Friday, March 31, 2006

"The Dog That Did Not Bark"

Andrew Card's resignation a few days ago from the Bush Regime reminded me of all these aspects of 9/11.
"The Secret Service should be in that video, but they are not. It is clear from their inaction that they KNEW FOR A FACT THAT THE PRESIDENT WAS NOT A TARGET OF ONE OF THE HIJACKED PLANES. The intended targets of the planes had to have been known. The dog did not bark because the criminal was its master."

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Haven't had a "monster" post in quite a while, so here's a site of "Cute Creeps From Popular Culture." Lots of wacky images. What I find interesting about the pic to the right (from the site) is that the last time I saw Boris Karloff and a little girl together, the girl ended up dead in a lake.

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Not Enough Stupid People

I’m currently re-reading Harry Braverman’s 1974 book Labor and Monopoly Capitol (New York: Monthly Review Press). Braverman made a number of astute observations about the changing relationship between owners and workers over the course of the Twentieth Century. What’s of particular interest to me, however, is that this book sowed the seeds of a notion later referred to by sociologists and industrial psychologists as ‘de-skilling.’

When eighteenth- and nineteenth-century industrialists wanted to manufacture a product, they had to rely on skilled tradesmen to make it for them. The tradesman made all the decisions about how the product was produced, for he alone knew (a) the raw materials needed for a task, and where to get the best; (b) the amount of time needed to create a product; and (c) how to make a quality product.

In the above scenario, the boss really can’t tell the tradesman how to do his job, and thus loses control over the product. If the tradesman doesn’t like how the boss does business, the boss cannot stop the employee from finding another, more amenable superior. The employee, therefore, always had his expertise as a bargaining chip.

Over the course of the nineteenth century, employers, wanting to control the production process, began to assess their manufacturing as a whole, and then break it down into its constituent parts. So instead of one skilled tradesman with a vast knowledge of how your widget is put together, you hire a bunch of people who know one aspect of the process, but nothing else. The tendency to divide labor into steps ultimately culminated in the assembly-line manufacturing that we’re familiar with today. But, as Braverman pointed out, something else came along during the latter decades of the 1800s that was even more important to the reorganization of labor than the assembly line.

Think about all the different jobs it takes to bring a widget to market: (1) designing the damn thing; (2) procuring materials; (3) organizing the work pool so that you have your best workers doing the harder tasks, (4) putting the product together; (5) distributing the product; and (6) marketing the product. In the 1880s, Fredrick Winslow Taylor developed a theory of management whereby all of the tasks of production were broken down into two categories. The first category, putting the product together, became the province of workers, who constituted the bulk of your employees. The other tasks, which required more abstract reasoning than dexterity, required fewer employees, who were answerable to senior management, and thus lumped together into a second category called management.

Because of technology and training, most aspects of assemblage became simpler, and thus required fewer skilled workers. By the 1930s, virtually all factory tasks were mechanized, routinized, and automated to the point where the education and intellectual acumen needed to manufacture a product wasn’t all that much.

Hence, the term ‘de-skilling.’

By the 1960s, office workers began to face de-skilling as well. Traditionally, office workers were, at the very least, high school graduates, and many had attended college. In the 1950s, a person working as a clerk was expected to possess some kind of intelligence. But with the 1960s came an explosion of college-educated Americans, who by 1969 were looking at job markets that required only a fraction of their intellectual capacity and erudition. Even worse, they often earned less than their blue-collar counterparts.

By 1970, a crisis had developed. Workers had become more and more dissatisfied with their jobs, and this led to records in absenteeism, poor job performance evaluations, and employee turnover. As one (deliberately) anonymous job design consultant from Case Western Reserve University put it, “We may have created too many dumb jobs for the number of dumb people to fill them.”

Americans, nowadays, often talk about the “dumbing down” of their fellow citizens. I’m not sure that this is the case, or that this is restricted to the US alone. I think it is safe to say, however, that my countrypersons and I live in a society where there is a greater expectancy of compliance to authority, especially on the job, and an increased unwillingness to exercise personal judgment when the rules and the training manual don’t readily apply. (How often have you heard a clerk say, “Well, speak to the manager,” or customers/clients ask to speak to “someone in charge” of the department?) In effect, we’ve become more like children, dependant upon the parental figure to tell us what is right and what is wrong. Whatever way you look at it, there are people who have an interest in developing a more stupid citizenry.

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Killing the Buddha

A friend sent me a link to this website Ktb: Killing the Buddha

I've been exploring, reading articles that offer thought-provoking and moody flavor. I've identified with some, found my brow wrinkling with others. A lot of these pieces would be right at home in my favorite magazine, The SUN: Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free.

I'd read about the phrase "killing the Buddha" before but had forgotten what it meant. I'd heard the words recently murmured in the creepy, atmospheric Two Gods, a song from Dante's Kitchen by Attrition. (There's an MP3 of the song on their site here Attrition ) Killing the Buddha looks to be updated fairly often. I'll go back. Knew it when I read the manifesto. Here are a couple of sections to grab your interest.

Killing the Buddha is a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the "spirituality" section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. It is for people who somehow want to be religious, who want to know what it means to know the divine, but for good reasons are not and do not. If the religious have come to own religious discourse it is because they alone have had places where religious language could be spoken and understood. Now there is a forum for the supposedly non-religious to think and talk about what religion is, is not and might be. Killing the Buddha is it.

Why Killing the Buddha ? For our purposes, killing the Buddha is a metaphor for moving past the complacency of belief, for struggling honestly with the idea of God. As people who take faith seriously, we are endlessly amazed and enraged that religious discourse has become so bloodless, parochial and boring. Any God worth the name is none of these things. Yet when people talk about God they are talking mainly about the Buddha they meet. For fear of seeming intolerant or uncertain, or just for lack of thinking, they talk about a God too small to be God.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Philip K. Nixon

Got this from Frequency 23:

Philip K. Nixon Body of Work

Ataraxia at Freq 23 says: "The Philip K. Nixon cuts are a serious of magical and hallucinatory audio cutups designed to induce altered states of consciousness and to spread desired information contagions."

I'll have to listen to these...somehow.

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Officially Sanctioned Human Sacrifice, Or What?

I don't think the Mayans and Aztecs and many other civilizations had a corner on the human sacrifice game--I think we need to look closer to home.

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Traffic Circles Are Hell

And, apparently, in Washington DC, they are the points of the sign of the Beast:

Now we really know who threw the 2004 election!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Start Your Own Religion--Get Paid $5,000

I saw this ad on the back of this week's Village Voice:
Documentary film offers $5000 to start your own religion. No experience required.

Catch is you have to be free two months this summer. From the site:
" The guru must devote at least 25 hours per week of those two months to research (such as visiting other religions), promoting the religion (including knocking on doors), development of religious materials, and practice of the religion. A doctrine, or commandments, or decree must be developed during that time. We will provide a $5,000 budget for the religion. After that's spent, the religion must exist on donations alone."

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Eclipse Update

Updating yesterday's post about today's eclipse.
"Superstition accompanied its path, as it has for generations.
"One Indian paper advised pregnant women not to go outside during the eclipse to avoid having a blind baby or one with a cleft lip. Food cooked before the eclipse should be thrown out afterward because it will be impure and those who are holding a knife or ax during the eclipse will cut themselves, the Hindustan Times added.
"In Turkey's earthquake-prone Tokat province, residents set up tents outside despite assurances from scientists that there was no evidence of any link between eclipses and tremors."

More here.

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The Museum of Jurassic Technology

From the site:
"Like a coat of two colors, the Museum serves dual functions. On the one hand the Museum provides the academic community with a specialized repository of relics and artifacts from the Lower Jurassic, with an emphasis on those that demonstrate unusual or curious technological qualities. On the other hand the Museum serves the general public by providing the visitor a hands-on experience of "life in the Jurassic"..."

Excellent weirdness. I've read the book about the joint, at least twice. See MR. WILSON'S CABINET OF WONDER : Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology here. From the Amazon.com description:
"In the non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean, non-Newtonian space between the walls of the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles exist bats that can fly through lead barriers, spore-ingesting pronged ants, elaborate theories of memory, and a host of other off-kilter scientific oddities that challenge the traditional notions of truth and fiction. Lawrence Weschler's book, expanded from an article for Harper's, is, at turns, a tour of the museum, a profile of its founder and curator, David Wilson, and a meditation on the role of imagination and authority in all museums, in science and in life. Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder is an exquisite piece of "magic realist nonfiction" that will prove utterly captivating."

