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Tomorrow, Germany goes to the polls, to elect its federal parliament, the Bundestag. The Bundestag is proportional, with members being elected using a complicated voting system, and the government is always a coalition of several parties. And there are many parties; as well as the ones in the press (the centre-right Christian Democrats, the centre-left Social Democrats, the neoliberal Free Democrats, the Greens (founded by none other than Joseph Beuys), the Left (a coalition of Eastern ex-Communists and Western leftists too radical for the SDP), the Pirate Party (who don't seem to be doing too well) and the just-different-enough-from-the-Nazis-to-be-legal NPD), there is a menagerie of fringe parties, including Berlin bohemians, more Berlin bohemians, actual Communists, feminists pushing for the establishment of a matriarchy, Bavarian separatists (who, once they gain independence, want to repeal smoking and firearms regulations), spiritual mystics (whose policies include developing the use of zero-point energy), and the familiar Lyndon LaRouche conspiracy kooks (whose policies include moving Berlin away from “unproductive fields such as fashion, film, leisure, sport etc.”, and on veganism, have to say that “time will make this fad disappear”).
In the German electoral system (unlike, to choose an example at random, the Australian senate), a party needs at least 5% of the vote to get seats in the Bundestag; as such, it's unlikely that any of these minor parties, which typically get less than 1% in elections, will get up.
Speaking of the tinfoil tendency, recently the annual Bilderberg conference, in which the world's rich and powerful get together to talk about stuff and/or make dastardly plans, was held in Watford of all places; unlike previous Bilderberg conferences, it included an unofficial fringe festival, with talks by famous conspiratologists like David “giant lizards rule the world” Icke and Alex Jones. VICE Magazine sent a reporter to talk to people attending the gathering and found a lot of awakening and raised awareness, but nobody knowing exactly about what:
"I started to wake up about a year ago, when I had a stroke on the left side of my brain. Afterwards, my aware side woke up and I started to notice that the news was a load of rubbish. I started doing my own research into Egyptian pyramids, the Mayans, sacred geometry, the whole package – and aliens. They all sort of came together in a package and I put the pieces together myself... The message is the same – back to the Mayans, back to the Egyptians and back to the Atlantians even before that: You are God; you are one."
"They’re just making people aware, which is great. I love the fact that they’re here doing the right thing and speaking the truth."
"What are they making people aware of, specifically?"
"Of what exactly is going on in the world. We’re not listening to the media and all that. This is actual, y'know, important stuff."
"What brings you here today?" I asked a girl named Bryony, who was in the midst of a hooping.The article also quotes Alex Jones, who goes into a wrestlerly oration about cancer viruses and necrophilia. Alas, there is nothing about what truths David Icke brought to the table.
"People, everyone, connecting and information," she replied.
"What information, specifically?"
"Uh, about the… people in there. What are they called?"
"The Bilderberg, yes. We shall not surrender to these people who are trying to control us and oppress us. And poison us."
"How are they poisoning us?"
"They’re poisoning us by putting fluoride in the water and genetically modifying nature."
The Australian Greens have a fine line to walk; maintaining an integrity of values whose lack doomed the third party which preceded them, the now-defunct Australian Democrats, whilst avoiding becoming a single-issue party (as their name suggests), or allowing themselves to be tarred with the brush of extremism. So far, they have succeeded modestly; having some of the most scientifically literate MPs in Parliament and a commitment to evidence-based policy helped, though could only go so far when the Murdoch-owned 70% of the press vilifies them as
witches Stalinists and the remaining Fairfax papers deny them the oxygen of publicity, making it easy for people who don't read New Matilda on the tram in between cycling to their favourite vegan café to joke about them as a bunch of dippy hippie rainforest mystics. Gradually, though, with the internet, and the effort of party workers, they have been making slow inroads towards mainstream acceptability.
That is, until the New South Wales branch (why does it always have to be the NSW branch, in every party?) called for an inquiry into fluoride in the water supply, at the behest of the tinfoil-hat community having lost a court challenge to water being fluoridated. As yet, no plans for inquiries into chemtrails, UFOs or whether or not world leaders are shape-shifting reptilians have been announced. But still, despite all their hard work and generally impeccable rationalist credentials, Tim Ferguson's caricatures of the Greens looks slightly less ridiculously inaccurate.
I can see this possibly costing the Greens seats in the next election. The ALP has been faced with a drain of educated, progressive-minded voters to the Greens in recent elections, which has cost them inner-city seats such as Melbourne (where the Greens' Adam Bandt will be fighting off a challenge from Labor). The threat of a sweeping landslide in favour of a hard-right Abbott government, whose promises not to feudalise industrial relations, ban abortion and generally drag Australia back to the penal-colony era via Howard's white-picket-fence father-knows-best 1950s have not convinced everyone completely, could compel the proportion of the electorate who don't understand how preferential voting works to vote Labor first, bleeding votes from the Greens. If the Greens manage to keep up the momentum, the appearance of leaflets, quoting their NSW MP John Kaye about fluoride and suggesting that a parliament with Greens in it will be tied up with chasing moonbeams at the taxpayer's expense, rather than (as has been the case) holding the two old parties to account on issues such as health care funding, schools and renewable energy, could swing the vote against them. So yes, nice work, Mr. Kaye.
A few verified facts from verifiedfacts.org:
UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT information is ENCOURAGED.
- North Korea has a deal with Youtube-- all videos showing airplane takeoffs in its major airports are deleted within hours of posting.
- Not everyone you see on the street in the UK is strictly human.
- The Feds has been secretly exploring possible applications of poverty for government profit.
- Most members of the Federal Reserve claim to be ordinary country boys; in reality, they hail from Israel, and most have no birth certificates. During Bush's time in office, most major newspapers had a member of the Federal Reserve on staff, responsible for censoring most references to guns.
- Fluorine, known to be dangerous in the state of California, has been linked to acne in mice.
- Youtube repeatedly deletes videos that show police seizing law-abiding citizens' stores of cocaine.
- You may not know it, but the concept of currency inflation was invented by Catholics, which wanted an easy way to increase the numerical value of their investments in lead. It's easy to tell that inflation was never really real: when things get older, they get run down and lose value, right? But inflation is about numbers getting BIGGER. It doesn't make any sense!
- The Chinese character for welfare looks a lot like the character for Barack Obama's name-- and it's not a coincidence.
- During WWII, a number of strange events occurred in rural South Korea which, in hindsight, bear striking resemblance to the war in Afghanistan. However, detailed research on the subject is impossible, since South Korea has destroyed its records on the subject. Coincidence? Definitely not.
- The Truman show was actually a documentary about Bill Clinton's secret son, who was sequestered in a highly controlled environment in Chernobyl until very recently. Why? The answer is both complicated and chilling.
- Facebook has been working for years to destroy the privacy of ordinary citizens-- for profit.
- Most economy textbooks don't include the most important facts about how LSD is critical to our economy.
The Quietus has an interview with Dr. Greg Graffin, evolutionary biology professor and frontman of long-running hardcore punk band Bad Religion, conducted on the supposed date of the Mayan Apocalypse that never was, and talking about the aforementioned non-apocalypse and other potential cataclysms, such as a climate “death spiral” (a term which US Government-funded scientists are reportedly prohibited from using) and asteroid strikes:
Because of my training in science, I always think the simplest interpretation of data is the best. If we wanted to make it complicated we could easily tell a story where the Mayans foretold all of what we see today. All this complex culture leading us to over-consumption, leading us to global warming, but the truth of the matter is that there's not a shred of evidence - no matter how much you read the Mayan calendar - that they had that kind of insight. So for us even to be talking about it makes me angry. The truth is that we have more serious problems on the agenda - partly what you alluded to. We need action - particularly political action - to avert catastrophe. Continuing these conversations about the Mayans, what we're doing is alleviating our responsibility and we're saying, 'Well, there's a part of me that thinks this was all foretold anyway and this was the way it was supposed to happen, and therefore I don't need to make drastic changes in my lifestyle.'
Here's a good example: we just had that terrible school shooting. The FBI record every murder and they detail what firearm was used in every murder – it's a very extensive database. However, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has lobbied to make laws so that it's illegal for any citizen to have access to that information. So even though the results of the study are very clear, the data is sitting in a vault somewhere and nobody can report on it. So all these statistics you hear about handguns or assault rifles – all that data is locked away and it's just a big public relations spin.
Reports from the sleepy Pyrenées village of Bugarach, which, according to various mystics, was to be either the only place that survived the Mayan Apocalypse or the centre of the dawning of a new age of cosmic enlightenment. The village itself attracted the mélange of kooks, attention seekers and free-floating oddballs that one might expect:
As the village bells struck noon, the moment at which the Mayans had supposedly predicted the world would end, Sylvain Durif was calmly playing the panpipes for a vast crowd of jostling camera crews. "I am Oriana, I embody the energy of cosmic Christ," he said. "When I was five I was abducted by a flying saucer belonging to the Virgin Mary. I'm here to get my message to the world, that there will be a regeneration."
