Philosophy / World View

The Sad Strange Heaven of Harold Camping

The Ruptured Rapture
Perhaps by his own definition, Harold Camping is the very essence of that which he has devoted his near-century of life waging holy war against.

Harold Camping is a false prophet.

Our first Apocalypzia post devoted to Chicken-Little Camping was back in June 2009. This blog was, in fact, launched as a send-up/mash-up of all the end-of-the-world doomsayers out there. Hence, our tagline: The Beginning is Near.

Camping said that his prediction of heavenly ascension and earthly perdition was based in The Word. But when asked to show his work, what came out of Camping's mouth was a jumble of jackleg jargon indistinguishable from numerology, gibberish and Sudoku.

Eschatological Mumbo-Jumbo
Having finessed his way through a previous bungled warning of the coming wrath of God back in 1994, Camping soldiered on and came up with a new and improved drop-dead date. A few years ago, Camping told his followers that he had raised his game and could now assure a 2011 Rapture with a Fed Ex guarantee.

He blamed his 17 year error on not yet being familiar enough with the nuances of his scripture-on-scripture approach to bible study. Now emboldened by his new-found expertise, Camping doubled down on 2011.

It's important to note that Camping didn't just predict a May 21 Rapture, he also predicted an October 21 Armageddon.

And he wasn't just choosing dates on a calendar. He described in specific detail exactly what would happen -- and when -- as the Saved, both alive and dead, ascended into the air with on-time precision at 6pm in each global time zone.

He talked with absolute assurance about how the heaven-bound would transform into glowing glorified bodies. He articulated how those Left Behind would spend the next five months, waiting for worldwide destruction, stumbling through the ejected and mouldering remains of the unforgiven dead.

But an employee of Family Radio, the non-profit (non-prophet?) organization that Camping heads to spread his message, is quoted as saying that relatively few staff members ever bought into the whole Eve of Destruction scenario. For them, working at Family Radio was just a job and a way to pay the rent.

Even Camping's immediate family was unconvinced of the Rapture.

Slam Dunk
Most snake oil salesmen do what they do for money. Some, especially those in politics, do what they do for power and fame. The sad tale of Camping is that he appeared to eat his own dog food. He seemed to actually believe that, had his predicted Rapture not put an end to human history, his name would have been emblazoned alongside all the other blessed prophets chosen by God to hear the whispered secrets of the divine.

As it is, Harold Camping is a flabbergasted and bewildered 89 year old who has wasted his existence soliciting and spending millions of dollars to warn the world of danger that never did, and never would, manifest.

But Camping isn't alone in this folly of crying wolf.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Eight years ago, we were told that, indeed, the world would end unless weapons of mass destruction were wrestled from the soon-to-be-dead hands of Sadaam Hussein. These words were presented to us with no less hubris and certainty than Camping's exclamations about the End-of-Days.

And three years ago, we were told that if we didn't hand over a trillion dollars ransom to thieving Wall Street fat cats, this sucker (an amusing and pathetic metaphor for the global economy) could go down.

The Fire Next Time
As of this writing, Harold Camping has not yet fully emerged from hiding after his not-so-excellent adventure this weekend. He is expected to make an official statement sometime May 23, most likely on his weeknight call-in talk show, Open Forum.

Since May 21, Family Radio has broadcast tapes of old Camping sermons that pre-date his Rapture prediction.

Will he do the right thing today?

Will he fall on his sword and take responsibility for advising the world to forsake their earthly obligations for a chance at an E-Ticket to Paradise?

Or will he, instead, blame the whole fiasco on a media that somehow took his words "out of context?"

Weekend at Harold's
Perhaps he's spent the weekend re-crunching his numbers and has a revised timetable for the end of time.

Or perhaps Brother Camping will pull a Bobby Ewing when he steps out of his Monday morning shower and act as if the non-events of this past weekend have been erased from our collective backstory.

There is evidence that this divine debacle will be swept under the carpet. The Atlantic Wire quotes Camping aide Tom Evans:

"You can imagine we're pretty disappointed but the word of God is still true. We obviously went too far and that's something we have to learn from."

The Not-Yet-Late and Never Great Harold Camping

A May 11 New York Magazine interview with Harold Camping


Tools: What It Takes To Do Your Best

If we just had the right tools, everything would be great, right?

If we just had that new gadget, that state-of-the-art latest piece of technology, there would be no stopping us.

Then we could achieve our personal best. Then what we could do would be limited only by our own imagination.


But maybe it doesn't take all that to succeed...

Roger Bannister's Shoes

When it came time for Roger Bannister to Just Do It, he did something that had never been done before.

He ran a mile in less than four minutes. And he didn't do it in $300 Nikes or Pumas. He did it in the shoes pictured here.

As a 25 year old in 1954, Bannister ran a mile in 3:59:40 seconds.

Twenty years later, Bannister was the unfortunate victim of a head-on car collision. Suffering a crushed ankle, he didn't run for decades.

Then he heard about amazing new footwear that might help him run again.

Nike? Puma? Adidas?


A section of a car tire as used by some Kenyan runners to reduce impact.

Bannister, now in his eighties, is back on the road again.

Apollo 11 Computer

There is more computing power in your cellphone than what Neil and Buzz had available when they landed on the moon.

In fact, according to DownSquad.Switched.Com, the 30 year old IBM XT computer that you got rid of years ago had 8 times more memory than the Apollo 11 on-board computer.

The lunar team had 2k of memory and 32k of storage to work with. This, by the way, was an upgrade. Previous Apollo missions had only 24k of storage to work with.

These guys got to the moon with less computing power than the Garmin GPS device we use to get to the mall.

The Beatles Tape Recorder

Beatles songs that were the soundtrack of the Baby Boomer generation and those that followed.

Their first hits were recorded on a BTR (British Tape Recorder) like the one shown above.

The iconic Sergeant Pepper Album was recorded on a 4-track Studer J37, a marvel of its day.

The Garageband application that shipped free with your Mac can record up to 64 tracks.

Studer J37

The Boats of Lewis and Clark

The Lewis and Clark expedition was the Apollo mission of the 19th century.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led their exploration party, boldly, where few had gone before.

President Thomas Jefferson charged Lewis and Clark with finding a navigable cross-continental waterway to the Northwest.

Their journey helped changed the manifest-destiny of the United States.

It was simple, fragile boats like these that carried them on their long, treacherous and historic journey up the Missouri River.

Shakespeare's Quill

William Shakespeare wrote some 37 plays and over 150 sonnets.

He didn't have a computer or an iPad 2 with spellcheck and cut/copy/paste.

He had a quill pen and some ink.

And by the way he did all that he did before dying at the age of 52.

Steve Job's Garage

Apple Computer is the world's most valuable technology company based on market capitalization.

It didn't start in a well-appointed walnut-paneled boardroom or in the strategic planning department of a multi-million dollar hedge fund operation.

It started here, in this garage.

The message for us all: What can we do today with what we've got?


Dark Apocalypzia: 21st Century War - By the Numbers

War Deaths

Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities: Year by Year: 2003 through 2010

Total Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities: 4,748

The US accounts for 93% of all coalition fatalities in Iraq: 4.430

US forces wounded since the 2003 beginning of the war: 30, 718

Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities: Year by Year: 2001 through 2010

Coalition military fatalities have been on a distinct upward trend over the last decade.

Total Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities: 2,271

If this trend continues, the war will soon have caused the deaths of more people than did the 9/11 attacks it was launched in response to.

The US accounts for 63% of all coalition fatalities in Afghanistan: 1,440

More US forces have died in Afghanistan under the two years of the Obama administration than died in the eight years of the Bush administration.

US forces wounded since the 2001 beginning of the war: 9,256


Total cost of Afghanistan and Iraq Wars since 2001

Total $1.124 Trillion

Cost of Iraq War: $747.307 Billion

Cost of Afghanistan War: $377.255 Billion

By Household Iraq and Afghanistan: $9,597

Cost of War in !raq: $6.377 / Household

Cost of War in Afghanistan: $3, 219 / Household

Cost Comparison: The Moon Times Ten

The Artemis Project estimates that the total cost of putting men on the moon (the combined costs of Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) was $100 Billion.

That is one-tenth the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan endeavors.

It took less time to put men on the moon (1961 - 1969) than it has taken to win the still ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Sources:, National Prioriites Project


The Rapture: Waiting... Waiting on the World to Change

Harold Camping: Giving Religion a Bad Name

May 21, 2011 is less than a half year away.

Maybe you don't see any great significance in that fact but Harold Camping does.

Camping is chief guru at Family Radio, a world-wide religious conglomerate not to be confused with a church.

On his five-nights-a-week radio program, Camping eschews churches as the domains of Satan and preaches that your only chance for salvation is to heed his dire warning.


Because Camping believes he's discovered what no one else in the 13,000 year history of the universe (yeah, 13,000 years) has ever found until now.

Camping claims to have cracked the ultimate Da Vinci Code. He believes that he has broken the final seal of the Bible's Book of Daniel that reveals the mystic secret of the End of Days.

According to Camping, May 21, 2011 will be the day that all the fans of Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series dream about.

On that day, True Believers will be caught up in the divine rapture, while those who are not so true will be cast screaming and wailing into the Lake of Fire.

And don't think that being dead already will save you from the agony of it all.

On that dark day in May, if you've already bought the farm but are not among the lucky Saved, whatever's left of your rotting carcass will be ripped from your grave and strewn across the ground like "stinking manure" (Camping's words).

That's a bad day.

But then things take a real turn for the worst.

Five months later, on October 21, 2011, the entire universe will be obliterated in a flash of divine providence.

All that has ever been will be no more. Forever gone. For all time forgotten.

Perhaps what's surprising about all this is that Camping claims that his source for this timeline to destruction is the Holy Bible itself.

Yeah, that's right. It's apparently all there for those who are open to the truth of God's word.

At least it's there for all those who see the messianic math when they, like he and his followers, read between the lines of scripture.

Like a Thief in the Night.

And don't try to throw Thessalonians at Camping. He's heard that old saw that at the time of the Second Coming, Jesus will arrive, unexpectedly and unannounced, like a thief in the night.

According to Camping though, only those who refuse to heed his time-specific warning will be caught napping when everything goes down in flames this coming May.

The Numeric Proof: Show Your Math

And what is the miraculous math that Camping has uncovered? What is the statistical basis for the Bible's greatest secret?

Okay, here goes...

Camping says Jesus was crucified on April 1, 33 A.D. He doesn't really explain how he came up with the specific date but there you go.

Anyway, because in Camping's head certain numbers in the Bible convey spiritual truth, this is where things get seriously wacko.

Harold says the number 5 means atonement, the number 10 means completeness and the number 17 means heaven.

So multiplying these three numbers times each other twice (to show just how serious God is) gives you:

(5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.

Now adding 722,500 days to April 1, 33 A.D. brings you to:

May 21, 2011

Did you get that? Simple, right?

If Camping is correct about all this, there's not much more to say about it.

But if he's wrong (and we're betting that he is wrong if you haven't guessed) come May 22, 2011, Harold will have a lot of explaining to do.

And by the way, when he predicted a similar end of days back in 1994 he covered his tracks on that one claiming that he hadn't truly perfected his mathematical model yet.

But the May 21, 2011 date, according to Camping, is locked in.

Not the day before, not the day after. And none of that Mayan 2012 crap either.

May 21, 2011 or Bust

Indeed, as Camping would suggest, the full faith and credit of God Himself is riding on absolutely, positively delivering the Rapture on this date.

By Camping's own argument, a non-event on that particular day will undermine and deconstruct the basis for the very existence and divine authority of the Living God and Heaven.

Harold Camping has really doubled down on this one. Big time.

There will always be doomsayers like Camping in the world but the real tragedy here are the possibly hundreds of thousands of people across the globe who, because of his rantings, are at this very moment deciding not to go to college, get married, have children, start a business, travel, seek help for physical or emotional problems, etc.

Those people are right now too busy preparing for the end because they've bought into the message that this perhaps good-intentioned but hopelessly misguided person is spewing.

So we're running a pool to see which excuse Harold will trot out if the sun rises on May 22 without any sign of the horrific shock and awe of the beginning of the end.

Here's our best guesses at this point.

1. Oops, My bad.

2. Did I say 2011?! I meant 3011.

3. Math never was my best subject, you know.

4. Just because you and I didn't get raptured doesn't mean that somebody didn't.

5, Hey, who would have thought that heaven looks so much like Jersey?


Weird Cat and the Scary World of Animated GIFs

What is it about animated gifs that makes them so strange and disturbingly compelling?

It's not just the freaky nature of the images themselves. There's something more about them that seems to eat away at some dark and hidden part of our brain in a maddening way.

Maybe it's the repetition that may suggest, in some very small way, what a person plagued with OCD must endure day in and day out.

Animated gifs seem to be a tiny portal through which we may peer into that which we might imagine hell to be, if there is indeed a hell.

Who knows?

But there is indeed something strange and very disturbingly compelling about animated gifs.

Don't you agree?


US Presidential Campaigns: 1952 - 1968

Something happened in the US during the 1950s and 1960s and it wasn't good.

The Great Experiment, born in the musket fire of the American Revolutionary War, had first faltered in the mid-1860s.

What emerged after the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was still viable but was not exactly what the often-called Founding Fathers had in mind.

And in the early years of the Cold War, what was left of the Great American Experiment faltered again.

Commercial military interests and their political lackeys began the slow, grinding shift that changed a nation once dedicated to peace -- at least in theory -- to a nation that for the next 50 years would support and pursue continuous war somewhere on the planet for profit and plunder.

President Eisenhower gave a stern warning that dark forces were afoot that might rob US citizens of their rights and freedoms.

And by the time the gunsmoke cleared in the late 1960s, a kind of second-amendment Tea Party bloodbath left as casualties a President, two Presidential candidates and two civil rights leaders.

The Great American Experiment had been replaced by something new, something different and hardly what Washington, Jefferson and Franklin had intended.

The presidential elections of the 1950s and 1960s offer special insight into this shift in the national, political zeitgeist.

The power and influence of television and media became a new reality no less powerful -- and in the end, arguably, more powerful -- than any -- or indeed all -- of the three branches of government laid out in the US Constitution.

1952: Eisenhower (55.2% of the popular vote) v. Stevenson (44.3%)

Dwight Eisenhower was a bona fide World War II hero.

He was the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during the war and one of the masterminds who planned and executed the D-Day invasion that turned the tables on the German war machine.

In his first presidential campaign in 1952, Ike did what no successful candidate had ever done before in US history. He turned to television to connect with voters.

While Ike's face was popular in 1952, his opponent's face was not. Adlai Stevenson doesn't even show up in this televsion ad for the Democratic nominee.

Catchy song, eh?

1956: Eisenhower (57.4%) v. Stevenson (42%)

Four years later, Ike and Adlai were at it again.

This time Ike had the snappy song.

Once again, Stevenson was a no-show for his campaign commercial.

This may be the worst campaign ad ever. This spot has a better shot than Lunestra in putting you to sleep.

1960: Kennedy (49.7%) v. Nixon (49.6%)

It wasn't until the 1960 race that campaigners started to get good at using television to get across the message.

John F. Kennedy was pitched as a man "old enough to know what's right and young enough to do."

This ad is selling the JFK image big-time.

It appeals to emotions more so than logic.

Nixon took the more academic road, appealing to the head rather than the heart.

Ike didn't exactly help his ambitious VP out with this statement. Ouch!

1964: Johnson (61.1%) v. Goldwater (38.5%)

By 1964, the gloves were off.

Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater threw everything they had at each other, including nukes.

This Daisy ad was shown only a few times, but may have ensured LBJ's victory over extremist Goldwater.

Sounding eerily like one of today's Tea Partiers, Goldwater tried his best to top Johnson in scaring the bejeezus out of voters.

1968: Nixon (43.4%) v. Humphrey (42.7%) v. Wallace (13.5%)

By 1968, when Nixon once again emerged, he'd learned a thing or two about how to use television and imagery.

This ad looks like someone just stripped the jingle off the audio track for a Pepsi commercial and put in a Nixon voiceover.

Hey, is that Jerry Garcia in there somewhere?!

This time it was Humphrey who appealed to the head rather than the heart.

Prehistoric Tea Partier George Wallace came out swinging with both imagery and rationale for supporting his extremist agenda.

Hubert Humphrey lost the 1968 race by less than one percentage point of the popular vote.

Maybe Humphrey should have actually hired Foster Brooks as his campaign manager.



Rafael Nadal:
Only the Seventh Man in Tennis History to Achieve a Career Grand Slam

Covenant of the Rival
Rivals are both the bane of our existence and the greatest gift on the hard-scrabble road to greatness.

Rivals challenge us to find the best within ourselves and never allow us the luxury of settling for anything less.

Rivals force us to understand that good-enough is never good enough.

Most leaders in sports and business owe their success not only to hard work and luck, but to the man, woman or organization that pushed them to a performance level higher than they might have otherwise ever imagined.

Nadal v. Federer

Roger Federer is a better player today because of what happened in Miami in March 2004. The then-number-one ranked Federer was beaten by a 17 year old kid, ranked only 34 on the men's tour. Rafael Nadal.

That match was the beginning of one of the greatest rivalries in men's tennis.

Wikipedia reports that Federer and Nadal are the only pair of men to have finished five consecutive calendar years as the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour.

The two men have gone head-to-head 21 times now. Nadal has won 14 of those matches, giving him a 2-to-1 edge over Federer.

To compete with, and to win against, the man who held the number one position for a record 237 weeks has undeniably brought the best out of Nadal.

Sampras v. Agassi

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the tortoise and hare of tennis.

Sampras -- known as Pistol Pete on the tour -- achieved greatness, in large part, by becoming the best server in the game.

Agassi countered that advantage by becoming the best server returner in the game.

Sampras holds the advantage in the head-to-head rivalry of these two players, but the keen competition may have pushed Agassi to become the first commercially successful anti-hero of tennis.

John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were known for outbursts on the court but Agassi converted controversy into commerce.

Sampras always seemed focused and serious about the game, while Agassi was the guy who told us -- and sold us on the idea -- that image is everything.

Ali v. Frazier

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier met each other in the ring only three times, yet their rivalry defined heavyweight boxing for decades.

The first contest, in March 1971, was called the Fight of the Century. Frazier won the 15 Rounder by unanimous decision.

The two boxers met again in 1974 in New York but this time Ali was victorious.

Their third and final match was the Thrilla in Manila.

That fight ended when Frazier was unable to continue in the 15th round.

Their career tally: Ali-2, Frazier-1

Mantle v. Maris

The New York Yankees won the World Series in 1961.
Maybe the fact that they had the M&M Boys on their roster had a lot to do with that.

Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, both Yankees, were that year, each on a home-run-roll to match, or best, Babe Ruth's long-standing record.

Mantle had come close to eclipsing the home-run record in 1956 but fell 9 runs short. Perhaps because of that, the media of the day embraced Mantle and didn't seem to give Maris much respect.

But a hip problem forced Mantle out of the competition and Maris went on to hit 61 home runs that year.

That was one more home run than Babe Ruth but the feat was accomplished in a longer season with more games played. Consequently, Maris received an asterisk by his name in the record books.

Adidas v. Puma

Adi and Rudi Dassler started the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1924.

During the 1936 Olympics, held in Germany, Adi convinced star athlete Jesse Owens to compete in Dassler shoes. Owens' four gold medals helped to put Dassler Shoes on the map.

The brothers couldn't agree on the whole Nazi thing, though. Rudi is reported to have had warmer feelings toward the Third Reich than Adi.

They went their separate ways in 1947.

Adi Dassler formed a company, named after a shortening of his own name, called Adidas

Rudi formed a company called Rudas. That name didn't stick though and was changed to Puma.

Today Adidas is a $10.4 billion company. Puma is a $2.5 billion company.

Adi wins.


The Power of the Narrative: Phil Davison Revisited

The Narrative is a powerful, scary thing folks

You've no doubt already seen this video of clip of Phil Davison's attempt to secure a spot on the Republican side of the Ohio ballot in the election for Stark County Treasurer.

The raw footage of his way-over-the-top address has been a fast growing viral phenomenon.

But what some clever YouTube mashups reveal is very interesting.

Set in the context of the brilliant Matt Foley SNL sketch performed by the late Chris Farley, the Phil Davison rant seems right at home.

Same Speech, Different Context
But when you watch the same speech, heavily edited and backed by the dramatic Lord of the Rings soundtrack, ask yourself something:

If you'd seen this edited clip instead of the raw footage, would it have been so funny?

Would it have sounded as over-the-top?; as ridiculous?

Maybe, maybe not.

The Narrative is a powerful, scary thing folks

Just ask Howard Dean. Back in 2004 he finished in third place in the Iowa Caucus.

But that isn't what defined his political future. Barack Obama went on to victory after losing the New Hampshire Primary in 2008.

In Dean's concession speech to his supporters, while battling exhaustion and the flu, he did something that changed the context by which potential voters viewed him.

With one short scream, Dean's narrative was forever altered.

And one month later he dropped out of the race.

The Narrative is a powerful, scary thing folks


The Real Thing

Make Believe

It's fun in movies to see the pandemonium on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise when Picard and his crew are under Cardassian attack or when the ship is spiraling hopelessly and helplessly out of control.

People are flying all over the place as the ship tosses to the left and then lurches wildly to the right.

It makes for great viewing.

When something like that happens in real life it's no fun at all.

Look at the ordeal the passengers and crew of this cruise ship went through when the craft smashed into rough seas.

Somehow the stationary camera (moving with the rolling deck) gives us a more frightening view of what is simulated in movies by rocking the camera back and forth.

Here's a less violent example of what happens when the world shifts under our feet.

And here's is conclusive evidence that you never, ever want to be at the business end of a tornado.


The Not-So-Ancient Wisdom of Phistophicles


Marionettes: From Funeral Marches to Team America

Marionettes have been scaring the bejeezus out of people for a long time.

A marionette is a puppet controlled by strings or wires by a hidden person, called a manipulator.

Some historians believe that this kind of puppetry goes back to 2000BC and that this type of theatre actually pre-dates using live actors on stage.

Wire-controlled clay and iron puppets have even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.

And throughout time, marionettes have been as scary as hell.

Boy, Howdy
A marionette, in the form of Howdy Doody, was the very first image that some Baby Boomers saw on tiny snow-static TV screens in the early 1950's.

Now there's a show that was some kind of strange brew. Howdy Doody was one of the most popular children's show of all time though it had two of the most frightening visages of all -- marionettes and clowns.

Oh, you still don't believe that marionettes are scary?

Then you don't really know why the intro of the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents program was so very disturbing.

It was the theme song, composed by Charles Guonod and titled The Funeral March of a Marionette.

And isn't that exactly what this piece sounds like???

Note: Gounod also had a hand in composing the melody of Ave Maria, which is the musical background of the most haunting and downright frightening scene in Disney's Fantasia.

But we digress.

We're talking marionettes here.

If there was a golden age for this kind of puppetry it was the late 1950's and early 1960's when Gerry Anderson created something called Supermarionation.

This innovation added some electronics to the mix that smoothed out some of the puppet motion, especially in mouthing dialogue.

Anderson's improvements helped to diminish some of the creepiness of the art form and launched several iconic children's TV adventures.

Like Thunderbirds...

And Fireball XL-5...

And our personal favorite, Supercar!

These kid's shows were spoofed, quite expertly, in the very adult 2004 film Team America, World Police.

This movie by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of TV's South Park, got great critical reviews but only made a shade more than $30 million at the US box office.

The film didn't take sides in the liberal-conservative tango and took no prisoners, bashing those on the right and the left of the Iraq-WMD controversy close on the heels of the US invasion.

Even Gerry Anderson distanced himself from Team America, refusing to take a meeting with the film's producers because he objected to the number and nature of expletives in the script.

Offers we can't refuse.
Perhaps what scares us most about marionettes is not the way they look or the way they move, but the very essence of what they are.

As we said, a marionette is a puppet controlled by a hidden person, called a manipulator.

Maybe in a world of handlers, spin doctors and image consultants, we've seen the real damage that manipulators can do in politics and business when operating behind the scenes.


Sidekicks: The Case for Choosing Wisely

The hero can't do all the work.

Sometimes it's just good politics to have someone else along for the ride to help out with the details.

But don't kid yourself.

Picking who you want to ride shotgun may, in all likelihood, be the most important decision you make.

It doesn't matter how many bad hombres you bring to justice or how many damsels in distress that you rescue. Ultimately, you'll be judged by the company you keep.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto: Good Choice
Ex-Texas lawman, John Reid, better known as the Lone Ranger, knew the value of a good sidekick.

Tonto was about as faithful an Indian companion as you could ever find. No one could ever say that Tonto and Kemo-Sabe didn't have each other's backs.

Ike and Nixon: Bad Choice
Dwight Eisenhower was a genuine war hero back in the day that to be one really meant something.

He wasn't afraid to use force as needed, such as during the D-Day invasion. But he was one of the first -- and one of the few -- to speak out against the brutal execeses of a Military-Industrial Complex which gradually assumed the role of governor of Foreign Policy and silent partner as Chief of State.

But when he first emerged as a politician and it came time to pick a running mate for his bid for the Presidency, he chose Richard Nixon.

Back in 1950, Nixon ran against, Helen Douglas for a California seat in the US Senate. Few people today are aware that Nixon claimed Douglas was "pink right down to her underwear" because of her alleged ties to the Communist Party, at least in Nixon's mind.

But many people are aware of the snap Douglas put on Nixon in response. She was the first to call him "Tricky Dick."

Ike got a glimpse of Nixon tricky-dickedness himself when a scandal erupted concerning campaign finances right before the 1952 election.

That should have been a clue but Ike picked Nixon anyway.

That choice was probably good for Ike for the short term -- he won election and re-election with Nixon on the ticket. But the price to be paid came further down the road when Tricky Dick, himself, made it to the Big Chair.

Batman and Robin: Good Choice
Batman started as a solo act -- a lonely, dark and solitary figure guarding Gotham's ramparts under the cloak of night.

When Robin came along the dynamic changed. Now there was someone to bounce ideas off of, someone one to chat with on those long patrols in the Batmobile. Robin was younger, hipper and always the wiseacre with a quip for the bad guys.

If Batman had picked Spider-Man as his sidekick, things wouldn't have gone well.

All that bickering for top-billing. All that wrangling over whether to use to Bat-Signal or to trust Spidey-Sense.

Robin was happy just to go along with the established program. Robin was a good choice.

Reagan and Bush: Bad Choice
Calling Reagan's trickle-down economics approach Voodoo Economics made for a rough start for eventual running mate George HW Bush.

But like Ike's choice of Nixon, the worst problem with picking Bush didn't show itself until 20 years later when name recognition of George HW helped George W win the controversial 2000 Presidential squeaker.

And we all know how well that turned out for us.

Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs: Good Choice
It's hard to even look at Tubbs as Sonny's sidekick. These guys were truly a team, more like brothers.

Kennedy and Johnson: Bad Choice
The word "team" probably wasn't ever used to describe the relationship between John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson and we doubt that JFK ever considered LBJ a brother.

By all accounts, they were bitter rivals for the Presidency in 1960 and the fact that they both landed on the same ticket, with JFK as alpha-dog, never sat well with LBJ.

In the aftermath of the controversy and confusion concerning JFK's assassination in LBJ's home state of Texas, President Johnson reversed the Kennedy Administration's direction on Viet Nam.

The new strategy helped give rise to the quagmire of war that was the overwhelming obstacle that prevented LBJ's presidential run for re-election despite his landslide win in 1964.

And as if that bad wasn’t enough, there was always that haze of doubt about what really happened in Dealey Plaza.


", like, you know..."

I was like wha? Then I was like yeah, I guess. Then I was like "Dang!" Then I was like bored.

They're called verbal tics or speech fillers and we all use them. They're what we say when we don't know what else to say. Things like um or like or you know.

The More You Know
There are pundits out there who believe that 130 uses of the phrase you know in a 2009 New York Times interview sunk Caroline Kennedy's chances for assuming Hillary Clinton's senate seat.

The question is, why You Know?

What is it in the collectively unconscious zeitgeist that causes so many native-english speaking Americans to span a conversation chasm with the phrase you know?

Linguists advise us to record ourselves to hear how many times we may actually say it, implying that we don't know when we use it.

Think about that for a second. There are words coming out of your mouth that you aren't even aware of.

The Lizard Brain strikes again...?

Nelson Cohen of the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri has a theory. In his 1991 research paper, Recurrent Speech Patterns as Cues to the Segmentation of Multi-Syllabic Sequences, he states:

First and second language acquisition require that speech be segmented into familiar multiphonemic units. The present research examines one segmentation cue that is of considerable theoretical interest: the repetition of fixed sequences of speech.

Um, yeah, like what he said, you know...


Oval Office Address on Oil: No, Not that One, the Other One

View the complete Carter speech here.

Presidential Prophesy

In 1961, during his final days in office, President Eisenhower addressed the nation from the Oval Office and offered a chilling prophesy concerning a danger that he called the Military-Industrial Complex.

Decades before the comings of Halliburton and Blackwater, he warned that if Americans were not vigilant, foreign policy and war could become matters of commerce, profit and unchecked corporate greed.

In 1977, President Carter addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He too sounded a warning. He expressed his deep concern that energy policy at the time was being formulated with breathtaking disregard for the fact that oil was a finite resource.

Decades before the coming of deep water drilling, he told the world that if we continued down that reckless path something terrible awaited us.

Perhaps we should have listened more carefully to what President Carter had to say...


Bad News from the Oval Office: An American Tradition

I have some bad news for you...

The Oval Office of the White House is the nerve center of the Executive Branch of the US Government.

When we get really bad news in this country, it often comes from a guy sitting at the
Resolute Desk in that room.

Here's a quick review of other bad news reports from the Oval Office...


Will America Survive?: Critical Thinking JFK-Style

Forty nine years ago today, President John F. Kennedy stood before the US Congress and the world and said:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

This was perhaps one of the most elegant mission statements of all time.

It set forth not only the objective but the important parameters and criteria (time and place) by which a successful mission would be determined.

After all, as difficult as it was in 1961 to send a man to the moon, that was the relatively easy part. Embedded in his call to action was the far more daunting task of sending a man from the moon to the earth.

And by the way, dead men need not apply.

The returning astronaut had to not only arrive on the moon's surface but get back alive.

There is no wiggle room in his challenge.

He didn't say get a man half way to the moon, or get a man in orbit around the moon or get a man as close to the moon as possible.

He said get there and back safely.

...which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight.

If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.

The reason for this call to action was not to advance science, though advance science it did.

Four years before this speech, the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial moon. In the ensuing years, the Soviets had been first to put a man (and woman) in earth orbit, and first to have a cosmonaut walk in space.