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From the site:
"Hello, let me introduce myself, my name is Gilles Trehin, I'm 28, I live in Cagnes sur Mer, near Nice, in south-east of France.
I'm told I have autism, some say I have Asperger's syndrome (it's very similar). Maybe it is the reason I have been drawing since the age of 5 and I have always been fascinated by big cities and aeroplanes.
In 1984, I started to be interested by the conception of an imaginary city called Urville. The name came from "Dumont d'Urville", a scientific base, in a French territory of the Antarctic. Since then, I made many (200) drawings of Urville, and I wrote a historical, geographical, cultural and economic description. I also have a book project, called "Urville Sightseeing Tour" that I'd love to publish. My greatest pleasure is to be invited to give a lecture on Urville because I can make it exist!"

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More on the Missing Philip K. Dick Robot Head

From an article in the new Wired magazine:
"When Hanson arrived at the San Francisco airport, he finally realized he had left his bot behind. Hanson was determined not to lose his head, having already lost Philip K. Dick's. "I thought, 'OK, OK, everything's going to be cool; they're going to find this bag,'" he says. "There's no mistaking this bag - it's got a robot head in it. When you open it, it's just wires and flesh and a bearded dude's face.""

It's common for me to read some strange news report or see something about some new technology and say something like, "We're living in a Phil Dickian world." But when Philip K. Dick himself gets involved in that Phil Dickian world, then you just know things might just be getting out of hand...

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Solar Eclipse Has Nigerians in a Tizzy

"Abuja - Against the backdrop of dangerous superstitious beliefs, the Nigerian government has embarked on massive public enlightenment on radio and television to educate Nigerians about the upcoming solar eclipse.
The eclipse is to be visible in 11 of Nigeria's 36 states on Wednesday, March 29, the Ministry of Information and National Orientation said.
A partial eclipse in 1989 led to massive demonstrations and violence in the country's predominantly Muslim north, where churches and hotels were set ablaze by fanatics to "atone for the sins of infidels."
A total of 28 persons were killed in the mayhem during the religious "cleansing" of the region."

More here.

I was going to say something like, "I wonder if these people like bright, shiny objects," but then I thought that someone in our "advanced" Western civilization like Pat Robertson might think something similar about the eclipse.

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Future History Through Motion Pictures

The site actually starts in the past, but I'm more interested in Sci-Fi Living:

2007 December 24: Jack Starks meets a grown-up Jackie, who tells him he's meant to be dead (The Jacket)
2008 July 4: Los Angeles - A major heatwave strikes as the city reaches the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster (Southland Tales)
Jason Voorhees is captured (Jason X)
2009 Gangster Christian sets about eliminating his rival gangs (24 Hours in London)
2010 Thunderbirds
Jason Voorhees' attempted execution - he escapes and is cryogenically frozen (Jason X)
Dr Heywood Floyd heads to Jupiter to discover The Discovery and reactivate HAL-9000
Humans create humanoid drone robots with artificial intelligence to fill jobs as construction workers and servants (The Matrix trilogy)
2011 99% of the Earth's population is taken out by a virus; the survivors are placed under the care of Dr Goodchild, who found a cure (Aeon Flux)
2012 Fairview Falls B-movie actor Peter Jacobs investigates the truth behind the Black Rose Killer, who killed his wife and son (Sins of the Father)
November 6: The United States elects a female president (Back To The Future Part II)
2013 The PostmanLos Angeles - Snake Plissken tries to escape (Escape From L.A.)
2015 The corrupt Houses of Parliament fall victim to a terrorist attack (V for Vendetta)
October 21: Chicago Cubs win World Series for the first time since 1908, and Marty, Jennifer and Doc arrive from 1985 (Back To The Future Part II)
2016 Escape From Mars
2017 The Running Man gameshow is set up (The Running Man)
Steel Harbor - Barbara Kopetski hunts some bounty, as the fascist American Congress brings the Second Civil War on itself (Barb Wire)
2018 John and Karen Brennick are imprisoned for attempting to have a second baby (Fortress)
2019 Ben Richards, Amber Mendez, William Laughlin and Harold Weiss must survive a TV
execution gauntlet/game show to win their freedom (The Running Man)
Humans are created as insurance for the rich, using their DNA (The Island)
Tokyo - A boy in a motorcycle gang receives corrupt power from an ultimate source called Akira, amid rioting turmoil (Akira)
November: Blade Runner
2020 Dragons invade London (Reign of Fire)

and a lot more, course.

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Ear Candling

I overheard a conversation about Ear Candling. Despite all the time I spend researching interesting facts, this was a new one for me. Never heard of it. I walked off picturing someone sticking a candle in their ear and lighting it on fire -- thought surely, there had to be more.

If you got that image, pat yourself on the back.

This is from An experiment in ear candling

There are many sites on the net about this "old and now new again" fad. Some swear by it. Some say it's another bit of holistic nonsense.

I know I shouldn't knock something until I try it, but these tidbits alone will keep me from jumping onto the fire. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

As an otolaryngologist with 15 years' experience, I have had more than one occasion on which a victim of ear candling has presented to my office with excruciating symptoms caused by melted wax adhering to the eardrum. This often necessitates minor surgery and puts the patient's hearing at risk. In addition to debunking the efficacy of ear candling, you should mention the inherent danger to hearing. --C. Christopher Smith, MD, FACS, Dover, New Hampshire From this site The Straight Dope: How do "ear candles" work?

"Since wax is sticky, the negative pressure needed to pull wax from the canal would have to be so powerful that it would rupture the eardrum in the process. " From this site Why Ear Candling Is Not a Good Idea

"The authors of the report, all of whom were medical doctors, conducted a survey of 122 ear specialists. They found 21 cases of serious injury caused by ear candling. In six of these cases, patients temporarily lost their hearing. Other problems reported among the group included" From this site It's Your Health - Ear Candling

There are sites on the positive aspects of ear candling, but after reading all the negative, I'm wondering why anyone would take the risk. I have to say it was worth it for the chuckle I found upon digging a bit further.

Ear Candling taken to a new low.


It actually says this on their website: "We've made a conscious decision to not include any drawings or photographs of actual ButtCandle ™ usage on this site. Our fear is that a few bad apple pranksters would make a mockery out of those images. "

Call me a bad apple. I was amused enough by the "Jack Be Nimble" pic on their main site. Do yourself a favor. Don't read the procedure page.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

The Iron Mountain Steamboat

The legend of the Iron Mountain Steamboat is one of the most intriguing "mysterious disappearance" stories. Over 180 feet long and 35 feet wide, this boat was last seen in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1872.

Later that day, another boat, the Iroquois Chief, came upon their string of barges floating free down the river. The towline had been cut instead of broken.

There is no other information.

The boat with its 54 (although I've also read 52 and 55) passengers disappeared without a trace. Some thought it could have been a boiler explosion, but no wreckage was ever found. I did find mention of the Army Corps of Engineers publishing a report about finding the boat in a cotton field months later, but this was on a message board from someone else seeking information from a rumor.

There are a few mentions in various strange disappearance or quick fact sites like these:
morticom weird disappearances
Grand Illusions reviewed
LePicayune.com _MS Quick Facts

I even came across a small write up in a book called Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck. According to this, witnesses have heard a woman screaming in the middle of the river near St. Joseph, Mississippi. Occasionally, they'll hear her saying, "Aidez-moi au nome de Dieu. Les hommes me blessent!" (Help me, in the name of God. The men are hurting me!")

They believe it's the voice of an Iron Mountain passenger. Most speculate that river pirates hijacked the ship and killed everyone. Still, one would think some evidence would have remained.

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From the Mouths of Kooks. . .

Some of the sharpest political analysis and commentary you will find on the World Wide Web comes from David Icke, a former Times of London reporter. If you take a look at some of his views of the present US administration, you’ll find yourself agreeing with much of what he has to say--that is, until you get to the part where he states, unequivocally, that George W. Bush, the current occupant of the Oval Office, is in fact a shape-shifting reptilian alien, just like his father.

You might understandably peg Icke as a kook, a nutcase, a crackpot, a weirdo, a quart low, or one pancake short of a stack. If you do, don’t expect me to disagree with you. Such could very well be the case. Icke might, however, be a disinformation specialist, for one aspect of this bizarre belief rings true: namely, the fact that legends of space-alien reptilian descent have surrounded Bush’s ancestors for over a millennium-and-a-half.

Citing Burkes Peerage, author Kevin Phillips (in American Dynasty) wrote, “Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke’s, allowed that some other U.S. presidents had royal connections, ‘but none as royal as George Bush.’” In fact, W. is descended on his father’s side from the House of Tudor, and on his mother’s side from the House of Percy (or, as they called themselves after settling in the US, the Pierce family).