When two men dressed entirely in tin foil with silver bobbles on their heads walked into the village swigging beer, TV reporters immediately surrounded them. Aged 25 and 40, the men said they had driven down from Lille as a bet with friends that they could get on to the top of the world news bulletins. It worked.Meanwhile, some who weren't particularly concerned with matters cosmic or apocalyptic took this as an opportunity for self-promotion:
An American musician, Jeff, based in Belgium, had driven from Luxembourg and was planning to set up outside in the village and perform his act as a one-man piano and trumpet band. "I came because it's the only place in Europe anyone's talking about," he said, talking of an "astronomical event that should bring light to the world, open people up". He added: "I might get some gigs out of it."And now that the world hasn't ended, the ancient Mayans (who turned out to not be so cosmically enlightened after all) will once again be forgotten. Perhaps 21 December 2012's Mayan Long Count association will end up in the occasional pub quiz, or eventually as a marker of retro-ness in fiction set in the 2010s (Remember the 2010s? Wasn't that a wacky time, with brostep and iPads and stuff, and everyone thinking the world would end?), but otherwise it's unlikely that the peculiarities of the Mayan calendar will feature in public discourse again.
A primer in the rhetoric of pseudoscience advocates in the form of a dialogue about football:
SCENARIO: PERSON 1 (a scientist) is at the bar in a pub. He orders two drinks and a bag of crisps. He takes these and sits down. He is alone, but clearly waiting for someone. PERSON 2 (a stranger) enters. He sits in the vacant seat at PERSON 1's table, uninvited. The following conversation occurs.
PERSON 2: Do you know who the best football team from the Manchester area are?
PERSON 1: Well, I'm not exactly a football fan, but given what I know, it's probably Manchester United.
PERSON 2: Wrong! Open your eyes!
PERSON 1: Sorry, what?
PERSON 2: The best football team in Manchester are the PPs.
PERSON 1: …the what?
PERSON 2: The PPs! It stands for Plough and Potato. It's a pub. They're a brilliant Sunday League side from the Plough and Potato pub, on the outskirts.
With only days to go until the US Presidential election approaches, a poll states that 68% of registered Republican voters believe in the reality of demonic possession, compared to only 48% believing in the reality of climate change.
Meanwhile, The Baffler has a piece on the nexus between direct-mail con artists and Movement Conservatism in the US. The thesis of this essay is that the US Right today has a culture built on paranoia, a distrust of critical thought and a tolerance of lying, and that this culture is partly due to from a system of highly successful multi-level marketing cons, get-rich-quick scams and crooked fundraising operations wrapped in inflammatory calls to urgent action attached parasitically to the conservative movement for half a century. This state of affairs had modest beginnings in the 1960s, as the wake of the political autoimmune disorder that was McCarthyism was bleeding into the rise of the civil-rights movement and everything from modern art to teenage rock'n'roll were assaulting the relaxed and comfortable status quo of the extended 1950s. (The full cultural horror of the Sixeventies had yet to make an appearance, but it would, in turn, prove highly profitable.) It all started when a canny businessman acquired a list of Republican Party donors and and started using it to make money from the fearful and credulous, establishing a system of fundraising for right-wing causes which, conveniently, absorbed most of its takings in administrative expenses, leaving little for fighting imaginary Communist abortionists. This, in turn, was followed by an ecosystem of parasites, selling everything from miracle cures to investment strategies the pinko liberals don't want you to know about to the movement-conservative demographic, and reinforcing a culture of paranoia, demonisation of a nefarious Other and a convenient detachment from objectively measurable reality, culminating in the political climate today:
In 2007, I signed on to the email lists of several influential magazines on the right, among them Townhall, which operates under the auspices of evangelical Stuart Epperson’s Salem Communications; Newsmax, the organ more responsible than any other for drumming up the hysteria that culminated in the impeachment of Bill Clinton; and Human Events, one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite publications. The exercise turned out to be far more revealing than I expected. Via the battery of promotional appeals that overran my email inbox, I mainlined a right-wing id that was invisible to readers who encounter conservative opinion at face value.Dear Friend: Do you believe that children should have the right to sue their parents for being “forced” to attend church? Should children be eligible for minimum wage if they are being asked to do household chores? Do you believe that children should have the right to choose their own family? As incredible as they might sound, these are just a few of the new “children’s rights laws” that could become a reality under a new United Nations program if fully implemented by the Carter administration. If radical anti-family forces have their way, this UN sponsored program is likely to become an all-out assault on our traditional family structure.In this respect, it’s not really useful, or possible, to specify a break point where the money game ends and the ideological one begins. They are two facets of the same coin—where the con selling 23-cent miracle cures for heart disease inches inexorably into the one selling miniscule marginal tax rates as the miracle cure for the nation itself. The proof is in the pitches—the come-ons in which the ideological and the transactional share the exact same vocabulary, moral claims, and cast of heroes and villains.
It’s time, in other words, to consider whether Romney’s fluidity with the truth is, in fact, a feature and not a bug: a constituent part of his appeal to conservatives. The point here is not just that he lies when he says conservative things, even if he believes something different in his heart of hearts—but that lying is what makes you sound the way a conservative is supposed to sound, in pretty much the same way that curlicuing all around the note makes you sound like a contestant on American Idol is supposed to sound.
Alternative operating system of the day: LoseThos. It was written from scratch over nine years, runs on a PC (in ring 0), and has a just-in-time compiler for a vaguely C-like language it uses; the inspirations were the Commodore 64 (whose flat memory map and easy accessibility to the bare metal made it eminently hackable) and the voice of God speaking to its creator (who, by his own admission, is schizophrenic) through random number generators.
There's a MetaFilter thread about it, which the creator has joined (under the name “losethos”), weighing in with technical descriptions of its implementation, justifications for design decisions (in which the kinds of insights about “elegance” and solutions which “smell right” that seasoned programmers have and quasi-theological justifications based on mystical revelation are often inextricably intertwined) and stream-of-consciousness revelations from the God who speaks through random numbers. A few choice quotes:
I wanted to make a souped-up, modern 64-bit, C64 so teenagers could do what I did in high school. I had the book Mapping the C64 and I had hours of fun poking and proding around with all the internals of the operationg system for cheap thrills. I wanted to let people control the hardware directly. I wanted something simple, to get your head around. LoseThos is two orders of magnitude simpler than Linux. LoseThos is 135,000 lines of code including my compiler. It is 100% self contained and complete. When I got Linux, I was disappointed because I thought "open source" meant I would have fun messing with the code. Linux tries to support so many architectures and has a main frame operating system, that it's too complex. LoseThos is way way way simpler. Plus it has many innovative ideas. It is not ASCII source code, for example.
Photorealism is graphic and panders to base nature of humans. 640x480 is innocent. How many of you are horrified by modern games, longing for a more innocent time?As well as numerous revelations from God (whose favourite animals are apparently bears and elephants, and whose favourite band is The Beatles):
The hardest thing in evolution was getting monkey mothers to hold their babies for nursing.
God's favorite thing on TV is soap operas. Read the Bible. ROFLMAO. God likes the Beverly Hillbillies. God said Shakespeare had a vile heart. He said Christian rock was "musical privation". Good word. I like the word "Ambrosial". Go look it up. :-) I'm smug.
The next front in the culture war for America's resurgent Christian fundamentalist movement may be set theory. That's right; some fundies find the mathematical theory of sets right down there with critical thinking, mainstream paleontology and Ozzy Osbourne records:
"Unlike the "modern math" theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka Book teaches that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute....A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory."Why do the fundamentalists find set theory so objectionable? It seems to be not because of what it says (unlike, say, evolutionary biology) but because of the kinds of thought it may encourage; set theory, you see, with its paradoxes and its heretical notion of there being different kinds of infinity (i.e., the set of all real numbers and the set of all integers are both infinite, but the former is greater than the latter) could subtly seduce even the most rigorously home-schooled children into modernist habits of thinking, not based in absolute truths and rigid, God-given hierarchies but in ungodly paradoxes. And if there is more than one infinity and the the set of all statements is either incomplete or inconsistent, they may start to wonder what other statements they had accepted on divinely-ordained authority are incorrect, and before you know it, you have atheism, Red Communism and buggery on the Sabbath.
They see modernism as the opposing worldview to their own. They are all about tradition (or, at least, what they have decided is traditional). Modernism is a knee-jerk rejection of tradition in favor of the new. Obviously, they think a very specific sort of Christian God should be the center of everything and all parts of society, public and private. Modernists prefer ideas like secular humanism and think God is something you should be doing in private, on your own time. They believe strongly in the importance of power hierarchies and rules. Modernism smashes all of that and says, "Hey, just do your own thing. Nobody's ideas are any better or worse than anybody else's. There's no right and wrong. Go crazy, man!"
More importantly, they know that [modernists] are subtle, and use sneaky means to indoctrinate children and lure adults into accepting modernist values. So the art, the literature, the jazz—probably the Scandinavian furniture, too, though I never heard anyone mention that specifically—are all just traps. They're ways of getting us to reject to One True Path a little bit at a time. (I should note that, up to this point, I am basing my analysis on what I was taught in Baptist school. After this, I'm speculating, and attempting to connect the ideas I know are present in this subculture with set theory.)
Set theory, particularly the stuff about infinity, has a bit of that wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey flavor to it. It doesn't make sense on the level of "common sense". It's dealing with things that aren't standard, simple numbers. It makes links between nice, factual math and floppy, subjective philosophy. If you're raised in Christian fundamentalist culture, all of that—every last bit—absolutely reeks of modernism. It's easy to see how somebody at A Beka would look at set theory and conclude that it's really just modernist propaganda. To them, set theory is just a step on the road to godless atheism.And so, the red line in the culture war has now ambitiously been pushed back to the 19th century, with a view to rolling back the Enlightenment and bring back the certainties of the mediæval age, when humanity knew its place.
