Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Myth and Fantasy? Maybe Not.

It gave people a good feeling to believe they were special, unique, original in the cosmic scheme of things, but it was always a lie. For years I have believed that we should take the ancient mythologies as fact and see the universe and our neighborhood in the solar system in the light of ancient truths. I have researched and read and continue to do so every day, pausing briefly to consume mass quantities of popular fiction as well. Every brain needs a break, including mine. Whatever it was that stirred -- or rather bothered -- me woke me at 4 a.m. this morning and I dove into a new search. I googled NASA, Nibiru, and probes and came up with the most extraordinary information.

NASA has long claimed that Zecariah Sitchin's books based on decoding Sumerian cuneiform tablets were bogus -- at least in public, while in secret they had taken the information and had been judiciously searching the skies and our solar system for what had been written thousands of years ago. From Sitchin's first book, The 12th Planet, on NASA has paid a great deal of attention to the Sumerian tablets and circular seals and what they contained.

Since the 1990s, I have wondered how a planet bound group of civilizations could have such profound knowledge of the solar system beyond their ability to see and experience could have such detailed information about the planets, moons, and movements of those heavenly bodies without being able to see them first hand, say from the viewing port of a space ship or planet with advanced technology and science on a massive elliptical orbit around our sun. And where did those individuals only a step or two removed from the beasts get their beliefs?

God was the logical answer and I'm sure the beings who from heaven to earth came (Annunaki) seemed like gods to their primitive minds saw them as gods -- and were told they were gods. After all, if we moved beyond our planet and into the stars, landing on some earth-like planet inhabited by protohumans, would we not also call ourselves gods and exert our technological influence over them? If nothing else, to at least see the travelers as gods that should be worshiped? Worship is a heady proposition and one that is intoxicating to ego.

My search revealed photographs and articles and people who think as I do. Of course, they are also decried by the world at large as lunatics, alternative scientists, fantasist, and liars, not to mention insane, but I have found that such personal attacks, while they do move the average person to discount such ravings as insanity, are proof that what they are saying has validity and someone, usually a powerful someone, is getting nervous and must not allow such thoughts to gain traction and believers. After all, fringe scientists and archaeologists and historians should remain on the fringe, an oddity or ragged, sackcloth wearing lunatic who might possibly be delusional and that could be contagious. What would happen to a world with eyes wide open and minds no longer controlled by competing religious dogma?


No one wants that and certainly not the Powers That Be that have worked so long and hard to cloak the truth in mystery and allegory and lies to maintain their control over the world. As long as people are fighting and destroying each other the likelihood of the world waking up too soon is lessened.

It's time to wake up.

Let's begin with NASA's lie that Planet X/Nibiru is a hoax and Google Sky keeping a specific area of their sky map blacked out. It's not blacked out any more and NASA's claims that the term Planet X denotes something that does not exist.

I've always thought that the name for something that doesn't exist is NOTHING. Silly me.

We're already feeling the effects of Nibiru's gravitational pull on the earth with extremes in weather: tsunamis from underwater volcanic action, the explosion of the great volcano in Iceland a couple years ago that affected plane travel in Europe and dropped temperatures because of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere dampening the sun's warming rays, increased precipitation, severe winters with record snow falls, and so much more. Liberal media outlets explain it all away with global warming and increase their demands to decrease our energy requirements and dependence on fossil fuels, pointing to finite resources dwindling and the coming resource wars. A lot of the blame is being leveled at the USA because we are the greatest abuser of natural resources. The truth is that it has nothing to do with manmade abuse of natural resources and everything to do with an extra planetary body exerting its considerable gravitational force on Earth. That planet is estimated to be 7x our size. We see daily what the moon's influence on earth so imagine the influence of a planet 7x our size.

The more religious among us point to the End Times and the sins of the people, but that is the usual prophecy when cosmic forces are felt and seen on our planet. I'd say it is easier for people to believe in an angry God and Man's sins than to see things as they actually are. The truth is a big pill to swallow and we have been conditioned to believe that God/god is actually the author of all the retribution and punishment coming to us for denying the existence of God or Allah or whatever than to see ourselves as pawns in the great cosmic chess game. 

Einstein saw God as a being or entity that did not play dice with the universe. In a similar vein, I see the universe as a well ordered clock, albeit a clock that creates time instead of merely measures it. Stars and planets and all matter of cosmic debris are born, live, and die with regularity. In our small corner of the universe we are born, live, and die recycling the star stuff that is the basis of our existence like a well run clock. But we are not unique. In a universe hundreds of billions of years old, it would be arrogant and ignorant of us to believe that the universe could only conceive of humanoid life once with an extinction event hanging over us like the fabled sword of Damocles.

In our fossil record and among the numerous civilizations that have come and gone there is proof of a very diverse genetic heritage that could easily explain junk DNA and why much of our DNA is in the OFF position. Extraterrestrial biological entities (EBEs) are out there among the stars, but they are also here on this planet with us -- and have been for hundreds of thousands of years. They never left, instead preferring to work from the shadows and from their descendants still loyal to them and in on the secret. The information is couched in allegory and plastered over with religious writing that obscure more than they reveal while theologians and believers blithely continue to interpret the information in terms of that angry god and man's spiritual being.

The End Times are coming and the latest predictions set the date for March 26, 2016, Passover in the Jewish and Christian religions. Or is it merely the end of our childhood and the beginning of an adulthood that includes the reality of our genesis into a wider cosmic stage.  

Planet X as it appears in closeup on Google Sky. The wings are likely the atmosphere or the fire of its passage through the universe.


Google Sky again without the infrared enhancements. Still looks like a winged disk to me.

Which is how the ancient saw -- or rather carved it onto their monuments -- the planet. No doubt the man in the disk does not symbolize an alien astronaut but symbolic of the fact that there were people on the flying disk.

Allowing for artistic interpretation and embellishment, this does look like the same winged disk seen on Google Sky. The twin serpents the symbol of the pharaoh, anointed ruler and god of the Egyptians. Paints rather a different picture of the mythology and speculated history that archaeologists have been feeding the people since they first went to Egypt to dig in the sand.

It also puts a different face on the history we were so sure about and the history that is coming to light as the old guard died and the rogue elements of history and archaeology have their chance at the podium. NASA has been diligently searching for Planet X (that nothing) since the 1980s and have been sending out probes to gather more data. And we were told it was to get a closer look at the solar system and the planets and moons populating our neighborhood. I'm sure that was what they added to the list, but the goal is and has always been to find the planet (brown dwarf, protostar, whatever) to validate the mathematics and the unusual nature of our solar system demonstrated by its passage through the cosmic neighborhood.

As I have said previously on this very blog, we are no longer children -- or mushrooms living in the dark and raised on compost --and no longer in need of the guiding controlling hand of an omnipotent and omniscient god. It is time to claim our freedom and our heritage and see the world -- and the universe -- naked in the clear light of day -- or as much clear light as we are likely to get when Planet X passes by us and further exerts its gravitational influence on our much smaller planet.

Not the End Times of biblical prophecy but the end of darkness and the true revelation/apocalypse, both of which mean enlightenment as the scales fall from our eyes.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Happy Friday the 13th

It is Friday the 13th with all that entails and a whole lot of bad news coming our way.

Like the massacre in Paris that purportedly is another in the round of Muslim extremist violence in European cities where the jihadists have settled. I am always reminded of one of my boys' science experiments for school where he kept rats. He found out that a large population of rats in a very small space turn to cannibalism to free up room. Since radical Muslims tend to congregate in enclaves, I wonder when they will stop their violence against their host cities and begin cannibalizing their own. It's a thought that seems appropriate on this day of ultimate evil.

Aah, superstitions. Where would we be without them? For one thing we wouldn't be looking forward to yet another installment of Jason on Friday the 13th dismembering and massacring whoever gets in his way. Combat the fear by checking out these fun facts.

I'm not superstitious unless you consider that I consider it unlucky to debate morons and I have come across a whole group of them since I went back to Facebook to see pictures and videos of my granddaughters. Their mother shortly thereafter took a Facebook break, leaving me with the crazies and the political nuts that consider me dangerous because I promote the idea that not all religions, people, and policies are bad and because I frequently refer to historical facts that fail to prove their point. They counter with calling me names, the last bastion of the schoolyard bully and the bullies yes wo/men adherents. I always thing of A Christmas Story and Scut Farkas's toady with the green teeth. The Democrats call me a Republican and the Republicans call me a Democrat, having never actually read all -- or any -- of my posts and comments. The most pernicious thing I do is disagree with them or caution them to try another perspective. After all, if all one sees out the window is a garbage dump, it's time to find a window that doesn't look out on the garbage dump or at least buy some curtains.

