January 30, 2018 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  
"I'm lost."

“I’m lost.”

Okay, let’s break it down.

The most primal and basic unit of social organization is the parent-child bond. The parenting instinct. Then there is the slightly more secondary need for a child to support the parent as the individual approaches maturity so that the parent can produce more siblings. Then a parent-like caring for younger brothers and sisters so that they can live to maturity. Then a caring for nieces and nephews, and grandchildren, and so on.

Organisms that experiences these urges for family care have a much better chance to have their genes passed along, outside of extraordinary personal genetic fitness, than those who do not. These are the urges that balance personal survival against the survival of the group. The ones that encourage personal sacrifice and loyalty in exchange for past sacrifices made on your behalf as a child, and the promise of loyalty to you in the future. Some minimal amount of mutuality, based on who needs it more. A sharing of burdens and resources.

The tribe is the next larger unit. Your know your tribal breeding population is made up of family members, some close, some more distant. Political strife begins to occur as families compete for dominance within the tribe, for better access to food and shelter, for elevated breeding privileges. But when there is a threat to your tribe from the outside, you fight for your tribe.

And next you have your community of tribes, more tolerated than loved, and kept around for exchanging maturing juveniles to prevent the horrors of prolonged inbreeding, each in subtle competition with the others, so that perceived elevation in tribal status draws the best candidates for sexual transfer from the other tribes.1

This is basic baboon stuff. We are primates after all. As the Chinese Crested Dog is to a wolf, we are the weak, body-naked, pouf-of-hair-on-top, tongue-lolling, shivering-in-a-sweater embarrassment to our remaining cousins in the Great Apes.

Every human organization — every cult, every religion, every club, every company, every gang, every military unit, every fraternity or sorority, every political party — every organization that survives does so by co-opting one or more levels of the familial-tribal-community bonds, by making us form physical neural associations with those built-in bonds through verbal language or body language or the more intimate language of pats and grips and hugs of mammalian oxytocin-releasing human contact, and demanding that these proffered strangers be treated as close family, with known roles and rules of interaction between members. Known roles, plus those two or three more insidious piggy-backed rules from the Creed or the membership booklet or employee handbook….

The point of vulnerability for being inducted, in every case, is a lost-and-alone state of alienation and the attendant feelings of exposure and endangered access to critical resources — when you are down and lonely and poor and sick and need help and comfort. And continued membership is enforced with threats of the ultimate social punishment for noncompliance and misbehavior — expulsion, the removal of the membership component of your individual identity, ostracism, and the potential future identification as an enemy of the group. A return to that agonizing lost and lonely and broke/broken state. And then possible attack on the other side of that.

And then there’s depression.2

A tendency to depression is anything but a survival trait for an individual, and I’m sure we all have a curiosity concerning how it gets passed down, but, see, it’s a survival trait for a family or tribe. It is a survival trait for a family to breed members who can be useful, but if the circumstances don’t allow them to be useful, they can lay down and die on demand. If your family, or tribe, or community, or an artificial surrogate for any of the above, declares you to be a worthless burden, it is a survival trait for them to be able to tell you to lay down and die and stop consuming resources the rest of the group needs — for you to die without fighting, risking injury to a more valuable member of the tribe.

For you to volunteer to feed the circling predators. For you to sacrifice yourself.

Which makes depression, like addiction, a social disease.3,4

Our own families can be a bit of a let-down sometimes. They are our first line of defense against crushing and frequently murderous social isolation, where we can make the mistake of letting disapproval cause debilitating distance. And that’s leaving out the fact that some family relationships can turn so toxic that we have to create that break ourselves. But frankly that’s just (occasionally lethal) primate familial wear and tear. A disease of a different order.

Where I’m going with this is that if someone who is not your flesh-and-blood relation calls you brother or sister, and they are merely co-members of an organization that you have joined, then your basic primate familial connectivity protocols have been infected by an organizational parasite that is using these bonds to create a super-organism that can use you and discard you like you use and discard cells.

Like with many parasites, it could be beneficial, or at least not actively malign. But, like with most parasites, that’s not the way to bet. Look for an emphasis on being a team player, on the extent to which personal risk and self-sacrifice is rewarded or even worshiped (coded in terms of glory and honor), and … look in the nearest gutter for your fallen “brothers” and “sisters”. Because an actual family (or a decent family-surrogate) takes care of its non-earners — children, the sick, the elderly, the retired, the crippled — and in a day where there are no wolves does not throw anyone to the wolves. In a day where there is enough food for everyone will not make someone lay down and cry themselves to death so that the healthier children and laborers can eat.

Well. Some actual families do do that. You should get well away from those, too.

I look at companies that kick out their longest-serving employees to prevent paying them the worth of their experience, that exile them before retirement and pensions become mandatory, and I see a vicious parasite. I look at cults that shun the members that question their authorities, and I see parasites. I see the US military branches and the suicide rates among their veterans, I know them to be parasites. (If they cared about how their soldiers end up, they should stop accepting new oaths of service until things are fixed.) I see the police and how they are turned into angry dogs and pitted against racial “undesirables”, and I know they have been infected. Infected and armed. I see gangs that turn the lonely into soldiers and use them up so that the big dogs at the top can rake in money, and I see the same kind of parasite that infects Wall Street to chew up MBAs. I see political parties with the exact same memetic markers.

And I see these organizations competing with one another for resources for themselves and expending humanity in the scuffles like we spend cash for dinner.

I see parasites the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization should be studying with an eye toward isolation and eradication.

When you have become infected by one of these organizations, you give up the power to them, to use you, to discard you, and to crush you down until you feel like dying because of the way they can pretend to be your family.

Just, you know. Keep your eyes open, and try to find your real family before the fake ones convince you to lay down and die because you’re not useful to them.





1  Cf. The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins.

2  Seriously: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ . Or on Twitter, @800273TALK . It’s okay if you need some help.

3  Before you hit up the infamous Rat Park stories on addiction and social isolation, be aware that there are plenty of actual relevant-to-human studies, with better controls and less serious flaws, that point to social isolation as being a huge factor in human struggles with addiction.

4  And before you go whizzing away on the idea that depression is all in your head, with no physical medical component, please remember that your brain is, for the sake of an oversimplified analogy, a computer made out of meat, and that “programming” is represented by physical reconfiguration of said meat, and that means medication works. You can’t cure everything with a hug.

January 23, 2018 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  
Colombian symphylan, head and anterior legs. Tömösváry organ (arrow) near base of antenna.