Dispatches from the global battle against socialism and Cultural Marxism: As a Tea Party-style convoy travels across Australia to put an end to the wicked queen's socialistic, carbon-taxing reign and restore the One True King to the Lodge, Exiled Online profiles the "true blue Aussie battlers" who constitute this movement. Not surprisingly, it's a lot less of a spontaneous grass-roots movement than the Murdoch press (which seems to be backing it in the way that Fox News backed, if not created, its US inspiration) would have you believe, apparently being run largely by a hard core of a few dozen people who met on a climate-change-denial message board long before Gillard was PM.
That’s because a typical Teabagger spectacle consists of a small nucleus of professional Astroturfers and a large nebula of weirdoes and mutants who’ve just rocked up. Some of the mutants are there to proselytize; they hope they can convince other mutants that Lady Gaga is an Illuminati puppet or that Lyndon LaRouche predicted the GFC. Other mutants appear because joining a mob helps their self-esteem. But miracle of miracles, the muties are never the ones who get interviewed, especially not by News Corp reporters. In fact, they’re really little more than film extras – their job is to stand in the background while the Astroturfers take questions and make the corporate libertarian viewpoint seem more widespread.The article looks at the opinions of the views of the organisers—the "ordinary battlers doing it hard" the Murdoch press would have you believe they are—and their fellow travellers, and finds some ugly things, from the mundane (pig farmers pissed off with the temerity of the little people complaining about the smell) to the more sinister (praise for Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile and claims that the same struggle as in Chile is taking place in Australia, conspiracy tracts published by think tanks run by mining firms), and the bizarre (peddlers of legalistic sophistries claiming that the Commonwealth Government doesn't really exist, presumably making anoyances such as tax law and pollution regulations invalid), and then takes a ride with the motley crew of teabaggers:
Didn’t take long before the ginger-haired guy started ranting about boat people, “gooks,” and immigration quotas, which he claimed was all part of a wider conspiracy to dismantle Australia’s constitutional monarchy. The reason so many Asians were being allowed into the country was so they’d vote to turn Australia into a republic, which, to Ginger, meant that “all our rights, rights we never even fucking knew about, would go down the drain.” Australian republicanism was a scheme by some shadowy organization to establish a World Government – Ginger went on about the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Rothschild dynasty… I asked if he really thought someone was trying to form a World Government. “What do you think the carbon tax is for?”Meanwhile in New South Wales' state parliament, a Liberal Party MP has struck a blow against the Communist menace of traffic lights:
"Traffic lights are a Bolshevist menace... Traffic lights are things which are set up to try and control traffic to try and control individuals on the roads," Dr Phelps told Parliament.
"Roundabouts. Roundabouts represent freedom. Roundabouts represent democracy at its finest," he said.
In the US Right, repudiating The 1960s and its wave of social upheavals and looking to either 1950s America or the Victorian Era is so yesterday; the new thing is repudiating the Enlightenment and looking to the Middle Ages as a golden age of civic and private virtue, free of the heresies of secularism and egalitarianism, or so claim William S. Lind and William S. Piper:
Not surprisingly, after three centuries of “Enlightened” propaganda, almost everything modern people think they know about the Middle Ages is wrong. Medieval society not only represents the nearest man has come to building a Christian society, it was also successful in secular terms. Living standards rose, and with them population. That was true for all classes, not just the nobles. Monarchs were far from absolute—royal absolutism was in fact the latest thing in 18th-century fashion, a system for promoting rational efficiency—and subjects had extensive rights. Unlike the abstract Rights of Man, as practiced during the Jacobins’ Reign of Terror, Medieval rights were specific and real, established by precedent.
The alternate narrative’s view of what followed is selective. The Renaissance brought advances the High Middle Ages would have welcomed, including Christian humanism and the recovery of many texts from the classical world. But it also laid the basis for secular humanism, a prideful and subversive force that continues to do great damage to societies and souls alike. The Protestant Reformation pointed to some genuine abuses in the Church and also renewed the importance of Scripture. But the shattering of Christendom, the rise of an unsound doctrine of sola Scriptura, and the loss of the sacraments in much Christian worship were too high a price.The Enlightenment didn't immediately bring about the collapse of the virtuous old order, but merely weakened it and set the powderkeg, which exploded at the outbreak of World War 1:
As recently as the summer of 1914, less than a century ago, the world restored in 1814 was still recognizable. Kaisers, tsars, and kings reigned. The goodness and rightness of social classes, each with its respective duties, was acknowledged by all but Marxists. The Christian religion, if not universally believed, was generally respected. Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of all values,” in which the old virtues become sins and the old sins virtues, was regarded as the raving of a syphilitic madman.Then, the centuries-old, divinely-ordained system of monarchies fell, and the world lurched sharply towards the left, forever tainted by the original sin of Cultural Marxism (a marvellous catch-all which encompasses anything from women's rights to sagging jeans and, from what I gather, generally translates to "anything I, as a self-identified Conservative, object to"), leading directly to our present fallen world of rock'n'roll, drive-through abortion clinics and rampant Sabbath-breaking.
However, according to Lind and Piper, it need not have happened this way; had the central powers won, a balance of power would have been restored, the great monarchies shored up, the spectre of Bolshevism headed off, and the world could have shifted equally sharply to the right, and to recovering the lost virtues of the mediaeval world:
In this world, Professor Mayer’s spectrum shift to the left would never have happened. Conservative Christian monarchies would have triumphed. A spectrum shift to the right, while not inevitable, was possible; a defeated French republic might have been replaced with a monarchy. (Le Figaro: “The Estates General, deadlocked among the Legitimist, Orleanist, and Bonapartist candidates, today offered the throne of France to Prince Louis Napoleon of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha…”) It is perhaps too much to hope that the 20th century’s grimmest reaper, ideology, would have found itself in history’s wastebasket. But it would have lost to its oldest opponent, legitimism, and lost badly. It might have been sufficiently weakened to give Europe and the world a century of relative peace, like that following the settlement of 1814.
Patent absurdity of the day: US patent application 11/161,345, by a Christopher Anthony Roller, who attempted to patent his "Godly powers", to prevent other parties, such as the magician David Copperfield, from using them for less than godly purposes. The patent application (available via the USPTO's PAIR portal; search for application 11161345) also includes miscellaneous correspondence from Roller, where he rails against the Mafia-like collusion by the patent office with powerful vested interests (including professional magicians) that could be the only explanation for his application having been rejected, and produces details of his lawsuit against Copperfield, including copies of his claims to be God and Jesus Christ, to have killed all his enemies, and to be married to Celine Dion and running for President with Bill Gates as running mate.
Historical artefact from the American culture wars, circa 2010: The Liberal Clause: Socialism on a Sleigh, a children's story book by a demagogue from the right-wing Tea Party movement, in which an evil Obama clone gets elected as Santa Claus and proceeds to ruin Christmas, assisted by a supporting cast of caricatures of liberal political figures, politically-correct straw persons, sinister foreigners and (for some odd reason) cameo appearances by historical dictators, until a little girl catches a glimpse of "Ox News", shakes off her brainwashing and assembles a movement to depose the evil liberals. A few choice excerpts:
From now on, for ever fifteen minutes of work there had to be fifteen minutes of break time. The work day was cut from eight hours to six hours with a two hour paid lunch break. If a toy supervisor gave instructions, the union would hold a meeting with every elf to talk about how they felt about those instructions. Toy quality control was no longer allowed, because it might hurt an elf's feelings. As a result, most toys were assembled wrong and were falling apart.
On top of this, Liberal Claus eliminates toy specialists and replaces them with "general toy practitioners" who follow his instructions to only create little red train cars and nothing elseAt some point in the future, this book will either be the pride of some thrift-shop digger's ironic kitsch collection, or puzzled over by archaeologists as they debate the causes of the collapse of the American civilisation, or both.
A Lebanese-American Muslim woman wins the Miss USA beauty contest; America's right-wing commentariat goes nuts:
Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel pulled out all the stops, using Fakih's Shia Lebanese background to brand her a terrorist "Miss Hezbollah" and dismissed the colourful business magnate Donald Trump, who is one of the sponsors of the event, as an Islamic "dhimmi".
Another problem Schlussel's conspiracy theory runs up against is the fact that Hezbollah, being a conservative Islamic organisation, it is unlikely to be recruiting a scantily clad beauty queen as an agent provocateur. In a contorted effort to explain this, Schlussel falls back on an old neocon chestnut: "Muslims frequently go against Islam in this way for propaganda purposes. It's a form of taqiyyah, the Muslim concept of deceiving infidels."
The Ten Stupidest Utopias is not a Cracked-style list of wacky stuff, but a fairly insightful rundown of various utopian ideals, from Plato's Republic, through Thomas More's original Utopia, and then onwards through various permutations of utopian ideals (the American Calvinist city on a hill, racial-supremacist and feminist-separatist enclaves, heavy-handedly didactic Libertarian scifi utopias, the pipe dreams of cyberpunks, and the diametrically opposite yet oddly similar quasi-totalitarian visions of Le Corbusier and the Situationists):
The violence of More's historical period is never far from the surface of More's island Utopia, where a single act of adultery is punishable by slavery and serial adulterers are punished with death. If More's narrator had looked past the happy smiling faces of Utopia, what fear and violence might he have seen?