The Soviets were going to the moon.

In the battle for the hearts and minds of the world, the Soviets were going to the moon as an unequivocal declaration of the ultimate superiority of Communism over Capitalism.

And if they did so with the US playing the role of
bystander, those nations of the world who had not yet decided which side of the geo-political chess board with which to ally themselves would have something to think about.

No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

...if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take.

In his Moon Mission speech, John F. Kennedy exhibited something we haven't seen much of lately.

He thought through a problem -- found embedded within it an opportunity -- then articulated clearly the objectives and criteria of realizing that opportunity with great latitude as to how the goal would be eventually be accomplished.

Mission Accomplished

The real and tragic misstep of George W. Bush's so-called
Mission Accomplished speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, was not that the Iraq War would grind on for the better part of a decade before degenerating into an interminable police action. Though that indeed was a real and tragic misstep.

The problem was that Bush never articulated a clear mission in the first place. There was a plan to defeat Sadaam Hussein which was easily achieved by the superior might and resources of the US military. But there was never a plan to reestablish stability in the region.

Bush/Cheney had a plan to get to the moon but never considered getting back as an issue.

That's the equivalent of saying:

I believe that we should send a man to the moon and when he lands we should celebrate and then hope to God that he can either figure out a way to get back again or that he take a liking to the place and decide to stick around.

Health Care Reform

By the same token, Health Care Reform was hotly contested for months in the US but there was never a clearly defined mission for the legislation.

Without precise understanding of what it was that really needed to be accomplished, in all the compromises that were made --
all legislation involves compromises -- the journey was a twisty one.

If you don't know what the goal is, you don't know which compromises are acceptable and which are not.

The resulting bill made for a historic signing ceremony but in its aftermath no one was really sure if we were better off or not.

This is the equivalent of John F. Kennedy saying:

I believe that we should go somewhere and once we're there, people should believe that our journey has been a significant one but wherever we end up I hope that our contractors and lobbyists approve.

The Wisdom of Peter Drucker

Today's leaders could learn a lot from the late strategist Peter Drucker and his five ingredients for successful decision-making:

1. Problem rationalization.
The clear rationalization that the problem is generic and can only be solved through a decision that establishes a rule or a principle.

2. Boundary conditions.
The definition of the specifications that the answer to the problem has to satisfy, that is, of the "boundary conditions."

3. The right thing to do.
This is the thinking through what is "right," that is, the solution that will fully satisfy the specifications before attention is given to the compromises, adaptations, and concessions needed to make the decision acceptable.

4. Actions.
The building into the decision of the action to carry it out.

5. Feedback.
The "feedback" that tests the validity and effectiveness of the decision against the actual course of events.

Also See:

Slouching to the Stars: In Defense of the Final Frontier

One Giant Leap...

Behold a Pale Horse


Violence in America: From Greenie Stik-M Caps to Blackwater

Baby Snake
Before he was Snake Plissken, trying to Escape From New York over and over again, Kurt Russell was Agent Zero-M in a toy commercial for the Mattel Sonic Blaster.

View to a Kill
It's hard to imagine today but in the mid-20th century, kids were immersed, marinated and basted daily -- no, hourly -- in TV commercials, TV programs and comic books that were all about guns, bullets and shooting to kill.

Greenie Stik-M Caps were five cent boxes of gunpowder that kids bought at the candy store so their toy guns would look, sound and smell authentic when they fired off a few lethal rounds at friends and family.

Yeah, that's right. Gunpowder.

Violence was part of the culture that was, to a large extent, sold to consumers as fundamental essence of the American character.

The heroes of the era were indeed those who would shoot first and ask questions later.

The cowboys and private detectives on the glowing box in the living room were men who took the law in their own hands and delivered justice from the smoking end of a blazing six-gun.

You know, like the Blackwater mercenaries that shadow our US military today.


Booty Call

After providing us with her extensive alphabetized list of words for the old buttisimo, as Body by Jake used to say, Canada Peg wrote us a mock-rant letter in an effort to try to incorporate each of the many names to describe the backside at least once.

Dear Apocalypzian Smart-

Moons over Miami!

You're as low as the
hind ends of slaughtered hams heading for the lard bucket on a hot day.

blog post of April 28 belongs in the dump. Your half-arsed use of my cataloged bootay of buttocks--which was right on the beam--as the impetus behind your latest blog is the bottom of even your barrel.

You turned my serious
seater study into the butt of a joke, and added many a bare-bottom pic, no less; indeed, it was spheropygian in presentation, but to what end? I had a haunch that you were using my pulchritudinous talents in order to seat your own back end on the throne of fame.

duff my hat if you'd ask if you can bum the list. But you just grabbed the ill-gotten booty, like a pie full of yams and ran with it, to out flank me.


There was no warning to
cushion the blow to my fundament-al sense of trust, my in-nate innocence. It felt like my glutes got rear-ended by a freighter hauling 10 cars and a caboose!

This isn't the first time I've seen the
underside of mankind; oh, no. I've been taken up the yin-yang, down to the South Pole, and all through the wazoo, but have never gone past the posterior as you have, with your heinie-ous act that pushed the limits of the backside of decency.

Get off your
rump, and follow your own callipygian route to its tail end rather than follow where my tush has already led. I'm not about to take a backseat to your verbal talents. Your rhetoric will forever tail mine...and I had once thought your lingual abilities surpassed even the great Gluteus Maximus himself.

I think you should repair to the rear of your
hindquarters, tuckus your tushie away, and write, for many a moon, till you're so tired you're draggin' your wagon...unless you're afraid it would just be a load of junk suited only for a trunk in the outerparts of your garage.

I hate sounding so
stern, but this really frosted my buns; I bet you figured you're such a cute patootie that your derriere would shine after just a tiny apology. Hah!

You're sorry, my

I wouldn't care if you took a
pratt fall in the parking lot and landed on your keister!

Love, Canada Peg :)


May Day!!! Run for Your Lives: 12 Months Down the Road

It was a year ago today that we launched Apocalypzia.

If Armageddon rumbled in or the heavens opened up sometime in the last 12 months, it got past us.

Over the last year we have had some fun though as we all wait for the prophesied end of days.

Our first week we talked about the latest Segway contraption.

Speaking of the Apocalypse...
Then there was our post about the religious crackpot, Harold Camping, who has scheduled the Second Coming for May 21, 2010.

And who could forget the Wilhelm Scream?

Who is the Glade Lady?
Posts about the mysterious Glade Lady were -- and continue to be -- our most popular posts ever.

dori kelly

The Glade Lady

Unlikely Trio: Perky Flo, the Lying Glade Lady and the Indignant Caveman

Who is the Glade Lady? Why does everyone want to know?

Dark Apocalypzia: The Parade of the Silent Soldiers

Though we generally stay on the lighter side of things, sometimes more serious topics have been the order of the day.

1950s Children's TV Shows. Baby Boomers Beware..!


And we even found the dark and twisted in things that were not supposed to be. Things like 1950s TV shows for kids.

The fabulous sisters that are Fiomily have kept us entertained along the way...

emily fiona

...and Sifl and Olly have kept us laughing

We even speculated about all possible roads that might lead to the end of days


We sincerely appreciate the support of all of you who have supported us over the last 12 months.


The End is Near

Theatre Usher:
Can I show you to your seat?

Comedian Bob Hope:
Oh I have a seat. I just need somewhere to put it.

Our good friend, Canada Peg, reported that she has done extensive work on the various terms used to describe and define the anatomical backside.

Her goal was to have an entry for all 26 letters of the alphabet, and she almost made it.

If you can think of some possibilities for I, Q, U, V, X and Z, let us know.

A: ass, arse,

B: butt, buttocks, booty, bootay, bottom, bum, behind, backside, back seat, back end, beam, buns, bare bottom, buttisimo

C: can, caboose, cheeks, cushion, clunes, culo, chu, callipygian

D: derriere, duff, the dump

E: end,

F: fanny, fundament, freighter, flank

G: garage, gluteus maximus, glutes,

H: heinie, hind end, hindquarters, haunches, hams

I: ?

J: junk, jacksie,

K: keister,

L: load, lard bucket,

M: moon,

N: nates,

O: outerparts

P: pulchitrude, pratt, posterior, the parking, pattootie, pygia

Q: ?

R: rear, rump, rear end,

S: seater, seat, stern, south pole,

T: tush, tail, tail end, trunk, tuchis, tuckus, tochu

U: ?

V: ?

W: wagon, wazoo

X: ?

Y: yams, ying yang

Z: ?


Looking Back at The Beatles From the Year 3000

It all sounds so sensible when experts explain the world to us.

Archaeologists dig out and dust off fossils. Each fragment is categorized and cataloged.

Historians examine the evidence and weave a convincing narrative that adds meaning and nuance to bits and pieces painstakingly discovered and recovered.

The science is in?

Our perception of the reality of the past is perfectly aligned with plausible, persuasive and compelling tales experts spin for us.

But sometimes our understanding of the world as taught to us by experts is shaken up.

Sometimes new findings cause experts to abandon that which they once thought was gospel...

Sometimes experts are just slam-dunk incorrect in their deductions...

Sometimes experts just make stuff up...

Scottie Pippen in the Beatles?! presents a funny but thought provoking view of how expert historians looking back from the year 3000, might view the Beatles with only conceptually skeletal remains to work with.

It quickly becomes clear that though these mock-experts get some things right, their deductions and inductions paint a very bizarro picture of the Fab Four.

CBS Radio Workshop
Back in the Golden Age of Radio, an episode of a CBS program presented Report on the We-Uns which used the same clever technique of looking at the present through eyes from far in the future.

It runs about a half an hour. If you have got the time and interest, check it out.

CBS Radio: Report on the We-Uns

Manifesto Apocalypzia: The Conservative vs Liberal Tango

Divide and Conquer Cha Cha Cha

Advisory Warning: This post is guaranteed to offend everyone.

Apocalypzia is unimpressed by any debate that pits conservatives against liberals, liberals against conservatives.

This kind of dumbed-down dialogue goes round and round and gets absolutely nowhere.

For either side, all the ills of the world are the evil machinations of the other.

Political Paso Doble
It makes for great theatre as these entangled tangos play out in the media. But aside from stoking the smoldering embers of hatred and suspicion, these hissy fits accomplish nothing, at least as far as you or I are concerned.

obama palin

The map is not the territory.

Terms like conservative and liberal are just tags describing sets of assumptions, differing paradigms.

Thinking within paradigms facilitates our ability to comprehend complex issues.

But we can, all too easily, become prisoners of our paradigms. And when we do, we often abandon one of the most important tools of critical thinking: the freedom to challenge our assumptions.

Is this a gang fight or a ballet?
Once we deny ourselves the benefit of rational thought the world becomes amorphous, pliable and easily shaped into whatever others would like us to believe.

Once we abdicate our ability for critical thinking, we can easily be convinced of nonsense.

Shouting from the Right:
The government was, yesterday, wise enough for us to surrender all of our constitutional rights, freedoms and personal treasures to it in the name of national security. But today, that government is so incompetent and corrupt, it shouldn't even be trusted to weigh in on health insurance reform.

Shouting from the Left:
Weathers of Mass Destruction are the true slam dunk. The sky is falling. Polar bears will die and we will all drown in our own carbon-belching, incandescent non-bio-degradable waste.

We have been manipulated, managed, folded, stapled, spindled and mutilated. On this dance floor they lead, we follow.

They? Who's They?

How easily we forget the most important lesson of the Watergate Waltz: Follow the Money!

Follow the money...

It's the Divide and Conquer. The same old song and dance.

And while we swipe and spit at one another, the shadowyThey are tap-dancing all the way to the bank that you and I bailed out.

"Shall we dance?"

No, thanks. We'll sit this one out.

Manifesto Apocalypzia: USA, One Nation Indivisible?

flag girl

"The Civil War Made Us an Is"

The late master-historian, Shelby Foote, had this to say about the true legacy of the American Civil War:

shelby foote

Before the war, it was said "the United States are." Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states.

And after the war, it was always "
the United States is," as we say to day without being self-conscious at all. And that's sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an "is."

By Mr. Foote's observation, something fundamental and profound came out of the War Between the States.

The US became a single thing rather than a collection of individual things.

The American Experiment was essentially revisited, revised and reborn in 1865, less than 90 years after its founding.

girl flag

What entered the American Civil War was a loose federation of states. What emerged from its bloody ashes was a single entity, the USA.

Manifesto Apocalypzia:
The life span of this new American Experiment was not much longer than the original one.

In the broadest sense, America's postbellum cohesion lasted about one hundred years.

The perception of the USA as an "is" stretched from Reconstruction ... through the Great War of 1914-1919 ... the Great Depression ... World War II ... the construction of the interstate highway system ... and the successful Apollo missions that landed Americans on the surface of the Moon.

From Civil War to Civil Rights

But the American monolith started to crumble just as the legislative struggles in the mid-20th century Civil Rights movement were being won.

woman flag

Just as the last great wounds of Civil War and Reconstruction were beginning to heal, a new and terrifying division threatened to tear the nation apart.

And at the dawn of the 1960's, outgoing President Eisenhower sounded the alarm.

Them vs Us
Somewhere between Dylan and Disco, whatever had held the union united for nearly a century after the Civil War began to lose its grip.

The emergence of the post-conscription Military-Industrial Complex created a new tectonic shift that wrought havoc and destruction on the American social landscape.


The professional/ mercenary military and quarterly-profit-driven industry working separately or in tandem redefined the nature of them vs us.


Soon government itself joined the military and industry to forge an unholy trinity that viewed its citizens as useful idiots, exploitable opponents, troublesome others.

And over the course of a few, short decades, political debate transformed from idea-based dialogue to that of base-ideologues of the far left and far right screaming invectives at each other.

A history of triumph over despair
American history and heritage suggest that somehow we can find a way to overcome the tyrannical politics of divide and conquer. We've done it before and we can do it again.


... there's something different this time...

... in the social fabric...

... and our inflated sense of self-entitlement...

... has distorted the collective reality...

... that we were all in the same boat.

Crime and Punishment: Martha Stewart vs Richard Fuld

Martha Stewart, Chairman and CEO, Martha Stewart Living Omnipedia
martha stewart

Crimes against the State: None
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Ms. Stewart of avoiding a personal financial loss of $45,673.

On December 27, 2001, she sold 3,928 shares of her ImClone Systems after receiving nonpublic information from Merrill Lynch broker Peter Bacanovic. The day following her sale, the stock value fell 16%.

Punishment: Plenty
Ms. Stewart was indicted by the US government on nine-counts, including charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice.

In March 2004, Ms. Stewart was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators.

She was sentenced to serve a five month term in a federal correctional facility and a two year period of supervised release, including five months of electronic monitoring.

In the settlement of a related SEC civil case against her, she agreed to a five-year bar from serving as a director, CEO or CFO of any public company.

After her release from prison, the UK Border Agency refused to grant her a visa to enter the United Kingdom because of her criminal conviction for obstructing justice.

Richard Fuld, former Chairman and CEO, Lehman Brothers

Crimes against the State: How much time have you got?
Fuld was at the helm of the economic Titanic when Lehman's bankruptcy registered as the largest in U.S. history.

The Lehman collapse led to the Dow suffering its largest single day point loss.

A court-appointed examiner report indicates that Lehman executives regularly used cosmetic accounting gimmicks at the end of each quarter to disguse and otherwise obfuscate the shaky finances of the firm.

