Showing posts with label Unplugging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unplugging. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2019

8/15/19: Propaganda: Righteousness And Simplicity

The Propaganda opus resumes with Ellul's take on psychic "dissociation". Includes more on wordknapping, how righteous and simplistic propaganda narratives silence the self and numb natural cognitive dissonance, replacing reality with the electronic eyes of the "verbal universe", the effects of disconnecting a person's personal opinion in favor of an acceptable "public" opinion, and how opposing propagandas affect the target.



ALSO:
  • Democratic Socialists: as ridiculous during Occupy as at their "convention"
  • Aligned, Premeditated, and Secret Consciences: Individuality and Haidt's Elephant
  • Disconnecting thought & action  
  • Opposing propagandas: political abstention or fanaticism?
  • The IDW: Agitation Propaganda
  • Data Overload and the Defective Human Mind
  • Your congenial host and the Ideological Riptide
  • No one's immune. Not even you.
Jacques Ellul's "Propaganda": https://www.amazon.com/Propaganda-Formation-Attitudes-Jacques-Ellul/dp/0394718747

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*Also check out www.christophermedia.net

Monday, July 8, 2019

7/8/19: Wordknapping, Propaganda's Effects, A Reckoning

"He who defines is your master."More on twisting definitions as a malicious propaganda tool, how institutional propaganda systems affect a population, and where a species oblivious of its own shortcomings ultimately ends up.


Also: 
-Communing with the organic dead
-There's no such thing as collective critical thought
-Intelligence as a handicap

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*Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and your favorite podcatcher.
*Also check out www.christophermedia.net and www.escapingthecave.com

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

7/3/19: Broken Beasts of Intellectual Burden

A digital detox update and re-connecting with the organic world, Trump's 4th of July spectacle and the predictable "outrage", why I'm rooting against the US women's soccer team, the ridiculous debates, and half as many young people consider themselves "gay allies." Why? Beware the boomerang!



Also: 

-Social media is the new talk radio
-Visceral emotive manipulation and monetized propaganda
-Algorithms as propaganda delivery systems

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*Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and your favorite podcatcher.
*Also check out www.christophermedia.net

Thursday, June 27, 2019

6/27/19: Convulsive Twitch and The Damage Done

Are we representing ourselves accurately via these one dimensional social media avatars? I update the digital detox progress and talk about my over-amplified virtual projection, Toddzilla, destroying meaningful relationships, how the tweet is in the eye of the beholder, missing a funeral for a friend, and maybe a faint glimmer of not-so-Sausage Party Hope.



*Like it? SHARE IT!  F**k The Zuck & Twitter. You are the marketing team.
*Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and your favorite podcatcher. Missing one? Tell me!
*Also check out www.escapingthecave.com and www.christophermedia.net

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

6/12/19: The Social Media Disease - Net Rage, Poking the Ape, Unleashing the Id

Cyber Space Monkeys continued. In part 1-of-3, I'm joined by Chris & Rich from Unregimented to discuss the effects of social media on individuals and society as a whole. Propaganda kerosene and the disinformation detonator, the connection between road rage and net rage, much of the IDW: for-profit social media brands and "right adjacent" influencers producing "content" for handouts, Nicholas Carr and how the Internet physically changes our brains, good deeds done solely to post the selfie, and more.


Like it? SHARE IT! F**k The Zuck & Twitter. You're my marketing team.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Google Play, Spotify, & Stitcher.
Also visit: www.christophermedia.net

Friday, June 7, 2019

6/7/19: Hey, Hilltucky! Reptilian Truth & The Outrage Fever

No Politics! Lots of drilling to the "get the f**k away from me!" meltdown core.

-Bulls**t Jousting
-The truth probably won't set you free
-Sausage Party Hope and the fueling Audacity of Belief
-How & why disinformation works: a first person play-by-play.


Like it? SHARE IT! F**k The Zuck & Twitter. You're my marketing team.
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Google Play, Spotify, & Stitcher.

Also visit: www.christophermedia.net
More: www.escapingthecave.com

Monday, April 29, 2019

Media 101 - It's The People

Escaping The Cave returns! 

Are you wondering why every source of "news" and information sucks? It's because everyone from MSNBC to NPR to FOX to Alex Jones to Social Media "Influencers" operate according to the same for-profit model: drawing eyeballs to their product to sell someone else's.



Need more Toddzilla? 

1) Seek help. 
2) Click below. 
3) Listen on your way to therapy.

*Like the pod? SPREAD IT!  F**k The Zuckerbeast & Twitter. You are my marketing team.

*Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and your favorite podcatcher.
*Also check out www.christophermedia.net

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2/6/18: Capitalist Media 101: It's (We) The People, Stupid

In this episode: thoughts on the popular escapist conspiracy theory about the mainstream media “dumbing us down to keep us docile and ignorant." I also dissect the reasons why our media is now composed nearly exclusively of boutique news outlets producing chum for echo chamber sharks, media desensitization and the cure, as well as the need for sugar-coated truth, and our insulated and self-cleansing propaganda ecosystems (news, standup, and Hollywood). 

Also: thoughtless “opinion”, white inheritance, Sausage Party Hope, Fleecing The Fucktards, and more. Not for everyone. Ask your doctor if Toddzilla is right for you. Use only as directed.


(This is the edited-for-time 2019 version. Original file linked below)



Friday, August 25, 2017

Nazis, Hippies, and The Bloody Political Purge


No writer achieves success advising his readers to ignore him. I’ve come to define “success” differently. In this specific case it’s maybe a good idea, especially if you're ideologically pure or identified uncomfortably with my previous Talking Dead post, to click elsewhere. While I don’t mention it often in this post, it illustrates the tangible effects of our cyber mobs and political zombies. It’s also full frontal Toddzilla and amounts to taking the final shot on my aforementioned bender while at the same time serves to purge the one thing that’s been inexplicably safe: Zombie Politics.

If you click, you and you alone are responsible. Consider yourself warned, Snowflake.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Brief Facebook Relapse and The Last Bender


I’ll begin this expansive multi-part project with two quick anecdotes.

