Sunday, December 20, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
“Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity.”
-Incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein. He never said it.
“Only two things are infinite - the universe and the human capacity to find new ways to take offense.”
Not sure how the world will become a better place by piling words and ideas on the altar of THAT WHICH MUST NEVER BE MENTIONED. Never worked that great in the past. I might be wrong but I see anger more than anything else growing from these latest iterations of an artificial womb, like Safe Spaces (love that term), because they fail to address the underlining stresses or problems. People in these bubbles[i] know they are temporary, at best, and that an entire world lurks outside in the shadows whispering concepts and notions frightfully different from their own. This makes many scared or mad, two emotions a famous philosopher warned us about a long time ago.
The solution is spreading their bubble further and further to block/condemning yet more words and ideas (Law of Unintended Consequences anyone?) until it inevitably brushes against someone else’s bubble. We then have COMBAT BY DISCOMFORT with the victor being determined by greatest level of offence. All the while real problems like, oh, hunger, disease, and child abuse are left almost untouched by critical thought or analysis, and therefore bereft of real action or solution. They continue to run amok.
For example, college campuses (in theory) are places of intellectual diversity and exploration built to birth and nurture new ideas and concepts. A type of abstract battleground of words, if you will, designed to strengthen the student’s mind. Instead we find comedians (the people whose job it is to make people laugh) shunning campuses due to the rising waters of political correctness[ii]. A chill wind of sameness is winding its way into classroom and boardroom. I can’t help but wonder what pioneers of free thought and speech like Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, whatever their faults, would make of this. And thought comes first, don’t forget. Thought precedes speech and action, which is why I elected to mention colleges. Think about that, won’t you.
Stick and stone will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Yes and No. I dare say we’ve all had our feelings crushed by the words of another at some time. We’ve all been called horrible names, been lied to and about, had our hearts broken, had jerk bosses, so on and so forth. These are unfortunately some of the typical results of humans existing. My life has been no different. I have emotional scars from words. The challenge is to not take our individual grievances and elevate them to the same level of importance as society. It is not society’s job to protect me from hurt feelings. It is, however, my job to become a fully developed human being secure in my self-worth DESPITE the best efforts of the large number of human sphincters walking about the planet. How about we accept the fact assholes (not to be confused with truly evil, hateful Bastards) roam the planet and always will. How about instead of running from uncomfortable ideas we instead stand our ground. A bit more BRING IT!, philosophically speaking.
Just a thought.
Sorry if it offends you…
[i] To clarify, I am not singling out one group or political ideology. I see intellectual isolationism in MANY schools of thought and worldviews. No group is immune from it, and no group is 100% free from it because all groups are made from people, kind of like Soylent Green.
All memes found via Google image search. No copyrights claimed.
Friday, November 6, 2015
I took another stab at scoring an interview last month.
But to no avail.
Several weeks have passed since my initial request and subsequent follow up with no reply. I knew it was a longshot before I rolled the dice. No big surprise here. I craft these interviews for fun and a quick excuse to research topics that interest me so I see no reason to stop trying. Besides, who can resist the thrill of checking their email every five minutes for weeks and weeks in the vain hopes of a reply? Not me!
Here’s the wording I sent to researcher and international best selling author Graham Hancock.
Asking questions is a dangerous hobby. Poking a religious, governmental, or academic school of thought is not the best way to make friends. The pages of history, and some of the jails and unemployment lines of the world today, are peppered with people who asked too many questions and paid the price. In extreme cases some even develop a bad case of death. This interview, however, will stay within the less lethal realm of academia, though I am not sure Socrates would totally agree with the last part of assessment.
Graham Hancock, completely ignoring my advice above, has spent almost three decades asking questions, and even worse he has tried to answer some of them. I will do my best to summarize his long career for those not familiar with Graham, but I fear your best course, gentle reader, is to set aside some time and visit his website. His work is voluminous and you should review it for yourself.
