to lead us than ourselves.  With a few basic rules of conduct, everyone should be allowed to do whatever they want within the confines of their property, which includes their bodies and any space that they own.

The elite know this.  That is why they try so hard to keep us stupid, take away our property (or prevent us from owning any) and make every aspect of human behavior a crime.  It is the only way to control us, and our complicity is the only way we are controlled.

What it all comes down to is that our lives are nothing more than 343 variables.  To the extent that we can control any of them means that we have more security than before.  To the extent that we can't control them, but delegate someone else to handle the issue means we have an illusion of control and security, because once you delegate a variable to someone else, you have multiplied your problem exponentially.  How the delegate handles your variable depends on where they are in the matrix.  Now you have added their matrix to yours and increased the variables at least 343 times.

The fact is, no one is better at watching out for you than you.  Every time you delegate a personal responsibility to another, you make the situation less controllable.  In modern society, we have delegate so much personal power to others that life seems to be so complex and out of control.  In fact, it IS out of control, but it is NOT complex.

Time to take some of that power back.  Stop letting "leaders" take your power to use for their ends.  You have the sum of human knowledge right here on the internet.  You have a personal responsibility to educate yourself.  You are the one person that can delegate your power.  One tiny little change in the way you think can change the world.  And with the thousands of readers here, we have a force multiplier.

We don't need others to lead us, we need to lead ourselves.  Start reading, turn of the TeeVee, take responsibility for your life.  It's really quite simple.  All it requires is looking with different eyes - eyes that we once had as children, but lost due to training.

The only powe someone else has over us is what we give them.

In some ways, 50 Shades of Gray laid it in front of us, but we missed the point for all the steamy sex.

Oops...isn't sex in the matrix?


A Gift Unopened

Have you ever stopped to consider how much time, effort and wealth is squandered on leaders?  Or how utterly useless they are?

What is it about humans that make us go through so much toil and trouble to prop up people who are rarely better equipped to lead than anyone reading these words?  Most leaders in the world are no more capable of leading than any one of us, and yet we go through absurdly expensive selection rituals to find one person who can survive the process and then invest all our hopes and desires in them.

These leaders are no more intelligent or special than any one of us.  In many cases, they are far less so.  These leaders are little more than functionaries whose job it is to push papers and attend banquets.  So if the leaders are nothing special, then what is it about the rest of us that compels us to go through these rituals and then wait in vane for the leaders to fulfill the desires we have invested in them?

It's not for lack of trying that we haven't gotten rid of these useless figureheads.

The Enlightenment had a vision of the "sovereign individual."  All of the powers of the State were to be invested in each human being.  Through a social focus on education, the individual would be empowered to rule himself, and his home and property would be, in effect, his realm of supremacy.  In effect, every human of majority age would be a king or queen, a sovereign over their own lives and property, made benign and beneficent by access to learning never before made available to the masses.

Marx and Engels envisioned a system labelled Communism, where the State would ultimately be made irrelevant and the individual finally empowered to be their own supreme authority.  Few people realize this, since few have read The Communist Manifesto, but these men didn't want another system to replace something else, they wanted the ultimate demise of systems altogether, and created a roadmap to achieve it, if it were ever followed, which it has never been.

  Libertarianism is a sort of amalgam of these two, which is not difficult given the very similar goals.  The only difference between all sides is the means by which to achieve the target.

These three roadmaps were based on the Protestant Reformation and the idea that individuals were just as capable of reading the Bible and interpreting it for themselves, and didn't need a centralized power structure guarding the keys of wisdom and selecting compliant leaders to promulgate the system, rather than the common good.

What all of these concepts have in common is the empowerment of the individual over the collective and the need for leaders and authorities.  They are all predicated on a single event in history: the invention of movable type and Gutenberg's press.  By making books infinitely reproduceable, without the need for rooms full of scribes and caligraphers, prices plummeted and information became available to huge populations that were never able to access it before.

With one invention, the need for authorities and leaders was wiped out and the masses empowered with the same information as the elite.  This led to an explosion of creativity: the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution.  Every single person now had access to the same resources that were once the sole purview of the elite.