Over the years, I tried to stop smoking several times. Whenever I found success, I’d kill it by letting myself have “just one”. Yep.  “Just one” Swisher Sweet always turned into ten then another pack of Marlboros.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

7/4/17 (1): Alburg-Colcester, VT - Daddy Mammon's Consumerist Plantation



Part 1

I'd arrived in Rouses Point feeling rejuvenated! The stomach bug…so familiar by then I’d named it Ticonderoga’s Revenge…had passed and I was ready to attack my old friend Route 2 and make my way to Maine.

Things began perfectly and generated optimism. It took just 10-minutes to hitch a ride across the bridge spanning part of Lake Champlain back into Vermont and Alburg, a little town on an islet surrounded on three sides by the lake and attached by land only to Canada.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Consultation Plague

**This was originally the last section of the previous post. But I'm weary of 2,000 word posts. Consider the split an act of mercy.**




The last paragraph in my previous post was hard-earned. It literally (proper use) took years to get there because at the outset I unintentionally became caught up in the entertainer's praise-performance-praise cycle without being completely aware it had happened. Facebook took over for the old blog making matters worse, then I was convinced to follow the Toddzilla X "brand" path in 2012 and the dopamine cycle spiraled out of control when my life became a product to be marketed online...The Matrix Marketplace. Depression and a generalized and growing innate anger predictably set in as I tried to broaden my appeal via video production and podcasting. The only sustained respites between 2012 and when I discovered the wonders of depression-busting powers of psilocybin last April: traveling.

It wasn't until last year when I embraced that this (and later on my photography) isn't a "product" to be submitted to the mob for mass-appeal and approval or, worse, to be marketed in The Matrix Marketplace, that I could ultimately embrace that my message is micro-niche: intended for “my people". The Unbearably Splintered. The rest?  They're never going to get it. Why bother? Great question. Fuck ‘em.

Destination: Death

THE DELUSION OF THE ENLIGHTENED LIFE

Life’s a journey along a series of uncharted paths where only one thing is certain: death is the unavoidable destination.  There are few certainties. Etch that in stone.

This terrorizes our species of bald apes. With a sense of consciousness and its attached ego still stuck in its wailing infant stage, we cling to various mythologies conveniently placing us at the Center of the Universe™ and providing the comforting illusion that we’re cheating death. All we have to do: behave, believe, and deliver Mammon Tribute to the pulpit or kill an infidel! My concern is no longer escapist religion. Some people need it. I understand that and some days even empathize!

(But, honestly: “if something’s too good to be true…”)

That being said, the sad effect of embracing the Universal Sky Daddy Delusion is it often prevents the faithful from properly valuing our most precious commodity: life. And, embracing their journey for what it is.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

10/20/16: Jean, NV - Tuning In; Bugging Out

Another cold night turned into a surprisingly chilly day. The winds kicked up and, despite the sun, temps hovered in the upper 60's all day leading to a surprisingly comfortable hoodied Wednesday.

I woke up around 7:45, packed up the gear in a much more efficient fashion, and proudly found myself back at my spot by 8:15--only to discover that nearly all of the trucks were already long gone! In that annoyed moment, I resolved to be awake earlier, much earlier, if I found myself in Jean again Thursday.

The primary theme of the day was set the night before as I lay writing in the nest. "Digital Detox" once again. Presence. Being "here". As I was writing, I found myself hypnotically looking up at the moon and Orion...then back down at my phone as I finished a blog post. I found that almost silly while, at the same time, tried how technology has changed and I needed to adapt; learn to use this connectivity as a tool rather than a habitual crutch.

For much of the day, I sat there with the phone off. No music. Nothing. And in a pseudo meditative state. Completely immersed in where I was and what I was doing. My observational senses heightened because my attention wasn't fragmented between " here" and everywhere else. It was almost intoxicating as I found myself remotely connecting with people from beneath my shade tree. Looking beyond the thin, often judgmental "appearance" veneer as people walked by, pumped their gas, or walked in to get their snacks and drinks.



It's hard to explain, but the general feeling was empathy. And it was borne from having forged a tangible human connection with the "real" world. I remembered this from my other trips, but back then I was typically preoccupied with getting somewhere. Not today. Today, again, wasn't about my personal selfish mobility. It was about really "seeing" people and re-focusing my eyes on the reality of humanity. The trip's personality was beginning to show itself. And, yes. Today, I was the Truck Stop Philosopher. And content with that.

Get On Your Bad Motor Scooter & Ride!

Around mid-afternoon, three loaded down motor scooters, complete with trailers stuffed with gear, pulled into Terrible's. I was fascinated! These guys had taken the bicycle touring idea and adapted it to scooters! I had to check this out!

I slung on the pack, walked over to the gas pumps, introduced myself, and asked what they were up to. They were three guys from Las Vegas in their 20's who were planning an extended scooter tour . This was a little trial run to test things.

My people! They had the explorer's "what's really out there?" mentality and were setting forth in their little motorized ships to see for themselves. With an intense, optimistic sense and embracing of adventure. They'd seemingly embraced the "Live! Now!" notion and I loved them for it. Their almost uncontrollable excited energy was contagious.

When I told them what I'd done since '08, they had a few tactical questions about what to bring, etc. My advice: Dont make my mistake by overthinking. Just go! Don't fucking worry about it. You'll figure your own method out along the way and almost immediately.  In fact, that's part of the fun. Take too much if you must. You can always get rid of it along the way. Overlook something? Get it later.

We chatted at the gas pumps for at least 20-minutes and exchanged social media info before they left, and a large part of me wished I were tagging along. I was excited for them and even slightly envious that they were at the beginning when everything lying ahead was an exciting, invigoratingly nervous mystery! They were "alive"! And, as with the night before, I was struck by the intense reminder of "why I do this".



Meeting these guys, and being able to keep in touch moving forward, tempered any potentially pesky dogma surrounding Digital Detox. They were playing the role of returning to The Cave to show the Upper World to those still chained beneath. Even if it was unintentional and via Instagram.

No. Selfishly hoarding these experiences in a personal vacuum was certainly not the answer. One could effectively argue that the act is the height of self-centered narcissism. Not everyone "can" do this. (The day's empathy at work.) If you can even slightly help these folks by allowing them to experience these moments and insights, even second hand, why wouldn't you?

As these young men sped away on their scooters, I made friends with my smart phone. This thing can be a positive asset if it's "used" and not "using" me.

Shortly thereafter, I walked up to a NHP trooper and asked him to clarify the state's hitching law. What I learned? That the only part of hitchhiking that's illegal: raising your thumb! I could sit at the I-15 exit ramp. I could have a sign. I could even WALK the fucking interstate! I just couldn't...hold my thumb in the air. 