The royal and “noble” families of Europe ultimately trace their lineage directly, or indirectly (matrilineally) to the Merovingian dynasty of early-medieval France. (For geneological samples click here, or here.) The patriarch of the dynasty, King Merovech (also referred to as Merovæus, Merovée and Merowig) ascended to the throne around 430 AD, during the twilight of the Roman Empire.

According to the history books, Merovech’s dad was none other than King Clodio and Queen Argotta (aka Siegse) of the Salian Franks. But the legend has it that a five-horned reptilian monster abducted Argotta, at the time pregnant with Merovech, as she bathed in a pond. This monster took her to his underwater lair, and added his own ‘blood’ (or what we would nowadays refer to as ‘DNA’) to the foetus.

While virtually everyone has heard of UFOs, the phenomenon of USOs (unidentified submerged objects--sometimes referred to as UUOs, unidentified underwater objects) has managed to fly under the public radar. But even if you are unfamiliar with USOs, the alien abduction scenario is probably quite familiar to you.

True, folklore is not history. Nevertheless, this particular mythology raises some interesting questions. Who would have conceived of genetic manipulation in the Fifth Century? Has Bush himself heard this story of his origins? If so, who told him? How did they tell him? How did he respond? Most important, why is Icke reviving this centuries-old legend, and adding the twentieth-century sci-fi device known as shape-shifting to it?

The moral of this post: when you do your homework, you can have a lot of fun listening to what the kooks have to say.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

News that Might not Have made It into Your Local Paper

H.R. 1606, The Online Freedom of Speech Act, will be up for a vote next week in the U.S. House of Representatives. While ostensibly exempting bloggers from 1971 regulations on public communications during an election season, the bill would require bloggers to report any postings considered favorable to a candidate with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Bloggers would also have to post their home addresses if their blog entries endorse a specific candidate. Furthermore, it would provide a loophole in the existing McCain-Feingold act, which would allow outside parties to pour millions of advertising dollars on campaign blogs past the due date.

Introduced last year by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, H.R. 1606 is not expected to pass. Since the OFSA's introduction, the house has mobilized behind a bipartisan bill, H.R. 4900, The Internet Free Speech Protection Act of 2006, sponsored by Reps. Tom Allen and Charles Bass. H.R. 4900 would regulate blogs only if bloggers pay more than $5,000 per year for their site.

In other news...

The Cuban National Baseball team's second place finish in the recently concluded World Baseball Classic should have earned them 7% of proceeds. Before taking the field, the team announced (with Castro's permission) that any money the Cuban national team won would be donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Because of economic sanctions against Cuba, however, Major League Baseball negotiated a deal that would prevent Cuba from receiving any money, no matter where the team finished. According to an article in Granma, Cuba's official Communist newspaper, Castro asked that Major League Baseball simply donate their share to Katrina victims. The US State Department, however, insisted that Castro knew that the Cuban team could not earn any money from the series, and accuse the bearded one of political grandstanding. The Newark Star-Ledger quoted an unnamed State Department source as saying, "If there are no winnings, there's nothing to donate."

Granted, there is a problem when anyone, Castro included, serves four-and-a-half decades as a chief of state, even if elected (which Castro has been since the reformation of the Cuban government in 1976). Granted the government keeps close tabs on its people. Castro is by no means a completely benevolent executive, nor is he a saint.

By the same token, Castro isn't a madman or Satan reincarnate, as US government policy since the Eisenhower administration insists. The inability of baseball to chip in money in a place where it could do some real good shows some of the pig-headedness behind the constant demonization of Castro, whose real crime has been standing up to American and multinational corporate hegemony.

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Biblioscopes: Advice for All Sun Signs March 25-31

Biblioscopes are the union of bibliomancy, divination through opening books to random pages and pondering the meaning of the phrases therein, and horoscopes, in that each sign does share certain commonalities, including planetary transits. Each Saturday I ask the Universe to lead my hands in opening the book to the right page for a week's worth of good advice for each sun sign. My comments are in italics.

This week's featured book is “What to Expect: the Toddler Years” by Eisenberg, Murkoff, & Hathaway. Because we all have to deal with those who tantrum (bosses), sulk (lovers), yell “NO” (parents) and ask “why?” (friends).

“Do you think those boys were being mean to Dumbo? Wasn’t that mouse nice to make Dumbo feel better?” Take some extra time, honesty, and simplicity in your communications this week to make sure everyone understands your point. It may sound like talking down to you, but those you are trying to reach will appreciate it.

They may include signs of swelling of the throat (laryngeal edema), such as tickling, gagging, difficulty swallowing, or voice change… Each sign rules a specific part of the body, and Taurus rules the throat. Be sure you are expressing your feelings this week, if only in a journal. Hidden feelings can become physical maladies.

If you meet with total resistance, accept that your toddler’s not yet ready, and give up for a while—completely. ‘Nuff said.

…because everyone around them is always talking, hogging air time. So be careful to leave an occasional opening for the littlest conversationalist. Someone’s voice is not being heard. Assist.

Though you may feel like a mad scientist when you start using the nebulizer, the use of this device may help to avoid many visits to the emergency room. Find the strength to grapple with the unfamiliar this week, before it grapples you.

“All done!” you can consider providing a simple dessert (fresh fruit or ice cream, for example…) to occupy our child until you are all done. A week of enlightened self-interest. A little extra attention to others’ needs will pay off for you.

For the average toddler, knowing that a particular behavior irks her parents gives her greater motivation to repeat it—and repeat it. You will have to bite your tongue to get the behavior you want.

When eating out, avoid restaurants that have unwashed windows, a heavy fly population, signs of vermin, and so on… And I hope you already do, but pay attention to your surroundings this week anyway. You deserve it.

Make it clear it is not okay to hit, bite or kick a sibling (or anyone else for that matter). What about headlocks? Are they okay? You may have to withdraw emotionally from a situation and play referee.

Fighting a power-hungry toddler for control of the toilet paper can only result in mutiny on the potty. Just let go, and let someone else wipe the boss’s ass this week. It will show mature confidence.

Or suggest other interesting ways your child can use his voice—mooing like a cow, meowing like a cat, barking like a dog, vrooming like a car. There are more imaginative ways to communicate. Louder will not necessarily get your point across.

The discomfort of starchy collars, stiff trousers, and binding bowties and shoes often bring out the squirmies in toddlers. Instead of dressing down others, dress down yourself.

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Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. VII

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real-life intrigue

My ex-spy friend filed a missing persons report on Miss Texas, and that backfired somewhat. One day, after stepping out of the shower, I heard this thunderous knock, followed by “Open up! Police!” By the time I opened the door, the neighbors had emerged from their apartments, and were staring at me as if I had just gotten caught selling heroin-laced crack to a fifth-grader.

“We’re investigating the disappearance of the occupant of this address,” asked one officer. “Are you him?”

I explained that the missing person wasn’t me, but my former houseguest. The other cop, examining his paperwork, realized he’d gotten his facts mixed up. He and his partner then made an embarrassing retreat to the elevator. A few weeks later, the missing persons report turned up zilch in New York, New Jersey and Texas.

That April, I set about to do some spring-cleaning, vowing to get the apartment so spic and span that I could eat from the bathroom tile. Lifting up the mattress, I found that Miss Texas had left something else besides the coat and disc: a ziplock bag full of papers. Among the articles were a number of photo IDs: a press pass, a badge identifying her as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector, and a few other employee identification cards, issued by companies I had never heard of. There were also loose, notepad-sized papers with individual messages and telephone numbers on them, including mine. She had business cards sporting area codes from all over the US. The most intriguing item was a reminder for an upcoming interview with an Albuquerque, NM journalist concerning nuclear testing in Nevada.

I sat on the bed for at least an hour, poring over the mini-documents she left behind. I had previously dismissed the inconsistencies as delusions, or other things pathological, never stopping to consider that her subterfuge might have been for professional reasons. While I always knew that she had money coming from somewhere, I thought it came from her parents. But now, it seems, it came from her job--whatever that was.

When I first saw her, that New Year’s Eve, she’d already been looking at me. There’s nothing special about me, at least to a stranger. Could she have known about me beforehand? She and my ex-spy friend had business together. He could have shown her my picture, and described me as a “safe” person to know. Perhaps he suggested that she meet me in case I could be of use later on. Granted, there’s nothing to prove this. I’m simply imagining a scenario based on my own intuition and knowledge of both parties.

I would also guess that her job included some kind of field research, perhaps as a private investigator, or journalist. After all, how many other professionals use multiple IDs? I can rule out that she did that much traveling on public assistance. I can also rule out that she was the uneducated rube she claimed to be.