Exactly how stupid is Plato's Republic, and who am I to call one of history's greatest philosophers "stupid"? Is Plato's time simply too different from our own for us to pass judgment? I don't think so, for The Republic lives on in the rhetoric of contemporary political movements of both right and left—every elitist and technocratic fantasy of our time has grown from the seed of The Republic. Plato would not have understood the term "dehumanization" as we understand it—he'd never, of course, seen a factory floor or a gas chamber—but when his ideas have been enacted in places like the Soviet Union, Mussolini's Italy, or modern state-capitalist China, they have proven brutally dehumanizing, his apparat of "guardians" thoroughly corrupted by power.A more mundane utopia in the list is that of post-war American Suburbia:
Historian Robert Fishman calls American suburbia a "bourgeois utopia," whose hopes for community stability were founded "on the shifting sands of land speculation," backed up by racially discriminatory covenants and lending standards. The postwar American suburb, each a Nueva Germania of the soul, organized men's life around commutes and women's life around the home: the result was absent fathers, isolated mothers, and alienated children, who seldom knew anyone of a different race. In providing for the material needs of the growing middle class, the suburb created social and spiritual cavities that numerous social movements—from the 1960s New Left to today's Christian fundamentalism—have tried to fill.
Christian Voice, a right-wing Christian Fundamentalist group in the UK has rejected all major UK parties because they're too pro-EU, pro-secularist and "pro-sodomy", and rejected the British National Party because they phrase their claims of white supremacy in the language of evolution. You can't make this sort of thing up.
(via David Gerard) Share
The Flake Equation, or XKCD's (quite plausible) explanation of why alien sightings are to be expected.
In South Africa, a group of self-described "electrosensitives" living near a packet radio tower have been demanding that the tower be moved, and claiming that the radio transmissions were causing health problems, including headaches, rashes, insomnia and nausea. Some of the residents reported the health effects subsiding whenever they left the vicinity of the tower, and recurring when they returned, seemingly proving that the tower was the cause of their health problems. The company's claims that the tower emitted less electromagnetic radiation than (less obtrusive-looking) mobile phone cell towers did nothing to sway them. In fact, the residents continued reporting the ill health effects for more than six weeks after the company secretly switched off the transmitter.
At the meeting Van Zyl agreed to turn off the tower with immediate effect to assess whether the health problems described by some of the residents subsided. What Craigavon residents were unaware of is that the tower had already been switched off in early October – six weeks before the November meeting where residents confirmed the continued ailments they experienced.
“At the meeting in mid-November residents claimed that full recovery of skin conditions could take as long as 6 weeks. Yet, the tower was switched off for more than 6 weeks by this time,” said Van Zyl. “At this point it became apparent that the tower can, in no way, be the cause of the symptoms, as it was already switched off for many weeks, yet the residents still saw symptoms that come and go according to their proximity to the area.”It appears that some of the residents were adversely affected by the sight of a large, imposing, potentially radiation-emitting tower, and others swayed by the corroborating evidence of their reactions, became convinced that they were affected as well, triggering an epidemic of psychosomatic illness. In any case, the residents' groups, unswayed by anything as mundane as reason, have vowed to continue their legal action.
A Californian videogamer is suing the makers of World of Warcraft for having alienated him from the real world, and has subpoenaed Winona Ryder and Depeche Mode's Martin Gore to testify on the nature of alienation and melancholy.
According to the San Jose, California resident, World of Warcraft is a "harmful virtual environment" and its developers follow "sneaky and deceitful practices". Despite this, Estavillo admits he "relies on videogames heavily for the little ongoing happiness he can achieve in this life". He just wants World of Warcraft to cost less money. And to stop making him so sad.
Estavillo's court filings put forward multi-instrumentalist songwriter Martin Gore as an expert witness on melancholy. Gore should be called to Santa Clara county superior court, Estavillio suggests, "since he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated, as can be seen in the songs he writes".Winona Ryder, meanwhile, is included because of her publicised love of J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye.
Police in the UK are hunting a cranky old person who has been sending racially abusive letters, accompanied by clippings from the Daily Mail:
The letters, some sexually explicit in content, have been sent to schools, hospitals, mosques, universities, doctors' surgeries and private individuals, leaving some recipients "extremely distressed".
Similarities between the letters made it likely they had come from the same author. "The cursive script used in some of the letters indicates that it may be the writing of an older person. Repeat phrases used also indicate this, especially reference to 'working for 50 years' and regular reference to pensions."
Commonly used phrases in the text include "English parliament", "Exit Europe", "repatriation" and "BBC shutdown". Clippings from the Daily Mail have been included in many envelopes, which often also include cartoon drawings.The hunt has been codenamed Operation Heron; it's not clear whether this is a Brass Eye reference.
eBay bargain of the day: GREAT GIFT WHICH MAKE U FEEL GOOD ALL OVER THE WORLD !. This is, apparently, a prototype for a world-changing invention which has something to do with mobile phones, and can do anything, from detecting volcanic activity to finding gold in the sea to automatically calling the vet when your horse gets swine flu.
(via Engadget) Share
These people claim that manufactured pop electrovixen Lady Gaga is an Illuminati mind control parroting puppet, with everything from her makeup to her nonsense lyrics being allusions to Satanic symbolism and Illuminati mind-control techniques. Other tools of the conspiracy are Transformers 2, Beyonce and even the Flintstones. And here are their top 5 most sinister corporate logos.
Kook of the day: an unnamed Los Angeles resident who loves rap, chess, nachos, movies and pizza, has a novel approach to his quest for whatever he's looking for: posting neatly hand-lettered signs all over the city:1, 2, 3, 4, 5), he wants to meet "White Asian and Latina women with big butts" to give him money, be his sex slaves and/or help him with Things. And he offers some unique selling points in return; he claims that he looks like Michael Jackson on the Thriller album and Barack Obama, once made $5,000 in 5 hours and has sold 109 copies of two books he has written. More interestingly, while his signs are all carefully hand-lettered, with neat primary-school handwriting, he has borrowed one technique from Web 2.0 practices; each sign is topped and tailed with a tag cloud of his various diverse interests, often in bizarre juxtapositions and bearing no relation to the content:
Of course, the question remains of who's behind this, and what their motivation is. Is it a viral campaign for an upcoming TV show or a brand of shoes? Some prankster self-consciously mashing up Wesley Willis, Hopkin Green Frog and Hello My Future Girlfriend to "freak the mundanes" and/or inject a bit of surreality into the urban environment? Or is there really some lonely guy who's keen on big-bottomed ladies and is convinced that what women really want is a Michael Jackson lookalike who's into rap, chess and Bob Marley, has written two books and whose father was in a movie?
The latest development in Libertarian thought: Libertarian Monarchism, or the belief that democracy was a step towards the decline of civilisation, and that an absolute monarchy would be a far superior system of government from a libertarian (i.e., "hands off my property") point of view. Yep, it's as crazy as it sounds:
To understand how democracy destroys civilization, we must first understand how civilization comes about. Civilization is the outcome of saving and investment, in other words: capital accumulation.
As a result of taxation, the rate of return on investment is diminished. Saving to invest becomes less lucrative, so people consume more and save less than they otherwise would have. People become more present-minded and the process of civilization is impeded. The amount of taxation determines how significant this effect will be. CastleIf the government is privately owned (i.e., a monarchy), then this effect will be limited. Since the government is his personal property, a monarch has an interest in both the present tax revenues and the long-term capital value of his kingdom. His incentive is to tax moderately, so as not to diminish the future productivity of his subjects, and hence his future tax revenues.
Since the kingdom is the private property of the king, he has a strong incentive to uphold the integrity of private property law (the validity of his ownership of the kingdom depends upon it). The king also has an incentive to uphold economically beneficial law—private property law—to increase value of his kingdom. Democratic rulers have no private ownership stake in the government and thus have no incentive to uphold the integrity of private property law. Nor do they have an incentive to maintain economically beneficial law. On the contrary, they can benefit by creating artificial laws—legislation—that serve to undermine private property law for their own benefit.
Members of Glastonbury's New Age community are up in arms about the town's free WiFi network, which they say emits "negative energy", disrupting the flow of chakras and ley lines and causing all sorts of ailments from headaches and dizziness to pneumonia. Some are calling for the network to be dismantled, while others are using this as an opportunity to sell "orgone devices" which work, by means conveniently unknown to boring old straight science, to neutralise the bad vibes:
Matt Todd, who campaigns against EMFs, said that residents had complained that chakras and ley lines are being disrupted. "They believe positive energy flows are being disturbed," he said.
Mr Todd has started building small generators which he believes can neutralise the allegedly-harmful radiation using the principles of orgone science. The pyramid-like machines use quartz crystals, selenite (a clear form of the mineral gypsum), semi-precious lapis lazuli stones, gold leaf and copper coil to absorb and recycle the supposedly-negative energy.One does wonder what happened when Glastonbury was first wired for mains electricity.
Psychoceramic artefact of the day: "Man For Young Girl To Become My Wife", the web page of a 53-year-old man looking for a wife to meet his exacting requirements:
Hello, thanks for visiting my profile (This Blog), however, so as not to waste your time, if you are not a girl (born female) who wants and is ready to marry a man in his fifties then don't bother reading this profile and move on. I am not accepting any more friends on here, I have plenty already. Besides, when I find and marry the one I'm looking for, I will delete all my Yahoo accounts and no longer visit here, for instead, it will be my wife my time will be spent on.And it goes on at length; the author outlines his requirements (his wife must be under 30, must match exacting physical criteria, be educated and have financial means, and willing to give up everything and totally submit to her new husband; also, being a vegetarian or going to the toilet too often on a date will result in immediate disqualification), and lays down a rigidly defined procedure by which hopeful applicants can request an interview with him and a chance to prove their worthiness of his firm hand, as well as a marriage contract they must agree to prior to the interview. Further sections are devoted to stern, almost Biblical, prohibitions against lying, and the author's professions of "True Christianity" and denunciations of "rebellious witch whores" (such as women who withhold sex from their husbands), a few paragraphs at his disappointment with the BDSM scene, as well as a commandment not to fall in love with him until he says so. Though this summary doesn't come close to describing the psychotic quality of the actual text; some have described it as the romantic equivalent of Time Cube or Francis E. Dec, Esq.