Diego Alberto Salazar Moncada, Jaime Calle-Osorno, Freddy Ruiz-Lopez – Salazar-Moncada DA, Calle-Osorno J, Ruiz-Lopez F (2015) Morphological and molecular study of Symphyla from Colombia. ZooKeys 484: 121-130. doi:10.3897/zookeys.484.8363

“If you enjoy frightening others, you will be reborn as a centipede.”

Zabs-Dkar Tshogs-Drug-Ran-Grol. The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994. p. 295.


I was just doing some light Sunday morning reading, William S. Burroughs and the Dead-End Horror of the Centipede God over in the BoingBoing archives, and it got me thinking. But to get you caught up with where I am in my head, it might take a bit of preliminary work.

Humans are kind of natural-born exceptionalists. We grant ourselves a special position at the top of the hierarchy of life on Earth based on our badassness as predators and raw destructive power … in the face of the evidence that 90% of us will scream like a little girl to find a centipede is sharing our chair with us, and in the face that any serious weather releases more energy than literally millions of our biggest bombs. We grant ourselves the position at the top of the pyramid even though we know that 97% of the inhabitable volume of the skin of our still mostly molten ball of rock is drowned in salt water at pressures that would crush us to jerky-nuggets before we have the luxury of drowning, supporting a huge wealth of life, mostly invertebrates by gross tonnage, that is not us. Meanwhile, on land, we only kind of thrive wedged between deserts and mountains and icy wastes, sandwiched between the sea and sky, outperformed by … grass. Trees. Roaches. Pigeons. Tardigrades. Bats, even. But we’re super-nifty because we got guns and iPhones.

We also have bacon, and cigarettes, and poverty — any one of which is more lethal than any conscious actions humans take to demonstrate their deadliness. As if that’s a valid measure of the value of a species regardless. If we try for a more positive measure, well, none of our largest contributions to Earth will last more than 250 years after the last human dies — and most of it will be gone inside of 50 years. Even the flags planted on the Moon will be bleached white into flags of surrender.

But, well, that’s just a tangent. A little context. We’re not all that, and centipedes are just cousins we kind of lost touch with not long after the Cambrian Explosion. But for all of our kinship, they seem monstrous. Alien. The only thing we respond with more revulsion to are other human beings — the sick, the deformed, the ones just different enough from us to trigger that “is it communicable?” reflex, that “uncanny valley” rejection of just like us, but … off. The reason we feel unease in the presence of too much inbreeding (cue “Dueling Banjos“). The reason there are no other remaining species of genus Homo.

Burroughs wrote in The Place of Dead Roads of people who were “being processed into centipedes. The centipede eyes are already in place. Eventually the centipede will emerge from the forehead, leaving the dead gray hulk behind.“… and that’s what made me think of the centipedes of the mind. That there is a way of thinking of a centipede in such a way that it manifests inside your skull, such that you can feel it climbing the walls of your skull with its needle-feet tickling the inner surface of your meninges, wriggling around aquatically in your cerebrospinal fluid….

And it can be transmissible.

And it can multiply, and divide us humans into opposing populations of infected and … yet to be infected, in which situation both populations see each other as inhabitants of that Uncanny Valley of the diseased. Because once you know about the centipede, even the absence of it leaves it defined in your mind in negative space in such detail that the exact shape of the centipede-hole behaves precisely as the centipede itself, and is also transmissible.

And then the presence or absence of the centipede itself becomes the defining characteristic of a new pair of subspecies of human, seeing as a principal defining characteristic of whether populations are different species is whether they interbreed or, for whatever reason, hold themselves separate from one another.

Once you have your centipede (or anticentipede) fully formed and pricking around in your little rubbery ventricles, the centipede eyes are already in place. Only they’re not really eyes. Well, let’s be accurate. They have eyes, but their eyes aren’t the best in the world. They also have Tömösváry organs, which, frankly, nobody is very clear on what they do, except we’ve known about them since the 1880s. But let’s be honest here as well. The centipede’s evolutionary path has not been idle since Great Uncle Pneumodesmus beat Grandmother Titaalik to shore by about 50 million years back in the Devonian days, and we may still have access to some of his stranger elder and eldritch apparati through their relationship.

But if nothing else, your new centipede senses let you detect the presence or absence of centipedes in the brains of others, do declare them once and for all, friend or foe.


January 17, 2016 · by xalieri · Posted in fiction  

Next to the unspeakably massive gate, maybe ten yards away, is an eight-foot-high glass double-door with matching chromed tube-steel vertical handles and a black-paint-on-chrome sticker next to each handle that says, “PULL”. Next to the PULL sticker on the left, farther left, is a cellophane-taped piece of typing paper on which is hand-written the ubiquitous notice, in fat black marker, “USE OTHER DOOR”.

Above these doors is a fancy debossed plaque that reads, in large Roman serifs, “Visitor’s Entrance & Gift Shop”. Smaller, beneath it, but still debossed in fancy Roman serifs, “Restroom for Customer Use Only”.

It is well lit, by fluorescent lights flush with the ceiling, inside. The door on the right opens easily, whether pushed or pulled, making one wonder why the PULL on the door seems so emphatic. Maybe it is just there to keep the candidate for entry from standing there, hand on the handle, unsure and waffling with indecision.

Inside, the shop is arranged sensibly in sections. It is tidy. There is no dust or grime anywhere, and everything is in its place.

Prominent in the center of the shop is a refrigerated section with an enormous array of flowers and a selection of vases and ornate containers for display. The flowers are sorted by color, indigo to crimson, with larger and more ornate and expensive flowers toward the top of each refrigerated case, to the back, and smaller, simpler flowers toward the front. Within each color there is a range from dark through bright to pastel, and the selection is extensive.

To one side of the refrigerated section is a large array of sympathy cards in an astounding array of languages. To one end of the display, the languages get older and more pictographic. One’s eye is drawn, in particular, to a large black card, approximately A4-sized, printed in white cuneiform characters. If one’s Minoan Linear A is sufficient for accurate translation, the card says, roughly, “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.”

Beyond the card display are the more usual gifts: soft toys representing the usual gamut of cuddlable vicious animals and humanoid dollies (including many cutesified demonic entities with twee pitchforks), boxed confections of numerous types from candied fruits to nougats and toffees to chocolates to boiled sweets and hard candies to salted nuts to gummies to chewing gum and mints, small items of jewelry. There are items of comfortable clothing: pajamas and robes and slippers, from the utilitarian and serviceable to soft toys you stuff your feet in. In a locking glass cabinet, there are cigars, cigarillos, and cigarettes.