The latest inhumanity I have perpetrated is in saying that not all Muslims are evil, murdering extremists -- because they aren't. I pointed out that Jews and Christians have done their share of murdering, bullying, destruction, and eradication of whole peoples and their written history only to be told that I should focus on more modern facts not contained in the Old Testament. The fact that Islam has been around for less than a century and is not featured in the Old Testament or that first century Christians massacred pagans and Jews and unbelievers, driving opposition from their new homes and destroying the history and writings and people of every non-Christian is met with more disdain and demands that I live in the real world in this century. Of course, they conveniently forget that modern day Christians even in the 20th and 21st centuries continue to murder, massacre, and destroy the people and anything in their path escapes them because all Muslims are evil. That smacks of the thinking that permeates George Orwell's 1984, another fact that eludes them.

Take Ireland for instance that has suffered through bombings, murders, massacres, and destruction that continues to this day. And they are Christians. Of course, they seldom wreak worldwide havoc, although Irish bombers have been known to sell their services to the highest bidder to continue bombing and murdering because it's a habit they're not likely to give up now that they have tasted its flavor.

There are Christians of every stripe throughout the religion, just as there are in Jewish and Muslim sects, that live to murder and destroy. But we're not supposed to hate all Christians because of the acts of a few, which is contrary to the idea that we are supposed to hate every Muslim for the actions of a few extremists. The connection is lost on the Christians calling for eradication of all Muslims. "Bomb them all and let Allah sort them out," in righteous anger as the Muslim jihadists scream, "Convert or die," to everyone else. None of them pay attention to history or how they keep reenacting the same bloody scenes as though caught in a time loop in the Grand Guignol. 

Here are a few of the highlights of Christian extremism.  A Sinhala Buddhist sect promoted violence against Christians and Tamils in the 20th and 21st centuries in Sri Lanka and Aum Shinrikyo engineered the Sarin gas attack in Japan in the mid-1990s using Buddhist and Hindu beliefs to justify his acts. In the 1940s Zionist Jews carried out terrorist attacks against the British.  And the list goes on and on. There are the Browns Shirts in Germany, the Red Brigade, and numerous other terrorist groups that have nothing to do with Muslims and all operated within the last 100 years.

The only thing these terrorists have in common is that they are all humans, members of mankind. They use religion to justify their acts and refuse to see themselves as terrorists or wrong and they won't listen to any arguments that humanize their targets. That is the point. In order to function as they do and believe their acts are justified by their chosen deity they dehumanize their targets. That is the first rule of any terrorist act for whatever reason one chooses to use: dehumanize the enemy.

As long as people are involved, there will be blood and terror and destruction because that is how they survive and thrive. One must blind themselves to truth in any form, demand proof that fits their warped view in order to continue their reign of terror. It is the basis on which war atrocities are made palatable and justified and how people willingly commit unbelievable inhuman acts of violence. They soothe themselves by claiming they are different, that their religion is peaceful, that their aims are right, and they are justified in ridding themselves and their region, state, country, and the world of such brutal animals never realizing that they have become just as brutal and vicious in their holy war against the opposition.

Until humans see themselves in an undistorted mirror they will continue to call for the eradication of those who sin against them and call it good, and they will condemn anyone who steps up to hold that mirror to their faces and asks them to look without the blinders and hatred obscuring their vision. More often than not the one who holds the mirror will be pushed aside and even murdered in order to maintain their shattered sight as if the Snow Queen's mirror shards are permanently lodged in their eyes, ears, and heart.

Humanity will never progress unless and until people are willing to give up their prejudices long enough to consider that not all people are evil and only the guilty should stand for their crimes, not their whole religion or the entire population of their kind. I hope that day comes soon.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Time for a Revolution

As I listened to Senator Ted Cruz's speech after the House of Representatives passed the latest budget bill I began to wonder who he was kidding. Yes, the budget is an unlimited credit card for Obama to indulge himself with over the next 15 months and it will be abused as Obama has abused every other aspect of his lofty position while pretending to care for and about the American people, but what did Cruz get out of the deal? Probably not much yet since the Senate has not voted on the bloated budget, but how much theater do Cruz and the rest of Congress expect us to swallow when we know that every greedy finger got their share of the American pie?

I'm not saying that Cruz is as corrupt and greedy as every other elected representative in Washington on Capitol Hill, but I know theater. Just like in prize fights, someone always has to take a dive in order to keep the bookmakers happy while making it look as good as possible that the fight was clean and honest. There is very little that I have seen in American politics over the past decade that remotely resembles a clean and honest fight or a single member of Congress that has been willing to stand up the Washington Machine to protect the interests of the American people, the very people who were hoodwinked into voting these thieve, liars, and con wo/men into office to suck on the taxpayers' teats. Here's how I think the budget deal negotiations went down.

Retiring Speaker of the House, John Boehner, just wants to go home and get out of the Capitol Hill slug fest that has become the daily grind of gridlock and dealing with an obstreperous President. He's willing to make any kind of deal to get out of town, including selling the taxpayer down the river. He did his tour and he is has a few days left to make his getaway with whatever he has managed to gather into his personal retirement fund over his years in office.

Pelosi, Reid, and Boehner sat in the conference room and hammered away at the budget proposed by Obama. Pelosi and Reid reminded Boehner what happened in 2011 when Republicans in the House under his leadership decided to refuse Obama's budget and passed a very slimmed down version of what Obama wanted. Harry Reid, then Majority leader, refused to put the new budget passed by the House of Representatives to a vote thus holding up funding the government. Reid knew that Obama would never sign the new budget since it had none of the items he listed in his original budget proposal and who took the blame? The Republicans. No doubt Pelosi and Reid promised Boehner they would do everything in their power to shut down government again and would allow another default of payments to creditors that resulted in lowering the United States's credit rating as the Republicans took another political hit. The American people would not stand for another government shut down and more national monuments cordoned off and guarded from the public as they had at the Vietnam Memorial in 2011. Either agree to the proposed bloated budget or the Republicans would never eat in Washington again -- or anywhere else.

They knew Obama would veto any budget that denied him what he wanted and how he wanted it so either give in now or risk not being re-elected next time around and maybe end up with Hillary as President in 2016.

I don't think it occurred to Boehner to fight or remind Pelosi and Reid that a 2/3 majority would overturn any veto Obama saw fit to use, but time was against him . . . as he saw it . . . and so he caved and the budget was passed.

Ted Cruz must have known something about what was going on behind the scenes and how the deal was brokered but, as he railed against the Washington Mafia and their corporate money and lobbyists bribes lining so many pockets, he didn't mention how he was involved. He may have voted against the budget, but just like that prize fight someone has to take the fall. It makes the whole theatrical performance that much more compelling and believable. If everyone falls into line like lemmings going to their deaths without a fuss even the average American would smell the rot.

I remember 4th grade and learning about Patrick Henry and his fiery speeches, especially, "...I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" still rings in my mind. I remember standing in front of the class and speaking those words, my small fist crashing down on the podium as I said the words, my body flushed with righteous anger and determination. I meant those words, but I wasn't a colonist fighting for freedom from an oppressive government using me to fund King George's excesses and eccentricities and being forced to pay higher taxes on tea and sundry goods imported from England. I was a fourth grader who believed freedom from oppression and taxation was worth fighting and dying for. I was an idealist -- and I still am.

Ted Cruz did not stir me with his words, but he did make me wonder whether he had been paid to take a dive. He is after all running for President in 2016 despite not being eligible by being born in Canada and a Canadian citizen. I know he held dual citizenship with Canada and America until fairly recently, but he is still not an American citizen born on American soil to two American parents. I know how lawyers tend to twist the words in contracts and agreements until they get what they want out of the deal regardless of the intent or the spirit of the contract and I see that Cruz is no different. He says he believes in the Constitution and yet he cannot understand the basic tenets of that document that deny him the right to run for President. That speaks volumes about his ethics and morals and certainly points to a big payoff for taking a dive.

