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Living Dangerously, Again

This month saw the swearing-in of Jakarta's newest governor, Anies Baswedan.  At least once or twice in the ensuring weeks, Anies has declared Jakarta to once again be in the hands of the pribumi, or pre-colonial, people.  One must assume that Anies is either deliberately inciting trouble, or he is woefully ignorant of Indonesian law and history.  In the eyes of some commentators, he is both.

It is the habit of some demagogues here to declare that Indonesia is (once again) Muslim in a kind of "tent revival" analogue to the waves of Sillyanity that sweep the US on occasion.  Anies is one of them, and has made noises of allowing Islamic prayer in the governor's mansion, a proposition I am not entirely opposed to, as long as the Christians, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, and Taoists are allowed the same facility.  There are, in fact, six contitutionally-protected religions in Indonesia.

When I hear these demagogues rail about the colonial days and how this is a Muslim country in the same breath, it makes me laugh.  That has got to be one of the most ridiculous assertions an educated person can hear, at least here.

The name Jakarta is a conflation of two Javanese words: jaya and karta.  The term jaya karta can be translated as "city of prosperity," and was coined sometime in the 17th century.  The city's most direct lineage traces back to the Hindu Kingdom of Sunda, which dominated western Java for centuries. 

Arab invades colonialized a significant part of what is now western Indonesia and Malaysia, coming both directly from the Arabian peninsula and via conquests in India.  The invaders brought Islam with them and forcefully subjected any peoples they met along the way, demanding adherence to Islam or offering death.

By the mid-1600s, Islam had conquered much of eastern Java (the Jawa kingdoms), but the Sunda had put up quite a fight, preferring their native religion - a variant on Hinduism - to the harsh rule of the Islamic invaders. 

At roughly the same time, Portugal "discovered" the archipelago in its quest to control the spread of Islam and find new trade.  The natural wealth of the islands, both in things like gold and the unusual array of spices and flavors of food, with a year-round growing season, as well.  The Portuguese and Sunda king made common cause against Islam, and the Portuguese fleet needed a safe port in the area, as well. 

The first treaty ever executed between powers in Europe and the islands was done here in Jakarta in the late 1600s, memorialized on a large carved stone that was only recently recovered during a construction project in the old city.    It details an agreement between the Sunda king and Portugal, whereby the fleet would receive safe port while they helped to defend the Sunda from the Jawa/Islam invaders.  Elements of Portugal's presence are still found in northern Sulawesi and Ambon, Flores, and Timor L'Este, where the wholly different culture of Portuguese architecture and lifestyle led to bloody suppression and the deaths of hundreds of thousands when Indonesia tried to force Islam on the eastern half of the island.

As a bonus fact, Timor L'Este is just the words for "east" in the local language and Portuguese.  The name literally means, "East East."

A very long story short, the archipelago has roughly 1,000 inhabited islands, out of about 17,000.  Some of the islands have been inhabited since Hono Erectus took up digs here, well over a million years ago.  We can't forget the Flores people, too, who are commonly referred to as the Hobbits.  If recent discoveries and research bear out, there are pyramids here in West Java that are 20,000 years old, on top of all else.

Since the dawn of humanity, wave after wave of people from all over Asia have colonized these islands.  Aboriginals in Australia either came through here on their way south, or more controversially, worked their way north.  Some research says people from Taiwan were the first modern humans here.  The Chinese and Arabs have had a go at it.  Most recently, Europe, Japan, Britain, and the US have all had their hands in the resources found lying about the place.

For any group of the hundreds of cultures found across the archipelago to claim pribumi status is thus demagoguery or just plain, unvarnished ignorance.

In 1965, the Year of Living Dangerously, Jakarta had its first Christian governor, Henk Ngantung.  He was deposed by the coup d'etat that unseated President Soekarno.  Jakarta had its second Christian governor in Ahok, who was deposed this year after being railroaded for blasphemy only because he is a Christian of Chinese descent.  This led to the election of Anies, who has declared a victory for Islam.

This is dangerous talk, Pak Anies.  Every time it has happened before, a lot of people died.  Furthermore, there are SIX protected religions in the Constitution, not to mention dozens of ancient and indigenous religions practiced across the archipelago.

Are we headed for yet another Year of Living Dangerously?  Or perhaps the goal is more localized, along the lines of the 1998 Riots, or perhaps Timor L'Este?  Fascism is born of intolerance, and is no stranger to Indonesia.

This is a republic, Pak Anies.


The EverythingGate Scandal

There are signs and portends that something amazing is about to go down in America.  By "amazing," I don't mean the weak, Madison Ave. version, as in "amazing white sale at Bed Bath & Beyond," I mean like seeing a flock of flying elephants.

The ruling oligarchs appear not only to be having their usual turf wars, but for those turf wars to spill over into the public sphere in a way that will be amazing (flock of elephants).

America, at least in the sense of the ruling class, consists of the authoritarian/enforcement wing that uses guns and jails to ensure complete compliance, and the propaganda wing known as Hollywood.  They are not mutually independent or exclusive.  Each element of the oligarchy owns some part of both wings.  Any other divisions, such as political parties, visible in the public sphere, are for public consumption and have no reality on Olympus.

There are three things going on that make me think something amazing is coming: Harvey Weinstein, the Russian Investigation, and the Las Vegas Massacre.  Each of these events show a different aspect of the internal war that will soon bring down the entire turkey shoot.

Harvey Weinstein, as an individual, is nothing.  In Hollywood, he is probably somewhere in the middle of the sexual predator range.  Hollywood is nothing but sexual predators - males, females and undecidedes.  I know from personal experience that the only reason most people have any interest in working in that industry is to get laid, or they are well prepared to do whatever it takes to get ahead in the industry.  There are no illusions and no one is unaware of how the game is played.

Weinstein is a monster, but in a roomful of monsters, he hardly stands out.  What he is, is a human sacrifice - an amputation that is attempting to stop something worse.  He is the latest in a string of sacrifices trying to stop a massive implosion.  Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, Roman Polansky, Darryl Zanuck, Louis Mayer (MGM anyone?), Arthur Freed, Michael Winner, and Buddy Adler are just some of the names publicly outed, but the scandals date back to the 1920s and the earliest days of Hollywood.

The question becomes, whose Wheaties did he piss in to make him the human sacrifice du jour?

Next comes the whole Russia Fiasco that has gripped the US for well over a year, or at least gripped the flapping-jaw housepets of the oligarchs.  Beginning with the so-called Russian Dossier and Hillary Clinton's attempt to undermine Donald Trump's administration with accusations of collusion with Russian agents, it is becoming increasingly clear that the collusion is on the wrong foot.

In 2009, Clinton, Mueller, Lynch, and Holden (all names familiar to US politics fans) were part of the Obama administration.  They worked together to surreptitiously sell 20% of the country's strategic uranium supply to Russia, cover up the sale, and personally benefit from the proceeds, with the Clinton Foundation of Canada (no reporting requirements) receiving something on the order of $150 million.