There are no lighters, but one assumes that a handy source of flame would be fairly easy to find inside.

There is a selection of popular reading materials, including magazines and newsprint pads of puzzles and solitary games. All of the newspapers are current and neatly stacked. Cheaply printed and bound religious texts from every tradition are present.

In the rear of the shop is a cafe for the shop-weary, laid out automat-style. Vending machines provide the usual array of hot or cold non-alcoholic liquid refreshments, wrapped sandwiches, crisps and crackers, and sweets. White formica tables and stackable plastic chairs are arranged in an orderly fashion for use in a first-come, first serve basis. Each table has, dead center, a napkin dispenser and a basket of common condiments and salt and ground pepper and sweeteners for hot beverages.

The section closest to the checkout register is for souvenirs: hats and scarves and t-shirts and sweatshirts and nylon jackets emblazoned with the many names of Hell in a complete array of languages and religious traditions, many accompanied with commonly associated symbology. There are pens and keyrings and watch fobs and thimbles and collectible spoons. Here are the cheap plastic lighters missing from the tobacco case, covered in cartoon winking devils and coquettishly posed incubi and succubi, and a couple of the more expensive refillable kind, engraved with depictions of the massive iron gate.

There is a closed door in the wall beyond the checkout counter with a sign above it that reads “CHAPEL”.

A stand-up sign at the checkout counter reads “Now accepting applications for employment. Ask cashier for application.” The minotaur behind the counter notes with interest that one is reading this sign.

One lays down for purchase one’s choices:

The Minoan Linear A “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID” card.

A keyring bearing the name and text logo of Hell’s Gift Shop itself.

A knit cap bearing the logo of the Gehenna Gorgons roller derby team.

A Zippo-style lighter bearing a textured model of the Gate on the body and the legend “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE YADDA YADDA YADDA” on the lid.

The minotaur, in his Hell’s Gift Shop smock and apron, rings up the purchases professionally and accurately. He accepts payment and places all of the purchases in a commemorative plastic gift bag, with the register’s printed receipt, and one accepts the bag from his hands.

One pauses for a moment, facing the register, removes the “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID” card, and presents it to the cashier with a sly smile and a nod.

The minotaur sighs. He accepts the card gracefully and sets it, slightly open and standing upright, on his little work area behind the register. Next to, one notes, a carefully wound ball of twine and a pair of no-nonsense shears.

One nods again in companionable benediction, still smiling, and heads for the exit.


June 3, 2015 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

HermBack when I was born, some complete stranger picked me up by a hind leg, kinda thought he could detect an “outie” in my doughy undeveloped bits between my legs, and checked the MALE box on my birth certificate. And that was that. I was officially a boy – one of two choices on the official 1960s form. They took my foreskin and my tail without even asking, wrapped me up, and sent me home with a copy of that little form to start my “blue” training.

There was an unofficial third option, which basically meant leaving the form blank in the event of signs of both sets of genitals being present, or neither, until the parents chose which they’d prefer after a brief discussion with the obstetrician about what the kid would be more likely to find useful at puberty or after, moderated heavily by what sorts of surgery caused what lasting types of damage at the time. This was the 60s, remember.

A couple hundred years before that, before you were required to check in with the government in the event of being born, there were no official forms to inconveniently lock things down – and if there were, the local courthouse tended to burn down every fifty years or so anyway, making it moot. If things rearranged themselves “down there” the closer you got to puberty, you just kind of dealt with it the way you felt you ought to and tried not to make a big fuss. Everybody just kind of shrugged and there were a few unkind whispers maybe and the older folks just nodded because they knew that sometimes these things just happened, but it was personal stuff and nobody talked about it in polite company.

Everybody knows sex is more complicated, and I’m talking strictly medically for the moment, than whether you were born with an “innie” or an “outie”. At the extremely noticeable end, a kid is born with reasonably functional versions of both sets of genitals about four times in a million. If you had maybe 10,000 people in your biggest city, back in the day, this was seriously “once in a blue moon” territory. If you were in the Abrahamic traditions, maybe you dashed its little brains out with a rock and called it “stillborn”. Elsewhere, maybe you handed it over to the priests for “special training”. But these days, pick a metropolis and know that there are half a dozen, maybe two or three dozen full hermaphrodites walking around. Maybe their parents picked their favorite gender and had doctors “correct the situation” with no more thought than they give circumcision these days. Maybe they didn’t.

I call that noticeable, but it really isn’t, unless you have one of those obnoxious scanners they use at airport security.

It’s not just related to X and Y chromosomes either. Even more frequent than hermaphroditism is a condition called CAIS – Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. You’re born with a Y chromosome, but nothing in your body responds to the presence of the male hormones you produce. You develop as a female – the default condition – and frequently don’t find out you have undescended testes instead of ovaries until you try to find out why your period is weak/sporadic/not present or why you and your chosen man can’t seem to have babies. This condition happens to maybe one person in 50,000 with a Y chromosome, maybe one in 20,000 – and that range is so iffy because a lot of times it’s never diagnosed. Before the 90s, doctors used to just not tell the people who had it (or even their families) that their girl-child was kind of a boy, maybe.

And yes, that word “Complete” up there implies that there are “Partial” forms that are at least as common. And “Mild” forms as well.

When it comes down to it, there are literally thousands of genes that control or influence sex and gender and sexual preference, and not all of those are on the X and Y chromosomes. You do, in fact, have more than 20 other chromosomes, doubled, one from each parent. Probably. And some of the gene groups that are typically on an X or a Y chromosome can occasionally be duplicated elsewhere and passed down by one parent or another. What kinds of pheromones you’ll find yourself attracted to seems to be heavily influenced by your major histocompatibility complex, which is on chromosome 6. There are probably other clusters elsewhere that make sure you aren’t attracted to the scent of family members, and somewhere else that influences the degree to which you might be attracted to the pheromones produced by individuals with traditionally male and/or traditionally female hormones, and yet another set for whether you yourself produce a “male” set of pheromones or a “female” set or some mix of both.

And then there are more genes that influence things that are only socially associated with gender, like whether you like to wear bright colors (that trait seems to switch genders every few generations, along with several others) and what your endurance is like for extended shopping trips and how easily you cry when you’re upset. Since there’s a boat-load of things like that that we have been trained since coming home from the hospital to associate with sex and gender, how we find ourselves responding to a ton of different cues can affect our feelings of how we should identify ourselves with respect to sex and gender and sexual preference. Especially if we were raised to think there were two tiny immutable boxes on a government form that we need to make ourselves fit in.