Graham’s background lies in journalism where he wrote for bastions of the mainstream like The Times, The Guardian, and eventually The Economist as an East Africa correspondent in the late 1980’s. This led him to write Lords of Poverty in 1989 chronicling the abuses and misuses of international aid. His turn from journalist to alternate historian came from his time in Africa when he learned of the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia in which the Ark of the Covenant is reported to rest. Yes, THAT Ark of the Covenant. This got his curiosity going, as it should yours. The history of Judaism and Christianity is Ethiopia is fascinating and more than a little odd. But I digress. Researching this claim started him questioning our understanding of human history. This grew into the mother lode question that has consumed his time and mind ever since: what if there is more to the story of humanity than we have ever realized?
Flash forward to 1995 and Graham publishes Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization. The book is an international success, which causes the weight of mainstream academia to come crashing down upon him. Graham’s theory, and he is honest enough to refer to it as just that, is that human civilization is much older than the five-thousand year timeframe we are taught in schools. He uses his own research and the research of alternate and establishment historians to highlight a trail of traces left behind by a vast, yet unidentified civilization that was nearly decimated by a world-wide catastrophe approximately 12, 500 years ago. The remnants of this civilization, scattered and broken, spread around the world teaching what it could to what was left of humanity. In this theory, he attempts to unify what he sees are common themes, such as the proliferation of flood myths around the world, the construction of ancient monuments whose size and complexity are out of place given the supposedly low station of ancient humanity, archeo-astronomical markers, and a growing body of evidence that some of the dates attributed to monuments, such as the Sphinx, are completely wrong. This is but a very brief summary, of course.
Mainstream academics were, and are, largely unaccepting of his theory. Google it and see the reactions and refutations for yourself. What I find interesting is the range of reactions. Some are merely unconvinced by the evidence, which is fair. Graham refers to it as a theory, let us not forget. Others I would describe as furious. Actual anger at the proposing and popularization of an idea counter to the establishment’s norm. History is not a block of dead matter that occasionally has a new inch dusted off by an archeologist’s brush. It is often taught that way but it is not. History is a living field. Each generation has a few mavericks who find their own meanings, uncover new evidence, dig up old theories, and utilize new technology in the hopes of illuminating the human story. The history I was taught is not the same history my children are being taught, nor will their children learn the same material. We don’t know everything. I would argue we are only starting to learn how to learn. Why, then, limit our ideas? I’m open to considering Graham’s theory because it is not impossible. It could easily be fact. Let us not forget how Troy was found. Besides, there is something to be said for shaking up puzzle pieces to see if they make a new, better picture.
Undaunted by the continuing backlash, Graham has continued his research and soon his sixteenth book Magicians of the Gods will be available. It will contain all new information learned in twenty years since Fingerprints, including what the massive 12, 000 year old Gobekli Tepe site in Turkey (which is amazing) might mean to the development of human society, and to paraphrase Graham, what we as a species may have forgotten about our past.
I cannot stress how much I am condensing the Graham’s work. Do yourself a favor and look him up. Judge for yourself. https://grahamhancock.com/
On to the questions!
1. The alternate history field is by its nature a scattered field. It covers a wide range of ideas postulated by an equally wide range of individuals with varying backgrounds and personalities. The quality of its research and presentation, therefore, is also scattered. Is there any type of peer-review process behind the scenes in the alternate history field to address this? If not, would one not be beneficial? Or, would it go against the free-thinking nature of the field and threaten to create a new “establishment”?
2. Let’s talk about smoking guns for a moment. Given the timeframe in the distant past your theory centers around, do you hope to find physical proof for your theory that is not made of stone, or consists of a possible message rendered in stone? I understand the practicality of using stone in building and the corruptible nature of most materials given enough time, but humans are creatures of comfort. We like art, music, soft places to sleep on, and warm places to share with our loved ones. Do you hold any hope of finding an daily life artifact of the culture which inspired so many ancient works? Is it a type of proof you give any thought to at all?
3. What would you do with an unlimited research budget? I know some people consider questions like this as fluff, but to me learning a person’s BIG DREAM or BIG PLAN is like sneaking a peak into the scope of their thinking.