Furthermore, the infamous Russian ads run on Facebook and Google were all for liberal causes, like Black Lives Matter.  The appearance here is that part of the uranium deal was Russia's support for Clinton's campaign, not Trump's, though the Russian's likely tried to put members of Trump's inner circle in compromising positions that could be used for political fodder.

The plot thickens.

Then, there's the Las Vegas Massacre.  Anyone with an ounce of sense and 30 minutes of reading time can figure out that this event was a "false flag" attempting to smear the Trump administration and wrestle the political agenda away from the coming Flood.

Las Vegas has failed miserably.  The federal agencies involved are in a complete panic trying to bend the evidence to match the story.  The timeline keeps changing to match the evidence.  And MGM Resorts has tipped its hand too far and exposed its own machinations behind the scenes to control the Official Narrative.  Even the GeezerMedia's (Hollywood) endless repetitions of "authoritative" information and stage managing of witnesses (Jesus Campos, Dr. Phil crisis actor) can't keep the story on the tracks.

Together, what we have here is a perfect storm of insider wars with outsider pressure that is blowing the lid off of decades of deceit, fraud, corruption, and abuse that will bring down every single major institution of the oligarchy.  A couple of unwinding threats could be caught and resewn, but the tapestry of lies is positively disintegrating and all the repair outlets are under siege.

History buffs will recall the glory days of the Ulysses S. Grant administration, or Warren G. Harding's Teapot Dome scandal.  Perhaps you personally recall, as we do, the halcyon days of Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal.  What appears to be coming at us is all of these tied together, with a few tons of TNT on top just for good measure.

Skeletons have piled up in America's closet since at least the days of FDR.  Kennedy found a few and was about to clean house when he was "warned" off (as was his brother and son).  The seams are bursting, though, and there are few, if any, forces on Earth that can contain the imminent bursting forth.

The American population won't obligingly turn its head anymore.  The GeezerMedia is eating itself alive trying to stay afloat.  The political class is bailing out trying to put some distance between themselves and the coming explosion.  This one is gonna be huge.

When this dam breaks, there won't be a dry face or place on Earth.  That's how deep the corruption is.  Imagine a massive boil on the butt of the Universe that, once lanced, blows forth an endless stream of pus.  That's what's coming.

Aware folks are advised to hunker down for the fun.


The Pig That Proved Free Speech

One of the people I most respect in the world is Larry Flynt.  He was recently brought to mind for having offered $10 million for information leading to the imeachment of Donald Trump.  That's not the reason why I respect him, but rather for his crusade for Free Speech that was dramatized in the 1996 Milos Foreman film The People vs. Larry Flynt.

At the time I was becoming politically aware, Larry Flynt was fighting the US system, which was trying to squelch his right to speak freely, publish smut and lampoon public figures.  You can despise his publications (the most famous of which is Hustler magazine), you can hold the man in the lowest regard, you can even hate the man, but no one who loves freedom or liberty can deny his immense contribution to advancing individual rights.

Flynt's satire of preacher Jerry Falwell led to a lawsuit, Hustler Magazine Inc. v. Jerry Falwell, that ultimately led to the US Supreme Court decision affirming the absolute right of all individuals, no matter how or what they say, to have the right to say it.  The free market of ideas, the Court said, was far more important than the sensitivities of public figures.  The case reaffirmed that all speech is protected, not just speech that is pleasing or doesn't hurt one's feelings.

It is especially ironic that a mere 30 years after that landmark decision, the US is in the midst of a campaign to silence unpopular speech by the very ideologues and organizations that supported Larry Flynt.

The opening words of the Court's decision, written by Antonin Scalia, read as follows:
"At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one's mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole."

The New York Times, now one of the most vile enemies of free speech, filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in thsi case, reminding the Court of its own victory in the New York Times Company v. Sullivan case of 1964, in which the Court ruled that press reports on public figures had to meet an "acutal malice" standard to prove defamatory speech.

Larry Flynt's case established that individuals had an absolute right to express opions, even in the form of comedy or satire and regardless of whether the subject had his or her feelings hurt, as a means of expanding the boundaries of public discourse, because expanding those boundaries was always in the public interest.

It is highly entertaining to me, if not very disappointing, that the liberal left, which supported Larry Flynt's campaign for free speech, is now the very group fighting tooth and nail to shut down public discourse on the basis that someone may get their feelings hurt - the very reason they argued against in 1987.

The irony of history never escapes my bemused gaze.

Flynt v. Falwall was required reading for Communications majors.  Among a pile of other Supreme Court decisions, it was a lynch pin for anyone in mass media.  We had to know the parameters of the Sullivan test and the Court's opinion on free speech.  We had to write papers on our understanding and interpretation of these cases. 

I also just liked Larry Flynt because he hated the System and flaunted in front of it every chance he got.  I respect that in a man.  I've tried to emulate his example every chance I've had.

One of the most precious gifts Nature has seen fit to give humans is the ability to communicate.  We have a facility called speech that allows us to encode and decode messages containing our thoughts, opinions and feelings.  If someone has the right to express having their feelings hurt, then someone else has the right to say something that hurts feelings.  If you cut of one, the other must go, as well.

It is especially importnat that people be allowed to ridicule, lampoon and hold up for public display the words and actions of public figures.  These figures earn a living off of our labor and willingness to support them.  They, therefore, must endure our praise and our mockery.  It is the price they pay for not having to do real, productive work.  They know full well walking into public life that they are exposing themselves to this sort of scrutiny, and they cannot be immune from it.

To protect public figures from such treatment is to give them carte blanche for curruption and depravity, since they then have the power to shut down and punish such scrutiny.  We see cases al the time in the public sphere where public figures who are protected from public ridicule take advantage of it and devolve into subhumans who act as if they are above the rest of us.

All sides of public discourse have the absolute right to express their opinions.  To silence one voice is to ultimately silence all, since the arguments in favor of doing so apply to everyone.  No matter what is said by whom and to whom, there will always be someone who gets their feelings hurt.  The only solution is complete silence, which denies a very basic characteristic of being human.

We are in a critical juncture where the counter-culture is swinging from one political extreme to the other.  In the 1980s, it was the Moral Majority and the highly vocal right wing that was trying to silnce free expression.  It is now AntiFa and the left wing that is doing the very same thing.  The worm turns.

In the end, free speech is not a privilege granted or rescinded bv governments.  It is a vital part of being human, an intricate part of our Nature, that cannot be silenced without terrible destruction and damage to our civilization.  Wherever it has been done, unspeakable horrors have resulted.  It is a matter of historical record.  A dam eventually breaks when the pressure behind it overcomes the force holding it.

Whether you view Larry Flynt as hero or scum is immaterial.  The fact is his actions made people a little bit freer, and that is worthy of praise.