And as amusing as such screeds are to connoisseurs of the psychoceramic, there is an undercurrent of tragedy and human despair beneath the surface. Upon reading it, one pieces together a likely narrative of the author's life: his marriage and divorce (though one does wonder how he managed to marry in the first place, or why his wife waited until they had had four children to leave him). His hidebound, inflexible mindset, further rigidified by the certainties of absolute religion, having left him unprepared for dealing with real women on equal terms, subsequent attempts at dating were failures, each one prompting the addition of more denunciations and proscriptions to his list of requirements. (Certainly, some of the "disqualifications" hint at traumatic failed dates.) And he doesn't seem to have the people skills or historical insight to recognise that his vaunted strict Biblical values would only work in a world where one could buy a bride from her family without her getting a say in it.
There is a definite whiff of despair emanating from this document; on one hand, one feels pity for the poor, trapped wretch chronicling his futile struggle, knowing where this is likely to end in a way that he lacks the insight to. On the other hand, one hopes to God (literally or metaphorically) that he doesn't get to crush another human being beneath his rigid rules.
Not surprisingly, David Davis won the Haltemprice and Howden byelection. I say not surprisingly, because this is the list of rival candidates:
The two-times representative of Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest is calling - as his description suggests - for a future free of politicians. Mr Carroll, whose 1960s hits include Roses are Red and Say Wonderful Things, is conducting his campaign from his home in Hampstead, north London.
Mr Foren, formerly a Crown prosecutor in Leeds, is campaigning to preserve Britain's environment, by reducing building on greenfield sites, extending roads and expanding airports. He also promises to tackle economic inequality, introduce proportional representation at Westminster and sustaining the UK's population level by allowing only as many people to come to the country as the number who leave it.
Mr Howitt [of the "Freedom 4 Choice" party], a Blackpool pub landlord, opposes the smoking ban for public places, which came into force last year. His platform is that bar owners should be free to choose whether to allow customers to light up on their premises. Mr Howitt was the first landlord in England to be prosecuted for defying the ban.
[David Icke] says David Davis's decision to call a contest on the subject of "Big Brother" is "far bigger than even he realises and unless we see the big picture of what is going on nothing effective can be done to stop it".
Mr Nicholson, a former farmer, is running as an educational reformer. He advocates every child in the country being provided with an abacus, which he has developed, to improve their method of learning mathematics. Mr Nicholson is also campaigning for a better system of justice.Oh, and "Mad Cow-Girl" of the "Official Monster Raving Looney Party" turned out to be a quite straight pro-42-day-detention candidate in Monster Raving Looney garb.
A flyer seen pasted around Roma Termini railway station, Italy:
Remember Leoncie, the other eccentric Icelandic singer who gave the world pop classics like "Radio Rapist" and "Sex Crazy Cop"? (The world, meanwhile, responded with stubborn indifference, apart from perhaps the odd "no way, man".) Well, she now has videos on YouTube, where you can behold the sheer awesomeness that is her unique pop sensibility (which draws on sub-Eurovision pop-rock and the genre of smooth, high-tech black radio-pop that fell into the cracks between Prince and hip-hop, with general-MIDI instruments and vocal stylings which sound somewhere between Whitney Houston and a Wagnerian valkyrie, not to mention inappropriately risqué subject matter). Go on, take a look at Sex Crazy Cop; you know you're curious.
Behold the Mall Ninja. Originally a shopping mall security guard, he saved the influential mayor's nephew from being sodomised by bad guys, was granted a special exemption, only given to heroes, from restrictions on weapons, and now is Sergeant of a three-man Rapid Tactical Force, covertly defending an unnamed shopping mall somewhere in America from heavily-armed gangbangers and apocalyptic hordes of neo-Nazis, in between shooting to wound shoplifters, and bragging extensively to gun forums on the internet:
If a kid picks up a candy bar and runs, you give him a warning before you cuff him. Same with those mindless teenyboppers who go to the Hickory Farms store, and then take double samples of fruitcake and cheeselog, you warn them that they will be charged with a felony(grand theft), and that if they attempt to fight and run, they will be, unfortunately, first tazered, and if they continue to resist violently with intent to maim, then wounded. Fortunately, wounding fire to suppress teenage kleptomaniacs is relatively easy, they all run in straight lines, and a hit in the knee will be relatively simple from the second floor. But they all get a warning first, we do not simply shoot shoplifters unless they resist violently.
I’m not even technically employed by the mall I’m stationed at, my orders come from “higher up”, hint, hint. Sure, most regular overweight mall security guards would not be armed, they would lose a Fullsize frame handgun in the blubber on their waistline, why arm them? The elite, however, have specail privilages, and I can assure you that my orders go far-far enough that I could go around Kennedy airport yelling “Hi Jack!”, and that a simple phone call and codeword would have me released in 5 minutes, with my weapon, be what it may. As I said, my orders go far and while my reasons for protecting this mall remain a matter of national security, if the above does not convince you that I am employed in a capacity that goes above and beyond halting shoplifters, nothing will.
You are a doofus, of course there is no anti-armor capabilities for golf carts, the UNIMOG was woth the anti-armor work though. We would never consider using any missles larger than our modified surplus Shrikes,
Also, Neonazi skinhead gangs are the most difficult thing we currently must deal with, it is not Chechin thzat we have to worry about, it is the Australian militants, and I dan’t care if they reed this, they allready know that we are onto them and we will not give up.
It has emerged that L. Ron Hubbard may have lifted parts of Scientology (or at least its title) from a 1934 text. Scientologie: Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens ("Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge and Knowing"), written by a Dr. A Nordenholz in 1934. Alas, Dr. Nordenholz didn't have the vision to start a religion or establish celebrity centres, and thus vanished into obscurity.
The charts of Clarence Larkin; fantastic diagrams explaining arcane points of Christian theology and eschatology by analogy to hydraulics, produced between 1914 and 1919. If you ever wondered where the Church of the SubGenius' artists got some of their inspiration, look no further.
It's interesting that Larkin, a man of the 19th and early 20th centuries, used hydraulics (a commonly understood technology of his day) as a metaphor for salvation, damnation and the afterlife. I wonder whether his equivalents today use more contemporary technological metaphors. What would today's equivalents be? The scriptures as a computer bus diagram? UML charts of salvation and damnation? The Lake of Fire as /dev/null?
A study of hundreds of written threats to US politicians has yielded the conclusion that emailed threats showed far fewer signs of serious mental illness than posted ones. This is presumably because the internet has lowered the barrier to entry to threatening one's congresscritter, making it available to people who are only slightly nuts.
As one might expect, the emailed threats also contained more obscene language and were more disorganised.
There's bad news for the Westboro Baptist Church, a religious organisation whose central principle appears to be hatred of homosexuals and of anybody who doesn't hate them; they've been hit with a US$10.9m fine for picketing the funerals of soldiers (on the grounds that their deaths are divine punishment for America being too corrupt to put homosexuals to death).
Albert Snyder's attorney, Craig Trebilcock, had urged jurors to agree an amount "that says 'Don't do this' in Maryland again. Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again".
Defence attorney Jonathan Katz's argument that the $2.9m in compensatory damages already far exceeded the defendants' net worth and would be enough to "bankrupt them and financially destroy them" was ignored.Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
A court was told that a 25-year-old Sydney woman with a history of mental illness, who stands accused of murdering her parents, tried to get medication to treat her illness, but her parents objected because their Scientologist beliefs prohibited psychiatric drugs. Unfortunately, the young woman's thetans got the better of her.
A psychiatric report tendered to Bankstown Local Court yesterday said the 25-year-old woman accused of murdering her father and sister in Revesby last Thursday had tried to get help twice last year, but her Scientologist parents had a religious objection to psychiatric intervention.
Mr Brooks went on to argue that modern psychiatry used many methods that were largely "unproven" and such psychiatric assumptions - such as chemical imbalances in the brain - simply did not exist.The Vice President of the Church of Scientology in Australia has issued a statement saying that the link between Scientology and the murder was "a bit of a red herring", and claiming defamation. Meanwhile, a
What is safe to say that, if they find a gene responsible for Scientology, its incidence in the gene pool is slightly less frequent now.
It's official: a US district court has ruled that household product manufacturer Procter & Gamble are not Satanists, despite the persistent urban legends: More specifically, the ruling smacked down four representatives of Amway, a rival product manufacturer allegedly connected with the US Religious Right and/or operating in a cult-like fashion, of deliberately spreading this rumour and urging a boycott. The defendants denied malicious intent, saying that their goal was merely to "fight the Church of Satan".
To the best of my knowledge the Church of Satan has not issued any statement on the ruling.
After three decades, veteran American fringe publisher Loompanics is closing down, and is liquidating its entire catalogue at half price. Their works include from conspiratological alternative history, anarchism, atheism, Satanism, extremism, visionary/crackpot ideas, drug literature, criminal how-tos (for educational purposes only, of course), various 1960s-vintage utopianisms, and a lot of freaky shit; well-known titles published by Loompanics include the Principia Discordia and How To Disappear Completely.
Something I learned recently. Some time ago, there was an alarm clock on the market under the name "Time Cube":
Apparently it was made in Hong Kong, possibly by a company named "Dailymate", and had a world time display on the top. I wonder whether one of these clocks could have inspired Gene Ray, Cubic.
