Thursday, September 6, 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Putin and Trump said in the secret two-hour meeting

Dear Readers,

Sorry I haven't posted for a while.  My friend, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster (still on his spiritual search, readers will be glad to know) taught me how to adjust my biorhythms so I can estivate.  This is the best summer I've ever had, lying in the cool sand under a rock in the desert near my place in Pearblossom. 

But my slumber was disturbed two days ago when the airwaves came alive with the promise of a telepathic bonanza (I'm a telepath; keep reading for more on that).  I speak of course of the two-hour secret conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  Knowledge of the contents of that conversation might help answer the question tormenting everyone: What is Trump doing?

The static that woke me from shaded bliss began in what I used to consider my private ethernet, where I could commune with the souls of non-telepaths at will, before I discovered that I share this space with a few of my kind, surviving remnants of a telepathic culture that once, before the age of language, stalked the earth in great numbers (keep reading for more on that).  Anyway, these days we teles get by as best we can, playing coffee houses and clubs (I was big in the Haight, back in the day) or, if things get desperate, cruise ships.  So when an opportunity like the Trump/Putin Secret Meeting pops up, we jump on it!

The meeting was announced on Sunday, so I only had one day to get in shape for this epic hack - not much time, given the effects of extended gila napping.  For hours I practiced old tricks, like Intereferometric Selection Relay, and Integral Diffraction Disambiguation, which served me well in the days when I had to match the NSA's continually evolving defenses (keep reading, etc).

I and my colleagues did not know what sort of defenses to expect in Helsinki.  We probed and found credible reports of a new Russian weapon that could turn the immediate space enclosing Trump and Putin into a black hole, from which no information could escape, leaving even telepaths with nada.  This method would of course destroy the two leaders as well as contain all information, but the Russians, so we gathered, discovered something they call Molecular Rebound Reintegration, which will, they believe, throw back in time- to the original point of origin of its pre-black hole reality- simulacra of the two leaders, visible and seemingly real to everyone, which will operate in local time, saying and doing everything that the originals would have said and done had they not become sub-atomic soup.  At this time we have insufficient evidence to confirm that the two figures, Putin and Trump, have been replaced by simulacra. 

As an aside, to help me get ready for the challenge, I consumed double my daily intake of spinach, which, for reasons I'm still working on, makes me feel like Popeye.

So on Monday at 2:00 p.m., Hottern' Hell Western Time, I and most of the world's surviving telepaths focussed our vestigial talent on the matter at hand, barely needing CNN droning in the background or similar prompts for guidance, because the two leaders were clearly delineated in time and space by the worldwide attention itself, which gave us a sort of GPS route to them, as if the need for attention that drove these men had become their greatest weakness.

As anticipated, we encountered an impenetrable field as we attempted to track Putin and Trump when they entered the room for their private conversation.  The field did seem of black hole force, judging by the nothing that came out of it.  Fortunately one of our newly re-united group- a high school chemistry teacher from Visalia- had a brilliant idea.  I'll explain it in detail in a journal some day; for now let's just call it Reverse-Echo Anticipatory Manifestation (or REAM), in which the interactive simulacra from the Molecular Rebound are "captured" and (before they revert to quark stew in .006 of a nanosecond) induced to reveal their future dialogues.

The resulting readout was distorted by several fields it had travelled through on its way out of the black hole, garbling some parts, which we've filled in using context.  More intriguingly, at least one of the fields seems to have operated as a sort of cosmic editor, taking the original meanings and converting them into analogues from the deepest mythologies of the human or possibly reptilian mind. You be the judge.  This transcript should keep us guessing for a long time.

Enjoy your summer!  Harry the Human

Transcript of the secret conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, July 16, 2018:

T: Sweet tidings, Putey, from the land of abandon!

P: Greetings, Donny!  Did you do any history homework?

T: Yes, Putey!  Russia without a tsar is like a village without an idiot- Haw Haw!