Those are the questions! Again, I appreciate your time and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
>>> And there you have it, gentle reader. Not too bad, I think.<<<
1.Photo from a 9/15 mirror.co.uk.com article. Copyright SWNS.com
2.Graham at the completely understood and easily explained megalithic walls in Sacsayhuaman, Peru. Photo by his wife Santha Faiia.
3. Photo from www.globalheritagefund.org
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
“We met at Retro Con,” said the man standing across from me whom I most certainly had never met before.
Mark and I were exhibiting our fine artistic wares at the Chase Con Expo in Saratoga Springs. We recognized the man as Jim Martin, a guest star at the show.
“Nope,” I replied. “We’ve never met before.”
Jim is a nice guy and he quickly turned the awkward moment of mistaken identity (I get that a lot. No joke and no idea why.) into a conversation and a proper first meeting. Jim was the co-creator of the early 80’s children’s television program The Great Space Coaster with fellow creator Kermit Love. Isn’t that a great name? Kermit Love. Let that sink in a moment… (Update. Click on Comments to read Jim's correction on the information I found online about his and Kermit's role. The original source is always the best source. Thanks, Jim!)
Here’s what we learned from our pleasant introduction to Jim. His time portraying Gary Gnu in The Great Space Coaster was but part of his thirty-plus year career in children’s television, which included several years as a director on Sesame Street. Let’s just say he’s got five more Emmys then we do and leave it at that.
(He actually carries an Emmy with him at all times. Not really.)
(Here’s Mark Hamill and Jim (right) with his puppet newscaster alter ego Gary Gnu. Mark had a bit role in a few science fiction flicks in the late 70’s and early 80’s.)
Jim is still very busy today as always, but with a little different focus of his time. He acquired the sole right to The Great Space Coaster and is endeavoring to convert its five year run from tape into a digital format. The Internet Age might lead people to think everything is available somewhere but it is not. Jim has been steadily raising funds to convert his cherished work into a format suitable for mass consumption and save it from the very finite lifespan of the magnetic tape format used when the show was recorded. I held one of those Scotch brand magnetic tapes in my hands at the show. I assure you he is undertaking no small feat. He has most of the 250 episodes left to convert into a digital format at $350 a pop. A large, but very cool endeavor.
I donated to the project and you may want to, as well.
If you watched The Great Space Coaster and want to learn more about the restoration project, Jim, or his business partner, fellow creator, and awesome wife Crystal Martin (she rocks) then take a few quality minutes to check out their sites.
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thegreatspacecoaster to download copies of the episodes that have been converted
Friday, October 23, 2015
Mark and I would like to personally welcome our new Alien Overlords and accept their generous offer of superpowers.
We would also like to provide this link to Space.com for even more information this potentially life changing discovery.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
The following was written for a wedding, if its title wasn’t enough of a give away. My sister and her fiancé chose a Southern Gothic theme for their nuptials so I thought it would make a fine backdrop for my reading. It expresses 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (the Biblical passage defining Love often used in weddings) through the Southern Gothic genre. For those not familiar with Southern Gothic, it is not filled with puppy dogs, candy canes, or unicorns dancing on rainbows. Think Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, or the light-hearted, romantic comedies of Edgar Allan Poe. So with that as our context let’s begin.
The Wedding Piece
The old bench was hard like the ground it sat on. It was uncomfortable in a way that spoke of design and not weathering or neglect. Indeed, it looked well cared for. Therefore I could only assume it was for show like a statue in a quiet museum, placed for people to pause at for a moment with the understanding that they must keep moving. The whole town, small as it was in the Louisiana heat, suddenly struck as a museum; a place to linger in but briefly while making as little noise as possible. I adjusted myself around the growing ache in my legs. I looked at my watch. 12:30 PM. The driver who had guided our limping Greyhound bus into the station assured us with a chrome bright smile it would take no more than an hour to repair the problem. That had been three hours ago. I was about to stand when I heard a voice.
“Someone is getting married.”
I turned my head trying not to act surprised. A young woman sat on the far end of the bench. She was slim, pale of complexion. She may have been on my bus, though she was dressed like a woman who does not take buses. It struck me that the same heat sinking into my pores slipped right off her. She looked… cool to the touch. One thing was certain; I had not heard her sit down.