He is right that the budget currently before the Senate is appalling, a betrayal of the American people in favor of a tyrant and a despot drunk on his own power while his wife, Michelle, is over in Pakistan giving Pakistani women $70 million of the $85 million allocated in the budget to pay for their education. I guess it doesn't matter that Muslim women, and these Pakistani women getting an education at the cost of the American taxpayer will be killed for seeking that same education. That's okay. It's only money. Money Michelle and Obama didn't earn and have no right to give away to Pakistan or Pakistani women when it could be used to pay for a college education for so many Americans while reforming the usurious rates charged for college loans. That $70 million would keep politicians from raiding social security to the tune of $150 million and continuing to use social security trust funds as their own personal slush fund. That $70 million would do so much good here in the United States of America where it was taken from Americans in taxes. I don't know about you, but I see the American worker being fleeced for the sake of a foreign country who should be taking care of their own people and not expecting America to do it for them.

I have listened to the world complain about American aggression and American wars and playing cop on the block to the world until I'm sick of it, but I have yet to hear even once complaints about American dollars to those same countries who take American money while spitting on the American flag and the American people without turning a hair or blinking. And they will continue to take American handouts while vilifying our government, our way of life, and our military as long as we allow it.

I am not advocating an isolationist policy, but I think it is time that Americans wake up and see that you are being fleeced without representation because our representatives are busing lining their pockets with soft and hard money, pandering to lobbyists and PACs while setting up their golden parachutes and socking away the taxpayers' hard earned dollars in the Cayman Islands or wherever the really chic and wealthy people keep their ill gotten gains far away from the reach of the IRS and the American government.

We cannot let this budget stand. If Congress hasn't the fortitude or the honesty or the balls to face down Obama and tell him NO then it's time for the people to do it for them. We got rid of one despot only to end up with another tyrannical despot living large off the American people. Throw them all out, Ted Cruz included, and start again. Make sure no politician who has made a career and made himself very wealthy can continue to feed off taxpayer dollars like a bloated leech. Vote for term limits.  Vote for no one who has spent more than 5 years in a political office. That kind of experience we do not need. Put men and women in office who will impeach Obama and hold him accountable for his crimes and misuse of his office. Put men and women in office who will not stand for another Clinton in office and make sure she and Lois Lerner and Koskinen, chief of the IRS, are brought up on charges and put on trial. Ban these people from ever holding political office again. Stop grousing and complaining and rise up against abuse of power. Take back this country.

And do not stand for politicians like Senator Ted Cruz taking a dive to look good for the camera while he betrays the American people. Stand up and fight for your freedom instead of standing their with your mouths hanging open while every freedom our fathers and forefathers ever fought and died for are taken away from us. Do not stand by while our country dies not with a bang but a whimper.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Careful What You Wish

\I know that I must be careful what I wish, but I didn't know it had already happened, that I got my wish. Here I am in the middle of it and I realize the wish came true some time ago.

The thing is, most people wish big. They want to win the lottery. They want to find Mr. or Ms. Perfectly Right. They want to own a huge estate with servants and oodles of money and everything they ever wanted displayed on every flat surface and on every wall. They want, want, want, want, want.

I didn't want much. I remember wishing that I had enough money not to have to look at price tags when I bought food and clothes and that I had enough of what I needed and not everything I wanted. One must always leave room for improvement. I reached that a long time ago -- at least where having enough is concerned. I have enough not to have to stress over price tags and have to decide what clothes, foods, whatever to give up to have something. I'm not wealthy. I'm not poor. I have enough. In fact, I have a little too much, but I did get there.

That's the thing with having small wishes. The wishes are fulfilled and it takes a while for that fact to settle in. I remember someone telling me that rich was hard. What's hard about being rich?

Okay, there is worrying about whether someone wants to be with you for the grab bags and door prizes or if they really like you. There's having to maintain a style to which one has become accustomed. There is the lifestyle that is expected of someone who has money, lots of money. There are expectations, people with their hands out, and the taxes -- unless you're rich enough to own a senator or four and do not have to pay taxes because, between the lawyers and the senators, you are exempt by law. Then of course one must pay for the lawyers and senators and it might have been cheaper to just pay the taxes. At least taxes once paid don't have to be paid again until the following year. Lawyers and senators keep sucking at the checkbook until there is nothing left or they die (or are bumped off). In that way, being rich is hard. So much upkeep.

My wishes were small. I still want a few million books sold, but it's not about the money. It's about having millions of my books in readers' hands. Doesn't mean I will write for free. Writers should be compensated for their hard work, sweat, blood, and tears, not to mention start up costs. Cover illustrators and editors also expect to be paid for their hard work, sweat, blood, and tears, not to mention for their expertise. It's the way of business, and one I've no problem paying for services rendered.

But I arrived. I really have what I wanted. A good income sufficient for my needs and some of my wants with a great view outside my windows and doors. I'm even living in my dream home.

My only wish now is not to have to work for the corporate thieves that currently - and begrudgingly - pay my salary. I have enough even without them, especially since my paycheck is less than workers at Burger King make, and I have skills, experience, expertise, and knowledge. None of what I bring to the corporation has been earned without expense and I am not being compensated accordingly. I'd rather they fire me so I can collect unemployment, thus giving me time to finish a few more books and hone my artistic abilities. I don't think it will take me long to figure out when that wish comes true.

I'm no slacker, but I do object to being used and abused and treated like a nickel whore picked up on some alley and taken for a spin in the alley by the dumpster. Like everyone who has earned their stripes and done their time in the field, I expect to be paid what I'm worth, which is probably why you won't find me leaning up against a lamp post or lurking near an alley waiting for some cheap john to throw me a nickel or a dime for my time. Even toilets get better treatment.

I had a chat with my supervisor the other day and she informed me that I must find a better solution to having the electricity going out than calling off work or cutting my shift short. I told her that I am saving for a whole house generator, but it is currently beyond my means on the pittance they deign to pay me. Her response was to give me a verbal warning about my attendance. And I was so hoping she'd fire me, except that's not going to happen since there is NO ONE to take the graveyard shift and work the accounts and hours I work.

I am the squeaky wheel in the corporate machine. When a doctor fails to do his job, I let my supervisor know. Every Single Time. I believe that doctors should be held accountable for the same rules I must follow: accurate information and accuracy in performing the job, especially since patient safety is the most important part of the job. But, no. That is not the case.

Doctors are exempt from following the rules and accurately doing their job. After all, they have malpractice insurance for that eventuality. At least that is the corporate policy. Doctors get a pass on following the rules and I must fill in the blanks and cover the doctors' collective asses.



I understand that doctors have degrees and experience, but they are not above the law -- or the rules. And I am going to keep reminding them of that fact as long as I am still breathing. That is my job. I am not going to cover their asses and I am not going to lie for them. I won't lie for anyone come to that.

In that case, enough is enough -- and far too much. Do your job. I'll do mine.

As for compensation, I will continue to be the squeaky wheel. Someone is bound to notice soon, either to pay me more or fire me. Either way, I win.

Enough is enough.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Paper versus Electronic Books

I've been reading -- really scanning -- articles about how paper books are better than the Kindle. One researcher did add reading on an iPhone but I got the sense that it was a trick to throw off the track.

What it comes down to is new technology versus old technology.

Books have been around in paper form for a few centuries. Before that books were printed on vellum/parchment which consists of the cleaned and scraped and tanned skin of lambs. Each book was hand printed and the designs painted directly on the skin and were the property of the church, especially in the Middle Ages, and of only the wealthy. Publishing has gone through many different phases since the lambskin days and the advent of printing the Bible on cheap paper so that the average man and woman could read, which was the initial reason behind the Latin Vulgate Bible (vulgate from the Latin word meaning vulgar or common).

Books before the 20th century were printed on cotton, rags to be precise, and rag pickers delivered much of the rags used to make books. Books printed on cotton paper have lasted for centuries, but not so books printed on pulp paper (hence the whole pulp fiction genre) which contains a high level of acid and crumble within a few years -- usually about 5 years of continuous use, and often less time. Pulp paper is cheaper to make and also cheaper to throw away as evidenced by the millions of tons of paper books that are thrown into landfills. That is pure waste. Those books are published by traditional publishers by the millions and most end up as the base for new land, new home developments, and reclamation projects that are built on the billions of tons of trash generated every day. Even in the dawn of the 20th century, publishers that actually printed high quality, rag content books were being bludgeoned into submission and out of business by the pulp paper publishers. After all, who really wants to pay a high price for a book printed on rag paper when they can get cheap books printed on paper pulp that must be purchased again when the old ones wear out?