This “Jimmy” guy might not have been CIA, but he could still be a federal employee of some sort. If she too were a federal employee, and if she were trying to get information from him, then this might have been a case where one faction of the government was snooping on another. In The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, former CIA Executive Officer Victor Marchetti, and ex-State Department intelligence officer John Marks stated that such was quite common, due to the “tribalistic” mentality among US spy networks. As far as she was concerned, I didn’t really need to know the actual agency that Jimmy represented. She only had to impress me, hoping that I would take some action--and the term ‘CIA’ usually arouses some type of visceral response.

I think it is safe to say that this Jimmy guy was trying to follow her, and he had the wherewithal to do it. She correctly predicted that he would. When she departed for Queens, she might have left the ziplock bag on purpose, hoping to impress upon me that her dangers were not imaginary, but all too real. She might have been trying to warn me.

Despite the contradictions and the grandiosity of her commentary, I wonder if she had given me a glimpse into real-life cloak-and-dagger.

Maybe Miss Texas is alive, somewhere. Meanwhile, her beige winter coat still hangs in my closet, in the dwindling hope that she might need it again.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Hollow Earth Adventure Vacation

The Nazis escaped there, Admiral Byrd visited. The Tibetan tribes go there when they die. And now, you too can visit the hollow earth. Brochure here.

Now, I know what you're thinkin'. You will never be able to afford such high adventure. But what is the price of finding Utopia? Of seeing where the grays really come from? Of learning the true nature of the World as We Only Hope to Know It?

A few super-deluxe suites are still available!!! Get on board today!!!

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With Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice, They're Out to Get You

A real quote that I overheard while eavesdropping on somebody's conversation in the summer of 2001:

"If there's no such thing as conspiracy, then how come every time I start a diet, Entenmann's goes on sale?"

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Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. VI

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real life intrigue

I turned up the phone machine’s volume just in time to screen a call from Miss Texas. Some twelve hours early, she explained that a couple of suspicious-looking people in Oklahoma made her nervous. She snuck past them, and called her father, who picked her up at a nearby hotel and drove her back to her parents’ house in Lubbock. She gave me the Lubbock phone number in case I needed it for something, and reminded me about the disc.

I had to go down to the university’s computer lab to run the floppy. At the time, I only owned an Apple IIc, and that wouldn’t take a 3.5 inch disc. Carefully disconnecting a pre-Windows PC, I searched its contents. It consisted of several subdirectories bearing women’s names. Each required a password to open. I sought help from the resident hacker. He got so far as getting a listing of the subdirectories’s files, each of which contained between five to seven word processing documents, also titled with women’s names.. I thanked the friendly geek, waited for him to leave and reconnected the PC to the mainframe.

She came back in town the day before my birthday, and crashed at my place. On the sixth day of her visit, I told her that my building had forbidding visitors from staying over seven days. The apartments were subsidized to allow students to live there for under half the rent they normally went for. My lease came with a number of restrictions, including that one. I guess, nobody would have minded if she stayed two or three more days. I could tolerate the situation for two or three more days. But she’d begun settling down as if she lived there. I meant it more to let her know that this arrangement couldn’t go on indefinitely. She understood it as a request to get out immediately.

She arranged to stay in Queens with a single friend who had a two-bedroom apartment. Why she didn’t stay there to begin with, I don’t know. Maybe she had worn out her welcome. Miss Texas displayed no bitterness, however. She left a few things in my apartment, including a nice, beige women’s coat. She usually wore a plain navy one. This other one seemed more for dress up.

She said that her first order of business when arriving in Queens would be to find the password for the disc. If I didn’t hear from her in ”a few weeks” I would give her a call. A week went by, and I heard nothing from her. Although her Queens friend didn’t seem nearly as creepy as the one from New Jersey, I still worried. I dialed this friend’s number. To my surprise, I found that Miss Texas went home to Denton the day after she left my place.

Confused, I tried calling her in Denton, and at her parents’ house in Lubbock. Both times, all I got were three chimes followed by a disjunct, feminine voice saying, “The number you have dialed, has been disconnected.”

I tried to call the alleged CIA agent in New Jersey. His number was disconnected as well. I couldn’t remember the exact name of his office. I called a few places listed in the telephone directory that had ‘AIDS’ in their title, but couldn’t find him. My ex-spy friend said that he hadn’t heard from her in a while, and didn’t know how else to reach her.

Miss Texas had vanished into thin air, just as she always feared.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Attitudes Toward Occult-- One Study 1979

I love the bargain bins at Barnes and Noble, Borders and other bookstores. Love the sales at libraries. Love the walls of old books at estate sales. I'm not the only one. A friend of mine who has been publishing historical novels for years, recently told a group of writers about her early 1900s Encyclopedia Britannica find. The woman selling them didn't think anyone could possibly want them and asked for a couple of dollars. For the whole set.

The writer's group sighed in understanding and yes, envy. The world views, the personal beliefs... the scientific discoveries... so much has changed since these books were printed. For my friend, these books gave her the perfect insight to the minds of her characters.

One never knows what odd, quirky book will pop up in those bins. I found one called Paranormal Borderlands of Science. In fact, I found this one in a box of old books for sale at my sister's college library. Published in 1981, there are still copies available at Amazon. Amazon.com: Paranormal Borderlands of Science: Books: Kendrick Frazier . I paid 50 cents.

Yes, 1981 isn't that long ago. To some of us. But with the up and down sways of public opinion in the years since, these essays are priceless. And it's a thick gathering of them on subjects such as ESP, astrology, psychics and other paranormal subjects. I thought I'd share an interesting table from a chapter called Superstitions: Old and New. It was written by William Sims Bainbridge and Rodney Stark-- both professors of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle at the time -- both multi-published authors.

This was a study given to students. They had a one in four response choice. Strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree. There weren't any choices for "not sure" or "undecided." Keep in mind, some who picked "agree" might have been giving the subject the benefit of the doubt. So, no exact measurement, but a good comparison for 1979.

Attitudes Toward the Occult in the 1979 Survey of University of Washington Undergraduates.

241 With No Religion (WNR)
251 Ordinary Catholics (OC)
319 Christian Protestants (CP)
245 Born Again Christians (BAC)

The numbers after the question are the percent giving the indicated response. So 73 percent of 241 students agreed that Zen was probably of great value and so forth.

Questionnaire Items:

1.Agrees: "Some Eastern
practices, such as Yoga, Zen
and Transcendental Meditation
are probably of "great value"

73 WNR 66 OCs 60 CPs 28 BACs

2.Agrees: "UFOs are probably
real spaceships from other

67 WNR 66 OCs 60 CPs 43 BACs

3.Agrees: "Some occult practices
such as Tarot reading, seances
and psychic healing, are
probably of great value"

16 WNR 22 OCs 12CPs 6 BACs

4.Agrees: "I myself have had an
experience that I thought might
be an example of extra sensory

59 WNR 57 OCs 55 CPs 44 BACs

5.Respondent thinks that ESP
"definitely exists"

26 WNR 29 OCs 17CPs 17BACs

6. Respondent very strongly
dislikes "occult literature"

38 WNR 34 OCs 36 CPs 65 BACs

7. Respondent very strongly
dislikes "Your Horoscope"

29 WNR 24 OCs 23 CPs 53 BACs

Unfortunately, the table would not publish as typed, so it's a bit jumbled, but hopefully still legible. I find the fourth and fifth question responses amusing.

Also, they bring up the high number of responses to the UFO question from the born again students. It was high because of the "non" religious aspect of UFOs. One would think the arrival of aliens would turn the current system of beliefs upside down, but we all know what's said about assumptions.

This was done in 1979. I'd love to see updated versions from let's say... 1999 and then again today. Can you imagine the difference?

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UFO Sitings, Mapped.

Here is a map of UFO sitings pre-1940. I've been looking at other maps, and found that the number of sitings increased with population density. I don't find that suspicious, except that none of the people who saw these things were ever on the news. I mean, if there were UFO's flying over NYC, wouldn't everyone have seen them?

More UFO maps here.

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Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. V

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real life intrigue

After putting Miss Texas on her bus, I headed to Lincoln Center. On the way, part of me patted myself on the back for my cleverness. Still, the fifty dollars haunted me. Were it really a matter of life and death, I wouldn’t have given the money a second thought. I tried to put it out of my mind, concentrating instead on her relief and smile. If for no other reason, I kept telling myself, I spent the fifty bucks wisely.