The internet is no less revolutionary.  Now cheaper and broader than at any time in history, individuals have access to vast libraries of information.  Books and data formerly only available to scholars and select elites is now just a click away, and most even downloadable to a personal library.  My own digital library probably contains a significant proportion of the library at Alexandria, and can be accessed without leaving my chair.

And yet...

People still turn to leaders and authorities.  We still prefer to have a perceived expert tell us what an author said, rather than going direct to the source.  We still think we are incapable of self-sovereignty and self-determination.  We still flock in annual rituals to select leaders who have spent inconceivable amounts of time and money to gain a position of power over us.

Are we so weak, so gullible that we can't see how much power we posses, and how little we require over us?  Has our educational system been so diluted that we don't see the power that is sitting right in front of us?  Are we so mis-led that we truly believe we cannot read and understand information for ourselves?

If so, then it is a sad commentary on both our leaders, and ourselves.  Our leaders have betrayed us by taking power away from us, rather than handing it out to us.  These leaders have destroyed our educational system, which is the key to personal empowerment.  They have made us more dependent on them, than on ourselves.  They have given us fish, rather than taught us how to fish.

The promise of such great movements as the Enlightenment is all but dead, even at the moment when we have been most empowered.  We would rather spend hours on YouTube watching empty content, than reading Plato and discussing it in online fora.

How sad.  How utterly wasted is this personal empowerment.

When authorities censor information, it is an admission of fear.  They are afraid that we will know what they know, and act on it.  If the history of the world for the past 500 years has taught us anything, it is that authorities will do anything to keep us ignorant and enslaved.

It is the greatest irony in history that at the very moment the power of the ages is at each of our fingertips, that we are the most controlled and enslaved people of all time.  And all because our leaders would rather we learn to put condoms on cucumbers, than to learn the basic skills of liberty and independence: grammar, logic and rhetoric.

In fact, if you search "trivium" on Google, the entire list of top references are for a pop band.

How we have squandered our birthright.


Deus Ex Duis

Based on the recommendations of some trusted folks, I started watching Person of Interest.  If you are not familiar with the show (now finished), it was created by Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams, and involves competing AI systems trying to take over the world.  I'm up to season 4 of 5 now, in marathon sessions.

Actually, I kind of enjoy not having to wait five years for this story to unfold.

From a technical standpoint, it is a well-done show.  The production values are very high.  The characters are interesting and multi-dimensional.  The writing is exceptional, with interlocking story arcs over 1, 5, 10, and 30 episodes, plus a single arc over the entire five-year run.  Due to a limited number of story lines, there are a number of likenesses to Batman, Charlie's Angels, Serpico, and a handful of other shows, but essentially that makes this show interesting, since the "flavor" changes over time.  I like that the opening titles evolve to reflect the story line, and the graphics are very good.

One thing occurred to me, though.  I started to wonder how much of the "surveillance" culture is complete bullshit.  How much of it was manufactured through the media in order to make us believe we are all being watched by some cold AI creation?

The reason I bring this up is because I've been doing a lot of reading on the human brain.  It is enlightening to see how much of its function is a complete mystery, even now.  One of the major mysteries is how the brain forms and stores memories.

See, we can map down to individual cells how the brain adjusts to new memories.  The brain's structure modifies to allow new channels to form, based on the type of information being stored.  For instance, when we learn new languages, certain areas of the brain change in response to the new skill.

However, The changes are not memories being stored, they are processing and physical function changes.  For instance, to form new sounds for the second language, the voice, tongue and jaw must learn new ways of moving, and those movements are stored in the form of re-arranged brain cells.  What this doesn't tell us, though, is where the information is being stored.

In other words, the brain controls motor and autonomous functions in the body.  It can be modified to learn new movements and to channel information into the network for those movements.  But, those networks do not contain the information.  So where is it?

This process is referred to as "non-local consciousness."  Memories and information are not stored within our physical bodies.  Our bodies change to perform new functions based on information, but the information is not coming from within the body.