The Bible doesn’t help much with this situation. Genesis 5:2, in the KJV (the oldest translation the fundamentalists care to train themselves to understand), it says, “Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” Unless that “and” in “male and female” is interpreted to be the inclusive “and”, as in “both at the same time, maybe”, then the rest of this verse needs to have the words “with about a ten percent margin of error” added into it somewhere – or else be relegated to the pile of “about as scientifically accurate as the Creation story”.

People are born outside those MALE and FEMALE checkboxes on the official birth certificates (that we’ve only been taking seriously for a hundred years or so), in terms of sex and gender and sexual preference, about one time in ten – about as frequently as people are born left-handed, and for analogically similar reasons. It’s barbaric to pretend otherwise, barbaric and ignorant, and it’s barbaric and ignorant to treat the very common phenomenon of the misgendered, the sexually misidentified, and those who are attracted to genders we traditionally don’t expect them to be attracted to as disgusting, as damaged, as pariahs, or as disposable people or human garbage. These people are brothers and sisters, friends, neighbors, coworkers, members of our communities and churches and clubs and groups and voters and fully-fledged &@#^#% human beings.

If you secretly think they’re going to Hell, then fine. That’s just ignorant bigotry and nobody can stop you. But leave bunk assignments in Hell to the god of your choosing. If you try to make life for these people Hell on Earth, you are so far out of line that the line is over the freaking horizon.


May 15, 2014 · by xalieri · Posted in fiction  

1. Mounds of dead fish shift under my bare feet as I sidle along under the hot sun. The smell is somewhere between unbearable and apocalyptic, something with teeth, sky-high and rubbery, that holds me in its mouth. Any moment I expect to slide down a slick runnel triggering a fishalanche with my flailing and end up crushed to death beneath this stinking mountain. This is the death I've purchased. A slimy, scaly, fishy hell. Caviar dreams.2. A loud click of a plastic button sends another slide into the projector, roasting in the glare of a tiny halogen bulb. The heat remains. It's raining a fine, syrupy drizzle of molten incandescent glass, pooling in dazzling puddles on the roadway and setting fire to fences, to shrubs and tamed yard-trees, running down roofs and setting eaves smoking and smoldering. A heavy white dog sits panting, thumping his tail, steaming contentedly.3. Another click, another slide. It is suddenly very cold and very dark, a cavernous space filled with the hum of an electrical substation and industrial fans. The jarring cold hits my bones. I can feel them shrinking, the atoms that make them up cringing and bringing in their cloudy electron shells for warmth. My blood crystallizes and the stone floor lurches out from under my feet. Will I shatter when I hit? Why do I feel like laughing?4. I am floating now, warm and buoyant, swaddled in the ichor of a god. Stop here, I plead, before it all turns terrible. I don't know who I am praying to. I breathe in the ichor. It's sluggish in my lungs, like electrifying gelatin. My arms and legs unfurl, drift away from my protective huddle on teasing currents. Stop here and let me dissolve. But there is a sharp knock, like a kick to a leg that had fallen asleep, now awake and jangly.5. I can feel someone here with me, larger than life, holding me in the palm of a ghostly hand. I can feel my forehead touching a cold hard desk made of slate, my arms dangling in an icy breeze. I can't feel the chair I ought to be sitting in or my legs. There is light saturating my eyes, shadowed though they must be. Is the breeze the breath of the enormous presence? Where are my legs, cold and numb? I am being judged for what I'm doing.6. The presence, sourceless, is speaking. I can't make out the words, but they're like rumbling of thunder on a distant mountain. The voice is a judge's pronouncement, caring yet supremely disappointed, but it is a mish-mash babble. I focus on it, trying to make out the words, like trying to tune into a radio station at the spatial balance point between three or four different stations. I am falling into a hole I drilled into my own head.7. I shiver while sweat drips off of me, soaking my underwear, my jeans, my shirt, a striped sweater I wore a hundred years ago on a trip to the mountains where I thought I might try to learn to ski, but I hadn't brought enough money on the trip for lessons or lift tickets. I could only afford the room and equipment rental, and that's why I never went on the trip. Was I never there? Ah. The sweater is from my childhood. It smells of snow.8. Fire fills my mouth, then ice, then fire again, like biting on a bare wire connected to a fresh car battery. There is no pain, just unbearably strong sensation. My tongue curls up and back away from my teeth. I am warm all over like I've grown heavy fur everywhere even on my face. This air is stifling. I breathe in and fur bellows my lungs. The sensation in my mouth snaps off, leaving a hollow echo of itself. The memory must be deeper.9. I prick a tiny bubble of hope with a slender needle and time stops, poised at the brink of the onslaught of anticipation. Forward is left and backward is right, but I've slipped off the track, careening across an undulating slope. The sky is a dazzling cloudscape frozen at the edge of meaning. All I have to do is curve leftward to make the next second tick, to make the needle move along in the track. Time is a coiled spring, piling up.10. Here's a memory: three butter-yellow butterflies dogfighting over a hanging basket full of purple flowers in a bed of fern-green foliage in the high sun. Apple blossoms swirl in a breeze made fragrant by their passage, the drifting movements mathematically linked to the whirling flights of distant bird-specks against a backdrop of luminous cyan. Pendulous creaking of a porch swing's chains and a wheezing dog's snores add a soundtrack.11. The presence has returned, angry and confused. The sounds of its breathing fill my head like cotton wadding pulled through a metal pipe. Is it angry at what I'm doing or is it frustrated that this is taking so long? The memory I am hunting is years advanced from the sunny porch and the butterflies, but I'm on the right track. The white dog gets up with a whuff and trots into the future. I follow it with the chilly point of the needle.12. Another memory: a gathering in a house I do not recognize. There has been a funeral an hour ago. The men who were convinced to wear ties have loosened or discarded them. Tables have been set up with trays of sandwiches and a punchbowl and arrays of beers and sodas in cans and plastic cups, ice in crinkly bags in a chest. People laugh and cry. A television shows a football game to the numb. The chubby dog laps at a puddle on the floor.13. A vacuum tube gives off an orange glow, a comforting warmth, a smell of roasted dust, a bass hum halfway between B and B flat, and an aromatic taste of copper and tin. Transistors do none of that. Electrons used to trundle lethargically along, full of character. Now they just blip, tunneling past nanometer-wide discontinuities, flavorless. We've traded our sun for an LED, the experience of a dog for knowledge of one three-letter word.14. Here is the smell of clean sweat behind a wad of shampooed hair, lifted by a slender hand to expose the dripping back of a neck to a sultry breeze. I dig in the junk drawer of a pocket, past paperclips and safety pins for a rubber band, a tool of desperation to make a ponytail of dark, dark hair that drinks in gold and shines a glowworm's blue. The fat dog waddles in the grass, snuffling. This is not the memory, but I am close. Close.15. I can tell I'm getting close because I smell the smoke of burning tires, of cracked fruitwood trees, of rain on brick mortar. The wind is high, singing in the power lines. The grit of dirty air is in my teeth seasoned with the reek of crushed jeweled beetles. I am a monster for doing this. There is no question, no other way of putting it. I am destroying something beautiful because it's a beauty I don't have the strength to live with.16. The words live here, writhing and twisting like a snarl of uncomfortable snakes in a dusty burlap sack. A goaty rattlesnake smell wafts, old books ready to shed onionskin layers of meaning with sarcastic venom at the core. The sourceless presence approves of this as a fitting end to a cursed project, an electrocution of purpose and a much-deserved decline into spastic word salad. Should I kick this sack of snakes and take this reward?17. Not a chance. I am nearly done. Here is the memory: a quick late-summer storm, a wet hand gripping my own, a dog barking thunder, a truck downshifting, a wet dog on a lead tugging backward and forward, rain dripping into my eyes. Chartreuse-gray clouds rear back and prepare to pelt the world with hail. Scant seconds from this terrible beautiful moment to when the reflection of the world shatters like a cinder block thrown into a pond.18. You can plant both of your feet and close your eyes and feel the spin of the world carrying you along. Similarly, you can be yanked off your feet and feel the spin of the world fling you twirling into the storm-heavy, stormlit sky. You can feel the lurching impact punch your chest like a kick-drum at a concert or a broom whacking dust from a rug on a clothesline. You can feel that. I don't want to feel that anymore. I want it to stop.19. This is the memory: a broken sky, a broken road, a broken truck, a broken tree, a broken woman, a broken man. A leash is wound around my arm to take the strain off my broken wrist, dragging me along toward the end of the world. Rain blinds me. The beauty of the storm blinds me. The abstract shape the truck makes is nothing. The tree is folded, bowing toward me. A warning. This is the time. The moment. Here is where I press the button.20. I hit the button. I convulse dangerously with the jolt though my skull is firmly clamped. But I am finally successful. I have drilled more than a dozen holes in my skull, probing for the memory of when the world ends with the point of a stiff hair-thin wire. My skull is now literally a sieve, but I have found the memory, pinned it like a butter-yellow butterfly to a cork and killed it. She is still gone. But now she could be anywhere.