P: A tsar without Russia is like a balding man with half a wig!

T: No one can beat you, Putey, my man!

P:  We are such stunning successes, Donny!

T:  I could tell you stories, Putey...[unintelligible]...and they stand at the gates, howling.

P: Let them howl, Donny!  They have been out-thought.

T: We out-thought them, didn't we, Putey?  We out-think everbody, every time.  We are two-three steps ahead!

P: It is a joy; I shall bring an offering to the Female Creator of the Universe to show no hard feelings...[unintelligible]....

T: They howl at the gates.

P: Yes...I hear them.

T: Let them howl!  For we know, Putey, that in one week the reasons for the howling and the very howling itself will be remembered only, if at all, as mere passing sound, like someone in another car honking at someone, like someone's thought blending into the wind.

P: You are a poet, Donny, my friend!  Imagine, a world run by poets!

T: Would everything have to rhyme?

P: They howl at the gates, Donny.

T: Then come, let us show them....

P: Yes, let us show them....

T: ...that we are two-three steps ahead and we don't care who howls.

P: Your bard said it best: "He who laughs last laughs loudest," great words though they don't rhyme.

T: We laugh last, Putey!

P: Yes, Donny, when there is nothing left in the universe but the final filaments of entropy, one sound will remain: our laughter.

T: Damn, Putey, you are a poet!

End of transcript

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"We like the clarity of big wars"

According to Nicholas Schmidle, New Yorker Magazine staff writer (Trump's Pentagon tries to move on from the war on terror, Jan. 19, 2018), U.S. foreign policy advisors expressed a new alarm in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and occupied Ukrainian territory.  The problem, as described by Phillip Breedlove, then the "top U.S. general in Europe," was that, "All eyes were on ISIS all the time."  

According to Breedlove and other Pentagon policy-makers, since 9/11 the U.S. has to some extent wasted time concentrating on terrorism while the nation-state system has been chugging along, so that now superpower nation-states are challenging us as in days of old.

We learn that U.S. military policy is changing in response.  The latest National Defense Strategy report asserts: "Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security," with China and Russia "principal priorities."  Schmidle quotes an official who describes the current Pentagon view as, "Real men fight real wars.  We like the clarity of big wars."

Leaving aside the question of what kind of wars real women like, we can only wonder what kind of "clarity" to expect.  

Will it be the clarity of chess, in which one knows exactly who the enemy is and where he lives, or the clarity of an emotional state that focuses all hate, love, fear, desire, uncertainty, panic and despair on one state or group?  We're screwed either way.

I close with a short essay on WWI: 

What caused World War I?

On a clear summer day, June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, arrived in Sarajevo.  Waiting for him was Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six assassins, members of the Serbian Black Hand Society, which sought independence from the Empire.

At the same time, throughout Europe and the Americas, people were desperately lonely.  They could not relate to each other by talking or engaging in sex or cooperating in the workplace.  Of course, talking and sex and working together took place, but people felt an emotional vacuum during the activities.

When the Archduke was assassinated, newspapers called for revenge and honor.  The empty place inside people yearned for this conflict because no one has time to be lonely when they are busy killing and being killed.  Male loneliness in particular might be assuaged because, as numerous vets have testified, camaraderie in battle surpasses any other.

 the lonely people were sold on the idea that there would be no more loneliness during a major war, they showered support on their governments and young men enlisted.  Four years later, 18 million people were dead and, presumably, no longer lonely.    

Further reading: 

Point Counter Point, 
by Aldous Huxley.  

Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, 
by Nicholson Baker 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Lord of Twinby Manor

By Leslie Underhorn
     (with assist from Harry the Human)

Elizabeth Hortense exited the carriage, stepping onto the small platform placed below her foot by a liveried servant. She was almost dizzy with delight at her freedom after the eight hour journey.  Once on the ground, she got her first look at Twinby Manor.  

"Oh, Auntie, look at the size of it!"