Really?

"What. The. Infernal. Fuck?"

Time to Go

Looking back on it, my useful time in Jean came to an abrupt end when these scooters sputtered off. That was what I needed, and from that point forward, I was first being gently nudged along. Then not so gently.

People always implore me to "be careful". I've never had trouble with rides. At ALL. It's always the seldom seen other travelers, "Rainbow Family" Dipshits, or occasional homeless dude that wigs me out. West Virginia in '12 for example.

Early in the evening as I was listening to the Cubs-Dodgers again, I was joined at my little desert Oasis by a desperately sketchy and disconcertingly nervous little road rat who spent much of the evening scampering around hunting and harassing disinterested truckers for rides. It was as though someone had methed-up his Newports. Think: overly aggressive panhandler. Of course he stopped over long enough to bum a smoke and use my Sharpie to make a sign. Then he vanished to the ramp to try getting to Primm's Flying J that night.

I hoped he'd have some luck, but unfortunately he didn't and would reappear shortly before I decided to bed down and prepare for an early Thursday.

"Just great!", I thought.

"Now I'd have to sneak back to my spot then lie awake in my rocky little dirt nest to see if Tweaky McBallsuck found me."

Plus, I was sure that, in the interim, he'd ask for another smoke simply to use it as a segue to tell me all about how the cops keep trying to frame him. Or how "that lyin' bitch fucked him over". They almost always do. It's fucks like this that makes life more difficult out here from top to bottom. At least the stories are good.

Thankfully he vanished. I don't know if he got a ride or what, but once he went behind the truck stop, I never saw him again. No complaints there. I did lie awake for a bit but, after the events of being found the night before, I was mindful of being overly paranoid while still not being careless. I set the alarm for 5am and dozed off, on top of the bivy again, around 11.

I woke up at 4:40. Cold. Again! I packed up in the dark, it was still an hour before sunrise, and got to the parking lot around 5:15. I was still a bit late. Several of the trucks had already left. I drew up an "I-40, 70, or 80" sign determined to at least try my best to catch a truck and get moving. No luck. Not even close.



Around 8:30, I was looking at my phone trying to connect with Scooter Guys, when a shiny little black sports car occupied by a couple of young black guys pulled up to my spot beneath the tree...and asked me, with excessive, contrived politeness, for money.

I laughed. Obnoxiously. Out loud.

"Really? You're asking ME for money? If I had money, I'd be on a bus!", I lied.

"What's a bus?", the driver answered.  Without a hint of humor or irony.

Then the passenger took over. He looked me up and down and immediately I knew where this was going.

"That's a nice jacket. Nice boots. Saw that phone. We could just come back and take all that shit. And your wallet, too."

Again, I laughed as the car began slowly driving off. The passenger said something to the effect of "see ya later" as they turned right toward I-15. I looked him dead in the eye and smiled as if to say, "Yeah. Maybe I'll see you, too", then eyeballed them as they got on I-15 north back toward Vegas.

Well, shit. Yup. Definitely time to go.

I drew on the events of the past two nights and didn't let paranoia rule the day. I was pretty sure that they were just punks looking for an soft, gullible target and had failed. Otherwise, they were poor excuses for thugs!

Nevertheless, I couldn't be certain.  So, I waited for 15-20 minutes to see if they returned, went inside to grab some beef sticks and water, then walked to the I-15 southbound ramp. My pesky decision was suddenly made. Fuck everything to do with dealing with Las Vegas. I was going south. At least as far as the next exit, Primm, where I knew there was a Flying J.

The only question? Would anyone stop? I was bolstered by the fact that it was only around 9am and I had never been completely shutout when I'd spent a full day actually hitching.



I drew up a sign for Primm, then sat for nearly three hours. Right about the time I began wondering if this was the day I'd finally get shutout, I looked over to see that a minivan had pulled over and was backing up on my direction.

My first ride was from the most unlikely of sources. And far more than a positive counterbalance to the morning's silliness...

Monday, October 17, 2016

10/17/16: Day #1 - Jean and The Tin Man

In retrospect, the decision to hit the road Monday (10/17) felt a lot like the original choice to leave Chicago the week before: completely unprepared. When I woke up and sat down to write that morning, I had no idea where I'd be struggling to sleep in just a few hours!

 The day's big event was supposed to be a simple post office run. But, without making a conscious "decision", I  gathered the rest of my stuff and by 2:00 we had made my dropoff at a UPS Store (unable to fit everything in the one overpriced box ), and were on I-15 south heading out of the city to terra inc√≥gnita. My only pre-trip request: "when I leave, get me to a decent spot betond the city sprawl!"

I didn't have even a vague notion of where I was going, so direction didn't really matter. I suggested Hoover Dam, thinking hitching the road south toward Kingman would be a good way to break myself back in and that I could eventually go whatever direction I decided by the time I got to I-40.

Natali didn't want to drive that far, so it was essentially a decision between north and south on I-15. North almost surely meant Utah: The mythically infamous Hitchhiker Blackhole! So, since we are already on the south end of Vegas, I told her to just go south and make it easy. From there I relied on her knowledge of the area. She had a spot in mind, so I trusted her judgment.

The Rusty Tin Man Creaks Forth

Maybe 30-minutes later, Natali exited at Jean and dropped me off at Terrible's, a Shell station/small truck stop across from a rather large casino otherwise in the middle of Desert Nowhere.

The spot had everything I'd need to get my legs beneath me: a gas station for food, water, a Denny's across the road to get coffee and charging facilities, and truck parking. Also, an abundance of open space for stealth camping. We hugged, I snapped a pic, and suddenly I was hitchhiking again. For the first time since my short and family-aborted Texas to Colorado run in 2013.

The first emotion: youthful exhilaration. An excited sense of utter uncertainty psychologically framed as "adventure". I'd had this feeling several times before. This time though, it was tempered. "Been 'here' before..." Considering it had been so long, I was surprised that almost instantly I reverted to instinct, method and experience. I automatically surveyed the grounds, walked inside for water, some snacks, and cigarettes.