January 2, 2014 · by xalieri · Posted in fiction  

You know what it’s like when you look at the face of someone you love, and she’s justifiably angry because of something you did, and the rage is coming, and it is wrong for you to do anything but take it? You know that it might be a miserable few days, but you will still be able to see that beautiful face wearing its beautiful anger every time you feel up to enduring a little extra dose of misery….The sky was like that.

I guess it’s up to your particular religious views whether the sky was like that because of anything I did. It’s not outside the bounds of my imagination, but my ego is not so large that I think the sky loves me enough that thoughtless action or neglect on my part could make her angry. As much as I love her, the sky is just not that into me.

The dog looked up at me as if it was my fault, like I’d done something to make the sky angry, and clearly conveyed that making him endure the sky’s anger to piss was beyond the pale. But until and unless he learns to use the commode, this is the solution I prefer.

Well, I call him a dog. It’s close enough for my purposes.

I feed him, groom him and keep him clean, give him a comfy place to sleep and some exercise and whatever training he can master. He curls up nearby whenever I do whatever else I do that doesn’t concern him. I love him the way people love dogs that they consider to be part of the family, regardless of messes or damage to my property or whatever way he’s chosen today to shock the neighbors. I require nothing of him. Training is almost entirely carrot, almost no stick.

So let’s just call him a dog and move on.

The sky was all loud grumbling and clouded expression and wrinkles of impending fury and the dog was (finally) pissing on his favorite pine and I was standing out in it as well, as a gesture of solidarity and of also being certain there were clean towels and dry clothes stowed in various closets and everything was beautiful and everything seemed right with the world.

Also when the sky is angry I don’t worry as much that neighbors might be outside trying to look at us through the slats in the fence. So that was good too.


October 2, 2013 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  
Chaotic mixing

A two-dimensional, zonally-symmetric tracer advected in the Northern Hemisphere. Reference: Peter Mills (2004) “Following the Vapour Trail: a Study of Chaotic Mixing of Water Vapour in the Upper Troposphere.” Master’s Thesis, University of Bremen CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain

It’s time for me to let you in on a secret. It’s not a big kind of secret secret, but it’s something that a few people out there would prefer you didn’t know. Kind of like a stage magician guild doesn’t want one of their members explaining how all the tricks work.

Look, it’s of interest to a lot of people — agencies and groups of people, too — to map who talks to whom. And to map what groups of people believe. And to see who in those groups are more influential, and who is more connected. The more totalitarian a government gets, the more interested in this sort of thing it becomes. For all the reasons you’d think, if you ever thought about it.

The trick is the Statistically Improbable Phrase. The made-up or misspelled word or grammatically ignorant clause or clever turn of phrase. These things are radioactive dye injected into the bloodstream. Barium enemas. Colored smoke in the air. Blood in the water. And they’re used to map human networks through social media. Through email and telephone calls too, if you’ve got the access.

An example: Google “dhimmitude“, a word invented in 1982. It’s use marks a network dominated by anti-Islamic sentiment, and the transmission vectors of this network are, by semantic analysis of their public communications, under-educated and fearful of outside domination or loss of privilege. The latest payload inserted into the network, detailed here in Snopes, uses a classic “dogs barking” opening (messages expressing fear or anger are far more likely to be forwarded than anything delivered in a neutral tone, much the way one dog barking at a raccoon in the night will start all the dogs in the neighborhood barking) and then blatantly lies about something that would take a lot of trouble to verify in a transparent attempt associate (high-energy) anti-Muslim fear with (lower-energy) distrust of the Affordable Care Act, thereby using the higher-energy carrier to spread the anti-ACA propaganda further. This also has the side-effect of enlarging the “dhimmitude” network for future propaganda purposes.