Behind her lumbered Aunt Pauline, bedevilled by pains after the ordeal of travel.

"I imagine it's tough to clean."

Aunt Pauline and Elizabeth gazed at the two hundred year old manor, still in the hands of the original family: the Masterlies.

Servants collected the luggage and escorted the two ladies up the path.  As the house loomed, Elizabeth felt a cold dread at its gothic implications.  A sign hidden in the shrubbery until needed read, "Buy tickets here."  She had heard the family fortune was in decline.

In the vast foyer, the women looked over the vaulted ceiling, and at the dim oil paintings along the broad staircase: stern old men, no doubt the family patriarchs.

A servant approached Elizabeth and announced, "His Lordship will see you now."

As Aunt Pauline moved to accompany her niece, the servant said gently, "Excuse me, Mrs. Denby, his Lordship wishes to converse privately with Miss Hortense at this time.  Nelson will assist you to your room and make you comfortable."

Nelson hopped to and escorted the somewhat flustered Aunt Pauline up the stairs.  To her chagrin and puzzlement, Elizabeth felt her heart suddenly race.  She could not remember a time when someone of importance wanted to talk to her only.

"Follow me please," said the first servant,"his Lordship is in the library."

Elizabeth compliantly followed the servant, marvelling at how far she'd come from her modest roots in Duluth, Minnesota.  Her family were in the meat-packing business, with few pretensions to refinement, let alone nobility.  Then one day, six months ago, the postman delivered a letter from the law firm of Parsons & Mackenzie Ltd. informing the family that, due to a distant connection- on the Hortense side- Elizabeth was heir to a fortune in jewelry from one of the Masterly scions who had died at age 94, Ebenezer Masterly.  Ebenezer had bequeathed Twinby Manor to his nephew, the current Lord Masterly, and directed that the jewels go to the nearest female relation.  A two year search revealed that Elizabeth was that person.

The servant stood beside a tall open door out of which came the strange smell, not just of books, but of old books...books that people now dead wrote...about a world now gone.

Elizabeth shook her head briefly to remove whatever spell had been cast upon her.  The servant stood motionless and she gathered that she was to enter the library alone.

She stepped inside and her eyes immediately rose up the fifteen foot high bookshelves, crammed with tomes that reeked of empire.  Elizabeth's world was more immediate, more practical.  She had received good grades in school and now studied accounting at the local community college, hoping to join her father's company with, perhaps, Fred, her boyfriend, who was working on a degree in agriculture.

She liked a neat and tidy world, but over these books she perceived a haze of dust, obscuring whatever jewels lay within.

Then as her eyes headed down she saw the broad, tall back of a man, seated at his escritoire, seemingly intent on his work.

Elizabeth waited, wondering if she was supposed to announce herself.  In fact she was a bit impatient, what with the dust and lack of clarity.  Some moments passed, and then, without turning around to look at her, still finishing his letter, the man spoke:

"Good afternoon, Miss Hortense.  Please pardon this informal introduction- I need only finish this matter and I will give you my full attention."

"Well, I'm sure you needn't bother...." Elizabeth began, wondering why she was not permitted to rest in her room before meeting this rude fellow.

Before she could complete her thought the man cast down his pen and stood, revealing his six-foot-three, trim frame, and as he turned around and beheld the five-foot-two Elizabeth, his face, stern and relentless, for a moment formed a smile and took on a pleasant glow, augmented by golden locks of curly hair cascading down his forehead and around his ears.

Elizabeth's anger of the moment before seemed to evaporate as she grappled with a new set of emotions, and one overriding question: How would she deal with this man?

"Forgive me, Miss Hortense, I am Lord Masterly, heir to all you see, except of course the jewels you have come to collect."

"Very pleased to meet you, Lord Masterly," she responded crisply, determined to put this man, with his strange airs, into a more docile frame of mind.  "And now if you don't mind, I would like to be shown to my room so that I may freshen up."