This falls under a very old argument.  Aristotle said that all things are physical and that some physical process can be found to explain everything, also known as "materialism."  Plato, on the other hand, postulated that there was an intangible aspect to the Universe that did not reside in physical things.  This is generally referred to as the "metaphysical" weltanschaaung.  Together, they form the Aristotelian and the Platonic schools of philosophy, and humanity has been arguing these two views in one form or another ever since.

For centuries, the Aristotelians have been winning the battle, up until the Higgs boson.  As you can imagine, a lot was riding on the CERN and that little shard of reality.  If mass could be imparted by a physical thing, then pretty much the entire Universe was Aristotelian.  If, however, it didn't exist, then there was a very likely chance that the Universe was Platonic.  Three thousand years of bickering went into that search.

It seems, now, that the Higgs boson doesn't exist and that some part of the Universe is non-local and non-tangible, and is even responsible for imparting physicality on all we sense.

So what does all this have to do with Person of Interest and AI, you ask.  Glad you did.

If our thoughts, memories and emotions are being channeled by our brains from some metaphysical realm, then the possibility of actually creating "living" machines may be impossible.  You can tinker with the lights and wires for all eternity, but all you will ever have is a faster calculator with more bells and whistles.  It may emulate human movements and responses, and may even alter its code to adjust to changing variables, but it will never be alive and self-aware.

It would, however, suit certain interest to have the world think that such a creature could exist.  If some group could convince the world that it had created such a machine, and that we should all surrender to its superior wisdom and ability, then this group would have ultimate power without the machine.  And who would ever really know?

We would all think that we were being monitored all the time.  A few lucky busts here and there would reinforce the illusion that some superior machine was watching everything and no one would ever question it out of fear of punishment.  It would be a completely bloodless takeover, achieving centuries of effort to achieve with little success.

Sold as safety and security, it would be nothing more than a man behind a curtain, a mirage, a phantasm.

Shows like Person of Interest or Westworld condition us to think that such things are possible.  The constant barrage of media stories make us think that AI is just around the corner and that thinking machines will be among us within the decade.

I, for one, am beginning to think it is all a ruse.  Working on the assumption that memory, emotion and inspiration are functions of wires and sparks, these people have been on a fool's errand for decades, pouring billions of dollars into an effort that is doomed to fail, because it does not contemplate non-locality, nor can we engineer such a thing - at least not yet.  It is beyond numbers and exceeds our current engineering capabilities, because we are barking up the wrong philosophical tree.  The pot of gold at the end of our current rainbow is empty.

Real AI cannot exist in a closed and physical Universe, simply because it doesn't work that way.  I suspect the wizards have discovered their error and are panicking.  Knowing that they cannot make the real thing, they are reduced to conditioning us through good production values, decent acting and some nice computer graphics.  If we believe it is possible, then we will believe it is probable, and will surrender to the phantom of the opera.


For Auld Lang Syne

So there I was this morning, talking with a very old friend - dare I say brother of a different mother.

It had been ages since we spoke face-to-face, or should I say Skype-to-Skype.  Years of email and the occasional phone call.

We go back to age 7.  We were altar boys together.  His mother was active in my father's campaigns.  We went to school together through high school.  We spent our weekends together.  He was always cutting edge with the latest music and got me into Alice Cooper and Elton John.  We have always been brutally honest with each other, in a kind way.

He went on to an illustrious career in law, and I went on to a nefarious career in entertainment.  We never lost contact, though we have gone through long dry spells, but friendship has a way of overcoming that.

The conversation ranged over a hundred topics spanning more than an hour.  He mentioned how several folks of his acquaintance were thinking of going the ex-pat route.  Things were out of control in the home country.  We talked art and law and business.  We introduced our wives to each other.  I mentioned how much he looked like his father, who I admired greatly.

Through it all, I thought about the "old days," when we were idealistic and full of passion for the future, back when we weren't so jaded and cynical.

Then I thought about how we were talking.  We were literally on opposite sides of the world speaking in real time with full motion video.  I lost my train of thought for a moment as I pondered this modern miracle.