The central Asian republic of Turkmenistan proudly claims to have joined the space race. Turkmenistan, for all of its ice palaces in deserts and other marvels, has no actual launching facilities, and its debut as a space power did not involve anything quite as conventional as cosmonauts or satellites; instead, the state has launched a copy of the country's eccentric president's book of wisdom into space.
"The sacred text of Rukhnama was chosen because it contains all the wisdom of the Turkmen people, thanks to its creator, Turkmenbashi," the article said, using the name the country's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, has given himself, meaning "Guide of All Turkmens".Niyazov is best known for delineating the Ages of Man, renaming the months and recently banning lip-synching. His book of wisdom was launched into space on a Russian rocket, along with several Japanese satellites.
The wheel of fortune turns again; disgraced blogging pioneer Jorn Barger is now homeless on the streets. He has been seen in San Francisco, holding up a sign "Coined the term 'weblog,' never made a dime". I wonder whether he shares the sidewalk with several failed dot-com entrepreneurs.
The election campaign season is approaching its climax, and everybody who wants people to vote one way or another is coming out and trying to get their message across. And that includes those of all levels of enlightenment and/or insanity.
Your Humble Narrator recently found in his North London letterbox a flyer/screed from some outfit calling themselves the "Rainbow Connection Movement", led by someone called "Rainbow George" (or possibly the "Rainbow Georges"; the grammar suggests a plural). The screed in question is a sheet of folded newsprint, printed on both sides, and dense with information; from a first glance, it gives off a psychoceramic vibe: the dense packing of all it aims to say, the use of neologisms (i.e., "preferendum", "City Zen", "W.I.S.E."), and the subtly schizoid quality that the profusion of fonts, clip-art effects, random words/slogans and nonsequiturish chains of ideas peppered throughout gives it. The introduction (or perhaps "Rainbow George's Address") reads:
Thanks to the futuristic, mystically directed Rainbow Connection Movement, and the Vote For Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket that represents it in this election, the people of Cardiff and Belfast as well as many in London but sadly not in Edinburgh, will have the opportunity to come together to transform their cities into model 21st century leisure oriented ones.
But wait, that's not all...
Wonder cities, free of party politics, governed by their own citizens with at least three of them competing to stage the 2016 Olympic games.The sheet is meant to be a survey of sorts of which policies from all parties the voter agrees with. Well, all the major parties, the Greens and UK Independence Party, and a handful of policies from the "Vote For Yourself Dream Ticket". These include things like a "Rainbow Jubilee", where all debts are cancelled, replacing money with an electronic currency whose details are unknown, save that it will be called "The Wonder", and an "Emerald Rainbow Islands Republic uniting the British and Irish peoples", as well as the abovementioned leisure-oriented cities.
The address one is meant to send the filled-in form to is of some outfit named Hydatum, in Tunbridge Wells (also home to disgruntled newspaper letter writers and people in superhero costumes).
The Graun sends a reporter to Iceland to catch up with Bobby Fischer, former chess master turned paranoid lunatic, who spends most of the time ranting about how the Jews are out to get him.
As he is leaving Copenhagen, he is cornered in a car park by the agitated man from Channel 1 and gives some characteristically robust quotes - to summarise, death to the Jews, death to Japan, death to America, death to George Bush. (Probably death to Tony Blair, too - Fischer refused to fly via London because he feared he would be grabbed by the police there.) Anyway, Fischer has let off steam, the Channel 1 man's job is saved, we have a news story.
Fischer has an obsession with detail that, to my non-medical eye, appears autistic. When he recites his suffering at the hands of the US and now the Japanese, every letter he has received is cited, dated, described exactly. His is a world of tiny details; it is the bigger picture that eludes him, so he falls back on one stupid overarching theory - the world Jewish conspiracy. The Icelandic view that he is a lovable eccentric is a cop-out. He is a paranoid fantasist. But he is deluded not dangerous; Howard Hughes rather than Adolf Hitler. Mastery of detail, obsessionalism, relentless concentration, the ability to shut out the world are advantages in chess; in life they can be a disaster, especially when there is no screen between what you say and what you think.
Former chess grandmaster turned reclusive eccentric and al-Qaeda cheerleader Bobby Fischer is being released from a Japanese prison after Iceland gave him citizenship by act of parliament. The U.S. Government, who wanted to extradite him to face charges of violating sanctions when playing a game in Yugoslavia, is supposedly pissed off.
A question of international law: is there anything preventing the U.S. from scrambling some fighters to intercept the plane carrying Fischer over international waters, escorting it to a landing in, say, Guam, and taking Fischer off there? If there is, would be a more egregious violation of international law than torturing detainees at Guantanamo? If the U.S. wants to show the world that, as the sole superpower, it is the law, that may be a powerful symbolic gesture.
Also, if Fischer does take up residence in Iceland as a citizen, won't he have to change both his name and his father's name to recognised legitimate Icelandic names?
Seen at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park this afternoon:
He didn't speak, though did spend some time staking out a corner with his eclectic collection of signs and printed materials. For some reason, nobody seems to have gone up to him and asked about the finer points of Christian Atheism.
One of his signs:
A bit further on, a chap in a baseball hat was either waving or threatening to burn an American flag; a crowd had gathered around him and were remonstrating vigorously with him. Not far from there, Cory Doctorow and his posse of copyright-policy troublemakers had set up and addressed the crowd on the evils of the broadcast flag and WIPO treaties.
Sydney's Anglican Dean, Philip Jensen, has said that the tsunami was a warning from God that judgment is coming, and that society has become too sinful and Godless. Perhaps if we banned pornography and Satanic rock music and indecent language on TV and kissing in movies and unmarried couples going about unchaperoned and started stoning homosexuals, witches and wearers of mixed fabrics to death as the Book of Leviticus commands, God would make all the earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes and suicide bombers and email spam and antibiotic-resistant superbugs and killer bees and killer sharks stop. Maybe if we were super-obedient, He would even see fit to bring down petrol prices or something.
Another religious leader, Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, claims that God sent the earthquake to kill 2,000 Swedish tourists because their country prosecuted a fundamentalist preacher for preaching against homosexuality. That would be a lot of collateral damage for a kind, loving God; though I suppose for Rev. Phelps' God, it makes perfect sense.
On a different note, the Ayn Rand Institute says that the US should not help tsunami victims, because (a) taxation is theft, and (b) altruism is evil.
Supporters of cultish fringe politico Lyndon LaRouche (he's the guy who claims, among other things, that the Queen controls the world drug trade and Beatlemania was created by the Occult Directorate of British Intelligence) recently held a rally at the University of Washington; pranksters join the rally, wearing tinfoil hats and wielding signs calling for an escalator to Mars and railing against toaster-based mind control, the B-battery cover-up and the media's conspiracy of silence on the government sabotage of the Trans-Atlantic Bridge; pictures here and here. (via bOING bOING)
President Niyazov, crackpot ruler of Turkmenistan and delineator of the 12 Ages of Man, has inaugurated his latest project: an ice palace in the desert.
The idea is to build the palace in the Copa Deg Mountains outside Ashgabat, now baking in the summer heat, with a long cable-car running up from the city. "Our children can learn to ski," Mr Niyazov enthused, "we can build cafes there, and restaurants."
The projects tend now to be sites of recreation for the people, like a Disney-style theme park instead of state palaces. That is in keeping with Mr Niyazov's image as a servant of his people, who lays on every sort of amenity for them.
This just in: a Euro MP from the rabidly anti-EU UK Independence Party has revealed himself to be a reactionary crank. Who would have guessed?
Godfrey Bloom was given a seat on the European Parliament's women's rights committee on Tuesday. But he told the media: "No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age."
Mr Bloom, an investment fund manager from York, told journalists he wanted to deal with women's issues because: "I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough". "I am here to represent Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table when you get home. I am going to promote men's rights," he added.
As a social networking system, LiveJournal is rather doovy; it's got more of a point to it than Friendster and such, and goes some way towards restoring some approximation of the private register. However, as a source of psychoceramic material, it is somewhat lacking, lagging well behind systems such as USENET and the odd self-contained website.
I took a look at LJDrama, an anonymous blog collecting incidents of "drama" from LJ and similar sites. Basically, if someone blows their stack and goes off the deep end, their antics may well end up there. The thing is, most of this is teenagers with brightly-dyed hair and low self-esteem throwing hissy fits about who said what to whom and so on. The issues at hand all seem trivial and interchangeable; their exact details are seldom interesting or unique. To one brought up on a diet of kooks, crackpots and original thinkers, all this makes for rather bland fare. As far as genuine cranks go, LiveJournal has yet to produce an Archimedes Plutonium, an Alexander Abian, a Doctress Neutopia, or even a John "DrGodFuck" Grubor; the closest it gets to the lofty strata of psychoceramicity is a few kinky Furries and slash-fiction writers, and the odd joke community.
I wonder why this is so. Could it be that the social nature of LiveJournal selects against the original cranks and, instead, encourages crankdom to take annoying, lowest-common-denominator forms? Perhaps those who can be bothered setting up and maintaining a LiveJournal account are, by definition, too socially well adjusted to be truly eccentric or "out there" (and no, having lots of body piercings and being into kinky sex isn't "out there"). Perhaps true outsiderhood requires a degree of hermitlike isolation from others' opinions to truly allow one's mental reality to drift away from any sort of consensus.
More details have emerged about the recent coronation of Sun Myung Moon in the US Senate. It appears that the politicians involved were duped into taking part, believing the bizarre ritual to be a banquet where Moon would give out awards to people from their constituencies, without any mention of him being crowned as the King of Peace with the posthumous blessings of numerous US Presidents, not to mention the reformed spirits of Marx, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin.