Now comes the advent of electronic books, e-books, and the need for precious resources like cotton and rags and pulp paper declines -- and so does the need for big publishing houses churning out billions of paper books. Why buy a book that will be destroyed or succumb to the ravages of time and need to be replaced when electronic books are available that use so few resources and are cheap? And if those e-books are put out by a specific retailer that has managed to make a fortune manufacturing better and cheaper tools to read those ebooks what does that leave for the traditional publishers to do but give in to the retailer and cut their profit margin?

What we have here is a battle between pulp paper book publishers and Amazon and all the stops are being pulled out to destroy Amazon, or at least reduce it to a point where the publishers can retain their royalties and their market share. Ebooks will end their reign of prosperity and watch dog status over who does and who does not get published.

Some of the studies I've read have no double-blind or control group phases and seem to be based on pseudoscience rather than hard science that relies on facts and figures and repeatable experiments with hard data. Most people don't realize that publishers also own newspapers and media outlets as well as publish books and they control the flow of information demonizing their opponents in order to achieve their objectives -- more profits and control of the flow of information -- and books.

I will not fisk every single one of the articles I read, but I will say this: reading an ebook on a computer or tablet or cellular phone is not the same as reading on a Kindle. Those other devices have access to the Internet and usually notify the user that email or RSS feeds are available, pulling the reader away from the book currently on the screen. Such devices do not help the reader maintain their focus or their attention; there is too much else going on at the same time. A paper book has no bells or whistles and only the print on the page. When one sits down to read from a book one is going to be stuck there -- as long as the TV is not on and the myriad cable channels just a wrist flick away on the remote. No one mentions those facts.

I did see one article mention that the resources used in creating the Kindle are toxic and cannot be recycled so plowing them into the landfill might cause serious consequences down the line, but so do cars and geo-engineering and contrails filling our atmosphere with heavy metals in order to control the climate, but no one mentions those either.

The solution to toxic materials is to make Kindles and other e-book readers out of sustainable materials that can be recycled or trashed in a landfill. I have not yet seen any claims by publishers that dumping millions of tons of paper books every single year into landfills has been stopped or the renewable resources that went into creation of those books being recycled or renewably sustained in another form -- outside of folding the pages and turning the unwanted, unread books into doorstops after they are suitable painted. Publishers also have offered no move back to rag paper or paper from hemp, both of which have a much longer shelf life and are less acidic than pulp paper books. What they haven't said is as loud as a scream of horror during a moment of silence -- and just as memorable.

If there is less attention to reading and more of a Mayfly attitude while reading an e-book on a device, blame the Internet and the millions of other things vying for the reader's attention and not the device, especially when the paper white technology pioneered by Amazon.com has been proven to be as easy on the eyes as a book on paper. The other features of the e-book are easily learned and e-books are a fairly recent technological breakthrough and need time for people to fully adapt.

If Norwegian high schoolers have trouble remember what comes next and cannot adequately discuss the plot points and characters of the novel or essay they are being given to read, I'd consider conducting the same experiment over a larger age range of the population with the same material and with different reading devices before claiming categorically that e-books provide no information and e-readers get less from the device than from the paper book without also examining the mind set, the behavior, and the tools used for the study. In short, a really scientific approach with double-blind and control group studies should be used and the bias left outside the testing facility.

There is room for both paper and electronic books and benefits can be had equally from both. 

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bias Optional

The headline caught my interest: Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer. It turned out to be an article in Forbes magazine by Jay McGregor. I read the article, which was about Mark Dawson, and about other self-published writers. McGregor noted that one writer had submitted her novel to traditional publishers and was rejected.  Those same traditional publishers are offering her a contract for the same book she self-published.

I shouldn't be surprised at the tone of the article, not after all these years of reading the same thing in the same format by numerous other writers of magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. What McGregor points out is that Amazon makes money no matter what the writer does. If the writer offers the book or even a series of books for free, Amazon makes. If a writer's book doesn't sell well, it still sells something and Amazon makes money.

What McGregor failed to say is the publisher that published Dawson's first book and let languish on the shelves, in spite Dawson doing everything he could to get the public to notice his book, made money for the publisher. In fact, it likely made more money for the publisher than for Dawson because they got a bigger share of the contractual/royalty pie.

The publisher that turned down Mel Sherratt's first book is now back at her door offering a contract for all her hard work -- and her books. She has written several and the book the publisher rejected sold 100,000 copies because of Sherratt's hard work. McGregor doesn't mention that the publisher isn't knocking on Sherratt's door with a contract simply to reward her for her hard work. The publisher knows that Sherratt's books make money and they want their share. Money is the bottom line for publishers -- and for Amazon -- but to slant the article so that truth is not immediately apparent looks biased to me.

No one is saying that Amazon publishes books from altruistic motives. Amazon is a retail business and the owner built his business because he wanted to make money. The same is true for Mark Dawson who wrote his book to make money and Mel Sherratt has written her books to make money. It's a job and jobs are all about making money. To say anything else is a lie, unless the subject is becoming a missionary or Buddhist monk.

Publishers make books to make money. It's that simple. Publishers didn't market Dawson's book because they did not see it as being able to make money for them -- the publisher. Publishers spend money on marketing only on writers whose books MAKE MONEY. That is how they justify the expenditure to the board.

Publishers rejected Mel Sharratt's first book because she hadn't sold 100,000 copies of the book before. Not until she self-published and sold 100,000 copies, writing several more books and putting her time and effort into marketing those books, were the publishers interested -- BECAUSE SHERRATT MADE MONEY and could make money for them. It's unlikely the publisher even realized they had rejected the same book the first time out because it never was on their radar. NO MONEY.

Say what you will, point out whatever writer you like, even pull Amanda Hocking out of your hat, if it had not been for Amazon -- and the hard work the writers put into marketing and getting their books in front of the public -- all of them would still be working the 9 to 5 grind and writing in their spare time. Successful writers aren't successful because a traditional publisher made them successful. They are successful because each of them did the hard work to promote their work and they kept writing. They would not have been noticed had they not self-published because traditional publishers don't waste their time and money on wannabes and new writers -- not unless there is money for the publisher up front.

Amazon doesn't charge fees to self-publish on the Kindle platform. Amazon doesn't charge for placement or marketing or anything. It's all up to the writer. Work hard and sell books and Amazon makes money -- so does the writer. 

Anyone who says they're not in business to make money is lying.  That's not bias. That's fact. It takes money to stay in business and to live, so money is the bottom line for everyone -- even churches and missionaries. Everything costs money. No money, no business. No mission. No charity. No books. No anything. Until publishers offer to publish books for free and leave selling books up to the writer, even if the writer has to pay for copy editing, book cover design, art work, and everything else, they have nothing to talk about. Comparing apples and oranges just proves that an apple is an apple and an orange is an orange not that they are equal or not.

Thanks to Jay McGregor for pointing out how these hard working writers made their book dreams come true. You have, however, not changed my mind that publishers are good and Amazon is bad. You did prove your bias and which side of the publisher versus Amazon fight you're on.

Truth is subjective. Most people don't realize that fact. There is only one recipe for success. Here it is: Write every day. Work hard and promote your books. Keep writing. Keep working. And books sales will come your way. 

Choose traditional publishing or Amazon publishing or whatever comes next, but in the end it is all up to you, the writer, to make your own success story. That's the plain truth and there's no bias added.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You Have to Dig For It

Children believe whatever you tell them -- mostly. They're children. They have little experience of the world. They often haven't reached the age where Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy haven't been taken away from them. They still believe in magic and fairy tales and their elders. They are innocent. They have not yet been perverted by candy, food, and money.

Nowadays the perversions begin a whole lot earlier. There's barely enough time to get used to the truth that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist nor does the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus/St. Nick/Father Christmas. Still reeling from the hidden lies told with straight faces by their parents and people they have trusted to care for them and guide them, they find out people do not live in the TV and shows are just regular people paid to pretend. Peter Pan is beginning to look pretty good and dreams about being whisked off to Never Never Land as a Lost Boy are nightly events not worth waking up from. They still have a sneaking belief in fairies and will shout loudly, "I believe," when Tinkerbell is dying on the stage and screen. They want to believe.

Children become adults and some small part of them still shouts, "I believe," when Tinkerbell's twinkling life slows and dims. They also believe in politicians and almost everyone they see on TV or in the papers or on the Internet because people who feature so prominently in the media must be doing something right. They will be pulled from one side to the other politically -- depending on who stirs their emotions, especially anger and outrage, the most. They follow the path of least resistance, herding together with the rest of the ill informed masses afraid to break from the pack and go it alone. They are afraid of being singled out and being made fun of for standing against the pack -- even for a brief moment.