Lord Masterly looked appraisingly at Elizabeth before nodding and, she thought, smiling slightly.  Not for the last time she was piqued by his superior affectations.

Author's note:  This novel will be serialized on this blog, or not.  

Author's continued note:  I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss President Trump's recent tweet about the great respect he has for Robert Mueller and his expectation that he, the President, will be exonerated by the FBI Russia investigation.  He cited constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz' analysis of the public information about the case, which concludes that Trump is not in apparent legal jeopardy because there is "no proof of collusion" (a current mantra for the President).  Dershowitz' analysis comes across as informed and persuasive, possibly even true- there haven't been any serious refutations of his points.  You would think, then, that the President would want to lay low for a while, maybe wait until there's a national emergency to distract everyone before crowing about his exoneration.  Many of his handlers and colleagues no doubt would prefer that route.  By tweeting about his victory in this provocative manner, the President confirms the impression of many that he is intrigued by destruction, by chaos.  

Chairman Mao's saying comes to mind: "Everything under heaven is chaos; the situation is excellent."  We should outsmart Mao for once, with a better saying: "Chaos is a mixed blessing."

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"We need a new political party!" says Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster

I was trapped in a glass box through which a shadowy figure peered at me.


The sound of my name broke the dream and I looked up at the radio clock.  It was 2:00am.  Turning slightly I saw, sitting in the middle of the room calmly watching me, a coyote.

"What the...." I yelped, sitting up.

Harry, it's me, Betty,  her voice sounded in my head, for it was indeed Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess.

Betty, what's wrong?  I was having a terrible nightmare.

So was I.  The dreams are from Robert 
[She meant Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster].  A human youngster has captured him and is holding him in an empty fish tank.

Get me out of here!  
came a thundering voice that seemed to shake the desert.  Of course only Betty and I heard it, as it was beamed directly at us by Robert.

Do you know where he is?  I asked.

Yes, let's get in your car.

I let Betty into the back seat of my 2007 Camry, and she directed me west on Pearblossom Highway.  She did not lie down on the seat, figuring that anyone who could tell she was not a dog at 2:00am could live with the knowledge.

Betty, what happened?

Robert was with other gilas watching the full moon, which is particularly enchanting tonight.

Yes, that reminds me, why did no one call a meeting of the New Moon Club this month?

There was nothing to talk about.

Michael Flynn pled guilty.


So what happened to Robert?

A teenage boy sneaked up and grabbed him.  

We drove into Littlerock, past the Family Dollar Store where I get my provisions. Betty directed me to turn right, up a residential street.

On our left was a stretch of leftover desert, overrun with non-indigenous weeds.  On the right were tract homes on irregularly sized lots, some pleasantly kept up, some in stages of neglect surrounded by swaths of leftover desert hosting old tires and jungle gyms.  As we neared the first corner Betty told me to park.

For obvious reasons, Harry, I will stay in the car.  It's the first house across the street.

I surveyed the single story ghost of Mid Century Modern, with its angled roof (covered with white gravel) and triangular upper front window.  The surrounding yard was spotted in somewhat random fashion with a variety of water-retentive shrubs, not entirely unpleasant.  There was a black Ford pickup in the driveway.

What am I supposed to do?

Start walking and Robert will contact you.

I got out as instructed and headed towards the house, which was bathed in surreal moonlight.  Robert came through loud and clear.

Harry, my god, I am dying of claustrophobia.  The little shit!

I thought back, I'm crossing the street.  It looks like someone is home.

The kid's mom is out partying. Someone picked her up and she didn't need the truck.  The kid is asleep.  Go to the right of the house, around the truck.  The third window.  He's passed out and won't hear a thing.

I arrived at the third window, aluminum framed, set in stucco, and I understood the depths of Robert's despair.  When we pass houses with aluminum window frames set in stucco, Robert gags and covers his eyes.  He says no sentient being should live in such a structure.