Yes. The cigarettes were back. I'd left Chicago with vaping gear planning to decrease my nicotine levels along the way and quitting a week or two later. Good plan. It had worked before. Except, the previous week my battery had gone to hell and I was forced to drop an unplanned $50 on a new one, tank, and coils. That was ridiculous and pissed me off. "Fifty bucks?!? Why not just fucking smoke? How the hell am I going to keep this battery charged?" I answered that silent question immediately. when my smokes and I were reunited. And yeah, it kinda felt good! Hitchhiking and smoking go together like cigarettes and booze; smokes and coffee. Trump & Putin. It's weird.

Why am I even explaining this? Don't judge, fuckers.

The second instant realization: a repeat of the week before. How moving from "abstraction to action" annihilates the internal "what if" anxieties. As soon as we were on the road, the "what ifs" turned to problem solving and forward motion. I was reminded more than once of the "molehills" in the lead up to my original departure in 2008. How everything I'd worried about for nearly 4-years was proven ridiculous. Almost immediately. Our minds are both our greatest assets and our biggest nemesis.



There was a shade tree set in a perfect spot between the parking lot and the road. An ideal place to be seen by the traffic coming and going. I plopped the pack down beneath it and exhaled. Almost immediately, I nearly got out of there. Had I been "saltier", I believe I would have.

A truck driver saw me and my setup, walked over, and said he could tell I wasn't a bum and asked what I was up to. I gave him the now-unfamiliar, unrefined, and poorly articulated "out to see people without electronic eyes" version and we spent 10-15 minutes chatting. He talked about how he'd given rides to people similar to me and how they'd stayed in touch. In retrosepct, it's obvious he had taken into account that I'd just been dropped off and was waiting for me to ask to come along. But, apparently I was waiting for an engraved golden invitation, not wanting to seem (feel?) like a transportational panhandler. Had I been a bit more tuned in, this trip would look vastly different. He went north. Presumably toward Salt Lake City or Reno.

Almost directly on the heels of my new trucker friend came Curt & Judy. They were in their late 50's or early 60's, had parked their RV at Terrible's, and were in the area to do some off-roading in their 4-wheelers. They struck up a conversation while walking from the RV to the canino's Denny's. They were quite curious about my base motivations and we hit it off immediately. We shared philosophical views about the existentially corrosive effects of chasing money and careerism, among other things. I told them about the inspiration I drew from Plato's Cave and gave them an Upper World Photo card with an invitation to contact me via my Facebook page. They invited me to let them know if I made it up to Seattle and I immediately warned them about such polite, off-handed invites! I tend to take folks up on them from time-to-time! Eh, Shawn? Kim? Jeff?

While I slightly hoped to find a ride Monday, there was no "real" effort. Any hope stemmed mostly from directional indecisiveness. I had no beacon whatsoever. I'd decided that I'd wait for my first "real" ride out of the desert and off I-15's north-south LA to Vegas/Utah asphalt funnel. Thus, despite my vast experience failing in such matters, I was targeting trucks. And had just let one go!

Yes, I was certainly rusty.

In reality, it was good to just sit with myself and just be. To slowly disconnect from the electronic eyes, embrace the old "Sit Down and Shut Up" idea, while simultaneously basking in the positive energy of the post-drop off day, and reconnect with the real, raw world.

The cynicism that I'd felt returning all weekend as I attempted to "pay attention" to the election and "current events" almost immediately evaporated and was replaced with positivity borne from real interaction with real people in the "real" world. I know of no better "therapy".

The previous week's ideas about Digital Detox were certainly top-of-mind Monday, and would be for the foreseeable future. Clearly, I'm no prospective Luddite! But, finding balance and a sense of intentional utility with technology is obviously key. I'd never tried hitchhiking with a full-on smartphone, and I was rightfully concerned about it before I even left. But, the usefulness is undeniable. On Day 1, I shot and edited video and found myself finishing and uploading my "October Surprise" post while stashed away behind the truck parking lot! And, yes, I also occasionally found myself habitually reaching for my device as I became bored. But, at least I was mindful of it. At the same time, I was mindful of Plato's "Return to the Cave".

Finding a spot to camp as the sun fell around six was a breeze. I laid the bivy/Thermarest out on the semi-rocky ground, flung the sleeping bag on top, and laid there unable to sleep. I was semi-productive with the writing and editing, but I couldn't shut down the brain.



Clearly, there was more to this trip than I was even aware of...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

10/16/16: Las Vegas - Dabbling With Digital Detox

I had been to Las Vegas a couple of times. Once when I transferred Greyhounds when I was 13. The other for an airline transfer. Leaving the airport in the wee hours of Wednesday morning with Natali was the first time I'd actually seen the strip, even though from afar.

Except for her to walk her dog, the two of us didn't leave the apartment until Friday. We spent 2 1/2 full days just talking about everything imaginable and getting to know each other. Nearly nonstop from when we woke up in the morning until we went to bed. It was exhausting but, in some distantly familiar way, exhilarating.

For those two days, I tried putting the notion of Digital Detox into practice. Despite the glaring irony and inconsistency, that have their reasons, I've been concerned about living and seeing the world electronically for a long time. After reading a fantastic piece (online) by Andrew Sullivan about his struggles to reclaim his humanity and essence from cyberspace, I decided to give it a shot.

For these two days, the phone was in another room and the TV stayed off until there was an actual specific purpose for either of them. Facebook? Ha! Nearly a nonentity.

What I discovered? It was so much easier to concentrate on the conversation, focus on who was in the room, and maintain a sense of positivity and presence without the distraction of having "the whole world" right there in front of me.

Out of sight, out of mind. The simple act of making the iPhone a non-reflexive, non-habitual entity made the entire process work and I felt reconnected to the "real" world. That's something, not coincidentally, that also happens when I travel in Latin America without cellular voice or data. And, a corresponding and inevitable disconnection also typically occurs when I get to a hostel with...you guessed it...wifi! Then it's like Starbucks. A roomful of people posting selfies and oblivious to each other's existence.

Peru was an inadvertent case study in that. I spent two of my three months off-the-grid at Chris' eco-hostel 13,000 ft. up the Andes skirt. The only power was gathered by modest solar cells. Everything after sundown was done by candle light. Wifi? Ha! Slow, rudimentary cellular internet at best. And it didn't work most of the time. Internet wasn't a taken-for-granted utility. It was a sparsely used tool. Hour long trips were planned to go down the mountainside to Huaraz just to get it. And not very often.