This practice was a type of repurchase agreement that temporarily removed securities from the company's balance sheet. However, these deals created "a materially misleading picture of the firm's financial condition in late 2007 and 2008."

Coming in at number 9, CNN named Fuld as one of the "Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the 2008 Financial Collapse."

Punishment: None
Apparently the only justice Fuld received was vigilante style. He was reportedly attacked and "knocked out cold" in the gym by a disgruntled Lehman employee.

Women of the Apocalypse: Brooksley Born and Nomi Prins

Stop Reading This Post Now!
If you haven't seen the PBS Frontline program, "The Warning," you should view it as soon as possible. I mean right now.

It tells the amazing and agonizing story of how, in the late 1990's, one woman stood tall against the Robber Barons of investment banking.

Brooksley Born, head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, went toe-to-toe with the White House, the Congress and the Fed in an epic battle.

She fought to let the world know that financial derivatives were a nuclear ticking timebomb stashed in the shadows of Wall Street boardrooms.

Her Cassandra-like call was a prophesy of the coming global financial disaster.

Brooksley Born

Ms. Born never blinked. But against a withering onslaught of attacks by such insider titans as Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Tim Geithner and a phalanx of richly-paid lobbyists, she was dismissed, discredited and ultimately swept aside.

In the ongoing aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008, it was more than clear that Ms. Born was right and Greenspan and his corporate cronies were wrong.

We should have listened to Brooksley Born then, but we didn't.

But in ten years will we be asking ourselves why we didn't listen to Nomi Prins?

Nomi Prins

If Brooksley Born was the voice-of-reason then, Nomi Prins carries her torch now.

She's a former Wall Street insider who understands the shell-game that has become -- and continues to be -- the biggest heist in human history.

To put the true cost of the Great Bailout in perspective, according to Ms. Prins, the total $14-trillion collapse of the economy (Yes $14-TRILLION) is three times the cost of all American wars going back to the 1776 Revolution.

From citizens to serfs
One of Ms. Prins' fears is that the large too-big-to-fail banks that have been gobbling up the smaller financial institutions may start to gorge on each other.

If that kind of one-left-standing-cage-match happens the ugly result could be one behemoth banking monopoly, subsidized by US taxpayers.

Take the time to view this YouTube clip.
In 24 minutes, Ms. Prins provides clear and frightening testimony of what has unfolded in Washington and on Wall Street over the last two years.

Brooksley Born and Nomi Prins have been smart enough -- and brave enough -- to sound the alarm.

Are we finally ready to listen?

Haunting Tales of the Ouija Board: The She-Demon Zaza / Zozo

A dark twisted voice from beyond...

When I was 12 years old, I got a Ouija board. It was from Parker Brothers, the same company that sells the Monopoly board game.

I first used it with my good friends -- and twins -- Terry and Jerry. In pairs, we took turns resting our fingers on the planchette. We asked the Ouija silly questions and watched the board spell out silly answers. It was fun.


Then things took a dark turn...

The answer to any question became a tirade of profanity and obscenity, but only when I was at the board with my fingers on the planchette. When Terry and Jerry worked the board, there were no outbursts.

The board told me, in that blizzard of curses, that it was the voice of a she-demon. It spelled out word-by-word and letter-by-letter that she would come to me that night when I was sleeping and stab me to death.

When we asked the name of the demon, the board spelled out Z-A-Z-A. Then the planchette moved to the word "Goodbye" at the bottom of the board.

I was shocked. But not because I thought we had broken through to the spirit world.

I was shocked that neither Terry nor Jerry would admit they had forced the planchette to spell out what it did. They were carrying the joke too far. I decided not to ever let the twins use my Ouija Board again.

Zaza returns...

A few weeks later I asked my friend Paul if he wanted to try out the board. I didn't tell him what had happened before and I don't know how he could have found out about it. He clearly must have though. Because Zaza returned, obscenities, death threats and all.

Just like Terry and Jerry, Paul refused to admit that he was pushing the planchette to spell out the evil messages.

The Ouija Board went in the closet after that. And it stayed there for four years.

At the age of 16 I pulled the board out again and tried it with my friend Cleveland. This would be my proof that Terry, Jerry and Paul had all lied to me about manipulating the board. Cleveland knew nothing about what had happened with the Ouija when I was 12 years old.

And yet, there she was.

The same vile threats, the same vile profanity the same demonic signature...ZAZA

So what?
Here's what. A Google search of "zaza ouija" produces 39,500 hits. A search of "zozo ouija" turns up another 18,500 hits.

No, I haven't read them all but every one of the dozens I reviewed recounted an obscenity-drenched threatening experience nearly identical to my own.

Nearly identical.

(A sampling of some of those experiences appends this post.)

lola zaza

Who -- or what -- is Zaza / Zozo?
Who the hell knows? Some believe it is the spirit of Lola Zaza, the daughter of Aleister Crowley.

Crowley was a practitioner of dark magic, called by some the most wicked man in the world.

Some connect Zaza with the Jewish goat-like demon, Azazel, and the original religious practice of scapegoating.

Scapegoating is the practice of singling out one child, employee or member of a group of peers for unmerited negative treatment or blame.

Never were Terry, Jerry, Paul or Cleveland the target of Zaza's wrath. Was I not singled out as the target for unmerited negative treatment?

It's all too easy to take assumptions too far and to pole-vault to outlandish conclusions about matters of the occult.

But something is going on here. And whatever it is, it isn't good.

If you have a Parker Brothers Ouija Board, or any other for that matter, I'd suggest that you remove it from your home as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you may be extending an invitation to someone -- or something -- that you'd rather not have come to call.

Did I mention that Parker Brothers company was founded in Salem, Massachusetts?

Google Zaza / Zozo (+ouija) and you'll find encounters like these:

My friend, Nicole, and I have also encountered evil spirits. One who goes by Zaza... After the first time we spoke to Zaza, Nicole had stayed the night. When we woke up, I had scratches on my chest, shoulders and face. I was so freaked out!

I was about 13 when it all happened. My sister Kristi, who was 17 at the time, bought a Ouija board to "play" with. We found out that our Ouija board's name was ZaZa.

But one day my Uncle Frankie told my step-dad that he needed to disburse of the board because I was the target for the gate for the spirit to get out. My step-dad took the board into the backyard and burned it. To this day (3-4 yrs later) there is still a burn mark in the backyard.

Zaza is also commonly found to be a spirit that comes to people through Ouija boards, but less benevolent, less powerful and probably just a spirit, not a real demon like Zozo. This Zozo comes to hundreds, if not thousands of people across the world. It is a scary subject, but one that needs to be told so people will recognize that this demon seeks to devour souls. It is very sexually disturbed, cunning, deceitful, reads minds, feeds off of fear, and prophesies death to those who ask.

The board almost always said it's name was ZaZa. On the first try it kept talking about die, die. satan and swirling in circles and 8's. My roommate said she felt weird and it wasn't right and she won't do it anymore. Fine by me.

During my experiences with Ouija boards one particular spirit always seemed compelled to make its presence known. Its name is ZOZO. Today I refuse to even pronounce its name as I believe the mere pronunciation of it can cause it to manifest itself.

Too many times to count, it has at first pretended to be a nice spirit, or pretend to be whomever I was trying to contact. But eventually it showed its true self, cussing me, threatening me and others present in the room. Once it actually cussed me using what looked like Latin or Hebrew, and using biblical terminology. I was genuinely fascinated and startled by how many times ZOZO showed up, even in many different states and many different Ouija boards. It always wound up being very nasty and commented freely about how it wanted to posses my girlfriends and take them to paradise. When asked where paradise was, it spelled H.E.L.L.

A few months ago I googled the word ZOZO. To my shock, many other people have also been contacted by a demon by the SAME NAME! I read about 20 similar stories and I am now convinced that this simply CANNOT be mere coincidence.

I read several stories about "Zozo," and now I know I am not just crazy. It all started with the (Ouija) board as well. It was the four of us (all girls). At first it was all for fun; we always thought the other one was moving it.... until Zozo. He was powerful. He seemed really nice at first, and at some points flirtatious.

One night I awoke suddenly to a chill or a draft in my room, and when I opened my eyes I saw a dark shadow of a figure. It was so dark, darker than any shade of black I have ever seen. It seemed to hover over me, and the whole time my mind was telling me "Zozo, Zozo." It was only a couple seconds, but it felt like eternity.

The next morning my sister woke up with a similar dream, except she had three long, deep scratches on the back of her shoulder. We stopped playing the board after that, but it has not stopped.It has been about nine years since that day, and if I could take it all back I would. He is always there, in our dreams, everywhere. You just feel him. I don't care if you believe me or not, but please don't ever play the board. It will haunt you.

21st Century Capitalism: It's Alive!

Our intentions were good.

After all, we were smarter than all those trust-busting commie-loving wimps of the mid-20th century.

Didn't free-market guru Milton Friedman say it all when he told us "the business of America is business?"

Business was the new religion, requiring no less faith and divine devotion as any other religion.

Pre-Depression President Coolidge said "the man who builds a factory builds a temple. The man who works there, worships there."

If that was true -- and how could it not be? -- the spire of the Temple of American Commerce should stand as a monument to modern capitalism, towering above all the rest.

Because if bigger was better, then certainly humungous must indeed be heavenly.

rand greenspan

Dr. Frankenstein, I presume?
Only a Socialist wuss could not understand the self-healing, self-correcting dynamics of the laissez faire, dog-devour-dog marketplace.

So turning over the keys to the global financial Hummer to a disciple of super-uber-libertarian objectivist Ayn Rand seemed the perfect idea.

For that matter, didn't even Ayn Rand seem a little too soft in her devotion to the All-Mighty-Dollar as our Lord and Saviour?

She muddied up the principles of true capitalism with the too-touchy, too-feely ideas of virtue and value as ultimate measures of human worth.

What was up with that?

Glass-Steagall?! Please!
We didn't have time for that mushy, qualitative stuff. We were re-inventing Capitalism and we were giving it a new brain.

It was going to be new and improved. Bigger, better and badder than it had ever been before.

The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 had stood as a barrier to the realization of the full potential of American Commerce for 66 years.

And while the world made ready for the celebration of a new millenium, liberating-lightning from the hands of Senators Gramm, Leach and Bliley shattered and scorched away the last constraints that kept our new Capitalist Creation in bondage.

For 9 glorious years, the Creation freely roamed the financial landscape.
And we trusted it to do the right thing.

It made billionaires out of millionaires, trillionaires out of billionaires.

And for all the poor schmucks who weren't clever enough to join the ranks of the savvy super-rich, the Creation provided a steady and almost unavoidable stream of quick-and-dirty, caveat emptor, no-doc indenturing credit.

Even if they weren't rich, even if they were tens of thousands of dollars in debt, those poor schmucks could could still strut about in rented peacock feathers and leased limousines.

Life was good. Damned good.

The new, re-engineered Capitalist Creation, devoid of heart and soul, and spared of Ayn Rand's pesky idea of virtue, was discovering its true manifest potential.

So we were all surprised in the fall of 2008 when the Creation threw us into the lake and watched us drown.

monster girl

The Final Reel
All the money we had gathered to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves today and to keep us from devastation in the years ahead was vaporized within a twinkling.

And as we stood bleeding and broken in the smoldering wreckage of what had been our financial past, present and future, a man, THE man, stepped forward.

While we reeled in the shock and awe of the Creation's horrendous attack and twisted assault, its masterminding caretaker, its guiding guru gave us these words of comforting consolation and compassionate wisdom...

"My bad."

The Twisted Child


We see the world the way we choose to see it.

Three happy siblings, arms entwined on a bright sunny day.

Can you see the twisted child?

Change your point of view. Still, laughing eyes and smiling faces.

Beware that sometimes that which is not right lies unknown and unseen before our open eyes.

Seeing is not believing.

Believing is seeing...

Can you see the twisted child...?

But shift perspective once again...

She was there from the start.

Her face an amalgam of a smile, nose and eyes cut, rotated 180 degrees then pasted back into the image. A twisted collage of all that you expect melded into something unreal and monstrous.

We see what we choose to see.

Look around you, at those people you have long trusted and respected.

Look at your celebrated philosophers, scientists, artists, educators, politicians and captains of industry.

Look closely.

Amidst all those who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, dedicated and intrepid...

Can you see the twisted child...?

The Science Is In: Stripe Toothpaste with Hexachlorophene

This is beyond the whole tired Liberal/Conservative thing

Whenever so-called experts buddy up with politicians in the backroom or corporate-types in the boardroom, it makes us a little itchy.

Announcements of the latest pandemic and/or panacea du jour that issue forth from these high-level clandestine collusions leave us cold.

Whether expert prognostications of apocalyptic catastrophe involve mass destruction by way of slam-dunk weapons or inconveniently truthful weather, our BS Radar goes to red alert.

And when the experts and their government or corporate sugar-daddies tell us they've found the cure for all our ills, we run for cover.

Stripe Toothpaste with Hexachlorophene
Nearly 50 years ago, hexachlorophene was touted as the most effective germ-killer ever put in a toothpaste. And that toothpaste was Stripe.

And it had to be good. After all, science experts said hexachlorophene reduced germs in the mouth by 94%. And the US Congress thought that was good enough for them.

Got to be a winner, right?


The International Programme on Chemical Safety (INCHEM) has this to say about hexachlorophene:

The substance may cause effects on the central nervous system, resulting in convulsions, respiratory failure.

Repeated or prolonged contact with skin may cause dermatitis. Repeated or prolonged contact may cause skin sensitization. Repeated or prolonged inhalation exposure may cause asthma. The substance may have effects on the nervous system, resulting in tissue lesions, blindness. Animal tests show that this substance possibly causes malformations in human babies.

An Inconvenient Tooth...
As awesome a germ-killing toothpaste as TV ads claimed it was in 1962, Stripe with Hexachlorophene isn't around anymore. It was yanked off the market. And so were all the other once commercially available products that contained hexachlorophene.

So, no more non-prescription-PhisoHex, Baby Magic Bath or Ipana Toothpaste.


Of course, there's always Crest Pro-Health. No, wait...

If Dr. Phil Made Prank Calls...

More nonsense and nonsensibility
Prank phone callers are using celebrity sound bites and cliches to try to engage people in conversation. The pranker is obviously punching in fairly appropriate sound clips but they're generally non-sequitur and nonsensical.

Read more about these kinds of prank calls in yesterday's Arnold Schwarzenegger post.

Today we focus on Dr. Phil.
What amazes us though is that the out-of-context, goofy sound clips punched into these prank phone conversations seem no less meaningless than what he says on his TV show.

Lifestyle Change

More Lifestyle Change

Norma's House of Hair - Part I

Norma's House of Hair - Part II

If Arnold Schwarzenegger Made Prank Calls...


Not exactly the Turing Test
Computer pioneer Alan Turing proposed that a true test of artificial intelligence would be if you couldn't tell whether you were in a conversation with another human or a machine.

Well, what some annoying yet quite ingenious people have done isn't exactly the Turing Test but in its own way it's darn close.

Nonsense and nonsensibility
Prank phone callers are using celebrity sound bites and cliches to try to engage people in conversation. The pranker is obviously punching in fairly appropriate sound clips but they're generally non-sequitur and nonsensical.

This kind of practical joke is abhorrent on nearly every level but it does make for fascinating sociology.

To ridicule the recipients of these calls is to ridicule ourselves.
It may be nice to think that we wouldn't react the way that these people do but the truth is that many of us probably would.

It's revealing to observe how ready we humans are to make sense out of nonsense while we miss every cue that what we believe is going on actually is not.