The screen came off easily and the window was unlocked.  There was a desk under the window with the kid's stuff all over it.  Along the wall to the right, on the floor, was a mattress under a sleeping figure, a teenage male still dressed, his head under a pillow.

How am I supposed to come down on that desk without making noise?  I asked (telepathically), surveying my overripe physical self.

Just do it and we'll take it from there.  I am dying here!  Do it!

Then I noticed the table across the room, with a fish tank and Robert peering at me from within.

Peek-a-boo, he thought, Now get in here and save me!

I remembered Betty in the car and this restored some of my courage, though I wasn't sure why.  I put my hands on the sill and hoisted up, sticking my head and upper torso through the window, then resting my hands and paunch on the sill. 

Robert, is this what it takes to make life meaningful?


I am too old for this.

Apparently not.  

I resumed pushing myself through the window without much of a plan.  Hauling one leg through, I managed to extend it to my left across the table, then I lay down and pulled the other leg through.  The figure on the bed did not stir.  When I made my first move to get a leg down, a laptop spilled off the table and crashed onto the floor. 

I froze and watched the sleeping figure, which stirred for a few moments then became still again.

Tip-toeing over to Robert I lifted the lid off the fish tank and pulled him out, setting him on the table.  His eyes were shut, his body still.

I'm trying to keep the kid asleep; it's not easy.

Robert, why didn't you bite him?

The little shit knew how to hold me at the neck so I couldn't turn and bite.  So humiliating.  I want to bite him now.  In fact I want to eat him.

Not a good idea, Robert.

The kid in question began to stir.

He's waking up; I can't stop him.

And indeed, a tall thin form leaped up from the mattress, gawking in amazement at the scene before him.

Who the fuck are you? he demanded of me, his eyes also on Robert.

And who the fuck am I? asked Betty, sailing through the open window and landing beside me, the three of us staring purposefully at the boy, who stared back in awe and confusion.

Betty took charge.

Your name is Freddy, is that right?  Freddy, your senses are accurate, I am a talking coyote.  The gila monster you abducted can talk too, although only telepathically.

That's right, Freddy, beamed Robert
, warming to the encounter, What do you have to say for yourself?

Freddy was not too bad a sport, it turned out.

So uh, Freddy began, I didn't know you guys were magic and gods and stuff.  Sorry.  

No problem, I said, suddenly seeing some promise in the kid.  Can you let us out the front door?

And I want to take this newspaper with me, Robert said, nodding towards a copy of the Sunday Los Angeles Times that Freddy's mother had left next to the fish tank.

Sure, Freddy said, take anything you want.  You guys are the bomb!

I grabbed the paper and we headed to the front door.  As we said our goodbyes, I felt that Freddy was wistful for our companionship, and I resolved to visit him sometime soon.

What was that about the newspaper? I asked Robert, when the three of us were safely in the car.

I was reading an article through the fish tank that I want to finish.  

Betty nudged the paper with her snout and read the title: "State voters are fed up with major parties" [12/3/17].

It's a breakthrough article, Robert said, not because the information is new or surprising, but because the Times ran it.  I am feverish with ideas about this, about the prospect of American humans creating a new major party.

I'm the human around here, 
I objected, What do you care about human political parties?

I care because humans are in our desert for good.  The gilas' future and all of earth's future is tied to yours.  Betty, can you call Jesus and Gandalf to meet us now?  We need to discuss this!

You're welcome, Robert, 
I commented dryly.

Oh yes, thanks for saving me, Harry and Betty.

We returned east on Pearblossom for a few miles, parked at my little cabin, then headed into the desert.  In a few minutes we came upon Jesus and Gandalf seated around our usual fire pit.

Gandalf, the only fictional character in our circle, spoke first.

Robert, welcome back to the land of the free!

Chuckles all around.

Jesus asked, Robert, what's the big emergency about a newspaper article?

Here's the gist, Robert replied [He has a photographic memory and recited verbatim from the article]: "A statewide survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found 64% of likely voters agreed with the statement that the Democratic and Republican parties are doing 'such a poor job that a third major party is needed.'"