Then, of course, social networks can be polled on the “dhimmitude” keyword campaign to track any growth in the human spambot “dhimmitude” network. And provide feedback on the effectiveness of the last “dhimmitude” transmission to make sure it was worth the money spent developing the draft of the message. (Yes, these things are done for money — and the pay-by-the-word rate is the best a writer can hope for.) And then set a price for future access to the network to be paid by people who want to send them more propaganda.

These days it doesn’t take a lot of effort to see what networks someone active in social networking is a part of (or has been infected by, if the detected networks are insidious). A quick scan for the usual suite of keywords and statistically improbable phrases in perpetually scrolling timeline feeds is quite an excellent mapping tool, made tons more useful by a list of links to friends and followers who can also be mapped. A few lines of programming script makes it all a trivial task. And if you “like” a page of mine on Facebook, even something harmless that just shares jokes and funny pictures, this gives me an “in” for looking at your content and scanning your connections to friends and other known networks.

Blood in the water.

So next time you “like” something cute or funny you see on Facebook (from someone you don’t know personally) or “Share This if…” or forward an angry-sounding email that has already passed through numerous hands, please understand you are being studied for use as a propaganda vector and human spambot. By people who will be paid very good money to use you, who have no reason at all to have your best interests at heart. In fact, it is in their best interests to keep you ill-informed, angry, and ignorantly barking.



June 29, 2013 · by xalieri · Posted in fiction  

Part 1: Look Who’s Walking, Part 2: Believe It or Not


To save myself some effort of concentration, I slave my puppet’s walking to Tom’s motions, offset by a second or two so it doesn’t look like they are marching in lockstep, intervening only to avoid obstacles on the sparsely populated sidewalks. He has been rambling, conversation-wise, for an hour or so, calming his nerves. We compare notes on academic experiences and he tells me some about what things were like growing up.

There is another reason, too, I suspect. Human predators are weak monsters at best, and work themselves up to kill more easily if they can think of their human prey as objects, things, cowering animals. Tom thinks that if I know him and see him undeniably as a person, his chances for survival, of convincing me to change my mind about taking his life, are greater.

It’s endearing.

But all I am killing right now is time. I have to stay embedded where I am, traveling linearly timewise, for a short while. There is an event Tom wished to witness this evening of the day of our meeting. A speaker at a small gathering at a chapel, socked away in a storefront in a seaside strip mall — the kind of place that always smells of burned coffee and smokers from the time it spends as a venue for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He also thinks I won’t kill him in front of a number of witnesses, and that if I actually allow him to attend, it will extend his life by at least the length of the meeting — or possibly allow for some distraction which will permit him to escape.

I have marked Tom, however. I will be able to follow him forward in time from the moment of our meeting to wherever I shall decide that his linear thread will end.

We are among the first to arrive and take two seats at the end of the rear row of metal folding chairs. The few other people present are a couple of college-aged kids, possibly involved in the menial aspects of setting up, a middle-aged woman, comfortably dressed, who is possibly their supervisor, and a drifter or two, at least one of whom probably thinks this is an AA meeting and will likely stay out of curiosity.

More people arrive, hard to pin down from a visual gloss. A cluster of three young professional men, ties discarded and suit jackets slung casually over arms or shoulders. A bored housewife type in yoga pants with brown hair caught carelessly in a pony tail. A group of four young people who look as much like a garage band on the verge of breakup, here for group counseling, as anything else. I lose track of the next few by pulling in my awareness tightly and sinking the bulk of what no longer fits into the space of my puppet through the concrete slab of the floor beneath the cheap carpet and into the chilling earth. It’s like sitting in a brightly lit room peeping between the fingers of my hands over my face. The evening has turned a bit chill and my puppet is sparsely dressed, so I pose it in a more closed position, hunched over, face cast downward. Tom rubbernecks, performing his own evaluation of the session’s attendants.

The drifter a couple of seats over from Tom pipes up. “I sense a dark presence,” he intones. His voice is a solid baritone, with an invisible smile built in. Long graying hair obscures the side of his face nearest Tom.

“Woooo…,” laughs one of the professionals, a man on the outside edge of his row, tan jacket over the back of his chair.

The drifter stands and edges across empty seats to the aisle at the side, the same side as the professional, and walks to the front of the room at an easy pace, patting the professional companionably on the shoulder on the way. The seated man doesn’t flinch or shy away from the contact, reacting with a grin that cannot be seen from Tom’s angle.

At the front of the room, the drifter turns to face his audience. He’s a little shorter than average, perhaps, a bit hunched, dressed in jeans, disintegrating loafers, a faded red t-shirt, and a sweatshirt of some kind with a hood pushed back onto his shoulders. His features put him into his forties or fifties. He looks and sounds like he could be a newscaster if he got a salon haircut and a conservative suit.

“Over on the table by the empty coffee urn,” he begins, “I’d like to direct your attention to the donations basket.” He laughs. “Seems like it comes with the room.” A handful of groans come from the sparse audience. He continues, laughing, “Now I’d like you to ignore it. I have all the money I need, and I’m not selling anything. Just figured I needed to get that out of the way.”

At this point he grabs an empty chair out of the completely empty front row and spins it around to face the attendees. He takes a seat. “I don’t feel the need to stand up and be seen. Just speak out if you can’t hear me. Provided you actually give a damn about what I’m saying and aren’t here just to escape the oppressive jolly weather and refreshing sea breezes of the Southern California coast.”

He makes himself comfortable in his chair. “And now a few words about myself. I don’t have a name. Or a phone. Or a website. Much less any impressive credentials to try to lend phantom weight to what I have to say. And that’s enough about me.

“I do, however, sense a dark presence. Not any kind of ancient foreboding evil. A brand spanking new one. A darkness of a sort not typically detected this far outside the L.A. city limits.” He smiles and is answered by a light chuckle from the audience. “A darkness that drinks souls, which don’t actually exist in the way everybody thinks about them, so saying it that way is more than half a lie, but it’s the best way I can think to say it while in the grips of this crippling whiskey deficiency.” One of the men in suits, at this point, cheerfully waves a metal pocket-flask of something in the speaker’s direction, but the speaker just grins and motions for the man to put it away.

He continues. “A brand spanking new foreboding evil, and one of you present has brought it with you. Kind of a dick move, if you ask me, but I’m sure you have your reasons.”

My awareness subtly focuses on Tom, who is of course saturated with fear, but Tom’s fear is still centered on his impending mortality. At no point does the speaker give any attention at all to my puppet — at least no more than the casual glances he has given most of the rest of the people present. Is the speaker referring to me? It would make all the sense in the world if he was, but talking about it like this makes me think he’s not certain and is trying to flush something out into the open.