Here's Arnold Schwarzenegger spouting dialogue primarily from Kindergarten Cop.

(Language Alert)

Motel Reservation

Customer Service

Radio Ad Salesperson

Travel Agent

Dark Apocalypzia: The Faces of War: "I Am Allawi"

ali kinani

Collateral Damage:
[the] unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment, or personnel, occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities. Such damage can occur to friendly, neutral, and even enemy forces.

Wars don't end like they used to

world war

No more cheering, no more ticker tape parades, no more kissing pretty nurses in the middle of Times Square.

Of course, back in the day, wars were supposed to end, not to continue indefinitely as profit-centers to boost some corporation's bottom-line. You know, like President Eisenhower warned us on his last day in office.

Today, wars just grind on, like background noise, as we go about our everyday lives.

That is, of course, unless someone you love is damaged, collaterally or otherwise, by the ravages of eternal wars.

Blackwater's Youngest Victim

Allawi Kinani was a nine year old Iraqi boy caught in hellish para-military crossfire in Nisour Square in downtown Baghdad.

His grieving father continues to seek an apology from Blackwater whose employees he believes fired the bullets that ended Allawi's young life.

The following half hour documentary is a heartbreaking story that is worth watching.

Why We Fight

When a young man was killed in the infernal crash of the World Trade Towers nine years ago, his father, a retired cop, looked for resolution.

What he found was something that shook the very foundation of his patriotism and love of country.

Watch the first segment of the excellent documentary Why We Fight, below.

If you want to see more you can watch the entire 90 minute film at the end of this post.

Why We Fight - First Segment

Why We Fight - 90 minute film

Lobbyists: The Fourth Branch of Government

We've Been Bamboozled, Big Time

We bought into the fantasy that by going to the polls on election day we were doing our patriotic duty.

We believed that by voting for this man or that woman we were sending someone to the State House or Capitol Hill who would champion our cause and fight the good fight.

We thought the Democratic Party or the Republican Party was our line of defense against the forces that challenge our great nation.

We were wrong. Great God Almighty, were we wrong.

The way the government works has nothing to do with what we learned in middle-school Civics. Nothing at all.

Lobbying for Fun and Profit

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, published at OpenSecrets.Org, total lobbying expenditures topped $3 Billion last year. And that figure has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

Since 1999, the number of registered lobbyists has held relatively steady at about 13,000.

Who has more influence on government? -- The 200 million eligible US voters or the handful of lobbyists, each with an average $250 million to dole out?

NOTE: Figures are on this page are calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on January 25, 2010. *The number of unique, registered lobbyists who have actively lobbied.

The ABC's of Real Estate and Politics: Always Be Closing

Your campaign contribution to your favorite candidate is much appreciated but it comes with no strings and no real accountability. Your congressperson can cash your check and then do whatever he or she wants to do.

And if they start pushing legislation that runs counter to your best interests they can give you some gobbledy-gook about how it really is in your best interests and that by and by you'll come to understand the wisdom of what they're doing.

Good luck trying to play the lobbyist crowd that way.

The money (and energy) they put into the process is an investment. And the lobbyist is paid -- and paid well -- to achieve a high return on investment for the firms they represent.

A lobbyist is a salesperson whose livelihood depends on hitting sales targets. He or she is a hired gun motivated to produce results.

Have we forgotten what Alec Baldwin taught us?
(Language warning)

The Supremes: Stop! In the Name of Love!

None of this is helped by the recent US Supreme Court ruling that allows US corporations to fund US political campaigns with no limits on spending.

And despite what Justice Alito thinks, as long as the corporation is chartered in one of the fifty US states, it can wield power in our elections even if its senior management and board of directors sits in Venezuela, Moscow or Dubai.

But this curious High-Court ruling only adds fuel to the fire that has been raging for far longer than we've realized.

Schoolhouse Rock Revisited
So if everything you know about legislation, you learned from Schoolhouse Rock, you no longer have the whole story.

Add to the Legislative, Judicial and Executive branches a fourth branch of government, which may, indeed, come to be the most influential and powerful of them all.

The Art of Magic: How to Make Democracy Disappear


The Pledge:
The Government says Big Business is strong...

The Turn:
...then forces consumers to bailout Big Business

The Prestige:
Big Business is allowed to use Bailout Bucks to buy the Government

Prest-O Change-O!

Dark Apocalypzia: Devastation in Darfur


Blood and Treasure
The US has spent $1 trillion -- and sacrificed thousands of American lives -- in the nearly decade-long military operations within, and reconstruction and rehabilitation of, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now our attention is seized by the earthquake devastation in Haiti, and its aftershocks.

But, another war-torn, Hell-on-Earth corner of the world for many has been forgotten.

Africa at the Crossroads: Darfur, Sudan: Years of Conflict

What is the population of Sudan?
Sudan has a population of 36 million. It is the largest country in Africa.

Where is Darfur, Sudan?
The Sudan is south of Eqypt and west of Yemen and Somalia. Darfur is situated along the eastern border of Chad.

map of darfur

When did the Darfur Conflict begin and why?
The war began in February 2003 when the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebelled against the Sudanese government, alleging brutal oppression of Africans in favor of Arabs.

The Sudanese government denies that it supports, or is supported by, the infamous Janjaweed -- arrmed gunmen allegedly responsible for the wholesale death of innocents over the last 7 years.

How many people have been killed since 2003?
The actual number of people killed is unknown. Estimates vary widely. According to the UN Refugee Agency, since 2003, from 200,000 to 400,000 people have been killed -- victims of massacre or disease.

How many people have been displaced in the past seven years?
Two million people have been forced from their homes, including 250,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled across the border.

What's happening in Darfur now?
The New York Times reports that as of January 2010, there is a fragile peace in Darfur, made more tenuous by the horrific historical backdrop of a half century of bloody conflict in the region.

Though the violence has been diminished, civilians still live in fear of attack.

What is the Gross Domestic Product of Sudan?
Sudan's GDP is $58 billion, roughly equal to the net worth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

bill gates

Swarm Intelligence vs Mob Rule

The Birds and the Bees
An individual ant, bee or bird doesn't seem all that brilliant, yet the behaviors of colonies, hives and flocks are efficient, effective, complex, orchestrated a word...brilliant.

Scientists continue to be intrigued and baffled by the genius of swarms, where intelligence isn't resident within any particular ant, bee or bird, but rather, is manifest within the group itself.

In a National Geographic article, ant-researcher Deborah Gordon said it this way, "simple creatures following simple rules, each one acting on local information. No ant sees the big picture."

That's fine for insects and fowl but that certainly doesn't apply to us humans, right?

After all, we're each blessed with top-of-the-food-chain brains that have devised complex and intricate systems of leadership and structured management.


Professor Jens Krause of the University of Leed's Faculty of Biological Sciences believes that groups of humans -- even with all our sophisticated mental software -- behave in ways that aren't always all that sophisticated.

Professor Krause and his associates believe that a small minority of about 5% control the actions of a human crowd.

Experiments were conducted where groups of people were asked to walk randomly around a large hall. Embedded in the groups were a few people with instructions about where to walk but with orders not to talk to others in the crowd.

In every experiment, followers fell into formation behind the embedded members, self-organizing into winding, snake-like structures.

Does that help to explain disturbing scenes as in the video below?

Not quite as elegant as birds-in-flight, is it?
And while we're on the subject, hasn't every war been an unfortunate game of follow-the-leader with entire nations falling into snake-like formation behind a tiny few who seem to act like they know where we all should be going?

Who's really in charge here?
On the lighter side, what happens when we turn the equation around to consider how the individual deals with the will of the crowd

We touched on the topic of conformity yesterday in our Psychologia Apocalypzia post.

Let's take another look in a video that is funny but also quite frightening, no?

1968: 13 Events Change History and Shape the Future

Chicago riots

The bloody death of the 60's Peace-and-Love Movement

In 1968, lightning flashed and thunder rolled.
The nation was at war with the world and at war with itself. It was a year of blood and anger.

The national debate over Viet Nam raged, as Hawks and Doves squared off on college campuses, in the streets and across dinner tables.

And right here at home, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were killed within two months of each other.

And who would have thought, in centuries past, that in the year that humans first travelled to the Moon, the news of that achievement would be an almost forgotten footnote for the year.

January Viet Nam and North Korea

1 - Eartha Kitt denounces the Viet Nam War in the White House
Actress-singer Eartha Kitt reduced First Lady Lady Bird Johnson to tears when, during a White House Luncheon concerning street crime, she declared angrily that the Viet Nam War was the underlying cause of rebellion and rioting in US cities.

The response? Eartha Kitt was consequently investigated by several US government agencies and declared in a CIA report to be a sadistic nymphomaniac.

eartha kitt

2 - The Battle of Khe Sahn begins and is fought until April
The battled raged for 77 days in the Quang Tri Province in Viet Nam. Over 700 US troops were killed over the course of a battle that was considered a military victory but one of no strategic importance.

3 - North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo
Viet Nam wasn't the only military hotspot in 1968.

4 - The Tet Offensive begins
The Tet Offensive was a major and coordinated attack by Communist forces on allied troops across 100 Viet Nam towns and villages.

This military operation helped to make 1968 the deadliest year in the war, during which 16,59 US soldiers were killed.

February Atrocities of war

5 - The televised execution of a Viet Cong soldier
A South Vietnamese Army officer, acting as judge-and-jury, executed a Viet Cong soldier on the streets of Saigon. This iconic photo by Eddie Adams captured the murder and helped to tilt the national mindset about the war.

March The My Lai Massacre

6 - The atrocities at Abu Ghraib are pale in comparison to Viet Nam's My Lai Massacre.

7 - Unrest over Viet Nam puts an end to President Lyndon Johnson's plans for re-election

April The Assassination of Martin Luther King

8 - Martin Luther King is gunned down on a motel balcony in Memphis TN
The shooting sparks a wave of riots throughout the nation.

June The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

9 - Senator Robert F. Kennedy is shot to death during his victory celebration after the California Democratic Primary.

rfk shooting

August The Democratic Convention

10 - TV images of the riots surrounding Democratic Convention are broadcast around the world
CBS News anchor, Walter Cronkite calls Chicago a police state.

The Olympics and the Civil Rights Movement collide

11 - The Black Power salute at the Olympiad in Mexico City causes an uproar.

November A Change in the White House

12 - Nixon wins the presidency with a secret plan to end the war
A nation weary of war hands Richard Nixon a narrow victory over Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election. Third party candidate George Wallace received 14% of vote.

The legendary news team, Huntley-Brinkley report the close popular vote results of the election.

December The Space Race

13 - Three men orbit the Moon
After 12 months of war, violence and assassination, the year ended with one of humankind's greatest achievements when, on Christmas eve, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders became the first people to orbit the moon.

They marked the occasion and the holiday by broadcasting back to Earth a heart-felt reading of passages from the Bible's Genesis.

Brann the Iconoclast: A Guy You Didn't Want To Mess With


i-con-o-clast: n. One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions.

William Cowper Brann 1855 - 1898
Someone you didn't want to tangle with wielding words or weapons.

William Cowper Brann was the editor of the Iconoclast newspaper in the late nineteenth century. Brann's rapier wit could quickly cut you to shreds. Listen to how he described the New York social scene in 1897:

"Mrs. Bradley-Martin's sartorial kings and pseudo-queens have strutted their brief hour on the stage, disappearing at daybreak like foul night-birds or an unclean dream -- have come and gone like the rank eructation of some crapulous Sodom ... a breath blown from the festering lips of half-forgotten harlots ..."


"I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough."

Brann didn't pull any punches. And he didn't care who he was swinging at. In fact, it was his criticism of the Waco-based Baptist institution Baylor University that eventually killed him.

Brann reported that Baylor officials were kidnapping, enslaving and fornicating with South American children. Brann described Baylor as:

"A factory for the manufacture of ministers and magdalenes."

Tom Davis, a Baylor supporter with a daughter at the university, took offense to Brann's comments, especially the magdalenes part with its fallen women connotation.

Showdown on the Streets of Waco
One night In 1898, Davis waited in the shadows for Brann to walk down Fourth Street in downtown Waco. As the Iconoclast walked by Davis fired one shot into Brann's back.

Brann spun around, drew his Colt revolver and fired several shots into his surprised assailant. Davis dropped to the ground and Brann continued to fire. When the smoke cleared, Tom Davis was dead.

Brann walked away from the scene but died of his gunshot wound the next morning.

Brann wasn't the nicest guy in the world but he seemed to have a mind of his own and knew how to stand his ground.

Maybe we need more iconoclasts these days.

Musical Chairs

Life is pretty much a game of musical chairs.

And each time the music stops, there is one chair too few and someone is left standing.

Perhaps someone doesn't get that phone call when promised or that supportive hug when needed. No matter. People are busy sometimes. Certainly there'll be some word tomorrow. Or the next day.

Days turn to weeks and weeks into months before the realization becomes clear. Somewhere the music has stopped and there is one chair too few.

Who's Who
Who is ultimately important in our life is not so much who we want to be important. In the final analysis, who is truly important in our lives is who we actually end up directing our precious energies toward.

Who is truly important to us are those with whom we find ourselves sharing our joys and pains, however those choices are made.

It doesn't mean this is the way that we want it to be. It doesn't mean that this is not the way we want it to be.

It just means that's the way it is.

And for those people who are displaced in the process, the ones left standing as the music fades, there can be a whole bubbling stew of emotions -- hurt, anger, depression, guilt.

But in the long haul, things work out as they do, not how we wish they might have.

There are many people we would like to have on the guest list of our life-party.

But, again, there are only so many chairs and when the music stops...well...

The Baby Boomer Holiday Cookbook

You Come A Long Way, Baby

For anyone even slightly confused about the need for the 1960s Women's Liberation Movement, the graphic above -- found at the All My Days blog -- seems to say it all.

In the pre-Women's-Lib Dick-and-Jane world, a women's place was in the kitchen and -- as evidenced by the three ravenous kids -- in the bedroom.

At the moment we're concerned about what was expected of women in the kitchen during the Leave-It-To-Beaver years.

Perhaps during the Cold War, it wasn't the Bomb we should all have been worried about, but Betty Crocker...

Here's looking at you, kid!
A salami and olive sausage pizza. Need we say more?


Seafood Special
Why serve Broiled Salmon when you can skin a Gurnet fish alive and flop the writhing carcass on a plate of American Fries?

Man, that's good eatin.'

Kitchen Retro

Mmm! Who Doesn't Like Spam?
Especially when it's the surprise inside broiled cling peaches.

Wait a minute. What the hell is Spam anyway?! Oh, what's this buried at the bottom of the recipe? "Spam is the exclusive blend of sweet juicy pork shoulder and mild tender ham."

Now we know.

Everybody's Favorite Dessert!
Cranberry slabs layered with gelatinous chicken soup, decorated on top with what looks to be the baked hearts of small woodland creatures.

Bon Appetit!


Pleasantville Revisited: The Wonderful World of Color

ike carter

Something happened to the world sometime between the 1950s and the 1970s.
It changed from black and white to color. Images captured on film in the first half of the 20th century were in shades of grey.

Time Barrier
In a way reminiscent of the movie, Pleasantville, black and white film is a time marker separating the distant and inaccessible past from all that is more recent and more relevant.

1920s Fashions - In Color
That's why this clip seems somehow anachronistic. The 1920s aren't supposed to look as vibrant as this. The people shown in films from this earlier time aren't supposed to look

Tomorrow we may both be gone...
The beautiful, young women in this video may no longer be with us yet the color of the film seems to bring a living glow to them. And the lyrics of the soundtrack are poignant, are they not?