People have other choices, don't they, Gandalf asked, like the Libertarians, etc.

Not really, Robert replied, Listen to this [quoting again]: 

"The new, low level of trust in a political world run by Democrats and Republicans comes at the same time that so-called 'minor parties' have withered on the vine in California."  

Robert continued: The article mentions two major minor parties, if I might wax oxymoronic [The gila mind revealed!]: Libertarians, who are cultishly academic and under-obsessed with being understood and/or effective, and Greens, who label non-believers any color but green, the color of plant life.  Neither party can fill the growing void.  Do you see what this means?

There were a few moments of silence while the group pondered what this could mean that would merit waking everyone up in the dead of night.

Finally Jesus replied, Robert, apparently what you are telling us is that the field is ripe for a new major political party, at least in California and maybe the rest of the country.  I think we all see the logic, but why the urgency?

Yes, added Gandalf, Could we not have discussed this in the morning?

Robert surveyed us for a moment, then looked at me and said, Harry, as the human present, surely you see the urgency.

I see the urgency, I replied, but not for us, tonight or ever.  Any new party will be handled by the powers that be- the same powers that handle the existing parties- but they will be disguised as new powers.  If I am right, then not only can we forget about creating a new party tonight, we can forget about it forever.  Robert, you're usually the cynic among us.  Did your abduction rattle your intellect?

I think not, Robert flared back in his signature huff, I am perfectly aware of the normal course for political party creation in human society.  First comes the money- channeled to the right power centers- then comes the media announcing that not only do we need a new party but, presto, there appears to be one.

Yes, said Betty, and this is accompanied by the revelation of a framework of beliefs- the party platform- which will be hung across the stage, concealing the familiar pursuits we thought had been left behind.

Yes, yes, tell me things I don't know, sputtered the increasingly exasperated Robert, and we knew to give him his stage.  He continued:

What I'm telling you is that you have to act now, before the money and media do.  To do that you need to interest another set of people with money, people who have perhaps not delved into politics before, but who are, well...philosophical about life.

Oh Christ!, I moaned, not able to contain my annoyance further, then recalling present company, Sorry Jesus!  

No problem, said Jesus, but I must say I see Robert's point.  In your society money is the expression of influence.  No money, no influence.  Therefor Robert is correct: You do need money to engender a new major party.

Fine, I replied, then kindly tell us, Robert, how you think we should entice these monied interests.

Sure.  You entice them the way you would entice anyone: by telling them that you will solve their problems.

Robert, interrupted Gandalf, that's what all the parties do.  How would this be different?

Oh it will be different all right, because this party is going to solve problems that no other party has ever tried to solve.  Take the revolution in male-female relations that has erupted among your kind.  Clearly patriarchy's long reign is under attack, and it will no doubt be attacked again and again until matriarchy or patriarchy prevails.  There is so much dismal strife around the union of your sexes, when that union should be beautiful and uplifting.  I know you all hate it when I praise gilas....

Here we go, I muttered.

...but my kind has figured out gender relations, and we have neither patriarchy nor matriarchy; we have rule by individual monster (to use your term), and we comprise a gender fluid society of equals.

Yes, I said, because neither gender has to take care of the eggs, which just lie in the sand.

And that is bad because....?

I could contain myself no longer: Ok Robert, you're proposing we find wealthy people to fund a new party that will encourage the biological sciences to transform humans into cold-blooded egg-layers, as this will enhance human gender relations? 

I looked at the others and asked:  Am I the only one who thinks Robert is in shock from his experiences tonight and is not thinking rationally?

Let's hear him out, said Betty.

There was a pause.  Robert spat, then continued: No Harry, that is not what I am proposing.  Transforming you into egg-layers who do not have to rear young would be unnecessarily transformative.  But it would be a relatively simple operation to provide human physiology with an estrus cycle.