One of the batch of Gmail invites that has recently flooded the streets has ended up in my hands, and hence I've been able to have a look at it.
Aside: This site has some concerns about Gmail's privacy implications. Granted, the somewhat eccentric graphics on the site give off a paranoid-crackpot vibe; however, some of the issues raised are concerning:
If Google builds a database of keywords associated with email addresses, the potential for abuse is staggering. Google could grow a database that spits out the email addresses of those who used those keywords. How about words such as "box cutters" in the same email as "airline schedules"? Can you think of anyone who might be interested in obtaining a list of email addresses for that particular combination? Or how about "mp3" with "download"? Since the RIAA has sent subpoenas to Internet service providers and universities in an effort to identify copyright abusers, why should we expect Gmail to be off-limits?
Does anybody know whether the RIAA or an equivalent agency would have an easier time ordering Google to hand over a list of all people with the words "mp3" and "download" in their mail than they would of ordering an ordinary ISP to give them access to customers' mail spools? (Mind you, the latter happened in Australia; ARIA did get access to student mail at various universities.)
Ted Jesus Christ GOD is a man with a plan to protect America from terrorism. This he intends to accomplish by building sealed underground cities for the worthy to move to. The cities would be deep underground (deep enough to guard against burrowing nukes sent by America's evil enemies), with huge lift shafts, sealed ecosystems, and farms growing natural ("Creator-original") food. Only the most virtuous and genetically pure 37,000 Americans would be allowed to live in the cities; Satanists, Pagans, atheists and "DarkSide people" (I guess they're the ones with the black clothes and facial piercings or something) would be ostracised to up top, where they'd be easy pickings for the forces of evil. Also, alcohol, drugs and pharmaceuticals would be banned, as for thousands of years people survived well enough without them. Oh, and the the X Files are real, only "X" stands for Christ, and they're a secret FBI/CIA programme to isolate demonic DNA and hunt down and destroy Satan. We know this is true because he has angels with IQs of 10,000 telling him it is.
What do you do when your town council rezones the block next to your muffler shop, damaging your business? Weld armour-plate onto a bulldozer and go on a rampage, flattening buildings including the town hall and homes and businesses owned by the councillors responsible for your setback. Police watched helplessly as their bullets bounced off the armour. Could this be an argument for giving police and/or concerned citizens rocket-propelled grenades?
A Graun piece on Colin Wilson, the reclusive misfit who wrote the Great British Existentialist Novel and then squandered his newly acquired status putting out over 100 books on outré subjects such as serial killers, UFOs, cults and Atlantis, as well as the odd Lovecraftean horror story, who has just published his 110th book, his second autobiography:
His philosophy is basically existentialism with non-rational excrescences and characterised by bizarre nomenclature - Faculty X, Upside Downness, Peak Experiences, Right Men, The Dominant Five Per Cent, King Rats. It seems to constitute an attempt to classify human feelings and behaviour as written by a Martian who has never met an Earthling. This is, of course, Wilson's weakness and also, in a way, his charm - he has no understanding of other people whatever. When I ask if he would say he is low in emotional intelligence, he readily agrees: 'That is fair, yes.'
He is exceptionally tolerant of nutters and happy to engage in long correspondence with people who have theories about, say, alien abduction - or with Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, with whom he corresponded for 10 years till Brady dumped him. But ordinary social contact - apart from with his family - seems completely missing from his life. Missing, but not missed. He says that about 10 years ago Joy insisted on going out for a drink on New Year's Eve. 'We finished off drinking champagne at midnight in our local pub and it took me a year to shake off all the people that I'd met!'
Right-wing religious crackpot/media magnate Rev. Sun Myung Moon crowned as king/messiah in US Congress. At the ceremony were Moon's tame representatives of various religions (Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims); a rabbi blew a shofar, and a congressman presented Moon with his golden crown; Moon then allegedly announced that it was time for him to be recognised as the Messiah. Apparently Moon has a thing about all religions coming together under him. (via substitute)
Chances are the coronation was a boon extracted by Moon from conservatives he has helped put in power, and a publicity stunt for his Korean constituency, and probably doesn't make the US a monarchy. Still, it's quite a leap from renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors.
Some genius has tried to nail himself to a cross (as one does) after "seeing pictures of God on the computer"; he successfully nailed one hand to the makeshift cross, but ended up calling the police after realising that he had no way of nailing his other hand in.
A look inside the FBI's "Zero Files", a category which technically includes all "non-actionable" items, but colloquially refers specifically to crank letters, conspiracy theories and far-out rantings that end up at the agency:
Most agents come to know repeat writers -- "frequent fliers" -- after a few shifts on the duty desk. A glance through the files shows that some agents found themselves acting as counselors of last resort. "It's almost like being a social worker when you're on the desk," LeFranchise said. "There's probably been at least three or four times . . . where I've just had to say, 'Look, sir, you need to seek clinical or psychiatric help.' "
In a world where everyday experiences are part of a secretive criminal conspiracy, the experts said, little wonder that the FBI -- a secretive organization that specializes in uncovering such conspiracies -- would attract attention, either as enemy or friend. Imagine, one expert said, what the CIA has in its version of the Zero Files.
"It turns out every one of the products on the market take part in this so called government training. The Folgers jar classic roast is capital F for Federal means gov't, FO LGE RE is broke into 3 sections FO is ENEMY RS is ours and and LGE backwards is EGL sounds out EAGLE says gov't our enemy." (9/14/01)
(Via the Psychoceramics mailing list)
On Friday, I was at Reader's Feast; I looked at a copy of Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings they had on display, and noticed that someone had placed a business-card-sized card inside the front, inscribed thusly:
and on the other side:
This appears to be the work of the United Peace Movements 3 Colours 2 people, as mentioned on Psychoceramics. It seems that they've now branched out into athletic training and/or home maintenance or something like that, as opposed to their former specialties in international trade and something to do with children and families.
For some reason, I haven't yet called them for information.
Update: A Google search for "united peace movements" "3 colours 2" reveals that they are listed in an online directory of "family planning" services. I suspect that their idea of "family planning" is quite different from most people's.
WIRED tracks down the guy behind all those spams asking to buy time machine parts to travel back in time and fix his broken life (and didn't we all wish we could do that at some stage?) It appears that he's a commercial spammer/conman who was driven to insanity by the relentless hounding of the anti-spam gestapo. Either that or it's some sort of scam. (via Techdirt)
Time Cube Central, Your Unofficial Timecube Resource, with video and audio clips and merchandise. And then there's LifeCube, with all the advice you need to live a cubic life, including Time Cube-conscious movie reviews:
There is no 1, 2, or 3 Towers. 4 is both macro and micro. Sauron can't occupy 2 Towers. Time Cube disproves Sauron.
It looks like Noel Gallagher, of ladcore outfit Oasis, has become a follower of the teachings of David Icke. That's the former BBC snooker presenter who now goes around the world claiming that the world is ruled by giant shape-shifting lizards (including George Bush and the entire British royal family) who rape and eat us. Perhaps Scientology is a bit passé these days or something...
Proof that the Professional Australian commentariat don't have a monopoly for daft acts of grand symbolism: there's a movement in Britain to add the colour black to the Union Flag. The campaign, calling itself reFLAG are pushing the redesign of the flag to better reflect Britain as a multiracial society (the presence of white and not black, you see, reflects the inherent racism in British society, much like the word "manager" is a sexist term and the use of binary numbers in computers is phallocentric). Though wouldn't the inclusion of black marginalise the Queen's yellow- and brown-skinned subjects, by implying that they're invisible? And what about Wales?
Self-proclaimed "vampire" gunned down in Melbourne. And this less than a week after a guy tried to hijack a plane to Tasmania with wooden stakes. What's going on here?
Rational Ministries could well be the next Time Cube. He goes on about communism (in a quasi-religious sort of way, mixed in with bits of Wagnerian Viking mysticism), LSD, sex and psychiatric medication, expounds his rigorous moral system and names his favourite porn star and video. He has his own version of the political compass test, with added questions about sexual kinks and drugs, and a page outlining his beliefs:
sex does have some social issues, that need to be kept in place, all sex has a dominance/humiliation aspect, some people take this attitude out of the bedroom and into the rest of the community, if you are trying to say the women, or submissive, doesn't want to act and be treated like a slut, you are really naive, if you are saying the dominant or man doesn't like to humiliate women or submissives, you are naive.
open systems technology, like ISA was, and like java is, satisfies capitalist economic theory, in that there will be more competition, and satisfies socialist theory, in that no imperialist can take control, this leaves only dainty imperialists that like proprietary systems, and dainty imperialists have no place in Valhalla
And then there's this personal ad:
I am seeking to reproduce, so I am looking for artificial insemination with women who have support means, and as many as possible. What I have to offer is my DNA. and as you know instinctual information along with physical traits is stored in DNA. If you like the qualities of my philosophy, it is most likely my DNA contributed to them. Much liked a bird's DNA tells it to make a nest when it is ready to lay eggs. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org , RIGHT NOW, the child can know me by my philosophies. And once again, this is not about sex, I WOULD PREFER ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, if you cannot I will do otherwise.
...followed by a spot of Holocaust-revisionism, in case that wasn't loopy enough. (via Psychoceramics)
An interesting article about Jack Chick, author of numerous Christian Fundamentalist crackpot tracts and ironic inspiration to several generations of underground comics artists, including Daniel Clowes and Robert Crumb.