Life is so uncertain
And no one seems to know
How long we have to linger on
Tomorrow we may both be gone
Love me tonight...

Star Wars, The Matrix and the Hero's Journey

The Monomyth
The monomyth in storytelling is the archetypal, winding journey by which extraordinary potential is realized within he or she who appears to be ordinary.

A thousand stories, a thousand years...
The monomyth, sometimes called the hero's journey, is the same tale told tens of thousands of times throughout thousands of years.

The characters and circumstances change but the journey itself is a familiar road upon which each twist and turn has special meaning and purpose.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell delved into the hero's journey to tease out hints of its structure and underpinnings. In doing so, he described a series of common elements, central building blocks of the tale of adventure.

Let's take a look at the monomyth in action...

The Matrix
An ordinary computer hacker learns that he is in actuality the techno-saviour of a humanity in unknown bondage. He is Neo, the new man, the One...

Star Wars
A farm boy learns that he is born of a lineage of Jedi Masters and that he alone is capable of defending the universe from the crushing domination of the evil Empire.

In the mid-1970s, after completing two drafts of a screenplay for Star Wars, George Lucas still wasn't happy with the storyline. He turned to Joseph Campbell's work for insight.

The monomyth became the underlying structure of the first film of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.

See how this richer detail of the monomyth plays out across the double trilogy saga of Star Wars...

In what movies do you see the monomyth, the hero's journey, playing out?

The Grand Illusion: What Do You See? No You Don't...

Even if you've seen this illusion before, you still don't believe it, do you?
Squares A and B are exactly the same shade of grey. Yeah, that's right. Identical.

But Square A is much darker than Square B, isn't it? After all, this is a checkerboard.

Even when we're provided with the overwhelming evidence of reality, our mind still rebels.

What gives?
We believe that our senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell provide us with a hard-edged view of a concrete world. But we have no idea how much of what we believe is purely objective is in fact totally subjective.

What we see is not what we get. Instead, what we see is a masquerade-of-the-mind disguising a reality we haven't the capacity to even imagine.

Navigating this illusion is impossible enough on our own. What happens when peer pressure is factored into the equation?

The Asch Experiment examines what happens when our view of reality crashes head-on into the community consensus. It addresses the question -- what is more valid, what we see or what we think others see?

How does Groupthink affect our sense of ethics and morality?
In the following experiment, subjects are tested to see whether their willingness to lend a helping hand is influenced by peer pressure. How do you think you would respond?

... Are you sure?

The Magic Bullet: The First Weapon of Mass Destruction


It has been 46 years since John F. Kennedy was cut down by assassins' bullets in Dallas, TX.
The president was 46 years old when he was killed. It was the most widely-witnessed hit-job in human history, involving the most famous person on the planet at the time.

Lee Harvey Oswald, an avowed Marxist acting alone shot the President and wounded the Governor of Texas as moving targets, 200 feet away from 6 story window, with a $12 Carcano war-suplus rifle and was, himself, murdered two days later by the grief-stricken owner of a Dallas strip club.

That's their story and their sticking with it.

Whose story?

For nearly half a century the debate has raged on about whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

For the record, we have no idea whether he did or he didn't.

But we do believe that whether or not the US Government was complicit in the murder of the President of the United States, it had a vital and vested interest in selling the Lone Gunman Theory to the American people.

Imagine in the worldwide impact on a Cold-War world to the following headlines the morning of November 23, 1963:

Soviet Agent Assassinates US President; LBJ Orders Retaliatory Nuclear Strike on Moscow
If you think that headline is far-fetched, you're probably too young to remember that just one year before this assassination, the US and the Soviet Union came within a heartbeat of thermonuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Bloody Coup in US, Government Militants Execute President, Seize Control of Washington
If the US Government or any of its agencies were involved in the murder it would have resulted in not just the death of a man but the death of the 187 year old American experiment. With one bullet, fired by, or allowed to be fired by, agents of the US Government, the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence would be forever more worthless pieces of paper.

Rogue Marxist Terrorist Group kills US President; Who will be Next?
What kind of impact do you think that headline would have had on the financial markets and international alliances?

JFK Killed By Hired Gun of Jealous Husband
We've always found it interesting that people were quick to believe almost any rumor or innuendo of how JFK lived but were just as quick to reject mountains of data that there was more to his death than a lone gunman with a $12 rifle.

The Magic Bullet Theory 2003: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Knowledge of a conspiracy of any manner would have been too difficult to deal with. It would have pushed the US Government into untenable confrontations and might likely have resulted in worldwide panic rather than grief.

Maybe the Lone Gunman Defense is true, but it is the most improbable of all scenarios. And isn't it interesting that of all the things that might have been, the incredulous Lone Gunmen Theory was the least problematic way to frame the tragedy?

And if the American people could be convinced to buy the idea of a Lone Gunman -- or a Magic Bullet that stops and changes direction in mid-air -- or a victim's body, after being shot, falling toward the shooter rather than away from him, what else might they become convinced of with the flimsiest of evidence?

Fashion Forward: The Past Predicts the Future

When people try to predict what things will be like in the future, they're generally way, way off.
That goes for science, engineering, finance and certainly fashion.

In the 1930s designers took a stab at imagining what women would be wearing in the year 2000. What's shown in the video below is what they came up with. Keep in mind, the year they were aiming at is now nearly ten years in the past.

The clip says as much, if not more, about evolving attitudes regarding women within society as it does about fashion.

Future-fashion view from the 1930s

They did get somethings right though.
The Ooo Swish! comment, for some reason, sounds like something America's-Next-Top-Model co-host Miss J would say.

iPhone or Droid?
And in their brief comment about men's wear, they also seemed to get the cellphone thing right. The headgear, not so much...

men's fashions future

The view of future fashion from the 1960s was really no better.
I am the Eggman! They are the Eggmen! I am the Walrus! (Koo Koo ka Joob!)

Okay, then how would you describe the outfits at the beginning of this clip?

How about the view from the early 1970s?
A cosmetics belt to replace a woman's handbag?!

Titicut Follies: The Most Disturbing Movie You Will Never See


The only US film ever banned for reasons other than sexuality or national security.

This 1967 documentary by Frederick Wiseman is violent but not in any traditional way.

Its focus is -- or was -- the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Massachusetts. Largely as an outcome of this production, within 20 years, this facility and many others like it were shuttered.

Why? Watching the film it becomes quickly evident that the institution was as dysfunctional as the inmates within it. No, make that more dysfunctional.

Strike Up the Band
The title of the film refers to an unintentionally surreal talent show called the Titicut Follies in which inmates were forced to participate. The film begins with a scene with inmates singing a zombie-like rendition of "Strike Up The Band." (Titicut is a Wampanoag word for the Taunton River in Massachusetts.)

The Stuff of Nightmares
What happens to these inmates at the bullying of their keepers is something that most Americans would believe could only happen somewhere else, and certainly not in a nation which, within 24 months of the film's release, would put a man on the Moon.

The View from the Inside
Filmmaker Wiseman doesn't allow you to be merely an observer of what happens in Bridgewater. He grabs you by the neck, thrusts you inside and slams the cell door. You're not so much watching the inmates as you are becoming one of them.

36 minutes into the film an inmate pleads his case for release.
He's saying exactly what you would be saying to the prison psychologist if you were trying to get out.

Watching this film you come to realize that if you found yourself in this institution there would be no way that you would be able to convince your keepers that you didn't belong there.

Anything and everything you said or did would be filtered through the institution's belief that you were insane.

And frighteningly, after a few months , weeks or even days of living under these conditions you might indeed become just that.

It is not our point that keepers within this institution were cruel and inhumane but rather that absolutely corrupt systems corrupt absolutely.

Banned in Boston
With the claim that this film was an invasion of inmate privacy, the state of Massachusetts, in 1968, banned it from being shown to the general public and ordered copies of the film destroyed.

More likely, however, state officials feared the film was a stinging indictment of their own sanctioning of and involvement in a social policy gone horribly wrong.

After years of appeals, a Superior Court Judge reversed the state ruling in 1991 and the film was again made available to the public.

Health care reform? You'll find points here to either rally for it or rail against.
The pro-reform advocates can say that we need more and better institutions to take care of people disadvantaged in this way. The anti-reform advocates can say that this is what happens when the state is relied upon to take care of the unfortunate.

There are no answers to these questions in this documentary. There is no narration, commentary nor articulated point of view. The skillful editing, however, makes a powerful and unforgettable statement.

Titicut Follies is raw in every sense of the word.
You can watch this film for free in its 84-minute entirety at various places on the web, including EGTV or via an embedded link right here at Apocalypzia but we guess that you won't. Titicut Follies -- without physical torture, blood or gore -- is a brutal assault on the senses.

We watched the film again preparing this post and we're still reeling from the experience.

Art Imitates Life: Is Seeing Truly Believing?


What do you see?
A photo of a smiling attractive young woman? That's not what Dru Blair would tell you. Blair claims this is a portrait he painted as an art class assignment in 2005. According to Blair, it took about two weeks to complete and Photoshop had no part in the process.

Really? Yes, really!

That's Dru to the immediate right of the painting titled Tica. (By the way, this is a real photograph of these guys...)

We came upon Dru's painting in an August 2009 post on the Toy Zone blog, titled 10 Awesome Images That Are Actually Paintings.

The Toy Zone's excellent post set us on the hunt for other examples of what's called photorealism.

How could an artist really render a painting so real, so lifelike?

There are those who doubt the authenticity of some examples of photorealism and others who doubt its legitimacy as an art form. We certainly claim no expertise as art critics but what we've seen of this technique seems extraordinary. Do you agree?

Richard Estes
The art of Richard Estes brings to life a city of steel, stone and glass.

Telephone Booths

Supreme Hardware

Ralph Goings
NPR's Claire O'Neill wrote an article last September about realistic painter Ralph Goings and his fascination with diners.

Mr. Goings first photographs his subject area and uses a slide projected image to guide his hand as a painter. And at a certain point in the process, he turns the projector off and gives the pure artist within him the helm.

If you think that's cheating, we submit that this type of artistic drawing process was actually responsible for the birth of photography in the 1800s.

In the comparison images below the two examples seem somehow reversed. We expect paintings to have somewhat of a softer focus compared to the sharper, harder edges in photographs.

The Photo:

The Painting:

Denis Peterson
Denis Peterson captures dignity within despair in a brilliant series of paintings depicting hard life on the streets.

Toothbrush and a Comb (Acrylics and Oil on Canvas)

Dust to Dust (Acrylics and Oil on Canvas)

Iman Maleki
Iman Maleki is an Iranian artist who studied under Morteza Katouzian in the 1990s. His artistry brings to Western eyes a glimpse into the heart and soul of the Middle-East in a way that would be difficult to capture in traditional paintings and photographs.

Memory of that House (Oil on Canvas)

The Old Album (Oil on Canvas)

But hey, photorealists also know how to have a good time!
We're not sure if Rembrandt or Da Vinci ever tried to punk anyone with one of their masterpieces, but check out what Dru Blair did a few years ago to Chip Foose, host of Discovery Channel's Overhaulin'

Dru Blair tricks Chip Foose

Dru | MySpace Video

Apocalypzia: Six Months Down the Road

Apocalypzia was launched six months ago today.
When we started this thing, we thought we'd be lucky if it lasted six days. And how fortunate we've been to connect with kind people from the US and around the planet who have taken the time to listen to whatever it was we've had to say.

The brilliant Nancy Scott of Marketing Brillo was the first to encourage us to try this idea and we thank her for that. The omni-talented Peggy Ann Osborne has been a constant champion from the start.

Twitter Power
And our friends on Twitter have been phenomenally supportive. To name a few: the beautiful and talented @SharlzG, the deboniar droid @_C3PO, the ever-intriguing @niceguyted, the always-inspiring @Esowteric and the forever-clever @jerrybattiste. Special thanks go out to the majestic and magnificent @theMaraJade. We would follow these friends anywhere.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead
The future is forever uncertain but acknowledging this six-month mark, we're showcasing some past posts that we've shared with you on this journey, starting with our very first May Day!!! post. (Click the title links to go to the original posts)

Thank you all again for your time and support!

May Day!!! Run For Your Lives!!!
...destruction is the essential prerequisite for creativity and new growth. Out of the fragments of destruction today come the raw materials and building blocks of a yet undiscovered future.

The Wilhelm Scream
Since the Harry Truman Administration, this iconic scream has been the shriek heard round the world, appearing in over 140 movies -- and counting.

Behold a Pale Horse
At the nexus of a military without moral leadership and industry that profits from death and destruction lurks the true axis of evil.

recruitment poster

Ah Brasil Bossa Nova
Sinval Fonseca is an artistic renaissance man from Brazil, who is, among other things, a painter, a musician and a singer.

One Giant Leap...
On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin lifted off from earth atop a roman candle that soared above the clouds and roared into history.

lunar module

Sheldrake the Magnificent
...the post-apocalyptic world will need renegade thought leaders like Rupert Sheldrake to be the trailblazers and the pathfinders of the new science.

Sarah, We Hardly Knew Ye
The apocalypse came early this year for the Governor of Alaska.

palin campaign

Top Ten Women of the Apocalypse
You can have all the Batmen, the Spider-Men and the Iron Men. If push ever comes to shove, we choose Girl Power to ward off the forces of evil.

Historical Hulu
Yesterday can teach us a lot about Tomorrow.

martin and lewis

1950s Children's TV Shows. Baby Boomers Beware..!
Froggy, frozen-featured and lurching, exhibited the Jedi-Master ability to force his victims to do things (embarrassing things, humiliating things, awful things) against their will. His raspy, gutteral voice, repeating the phrase "you will, you will," was the stuff of nightmares.

Children of Stardust
Right now, anything and everything that is within your field of view -- and indeed all solid matter in the universe -- is the product of the violent and explosive death of a star.


All Things Must Pass: The 7 Deadly Roads to the End of Days

The End
You didn't really think this Merry-Go-Round would keep spinning forever, did you?

Sooner or later -- we hope later -- the time will come to fold this carnival tent and stand witness to the end of life as we know it.

When is anybody's guess but a lot of people have some very strong opinions about how.

We lay out here seven major theories -- in ascending order of our concern -- of the impending and inevitable apocalypse. Some of the theories presented here, you may think are too frivolous. Some, you may think we're too frivolous about in our treatment of them. But one thing is sure.

When the hammer finally comes down, whether by divine intervention, cosmic chaos or our own stupidity, the debates and disagreements won't matter much.

Let us begin to look at The End...

7. The Rapture

Holy Bible 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

If you're Harold Camping you believe that Earth's ticket has already been punched and all Hell will break loose May 21, 2011. Other prophets are a lot less specific about when but many do feel that we're all on borrowed time.

Given the root meaning of the word rapture there's good reason to believe that, even if it did happen, it might not be such a pleasant experience.

Safety in Numbers?
The Rapture is a -- relatively recent -- biblical supposition, embraced primarily by some -- but by no means most -- Christian Protestants. The vast majority of Earth's Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Christian, Gnostic, agnostic and atheist residents just haven't bought into it.

Apocalyptic Sweat Index (ASI): Don't sweat it.

6. Gamma Ray Burst

This bad-boy is a no-win scenario.
When a spinning heavy star collapses into the singularity of a black hole, there is a tremendous explosion. The blast might last only a few seconds but the energy released could be more than our sun has put out in its 10 billion year existence.