Authority Is A Virus

One of the most iconic and enduring scenes from George Orwell's famous book Nineteen Eighty-Four is the one in which main character Winston Smith finally capitulates in Room 101 and actually sees five fingers, when O'Brien is only holding up four.  To be more accurate, Smith admits he doesn't know how many fingers there are without being told, regardless of what his own senses are telling him.

A similar scene takes place in the "Chain of Command" episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Captain Picard is tortured by an alien and repeatedly told that he sees five lights, when there are in fact only four.  Picard later admits, after being rescued, that he could in fact see five.

Both these well-known scenes depict the power of authority to control the perceptions of those it considers under its sway.  In an authoritarian State, the State assumes the power to dictate reality itself to the masses, and by either coersion or capitulation, the masses accept.

Because science is the study of reality, it is important that the authoritarian State control the results of scientific investigation.  In our current society, the State dictates its chosen narrative in the guise of science, controls the education of sciene, and through funding controls who will and won't be allowed access to the gliziest toys and to publish their findings.

Through this mechanism, the State controls what is perceived as "settled science" and the interpretation of the results.  In this way, the authoritarian State controls reality itself.

After years of indoctrination at the hands of the State's schools and media, the world is populated with people who literally deny the evidence of their own eyes and common sense, in favor of the official narrative.  In other words, they willingly choose not to know how many fingers or lights there are until told by someone in "authority"/

The Star Trek example here dramatizes the brute force approach.  The State is aware that it is foisting a false narrative on the masses, and uses pain and suffering to force the masses to accept the dictated reality.

Orwell's Smith and O'Brien are much more subtle and closer to what we really experience.  In this scene, O'Brien - the representative of State authority, has already been indoctrinated/  While he is aware at some level that there are other ways to view reality, he cannot see them.  He only manipulates their symbols in order to force Smith to accept the dictated narrative.  O'Brien reads from a script, as it were.  As representative of authority, he is full a part of the authoritarianism.  He is not above or outside it, or he could not "teach" it to Smith.

In the modern authoritarian State, it is hard to tell whether any of the heirarchy have a larger picture or context.  It seems to have become a self-perpetuating illusion that every member of the Inner Party fervently believes, and is incapable of seeing objective reality, even though it can manipulate the trappings of it, for the purposes of shutting down and endoctrinating those who see beyond the ruse.

There are many examples of this, but things like "gravitational waves" or the "Higgs boson: are perfect examples.  The State has spent billions of our hard-earned dollars on things like the CERN "atom smasher" and the LIGO "gravitational wave" detectors as props to reinforce how "serious" the Stat'e's narrative is.  Only fully indoctrinated individuals are allowed to use these contraptions, and only those "findings" that match the official narrative are allowed to be published. 

Since the individual's income and years of work are dependent on "finding" the approved answers, they willfully view reality through "warped glasses" and will fervently defend whatever results they are allowed to publish, while ignoring any other results that don't match the bespoke narrative.

Thus, through an intricate system of rewards and punishments, people rise through the ranks of the authoritarian structure until everyone, from top to bottom, is fully incapable of seeing objective reality.  They advance and are rewarded with perks for toeing the State's line, and those who do not are marginalized and discarded if they can't be "re-educated".

Science was envisioned as a means to filter out the authoritarian bias, but the method was conscripted by the authorities and bent to their will.  We must realize, though, that the original authorities actually believed their own narrative and willfully prevented themselves from seeing any other possibilities.

In the end, O'Brien can indoctrinate Smith because he IS the system - he fully embraces and believes in the the system, he can see nothing other than the system.  He can manipulate objective reality, and Smith's mind, only to the extent that it serves the authoritarian purpose.  It is as if he has a virus that has invaded his entire body, and at that point becomes a carrier who then can infect others.

It is a strange and all-encompassing phenomenon that is active throughout our daily lives.  Even those of us who consider ourselves "awake" are infected with the virus of authoritarianism, and it is very difficult to let go of the illness, since we must function in the world that has been created for us.  It is still an open question.  The disease is pervasive, both within and without.  Even those who are recovering from the disease are highly prone to relapse.

We must constantly check whether we see five lights or four, and whatever the answer, discover some way to objectively check the answer.  Even then, it is not a matter of how many lights we see, but whether we require an authority to tell us what to see.


The Hollywood Happy Hi-Howdy

One of the most alarming features of the Bumbledick Left is that it requires absolute conformity, a philosophical analogy to lock-stepping military parades.  Once conformity takes over any group of people, it becomes susceptible to charismatic leaders, who despite any good intentions, always get corrupted by the perception of power.

Individuals gain power over groups by offering something that the group desires more than any other thing.  Wealth, fame, eternal redemption - these are strong motivators for many people.  When a leader promises to fulfill these desires, and is perceived to be successful at doing it, the people invest tremendous amounts of trust and authority in the leader in the hopes of attaining their ultimate dreams.

Once a leader has hundreds, thousands, even millions of people willing to do pretty much anything they are told, the temptation for the leader to fulfill his or her own desires is overwhelming.  When followers literally throw themselves at a leader, willing to do anything to obtain their desires, who among us could resist the temptation?  I aver that exactly none of us could.

Throughout history, people can, will and have surrendered even their most strongly held moral and ethical limits to obtain their deepest desires.  Literature is full of great novels and biographies of just such people.  Great films, like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, dramatize the effects of moral degradation on the souls in the face of wish fulfillment.

And speaking of great films, that brings us to the topic of today's screed.

If you've been keeping up with the tattler sheets (a,k,a. the news) or @RadioFarSide's tweets, then you know that Hollywood's soft underbelly is being exposed at a rather alarming rate, precipitated by accusations against Uber-Producer Harvey Weinstein.

Many don't realize it, but the entertainment industry has been known for its "loose" ways for centuries.  In the ancient Greek and Roman theater, women were not allowed to perform, as it was seen as degrading to the Feminine Ideal.  The European castrati are legendary as replacements for female opera performers.  Victorian England held female performers at a level just slightly above outright harlot.  And none of this is to say that the males were viewed much (if any) better.

Mae West made a name and a fortune playing on the "fallen star" image.  Madeline Khan mocked the image with great hilarity in Blazing SaddlesVictor/Victoria was a comedic treatment of the lengths to which female performers would go to achieve stardom.  In fact, the entire long tradition of drag queens is an extension of the use of males to perform female parts, since women were castigated for even wishing to enter the second oldest profession.

Grace Kelly's aristocratic family were aghast at her choice to enter the acting profession.  Of course, all was forgiven when Prince Rainier offered to make an "honest" woman of her.

All of this is to say that anyone who is shocked by revelations of Hollywood improprieties is either ignorant of history or very naive.

Hollywood has, for nearly a century, offered the lure of great fame and fortune.  This dangling carrot has lured millions of aspiring performers from around the world to a single city in the Western United States that rather pompously calls itself the Dream Factory.