“I beg your pardon, ma’am?”
“In the Church,” she said pointing at a small, simple ivory white building down the road. A large wooden cross hung above its double doors. “I heard someone reciting that verse about Love everyone reads at their wedding so I know there is a wedding happening in that church.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “I don’t see any decorations. There are no cars or carriages waiting out front for the couple. Not much of a wedding when you have to walk home.”
“I know what I heard. I’ve heard it before. ‘Love is patient, love is blind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…”
“Kind,” I interrupted her. “Love is kind.”
“Well of course it is,” she replied. I noticed then she was looking at me. Looking for something in my eyes. I don’t know for what, but from her reaction I had not given it to her. I turned to look at the church again trying to picture what kind of marriage was beginning behind the closed doors
“You’ve said the verse yourself, haven’t you?” she asked.
“Once,” I answered still fixed upon the doors. Her voice had a familiar quality I could not place. The harder I tried to place it the more I could not remember why it was familiar.
“Do you remember the rest of the words?” she asked.
Remembered them? I thought to myself. I had studied every letter and planted every word into the deepest part of my heart. No matter what unfairness fell upon us I would be their captive. I would remember them when angry, when I had to choose the truth or a lie, when I had to trust and hope, and when I had to forgive or be forgiven. I remembered the joy with which I burned them into me. I remember the pain when the world sought fit to take their reason from my arms.
I turned back to look straight at her.
“I can’t say I do.”
To my shock her gaze, though calm, held mine with a startling strength. I could not move.
“Then I must remind you,” she began, “that Love perseveres. Above all else, through all else on this Earth, Love perseveres.”
A loud clatter broke the moment. I turned and saw the doors of the Church were now open wide. When I turned back to her… to…to…. I sat confused and wondering what I had just been doing. Had I dosed in the heat? I felt the growing ache in legs and was about to stand when I heard laughter from within the Church.
Must be a wedding, I told myself not knowing exactly why I was so certain. I smiled at the thought of the unseen couple beginning their journey together. If they have Love, they will persevere, I said to myself as though the words were a blessing upon them.
If they have Love they will persevere.
NEVER THE END…
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
I bought a couple packs of Star Wars pre-movie cards. Like most card sets it has rare specialty cards, whose odds of finding must be posted on the wrapper. Card companies are also required to give consumers a chance to win these cards without purchase. And, of course, Canadians have to also answer a mathematical skill-testing question.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Wow. Scary Wow.
The next in Marvel's Netflix series is Jessica Jones - coming 11/20/15. Jessica is an former costumed hero who fell under the mental control of a bad, bad man. Did I mention he was bad? The experience ended the fledgling hero's career. Don't want to give too much away ("Spoilers.") but villain is being played by David Tennant.
Daredevil's series was very well made and seeing David attached to this project gives me high hopes.
(The “Spoilers,” line? Get it? David Tennant? heh…heh…<tap><tap> Is this thing on?”)
*imagine found via Google search for Purple Man. Source was www.radiotimes.com
Sunday, September 27, 2015
The #1 flavor in Canada? Looks like I'm about to learn what Zap Rowsdower tastes like.
Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fans will get this. For all others, enjoy the pleasure of looking up just who the hell is Zap Rowsdower and the film The Final Sacrifice. Comedy. Gold.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Recently I was searching how-to video's on YouTube about my new chainsaw. A few short click later I found the vid I needed. It was straightforward, informative, talked about safety gear, and was pleasantly short.
It had 31,578 views.
The sidebar showed several other suggestions based on my search criteria. The one titled "48 Year Old BEAUTIFUL LUMBERJACK CHAINSAW SURVIVAL CHICK! Farm Girl" chronicled the aforementioned farm girl using a chain saw while wearing tiny shorts and furry boots.
It had 679,795 views.
I cannot think of a better snapshot of the Internet…
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Channeling the behavior of a proper card-carrying ghoul I recently returned to Greenridge Cemetery in Saratoga Springs to roam the rest of the property. I found an interesting mix of monuments. Let’s get to it.