When he and I were kids, this kind of technology was science fiction.  We marveled at Dr. Floyd calling his daughter from orbit on her birthday, in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Even before that was the comic strip Dick Tracey, with his 2-way wrist radio.  Wow, wouldn't that be cool!  And Star Trek, with their automatic doors and Bluetooth earpieces and electronic tablets that you could write on with a stylus.

My buddy and I grew in simple(r) times.  Phones were big clunky things with rotary dials.  TV was just going color and the NBC peacock was an exciting thing.  Radio dramas were just dying out.  The space age was just being born.  Telecommunications satellites were a new thing and trans-Atlantic calls were wildly expensive.

When I went on my global walk-about at 18, I sent postcards (when I could afford it), and a trans-Atlantic call meant a day at the telegraph office, making an appointment, sitting in a booth with a meter, and waiting 3-5 seconds for replies from the other end.  And that was Europe - North Africa and the Middle East were out of the question, and Asia was a technological wasteland.

In a single lifetime, speaking of my great aunt Tish, folks went from covered wagons (when her family moved to Texas in 1898, to being afraid of comets (Halley in 1910), to super highways and global telephony.

Yes, here I was, talking to my buddy on the East Coast while sitting at the breakfast table in Jakarta, having a real-time vidchat in living color.  And since I was using my tablet (with stylus), I could go out on the patio to smoke and show him some of the fun stuff in Indonesian neighborhoods.  I was daybreak here and just after dinner there.  Dr. Floyd was only 200 miles up in orbit, we were 10,000 miles apart, as the crow flies.

I thought about he and I riding our bicycles on Saturday afternoons down at Buffalo Bayou.  Chevrolet Bellaires were still new cars.  A gallon of gas (not that we needed it) was 27 cents.  The Gemini space program was still amazing stuff.  And there were no home computers or video games or cell phones.  We had to make our own fun.

"What happened to us?" my buddy asked, only partly joking about the sagging jowls and fading eye-sight.  "Gravity," I said.  We traded health-related crises and our various "procedures," a la Billy Crystal's brilliant speech in City Slickers.

We parted with vague threats to "do this more often."

"More often," I thought, "It's a miracle we can do it at all."


Alchemy And Uncertainty

Can you feel it?

Something in the air.  Or a quiver in the Quantum Field.  Or a disturbance in the Force.

Once in a while, we get that fluttery feeling in our gut, what you might call "butterflies," but no quite the same as say, stagefright.  This is more a feeling of foreboding.  It happened the day before 911, it happened in September of 2009, when we experienced our first earthquake, and it happened this morning.

I, like some other folks, believe that astrology has a basis in fact somewhere in its roots.  A while back, I posted some thoughts on a scientific paper that suggested much of the chaos in the world just now are due in part to the fact that we have discovered a bunch of exoplanets in a certain zodiac sign.  Everyone has experienced reading an astrological personality sketch that seems eerily accurate.  And a lot of folks have noticed that certain planetary alignments herald significant events.

Goro Adachi at Etemenanki is one of the people I have followed for decades now, and he has proved to be fairly accurate at pre-reading history.  His latest screed warns that August-September 2016 will be a wild ride, based in part on the alignment of Sun-Venus-Jupiter.

Courtney Brown and the Farsight Insitute's remote viewers have put out a video that indicates a severe event this month, with all the appearances of a large explosion.  We've got two older interviews with Courtney on RadioFarSide, should you want a bit more information about them and remote viewing.

I don't have anything so flashy or mystical as those good folks, but I do have a kind of "spidey-sense" if you will.  I have a particular feeling that puts me on alert, and I've grown to trust it over the centuries, since it has rarely steered me wrong.

I tend to break Life down to sets of variables, and then convert as many to rational numbers as I can and eliminate as much uncertainty as possible to control outcomes to the extent that they can be controlled.  Most of us do that, with varying degrees of detail and success.

Occasionally, though, the variables start to pile up and quickly become more than any individual can calculate.  There are massive political and geopolitical movements washing across history at this moment.  There are waves of events, visible and invisible.  Battles are being waged at every conceivable level.  History is being written as I clack away.