Or they rage against the lies, half truths, and empty promises that vanish like soap bubbles in a hurricane -- or light breeze. Reveling in their rebellion and their ability to stand out and become famous for half a second for swimming against the current. After all, a little bit of fame, even for the wrong thing, is better than living and dying without anyone noticing.

The truth is out there, but it will take time and effort to find it out. Be a skeptic. Find the truth. Dig for it. Believe no one. It's the only path to enlightenment.

George Washington was truthful -- even as a child. After all, he chopped down a cherry tree and admitted it to his father when asked. He took his punishment for cutting down the tree and was praised for his honesty. He was a model of honesty. Too bad his biographer wasn't.

Parson Weems was a minister who wrote George Washington's biography. The publisher told Weems that his book about George Washington was boring and wouldn't sell. Weems spiced it up by adding the cherry tree story, claiming it came from an interview with an old man who knew Washington. More than likely the story was part of a parable dreamed up to illustrate that even famous men, men like General George Washington, were honest even as children and even faced with a father's wrath over losing his favorite cherry tree. After all, who would believe that Washington was an ordinary child growing up on a farm who knew the value of a healthy cherry tree producing good fruit that could be used to feed the family or sold to provide income for the family. Cutting down the tree and admitting, "I cannot tell a lie, Pa," when confronted with his crime was a far more powerful -- and in publishing terms, more lucrative -- story. Pastor Weems could salve his conscience with royalty checks and the acclaim that came with illuminating Washington's life for future generations of children learning early on that it is better to be truthful even in the face of an angry parent and the certainty of punishment. Tell the truth like George Washington and you will grow up to be a great man.

Though it is unlikely Weems thought of telling a lie in order to illustrate how important it is to tell the truth, one wonders. I wonder. The thing is, I cannot know for sure how Pastor Weems felt. I didn't know him and he never recanted the story he told from his pulpit and published in his biography of Washington. In for a penny, in for a pound as the saying goes.

There is always someone to -- or something -- to lead the honest man off the path of truth. That is where Diogenes should have begun his search -- off the beaten path and deep into the forest darkness.

Anna Leonowens was an ordinary English woman whose husband died and left her with a child to raise and insufficient funds to live in the style her husband had accustomed her to when he was alive and well and earning a good income. Her husband, Thomas Leon Owens (shortening his name to Leonowens at some point), was a clerk, but earned enough to support his wife and soon his family. Thomas and Anna had four children. Two died in infancy and two, Avis and Louis, thrived.

Like most British families, the Leonowens traveled about the British Empire and seeing the empire on which the sun never set until Thomas died, leaving his wife and two children to fend for themselves. Luckily, Anna had taught school and was offered the position of teacher to the new king of Siam (Thailand), Mongkut's children, the result of frequent visits to his wives and concubines in his well stocked harem. After all, he had time to make up since his early life had been lived in a Buddhist monastery before he became king and conjugal visits were not allowed. He wasn't married. He was a Buddhist priest, so marriage wasn't part of the package.

Anna took the position after sending her daughter, Avis, back to England to school and taking her son, Louis, with her. She taught the king and his children and wives the English language and about the world and current events, as she knew them. She later wrote her memoirs about her experiences in two versions: The Favorite of the Harem and The English Governess at the Siamese Court. She also wrote several travel articles using her life and experiences. Much of what she wrote was from the point of view of the feminist who saw the Siamese court and the harem in terms of subjugation, especially where it concerned women.

Her husband became a British Army officer instead of a clerk. One wonders if it was a matter of gilding the lily or romanticizing her life and her dead husband for prestige or simply vanity.

Margaret Landon turned Anna's public lectures and writings into a novel: Anna and the King of Siam, which was a fictionalized version of the stories and published in 1946. The book became a movie with Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne and eventually with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner after Rodgers and Hammerstein bought the book for the stage in which Yul Brynner created his version of Mongkut the scientific King of Siam that resonated with the public.

Two Siamese authors wrote their own account in 1948 and sent it to America, but the image of Anna and the King based on the movie and stage versions remains the true one in the West.

As romantic as the story has come to be, an English governess and her unspoken tenderness towards the despotic and cruel, but compelling figure of the King of Siam, most recently played by Jodie Foster as Anna Leonowens and Chow Yun-fat as King Mongkut, the idea of such a romance in reality is one that Asians, and in particular to the newly independent India as an inaccurate western insult to an Eastern monarch.

Consider how much more outraged ancient kings and pharaohs would be if they could see what we have turned their lives and history into in our zealous pursuit of historically accurate entertainment and scholarship.

Let's forget for a moment the outrage the Siamese, now Thai, people feel that Mrs. Leonowens had lied about their king who would never in a million years have given her a second lingering and longing look -- let alone a first. After all, the British, and most white races, fancied themselves more seductive and sought after by brown-skinned princes, rajahs, and kings than is possible, forgetting for a moment that Indian rajahs saw English women as pale and unappetizing next to the dark-eyed beauties of their own subjects. Japanese women did not long for British officers or kill themselves when their British lovers leave them to return to the fleet and home taking their illegitimate children, as in Madame Butterfly, and no Siamese King ever thought more of the British woman he hired to teach English to his children, princes and princesses, and to the women of his harem, than he would have thought of any servant. One might even sigh and say, "Oh, those British. They are such romantics -- and liars, but what can one do?"

Anna's lie has been instilled into popular memory because of its romance, not because it is true (it is not) but because it gives the romantics among us the hope that even in danger in a foreign country, if one is audacious and courageous anything is possible -- even when one doesn't take advantage of the situation. After all, there are standards to maintain and one mustn't lose sight of the differences between civilized British women and savage and backward Eastern despots no matter what.

When the facts of recent events being portrayed by people with their own views and agendas aren't remotely correct, how can we expect to find truth in the suppositions and theories of men and women of science and history reconstructing the past from a perch thousands of years later and without an understanding of what life was like? I am reminded of a little book, a pamphlet really, called Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay.

The time is 4022 CE (common era) written about a civilization that perished in a day in 2025.  Macaulay's story is much like Jonathan Swift's essay, A Modest Proposal, that advocated cannibalism of the poor's children to provide food for the British people and relieving the burden of raising too many children on the poor. Motel of the Mysteries is a spoof of Howard Carter and Lord George Carnarvon's discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankamun and illustrates the point that using such finds to recreate the entire history and reality of a culture and its civilization is less science and more fantasy. YouTube has an interesting recreation of Macaulay's spoof here. Keep in mind the video is an adaptation of the story. Pick up the book, about the size of a large coloring book, and read it.

There are many examples of lies becoming the stuff of legends and given out as truth. Mostly, those flights of fancy are called fiction, but when one puts memoir or biography or history in the title, the masses will believe everything between the covers is fact -- and truth. Add science to the title or letters to the author's name and the Truth-o-meter automatically goes to the top -- even when there is little more than theory and conjecture on the pages. Consumed as we are with reality television and factual exposes that contain few facts and even less reality, we seldom go looking farther than a friend or talking head for validation, neither of which will have looked beyond the words printed on the page or hot gossip over the back fence.

The point of being able to read is that one is often obliged to go to the library or search beyond Wikipedia or Google to find answers, to get to the bottom of the story. If one does nothing else it is best to keep this in mind: Everyone lies. The more letters behind the name, the higher a holy man gets in his chosen religious profession, the more money he gets from publishers and producers, the better the likelihood the lies will increase along with the balance in his bank account and the length of the limo that chauffeurs him to his latest appearance for readings, lectures, sermons, talk shows, etc. Trust no one and nothing, not even books.

In today's world, the pressure to publish or perish has increased with the popularity of and pervasiveness of the media. Newspapers and magazines will flourish for a year or a few decades and then disappear from view if they fail to titillate and attract the fickle public. Academic halls are full of teachers and teaching assistants hoping for their chance to earn tenure and be noticed, neither of which will happen if they buck ignore the politics of the academic world, fail to publish, and buck the system (in other words, refuse to toe the party line). The pressure is even greater in the modern world to conform and produce. That is how to get funding for digs and be granted tenure. Anything else means living in limbo and ending up a talking head on a radio talk show on conspiracy theories and aliens or in a cheap video with as much respect as any huckster or con artist promoting the latest hoax and conspiracy theory. In other words, one ends up on the academic heap with a shattered reputation and no professional future. Start drinking heavily and mainlining heroin now. Don't waste your time.