I made it back to my apartment by about 6:30pm. The red light on my phone machine blinked three times, indicating the number of calls I had received. The first message was a hangup. The second one came from Miss Texas' supposed CIA kidnapper in Jersey. He wanted to know if she got on the bus okay. The third call was from the same guy, repeating the earlier message. I called back and told him that Miss Texas was on her way back to Denton and that I watched her get on the bus myself. He wished me good night, then hung up.

Around nine o’clock, I got another call from him. He asked again if Miss Texas had gotten on the bus. I assured him that she did.

“Well, that’s strange,” he said. “I had some friends in Washington who were coming over to meet her. They waited for the bus. It came, and she wasn’t there. She wasn’t in Philadelphia or Baltimore either, and I’m getting kinda worried. Are you sure she left okay?”


“All right, then,” he said, before wishing me good night again and hanging up.

Why would he send friends to meet her? Why would he be worried if she didn’t get off the bus? Her original route didn’t have her changing coaches in Washington, Philly, or Baltimore. She could have just been asleep in her seat, or doing crossword puzzles while her bus sat at the gate. Did he really have three different sets of friends who were just going to casually meet her in all those bus terminals? Or was it one set of friends who were following the bus? Either way, those had to be some friends.

I started playing video games. Soon, the phone calls, Miss Texas, work and ten thousand other things faded into RBI Baseball. In the middle of an inning, the phone rang. Same guy. Same questions.

“Are you absolutely sure she boarded?” he asked, unmasked hostility in his voice.

“I put her on the bus myself.”

“Was it her scheduled bus?”

“It was her scheduled bus,” I replied, not exactly lying. We scheduled it. Twenty minutes before it left, we scheduled it.

“Listen,” he commanded, “I want you to tell me the truth. Where is she?”

“On her way to Denton, Texas.”

“She was scheduled to make a stop in [some podunk town, the name of which I can’t recall], and my friends still haven’t seen her yet! Did she leave anything there?”

“Nothing that I’ve seen,” I lied. In addition to the disc, she also left behind the basketball and the beach pail.

“And she left exactly at 3:30?”

“Yup.” Hell, I had already told one outright fib. As they say, in for a penny, in for a pound.

“The bus that goes through Washington?” he continued.

“I believe the one you’re looking for goes through Washington --”

“Tell me the truth. Where is she?”

Tired of this merry-go-round, I told him I didn’t know, said goodbye, and promptly hung up the phone.

This guy had done all he could to keep from going into complete rage over the telephone. His questions sounded like they had come out of the mouth of a prosecutor, or police detective, or some other hostile person with authority. CIA or no, this guy was obsessed. From the tone of his voice, I would have no trouble believing him to be potentially violent. Even though I still had a hard time buying into Miss Texas’ cloak-and-dagger story, I now knew that he really would “get” her if he had half a chance. I haven’t missed that fifty dollars since.

A thought came to me. The ticket clerk at the Greyhound station kindly printed out all of our scheduled itineraries. I looked at the town he had just mentioned. The call came about ten minutes after her original bus was supposed to have gotten there.

If you’ve never had the pleasure (ahem!) of traveling by dog, then I should point out a couple of things. Believe it or not, the buses usually arrive on time or early, even though they are notorious for leaving the gate late – chalk it up to lead-footed drivers. So, the schedules that I had were quite reliable. Looking up the next town, I correctly predicted the time of the next call.

Secondly, only major cities have what can honestly be called ‘bus stations’. Stops in East Podunk might occur outside one-room Greyhound offices, local businesses, or even a bench at the crossroads. He couldn’t have just called the station and had her paged, for he really wouldn’t know whether she had taken another bus, or simply ignored him. For really small towns, there’s no station to call to have someone paged. The Greyhound offices certainly wouldn’t release any information regarding passenger manifests without a subpoena. The only way he could be sure that she wasn’t on her original bus, would be to physically inspect the bus. And he sounded quite sure.

The next call came right on time. Same conversation, only more intense on his end--not that he believed a word I said. It didn’t matter. I felt duty bound to keep him at bay. I finally turned off the telephone ringer, and began screening calls. He kept ordering me to pick up the telephone, but I hate taking orders. He then began shouting, swearing, and accusing me of being up to something -- which, of course, I was.

The next call surprised me since it came earlier than I expected. He must have been trying to guess the alternative route. The towns he mentioned indicated that his people were looking primarily in the southeastern US, far away from the Canadian countryside where she actually was at the moment, so I didn’t panic. All the same, I vowed not to answer the phone for fear that I might say something that would give her away.

The calls continued into the wee hours of the morning, so I turned off the volume of the machine. When I woke up, the little red light flashed for a solid twenty-five seconds. The calls continued all the next day, following night, the day after that, and the day after that. At one point, they came every five minutes. I even ran out of tape on one side. In those days, I recorded my own musical messages. I selected a particularly long one that ran over a minute. I use it when I don’t feel like responding to silly messages, as most people lose patience waiting for the beep and hang up, unless it’s actually important. If he wanted to harass me, at least I could make him pay for it.

The calls eventually tapered off. Had she traveled her original route, she would have already been in Denton, possible abduction notwithstanding. I checked my messages over the past four days to see if I had gotten any real ones. This “CIA Jimmy” had gone through a litany of tactics to get me to tell him where she was. He threatened me. He accused me. When that didn’t work, he tried to reason with me, stressing that Miss Texas was “a very sick woman” who had all kinds of wild notions about him. Granted, her notions about him were wild. But, her description of him as a creep was dead on the money.

By the end, he almost sounded broken. His voice grew hoarse and weak--not surprising since he had called me nonstop over the past few days. He said that he had given up his search and would “appreciate it” if I told him her whereabouts.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Spasm of a Lunatic"

Being that 23rd Mandalation is devoted to the weirder things in life, there are few things odder than a great rant from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, as issued through the Korean Central News Agency:

Bush's Reckless Remarks About "Axis of Evil" Dismissed
Pyongyang, March 20 (KCNA) -- Recently, Bush again slandered the DPRK as part of an "axis of evil", stunning the world public. The Korean people are expressing towering indignation at those outcries, terming them frenzy of a guy bereft of reason and spasm of a lunatic. Rodong Sinmun today says this in a signed commentary. The Bush group's bellicose doctrine of "preemptive nuclear attack" and "war on terrorism" and its hypocritical policy of "spread of freedom and democracy" are the very source of all evils in the world at present, the commentary observes, and goes on: The U.S. imperialists provoked wars in the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s and the new century, mercilessly destroying peaceful towns and villages and civilian establishments and cruelly killing countless innocent people. This clearly proves that the U.S. is a war maniac, the ringleader of evils and the worst human rights abuser.
They are openly interfering in other countries' internal affairs and running amuck to overthrow the leadership of progressive countries, clamoring about "freedom", "democracy" and "human rights" with carrot and stick.
Bush's repeated remarks listing the DPRK as part of an "axis of evil" are little short of declaring the U.S. stance that it still regards the DPRK as a target of military aggression, not a dialogue partner.
Now that the U.S. imperialists still keep the DPRK on the list of the main targets of aggression and objects to be eliminated, the army and people of the DPRK will heighten their vigilance against the U.S. and get fully ready to beat back any surprise invasion on their own initiative.
The bellicose Bush group should behave itself, properly understanding their will to defend Korean-style socialism centered on the popular masses to the last, regarding it as their life and soul.

You gotta love the Juche Idea, though.

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The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll

9/11 conspiracy article in a mainstream mag:

"Circle one was labeled patsies, comprising “dupes,” “useful idiots,” “fanatics,” “provocateurs,” and “Oswalds.” Included here were the demonized bin Laden and alleged lead hijacker Mohammad Atta. The second ring, marked MOLES, contained “government officials loyal to the invisible government,” such as Paul Wolfowitz, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and, of course, George W. Bush. The third circle, PROFESSIONAL KILLERS, encompassed “technicians,” “CIA special forces,” “old boys”—the unnamed ones who did the dirty work and kept their mouths shut."

Also, the last page gives the lowdown on the usual (and some unusual) suspects:

"Shrinks Did It. Scientologists believe that psychiatry (through a mechanism that remains murky) helped give birth to the suicide attackers “through drugs and psycho-political methods.”

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More in the News

The Supreme Court voted 8-0 to disallow large class-action suits against financial companies for giving fraudulent stock ratings, a decision that eases the woes of upper-echelon Enron, World Com and Merrill Lynch brass.

The Court cited a 1995 law that a Republican-controlled Congress muscled past a presidential veto. Then touted as part of the "Contract for America," supporters praised the new law as protection of "deep pocket defendants" against "frivolous" and "nuisance" suits.This decision would force individual investors to file suit separately, and incur the burden of legal expenses. Not surprisingly, many people left destitute by corporate dishonesty cannot afford to sue for redress.