Mighty forces are coming into direct conflict.  Those who want humanity to go in one direction are about to butt heads with those who like the tried and true.

There are frontiers open to our collective species that have barely been dreamed of for ages.  We are on the cusp of events our current generations can only begin to imagine.  Technology has raced far beyond our growth and development as physical creatures.  We have opened doors behind which are questions even our brightest minds could not answer.  And we will be forced to answer then sooner or later.

Many of our best thinkers and researchers today have postulated that Humanity has fractured into two different civilizations (maybe more).  One civilizations has unlocked fantastic technical power, while the other has been purposefully kept ignorant.  The former has pushed the latter as far as it can, and now the latter is kicking back.

Our species is bifurcating.  We are splitting into the "knows" and "don't knows."  Money and things have become irrelevant at this point.  It is knowledge and information that bestows power - at least some power.

Those of us who still live in the "don't knows" category have power of our own.  We are happy, content to live peaceful lives, to experience the ebbs and flows of Nature.  The "knows," on the other hand, like to force Nature, challenge her, bend her to their will.  If we have learned anything from history, this is a bad idea and one doomed to failure.  Those of us in the Aristotelian school subscribe to the Golden Mean, the Golden Ratio, phi.

We have learned that all things circle back on themselves.  The Universe is cycles upon cycles within cycles.  Where one ends depends heavily on where one starts.  If force is the beginning, force will be the end, and it will multiply exponentially when it comes around.

On the other hand, if harmony is the beginning, then harmony will be the result and it will be blissful in its magnitude.

If we take the Buddhist view, there is no need to fight, since whatever the enemy throws at you will come back twice as hard.  While this is a wonderful way of looking at things, it works best when you believe in reincarnation.  I'm not there yet, though I am a firm adherent to the concept of eternal being.

I do believe in passive/resistive force, though.  I firmly believe in using force against itself.  In the martial arts, one can choose to attack or defend.  If one attacks, one loses the weapon of balance and connection to the Earth.  As a defender, one can absorb the force of attack and multiply it back to the opponent.

I love poker.  It is a fun and rollicking game, but it is blunt.  I prefer chess, where strategy and sacrifice can lead to victory.

I don't know why I have gone off on a Sun Tzu pipe dream, but it is related to the feeling I have.  It feels like the entire Universe has reached a nexus of some kind and our trusty maps will no longer function, as the landmarks are changing fast.  I feel it at the mental, physical and spiritual levels.  The Oroboros is shedding its skin and we must choose the new flesh or the dead sheath.

It is an alchemical working, begun long ago and coming to fruit before our eyes.  The problem with alchemy is that no matter how powerful the wizard is, there is always the Uncertainty Principle.

The Challenge has begun.


Reader Wrights

View from the Writer's hut
You know, sometimes all the effort to sit here in my jungle hut, with monkeys on treadmills generating electricity and four wives hounding me to go pick fruit or something useful, is just worth it.  That's especially true when I get great email from readers that let me know I'm having some effect on the world, that is just a four-day canoe ride through dengue-infested backwaters away.

Ever see African Queen?  That scene where Bogart and Hepburn are swarmed by mosquitoes?

Like that.

Anyway, I digress.  I blame my 20-year-old newest wife who is picking my nits and getting me rather frothed up.

So, reader email.  That's where we were a moment ago.

We received this email from long-time reader and supporter R.F., while he was attending a luau on Malibu beach, I think:
Hello Bernard:
I hope you are well, safe and prosperous. Your blogs are a blessing, and I wouldn't know where to start if I were to comment on them.
When Henry the 8th criminalized the Roman Catholics my Irish ancestors were rounded up and shipped off to the penal colony of Australia as convicted sheep thieves, along with thousands of other young Irish men that were at the time "kicking up their heels" or as they say nowadays, existential threats. So I might have inherited a dissident gene or two as a result, and that might be why I like your blogs so much.

As you did I tossed out the TV decades ago, but I watch movies (and I have several thousand in my library). I love movies and analyze them for the content that influences the feelings. I watch the background as much as the foreground mis-en-scene, listen to the the music, and watch for metaphors, allegories, symbols and other triggers and effects.