All observed Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) have been outside of the Milky Way galaxy but should there be one close to home, it would be lights out.

The problem is that upon reaching earth, the GRB radiation would dissociate nitrogen in the atmosphere producing nitric oxide at levels high enough to burn off the planet's ozone layer, leaving us exposed to the ravages of space. Not a pretty way to go.

ASI: GRB's are to some extent directional, limiting the danger. We just have to stay out of the crosshairs. The Sweat Level is low.

5. Meteor Strike


This is what almost got us the last time. And it was brutal.
Somewhere off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and near the town of Chicxulub is what scientists believe was ground zero for the meteor that changed everything.

On the bright side, Darwinians believe that getting rid of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago cleared the way for the rise of mammals like us who would have otherwise been known as T-Rex Chow.

Prognosis: Inevitable but who knows when.
That's actually the problem. Being vaporized might be our first hint that something wasn't quite right. Big brother Jupiter may have taken a bullet for us just a few months ago and our own Moon has caught a lot of the flak that otherwise would have been headed for us. But our luck can't hold out forever.

ASI: Commence mopping your brow. At the very least, we may be in for some close calls.

4. Global Warming


Hot enough for you?
We're prepared to catch major flak on this one. Fully 57% of Americans disagree with us about Weathers of Mass Destruction, down, however, from 77% just a few years ago.

Politicians say the science is in but scientists disagree about the politics of this prediction. Because we're hard pressed to think of any case where politicians were right about anything and weren't acting only in their own selfish interests, we remain skeptical.

Debate or Done-Deal?
We're not here to debate the science, or the politics or that matter, but we acknowledge that there is -- and we believe there should be -- vigorous debate about matters of such grave consequence, in which all points of view can participate. We're disappointed when ad hominem attacks are made on people like John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, for expressing an inconvenient opinion.

ASI: Keith Olbermann will hate us for saying it but don't sweat it. In fact, if the next item happens (and it eventually will) , pray for Global Warming.

3. Ice Age


Cold enough for you?
What scientists do seem to agree on is that we will at some point experience the next cyclical ice age. Maybe a little global warming wouldn't hurt.

In a ridiculously and dubiously over-simplified nutshell, the Earth wobbles on its axis as it rotates and revolves and every several thousand years or so, the acrtic glaciers shake loose and slide southward. Distance from the sun, sunspot activity and a bunch of other factors come into play but that's the gist of it.

glacial globe

"It could happen in 10 years," says Terrence Joyce, who chairs the Woods Hole Physical Oceanography Department. "Once it does, it can take hundreds of years to reverse."

ASI: Bundle up... Glacier migration is cyclical and as predictable as the four seasons albeit on an epic time scale.

2. Nuclear Holocaust

The Fire Next Time
W.R. Johnston reported in 2005 that there have been 2,389 nuclear detonations since the beginning of the nuclear age. Fortunately, all but the two dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were tests.

Life was in some ways simpler during the Cold War.
The balance of nuclear weaponry was once a see-saw with the US on one side and the USSR on the other. The concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) kept everything in check. Dropping a nuclear bomb on your Cold War enemy would result in a devastating and deadly counter-attack.

Limited Nuclear Exchanges
But with the fall of the Soviet Union and entrance of new nuclear-tipped nations to the party, everything is up for grabs. Further, there is the disturbing belief that warfare might be waged with so-called tactical nukes without escalation to the launching of their strategic big brothers.

And, the cost of entry may have dropped dramatically if such things as miniature, suitcase-sized nukes actually exist. Suddenly you don't need a multi-billion dollar network of nerve centers and missile silos to be a player.

Perhaps a little better now that the cowboys have left Washington DC but with North Korea having just joined the nuclear party, Iran about to, and India and Pakistan at odds over Kashmir, things are very unpredictable.

ASI: Sweat it. This one could really get out of hand.

1. Bio-Outbreak

The Black Death in the mid-1300s wiped out a quarter of the world's population
That would be the equivalent of 2 billion dead today.

The Hong Kong Flu in 1968-69 killed possibly as many as 1 million people worldwide. And as of this writing, the western hemisphere is under attack from the resurgence of the H1N1 Swine Flu.

Weapons of War
And then, of course, there's the threat of biological warfare (anti-personnel and anti-agricultural) waged by terrorist groups or nation-states.

But viral or bacterial warfare or mutation aren't the only bio-hazards. We damned well might just do it to ourselves by accident. Something much akin to a bio-catastrophe happened 50 years ago and we're still dealing with it. We're talking killer bees.

The history of Killer Bees reads like the plot of a bad B-Movie.
In the mid-1950s, Warwick E. Kerr, a Brazilian biologist, was experimenting with the hybridization of bees to develop a strain better suited for tropical conditions. Let's call Kerr Dr. Frankenstein in this scenario. The experiment didn't go well and produced bees that were highly defensive, to say the least.

One day in 1957, one of the bee-wranglers -- a temporary sub for the regular guy -- put the wrong barrier grate on one of the hives. Let's call this guy Igor. Twenty-six bees escaped, multiplied by the millions and swarmed across South America and into the southern ranges of North America, killing many and injuring thousands of people in the process.

Source: Wikipedia

ASI: Sweat this one, big time and there's a lot of different ways it could go down. Of all seven deadly roads to the End of Days, a bio-outbreak may be the most likely

What are your thoughts about the possible roads to oblivion?
Feel free to let us know.

Strange Apocalypzia: Gede on Guard

Drawing by Rev. Irving W. Wamble

Where Dragons Tread...
Somewhere on the far side of hope and the near side of fear there is a distant outpost of the mind where dragons tread.

Gede patrols there, clawed, winged, hideous and fire breathing -- the macabre manifestation of cataclysmic apocalypse.

Just outside the fence and beyond the gate...
... Gede dares you to step across the boundary of your terror, all the while mocking your false bravado and ready to test your unsteady resolve.

Not merely smelling fear but salivating at the hinted scent of it, Gede's sole purpose is to bite into the jugular of your desire and shred the entrails of your soul.

Between you and your destiny stands Gede.

Everything you've ever dreamed of is beyond that wall and beyond the terrifying yet never seen Gede that patrols and guards the perimeter.

Do you dare?

Don't Let An Atomic Bomb Ruin Your Day: Ten Simple Rules

Don't Just Duck and Cover
Surviving thermonuclear bombardment is simple and can provide hours of fun for the whole family!

This insert from a 1953 Chicago Street Guide shows how!

atom bomb rules

Rule Recap

1. Know where your First Aid Station is located
If you're already seeing a blast brighter than the sun coming from the direction of Chicago's Sears Tower, it may be too late for this one, so go to Rule 2.

2. Don't create panic
Try to visualize the positive and nourishing aspects of a radioactive mushroom cloud.

3. Shut windows and doors
Close the drapes and blinds too, if you like, for all the good it will do you.

4. Seek shelter
Preferably a fallout one. And by the way, don't just seek it. You'd better bloody well find it in a hurry.

5. Follow instructions
Hmmm... Aren't these the instructions?

6. Drop flat on your stomach and put your face right in your folded arms
We would probably move this one a little higher on the list or we would replace it with "Drop to your knees and put your hands together steepled toward the heavens above."

7. Don't look up
Hard to do while flat on your stomach with your face in your folded arms. And anyway, you don't want to see this. It ain't gonna be pretty when that bad boy goes off.

8. Don't rush outside after a bombing
You don't want to lose the critical protection of drywall and aluminum siding between you and the vaporizing fireball.

9. Don't take chances with food or water
The radioactive half-life for Uranium-235 is 704 million years. Try to hold out till then.

10. Don't start rumors
This isn't the time to point fingers and speculate about who's at fault. There'll be plenty of time for that during the 8 nanoseconds before the nuclear blast wave destroys everything in its path.

Apocalypzia's Bonus Rule

11. Prepare for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse when thousands of radiated reanimated corpses will roam the desolate landscape seeking human flesh upon which to feast.

And remember to have fun!

A Dream Ended or a Wish Fulfilled?


You toss and turn in the grip of a sad and distressing dream about being old -- very, very old -- and on your deathbed with only a handful of moments of life and living left.

Cold and alone, you regret a life squandered in unfortunate pursuit of the trivial and the unremarkable. How could you have been so foolish? So many seconds, minutes, days, months and years wasted.

In this dream, tears burn your eyes as you pray to gods above for mercy.

If only you had another chance to take advantage of the long life you took foolishly for granted.

If only you had another opportunity to say the things that you never said, to do the things that you never did, to know the things that you never knew.

How much you would give for just another chance, one more chance...

If only... if only...

And then... in the familiarity of your own room, you wake ... left with only the fading memory of your deathbed nightmare.

Have you awakened from a dream?

Or was your desperate wish fulfilled?

The Apocalypzian Hall of Cool: First Inductees


What is It?
In the 1500's, Italians called it sprezzatura, an expression of self-confidence, disdain and detachment. The Mona Lisa -- famous for her enigmatic smile and relaxed posture -- is thought by many to be the first and most famous artistic expression of it.

William Shakespeare wrote about it when describing the dispassionate demeanors of Hamlet and Othello.

In the 20th Century, it may have been manifest in an unflappable yet laid-back refusal to be sucked into the grinding gears of the Industrial Revolution.

More than just an adjective, it taps into something deep and richly textured. It is a mood, a shared cultural perspective, a zeitgeist that has come to mean everything, nothing and yet still something all at the same time.

We're talking about Cool.

But it's been Missing-In-Action for awhile. AWOL.

Shock and Awe
The 21st Century began with a hellish explosion followed by a burning shower of shock and awe that blazed for nearly a decade. As if that wasn't bad enough, we watched, helplessly, as an overheated economy reached flashover and trillions of dollars went up in smoke. Even the planet itself seemed, for some, to be headed for a global meltdown.

But Cool is on the rebound.

We're not so easily fooled by the con-men pitching the latest get-rich-instantly scheme or fearmongers imagining WMD's behind every bush. We're not home-free yet but we seem to be traveling on a better path.

So as we hopefully move away from the panic-button dystopia of the last ten years, let's take a little time to remember some of the icons of timeless cool. They may have much to teach us.

Humphrey Bogart Arguably Invented Modern Cool


Steve McQueen Wrote the Ultimate Book of Cool
Steve McQueen

Nat King Cole Timeless and Unforgettable
Nat King Cole

Lauren Bacall Yes, We Know How to Whistle...
lauren bacall

Neil Armstrong Moonwalker
neil armstrong

Who's your candidate for Apocalypzian Cool?

The Ballet of Apocalypzian Illusion

The dance begins....

The music is quiet at first. Serene, yet alive with urgency and uncertainty.

It swells, unexpectedly, and we search our repertoire of choreography for resolution between sound and motion.

The music shifts violently. Its structure dissolving into twists and turns.

Are we turning right against a background moving left? Or are we spinning left while the world obeys its own axis?

We dance frantically to keep time with ever-changing signatures. We try to synchronize our movements with an echoing downbeat that belies the fundamental rhythm.

We struggle to find graceful movement against the staccato and pizzicato.

We yearn to yield -- if only for a moment -- to the warmth and comfort of melody and meaning.

We rise upward on the crescendo and hurtle headlong toward an uncertain coda.

And just as the ringing reverberation of the final chord fades into silence...

The dance begins again...

Be Wary of Befriending Bloggers


The State of the Blogosphere
According to Technorati data published last year, there are over 112 million blogs out there, growing at a rate of 175,000 per day. That's about one blog for every two adult Americans.

Every second of every day, 18 blog posts are uploaded. That's over 1.6 million posts daily.

This may have happened to you, even if you didn't know it was happening.

You're at cocktail party, or in Starbucks, or standing in line at the DMV. You begin a dialogue with a friend or strike up a conversation with a stranger. Suddenly his or her eyes get that thousand-yard stare. The gears are turning within.

What's going on here?

He or she may have just started mentally composing their next blogpost. Something you said just inspired a 200 word essay which, within the next 24 hours, will be accessible to six and a half billion people on the planet yet read by not a single one of them.

You've just been blog-whacked.

coffee shop

How should you react?

Should you feel proud that your ideas or actions are so noteworthy that they should be shared with the world?

Or should you feel a sense of outrage and trespass that somehow a moment you thought was private and personal has been captured and exposed by the blogorati and the twitterazzi?

What used to be private is now public and, to some extent, vice versa.
If you're really concerned about being blog-whacked, do what politicians have been doing for years. Preface conversations with known bloggers with the this-is-off-the-record phrase.

Of course, that didn't work for President Obama when he commented on Kanye West.

What's with the Sudden "You Lie!" Trend?!

liar poster

More Signs of the Apocalypse?
In the last few days, we've been hearing one "You Lie" accusation after another.

First it was Joe (Pants on Fire) Wilson:

Then it was Serena Williams, disputing the US Open foot fault:

And now Kanye West, disputing the VMA judges:

Beware The Magical "May"

-- Limiting fructose MAY boost weight loss, UT Southwestern researcher reports

-- Sleep aberration
MAY play role in near-death experience

-- Epilepsy drug in pregnancy
MAY lower child's IQ

These are all actual headlines in recent medical news stories.

The word may is an expression of possibility. May is one of those words that can actually be an antonym of itself. To say something may happen is to admit at the same time that it may not happen.

The headlines above look newsworthy, yet, because they can also mean the very opposite of what they state, they could be interpreted as meaning nothing at all.

Words Have Precise Meanings
We have to be careful when in conversations in the Apocalypse. As Francisco d'Anconia reminded us in Atlas Shrugged, words have precise meanings. Where confusion can take root, it will.

Somewhat is another one of those squirrelly words.

"I'm somewhat disappointed by your behavior."

Somewhat? Does that mean you're very disappointed? If the emphasis was on the "somewhat," the problem could be pretty serious. But if the emphasis is on "disappointed," it suggests a pretty mild rebuke.

Pretty?! How the heck did pretty get to be an adverb?

Theatre Apocalypzia...

(Click image below to play..)

Fun With Dick and Jane: The Monocultural Garden of Verse

See Jane. See Jane run. Run Jane, run!

From roughly the Great Depression to the 1970's Gas Crisis, the monochromatic world of Dick and Jane was presented as the ideal for young school children from New York to California.

Dick and Jane were the main characters of a series of basic elementary school readers, written originally by William S. Gray. But as iconic as the see-spot-run dialogue of these books was, it was the hauntingly sterile illustrations of 1950's commercial artist Robert Childress that painted a portrait of a long lost America.

Dick and Jane were drawn against the pale, pure, playful backdrop of Pleasant Street where children knew their place and treated grown-ups with respect.

Well, not all grown-ups.

Zeke was the neighborhood handyman and gardener. While every other male on Pleasant Street was fair of skin and straight of hair. Zeke was swarthy with an unruly hairdo. Sometimes he even sported a mustache.

Dick and Jane called him Zeke. Not Mister Zeke. Just plain old Zeke.


This was a world with the kind of structure and culture that Glenn Beck pines for.
Men worked, women cooked, boys played with toy soldiers, girls played with dolls, fair skinned, straight haired people lived on Pleasant Street and swarthy, curly haired men were lucky to have the chance to pick up a few odds jobs here and there.

Currently, African-Americans and Hispanics combined account for over one-fourth of the US population. By 2050, it's expected that half of the US will be people of color.

Source for maps/graphs --

Things were very different in the heyday of Dick and Jane.
The world was more homogeneous then. It was a much more comfortable place for people who liked things a certain way.
more dick and jane
The Times They Are a Changin'
Eventually the winds of change came to Pleasant Street. In 1965, an African-American family moved in and things were somehow never quite the same.