This powerful siren song of fame makes anyone in a leadership position in Hollywood almost by default a predator.  Not that they have to work very hard, because there are plenty of folks who willingly throw themselves at anyone offering the Golden Carrot of fame.  In fact, as I watch the unfolding mess, my first thought is that Harvey Weinstein did something to unleash the wrath of the Hollywood Inner Sanctum.  None of this would be coming out if it weren't first ordained and sanctioned by the Inner Sanctum.

Ask Randy Quaid.


Strange Gods, Foreign Altars

A great many Americans and Indonesians seem to labor under a similar misconception, though the circumstances are slightly different.

Ask a random sample of Americans, and the majority will likely say that the US is a Christian country.  In Indonesia, the same question is liable to get the majority response that this is an Islamic country.

Both majorities are wrong.

The US was neither founded by Christians, nor was it intended to be a "Christian" country.  In fact, many of the founders of the US were Deists, which are defined as folks who believe the Creator is separate from the Creation, and that Humanity is allowed to go its own way within the Laws of Nature.  They reject the supernatural and shy away from revelations and miracles, preferring a more scientific approach to things.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the ideas are woven into the US Declaration of Independence and its Constitution, especially the part where it says, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof..."

We must keep in mind that a large number of folks who came to the New World from Europe were, if fact, religious heretics and nut cases (by some accounts) and roundly persecuted for it back home.  All the wanted, really, was to be left the hell alone so they could do whatever it was that fulfilled their spiritual needs.

It's a slightly different situation in Indonesia, but the impulse is the same.

When the founders were trying to forge a nation out of a bunch of wildly different cultures with widely varying beliefs stretched out for thousands of miles across thousands of islands, that had all been colonized for centuries, they had to placate many different beliefs.

What eventually made it into the Indonesian Constitution is:

Article 29
(1) The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.
(2) The State guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to
his/her own religion or belief.

In actual practice, this has come to mean that you are free to worship if you belong to one of the six "recognized" religions - Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, or Islam - and oh, by the way, Islam is more equal than all the others.

This was no more apparent than in a recent story out of Medan.  In brief, a baby boy was found nearly frozen in a cardboard box, abandoned in the town of Binjai, in Sumatera.  A Christian policewoman wanted to adopt the child, but was told she could not because only Muslims are allowed to adopt abandoned children.  Consequently, the evil Social Services (same in every country) snatched the child away and put him in an orphanage in Medan.  Obviously, they are really concerned for the welfare of the child, since an orphanage is preferable to a loving home.

The article goes on to state:
"...A national law, Government Regulation no. 54/2007 on Adoption, states in article 3, “In cases in which the origin of the child is unknown, then the child’s religion is conformed to the religion of the majority of the local population.”
In Indonesia, the religions may not be mingled.   Marriages and adoptions may only be among those of the same (or assumed) religions.  This law is primarily to protect Muslims from internarriage and/or the shameful possibility that children could be raised with liberal ideas concerning religions, such as may happen in a "mixed" marriage or cross-adoption.

To be fair, the Roman Catholics have done the same thing for centuries, though in this supposedly Enlightened Era, this kind of practice seems draconian, if not down-right medieval.

Indonesia is often referred to as the largest Islamic nation on Earth.  It is not.  It has the largest Muslim population under one flag, but it is supposedly composed of six equal religions.  In practice, however, this is obviously not true.

Not only are mixed marriages and adoptions forbidden, but Muslims receive preferenctial treatment by the government's Ministry of Religion, converts TO Islam are perfectly acceptable, but FROM Islam can and often do result in disinheritance, excommunication and even death in some areas.  Everyone is expected to respect (even follow) Muslim practices such as Ramadhan, but Muslims routinely ignore those fasting for Lent.  Mosques are built roughly every 200m all over the country, and their loudspeakers are cranked to 11 with no recourse, but churches and temples are highly regulated and frequently destroyed before construction is finished.

Had a Muslim policewoman, such as in the story, found an abandoned baby in a predominantly Christian area and wanted to adopt, I would likely not be writing this article, as it would never have become an issue of national attention.

I frequently hear local Muslims grousing about the way Muslims are treated in Europe and the US, and even Myanmar.  It is difficult to point out that perhaps some Islamic practices and demands rub the wrong way on others.  Perhaps, I want to say, intolerance begets intolerance.  Perhaps the willingness to heap suffering even on the innocent causes others to recoil in disgust, maybe even horror.

Certainly the upwelling of indignation in Indonesia over this particular case shows that a large number - even a majority - of people in this country want fairness, compassion and generosity, over dogma, inflexibility and favoratism.

Perhaps it's time for Muslims in Indonesia (and elsewhere) to re-examine the meaning of Pancasila and the founding principles of this nation.  People are either free or they are not, there are no partial steps or gradients.

A woman's love and care of a child is endowed by God - not your god or my god, but THE God.  Only a man could find it acceptable to put a child in an orphanage to "save" it from a life under the "wrong" religion and deny a woman's instinct to care for and protect a child.

It's time to ask what is more important, a book or a life?


Not No Way, Not No How

Add caption
UPDATE: Here's a well-done analysis of ballistics in the Las Vegas case.

In high school, I had a trigonometry teacher named Fr. Cylwicki.  He would demonstrate parabolas with a water pistol, both to dramatically show what a parabola was, and to wake us up during the 8am slog through such tedium.

Trigonometry is used to calculate ballistics.  Arrows, bullets, artillery, and even Kim Jong-Un's rockets follow parabolic arcs.

What that has to do with the Las Vegas massacre and Stephen Paddock should become apparent shortly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was a competition shooter and a pretty good one, by most accounts.  I won awards and patches and a couple of nice guns, too.

Because of that, I have an intuitive sense of trigonometry.  I hated the class, but I understand the physics of it.  I know how to calculate where an arrow or bullet will go, based on my elevation, wind speed, muzzle speed and other variables.  I also know that one of the hardest shots to make is when the shooter is above the target - even a few feet.

Shooters know that at level, the arrow or bullet will travel in an arc - a parabola - from the muzzle to the target.  Depending on distance, air desity, wind speed, etc., the arrow or bullet will fall slower or faster, depending on these factors.  Even at 100 feet (30 meters) from the target, arrows and bullets will drop a significant amount, all other conditions being perfect.

Non-shooters generally don't know this.  Someone who picks up a gun for the first time with try to aim directly at the bull's eye, and will invariably hit low.  They also won't compensate for recoil, muzzle speed and the like, so the arrow or bullet may end up far to the right of left of center, and significantly below.

That's at the same level as the target.

A figure now called Stephen Paddock, who supposedly had no firearm training, was not known for shooting or even having and interest in it, and who certainly would not have sniper training that included elevated positions, would very likely have no idea how to compensate for all the listed factors in order to target even a large crowd.

Most folks will look at those last two words and think, "How hard can it be to hit thousands of people in a small area with a machine gun?"

Answer: incredibly.

The alleged sniper's nest was on the 32nd floor of a hotel that is 0.7 miles (over half a kilometer) from the venue.  The window is therefore a minimum of 320 feet (90 meters) above eye level, not counting any floors that aren't part of the numbering convention that gives us 32.