Of course this drives any family members crazy because I will lurch for the remote to stop a film at odd moments to replay scenes while they are trying to become immersed in the story. My analytical approach always seems much more entertaining and rewarding to me than what others seem to get out of films. I believe movies are an extension of theater and wayang, and movies, theater and wayang are often used to guide society--in pre-Facebook times of course :-)      Wasn't The "Gospel of John" a perfect model of the Greek 3 act play? The last act has the curtain drawn symbolizing the hereafter. (please comment if that is correct). "The Third Man" takes us around in a full circle just like life does. "Chushingura" seems liken to the Bagavad Gita issue of duty in conflict with honor, (possibly a reflection of your father's inner conflict.) A flood of examples comes. Your message is clear, but I must limit this note. 
As with theater and films, in your "Sorcerer's apprentice" blog you remind me that politics is another of the "glamours" as defined in the Maleus Maleficarum. A spell, an illusion causing people to see things differently from what they are. Hence, to cast a glamer is to cause a visual deception. (--wickisomething or other) 
This can be proven: when the glamour fades that scraping sound we hear in the middle of the night are the neighbors in the confines of their garages scraping off Clinton, or Bush, or Obama bumpers stickers. In the forthcoming reboot they will replace them with the newest glamour of Hillary or Trump or whoever bumper stickers.
Thanks for the blogs.

Sorry for the momentary pause there.  The tears running down our cheeks shorted out the "good" laptop and electrocuted the monkey.  Had to put wife #3 on the job and whip out the antique laptop.

It's letters like this that keep us going.  And we love that our readers are intelligent and well educated.  We even had to use the rotting copy of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 1948 edition to understand half this stuff.

Of course, we knew about Botany Bay from watching Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, but the rest of it, well...

We have a massive movie collection too!  All sorted by genre, writer, director, lead actor, even director of photography and editor.  And yes, the film format is a direct extension of the proscenium, or picture frame stage, which is about 2,300 years old.  The psychological effect is of an invisible "fourth wall" that allows the audience to observe the action without being a part of it.

One of the best theories I've ever found (and am still looking for again) for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, was that the "monolith" represents the picture frame, whether stage or screen.  It's dimensions are almost exactly the same as 65-mm film frames, and the narrow depth represents the bare reality of the third dimension in film.

Thus, by extension, Stanley Kubrick was creating a magical working on the audience, through the picture frame, showing us (and bringing us along) an alchemical transformation of anyone who participates in the process (watches it).

All great works of art are transformative.  In fact, one cannot call something art unless it transforms.  That is the whole point.  And yes, there are dark arts and light arts: people who vomit on canvass, and Leonardo da Vinci.  One crushes the spirit, the other elevates it.

I agree with R.F., analyzing the magic makes for a much richer and enlightening experience, at least for me.  In some way, it is also a protection from the magic.  By understanding how it is done helps me maintain a mental distance from its effect.

I would rather watch Citizen Kane a thousand times, than a thousand lesser movies.  When the craft is performed at its peak of skill and artistry, it is truly magical.  Would you rather have one da Vinci or Rembrandt or a thousand Warhols?  Think with your mind and spirit, not your investment portfolio here.

At any rate, you see what happens now when we get great letters like this.  We start thinking (finally?).

Many thanks to R.F., both for reading and for sending us the occasional brain-bombs.  We save these things and dust them off on rainy days, you know.

And thanks to all the readers.  We had our second-best month ever in July, with an average of 800 hits per day, and this past weekend was the most heavily trafficked ever, with over 3,000 hits in two days.  Somebody out there likes us.

Don't forget to pass on a link to your friends and enemies.  You can hook up with us on half a dozen "social media" outlets to keep up with our doings, the archives date back seven years and over 1,000,000 words, and there's some great stuff coming, including events in which you can participate.  So keep tuned.

Onward through the fog!

And yes, the photo at the top is the view out our writer shack deep in the jungles of Borneo.  Ish.