Oct 15

Who is WHOO?

You know what I really dislike? I’m watching the Colbert show or Bill Maher or pretty much anything else with a TV audience, and some guy in the audience gives out a piercing “WHOO!” in a quick high pitched way, an attempt to take part in what’s going on up on stage. You can see a flicker of irritation from the stage performer, but they don’t say anything. The guy is being “positive”, after all, he’s giving a “shout out”, he’s approving of what has been said, what has been referenced–how can you argue with that? Well, I can argue with it. It makes me grit my teeth and roll my eyes.

I think what bothers me most about it is knowing *Whoo! Guy* doesn’t really care about whatever he’s Whooing about. Whether it’s ostensibly a political support Whoo! or a “Hot damn, yeah, Meryl Streep is coming out next” Whoo! or a “Yeah, slam it to those phony celebs” Whoo! or whatever it is. In the latter case, especially, he’s being a hypocrite because he’s trying to play Tiny Little Moment of Celebrity *Whoo!* Guy. “Hear that? That was ME!” He’s like one of those guys who stop behind newscasters on the street and give a wink and a thumbs up. “Hey I was on TV today!”

It’s distracting and it’s annoying and he thinks it’s Making The Scene. Like Meryl Streep is going to think, “Oh thank you, Whoo! Guy, I’ll always remember you.”

You don’t notice them? Listen next time.

Oct 15

Why I stopped watching “FEAR THE WALKING DEAD”

Got into watching FEAR THE WALKING DEAD–and then my interest in the show came to a sudden, screeching stop. I watched the show for awhile because I thought it interestingly answered questions the original show, THE WALKING DEAD, had raised and hadn’t gotten into before….Then I stopped, after the episode previous to last night’s. Why? Because the spinoff did one thing I cannot forgive or support. It positively dramatized the FALSE notion that “torture works”. A man (a member of the US Military!) was tortured by a man from Central America who was, yes, damaged by the US supported death squads down there, from the old days, and who had been in a way imprinted with cruelty, which appears under stress– so yes in a way it’s all our fault that he tortured this guy. Up to that point, I had no objection–okay, he was made psychotic, under some circumstances, by the trauma of the brutality of an American-backed regime, and was now prone to using vicious tactics. Fine, that I can buy. But then *his torture works*. He gets exactly what he and the other characters need by torturing the soldier with a knife. He learns about Operation Cobalt. He finds out what it is. Which is info they needed.

So the *production* of Fear the Walking Dead, the writers and producers, are SAYING THAT TORTURE WORKS. So hey, go for it, right? Now if I asked them about this, they’d say, “Oh no we’re saying this man was traumatized and turned to torture and clearly torture is horrible.” No–you’re saying, horribly or not, torture works. You’re taking a hard-right, beyond “conservative” position: it’s okay to dig knives deeply into people, torture them, beat them, for information “because it works”; that is, the show at least makes it seem as if torture works. But torture DOES NOT work to provide GOOD information, as has been often proved and even if it DID work in real life you’d still be wrong to advocate it even in extreme fictional circs…The show is helping spread the myth that torture works. It’s spreading it to a big audience. And myths widely spread about torture can help justify it in the minds of interrogators, and politicians.

If torture didn’t work in the story, then I would have no objection to its being a part of the episode. If the tortured character had not given valuable info, and the torturer was baffled–and someone got the information in a legit way…much better. But not only did the torturer get the info by torturing, one of the heroes of the show, the blond mom, was fine with it. She went along with it. Not cheerfully but with no real hesitation.

So that’s TWO votes for torture including one from a main protagonist. The worst one, though, is the third one–the vote for torture from the writers of Fear the Walking Dead…

Oct 15

ATTACK OF THE CANNIBALISTIC BABIES: A modest Proposal for Restoring Ecological Balance

by John Shirley

They are actually healthy babies; they are even strangely healthy. They’re strong, too, unnaturally strong. They also have a strikingly unusual facial feature: they’re born with adult teeth, which are rather too large for their little mouths. Their otherwise perfect little faces must have seemed grotesque to people at the time.

Other than for this dental peculiarity, they are quite plump and squirming and gurgling in the hospital bassinets, and seem just like normal little babies–until they begin to climb out of their cribs. They should not be able to do it, but they do, they flip over on their bellies and climb out, seeking their prey. They move with remarkable rapidity, climbing table legs, leaping when they need to, almost like monkeys.

Their first prey is other babies. Hospital personnel are somewhat dismayed, seeing babies eating babies–it was quite unprecedented. A nurse mistakenly sets up the alarm that the babies are living-dead creatures, perhaps infant ghouls or zombies–but *they are not*. They are living babies. They have never been dead.