At that distance, the entire venue would have been about the size of a bull's eye on a standard target at 100 feet.  Without a very high-powered scope, the sniper would not have been able to see individual souls.

On the night of 1 October 2017, between the hours of 10:05p and 10:15p PDT, according to "official" records.  Sundown was around 5:15p, meaning it was 5 hours after dark.  The minimum temperature that night was 79F/26C, with a maximum humidity of 20%, air pressure was 999hPa, with no measured rain.  Wind speeds were measured at 3.1 miles/second, or 7mph/11kph, out of the South West, with visibility up to 10miles/16km.

Because the window was a minimum of 320 feet/90m up, there would have been a temperature gradient of roughly 5F/10F, meaning the air density would have changed moving downward, from cooler to warmer air.

According to Google Earth, the sniper's nest window faced South East, meaning the wind was from the back, but would likely have had some swirl effect around the edge of the building and into the cavity formed by the two wings.  The wind was blowing across the venue from audience right to audience left, with the stage facing the hotel.  The sniper's nest direct line of fire would have been to the far audience left of the seating area, meaning the shooter would have had to angle a bit to target the direct center of the venue.

So, a direct shot out the window, all other factors aside, would have hit the back left corner of the venue.  A cross wind, even a small one over 0.7 mile, would have hit wide of the venue into the street beyond.  There are no reports I have seen that say bullets landed outside the venue.

In clear, midday conditions, this would be a hell of a shot, even just spraying with a machine gun, at night it would be near impossible but for the best sharp-shooters.  No witnesses mentions tracer rounds (glow in the dark), so the shooter would have to way to confirm what was being hit.  A scope would be almost useless with a machine gun, since the constant jerking back and sweep to the side would make it impossible to look through, not to mention dangerous to one's eye.  The shooter would have no way to verify hits without a spotter (second person to verify hits).

Since I can find no reports of exactly what gun was used in Las Vegas, and the sound matches several that I know of, I can guess at what it was like to fire the rifle.

Machine guns are designed for close-range target suppression, not long range accuracy.  The muzzles expel gasses to the shooter's left, so that the gun automatically sweeps to the right.  The normal way to fire such a gun is to begin on one's left and let the momentum of the gasses carry the muzzle to the right, so that the bullets spread out over an arc.  They are not designed for use in full-auto mode when shooting with precision over long distances.

And 0.7 mile, or more than half a kilometer, is a long distance.

Back to our parabolas.  Since the shooter was supposedly up 320 feet, we can imagine that being the peak in the arc of a parabola.  The shots would fall off rather quickly and if one was aiming at something 0.7 mile away, would hit well short of the target.

Add in a cross-wind at 3.1 miles/second, changing air density, dry conditions (humidity), temperature gradients, low light levels, and very likely a high heart rate and adrenaline causing muscles to quiver,   In addition, the window makes for a small operational area, and the sweeping motion of the machine gun would limit the length of time one could hold the trigger (certainly not the 100+ rounds recorded on audio).

Add up all these factors and you basically have an unbelievably difficult situation for even a weekend warrior.  Certainly 58 kills and 500+ injuries in 10 minutes, given all these factors and variables, would put this shooter in a rare class indeed.  It doesn't sound like anything a millionaire accountant could pull off, even with two weeks' practice in the desert.

More than all the other unbelievable information coming out with the Las Vegas massacre story, this one assumption completely destroys the whole narrative, in my opinion.  Either the shooter was not Stephen Paddock, or what we are told about him is completely false.

And even once we've considered the logistics of using a machine gun at 0.7 mile from the target, there's the matter of the bullets.

You see, with standard ammunition, half a mile is pushing it for most loads, and one mile is about the limit for hot loads.  Most of the energy behind the bullets would have been spent by the time they reached the target, in this case.

Once one begins picking this story apart, the pieces don't add up.


A View To A Kill

Of late, there's been a lot of slavering nincompoops in the US media, and even a few much higher functioning folks, who keep repeating the line, "Las Vegas is the worst mass shooting in US history."

Apparently, these folks don't read history.

First of all, those US Democrat "leaders" and "authorities" who are whining endlessly about gun violence would, in the exact same breath, defend the "right" to abortion with equal vehemence and passion.

Abortion has killed between half a million and a million and a half humans every year in the US since 1973 (Roe v. Wade decision).  Abortion is licensed, sanctioned and protected by the US government, and in some cases, it even pays for the slaughter.

OK, so some readers' eyes glaze over when the topic of abortion comes up, so how about the US Civil War - the one whose monuments the Left are trying to destroy?  Abraham Lincoln is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of 640,000 men, not to mention the horrors inflicted on women and children by Union forces, a true count of which will likely never be known but through family diaries and stories.

The number of slave ships operated under the US flag?  It's hard to find an actual number of US-registered slave ships, but it is safe to say a couple of dozen, and how many of those government-sanctioned and licensed ships were directly or indirectly responsible for how many deaths?  We'll never know, because slaves were livestock and accurate numbers weren't kept.

How about the Native Americans?  I disagree with the term "Native American" on several accounts, but that's a different argument.  Most folks know to whom I am referring, but for clarity's sake, this refers to the dozens of original nations that existed in North America before the British - and later the American - invasion.

At the Sand Creek Massacre in December of 1864, US "soldiers" slaughtered several hundred Cheyenne and Arapaho who were peacefully camped near Sand Creek in Colorado.  The majority of the dead and wounded were women and children, and the "soldiers" mutilated some of the bodies and placed various body parts in their hat bands as a sign of "bravery".  This incident was planned and sanctioned by the US government.

In December of 1890, as many as 300 Lakota Sioux were slaughtered by US "soldiers" on the banks of the Wounded Knee Creek for no particular reason.  Again, many of the dead were women and children, and the "soldiers" gleefully scalped and mutilated the bodies (a practice common to US troops).

The atrocities committed by the US government are numerous and egregious.  Sand Creek and Wounded Knee Creek are just two of the more famous incidents.  Slavery is well-know to most folks, though few acknowledge that it was sanctioned and controlled by the US government (see Dred Scott decision).  The Civil War is always justified in a dozen different ways, but if you read the true history of it, you realize that the US government was the aggressor and that its agents committed horrific atrocities in the South.  And regardless of how you justify it, abortion is the killing of a human being, and it is a recognized "right" defended by the US government.

All of this is to say that when the US government and its paid mouthpieces tell us that the Las Vegas massacre is the worst mass killing in US history, we should immediately think of the word, "LIE".

Furthermore, when that same US government is responsible for investigating the massacre, we should be highly suspicious of the findings.  And when folks say that the US government is good and would never do anything that wasn't in the best interests of the American people, folks should back away slowly, realizing they are staring in the face of terrible Evil.

We should have an equal reaction to any "information" put out by the US government and its minions.  Who did the Las Vegas shooting and why; where the shooter(s) was(were); any photos, leaks, notes, audio/video recordings, etc.; these should all be viewed with the highest suspicion.