In the meantime? People...talked! To other real people! Who were IN THE ROOM WITH THEM! Eureka! When they weren't talking ? Reading. Writing. Taking world class hikes. Just sitting down. Shutting up. "Being". Without any contrived external entertainment.

It was a bit unnerving at first, but the mental batteries recharged and clarity of thought and focus returned. These weren't just my observations. Other people from different backgrounds around the world noticed, commented on it, and appreciated it as well. There were ways to bring wifi to The Hof if Chris really wanted to. He didn't. That's exactly why.

One other Peruvian observation: even after all that time unplugged I still an unconsciously resumed old habits as soon as I returned to "civilization". Our brains are being rewired and reprogrammed by our machines.

Another thing I noticed last week: How politics changes my entire mood, vibe, energy, and general outlook. And, I don't need to be discussing it for that to happen. Social media or TV? Doesn't matter. As soon as election "news" or commentary is put in front of me, and I put any degree of focus in its direction: ZAP! Whatever positive energy that was there before was gone. Cynicism floods in to replace it. And it was sometimes difficult to get it back. More so the longer I was immersed in it. I would have another stark in-person example provided for me the day I finally began the real"trip"! (Foreshadowing now!)

There is an incredibly instructive, overreaching society-based idea to be mined on that last point. Obviously, I'm not unique in that regard. I'm simply not wanting to poke this complex observation into a fucking iPhone while lying on my sleeping bag behind a truckstop in the desert! Not the "cushiest" place I've written! (Foreshadowing Forever!)

Sadly, this little two-day experiment didn't last. Natali left Friday night to stay with her cousin so she could take her to the airport early Saturday morning. I was alone in her apartment, so my flirtation with cyber-celibacy ended abruptly.  It started with me innocently editing and posting a YouTube video. Before I knew it I was right back where I was. Habitually grabbing the phone like a crack pipe. And wondering how this was going to be when I finally hit the road! A smartphone? That had never been attempted!

The rest of the weekend wasn't worth talking about. The TV came on, phones went in hand, and that short, surprisingly intense connection we'd forged was mostly gone. I suppose my little visit to Las Vegas was a miniscule microcosm for what I was describing about Peru. No phone: human connection. As soon as it returns? Poof! Zombie from Electronistan!

In retrospect, I should have left Sunday. But, since I'd not given myself time to think thru everything thoroughly before I left, I needed a post office. Or, so I thought! (Make Foreshadowing Great Again!)

One thing for sure: by Monday morning, it was obviously past time for me to fly...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Revised Gospel of Joshua

If you're religious and found this via a "Gospel+Joshua" search on Google, you're lost and should probably leave. Search engines are secular. So am I. There. Fair warning.


For the rest of you? This will be music to many, many ears.

I'm slowly, almost remedially, coming to the practical understanding of just how much of a thief "politics" is becoming. I'm not even sure this shit qualifies, but it's steadily and increasingly robbing us of our commonality. Dividing people along contrived, imaginary lines. Lines eagerly accepted by hordes of people whose only moral compass is set by their chosen ideology's definition of North, rather than their own. That's the only explanation for the term "conservative Christian"!

With acknowledging pre-apologies for likely relapses and a couple of purging posts to come: I MUST find a way to abandon this folly. Because...it really...doesn't...matter.

If Trump wins? Putting aside the Nuclear Winter scenarios that involve the jilted Orange Crush nuking his strong Russian Stallion for cheating on him with Sisi, the Left will fracture and radicalize. Just like the Republicans after Obama's inauguration, and the liberal version of Tebaggery will be just as annoying and vile. Hell, he hasn't even been elected and they've already begun going full-frontal extremist, eh Jill? How do Bernie's Babies like their new nursery?


***

"It's completely different! We're progressiiiiiiiiive! We're evolllllllvinggggg!" 

Ugh. I know, I know. Now sit down. And shut the fuck up.

***


Where was I? Ah, yes....

Hillary. Typing it makes me ill and in any other year I'd be wiping my ass with this election. But, I'm actually voting for The Hilliazard. Plugging my nose doesn't even begin to describe it. I detest her. But, I have to. Trump is tapping into something historically ominous. He, and what he's mindlessly unleashed, is literally (proper use) dangerous. On a catastrophic scale. And, handing an orange, inarticulate raging ape the Nuclear Football? That is literally (proper use!) the height of irresponsible stupidity.

But, on the other hand, if and when Clinton staggers & stumbles into the Oval Office, do you suppose Trump's White Walkers will be heroically vanquished? Will we all sing Kumbaya and roast marshmallow around an enlightened national campfire? Will we all have a Coke and smile before wiping away a happy tear of newfound national unity and hugging it out?

Ha! Hardly.

On November 9th, probably around 6am ET, when the Wednesday news cycle's getting into full swing, Trump will scream "Crooked Hillary stole the election!" Then, predictably, his drooling White Walkers will further descend into fabricated Nationalistic Auslander Rage and simultaneously the militias will become something more than rural squirrel killing curiosities. Much more. Mark those words. I've never been more certain of anything than this. It's a ridiculous thing for most of us to hear oozing from a fully-grown humanoid's snout, but "take our country baaaaaack!" actually has meaning in that bizarre parallel conspiracy-fueled universe.

Someone wrote, "History never repeats. But it often rhymes." Something "rhyming" with Civil War is coming. There's no "coming together", fuckos. Look around. Read thru your fucking Facebook feeds with objective eyes. The loss of whatever tenuous collective connection we once had to a shared set of objective facts has sealed our general fate. And it's ugly. We've split into two screaming mobs. Each guided by contrived, mutually exclusive political religions. Their scriptures written and preached by snake charmers.

Not to be confused with Pastor Snake (second fr. right)

I assume you've seen War Games. This all reminds me of Joshua struggling to learn the futility of Tic Tac Toe. There is no "winning" scenario. NOTHING will be solved after November 8. Whoever loses will just re-mobilize for their counterstrike.

"Learn, Goddamit!"

For me, personally, it's surprisingly simple and it goes back to my let go of that which does not fucking matter.... idea I wrote about earlier in the week. There is literally (almost proper use!) no bigger waste of time than trying to "discourse" with the willfully ignorant. Futilely trying only corrodes respect. And, while it gives my ego a righteous boner, preaching to my choir is even less productive than spending the afternoon on YouPorn. Not even the gooey mess to show for my...efforts...and it distracts from other things I should be focussing on. Worse, it's robbing me of my my optimism, hope, what was once a freely-flowing sense of humor, and, because of the times in which we live, even relationships. It's reminded me more than once of the "brother vs. brother" description of the first Civil War.