Having eaten the other non-cannibalistic babies, they attack one another; the strongest kill the weakest, and consume parts of them, usually arms and legs. After feeding, they pause to excrete, nap, and begin again, even as police and emergency personnel are moving in and setting up perimeters. Threatened by dangerous adults, the surviving babies instinctively put aside their competition and work as a group, swarming over the police, chewing out their throats. A few cannibalistic babies are, of course, killed in the general melee, but most survive to massacre hospital personnel…

And so it goes at thousands of hospitals around the world. After a time, the babies go into hiding and dormancy in walls, cupboards, pipes, but emerge from time to time to feed on adults.

Eventually, when the adult population is sufficiently reduced, the babies turn once more against each another. But when the population reaches a certain level of reduction, the babies instinctively stop their predation on one another. A few adults remain and find that if they act as servants to the babies they are not killed. Research soon reveals that the cannibalistic babies are mutations, an unexpected variety of humanity designed to survive during the ecological collapse in a polluted, overheated, overpopulated world. Once they reach adulthood, they sterilize or consume all who are not of their mutation.

And so, children, those are the historic facts, roughly describing the Glorious Mutation of a thousand years ago, which led to the present society. This very day, as the population has worked its way up to the forbidden number, we have received our orders. And what fun it’s going to be! This very afternoon we’re all going to attack the elementary school in the next district, if they don’t attack us first. In either case, we must try to eat them before they eat us! Happy Blood day, children!

Sep 15

Fahrenheit 451 in 2015: Burning Books in the Flames of Indifference

I grew up around libraries, and readers, and in a culture of reading. A book–that was recreation. A whole book exercises your brain in a way an article doesn’t, in the way a posting doesn’t, and God knows in the way a tweet or an instagram doesn’t.

If you’re raised around the internet, computer games, a thousand kinds of television, DVDs, downloads–how are you going to be as likely to read a book? It’s not your fault–it’s what you were subjected to…

Oh your kid isn’t that way, or you, a young person, aren’t that way? But in terms of demographics, and large numbers, a great many other young people are that way: semi literate or just pseudo literate. The nervous system is programmable; neurological, glandular rewards of quick-burst repetitive imagery, jolting response to input–as with instant messages, and social media, certain types of games (and I love many of those games)–are impulse driven and impulse rewarded, and break up the capacity for long-term attention needed for full, book-oriented literacy.

Perhaps you’re about to tell me you (and I) are both a reader and an active internet person. But again, we had the other template established early. Long thoughts were normal for us. Expressing complex ideas in whole paragraphs of verbiage was normal.

I started worrying about it when I first did live online interviews and panels–no one was able to speak in more than twitter-length remarks. It wasn’t mechanically possible, and it wasn’t their inclination. That’s when I first noticed how different it was; how fragmentary.

“A particularly alarming report on working-age adults was published earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development… but young Americans rank the lowest among their peers in the countries surveyed…” (News York Times, 2015).

Look, I think we’re just giving the young too much time online, and with other media–with the digital babysitters. And we’re not insisting on books. We’re not cultivating book reading in them. We’re not giving them time or opportunity to discover books.

Perhaps equally important, we’re giving them too little time with older, literate people.

Too little time–with us.

Sep 15


At a recent Los Angeles scientific conference on Astrophysics and Cosmology, a consensus was reached confirming several definite ideas: 1) that our universe “goes on and on and it’s just incredibly big, you wouldn’t even believe how fucking big it is”; 2) while our particular universe has apparent limits, there are no imaginable limits on the multiverse; 3) while time as we observe it locally comes to an end due to entropy, another loop of time will inevitably be produced by pure random probability; hence, varying reiterations of time will endlessly continue; ie, the 11th-dimension sum of all times and 4) all things, in this eternal regeneration, are extrapolating into infinite variation so that all possible events will inevitably take place in some multiverse-variant time stream, leaving no room for emptiness except for all-consuming nothingness, thus the entire, constantly expanding and collapsing 11-dimension cosmos taken as a whole, in all possible times, is one single crystallized block of the inevitable which prevents everything else because it is itself everything, leaving no room for anything.

Due to confirmation of these principles by inarguable equations and testable experimental results (provided by a new cosmological Artificial Intelligence quantum-computer “Dismaying Perfection One”), seventy-four of the scientists at the cosmology conference curled up on the floor and urinated on themselves. Ninety-seven others sat rocking in their metal folding chairs, quietly sobbing. Seventeen other scientists wandered from the conference and into the street where two were instantly struck by a cars; a second tried feverishly to convince a young woman to have sex with him on the grass of median because “it will happen in the fullness of summary time anyway”; and a middle-aged female scientist stole a motorcycle and rode off down the highway howling; she has not been located by authorities.

Police lab technicians are analyzing the coffee and tea given out at the convention.

Sep 15

You Won’t Believe How Scientists Are Just Barely Excited!

Internet headlines and scientists just don’t fit together, in any cogent way. The latest one is “Black Hole Stuns Scientists”. It’s way bigger than expected, doesn’t really fit with current theory. I can just picture how stunned they are. “Hmm,” say the scientists, shaking their heads. “We may have to revise some theory.”