Debra Lafave, the twenty-five-year-old Tampa schoolteacher accused of giving private lessons to a fourteen-year-old student, was spared a criminal record after Florida Assistant State Attorney Richard Ridgeway withdrew all charges against her.

I generally keep an eye on stuff like this because issues surrounding pedophilia run rampant throughout conspiracy theory--especially in a place like Florida, in a case that makes national headlines, and where the accused’s plea deal is rejected so that the Attorney General's office can drop charges against her.

Cartoon of the Day:

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Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. IV

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real life intrigue

Thursday morning was a bright and cloudless, hardly a setting conducive to despair. Nevertheless, Miss Texas sat on the edge of the bed, and sighed. Her fear had given way to sadness. Tears gushed down her face. Breakfast proved to be a rather poignant experience. I encouraged her to order anything she wanted, hoping that might cheer her up a little. She ordered a number of dishes, nibbled little samples of them, then passed them to me, asking that I clean the plate.

We got back to the apartment about 11:00am. I asked if she wanted to do anything. She didn’t. Although her bus wouldn’t leave the Port Authority until 3:30 that afternoon, we both decided to head out at about 11:15am. We then walked down 42nd St., neither of us uttering a word.

Since we arrived four hours early, we didn’t bother checking in at the ticket counter right away. We went downstairs, bought Cokes, and took a seat across from the Greyhound office, where she continued the silent sob of that morning.

“Hey!” I said. “You’re home free. I’m going to watch you get on the bus, so there’s still somebody expecting you to be at a certain place at a certain time.”

“No. The CIA man’s still going to get me,” she lamented.

“How? He’ll be in New York, and you’ll be fifteen hundred miles away.”

“You don’t understand. He’s got people everywhere. As soon as that bus stops someplace, somebody’s just gonna take me out back and kill me. I know too much.”

If she were pulling some type of con, then she had definitely missed her calling. With her looks, she could have gone to Hollywood and won three Oscars by then. But there she was, shivering, crying, broke and living out what she believed were the last hours of her life.

On the other hand, my patience with the paranoia bit had reached its end. I told her that she would be fine. After an hour of discussing the implausibility of the situation, she nodded and said, “You’re probably right.” I thought that I had finally “talked some sense into her,” and that she had just realized how silly her fears sounded. As soon as she could manage a permanent smile, I reached out to give her a hug. I don’t know why, but something about that hug gave me pause to think. I don’t really remember if she did anything special. I couldn’t tell you whether she simply hugged me back, or if she clung to me. But something in her touch made me realize that the terror her terror remained. Nevertheless, she saw what all the talk of her impending doom had done to me.

I still didn’t believe that she was really in any danger. I only knew that she believed it. True or not, spending three days on a bus in mortal fear is not what I would consider fun. I looked over at the Greyhound office and, then it hit me.

“C’mon,” I said, rising so quickly it startled her.

“What’s the matter?”

“I have an idea.”

With that, we joined the line. Still resigned to shuffling off this mortal coil, she didn’t ask what I had in mind. She only heard it when I explained it to the ticket clerk.

Presenting her ticket, I asked the lady at the counter if that were the only bus to Denton. She typed into her computer, and confirmed that it was. The bus that left New York for Texas had sort of a square route, with major layovers in Washington DC and points south, with a change of bus followed by stops in New Orleans and Dallas. From there, she would catch another bus to go to Denton.

I reasoned, however, that the Dallas station had to have buses that went to places other than New York. In turn, those destinations would have round trip service between there and the Port Authority. Catching my drift, the clerk went back to the computer, and came up with a route that would take her directly from New York to St. Louis where she could catch another bus to Houston, which then had a bus to Denton. Still, I thought, just for argument’s sake, that if this “Jimmy” didn’t find her on the expected route, he might start looking for her on this one. I asked the clerk to find an alternate way to St. Louis. Amused, and somewhat puzzled, she found one where “Miss Texas” would have to take three separate buses: one in New York, the second in Montreal, the third in Detroit, with a long layover in Chicago.

Once the clerk found the route, she punched it up. It would add thirty-six hours to an already long trip. It would also cost extra. I had the required fifty-something dollars and change. For someone like me, though, that’s a lot of money to spend. That look of relief, joy and amazement on my companion’s face compelled me to take a crowbar to my wallet and fork it over.

Her bus left in twenty minutes. Once at the gate, she gave me a warm hug, and then boarded. I dragged the suitcase to the baggage handler. When it took off, she flashed her, by now, familiar perfect-tooth smile and waved goodbye.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. III

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real life intrigue

Animated, almost beside herself, her emotions vacillated between murderous rage and paralyzing terror. Miss Texas insisted that this alleged CIA guy would “get” her – for what, I didn’t know. In response to what quickly degenerated into incoherent babbling, I brewed her some tea. By the time I got it into the mug, she had calmed down to the point where could tell me her version of what went on.

She said that the morning she left with the supposed spook, they went down to Atlantic City, where for two days they enjoyed what remained of the good weather on the beach, while doing some sightseeing, shopping and gambling. He then took her home, and placed her, for lack of a better term, under house arrest. He started by suggesting that she stay in the house all day while he went to work. When she didn’t, he started drugging her food, so that she couldn’t leave her bed. She ultimately decided to play along, and he stopped poisoning her. She then took the opportunity to snoop around his place, and ultimately found that he had been keeping a number of different women against their will in various places around New Jersey, and from that point on, she knew that she had to find some way to get out of there.

When I asked her what this had to do with the CIA, she explained that he worked as a director for some kind of federal AIDS program that served as an Agency front. He had been part of a group who in the late-1970s had infected a number of gay men with the fatal disease as part of an experiment. His people were supposedly monitoring the first several generations of AIDS victims. For some, unexplained reason, they also kept a number of women.

Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a 3.5 inch floppy that she admitted swiping before she left. She said it would prove everything, and asked me to see if I could open any files on it. If I needed help with a password, she could find it out. How, she left to my imagination.

I couldn’t believe a word of anything she said. Had she so much as mentioned anything about space aliens, I might have called the hospital. But, since she would be going back to Texas the following afternoon, I reckoned that I would just put her on the bus and let her parents take care of her.

I didn’t call her crazy, or anything. I just listened, and occasionally interjected questions that might point out the inconsistencies in her story. She had an answer for each and every one. I pointed out that if he wanted to keep her in New Jersey that badly, he could’ve just chained her up, or made her wear one of those dog collars that shocks the hell out of you if you try to cross a certain boundary. She said that he had threatened to handcuff her to the bed, which I guess would be kinda similar had he actually done it. She could only escape by insisting that there would be people looking for her if she were delayed. That was the whole point of it. It had to appear as though she simply vanished. She had lied to him, saying that I knew who he was, where he lived, and his telephone number. If anything happened to her, then I would know whom to blame. Since she had left some stuff back in my apartment, I would naturally have expected her back. If she never returned, she figured that I would call local police.

When we went to bed that night, I could see that she was still very afraid. Lying in my dirty clothes, I assured her that everything would be fine. I offered to stay with her for the duration of her remaining time in New York. Still, she kept talking as though she were trying to accept her fate. She went over the terms of her will, and worried about how her kids would turn out in her absence.

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In the News

Closing arguments have concluded in the Da Vinci Code trial. Dan Brown's wife Blythe, who compiled much of his research, never took the stand. Attorneys for Michael Bagient and Richard Leigh made much of this in their parting remarks. Obviously, Blythe Brown did take some things from Bagient and Leigh's book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. But nothing indicates that she violated fair usage.

In other news, Special Agent Harry Samit of the FBI's Minneapolis field office was cross-examined yesterday in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, an alleged 9/11 conspirator. In what AP reporter Michael Sniffen characterized as "the strongest moment so far for the court-appointed lawyers defending Moussaoui," Samit admitted that he couldn't convince FBI headquarters to give him permission to investigate Moussaoui, despite warnings from French and British Intelligence that he was part of an Al Qaeda cell.

According to Special Agent Colleen Rawley, she and her peers from the Minneapolis field office joked that their superiors were "moles for bin Laden."

Many a truth is uttered in jest, you know.

Finally, the fallout from Isaac Hayes' decision to leave South Park still receives ink in the newspaper. The Church of Scientology maintains a crack legal staff that jealously guards how the cult is perceived. In media, they trot out a lot of their celebrity flock before the cameras. Behind the scenes, the Scientologists also purchased the Cult Awareness Network, after forcing the non-profit organization out of business. (Watch the 60 Minutes piece on it here: http://www.xenutv.com/us/60min-can.htm)

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Monday, March 20, 2006

The Death Sentence - An Invitation

The Death Sentence - Another one of those topics we the people can never quite seem to agree on.