Currently, unlike virtually every other mammal, humans have no estrus cycle; they are horny all the time.  Some scientific speculation has it that humanity needed souped-up reproduction to counter the high mortality rates and particular stressors you faced when you lost your ancient habitat.  The instability of successive habitats gave you no choice but to eventually take over the whole biosphere.  Now that you're somewhat protected from the biosphere, you can ease up on the procreation.

I see where this is going, said Jesus.  An estrus cycle would lower the rate of population growth while lessening the strife caused by non-stop physical lust.  It's a timely concern, as humans are having trouble deciding what to do with their excess lust, especially the males.  What is a powerful male supposed to do?  Like his chimp cousin, the human Alpha male is driven to mate with all the females in his purview.  What will happen to him now?  Will he be killed, or sent to an institution for the defective?  Your ideas make a certain sense, but be careful, the American president is talking code to those men as we speak, telling them that their downfall comes from defective armor, not wrong behavior.

You make a good point, Robert replied, which is why I believe we must act now, before other forces do.  It will be no more than ten years until human science can regulate human sexuality.  I suggest a forum for other beings who share the planet where they can describe to humans the many options for sexuality.  The gila option has lasted for millions of stable years, and it delivers a fairly pleasant lifestyle.  Most of my time, as a typical male, is spent in meditation.  I've developed a special interest in human culture, which I study continually.  But in the summer I'll be sitting on a rock or in my burrow, telepathically scanning the human internet, when a scent will come to me, a scent that fills my reptilian soul with promises of wild delight- like a human on crack, emerging into an energy filled new world- but attuned to that world, unlike the human drug user, and I spring forth in pursuit of I know not what.  Following the scent I come upon a female gila.  I've seen her hundreds of times, but now she is different, transformed, seemingly just for me.  Gila coitus has been clocked at three hours.  I bet if your party promised the gila paradigm your candidates would sweep every election!

I had had enough.  I stood and said, That's it Robert, you are officially full of crap!

Jesus and Gandalf motioned for me to relent, but I could not.  Addressing Jesus and Gandalf, I continued:

Let's review Robert's proposal.  As I understand it, he wants us to find rich underwriters for a new political party whose platform would include the ending of excess male libido, limiting it to a specific time of year.  Presumably excess female libido will be curtailed as well.  Can't you just see money and votes racing to this party?  Robert, were you sniffing something in that fish tank?  I saw a plastic tube near you.

Robert looked away.  The kid was experimenting on me.

Oy!  You get me up in the middle of the night to save you, and my thanks is I have to listen to you spout gila insanity until dawn.

Robert spat, his version of the thoughtful pause, then replied:

Have it your way Harry.  You don't know what's possible because you've never tried it.

But I know what's impossible, Robert.  Sleep it off.  You're going to be embarrassed tomorrow.

And you will be embarrassed, Robert retorted, when social engineers remake your species without any input from you, the old model.  This is your only chance.

I trudged towards home, listening to the dimming voices behind me.  I had to admit there was a certain ridiculous logic to Robert's ideas, but I was too tired to think about them any more.

Twenty minutes later, standing before my bed, I had a vision.  Was it a dream?  In this dream a moonlit scent entered through the open window, a scent that turned on a long-dormant part of my endocrine system, kindling an explosion of sensation and desire, and a gnawing, almost desperate need to sate the desire.  I forgot sleep and followed the scent back into the desert.  I walked for a while and came upon a woman standing on the moonlit sand.  

Damn, I thought, Robert may have a point.  Who wouldn't vote for this?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Blame Theopompus for Herostratus!

The National Geographic History magazine always provides engaging perspective. This month's opening article, The Temple Of Wonder, by Francisco Javier Murcia (Nov/Dec/'17), for instance, relates that the legendary Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in Asia Minor), one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, was burned to the ground in 356 B.C., not by an enemy religion or empire, but by one man named Herostratus.  Murcia writes that Herostratus "confessed under torture that he had only started the fire because he wanted his name to be known across the world for having destroyed this most famous of buildings."