I think this is a tomb stone. It was flanked by typical headstones, each spaced the same distance from it. In other words, there was no empty space implying something else should have been there. It is possible it is a marker of some sort, but it had no companions. I saw no markings on it, either. Could be a hat or a board game piece. Maybe a candy dish. I should I have checked it for candy. Darn.
I looked up expecting a giant ACME brand 16 ton weight, or to notice I was under large box propped up by a stick with a string tied to it. Sadly, there was nothing. The symbol actually refers to Heaven or The Heavens where the recently deceased is (supposedly) going.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”
Every inch is covered with small clusters of striations. The anchor symbol could mean the person was a sailor but it was often used as to mean hope or everlasting/eternal life.
An Egyptian themed mausoleum.
Mr. Batcheller and his wife Catharine had quite the life. He was a judge in Egypt who died in Paris. She died in Alexandria, Egypt. The final word on the door is fitting.
This stone marks the resting place of a member of the fraternal order Woodmen of the World. This was a new one to me. The group is well known in the Midwest, but from what I read these graves are not common in the East like other fraternal groups.
Discerning zombies trust Purdy’s Discount Wines and Liquors for when only the finest spirits will do.
I like the columns and the rays of light carved out of the stone above the door.
A closer look at the cross.
Similar designs. I don’t know if the first stone has a base beneath it covered by soil. I try not to bother the residents. I do know it contains a medieval knight who holds a shield bearing the next clue to the Holy Grail. That much I am certain.
This is the only monument I saw with death masks. If you are unfamiliar with the term, these busts are the faces of those buried here sculpted shortly after there death. The empty frame awaits a mask that will never come.
Word on the street is William Worden was a soldier of the republic.
And then we have this humble memorial. The plague indicates a soldier lies here too, but the simple crosses held no name I could see. Quite the contrast from William’s site.
Yes, that is a giant clam shell. It’s covered with very faint writing. They looked names and dates, which would make sense. And finally…
When Willoby’s broken body was found across the tracks on the edge of town the authorities called it a tragic accident. His family, however, knew better. Their son was murdered. They pleaded with the police to re-open the case but no one would listen to them. The ramblings of grieving parents, the townsfolk called it when the McMillan’s were out of earshot. The less forgiving accused them of pointing a finger of blame at every shadow in the hopes of catching the imagined criminal hiding within. They paid no bother to any of the whispered words carried unseen upon the wind. They knew the truth. A new stone was erected over their poor, shattered son. It carried the killer’s name and image for all to see. You can still see it today. “Willoby McMillan was killed by his engine.”
It says so right there.
Monday, September 7, 2015
How did I miss LEGO producing a WALL-E figure?! Shame on me. Well, not really, because this was such an awesome surprise to find on the shelf. Can you believe WALL-E came out in 2008? Tempus Fugit.
In my last LEGO post >>TAKE MY MONEY. LEGO® Scooby-Doo Sets and...YOURS?!
I mentioned the the LEGO Ideas program that allows builders to submit their original creations for possible mass production. WALL-E is such a submission!
According to Andrew Liszewski’s June article on Gizmodo.com the build is a creation of a Pixar animator named Angus MacLane. I’m sure that helped getting the two companies to agree on licensing.
Pretty cool. I must remind myself to remember to set aside time to peruse LEGO for other possible projects-in–waiting. Which can be seen right here >>> LEGO.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
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To say thanks, here’s a picture of Einstein holding an Einstein puppet circa 1931. Reportedly he saw a performance of a traveling troupe called The Yale Puppeteers and this photo somehow came to be afterward. source: www.openculture.com
Friday, August 28, 2015
Readers of the blog will recall my recent piece Consumed by Zombies in which I posited that zombies are our current personification of stress. Given the last few weeks in my life this new piece has ZOMBIES! Do I need to explain the implication? No? Good.
Thankfully my mind has been fighting these dark times by feeding me scenes from some of my favorite British television shows like Are You Being Served, The Young Ones, Keeping Up Appearances, Black Adder, and Ab Fab. And thus, fiction is born.