If one thinks that the US government would never plan and execute such a thing on its own people in order to further an agenda, I invite the gentle reader to scroll back up and reread just the highlights of what the US government has already done.  I won't even begin to reprise the atrocities it has committed in foreign lands (Korea and Vietnam come to mind, not to mention Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan).

Just for good measure, however, I invite the gentle reader to view the declassified documents detailing Operation Northwoods.  If that's not enough, perhaps a review of the Kent State Massacre will help drive home the point.

In any highly publicized and politicized event, such as the Las Vegas massacre, the gentle reader would do well to take every word from the "authorities" with a large dose of salts.  Not only is the US government willing and able to PLAN such an event, it has a long history of EXECUTING such things, as well.

The aware reader must be very wary of anything the US government and its minions (including the Geezer Media) tell us about this incident.  It is far easier to believe that a murderous organization with a long history of atrocities pulled this off, than a millionaire accountant with no history of violence or gun training and an arsenal of illegal military-style guns in a luxury hotel suite - and barely a history at all, for that matter.

This is not conspiracy theory, this is common sense.


Guns, Guts And Glory

Gun-Control Victims - Poland
"God created Men and Sam Colt made them equal!"

Being a seventh-generation Texan, I have spent my entire life with guns.  I started shooting at around 4 years old, got my first .22 rifle for Christmas when I was 8, and at one point I owned more than a dozen guns of all different types and calibers.  At no point in my life have I ever pointed a gun at a human being, and only once did I expose a side arm to diffuse a potentially nasty situation.

I was a member of the National Rifle Association from almost the time I could walk, much less hold a gun.  I was a competition shooter rated as Marksman at 100 feet for .22.  Thursday was Skeet Club at my high school, and on those days there were more guns and ammo in my school than in a battalion of some armies.  At one point, I even had a callous on my right shoulder and permanent specks of gunpowder in the skin of my trigger finger from shooting guns.

Growing up on the farm, it was the norm to see 12-year-old boys driving pickup trucks around the area with an entire arsenal in the front seat and gun rack just to plink beer cans down by the creek on Saturday afternoon.

When I say arsenal, I mean everything from .410 snake guns to 30-30 shoulder cannons and .45 semi-auto handguns, not to mention hunting bows, throwing knives and various other goodies.  We all knew safe handling like we knew breathing.  There was never horseplay with guns.  That was a serious offence, even among kids.

I never knew anyone that was injured by a gun, other than two relatives that ate their own bullets for whatever reasons they had to do that.

There wasn't much crime, either.  No one in their right mind would try to rob a bank or store when just about everyone else in the store was packing heat.  Occasionally, the news had stories of shoot-outs over in the bad side of town between a bunch of drunk rowdies, or maybe the rare fugitive holed up against the cops.

In the aftermath of events like Las Vegas, the whiners all come out in force saying guns need to be banned.  Well, folks, opioids killed 64,000 Americans in 2016, while gun homocides were about 12,000 (the actual number is almost impossible to find). 

Just for comparison, automobile accidents killed 35,000 people in the US.  Both cars and opioids are licensed, controlled and sanctioned by the US governments at all levels.  For a bit more perspective, cigarettes killed around 480,000 people last year, and tobacco is also licensed, controlled and sanctioned by the government in the US.

In fact, lightning strikes about 260,000 people, and kills roughly 24,000, per year annually, which means you are FAR more likely to be hit by lightning at any given point on the planet, than killed by a gun in the US - approximately the same odds as winning the lottery.

While events like Las Vegas are indeed very tragic, politicians and media calously use them to advance agendas that have nothing to do with our safety.

You see, America was founded by folks who clearly understood that government itself was the most dangerous force ever unleashed by humanity on itself.  They knew that the only way for humans to protect themselves from the vile force and power of government was to equal the playing field by guaranteeing that the populace would, in the aggregate, constitute an army that no government could ever conquer.  They ensured that the rights of religion, speech, assembly, and the press would be backed up by the right of the people to destroy by whatever means necessary any force that tried to take them away.

That is the true, if often unacknowledged, purpose of the US Second Amendment.  The right to own guns was not for hunting or self-defense (though they are valuable benefits), it is for the express purpose of eliminating a tyrannical government.

And that is why the government keeps trying to take away guns, whether by vile abuse of tragedies, or by creating tragedies to try and stampede the majority into giving up guns.  Put simply, no government can have absolute power as long as the people under that government have the power to fight back, and with 90 admitted guns per 100 people in the US, that's a mighty force for a tyrant to overcome.

Ask the victims of Hitler, Stalin, Ho Xi Minh, or any of the other tyrants of just the last century if they agree with gun control.  I'm willing to bet almost all of them would gladly have accepted a gun to even the fight just a bit.

To my mind, the only agreeable situation that might encourage me to give up guns would be for all the governments of the world to disarm first.  Even then, I'd be hard-pressed to let go.  With well over 100 million people dead at the direct hands of governments in the past 100 years, it makes good sense for all people everywhere to keep and bear arms.


Moving Heaven And Earth

It is a well-established fact that Earth's magnetic field is weakening alarmingly fast.  Additionally, the magnetic poles (not the physical poles) have been wandering about and appear to be converging somewhere near Indonesia (thank you very much).  As a consequence, the health effects of galactic cosmic radiation are increasing across the globe, and it is having an effect on every human being's nervous, cardiovascular and other systems.  This is not speculation, this is all proven fact.

None of this is new or unexpected, as the nature and timing of the Great Year has been known, at least in some circles, for thousands of years.  Human mythology seems to record periods of enormous upheavals in history related to cosmic events, as noted by Immanuel Velakovsky, Joseph Campbell, Joseph Farrell, and many other researchers. 

These global historical cataclysms appear to be connected to cosmic events of major significance.  One might even concluded that, since information about the Great Year is not widely taught and studied, that some group has an agenda to keep it quiet.  If that is the case, then it would seem that the offending group also knows what happens when these events occurs.

The last Great Month, or Age, was Aries the Ram.  It was during the transition to our current Age of Pisces the Fish that the three Great Yahwisms (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) broke out of the Middle East and basically took over the world, for better or worse.  The Age of Aries was marked by a Savior who is commonly called the Lamb of God.  His followers are referred to as Fishers of Men (note the pope's fish-head hat).  All hell broke loose, with global wars, empires and upheavals that are still taking place as we speak.  We note the Crusades, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, two World Wars, and dozens of other conflicts of varying intensity, not to mention a radical change in the human condition over the past 2,000 years.

The Great Year is approximately 25,800 years long, if you believe anything NASA tells us.  It is divided into 12 Great Months or Ages of roughly 2,150 years each.  They are marked by the sign of the zodiac in which the Vernal Equinox falls, and in astrology, they are noted as the Houses of the Sun.

You would think that with the claimed precision of modern astronomy in measuring universal distances and precise locations, it would be an easy matter to find out exactly when the Vernal/March equinox will enter the next Age of Aquarius.  It isn't.  Try searching for yourself.  This is the first clue that someone is hiding something. 