The flask-wielder heckles from his chair. “So the whiskey I brought is only aged seven years. That doesn’t make it evil!” Everybody laughs, including Tom and the speaker.

The drifter engages him directly with a smirking glare. “Actually it kinda does.” And everybody laughs again.

“Anyway,” he says, “I’m sure you’re not all here for my sparkling sit-down stand-up routine. “And fuck all this dark presence nonsense. If you people realized for thirty seconds in a row how saturated the world is with darkness, you’d use the last five seconds of that to slit your own throats. Thank To Whom It May Concern you’re all blind as bats with earplugs. Pretty birds in pretty cages sing pretty songs for the rest of us. An honest man is listening. Who has a question?”

A browned young man in jeans, sandals, and some kind of zip-up jacket with stripes down the sleeves speaks up. “When will I ever be truly happy?”

The speaker doesn’t allow even a brief pause. “You’ll be happy the moment you realize you’ve gone three whole weeks without asking yourself that question. Then it will go away again. Then half an hour later you’ll realize you’ve been being an idiot, and then you’ll be happy enough not to worry about it much ever again. That’s all assuming you live through the night, of course. Or the next night. Or the next night. And so on.”

The young man follows up more hesitantly. “Is not living through the night something I should be worrying about?” There is nervous laughter from around the room.

The speaker smiles. “You have as good a chance at a long and healthy life as most anybody else here. I was pointing out, or trying to, that you have a choice about what’s going to worry you. I guarantee you, giving yourself ten minutes to think about all the horrible things going on in the world that you don’t have to worry about will make any worry you have now seem like the waste of time that it is. Who’s next?”

The woman with the ponytail asks, “Does God exist?”

The speaker sighs. “You are an ant. The bug, not the relative. You look up and there’s this big face in the sky. His coming and going knocks the boulders out of the ceilings of your little tunnels, sometimes even smothering and crushing the newly hatched larvae in the nursery. Sometimes he even deliberately kicks the top of the nest away and stomps around killing hundreds. And sometimes he leaves an apple core right in the path of your scouts and you all eat like kings for a week. Is that the God you’re talking about? If so, based on His actions toward you and the hive, does He love you or hate you? What are His motives? How does He spend his spare time? What does He do when He’s not stomping around killing folk or dropping food? Does He love some of you ants more than others? Maybe, if He loves you enough, He’ll whisk you away to His own private ant farm and keep you on a desk in His office? Or if He decides He’s done with you all, He’ll pour gasoline down the nest and light it? Is that the God you’re asking about?

“That’s the best understanding any living human being will ever have of any god. You don’t even want a god like that. You want a super-ant, someone who understands ant interests and ant needs and can help you build to defend yourselves from God’s Boot, someone who can steal fresh apples for you right out of God’s orchard without Him noticing and coming after you for revenge. And no human being will have that understanding, of what a god is and how to deal with one, with only a human’s point of view.

“If you want to know for yourself for sure if God exists, you just look for His bootprint. Next?”

“Wait,” the woman replies. “Do really think it’s that grim?”

“Think about it,” the speaker says. “If God cares anything at all about you, it’s because He finds you beautiful or fascinating or useful or because He eats you. How much of His attention are you willing to risk? Do you really think you’ll make a good pet? Next?”

There is silence in the room now. People shift uncomfortably in their chairs. There is a question I would like to ask, but I do not wish to draw attention directly. Any intervention I might make other than moving my puppet would attract the notice of any entity with perceptions like my own, and this man and the things he has been saying have convinced me that he has had, or has currently, contact with something outside the normal human scope.

I have my puppet nudge Tomoyoshi with an elbow and when he looks over I make my puppet make a writing gesture, one hand over the other’s open palm. Tom pulls a notebook out of his bag, a ballpoint pen stuffed into the spiral binding. My puppet opens it to a blank page and writes, “Ask: ‘Whose hand is up your ass?’ ”

Tom looks at this and blinks. He looks at my puppet’s face, his mouth open, features full of wonder and realization and apprehension. My puppet nods gently.

“ASK,” my puppet writes again, and hands the notebook back. Tom puts it away.

Tom clears his throat to shove his nervousness and fear aside. “How does an honest man answer this question: Whose hand is up your ass?”

There are one or two gasps, and someone somewhere titters.

The speaker is no longer smiling. “Well done,” he responds. “You have served your purpose, ant. But I must answer the question. God’s own hand is up my ass. To prove it, here comes His boot.”

The woman with the ponytail lurches to her feet in obvious distress, and turns sideways to face the bulk of the attendees. Her chest and belly explodes, distributing miscellaneous gore and intestines over four or fives rows of seats. A gout of flame envelopes the man who had brought the flask, and he falls into the laps of his companions, igniting them as well. I yank my awareness fully into the area in time to feel an additional presence billowing into the space, waiting to feed on the dying. I feel an otherworldly tug in the direction of Tom’s body, so I encapsulate him as well as I can, including my puppet in the multidimensional clathrate. Near to panic, I isolate several timelines anchored to our future selves in an attempt to guarantee an escape.

The other is hugely powerful and extends in many directions far beyond this locale. My paths forward include ferociously aggressive maneuvers, though it is clear that I would fail a direct confrontation. And then I understand.

Billowing out from my clathrate, I reach for the escaping essences of two of the dying professionals. I am strongly slapped away, but I do not retreat in the expected direction. Instead, I pounce and devour wholly the essence of the pony-tailed woman, who retreats into my extended self almost willingly to avoid the destruction promised by the other presence.

The other responds with fury. The air in the meeting-place is incandescent with brilliance, and the facade facing the parking lot explodes away. In this instant, I gather all of my essence into the shell around my puppet and Tomoyoshi’s body and torque a portion of the blast to propel us out of the building, but also around forty minutes into the future, where the bubble we are in bounces a couple of times and deforms, flattening viscously, while our physical packages slide to a halt shy of the sidewalk.

Tom is unconscious, but returning. His hair is singed, as is his jacket and his bag. My puppet is covered in dew and condensation. I leave it inert on the pavement for a moment.

There are two fire trucks blocking Tom’s view of the continuing conflagration as much of the strip mall burns, now involving at least four shops in addition to the exploded meeting-space in the center of the devastation. The other presence has fed on the dead and left, forced to choose between leaving a meal and pursuing me to a point in time where its food would have spoiled and dissolved into the background fields of dark matter. Nor has it returned or lain in wait for my reappearance, which leaves me a little confused.