Enjoy this brief, but far from shallow, Friday dip into the humour pool. We join Lionel and his wife Dianna during a zombie apocalypse already in progress…
They’re at the window again, Dianna.
The Girl Scouts. Cookie season again.
Those are zombies, dear.
Zombies. The undead. Walkers. Flesh Eaters. The recently deceased risen to feast upon the flesh of the living.
I thought they were Girl Scouts.
Girls Scouts are shorter.
Oh. I can see that now you put it that way. What do you think they want?
Us, I imagine.
For the feasting bit?
See? I do listen to you no matter what that shrink says... Oh dear.
Is that your shrink right there? The one behind the one pressing up against the window?
Oh, you're right! I liked him, too. Have to find a new one, I suppose. Look! Across the street! A zombie is sneaking up on Mrs. Bouquet. Should we help?
Who? The zombie?
No, Lionel, Mrs. Bouquet. Oh, dear. Too late. How dreadful! Torn limb from limb, poor thing.
Aye. That zombie never stood a chance.
Yes, well it should have noticed the pile of bodies she’s collected by curb. Biggest on the block, of course. We’ll never hear the end of it. Oh no, she sees me. She pointing to her kill pile. Yes, I see them all. Very nice. Well done, dear.
Is Mr. Bouquet anywhere in sight?
With any luck the poor chap slipped her grip long enough to run into the embrace of the first biter he saw.
You’re horrible. Right, but horrible.
Seems to me we didn’t have such things as zombies when we were growing up. An alien invasion from Venus, perhaps, maybe a mad scientist or two with a giant robot robbing banks, or a giant radioactive spider, but zombies eating people? Doesn’t seem right. The world’s changed so much. I’m starting to feel old, Dianna.
It does seem that way. But how different is it really to be eaten by a zombie or disintegrated by a Venusian Death Ray? You’re dead either way. Different road, but same destination. The world may change its tune, but it still marches to the same beat. So, as the old drunk said, we must never, never quit.
I can see that now you put it that way. My voice of reason, ever with me through aliens, arachnids, or all other manner of awful apocalypse. I love you, my dear.
And I you, my pet.
Monday, August 17, 2015
Spent some time today with my son exploring a local corpse depository in Saratoga Springs. It was pretty hot out so we explored only a small bit of the place before heading out for life saving water. A work crew was onsite effecting repairs on older headstones. That was nice to see.
“GET IN THERE AND BRING DADDY BACK A SKULL!”
The roof was falling off, as best as we could tell. Of course, that’s what THEY want you to think. Yes, that’s a mobile home park in the background. Does it take away from, or add to the atmosphere. Discuss amongst yourselves…
Part of our walk amongst the dead is a lesson in symbols and history. This social fellow was a Freemason and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Here’s another example of the IOOF symbol. The f,l, and t stand for Friendship, Love, and Trust. And now you know why they are sometimes called the Three Link fraternity. Or Bronies. Either one.
Darn sneaky zombies. Taking off their shoes and all.
More Freemason symbolism. I am a member, full disclosure. History buff that I am, I could not resist. So, anytime that super-secret money and power wants to start rolling in would be great. Anytime now...I have bills to pay…anytime…
This stone is more than a stone. It lays over the body of a man who owned the local newspaper from 1900 to 1933. Fittingly it is a letterpress of same paper, The Saratogian.
This mausoleum, in my opinion, is one of the highlights of Greenridge Cemetery.
Through the grate above the entrance.
A closer view.
The stain glass window on the back (eastward facing) side of the structure. I will attempt to get more info on my next excursion in.
Cemeteries are history lessons hiding in the open. Each headstone stands above a largely untold human life. Imagine all the experiences, stories, loves, misery, happiness, wins, tragedies, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, or plain human silliness lurking beneath the soil in the form of an empty assemblage of calcium. You and I will join them someday. Can’t avoid that personal apocalypse. At least we can enjoy the time we have while trying to leaving a mark on the world beyond a mere hunk of rock.