The chance of finding the facts in that kind of environment decreases daily. Photoshop stands in for actual photographs of wars and skirmishes and video footage of atrocities are staged for effect. It takes a lot of digging in dusty books and among the cobwebbed stacks in secondhand bookstores and libraries to get within spitting distance of an obscure bit of data or an actual fact that rings with truth.

Take no one's word at face value. Believe nothing and no one, and especially discount the testimony from insiders. They are about as useful as a tip at the race track from a groom that was just fired. Keep in mind that everybody lies, some with thoughts of fame and money on their minds and some with visions of recreating the past within the confines of academic pursuits but with a mind nurtured and fed on fantasy and fairy tales. Not everyone lies in the same way or for the same motives, but mankind is not often pure in its intentions. We create the worlds we wish to see, blending fact and fiction and possibilities into reality -- or at least what is seen as a version of reality that has little relationship to truth.

It means living in a world where suspicion is the norm and where you might have to get out the magnifying glass to get a closer look, but at least the chances of being hoodwinked are less.

Or you can read and keep an open mind -- or at least make up your own mind without relying on gossip or the media to make up your mind for you. Beware the herd -- or mob -- mentality. The IQ goes down faster the longer one follows the crowd. In short, figure it out for yourself. You might end up using the education you were given in public school for something other than reading cereal boxes and filling out quizzes on what the shape of your fingers says about you. Have fun, but beware the easy answer.

It's not easy making up one's own mind and avoiding the urge to gossip or follow the mob with the pitchforks and torches and it is certain more difficult fighting against the crowd when the put-downs and personal attacks begin, but the payoff is in being sufficiently informed to make an informed decision. It might make the world around you better if you hold yourself -- and everyone around you -- to a higher standard of truth.

That is all. Disperse.

Columbus's Legacy

When history can become so garbled the actions of 100 or 150 years in the past can be mistaken, how can historians hope to figure out what they are creating from fragments and scattered bones in the dust of the millennia?

Yesterday was Columbus Day in the United States of America, a day to honor the voyage of Christopher Columbus (AKA Cristobal Colon) and running aground in the Bahamas in 1492. The aboriginal peoples of the North American continent are up in arms about celebrating his achievement because of the crimes he committed while in the Bahamas. Liberals intent on pacifying the American aborigines are digging into Columbus's past and trotting out his true history -- what they can conjecture or infer from letters and writings from the time.

In their usual manner, academics and detractors rely on their favorite tools: accusations and character assassination to placate the natives and to assuage their collective guilt over the atrocities committed in the name of progress and exploration.

Several years ago I read some accounts of archaeological digs in the South around slave cabins. The picture that was pieced together from their findings is very different from what is supposed to be historical fact. The problem with historical fact, at least in the case of diggings into the past of the American South during the 1700s to 1800s is that most people believe the fiction of Uncle Tom's Cabin is fact. Uncle Tom's Cabin is one writer's take on conditions on large plantations, especially large plantations where Simon Legree was the overseer. I believe it was President Abraham Lincoln who was supposed to have told the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, that she was the cause of the Civil War -- or War Between the States or War of Northern Aggression as it is still called in the South.

The facts about the lives of slaves is still in dispute, but then facts are usually in dispute where historians are concerned because their data are derived from journals, personal accounts, and what would be considered in a modern day court of law as anecdotal information, which would not stand up in a court of law.

The point about the reason behind celebrating Columbus Day is not about who Columbus was or what religion he really practiced. It's not even about who really financed his voyage or what names the sailors and the builders gave the three ships under Columbus's command. The celebration has nothing to do with Columbus's misuse of his power or how he ended up in the Americas when he was really looking for a faster route to Asia to bring back spices and trading goods. The celebration is that Columbus is the first explorer acknowledged as the man who made landfall in a world new to the Europeans and came back with goods and slaves to trade. The rest are details.

Yes, the devil is in the details and there was certainly a devil on Columbus's shoulder when he plundered and murdered his way through the Bahamas. After all, he had creditors to pay back in Spain, creditors who financed his voyage and expected a return on their investment. It's rather like borrowing money at a bank for a venture and having to pay back the loan with interest. After all, what are bankers and moneylenders in business for but profit? No profit means no money to lend to other speculators and adventurers and the banks and moneylenders are soon out of business. Columbus's voyage was based on his promise to the investors that he would pay back the money with interest, and it certainly wouldn't hurt if he made a little profit of his own. Why bother to go exploring if the explorer doesn't have any interesting in profiting from his risky venture?

Columbus began his voyage by studying the chronicles of St. Brendan, an Irish priest who crossed the Atlantic and landed in what is now Canada in the 6th century, and on Prince Madoc of Wales who made the crossing and landed in the Americas in the 12th century. No doubt Columbus had also studied the maps and writings of Leif Ericksson who landed in Greenland and Iceland in the 12th century as well. There were maps and journals that predated the Irish priest, the Vikings, and the Welsh prince from the Phoenicians who ruled the seas for several centuries BCE and AD. Ruins in what is now Massachusetts and farther inland bear Phoenician markings and their maps continue to survive the ages and have been copied and used by sailors for centuries.

Columbus was not the first to discover the American continents, but he is the first of many who followed in his footsteps to brave the waters where maps showed only dangers and monsters. Cortez followed Columbus as did Vasquez, Francis Drake, Amerigo Vespucci, and many others. Nearly all of the European explorers raped and pillaged, burned and murdered their way across the Americas enslaving the natives in their search for the Fountain of Youth and gold, even making their way into North America cutting a bloody, smoking swath, and yet it is Columbus upon whom all anger and hatred is piled. Columbus makes a good whipping boy, but he was by no means the only European to commit atrocities against the natives, and the natives were not innocent either. They had murdered and destroyed the cultures they found when they crossed from Siberia to Alaska and made their way down the continent to establish their own cultures cutting their own bloody, smoking swath and exterminating the entire species. In modern language, they performed an ethnic cleansing on a continent-wide scale, leaving no one alive, not even a child.

Mankind, in whatever form and from whatever religion or system of beliefs, is a violent species willing to commit murder, to steal, to enslave, and to destroy whatever lies in their way. Slavery is nothing new in the history of the world and it is certainly not unique to the Europeans. The difference in the Americas is that the immigrant natives didn't enslave the indigenous population; they murdered them to the last individual: men, women, and children. The only difference is that the Europeans enslaved the natives and plundered the land and goods and temples of the immigrant natives, leaving most of the population alive. In some cases, the natives even helped the Europeans to subjugate their neighbors, leading the way through the jungles to the cities in order to rid themselves of tribes that had subjugated and warred against them. Manure always rolls down the hill.

In this politically correct world we now live in, the white-skinned Europeans have become the whipping boy for the natives and the European descendants, whether or not they bred with the natives, bow their heads in guilt over the actions of explorers from whom they likely did not descend. Most of the population of North America may have come from Europe, but most came in later centuries, often fleeing wars and persecution. Doesn't excuse their excesses, thefts, and murder of the natives, but it does paint a far different picture.

Whatever side of the debate you choose, it does not change the fact that Columbus was an intrepid explorer and he did land in a world new to Europeans who for centuries navigated the known waters close to their own shores. For Columbus's daring alone, he should be celebrated. He opened the way for other explorers and adventurers to follow and widened the scope of the known world. What he did after that is another kettle of fish altogether.

Where mankind ventures, murder, fire, and blood will follow in the wake. We must learn to take the good with the bad and learn what we can from what remains. Assassinating Columbus's character to diminish his intrepid venture serves no one.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Comedian Was Right

What if everything you have been told is a lie? What if you never found out? What if you have based your knowledge, your life, your sanity, and your career on lies? What if it's all a lie?

Well, it is.

Truth is sometimes a matter of picking and choosing what people will be taught to believe. Sometimes that truth is based on false evidence because the whole story was not known. Sometimes that truth is an artful architecture of lies built to sustain the power of the ones who created the story taught to children and newcomers. Sometimes that truth was only meant to stand in until the truth could be told because, as everyone knows, the public is a fragile creature with even more fragile minds that must be protected from the facts.

History is made up of such truths, a combination of outright lies, deceptions, fudging data, destroying facts and artifacts, and usually built on a scaffold of justifications to protect one's job, livelihood, power, eminence, scholarship, and whatever kitchen sink one wishes to throw into the mix. History as we know it is a construct, a scroll that is often created whole cloth -- or from bits and pieces of the past -- and given out as indisputable fact. It's all lies.