The issue has always seemed relatively simple to me, however, as i have said before, the beliefe that one has nothing left to learn, is the end of wisdom.

First of all, so that you'll know, here is my opinion on the matter.

In a case where there is no doubt as to guilt, I quite simply have no problem with the death sentence being handed down and carried out. Notice that I am not calling it 'captial punishment.' I do not see it as a form of punishement. For serial killers, felons guilty of using a gun during a crime, rapist's, I really not all that interested in:

- Punishing the guilty
- Reforming the guilty
- being humane to the guilty

I am interested in protecting the innocent. I am interested in keeping the murderer, rapiste, felon, from attacking again. I see the death sentence as the only way to ensure with absolute certainty that the guilty will not attack again.

It is %100 effective. No other method of protecting society from the guilty is %100 effective.

- a dead murderer cannot murder again.
- a dead rapist cannot rape again.

It is the CHEAPEST method of protecting society.

- a dead murderer requires no room, food, clothes, or guards.

- 11 years ago, the cost of keeping a prisoner in a maximum security prison here in the U.S. was $80,000 a year. I would rather spend the money elsewhere.

I know there are some major flaws in the system.

- is there a way to be %100 certain the convicted is guilty.

- is justice blind with she can be bought?

- Will the death sentence be handed out equally to all races and both sexes? Not likely.

Sooo, why am i blogging about this? I try hard to all sides of an issue. I try... I'm not always successful but I try. So what I'd like to do, is ask people who are reading this, who are opposed to the death sentence, to share their opinions. Tell me why the death sentence is wrong. I have talked to people about it. For the life of me I can't wrap my mind around a reason to oppose the death sentence.

it ussually comes to a point where I am being told that the death sentence:

- Does not stop crime.

It stops the offender from repeating the offense. I see consideration of any other crimes or criminals irrelevant.

- Is inhumane. Note, inhumane is defined as lacking pity, compassion, or kindness.

Murder lacks pity.
Murder lacks compassion.
Murder lacks kindness.

it's important to remember when a rapist is sodomizing your daughter or wife or son, he probably is NOT showing pity, compassion, or kindness.

Also, I'm not interested in showing pity, compassion, or kindness. I'm interested in keeping the offender from offending again. I think it's humane to protect the innocent. I think it's inhumane to fail to protect the innocent.

- Killing the guilty only pusnishes those who love that person.

I'm not interested in punishment. I'm interested in keeping the offender from repeating the offense. I believe the murderer harmed those who loved him the moment he murdered.

- Killing the guilty makes us no better than them...

I don't see it... but okay... I still want to make sure that society is safe.

By the way, if you believe this particular argument, i beg you, explain it to me. I REALLY want to understand what it means. I honestly don't see it. I don't understand what it means to be "no bettter" than them.

- The death sentence devalues society.

The term 'WHAT?' comes to mind. I have NO idea what that means... help me.

I not only welcome, i'd appreciate your opinons. I'm hoping that everyone can share them without being insulting... Good luck. And remember, Life is like a paper clip.

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Discovering The North American Afterculture

This "Anthropology of the Future" is a glimpse of a future being shaped, and even lived, right now. It imagines the culture that might emerge if we fully embraced a completly sustainable, sacred world-outlook. A diorama, crafted artifacts, paintings and photomurals show a NEW NATIVE AMERICAN people whose life-patterns are healing to a damaged land. They look like us: a mixture of races and backgrounds, and there are hints that much of the knowledge gathered in our time remains alive in oral tradition. But they are also profoundly unlike us. They know themselves as part of the web of life. Seeing the natural world as an expression of the sacred, they have simplified their lives the better to move in balance with it. This is a glimpse of "a future that works:" sustainable, simple, sacred--and anthropologically defensible. But it's not the only possible way we could live: the Afterculture signals a return to the rich "cultural biodiversity" that has characterized the human species for most of its sojourn here, and the viewer is challenged to imagine other versions, other tribes."

Be sure to check out the proposed diorama for New York. How September 10th!

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Watergate Plane Crash

Last night I watched a brief portion of a show about Flight 800, the probably intentionally downed jet that exploded in the air off Long Island. I got to thinking about airplane sabotage, and what's come to be known as the Watergate Plane Crash specifically, which also has been linked to the JFK murder. You can read about that in this article, as well as other alleged sabotages, such as that of Bill Clinton's commerce secretary Ron Brown. He reportedly was going to rat on the Clintons for their involvement in a crooked gas pipeline deal.

"Because onboard were 12 Watergate figures, including Dorothy Hunt, wife of E. Howard Hunt, the Watergate burglar. The twelve were among those that died in the crash, although there is reason to believe Mrs. Hunt was murdered by the FBI on the ground. Toxicology reports showed she had a higher level of cyanide in her body than she could have gotten from the airplane fire. As referred to later in secret FBI reports, Mrs. Hunt bought a second First Class seat on which she kept a suitcase with two million dollars in negotiable instruments. Her husband reportedly had blackmailed Nixon with inside CIA knowledge of Nixon's role in arranging and carrying out the murder of JFK. In the celebrated Watergate tapes, Nixon uses the code phrase "Bay of Pigs" when he was actually referring to the Dallas "hit."

Other pages of note:


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Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. II

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real life intrigue

Miss Texas called again the following week. She sounded a bit strained over the telephone, so I asked if anything was wrong. She said no, but then told me that she needed to sleep over, and that she’d be there in ten minutes. Per her request, I waited at the curb, presumably to haul that lead weight of a suitcase.

Ten minutes turned into twenty before a blue mini-van pulled up in front of my building. She got out along with a guy, not much taller than she, late-thirties/early-forties, sporting a short, graying afro. He took out the suitcase, and a lot of other stuff too--shopping bags, a beach pail, and a multi-colored basketball among the loose items. She wanted to make it up to my place in one trip, despite this guy’s suggestion that we should make two. Her companion then insisted that she put the stuff back into the mini-van, and go back to New Jersey with him. She declined, politely at first; but as his insistence wore on, it took on the tone of an order. He started going on and on about how unfair it was for her to make me sleep in my dirty clothes, and she countered by declaring that I didn’t mind. Of course, nobody paid any attention to me. This was strictly an argument between the two of them. It finally ended when she turned to me and said, “Let’s go.”

Once inside, I put down the suitcase while we waited for the elevator. I caught her friend watching us from the street through the glass doors of the lobby. In the twilight outside, I had spent a good deal of my time trying to butt out of their “conversation.” Consequently, I didn’t get a good look at her by the curb. Indoors, with bright lights reflecting off mirrors both behind and in front of the elevator, I saw that she was deathly white. Golden bangs matted against her sweaty forehead, she trembled.

“Something’s wrong,” I said.

“Is he still out there?” she asked.


“I’ll explain soon as we get to your apartment.”

The elevator finally came and we got in. She couldn’t come close to relaxing. Still clutching her shopping bags and the pail, she stood rigidly in front of the door.

“If he attacked you, we have to call the police.”

“Oh, no!” she said. “Just wait ‘til we get to your place.”

We finally reached my studio. I ambled inside. She followed, her hand on my back. She didn’t really push me, but her sense of urgency seemed clear enough. I dropped most of what I had in front of my electric piano. She just threw everything on the floor, locked the door, checked the bathroom, and the closet, then under the bed.

“What happened?” I asked, now that we had reached the promised land where she would explain all.

“That guy out there?” she started.


“He says his name is Jimmy. But it’s not Jimmy.”

“James? Jack?”

She shook her head. “He’s CIA. Real creepy.”

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Nat Pwe

Looks like an interesting DVD. (I have the Radio Pyongyang CD on the same label Sublime Frequencies, and it's a doozy.)

"In Burma, many people believe in ghost spirits called NATs. They are said to possess the power to assist or devastate the lives of those who recognize them. A PWE is a ceremony held to appease a Nat.
"Pwes are arranged daily throughout Burma for many purposes including the achievement of success in business, a happy marriage, or improving one's health. A Nat is summoned through a Kadaw; the flamboyant and charismatic master of the Pwe dressed in elegant costume. The Kadaw is a spirit medium, dancer, storyteller, and magician who exposes the crowd to a living incarnation of the Nat brought forth through opening ritual and careful observance of tradition.
Many of the Kadaws are male crossdressers performing the role of female Nats. Audience participants are often ecstatic, spontaneously launching into trance as the Nat spirit possesses their bodies while the melodically ornamental and thundering sound of the Nat Pwe orchestra plays on as perhaps the last, great unknown musical juggernaut existing anywhere.
"Since the 11th century, there have been 37 officially recognized Nats and every August, in the village of Taungbyon, there is a festival dedicated to two of them. This festival is one of the greatest spectacles on earth. At the peak of the Taungbyon celebration, there exists a vibe of mysterious, electric charm. What results is the magnetic, unexplainable concoction of conservative tradition, free expression, music, dance, spirit possession, and anomolous synchronicities of Burma's CARNIVAL OF SPIRIT SOUL."