Herostratus is a familiar type today: a man (they are mostly men) so desperate to be noticed that all other considerations - such as the grief and pain of others- are dismissed.  

The need to be noticed, however, is not the motive we look for in today's mass vandals and killers.  The motive we look for is hatred. That is why we have been unable to figure out the motive of the man who killed 58 people in Las Vegas on October 1. There were no online hate rantings in his internet record, no obvious incidents in his life that expressed particular types of rage.  It might be that rage was not the dominant motivator for this man.  Could his motive have been the same as Herostratus'? Did he anticipate a posthumous world in which his name would be broadcast to humanity for weeks and weeks, then recorded with his deed for posterity?

The Ephesians recognized the problem and, unsuccessfully, attempted a solution:

The Ephesians tried to punish [Herostratus] by publishing a decree that his name be wiped from all records.  But their efforts were in vain. Theopompus, a historian of the time, wrote down the story of Herostratus and helped preserve his name to this day.

Theopompus should be the patron saint of journalism.  In its pursuit of ratings, the media gives today's Herostratus's exactly what they want. No one is too undeserving to be transformed into a notorious icon. Consider the pastor of a small church in Florida, who in 2010 burned a Koran.  His action was filmed by reporters (whom he had summoned) and broadcast to every country in the world, repeatedly, for weeks- a grossly disproportionate response to the event, considering the discord it generated.

I confess I intended to write this essay without input from my desert friends, but a few minutes ago, perhaps sensing my need to be alone, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster crawled through my window, open to the dawn chill, and started a telepathic conversation:

Harry, I think you should extend your discussion of media induced violence to include manipulation from third parties who want to start wars.  The media didn't promote the Koran burner just to bump ratings.

Robert, you were reading my thoughts outside my house before you came in. You know I don't like that.

Sorry, I can't help it.  Gilas consider it impolite to bar other gilas from their thoughts.

Don't you have any secrets?

What kind of question is that?  I'm supposed to say we have no secrets?  If I had a secret, I certainly wouldn't tell you.

Robert can be exhausting, but I felt he had a point about my thesis. Media portrayal of international relations is critical for every nation's foreign policy.  We should be as sensitive to third party influence on media as we are to elected officials taking bribes. 

I had an idea.

Robert, in the interest of cross-species understanding, I'm inviting you to collaborate with me on the ending of this piece.  Do you think I have enough supporting evidence for my thesis, which is that media promotes mass murder by making the perpetrators famous?

I thought the thesis was that every time someone builds a temple, someone else wants to tear it down.

That's a related thesis.

Must every element in the piece relate to one thesis?


The human race has OCD!

Robert, I'm just asking you how you think I should end this piece.

End it?  You've boxed yourself in with typical human juvenilia like "thesis," "beginning, middle and end," and all that.  Why must a collection of thoughts end,
and why must it stay focused on one "thesis"? What a waste.  In gila communication, every segment of thought is its own thesis. Every thesis relates to every other thesis. Maybe I'd understand your way if gilas communicated in writing, but we're not interested in it.  We find your writing, and in fact your human language, unnecessarily complex and circuitous.  

That's really nice, Robert.  I'm happy for you and all the wise gilas.  I am writing in human style though, so I'm not just going to conclude with some random idea.

That's another thing, continued Robert, tenacious as ever, Why does your concept of "random" have a negative connotation?  Every event is random. The universe is random.  What's the point of the concept?

Ok, ok, we'll try it your way!  As a trans-conscious experiment, I will end on a gila inspired random note.  How about a quotation?

Go for it.  

I thought for a while, googled on my computer, then found what I thought was a suitable random quote from French novelist Michel Houellebecq:  

Good binds while evil unravels. Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit.

I gave Robert a look.

Is that random enough for you, Robert?

You're getting there, he conceded.

[For more Harry the Human, click on "Older posts" below right]