And now it occurs to me that perhaps it just doesn’t care. Maybe I am only a pest to be bothered with when I appear at a picnic. I am not game. I am not a threat. I am not even a serious annoyance.

I realize I am offended.



April 3, 2013 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

Chaos on the trading floorI keep seeing suggestions that we pay our senators and representatives minimum wage, and it’s kind of funny, picturing them living four to a two-bedroom rat-hole in a student/immigrant ghetto somewhere, pooling recycling deposits for a bottle of cheap liquor to split and/or reimburse the chump who picked up the dry-cleaning. The funniest part, though, is that they wouldn’t notice if we stopped paying them altogether.

Here’s a tiny, tiny piece of the reality of how our lawmakers actually get paid.

The House Agriculture Committee is in charge of regulations on complex financial derivatives. Once upon a time this made sense, because these derivatives originally existed as hedges against commodity failures. Blight, drought, livestock culls, etc. And you used to only be able to speculate in commodities (food futures and such) if you actually traded — i.e, bought or sold — commodities, because otherwise you could be in a position to deliberately tank a commodity the nation depended on so you could sell short or collect insurance and make a crap-ton of money while causing a good deal of actual misery to the populace in general.

Sounds complex, does it? Well thank God Wall Street doesn’t have to worry their simple little heads about how to get around tough regulations like that anymore. Protections like that are a thing of the past, baby.

Speaking of regulations, we nailed some back together, kind of haphazardly, after Wall Street tanked the Real Estate market and sold it short/collected insurance/got bailed out when the insurance firms collapsed (looking at you, AIG). Dodd-Frank, we called it. Anyway, some of those regulations are kind of, well, restricting to the Big 4 “Too Big to Fail/Too Big to Jail” banking monstrosities, so they flip a few grand (only counting the 2010/2012 election years) to their buddies on the Agriculture committee.


AgCommittee Contributions Bank of America Citigroup Goldman Sachs JP Morgan Chase   Grand Total
Rep. Randy Neugebauer [R, TX-19] $20,000 $9,000 $14,000 $9,000 $52,000
Rep. David Scott [D, GA-13] $16,000 $7,000 $11,000 $7,500 $41,500
Rep. Frank D. Lucas [R, OK-3] $12,000 $2,500 $15,000 $10,000 $39,500
Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher [R, TN-8] $10,000 $2,000 $10,500 $7,000 $29,500
Rep. K. Michael Conaway [R, TX-11] $5,000 $16,000 $1,000 $22,000
Rep. Christopher P. Gibson [R, NY-19] $5,000 $15,000 $20,000
Rep. Mike Rogers [R, MI-8] $2,500 $11,000 $3,500 $17,000
Rep. Juan Vargas [D, CA-51] $3,500 $5,000 $6,000 $14,500
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge [D, OH-11] $6,500 $4,500 $11,000
Rep. Mike McIntyre [D, NC-7] $1,000 $1,000 $8,500 $10,500
Rep. Jeff Denham [R, CA-10] $4,500 $3,000 $500 $1,000 $9,000
Rep. Kristi L. Noem [R, SD-0] $2,000 $5,500 $7,500
Rep. Collin C. Peterson [D, MN-7] $5,500 $5,500
Rep. Vicky Hartzler [R, MO-4] $2,000 $2,000 $1,000 $5,000
Rep. Dan Benishek [R, MI-1] $5,000 $5,000
Rep. Kurt Schrader [D, OR-5] $2,500 $2,000 $4,500
Rep. Jim Costa [D, CA-16] $1,000 $3,500 $4,500
Rep. Bob Goodlatte [R, VA-6] $1,000 $2,000 $1,000 $4,000
Rep. Austin Scott [R, GA-8] $3,000 $3,000
Rep. Doug LaMalfa [R, CA-1] $2,000 $2,000
Rep. Timothy J. Walz [D, MN-1] $2,000 $2,000
Rep. Pete P. Gallego [D, TX-23] $1,000 $1,000
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney [D, NY-18] $1,000 $1,000
Rep. Chris Collins [R, NY-27] $1,000 $1,000
Rep. Scott DesJarlais [R, TN-4] $500 $500
TOTALS $85,000 $34,000 $123,000 $71,000 $313,000

That’s not a lot. Not a living wage, anyway. But the Big 4 Banks have to pay the rest of the legislative branch another $4.5 million for other good and valuable considerations and can’t be bothered to be the sole patrons keeping these poor chumps alive. Fortunately these guys in the Agriculture Committee alone racked up another whopping $50 MILLION DOLLARS since the start of 2010 from other generous donors in other industries. That’s all 47 of them, not just the 25 listed above, so that’s only a million a head, and split over four years. On average, of course. Only one person gets to be the chairman after all. So some members of congress have to be on BUNCHES of committees so they can grab enough from a number of different troughs to get by.

Please, don’t take my word for it. I’m hosting a copy of this free-to-download set of spreadsheets over here on Google Docs just in case you don’t want to pay Microsoft money to view the misery. (For some reason LibreOffice choked trying to open this, but I fear that was simply disgust. Or the pivot tables.)

My personal view is that this crap shouldn’t be remotely legal. There’s a reason we have words for “bribes” and “graft” and “corruption”. But the truth is that our legislators would have to be the ones to make the laws to make buying the favors of our officials illegal. Or to restore any that they’ve previously repealed. Could be an issue. Because obviously publishing a list of their names and the size of the bribes and who they came from doesn’t #^@&ing work.

MapLight.org has their much under-viewed expose over here. Go look.


March 4, 2013 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  
Wealth Inequality in America

Wealth Inequality in America

Every day I see claims that we are risking a nationwide uprising by proposing to restrict the rights of irresponsible gun owners. I think that’s hysterical. Because what’s REALLY going to trigger the next revolution is when half of the nation can’t make ends meet because the lazy, layabout, entitlement-seeking, non-working INVESTOR CLASS has hijacked the bulk of the GDP of this growing economy and stashed it in offshore accounts.

The starving poor might not be able to afford guns to stage an armed uprising, but they for damn sure can afford a cheap cigarette lighter from the corner convenience store. And someday soon every house in this nation worth more than a million dollars will be on fire.

The American Revolution had nothing to do with the British trying to take away the colonists’ guns. It wasn’t even really about taxation without representation, as the taxes being levied were only a means to an end. And that end was to keep they people who earned the money for the British landowners and merchants from having enough money to buy themselves out of what was effectively slavery — working their asses off every day for not quite enough money to live on and being unable to put back enough to retire or quit or found ventures that could compete with the few who already owned everything.

Tell me, do you smell smoke?


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