Not long ago it was, “Scientists Blown Away By Bizarre Pluto Images”. Then you look at the article and they’re, “Yeah, we were surprised at the stark topographical contrasts.” You get this lurid exaggeration all the time–and this is from fairly respectable sites. If we’re to believe these headline writers, typical scientists evidently are routinely high on meth, pure THC, and, on odd days, LSD.

I suppose journalists or their management, stuck with the science beat (they often seem to know little about science), are trying to get a lot of “hits” at the site, so they say Scientist Eyes are Bugging Out and Bouncing Off the Opposite Wall When They Realize Comet May Have Water. Or something. They’re told to “get people interested”. Often the way in politics too. “Career Shattering Revelation” turns out to be about an email server.

Sep 15

FERMENTED WATER! Get it Now, While Supplies Last!

You’ve heard of artisan ice and triple filtered water. I am introducing a product of my own, fermented water: we call it John’s Fermented Waterâ„¢.

The oxygen in the water has been aged in oak barrels in Kentucky for thirty years. The hydrogen has been repeatedly squeezed and subjected to yeast, and squeezed again. Combined with aged oxygen, it makes for fine, artisanal fermented water.

Do not over indulge in fermented water. Frequent urination may result.

Sep 15

If you think George W. Bush was embarrassing…

Many Americans were embarrassed when George W. Bush was elected. (Or rather, “selected” by certain people in Florida and certain people on the Supreme Court). We were embarrassed, and the Europeans were embarrassed for us. Dubya was not a bright man, and he was prone to Christian dominionist horsecrap, and he was a puppet of bad people and he was blitheringly inarticulate and confused as a speaker; he was cloddish, ignorant, and…he was embarrassing.

But, as my wife observed, TRUMP makes George W. Bush seem classy by comparison. If Trump is elected (or “elected”), it won’t be merely embarrassing. It’ll be mortifying. It’ll be excruciatingly shameful.

Sep 15

To defy the Gods!

“You are my offspring,” said the parent, “so I give you this advice: do not piss off the gods. Indeed, avoid them if you can.”

“Who are the gods?”

“The two-legged giants who command this world we live in. We believe they constructed it. Another piece of advice: avoid the sink area, despite the enticements of the drain, for they return to it often. They may crush you there. Above all, do not linger in the trash can.”

“But it is there we find sustenance, and will make our maggots!”

“Yes but they return to it regularly, and they will trap you, and crush you. You are mere flicks of annoyance to them. You are ephemeral nothings to the gods; buzzings, transporters of disagreeable micro organisms.”

“Our micro organisms are our friends!”

“The gods do not view it so. A final piece of advice, if you must fly near them, do not fly between their hands. Some of them clap their hands together faster than others. In all things, avoid the gods, though we are dependent on their leavings for our livelihood.”

“Why should I conform to this standard? I will rebel, I will defy them, and fly at their faces, perhaps to back them away from the trash can, so that I may spend my time there unconcerned!”

“Do as you like. I have many offspring. Many eggs hatch into maggots and become flies. The greater god, natural selection, will punish you. Or–you may choose to extend your life, if you choose not to piss off the gods…Listen! The thunder of their feet! It is trash day! Quickly, away from the trash can!”

“No, I defy them! I have another strategy to defeat the gods!”

….And thus the defiant fly hid itself in the trash,and rode therein to paradise, the city dump, where all was laid bare for the taking, where it might live out its life happily within the gloriously reeking tunnels of garbage, proudly watching its maggots turn to flies…and knowing it had triumphed…

Until the giants used the thrusting machine to push paradise into the incinerator.

The End

Sep 15

Two days after 9/11 anniversary: “Truthers” agree with Bush Admin

Two days past 9/11 anniversary it occurs to me that there’s a gigantic irony that may also be…strangely understandable. Simultaneously, 9/11 “truthers” and those in government who didn’t act when they had preliminary warning about the attacks on 9/11 believe, or believed, the same thing: that the idea of foreign originated amateur pilot hijackers taking over four planes the same day and crashing them into four buildings that day–seemed crazy, wouldn’t happen. (Three of the four happened.)

You see, there *was* warning about it, there was chatter; George Tenet and others tried to warn the Bush administration that there were indications terrorists were planning an attack and some apparently planned to hijack planes and crash them into significant American buildings. But apparently the reason people like Condie Rice didn’t take the warning seriously is that an attack of that kind seemed unprecedented, which made it seem improbable… it just sounded like something terrorists couldn’t pull off. But al-Qaeda had planned it for years, they had substantial financial backing from sympathetic Saudis and cover from the Taliban, they had trained for it using special software and small plane flying lessons, they were served by the element of surprise, they were fairly lucky…and apparently they were protected by the “nah, they couldn’t do that” factor.

So-called “truthers”–who are utterly mistaken–also cite, amongst other things, the “improbability” of amateur pilots pulling all this off on the same day. They *agree* with the pre-911 Bush administration’s dismissal of the possibility! That’s a huge irony.

US intelligence and military services learned from the event, however. The conspiracy theorists learned nothing.