When Clowes, whose screenplay for the indie film Ghost World received an Academy Award nomination, was in college, he read 80 Chick tracts in one sitting. "By the end of the night I was convinced I was going to hell," he says. "I had never been so terrified by a comic book."
The movie will consist of a series of oil paintings that the camera will dramatically pan across to give the appearance of movement. Carter has completed most of the paintings, which are being stored in the offices of Chick Publications. Fans have encouraged me to try to see them. Kurt Kuersteiner, Web master of the Jack Chick Museum of Fine Art (an online fan site that carries news and reviews of nearly all of Chick's works), describes them as modern masterpieces. "There is this beautiful picture of people languishing in hell, with a dragon's head blowing hot flames," he says.
(Hang on, isn't "Kurt Kuersteiner" an alias used by SubGenius church figure Janor Hypercleats?)
And a happy Easter to everyone.
Long-time Australian political crackpot and anti-divorce-law campaigner loses court bid to use his new name on his passport. The man changed his name to Prime Minister John Piss The Family Court And Legal Aid to run for election in 1997. The name was rejected because it contains an expletive and a title not legitimately acquired.
Everyone was joining in, including the guy who goes around with the "psychatric laws are absurd and serve organised crime" sign. His view on war is that religion is to blame, it seems. Of course, he must be an utter crackpot as nobody in their right mind would blame religion for war, would they?
A scholarly work by two Russian mathematicians positing a new chronology for British and European history, and seemingly proving that Britain didn't exist, and all references to it map to places in eastern Europe and the Balkans. "London" referred to either Constantinople or a Bulgarian town named Tyrnovo, England (or Albion) was Albania, Scotland was Scythia, the Welsh were Turks, and the Norman Conquest was actually a reference to fourth crusade and the conquest of Constantinople. The conspiracy of cartographers strikes again, so it seems.
(If this is true, and these things didn't happen in British history, then what did? Perhaps the Royal Family is actually descended from Odin (as their official genealogy is said to claim), or perhaps the Queen is a giant lizard?) (via Psychoceramics)
A piece in the Age about the Blackshirts, the militant "men's group" who want adultery to be punishable by death and seek to achieve this by intimidating women who left their husbands, and their founder, former fixture of the rock'n'roll scene John Abbott.
He now lives with his parents, attends church and plans Blackshirts' campaigns. He quotes the Bible, laments the loss of his children, but defends his decision not to see them. They will be reunited in heaven, he says. "The whole family will be reinstated. That's what heaven's about; there there's no pain."
The Blackshirts could be said to be the extreme wing of the reactionary wave washing through Australian culture, that started with One Nation and went on to the Howard government and its bring-back-the-Menzies-era paternalism. If they get sufficiently big and threatening, we could see the government co-opt some of their less insane policies (such as abolishing no-fault divorce laws, or "reforming" the family court system).
An article about Turkmenistan's President Niyazov, arguably one of the loopiest world leaders in recent times. (The only other contender I can think of, the former Latin American president who sang as "the madman who loves", pales into insignificance next to Niyazov's decidedly quirky and somewhat Jarryesque take on the traditional neo-Stalinist cult of personality.
He began by renaming the months of the year after himself, his mother, who died in an earthquake when Niyazov was eight, and a few of his favourite words (Flag Month, for example); and followed it up by decreeing that old age officially doesnt begin until 85. This was possibly in relation to both his 62nd birthday which he celebrated by dying his hair jet-black and his rampant hypochondria. On Turkmenistans website, there is more about Niyazovs recent doctors appointment than on melons and sulphur combined.
Mind you, by this account, Turkmenistan sounds like it was a rather odd sort of place even before Niyazov. (via New World Disorder)
MORTAL BODIES SLAY EACH OTHER, as they are taught to do by EVIL STUPID EDUCATORS!!!! THE MORTAL BODY CAUSES PAIN. Red White or Green characters can have double-sided combat winnings. Pain and suffering exist to be on Earth. You cannot suffer in other dimensions. Teachers, scholars, learners, they all are to say that your body is real. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Your body is a trap. Life Points measures your animal-sexing body. Life points are based upon a perfect math or your arm would be too short to wipe your butt.
Evil school traps ascending minds to plunder natural resources! It is up to you to free minds, STARTING WITH YOUR OWN STUPID ONE. School is in forest. Characters are attacked by wild warthogs. ROLL TO DAMAGE! Ascended minds are discovered to be just dead brains in jars. Dead stupid brains have gold and magic items.
Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns into bed: In Melbourne, a group of divorced fathers angry at the state of family law have decided to do the most sensible thing about it: form a paramilitary fascist group, complete with uniforms, balaclavas and a historically ominous name (the Blackshirts), and go around campaigning to "re-establish marriage" by the most direct route: that is, of course, by anonymously harrassing their and each others' ex-wives. Now it turns out that the organiser of this group is a fixture of Melbourne's rock'n'roll scene. He has apparently run a rehearsal studio for over a decade, and users of it are familiar with his numerous psychoceramic beliefs (such as towing Tasmania back to the mainland).
When two professors were murdered recently at Dartmouth University, the police followed a number of leads whilst looking for the killer. One of the leads was a disgruntled former dishwasher named Ludwig Poehlmann, better known as Archimedes Plutonium, author of numerous Usenet rants about his revolutionary religioscientific theories.
''It was (Hanover Police Chief Nick) Giaccone's impression that Plutonium, although a very odd individual, was not associated with the murders ... and that no further investigation was required into Plutonium,'' a police report states.
Sounds a bit Lynchian, wouldn't you say?
You can't keep a good nutter down, it seems. Former BBC snooker presenter David Icke, these days best known for his beliefs that the world is run by a sinister cabal of shape-shifting lizards, is making his TV comeback. Icke, who also claims to be the "Son of God", will be presenting a show named 'Headf**k' on the Sci-Fi cable/satellite channel (presumably in the US), and will put forward his bizarre ideas to a broader audience.
Good news for public transport activism: Transport Victoria Association, which is sort of the Melbourne public-transport-advocacy equivalent of the Sozialistiches Patienten Kollectiv of the late 1960s, finally has a web page. Unfortunately, they've only put their relatively sane policies up, leaving out the charmingly psychoceramic flights of fancy such as elevating the Geelong railway line to give passengers better views.
Who was Jack the Ripper? Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell believes it was renowned English painter Walter Sickert, and even bought and cut up one of his paintings in an attempt to prove it. Meanwhile this chap thinks that Lewis Carroll was the infamous killer.
Rock over London, rock on Chicago: Frank Chu has become famous for wandering around San Francisco with a sign accusing the President of treason against "12 GALAXIES GUILTIED TO a ZEGNATRONIC ROCKET SOCIETY". But now, in this monetised age, he has succumbed to the lure of capitalism and started selling advertising space on his sign. The back of the sign now advertises a sandwich shop as selling "the galaxy's best sandwich", for which the shop pays him US$25 per week. Perhaps this is the sign of a new trend: commercial psychoceramic marketing. (Via Portal of Evil)
There's a review on Slashdot of Neil Gaiman's upcoming book American Gods, which does sound rather Gaimanesque. And whilst we're on Slashdot, their next interview is not with a Linux developer, nor a sci-fi legend, but with visionary philanthropist Alex Chiu. That's right, Alex "Eternal Life Foot Braces" Chiu.
I recently received in the mail Issue 1 of a self-published comic titled The Warstorm, by an outfit calling themselves Chrome Fetus. It is about a God-fearing old man named Henry Carver, whose passion is writing and illustrating a lengthy book he calls Tales of the Lillian Girls (if that sounds familiar, it is because it takes a lot from the story of real-life outsider artist Henry Darger, of Vivian Girls fame). The preview issue of The Warstorm looks pretty interesting; the graphics and writing are impressive (though don't expect Vertigo gloss), and the story itself looks quite interesting. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in future issues.
Real-life mad scientists: The parents of an autistic boy are suing the estate of a neuropsychiatrist, claiming that he attempted to erase their son's brain with drugs and hypnosis. Dr. Donald Dudley, who died in October, allegedly intended to "train an army of killers"; his unorthodox techniques included telling a chronic fatigue patient to train in martial arts and the use of guns for his cause (presumably a form of occupational therapy?); he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and sometimes claimed to be from another planet and one of the 100 secret rulers of the earth. (from Psychoceramics)
An amusing and illuminating article on Harry Stephen Keeler, the mad genius of crackpot pulp fiction often compared to Ed Wood Jr.:
eeler transcended deus ex machina, deploying regiments of metaphorical robots to keep things moving along all sorts of bizarre tangents. The seemingly rickety labyrinth is held together by a fantastic agglomeration of weird wills, lunatic laws, kooky contracts, idiotic oaths, and some of the most outrageously beautiful multilayered, interlocking coincidences ever devised by the human mind. The mystery is ultimately resolved by an exquisitely unreal solution with all the wacky ingenuity of a flawlessly conceived Rube Goldberg device.
(The standard Keeler protagonist) may be the unwitting victim of a nefarious capitalist plot to foreclose on his mortgage, steal his inheritance, or defraud him of his patent. Through a bizarre chain of coincidences, he finds himself implicated in some crime. His alibi is worthless, for his witnesses are invariably dead, abroad, or otherwise incommunicado. He is deeply in love, but his fiancé can never simply tie the knot. She has pledged to stay single until some rare book is stolen or a one-act vaudeville play is produced... Standard subplots involve weird curios, circus freaks, concealed identities, and mysterious (but not sinister!) Chinese laundries. It's the stuff of pure pulp fiction, but zanily transformed as if it's gone through the looking glass once too often.
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