In any case, there seems to be some consensus that we have already entered, or shortly will enter the Age of Aquarius.  We know that the March Equinox will occur on 20 March 2018, at 4:15p, but I'll be damned if I can find a reference to where that point will be on the Celestial Sphere, at least in terms of the zodiac.

All this in consideration, it appears that we are in the midst of a Great Upheaval.  The weaking magnetic field of Earth is allowing much greater amounts of galactic cosmic radiation through to the surface.  That means that we humans are having huge effects on our nervous systems, cardiovascular systems, and across the spectrum of our daily lives.  On an individuals basis, these may not seem excessive, but in the aggregate, we might logically assume that the general insanity apparent in the news cycles is a cumulative result of these factors.

Over the last few million years, the magnetic poles have reversed about every 200,000 years to 300,000 years.  We are currently long overdue, but we should note that the last time marks the beginning of the last Great Ice Age.  Suffice it to say that it hasn't happened since human civilization has existed in its current incorporation.

We have to wonder if the effect of cosmic radiation on the human nervous system causes a kind of mass insanity.  We also have to wonder whether some group knows that and is hiding the fact in order to take advantage of it for some occult agenda.  This conclusion would explain a lot of strange behavior by various groups, from the Nazis to the Hidden Hand to the Deep State.

What is provable is that weather systems go haywire and some mass extinctions can be linked to similar periods in Earth's history.  We have to wonder how much of current events is influenced by celestial events.

It is simplistic and dismissive to say that astrology has no value, since generations of humans have found something of value in it, and its development had to have been based on some common experience to exist in the first place.

While I don't have any solid answers, there is a rich body of research out there to consider.  The possibilities are exciting and there is the fact that if we know we are being collectively affected by outside influences, we can at least try to counteract them.  Knowledge of a problem is the first step to solving it.

It certainly is more comforting and actionable than surrendering to randomness and chaos.


Reality And The Anti-Solution

UPDATE: Photos purportedly showing the "sniper's nest" and arsenal have been "leaked."  It is important to note that none of the guns have more capacity than about 70-round magazines, yet audio recordings clearly indicated more than 100 rounds being fired in non-stop bursts.  This implies belt-fed machine guns, which are not seen in the photos.  Some folks have counted well over 2,000 rounds being fired, which without a belt-fed gun would leave piles of spent brass all over room and likely down on the street.  Clearly the photos are NOT of the actual sniper's nest, the crime scene has been manipulated, and/or there were multiple shooters in different locations.  The next question to ask is ballistics evidence matching rounds to rifles with a clear and believable chain of custody, which will likely never come. [end]

The Las Vegas shooting is a jaw-dropping tragedy.  I can't imagine being the family and friend of a victim.    It is quite bad enough being a detached observer some thousands of miles away.

What makes this tragedy (and the string of them that have come before) so much worse is that there is not a single "authority" figure involved that can be trusted.  The families of the victim can not now, nor will they ever receive a straight answer or a trustworthy investigation.  There is not one "authority" involved that hasn't been compromised and undermined in the past few decades.

Furthermore, with contemporary digital technology that can literally edit reality in real time (commonly called "augmented reality" or AR), not a single bit of video, photo or audio evidence can be trusted - even if the SOURCE is trustworthy.

In effect, no one will ever get a straight answer, groups will polarize over their scenarios, the true perpetrator(s) will continue obfuscating the timeline and evidence, and the end result will be decades - if not centuries - of speculation.

The fact of the matter is that despite whether Stephen Paddock was an accountant who went 'round the bend, or he was a patsy for a nefarious group of actors with an agenda, we will never know.  The "selfie" video of Paddock shooting from the room can easily be manufactured by digitally inserting a face over live video.  Surveillance cam footage from the casinos over the past 10 years could easily be manufactured.  Audio evidence of multiple shooters can easily be manipulated.  In fact, I can do all of that right here on my laptop with the various apps that I use for editing.

The primary investigative agency, the FBI, has been completely compromised since the Obama administration if not before.  The CIA is well-known for running operations like this for political agendas.  The mass media, well, after 2016, anyone that believes anything coming out of their TeeVees is beyond hope.  The US federal government has not been trustworthy since the founding of the country.  The documented use of "crisis actors" in "training" exercises that always seem to coincide with events like this make any scenario questionable.  And, as usual, the central figure who is said to have perpetrated the crime is dead, so no trial will ever present the facts to a jury in court.

Without an actual accused to try, the investigation can be manipulated in a thousand different directions, and the investigation can even be subverted and any narrative inserted, since no lawyers will ever have to present a case with evidence.

In the end, your guess is as good as mine, and the endless string of armchair investigators online are equally as valid (or not) as any other "authority".  It has taken more than 50 years to get the final documents released in the JFK assassination, and even then one of the critical volumes on the perpetrator has "vanished".  We must accept that we will never have a real, definitive answer to this mystery, as every source of information can be questioned.

We are left to believe our own lying eyes.  We can only trust what we can believe, and at this point, I believe no one and nothing.  I am thoroughly convinced that Stephen Paddock did not act alone, if he acted at all, and if he is in fact a real person, which I greatly doubt.  There were very likely multiple shooters, with some on the ground.  The amount of "salted" clues over the past year or so reinforces my conviction that this was yet another psy-op to manipulate people's perceptions, not to mention an occult human sacrifice to whatever gods the Hidden Bastards worship.

In the final analysis, I believe no one and nothing.  I can create my own scenario by looking for common threads within this story, and running through past events.  The symbols are apparent, the actors are obvious, and agenda is clear in my perspective.

It really doesn't matter what I believe to be the Truth.  I could publish my entire scenario and be just another voice out there with a conspiracy theory muddying the waters.  The gentle reader's thoughts and opinions are as valid as mine.

I find it useful to assume events like this are fabricated from beginning to end for whatever purposes the actors have.  In the best case scenario, the real story is high-jacked and manipulated to achieve the same ends.  Whether Stephen Paddock was a real accountant gone wild, or is a completely fabricated ghost identity on whom to place the blame makes no difference in the end.  The real story is that nothing coming from any source who/which calls itself an "authority" can be trusted in any way to deliver the truth.

The real lesson here is that all governments everywhere, and all their associated agencies, ministries and functionaries, cannot be trusted.  The only true authority is our own minds, and they must be guarded very carefully to prevent us from being manipulated.

Believe no one, trust nothing, and create counter-scenarios.


Review: Discovering A Whole New Trek

To get disclosure out of the way, I've been a Star Trek fan since the original show was in first run back in the 60s.  I'm not a Trekkie or Trekker, though.  I have watched all the movies a dozen times, I can practically quote every episode of the original series, I dutifully watched the animated series, and stuck with the Next Gen through the rough early years to actually get some good Trek again. 