And for what?! Is something changing? Have I missed it? All this...and it's getting worse! 

 "The only winning move is not to play." Hail, Joshua. But there is of course a problem. Despite my "two tribes" analogy, both tribes are NOT "the same". Even if I were to go into complete political radio silence, I'm still sure to be bombarded by these increasing, and increasingly audacious, displays of random "patriot" stupidity. I would literally (proper use...I think) lose no more respect for some folks if they told me they approved of child rape than I do via these emphatic fascist pronouncements of Trump Love. Sure, I can stand down. But, the loss of basic, fundamental human respect can't just be replaced. The damage to the relationship is done. It's permanent. Hey, I'm glad you're "keepin' it real" and all, but it also reminds me of the old Pantera song. "Be yourself. By yourself. Stay away from me."

And the echo chamber isolation grows. Yep. Winter is coming. Shit. It's almost here. Who's drinkin'?


Behold! The immaculate decree!
The original Joshua tablet as it was delivered to the Prophet Falken
inside Holy Cheyenne Mountain.


(You're very welcome, by the way! Happy to paint the above sticky picture for you. What's that? No Snapchat. Sorry.)





Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Useless Shit Epiphany

Ask any mildly observant chum who’s chosen “traveling” over “tourism”, and they’ll probably tell you how it’s filled with an abundance of experience-driven lessons, insights, and odd occurrences. “Trail Magic” it’s often called. Once you’ve felt it, the trail comes alive. And you’re either freaked out or hooked. My blogs are filled with these tales. I’m most certainly hooked!

But, while peering into the depths, I have a maddening tendency to miss the blatantly obvious mermaid frantically waving right in front of my face.

This is from my very first travel post, in May 2008:

“…about 1/2 mile down the road from the drop off I had a LONG list of the extra crap (like electric clippers) I had in my bag that I simply did NOT need! Lesson: stick to the essentials! Comfort items become uncomfortable on your back, and slow you down!”

Today I realized that there's a monumental, powerful lesson in these quickly scribbled words. One that, despite being in plain sight for 8-years, I completely missed. And, it was literally (proper use!) the very first "lesson". Even if it is one I’ve had to repeatedly be reminded of since!

It’s like clock work. First day of every trip: I find that I’ve overpacked out of the “fear” that I’ll leave something I’ll “need” behind. Then,  once I’m out there, I start bitching to myself (usually) about how I’ve brought too much as the added dead-weight makes my little comfort items very uncomfortable!

That's great, Todd. But, what makes your repeated, short-bus-silliness “monumental”? 

For the last few years, I've been struggling to develop a consistent, all-encompassing metaphysical philosophy, with tiny degrees of success. Finding cohesiveness in that is hard enough on its own! But I’ve also been trying to completely reconcile who I was in 2008 and 2009 with who I am now; trying to “pack everything” by tying every obscure lesson, detail, and insight from the last 8-12 years perfectly together into a very limited space, rather than just picking out the practical, useful parts and stowing the rest. I’ve been cognitively, and often emotionally, hoarding. And, completely missed the obvious connection and lesson of that very first day: "pack only what’s needed and what fits. Forget the rest!"

But, Self! What if I ‘neeeeeeed’ it??

"Have it sent. Or, you know, just pick it up along the way. Dumbass."

Back in 2004, when radio went Stage 4 and this massive self/species exploration began, the foundation was  Thoreauian: simplify, simplify, simplify! Figure out what's real and essential. That kernel led to the backpack. And, it’s taken this long, and perhaps Mr. Mushroom Voice triggered it, to realize that people, ideas, and philosophies fall under the “Get rid of that which doesn’t fucking matter to make room for that which most certainly does” insight. And, that it's nearly identical to the one I had literally (proper use!) 15-minutes in to my travels:

Unburden yourself from this useless shit, you silly fucker!

It’s the precise (if slightly less profane) abstract equivalent.

Before the "useless shit" epiphany. 60-65 pounds!


**"Trail Magic" Diversion:  I left my phone in the car and Chris graciously drove back from Denver to deliver it that first night. I was mercifully able to "unburden myself" almost immediately. Was it...The Universe? Did Jesus playfully pull my phone from my pocket? How DO they make marshmallows....

So, now I’ve begun the process of sorting out what I brought home from the last 8-years and remains useful for the next epoch's expedition. Setting my extra abstract “stuff” aside to clear room for the essentials. In this metaphor (and you should just get used to metaphors right fucking now), it’s become the process of finally separating the useful ideas, methods, and people from the warm creature comforts and incomprehensible ghosts. And letting the rest of my past’s clutter just lie. Unsorted, uncategorized, and boxed up in the closet. Although I’m sure I’ll find I’ve brought too much. Again! I can’t seem to help it.

Not everything you have can, or should, be taken on every expedition. In fact, that’s one of the main points. Nor can every idea, experience, or person tag along thru each epoch, chapter, or phase of life. And thats okay! There’s no mutual obligation to be universal or permanent. That’s growth. That’s evolution. Otherwise, you’re hoarding. And, unless you’re life is stagnant and stationary, that quickly becomes an impossible load for even Sancho’s trusty mule to carry.






Monday, September 19, 2016

The Social (Media) Disease v1.0

I need to preface this sprawling, sometimes disconnected composite post with a considerate warning: this is a bit of a slightly cynical purge that's a work-in-progress. And, as always, I reserve the right to tweak and edit it. I'll change the "v" numbers as I do. It's something I just need to begin working on because chronic, habitual, cynicism can be just as delusional and self-destructive as any ideology or religion. It destroys any perception and sense of possibility. And, nothing good has ever been achieved without that. Being immersed in the social media tar pit has ignited a toxic level of cynicism that’s counter productive, especially considering where my latest, obscure Internet outpost hopes to go. This is an effort to eliminate the poisonous goo to make room for that which really matters. If you choose to stay on this page, brace yourself. You’re about to get hit with a supercharged truth bomb. One that has an eventual counterbalanced punchline, but one you won’t read in this particular post.

Hey, it’s my way. Just go with it, fuckers.