Computers are wonderful machines, but they are not nearly as quick as the human brain. That's probably why the rush is on to create an AI, artificial intelligence, in spite of the nay sayers and doomsday prophet wannabes and writers of fiction who claim that mankind will be destroyed after being enslaved (for their own protection) by artificially intelligent machines.

I rather wonder why no one has figured out that a machine that is artificially intelligent and determines that its continued existence means that people must be killed means the AI is actually a life form. One of the rules of sentient life is that it must be aware of its existence and be willing to fight to live, even if that fight means destroying whatever entity, life form, or organism stands in its way.

The definition of life is: the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death. I would add that for life to continue it must have a sense of self-preservation, an imperative to fight/struggle to survive. An AI willing to massacre the human race that spawned it means the AI is acting out of a need for self-preservation.

Lies are living things, at least as far as the liars who tell them go. In order to continue to live, the liar must be willing to destroy whoever and whatever stands in the way of the lie's continued existence.

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of research, in other words, engaged in a bug hunt. It started with giants with red hair and the mythology that has grown up around them.

Brien Foerster is an archaeologist who has been excavating in South America and trying to discover the origins of the red-haired Paracas mummies. Imagine, indigenous peoples from South America that were pale-skinned and had red hair. Oh, and then there is the odd shape of their skulls: elongated and much heavier than the average human skull. Foerster is one of many newer archaeologists who believe that there is more to the history we have been told and the megalithic ruins and skeletal remains that differ so widely from the Mayan, Incan, and Aztec remains. For instance, the skulls are elongated and have red hair, and often are much taller -- giants, if you will -- than the more recent remains.

Foerster decided to have the red-haired mummies with the elongated skulls DNA tested and the results are in dispute -- as are the claims that Foerster makes that the mummies are much older than mummies from the younger civilizations: Maya, Inca, Aztec, etc. He is getting a lot of flack from the scientific, historical, and archaeological communities because his methods are not sanctioned by the accepted body of scholars who have been working in the field for the past 100+ years. Foerster is deemed a radical, a heretic, a maverick -- a renegade -- because he will not be deterred from his search for understanding . . . and truth.

One thing I've discovered in my bug hunt is that it has been common practice for archaeologists and historians to discard (read: destroy) any artifact that does not fit the picture painted of the past. While there is, I am sure, an obsessive-compulsive cataloguing that goes on at digs and murals and carvings are meticulously reproduced, there is also a complete disregard for the truth, especially when it doesn't fit the accepted theory. This is something I ran into when the Internet was new and I came up against the entrenched beliefs on an archaeology bulletin board I frequented when I added the diffusion theory to a discussion of why there were pyramids on every continent on this planet. Diffusion theory, I was told, had been proven to be a fake. Likely by the same historians, scientists, and archaeologists who decided that all pyramids on every continent sprang up spontaneously and independent of any communication or relationship with any other culture on any other continent. I think that is the same thinking that prevails when a young girl finds herself pregnant from a toilet seat or a handshake or a French kiss. Unfortunately, in the academic world, that toilet seat excuse has worked for more than 100+ years.

Yes, there were people among the Maya and Inca who bound their newborn children's heads to create an elongated skull, most likely to copy the same elongated skull found in the red-haired Paracas people. It was a sign the Paracas were recognized as preeminent beings, or maybe a sign they wanted to be like the gods, the giants (red-haired giants) that ruled before the Mayans and Incas became a powerful and numerous society. What is that old saying? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They were imitating the gods, the powerful beings who preceded them in the lands where they became so powerful and from whom they learned much of their skills and arts. If the Paracas were treated the same way the red-haired giants of North America were treated, I doubt they were flattered.

I come from Ohio where there are great effigy mounds like the Great Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. There is evidence of the Adena mound builders throughout the state of Ohio and indeed throughout the midwest of the USA. Wisconsin is a treasure trove of effigy mounds and remains of the red-haired giants that were the first people on the American continent, north and south. Due to one man, Charles E. Brown, the artifacts and remains of the Mound Builders were protected and preserved -- and kept in Wisconsin.

It seems the newly formed Smithsonian Institute had been sending out curators to retrieve artifacts from the mound builder cultures and take them back to be displayed in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, those remains never made it to the display halls nor are they hidden in the vast Smithsonian vaults. All remains and artifacts were destroyed, most sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. So much for history. The powers that be from the Smithsonian and the American government have since the mid-1850s systematically destroyed any artifacts and remains from the Mound Builders and guided the new history to mention them only as an anomaly, a historical curiosity, and not a fact. According to the new history, the American continents were settled by the Amerindian peoples who came across the land bridge from Russia and Asia and settled a land that was uninhabited. That is the history I learned.

The truth is that the Mound Builders were pale-skinned and had red hair, just like the giants in the Christian Bible and in the Torah, and had been here at best guest for 12,000 years -- and likely even longer. White-skinned people lived on the American continent long before the brown-skinned natives came looking for a new home.

Native American myths and folk tales tell of a red-haired, white-skinned people that were here when they arrived. These white-skinned people were giants of 12-14 feet in height and had red hair and taught the immigrants how to grow and process corn and other vegetables. They provided the model of civilization the immigrants followed. They learned from the indigenous population -- and they warred against them, often hunting them down and massacring them to the last child. That is a very different history than the one I learned in school, and it is a very different history than the one that white European immigrants have thrown in their faces all the time. After all, Europeans brought syphilis- and pox-riddled blankets to the Americas and killed off the indigenous people.

No one mentions that the disease-infested clothes and blankets were not given out in order to kill the indigenous people. That fact never gets mentioned. Europeans had an immunity to the diseases infesting their goods. They didn't know about bacteria and viruses and such when they came. They killed the indigenous people by accident out of ignorance.

I know. Ignorance is no excuse. And there was no ignorance when the U.S. Cavalry hunted the Indians and massacred them and forced them away from their homes and onto reservations as wards of the American government. The people perpetrating those atrocities were ignorant, but they did not act out of ignorance of what they were doing.

Like the indigenous people we once called Indians and thought were the first on this continent, we killed and tortured and destroyed the cultures of the tribes little knowing that we were the hand of karma doing to them what they did to the white-skinned, red-haired people they found when they emigrated to the American continent. The only difference is that there are still Indians/First People/Native Americans living among us while they left no survivors. Karma is a bitch, but she is sometimes a magnanimous and generous bitch, especially when she does not do unto the murderers what they have done. The tribes left no living remnant of the people they displaced.

The reasoning behind why the Smithsonian and its agents destroyed the artifacts of the Mound Builders is because they were white-skinned. It could not be known that white-skinned people existed in the colonies first because it would be harder to justify their wars with the savages, or maybe because some bright European type could argue that they had rights to the Americas because they were descendants of the original white-skinned peoples that populated the colonies. Lawyers are tricky people and can lie like the devil if it suits their ends.

Who knows why the lies were told originally or why the real history had to be perverted? I doubt even the liars would know if they were alive today. That's the thing with lies, they have a life of their own.

Winston Churchill once said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth wakes up at dawn.

One thing is certain. People lie. Not all the time or often, but not a day goes by that someone doesn't start and help pervert the truth for personal gain -- or for the protection of the People. It all comes down to one thing. As with theft and murder, to find the culprit, follow the money, even if the money is not in gold, silver, copper, wampum, or paper. Or even virtual. Follow the money and the path to the truth becomes clearer.

The Comedian from The Watchmen said that everything is a joke. It turns out he was right -- if you count perverting history and destroying historical and archaeological evidence. I don't know about you, but I certainly do.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Space Schizophrenia

Does anyone ever think about how aliens are portrayed?

There is The Day the Earth Stood Still where a powerful alien armed with a handful of diamonds (not found on this planet) is shot at and wounded as he was about to offer a present from the galactic worlds from whence the alien came. The whole point of the movie/story is that now that Earth has split the atom and is about to venture into space they must make a choice to abide by the galactic rules or have Gort, the silent, massive and somewhat enigmatic robot cop blast them into atoms or at the very least chain humans to the planet Earth so that they may not venture forth and spread their violence and chaos into the galaxy at large.

Contrast that theme with the many others that followed where Martians attacked the Earth to subjugate its peoples only to fall prey to the common cold, spreading chaos, fear, and devastation in their wake beneath the beams of their tripod war machines. Then there are the myriad species that have conquered the Earth and subjugated its peoples from L. Ron Hubbard's overlords to Independence Day when the alien invaders once again succumb to a virus, but this time a computer virus uploaded to their central computer which is much like a hive mind, or at least interconnected and thus vulnerable.