However, I've never read a Trek novel or been to a convention, nor have I ever seen more than a couple of episodes of Deep Space 9 and Voyager, though I must admit that by muting the theme song, I found Enterprise quite entertaining.

With that list of qualifications, I will offer my two-cents' worth on the new Star Trek Discovery series recently launched by CBS as a means to drag hard-core followers into its online pay service.  I watched the first two episodes - ostensibly the pilot/teaser for the rest of the series, online for free on YouTube.  I hope CBS understands that their signals don't reach Indonesia...yet.

First impression?  Why the hell is everything these days dark and moody?  What the hell ever happened to good lighting?  And while I'm on a rant, every damn editor in Hollywood needs to be fired immediately.  I can't see anything, and what I can see is cut so fast as to not let me enjoy the settings that have some light on them.  And who is the drunkard that shot this thing?  Has he/she/it never learned to balance and level a camera on the tripod?  Hint, there is a knob under the head and a spirit level on top.  Loosen the damn knob and adjust until the bubble is in the center circle.

For cryin' out loud, what are they teaching in film schools these days?

Now that I have that out of my system, I can rant about everything else.  Oh, and if you can here for lots of poetry and praise, you might as well leave now.  Ain't gonna happen.  And one more thing, I don't give a flying leap at a rolling donut about spoilers.  There may or may not be some here.  That's your problem.  Read with your eyes closed so you don't see any.

I am sick to death of Political Correctness being shoved down my throat from every angle.  With American "entertainment", it was the Jews for decades, now it's every subclass of human being one can imagine, and not a few that one couldn't imagine before it was stuffed in one's gullet.

Star Trek Discovery (pilot) follows the story of one Michael Burnham, who appears to be half black human and half white Vulcan, and is the step-whatever of Sarek (if you don't know who Sarek is, go look it up).  He/she has a human name and ears, but a distinctly Vulcan attitude and background.  He/she is also fairly androgenous, except in scenes where he/she takes off his/her clothes, and then suddenly he/she is a she.

We begin on the bridge of the USS Shenzhou, staffed by vaguely Asian crew (even the aliens) as a concession to the Chinese masters of Hollywood, so the vast markets there can be tapped and wallets emptied.  The ship encounters the Klingons for the first time in 100 years, and of course, things get nasty pretty fast, as the title of Part 2 says, "The Battle of the Binary Stars."  I'll get to the Klingons in a moment.

At this point, I will admit that I like the set designs, costumes and effects - what little of them I can see without lighting.  The designs exist somewhere between the functional blues and polished blacks of Enterprise, and the pastel beige of the original series.  I would have enjoyed this aspect of the show much more if they had hired a lighting director and a DP that knew how to balance and level a camera, not to mention an editor that would linger on the wide shots for just a second or two to establish the settings.

Technically, the show looks great.  I very much enjoyed that part, but that is obviously not a foundation for a good story.  That requires writing that is fun and engaging, not hell-bound determined to hammer the audience over their heads with Progressive propaganda.

This brings us to the Klingons, and what the hell happened here?

The central figure among the Klingons is a character apparently called T'Kuvma, though it's hard to tell because the writing and editing are so damned frenetic, we never get a clear introduction to any of the characters.  Let me reiterate that this show looks as if it was edited by a jonesing cocaine addict.

The Klingons have been completely redesigned and apparently have not discovered the Universal Translator yet, since they all speak Klingon throughout the entire show - except for a couple of lines - as if their mouths are full of marbles, or in this case, dental appliances.  Furthermore, the subtitles flash by so fast that I had to pause playback several hundred times to get a significant part of the story from the text.

And why are the Klingons the only aliens in the whole damn show that don't speak English?  Even the Vulcans speak English to each other when no one else is around (Michael and Sarek in the jail cell), as do the training computers on Vulcan.

T'Kuvma (a Vulcan name using old series conventions) is an obviously black Klingon, unlike the submission pale blue ones, who thumps his Klingon bible and has a rather nasty temper.  He is seeking to unite his people under theocratic dictatorship using a ship lined on the outside with dead Klingon bodies.  This "sarcophagus" ship is apparently from a Star Trek novel some years ago and has never made an appearance until now, so it's purpose is as much your guess as mine.

Despite the ham-fisted effort to shove Progressive propaganda down my throat, the lack of lighting, unlevel camera work, and an obvious coffee addict editing, I really liked the little bit of CGI work I could focus on.  The battle scene in the second half of the show was quite good, even though I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that the CGI folks finally realized that space is three-dimentional.  Ships approach each other in all directions and orientations, which is I believe the first time I have seen this.  The closest thing to this instance was in the Wrath of Khan, with the original cast, where Nicholas Meyer had the ships coming at each other from all directions.  Kudos to whoever decided that space is much more interesting than sea level.

That I spent a lot of time noticing the technical aspects of the show should tell the reader a lot.  I liked the costumes.  The creature makeup was quite good and much more interesting than the old Star Trek stand-by of glue-on prostetics.  The sets were spacious and detailed, and quite interesting to look at, when I could see any detail.  I also liked that starlight came blazing through the windows and lit the interiors, something picked up from the J. J. Abrams movies, although whoever put lens flairs in this show should be thoroughly beaten, then fired.

The score was unremarkable and the theme sounds like the preamble to a complete piece of music.  It is also completely unhummable and I couldn't whistle a single bar if my life depended on it.  The opening titles reminded me of Six Feet Under or the film Hollow Man, but it was interesting from breaking the old convention of showing the ship blasting through the screen every two seconds.

In the end, there are some hopeful elements that make me think there might be some redeeming value to the show going forward, but I'm not holding my breath.

A hallmark of Star Trek is the relentlessly positive Humanism that makes the universe it presents seem exciting and desirable.  It appears that the new take on the series is about to make a hard Left turn into relentless Progressivism, with lots of darkness and moral ambiguity.  If that's the case, then all is lost.  There is an endless pile of such shows out there that make me feel worse about the human condition.  The attractive aspect of Star Trek is that it left the darkness behind and didn't dwell on differences, but made each human able to advance one's self through mental exercise and physical achievements, not because they were members of annointed victim group du jour.

Technically, the show is fun and interesting.  Let's hope that it grows out of this whiny Progressive phase into something more like Star Trek.  I'll stick around for another episode or two to give it a chance, because I'm an optimist, but I will bail quickly if I don't get what I want from it.

And as a side note, how come we have to keep beating the same time period to death?  Why can't someone make a Star Trek set 100 or 200 years in the future?  Let's do some real exploration and take ideas and discoveries of the past 50 years into account?  I don't give a flip about canon and faithfulness to timelines, but the original series jumped way out into the future.  Do it again!

And here's a show idea, and if I see it on-screen, I better see a story credit for me:

According to the laws of physics, phasers and photon torpedoes don't just stop in space, they continue forever until they hit something.  So what happens to all those shots that miss?  Why not have a stray photon torpedo hit a planet hundreds of light years away, and the creatures trace it back to it's origins and come looking for revenge?

Just a thought.