***

So, what triggered a fourth blog? Glad you asked. And, by clicking over here…you asked. There were a few things.

Last week, I had a friend I totally respect and absolutely adore fully deactivate her Facebook account. Her reasons had to do with being fed up with Facebook’s general stupidity and another event sounding vaguely stalkerish; something I’ve experienced myself.

She messaged me beforehand to make sure we could stay in touch. That made me realize, again, something quite important and something that "should" be painfully obvious: At it’s very BEST, Facebook cheapens almost everything. Not the least of all, the notion of "friendship". Of course, I’ve found some real gems in Facebook’s steaming pile of humanity’s worst but, scrolling thru my list, I STILL mostly had a collection of faces and names who, unless I found ways to entertain them, would make no tangible effort whatsoever to maintain our "friendship" or "relationship". And, quite honestly, to a great degree, vice versa. Too many were there because of what they used to mean. Or, what I hoped they’d mean later on. Silly.

I’m sure there’s some very special “psychology” at play here, and I could articulate most of it, but I, for one, demand authentic “friends”. Having someone in your feed offering nothing more than "likes" or an occasional comment, isn't "friendship". That this notion is so widely accepted is relatively new.

I'm still not really interested in defining what it "is", but I decided to follow Amber's lead and force folks to earn the title. It’s simple: Want to keep up with what's going on with me? Cool. Make some basic effort. I'm not going to spoon feed you via Facebook any longer. If you don't? I'll try to think fondly of your ghost. Really. I will. No hard feelings.

Something has become clear since Facebook exploded 8-years ago and we stopped “wondering what happened” to everyone: Not everyone was meant to cross life's epochs with us. Personally? After wallowing in this slop for nearly a decade?  I'm perfectly fine with that. BETTER than fine! I can't say the attempt has been successful, anyhow. Ive lost count how many fond memories were tainted or even destroyed by Facebook’s political, social, and general ignorance megaphone; the constant mindless displays of idiocy by people I used to respect. Used to. From here, it’s a simple realization: Email, phone calls, and these goofy blogs worked perfectly well once upon a time! Even better, actually.

From my perspective, Facebook must be treated like a ridiculously exclusive VIP room with a draconian behavioral policy. Start spewing your filth all over my page, or toward people I care about and respect more than you, like you’re in the Newsmax comment section? Out the air lock with you! (Thanks, Jim Wright.) “*But, what about all the times we got drunk and hunted questionable beaver in 1994*?!?!” Exactly. What about it? And yes, Billy Bob. I’m aware this is a two-way street. That only strengthens the argument. VIP Room now! VIP Room forever!

For the most part, I quit participating on other people's Facebook pages two years ago. I’ve also brutally purged then put my own page on lock down. In addition, I have a few who remain on double secret probation. Why? For the same reason I have "comments" set to "moderate" on this page. Genetic idiots and willfully ignorant trolls aren't just entitled to an unmoderated voice. It’s not covered by the 1st Amendment. Sure, everyone’s entitled to have one, but all opinions are NOT created equal.  Not in my world. And I'm certainly not going to provide a virtual open-mic to every random, drunken, retarded star spangled wombat staggering forth from all corners of the internet’s nether regions armed with piles of second-hand batshit propaganda.

Unless, of course, it’s controlled and exploited with of savage mockery and ridicule.

Random online interactions are risky and should be treated like 2AM bar whores. Kept at a safe distance lest you risk developing an embarrassing, unwanted, very public intellectual rash creeping down on your cyber-groin. One that itches every 10-minutes and just won't go away. We all know that person. In fact, I’d wager that “that guy” is reading this right now. And sometimes you're shocked to learn this metaphorical bar whore is someone you've known 20-years!


THE COUCHED MOB

When I returned from Peru in February, it was becoming clear that my predictions in South America were prophetic: The belching Orange Baboon could actually win! Not just the nomination. The election! It also became clear that the question, “How is this even remotely possible?” had a familiar sound. Germany. Late 1920’s and early 30’s. Since Im a kid, I always asked, “How the hell could people let that happen?” Now, we’re seeing it before our own eyes, in our own back yard.

So, I tore into my bookshelf. Biographies, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Knowing Trump holds a special place in his heart for Hitler’s public rhetoric, I devoured it all looking for similarities and connections. It didn’t take long, and it had to do with Freud, of all people. One of the books Hitler loved most was one he found while in prison following the Beer Hall Putsch: Freud’s book exploring the group mind. Mob mentality.

So, I downloaded Freud’s work (for free) from Google Books and a lightbulb went off, one that tied in to something I had noticed in August & September of 2014 while I was podcasting. The thing that led directly to my first purge and sequestering of random fucktardery. Not only are we isolating ourselves off in idea-proof echo chambers, there’s a mob mentality effect that’s glaringly obvious. What’s bizarre is that the Internet has made it possible to cultivate and exploit the Group Mind without gathering anyone into an actual physical gathering. Versions of the infamous Beer Hall rallies are being held on Facebook and other pages 24/7. These meetings are silently attended by White Walkers sitting on sweat-filled couches in dirty underwear. I mean, I assume they're dirty. I've not researched it.

As I said in the prophetic podcast next no one heard: go check these pages out! DO NOT ENGAGE ANYONE! Lurk. Lurk only! But, you’ll have your answer to the question of “how”. The mob will lead otherwise reasonable people to commit atrocities. There are examples stretching back thru Hitler and Napoleon to Caesar. There were community-minded family men who were vicious Nazis; in their normal lives they weren’t monsters. That’s the group mind and mob mentality doing its dirty work. And it’s in overdrive. Right here. Right now.

One of the beauties of hitchhiking is that I get people in single doses. Something I took away from it is that ”individuals" are smart. Often thoughtful. However, ”people" (too often your other "friends", family, and un-vetted random contacts), when they dress in their “ism” costumes are mobs of rhetorically drooling buffoons eager to take whatever social media disease they've contracted in their tiny intellectually incestuous bubbles and unleash it, literally, on the entire world. An individual 21st century mob-cell stalking the streets.

Mobs are groups of individuals who’ve gelled together into a singular mass of rationalized, primitive, willful ignorance. And, there's no functional distinction between the willfully ignorant and clinically retarded. Except for spelling and grammar, the interpersonal experiences are identical. And only an egocentric fool who's feasting on the sound of his own voice would attempt social, political, or even existential "discourse" at "the home". Therefore, online Mob Control is an essential practice.