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DMT: The Spirit Molecule

Looks like an interesting book.

"In 1990, I began the first new human research with psychedelic, or hallucinogenic, drugs in the United States in over 20 years. These studies investigated the effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, an extremely short-acting and powerful psychedelic. During the project's five years, I administered approximately 400 doses of DMT to 60 human volunteers. This research took place at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine in Albuquerque, where I was tenured Associate Professor of Psychiatry.
"I was drawn to DMT because of its presence in all of our bodies. Perhaps excessive DMT production, coming from the mysterious pineal gland, was involved in naturally occurring "psychedelic" states. These might include birth, death and near-death, psychosis, and mystical experiences. Only later, while the study was well under way, did I also begin considering DMT's role in the "alien abduction" experience."

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. I

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real-life intrigue

December 31, I found myself yet again in my neighborhood dive bar, waiting with 500,000 people for the ball to drop from the Newsday building around the corner. I would have liked to have gone somewhere else; but an army of police patrolled the Times Square area, making it difficult to get to, or leave 44th St. I didn’t feel like battling the crowds and cops just to come back home. I had the good fortune to hook up with some tourists from Brookfield, WI, two towns over from my old stomping grounds in Waukesha. The look of awe on their faces infected me. It felt as though I were seeing the ball drop for the first time. I hoped to hang a little more with the Wisconsin party, but the women wanted to go somewhere where they could flash.

As the crowd started to thin, I noticed a table occupied by one lonely occupant, a petite, “All-American” blonde with sharp blue eyes and a tiny, sharp nose. She flashed a perfect-toothed smile at me. I returned the smile, then went back to chat. I ordered a fresh beer for her, and spent the remaining time getting acquainted. Within the first five minutes of conversation, she told me of her life as a former Miss Texas, an impoverished mother of two children, ages nine and thirteen, and as a high-school dropout with no GED, no job, no work history to get one, and no money. I asked why she’d come to New York. She explained that she wanted to visit a friend. She then changed the subject to small talk: weather, interests, etc.

I mulled over everything she had said concerning herself, and little of it rang true. To this day, I’ve never expended the effort necessary to verify whether or not she actually won a Miss Texas pageant. Granted, she looked the part, minus a couple of wrinkles and fifteen years. Still, a title like that seemed a little too grandiose for me to buy. She had to have some sort of income other than welfare if she were going to support two kids, and take trips to Manhattan. She’d made the trip twice in the past ten months, well beyond the means of somebody living on public assistance at $400 a month. Her clothes, while by no means extravagant, were new and stylish. I noticed her manicured fingernails, her make up, and her new shoes wondering how she could afford them all.

I went to bed, thinking that she was probably deranged. I felt sorry for her, but didn’t see what I could possibly do. New York is an expensive place. I figured she would spend what little money she had in a couple of days, then go back home to Denton, TX.

Nine months later, I found her at the same table, suitcase beside her. She waved me over, and asked if she could stay at my place. I carried her suitcase – which was heavy for me, let alone for someone as tiny as her – to my apartment. She crashed on the bed while I slept in my dirty clothes on the floor. I went out the next morning. By the time I came back, she had just finished up a telephone conversation to a New Jersey friend, who would take her back to his place. I lugged the suitcase downstairs while she waited for him to arrive. I would have stayed with her, but I had to dash off to the library.

I didn’t hear from her for a while. She had left some things at my place, so I figured she would come to get them. A little over a week went by before I accepted a collect call from her. Two things floored me when I got the telephone bill a month later. First of all, we talked for less than ten minutes, but the charge came to over $15.00. Secondly, she called from Cranford, NJ, the town next to where my very good friend, a former Marine Corps counterintelligence NCO lived. I think there might have been a good chance that she went there to see him. While I had never seen them together, they knew each other quite well, and each had spoken to me about the other.

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Biblioscopes: Advice for All Sun Signs March 18-24

Biblioscopes are the union of bibliomancy, divination through opening books to random pages and pondering the meaning of the phrases therein, and horoscopes, in that each sign does share certain commonalities, including planetary transits. Each Saturday I ask the Universe to lead my hands in opening the book to the right page for a week's worth of good advice for each sun sign. My comments are in italics.

This week's featured book is "Flirting with Danger" by USA Today Bestselling Author Suzanne Enoch.

"Ah. According to him, he doesn't quite know what to make of you, but concedes that you are extremely distracting, and that you tempt him to do things he probably would never have considered before making your acquaintance."
"Like lying to the police?" [Rimshot] Your sex appeal can get you far, but don't push it.

"I'm here." Tall and lanky, Texas in his soft voice, the lead attorney in the law firm of Donner, Rhodes and Chritchenson strode into the room. You won't need to do much to make an entrance. Just be yourself.

Samantha watched as Hans trimmed the crust off a fine-looking cucumber sandwich. "You are an artist," she stated, resting both elbows on the counter.
The tall Swede glanced at her. "It is only a sandwich, miss." Drop the humility act. You are that good.

"Stoney's never said anything different, either." She curled into him, kissing s throat. "And now for you. What sordid detail would I like to know?'
God. He could never let her know how. . . fulfilled he felt when she initiated contact. There's more to this story than you think. Drop your line of thought, and new options will open up.

Addison had gone from being the only witness against her to being the only man who could help clear her, and until that happened, she didn't want him dead. Pragmatism and enlightened self-interest go hand in hand in all your relationships this week.

"Splendid. And might I suggest omelets for breakfast?"
He nodded, wondering just when he'd lost control of his household. "That's fine." The more in-control you act, the more out of control you will become. Don't let it lead to a panic attack. Be truthful to yourself and others about what you sense in the situation.

"That confident, are you?" She wasn't armed; he could rush her, grab her, and hold her for the police. Instead, Richard took a sip of brandy. Who is actually in control?

"Just remember," he said, shifting his grip on her hand to pull her toward the door, "that I know what you're doing, and that I have a finite amount of patience for games." Whatever you do, don't use the phrase, "finite amount of patience," you will sound stuffy. Just make sure that they know you are on to them.

"Man, it must drive you crazy that you can't make me do something I don't w--"
He lowered his mouth to hers, sweeping his free hand around her waist and drawing her against his flat, muscled abdomen. A well-muscled abdomen can get you anything you want these days--just kidding. Greet confrontation with a big, sloppy smooch (like Bugs Bunny or Snoopy) and all will be well.

"I didn't compliment you on your great ass, either," he said, bending down to run his tongue with maddening slowness from between her breasts to the band of her panties. This is a week for brown-nosing. Extra compliments will end up doing you all the work for you.

she had the storage unit rented outside of Miami, a safe house here and there, and a nice-sized bank account in Switzerland, but that wasn't any of his business. Everything she needed to exist from day to day was in he trunk of the Honda. You will win by keeping your assets to yourself.

With a deep breath she reached out and shook his hand. Heat speared down his spine at the contact. Whatever this partnership was going to be, it wasn't simple. Follow your intuition in every new contact you make this week.

Suggestions welcome for books for upcoming Biblioscopes. Email me.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

John Lennon Seance Coming on Pay-Per-View

Don't be a sucker.

"A television "seance" to contact the spirit of late Beatle John Lennon has been defended by its producer. The programme, which will air on a US pay-per-view digital channel, has been branded as "tasteless" by critics. Its producer, who made a show in 2003 to forge contact with Diana, Princess of Wales, says The Spirit of John Lennon is a "serious" broadcast. The musician's widow, Yoko Ono, has not given consent for the broadcast and was not available for comment.
The programme, which will be shown on the In Demand channel on 24 April, will charge viewers $9.95 (£5.67) to see the show."

Rest of BBC article here.

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Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Talk about your "SF Living" (like in the description of this site at the top of the page), what about your SF Dying?!?

I admire these guys for their optimism.

"Cryonics is an attempt to preserve and protect the gift of human life. The purpose of cryonics is to maintain life, not reverse death. Lack of legal status as a person does not imply lack of moral status as a person. The spiritual status of cryonics patients is the same as frozen human embryos, or unconscious medical patients. When properly examined, cryonics has been endorsed by both clergy and theologians."

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