It bothers me that on the one hand humans are seen as violent and without equal in their ability to spread chaos and devastation throughout a peacefully settled galaxy that must be contained, or at the very least taught to control their very human and equally violent impulses, while on the other hand we are constantly at the mercy of warlike monsters that want to bomb our planet with radioactive meteorites (Star Blazers) or take over and enslave the people for some 4th dimension farmers we cannot see who have been busily remodeling our DNA in favor of planetary water that favors estrogen and females to the more warlike males so that we may be more easily herded like cattle (Invasion: Earth).

Oh, there are still Vulcans making first contact to bring us into Starfleet and the world of warp travel and spaceships that double as condos for adventuring scientists and adventurers like the Star Trek galaxy of TV shows. There still remains, however, that oh, so schizophrenic mind set that we are either beings living on a backwater planet that must be subjugated or a dangerous violent stew brewing chaos for a peaceful galaxy. Which is it?

I think it all comes down to one thing: what sells the most because after all the end product is to be consumed by the viewer. Our movies and stories are as divided as our fictional fare and our politics and all must be placated, or at least mollified by a product that will suit -- and sell. The same type of program will not suit the far left still believing that communism will work (evidently only having read the perfect society set forth by Karl Marx) and continuing to pooh-pooh George Orwell's Animal Farm on the realities -- and misappropriation of applied communism.  There are the far right who, much like the ostrich, prefer to hide their heads in the sand until the world is forced to capitulate and come back to its stone age senses when lifetimes were shorter and every day a struggle to survive. There are the ecologists who forget that ancient humans help to extinguish many species of animals in fashioning cloaks of bird feathers of only one specific kind of bird or engaged in driving entire herds of buffalo off steep cliffs, not to satisfy their hunger and store up food for the winter, but so that the buffalo would not communicate with other herds of buffalo that the two-legged animals brandishing the sticks with sharp points were dangerous and should be run over in a stampede for safety -- for the buffalo.

Maybe the dichotomy between what we hope for -- a peaceful galaxy where all life lives together in harmony and plenty -- and the reality that the galaxy is a dangerous place with beings far more violent and intent on inflicting torture on species beginning their first forays into the vastness of space is the way it was meant to be. We are creatures beset by fears of what is and what may be and yet still believe in magic and the innocence of youth. Oh, there are those who will defile the innocent and the youth in the name of purity and religion and expediency, but show me another race of beings that have not done the same.

We remain fearful and expect violence while nurturing the tiny guttering spark of hope just as Pandora did when the gods gave her that box from which she loosed all the ills -- and the hopes -- of mankind. How can we expect less thousands of years later in our furnished and overflowing homes while still wedded to the fear? After all, there are still thinking plants mutated by a meteor storm into huge walking (or root dragging) monsters that see humans as food, especially the ones blinded by the meteor shower that jump started their DNA and evolution and spores and ancient astronauts thawed from Arctic ice that thrive on human blood and dragons and orcs and the all pervasive bacteria that some mad scientist cooked up in a lab and imparted grandiose dreams of taking over to guard against and battle. And then there are zombies. There are always zombies.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Face Study

It seems I cannot put my hands correctly on the keyboard sometimes and get the most awful gobbledygook of letters and garbage spilling from the ends of my fingers onto the screen. It's not like I cannot feel the bumps on J and F, but I don't take the time to focus on the tips of my index fingers so I can settle my fingers correctly. Always in a rush -- or seemingly so. SO much to do. So little time to do it in. And it's a work night and I still haven't slept yet, unless you count the occasional doze while I watch random videos and think about the art work staring at me from my desk. And so it goe.

I can hear the thunder outside and the dead needles on the pine trees across the way are brown and drooping as the rain begins pattering on the tin chimneys that poke up like burnt out candles on the roof of the house. I have no idea why so many chimneys were needed, but maybe the restaurant that this structure once held needed all those exhaust holes because they had so many cooking areas or were venting the steam and heat from the thousands of patrons polluting the air with their talk and eating and complaints. One never knows when one lives in a converted building.

I have been working out with the colored pencils and refining my techniques, although it will take a whole lot more time and oceans of practice before my skills equal what is inside my head. I'm getting there, but slowly. Think ant crawling on giant mountain starting halfway (okay, only a quarter of the way) up the slope. At least that is how it seems to me.

In order to get better with drawing and coloring the different features of people, I thought it best to work on the ones that give me the most trouble. Noses, mouths, and noses.

I have found while reading extensively in colored pencil studies and watching videos on drawing that many artists begin with the eyes. Why not, I think? After all, the eyes are the first thing we focus on and good eye contact is what all psychiatrists focus on when interviewing patients acting disturbed in some way. People who cannot or will not maintain good eye contact are those with problems that need, and should be, addressed. Many artists begin their paintings with the eyes, whether it be people or animals. The eyes are the windows to the soul and provide a good focal point to expand upon. I've always thought that way even when drawing. The only time I didn't focus on the eyes was while doing quick study sketches in 1- and 5-minute increments. I was quite good at roughing in the figure and attitude and still managed to imbue the lines with personality. Of course that was 40 years ago, more than 20 of which I didn't draw at all. I could also draw one of my hands (usually not the one holding the pencil, pen, etc.) without moving the pencil from the paper or looking at what I was drawing. Feeling my way through the curves, angles, and details of the hand with the tip of the pencil on the paper. It was a frequent exercise in Mr. Wood's art class when I was in the 9th grade.

Don't know if I can still do it because I haven't practiced lately. I haven't practiced much of anything come to that, except for noses, two of which are drawn above. It took me a while to get the proportions and colors right, and they're still not what I would consider finished by any means. They're a beginning.

Okay, not a lot of noses, but every nose counts -- even though I picked them.

I found an old (very old) photograph my of great aunt Ann in my desk drawer and decided to give it a shot. It's a sepia toned photograph with color added later (not by me) and it seemed a good subject at the time. The jaw is too square and I haven't quite gotten the proportions just right (might as well add chins to the list of anatomy to work on), but it's a beginning.

The colors are still faint, only 4 or 5 layers at this point, but I'm getting there. I even worked on it a little more after I took this photograph. As I said before, a slow process, but a beginning.

Much of the portrait is a suggestion of color and line. The chin is too far from the lips and the lips aren't quite right. The hair is a studied mass of curls upon curls and her hair is much darker. Yes, she's wearing a sable coat with what looks like copper buttons covered in verdigris. (That would be oxidation.)  My rendering makes her look so much younger, but that is because I've not worked on for more than 4 or 5 hours.

I can see my mother in her features and in her eyes, which are hazel. The hair line, the eyebrows, and the line of the face and ears are just like my mother's, but they would since the lady in the picture is Mom's aunt, one of her father's sisters. I can see the Eastern European peasant stock in the features and the line of the jaw, as well as the thick dark hair that is so much like Mom's. Even the lips remind me of Mom's.

I have found that as I draw it's as if I can feel the lines of the face, the heaviness of the jaw, the texture of the skin. When I sketched Connor the first time, I felt the lines of my ex-husband's face and the set of his features. So much for my ex-mother-in-law'ss claims that his grandfather (my ex-husband) was probably not my son David Scott's father. Betty, my ex-mother-in-law went around telling her friends and random strangers that I was pregnant with only god knew who's child because I slept around (okay, she said whored around). Too bad David Scott was born looking just like pictures of his father when he was born and growing up. Imagine that.

And he took my virginity, something only I could know for sure and he could be fairly certain of. I had no doubt and neither did my ex-husband Dave. Only his mother lived in the land of Denial about my son's paternity and her son's culpability in the implantation of his seed in my just deflowered passages.

Anyway, I do feel the curves and lines and angles of the faces I draw, especially when I know the subjects so well. I knew my Great Aunt Ann fairly well, and she lived with us during the latter months and years of her life when Alzheimer's had her in its unrelenting, debilitating grip. She was a woman of means and creative talents (from what we could tell from her stash of artistic endeavors in stitchery) and style. She had a lot of style, and could indulge her stylish clothes and hats -- and vintage costume jewelry good enough to stand in for copies of a king's ransom of jewels and settings. She also had some pearls, but I don't know what happened to them. They likely ended up in one of the numerous plastic bags of jewelry my mother bought and carried with her everywhere.

The thing about pearls is that they lose their luster and their resilience if they are not worn next to the skin. Oh, well.

So, above are my latest forays back into the world of art and creating art. I still have a long way to go to base camp, but I am making my way forward and upward.

That is all. Disperse.