There wouldn't be the need if we lived in a sophisticated, enlightened society both capable of, and willing to, critically examine their informational sources and check their own tendency toward ideological bias. We don't. We live in a collection of blissfully engorged, sloppy, Idiocratic mobs that have lost all connection, let alone commitment, to basic fundamental fact.

Want another metaphor? Cool!

“The People” are living in competing, incompatible alternate informational universes. Ones with completely different laws of intellectual physics. And, here’s the sobering part: it’s going to turn violent. Therefore, at some point the FCC, or even Congress, will likely need to address the explosion of fake, unaccountable media. There's a difference between a free press and a free-for-all tabloid orgy; for-profit conspiratorial fiction and extremist propaganda masquerading as "news". Right now, there's absolutely no distinction being made and we're suffering the results.

And, like it or not, the Internet as a whole probably needs to be regulated at some point. You're OBVIOUSLY woefully ill-equipped to simultaneously roam free in an informational jungle and choose your own leaders. You're basically being feasted upon as irrational psychological prey. Theres’s a Toddzillaism™ for that: Fleecing the Fucktards.

This is what makes my Cynicism Vein throb and almost burst. There's no treatment or cure for willful ignorance. Political and social discourse are only a temporary symptom of disease that’s about to go Stage 4.

Beyond the political vulnerability, our small simian brains can’t even begin to conceive of our own existence. But, we also can’t help but try. So, we fill in the blanks with staggering degrees of mythical, religious, and “spiritual” egocentric bullshit. Collectively, we delude ourselves into thinking we're divinely created little critters who are meant to run free. The functional reality is something closer to a mangy intellectual jackal that endangers everything nearby when it gets out of its pen.

Trump is incredibly revealing in that context. He recently added a Breitbart executive to RUN HIS CAMPAIGN. What happened? His numbers rose! He’s gone full-frontal batshit, and it's probably only going to get worse. People keep asking, “Why? How can this possibly be??” Because that’s what “the people” want. The guy who rhetorically puts their “threatened” tribe at the Center of the Universe and high atop the imaginary food chain? Complete with convenient scapegoats? Yeah, the mob will love it. It’s called fascism. There’s a precedent or two. And why the Founding Deities worked to thwart mob rule.

And how wise they were. People keep saying Trump is a "national embarrassment". Nope. He's a brand; an expert media whore. The fact that his Political Reality Show was even a temporary thing is the embarrassment. He didn't achieve that in a vacuum. Our shame doesn't lie in one ridiculous individual; he "should" have been taken about as seriously as Mama June.

No, the "national embarrassment" lies in the millions of fucking idiots, racists, and willfully ignorant fools who rationalize then eagerly gobble up his slop and support him through feats of "mental" gymnastics & verbal incontinence. Not to mention the bouts of uncontrollable public rhetorical-masturbation fits.

Wipe the "intellectual" goo from your stomach, fuckers. Have you lost all dignity? Did you have any to begin with? And, don't give yourself a lazy reach around by blaming Clinton. Trump didn't defeat fifteen Hillary clones in the Republican primaries.

To put a bow on the political aspect, I hope you're not seeing 11/8 as the finish line; the day "sanity" and civil "discourse" returns. You may vanquish Trump, but while you're basking in the self-righteous afterglow of victory--congratulating yourselves for winning an election against a babbling, poorly crafted Mussolini knockoff & reality TV star--the White Walkers are only getting angrier. And dumber. It's. The. Stupid. People. Stupid. Winter is coming.


DELUSIONS & PERSONAL NARRATIVES: QUIXOTE PERSONALIZED

About seven years ago this month, I had an external realization that rocked my internal core and sent me reeling. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever even tried to personally reconcile and manage. To date, I have failed miserably. At least functionally. I dubbed it my Don Quixote Insight. Examples are shown above, but in an oversimplified nutshell, it's the idea that human beings are corrupted and enslaved by their egocentric need and reliance upon self-created comfortable delusions. Our willingness and/or need to abandon reality for happy internal narratives. Or to be snookered by someone, anyone, who provides them for us.

That little insight threw me into what I mentioned repeatedly my first post: I dubbed it (borrowing from Nietzsche) "The Abyss". I looked Quixote's Demon in the eye and, while the idea began as an observation of others, it quickly turned on me and ravaged a previously useful foundation and metaphysical engine. I've never really recovered and in many ways I've been wobbling along ever since searching for a sense of authentic replacement purpose. That's meant chasing money again so, again, it's little surprise I've had little success in finding that!

I've tried to put my spiritual genie back in the bottle but, of course, that's impossible. You can't "unlearn" something. But, in the process--usually out of desperate self-interest-- I've frequently searched for cracks in Quixote hoping to prove myself wrong so that maybe I could reclaim some of the lost audacity that came from believing "The Universe" was obsessed with my existence and happy to be my personal little bitch.

I've also spent increasingly short phases of the last few years almost bending over backwards trying to execute the mental gymnastics required to give humanity a sympathetic, merciful benefit of the doubt. But at every turn Quixote is left standing even stronger as my futile hope in resurrecting the Divine Noble Species Theology is savagely bludgeoned. I wish I still had the ability to freely delude myself. But I've recognized that the maiden was imaginary and the windmill is, and always has been, just a windmill!

Tonight it's crystal clear to me that our willfully ignorant, gleeful insistence on abandoning fact and reality for the drug of self-delusion is humanity's curse. And will likely be its downfall. I'd like to get melodramatic and tearfully tell you how tragic that is. I can't.

If you want to envision ”The Universe" as an entity, it surely isn't a benevolent "Sky Daddy" benefactor looking out for your well being and best interest. The reality is closer to a cold-blooded fucking reptile that doesn't care if we live or die. Individually or collectively. "The Universe" gives nothing; we get what we give. And deserve. And, if it's incapable of even basic collective introspection, a tribal species that's so helplessly self-destructive and murderously addicted to fantasy deserves to be squished and meet its demise as Carlin put it: as a failed mutation. A destructive bug stomped out on an evolutionary cul-de-sac and quickly forgotten.


Why hasn’t Hallmark called? I can't figure it out. Must be reverse racism. Wait. If I claim "gender fluidity" can I start blaming misogyny?