That token tinge of cultural diversity and a sporty pair of aviator sunglasses weren't enough to pull Dick and Jane into a 20th Century that, by then, was already three-fourths over.

And by the early 1970's, this piece of Americana came to a close. The fun was done and Dick never saw Jane run again.

dick and jane modern

Nasruddin Speaks: The Magical Mind of Idries Shah


It's All About Perspective.

Nasruddin sat on a river bank when someone called to him, "Hey, how do I get to the other side?" "You are on the other side, Nasruddin shouted back."

Illogical yet logical, rational yet irrational, bizarre yet normal, foolish yet sharp, simple yet profound are some of the paradoxes used to describe Mullah Nasruddin, the legendary, fictional character popularized by Sufi author Idries Shah.

Nasruddin was riding along one day when his donkey took fright at something in its path and started to bolt. As he sped past them at an unaccustomed pace, some countrymen called out: "Where are you going so fast?" Nasruddin shouted back, "Don't ask me, ask my donkey!"

The tales of Nasruddin are generally told in short vignettes, rich with allegory, metaphor, irony and often humor that illuminate the mystical dimension of Sufism, an aspect of Islamic faith.

The tales do more than simply tell a story. They engage us with the goal of changing our perspective and changing, in turn, how we think.


"When I was in the desert," said Nasruddin one day, "I caused an entire tribe of horrible and bloodthirsty bedouins to run." "However did you do it?" "Easy. I just ran, and they ran after me."

Mullah Nasruddin embraces an apocalypzian view of the End of Days...

A philosopher asked Nasruddin, "Do you know when the end of the world will be?" "Of course," said Nasruddin, "when I die that will be the end of the world." "When you die?," asked the philospher. "...are you sure?" Nasruddin replied, "It will be for me, at least."

See more Apocalypzia posts in the Philosophy / World View category.

Read our previous post:
Apocalypse Soon: Down for the Long Count

Apocalypse Soon: Down for the Long Count

end of days

The Mayan civilization suggests that you cancel Christmas this coming 2012.
On the winter solstice of that year, the Ancients have predicted that the Earth, Sun and the center of the galaxy will align with cataclysmic consequences.

The Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, used by the ancient Mayans, is non-repeating and its end date is December 21, 2012. That's it. Fini. End of story. Fuggeddaboutit...

Survey Says...
A recent poll at indicates that almost one-half of visitors to the site see some kind of catastrophic event in the offing in 2012. One of every six people surveyed are banking on the end of the world as we know it and nearly as many are holding out for a global spiritual awakening. Biblical Rapture, cited by 7% of respondents, was beaten out by an alien invasion at 9%.


The End of Days
A poll of a broader audience, conducted in August 2009 by
ABC News, found that about one of every six people believe that December 21, 2012 will be catastrophic. One of every three persons surveyed said that the End of Days will come through divine intervention.

What are the seven Signs of the Apocalypse?
Who knows? The Bible is rife with apocalyptic signposts but there's no shortlist summary. But as anyone who has read the
Left Behind series of novels understands, The Rapture and that irrepressible Antichrist loom large as Holy Harbingers of terrible things to come.

Mother Earth isn't getting much credit lately.
Between predictions of being ripped apart by cosmic forces, raptured by heavenly hosts and heated to boiling point by a carbonic pressure cooker, people are quick to write Earth's epitaph.

We Apocalypzians are betting against those odds.
We believe the Earth can take a licking and keep on ticking.

See more Apocalypzia posts in the Philosophy / World View category.

Beyond Gog and Magog: Bush, Cheney and War of the Worlds

bergen mccarthy

October 30, 1938 -- Bergen and McCarthy Save the World

One of the best known ventriloquist / dummy acts of all time was Edgar Bergen and his wooden-headed companion, Charlie McCarthy.

Though not technically the best voice-thrower -- his lips twisted a bit when he spoke -- Bergen was skilled enough to make audiences believe that dummy Charlie had a mind of his own.

Pulling the Strings
Amazingly, the act's greatest success was on radio. Charlie was the center of attention, often engaging one-on-one with guest stars. Bergen was happy to allow the dummy to have the spotlight while he pulled the strings in the shadows.

But something happened during the Bergen and McCarthy radio show on the night of October 30, 1938.

War of the Worlds
That same night, at precisely the same hour, Orson Welles broadcast the infamous War of the Worlds program on a competing network. The program was presented in such a way that tens of thousands of people across the country panicked, believing that the US was actually under attack from an alien enemy.

But many people listening to the radio that night never heard the sci-fi program because they were, instead, tuned the very popular Bergen-McCarthy show. Wikipedia reports that, consequently, some people credit the Bergen and McCarthy with "saving the world" that night.

No Clear Nor Present Danger
Of course, we understand now that there never was a genuine threat. The world was never really in danger. It was all make-believe. There was no pending apocalypse. Just a fabrication. Smoke and mirrors. An elaborate hoax.

Edgar Bergen and his wooden-headed companion, Charlie McCarthy. The world's greatest ventriloquist / dummy act until January 20, 2001.

.bush cheney



It's about to get ugly.

Some seemingly innocent incident has touched off a potentially dangerous showdown. Maybe you've just become the target of someone's anger ... or maybe you've just targeted someone else.

Either way, your blood boils and you look into -- or out through -- murderous eyes.

Beyond the Highway
Road rage is what we call it on the highway. But it can happen anywhere and everywhere. Wherever anger seems to overtake reason. Whenever we feel we've taken just about as much as we can take.

We often blame these incidents on short tempers and bad manners, and surely that explains most of them.

Beneath the Surface
Sometimes, however, something more seems to be bubbling under the skin. Something for which the random incident is not the cause of the problem but more like a rupture point no longer able to contain volcanic pressure.

At this level of intensity, rage morphs into something more formidable, something more volatile.


We've all been through a lot lately. We've seen the institutions we trusted to govern us, protect us, invest us and inform us, one by one, desert us and expect us to clean up the mess.

We've been pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed and numbered. We've pleaded for help and waited for rescue. And after it all, we've been left to our own devices.

Mad as Hell
It's been a third of a century since Paddy Chayefsky's Network was released yet Howard Beale's magnificent monologue may be even more timely and appropriate now than it was then.

We'll get through this next apocalypse and Howard is eloquent in his suggestions how...

Dark Apocalypzia: Parade of the Silent Soldiers

In Memoriam
Four days after the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, and five days before the 233rd anniversary of the birth of the United States of America, an improvised explosive device was detonated on a Baghdad street as a US military vehicle drove by.

Four American soldiers were on board that vehicle. All were killed.

Their deaths represent only one thousandth of all Americans killed in Iraq since 2003.

As brave sentinels of Operation Iraqi Freedom, these four soldiers served on the battlefield dutifully fighting a war that should never have been waged -- a war cowardly declared by officials too inarticulate to offer adequate rationale for the bloody misadventure.

As far as we know, these four men never entertained audiences of millions or commandeered headlines and tweets with their antics and eccentricities.

They never learned the skill of moving backward while appearing to walk forward, or starred on a TV show, or sold thousands of pin-up posters with their beguiling smiles.

What they did do was die brutally on a street in Baghdad, forgotten by all except those who knew them, loved them and now grieve for them.

These four soldiers of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion - Wilmington, N.C., were:

Sgt. 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, 39, of Wilmington, N.C.

Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr., 36, of Jacksonville, N.C.

Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport, N.C.

Spc. Robert L. Bittiker, 39, of Jacksonville, N.C.

With all the celebrity tears recently shed for the Hollywood Glitterati, we hope that at least a few are left for these fallen soldiers of the valiant 120th and for the 4,236 military men and women who preceded them in death on hot blood-soaked desert sands.

Behold a Pale Horse

recruitment poster

Ploughshares into Swords
During World War II, there really was no such thing as a defense industry in this country. The soldiers and sailors who fought the Third Reich and the Empire of Japan were American boys who left their jobs at auto repair shops, dime stores, office buildings and farms to do their patriotic duty.

Wives, fathers, sisters and cousins did without meat, rubber and nylon to support their fighting boys overseas. Armaments, tanks and aircraft were built by GM and Ford.

Being in the military wasn't a career then. It was something you did until the job was done and it was time to come home again.

After the Fall of Saigon.
The military draft was something that the boys of the 1940's had proudly embraced and the boys of the 1960's had proudly protested. But the post-Viet Nam volunteer army tilted things in the new direction of a professional soldier.

Being in the military emerged as a decent job and, for many, a respectable career. But in the shadows, much of the manufacture of the hardware of war, once pieced together on Detroit assembly lines, was being handed over to corporations for whom bullets meant business.

Old Blackwater, Keep on Rollin.'
And when the nation was distracted during the bloodlusty wake of 9/11, the nature of the military shifted again. Now its ranks were increasingly infiltrated by professional mercenaries -- hired hit men accountable not to the Generals and the Admirals but to corporate executives in air-conditioned offices in North Carolina.

Slowly, inexorably, the hardware and software of war converged.

It's not as if we weren't given warning.
On the eve of the 1961 inauguration of John F. Kennedy, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the rising and devastating danger of something he called the military-industrial complex. In retrospect, his sober words are eerily prescient and sadly accurate.

President Eisenhower, himself a military man who had served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, spoke with unassailable authority about what he saw as the greatest national threat at the mid-point of the 20th century.

The ugly revelations of recent wars give bitter testimony to President Eisenhower's plea.

At the nexus of a military without moral leadership and industry that profits from death and destruction lurks the true axis of evil.

Behold a Pale Horse...

george bush

The Burj Dubai Raises the Roof

Burj Dubai

The Burj Dubai.
It's already the largest structure in the world, and if all goes according to plan, sometime in 2009 it will officially become the world's tallest building.

How Tall is It?
It's very, very tall. Until it's topped off no one knows for sure but for the sake of reasonable speculation, if you put the Empire State Building on top of the Sears (soon-to-be Willis) Tower, the Burj Dubai might still have you beat. It will be in the range of half a mile high. That's tall.

ABC's Good Morning America recently reviewed progress:

Tall buildings are about posturing as much a architecture. Dubai is announcing their arrival on the world stage by screaming from the highest rooftop possible.

Skyscaper, a reference to the nautical term for tall masts, became the nickname for the tall buildings that changed the Chicago and New York City skylines in the early 20th century. But the US no longer stands head and shoulders above other nations on this score. The center of gravity for skyscrapers has shifted first to Asia and now tilts toward the Middle East.

The Top Ten List
Of the top ten tallest buildings in the world, only two -- the Sears/Willis Tower (owned by a British firm) and the Empire State Building -- are in the US. Six are in China (three of which are in Hong Kong). Of course, the events of 9/11 tragically impacted the world line-up.

In his book, The Post-American World, CNN host Fareed Zakaria talks about culture shock and awe in the US when other nations take the lead in areas where we were once dominant. He sees it not as a cause for alarm but an opportunity to refresh our perspective.

But the Burj Dubai may soon be old news in the looming shadow of the Nakheel Tower (formerly the Al Burj), if and when construction resumes.

How tall might the Nakheel be? No one, including Apocalypzia, knows for sure but some estimates indicate that if you balanced the Sears/Willis Tower on top of the Burj Dubai you might still be 50 stories shy.

That's tall...

Big John

Lady Godiva was a Freedom Rider...
Maude was a popular spin-off of CBS's All in the Family series. Played by the late Bea Arthur, Maude was the left-leaning feminist cousin of Archie Bunker's wife, Edith.

In the first episode of Season 3, Maude met John Wayne at a cocktail party. This was big at the time and made for good television. Wayne was the epitome of all that was conservative in the 1970s and Maude was the outspoken polar opposite. It was one of the Duke's last screen appearances. He passed away a few years later.

John Wayne was a controversial figure during the Viet Nam War. While college students protested the conflict, Wayne supported the idea of pushing the Viet Cong back where they came from. One never got the sense from him that he was the least bit apologetic about that position.

Yesterday ... and Today
It's not clear however how he would react to a war like the ones we've seen lately. Maybe he would rally the Right to hold the line against Iraqi insurgents to the bitter end. To push them back where they came from, wherever that is.

But maybe he would be uneasy if he got wind that it was possible that detainees were waterboarded to build a false case supporting an invasion. Maybe he would be appalled if it was suggested that the USA staged a pre-emptive attack for political reasons.

Maybe it would make him spit to think that his country would pick an unfair fight for an unclear purpose.

The Patriot
After all, it's likely that the Duke's fierce conservatism was based on his patriotic desire to actually conserve the values and hallowed institutions of his beloved nation, not to mock and defile them.

No one knows how John Wayne would react to what's going on today.

But Apocalypzia believes there's a better than even chance that he would come looking for Dick Cheney.

And not to shake his hand...

Lost in Translation: Engrish Strikes Again

"What we've got here is failure to communicate."
Cool Hand Luke, 1967

What if Abraham Lincoln, instead of saying ...

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Had said ...

The score of thing four which is the same where all people were drawn up and 7 years ago this continent, it is brought up with new nation, it is free and our fathers who are imagined, and are lifted up to proposition.

Loses some of the magic, doesn't it?

That's roughly what happens when the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address is translated into Japanese without respect for idiom and nuance.

For the last ten years, has collected some of the best examples of translations-gone-haywire.

Here in the US, we sometimes scratch our heads reading owner's manual instructions for imported products that were written in the country of origin. explains that many of these Frankensteinian translations are done as design elements primarily in Asian countries to give products a certain cool factor.

Engrish: French Canadian Style
Our friends at Marketing Brillo were surprised when they found one of their recent blog entries had been picked up by a Quebec website. It had apparently been translated into French and the French was in turn translated back to English.

In the post, Marketing Brillo said...

Rule One: Avoid self-promotion. Anybody who blogs in order to blow their own horn will quickly turn off any audience. As an editor who sees a lot of press releases, I hate it when an organization describes itself as the leading this-or-that.

The translation said...

Rule One: Avoid self-promotion. As an compiler who sees a scads of cluster releases, I malice it when an classifying describes itself as the leading this-or-that. Anybody who blogs in categorization to big their own horn bequeath apace put together exhibit any audience.

Our personal favorite, however, was how this sentence...

People are most interested in other people, so if you're genuine -- if you let us know who you are -- yes, we really, truly want to hear what YOU have to say.

Became this sentence...

People are most interested in other people, so if you're frank - if you explode us be versed who you are -- yes, we in fact, surely indigence to condone what YOU father to bid.


Globalization is a tough nut to crack. So many countries, so little time. Communication is not just about translation, but nuanced meaning as well.

Apocalypzia suggests that if you're a blogger -- like who isn't? -- check to see if your posts are getting the French-Canadian treatment. There isn't much you can do about it, but at least you'll be aware.

And don't think that you can use Babel Fish to robo-translate some interesting news item you found in the Tibetan Daily Bugle for your blog post or you'll be guilty of spreading Engrish yourself. And, If we're not careful, we'll all end up like the Tower of Babel.

Is that what you want? Wouldn't you rather have a delightful day and a paralyzed mind?

Speaking of the Apocalypse ...

Why Is This Man Smiling?

He's Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, and he's doing his level best to let anyone and everyone with a radio or a shortwave set know that check-out time for Planet Earth is May 21, 2011.

That's his predicted date for the Second Coming. Five months later, we're all scheduled to be cast, screaming and wailing, into the Lake of Fire.

As far as we can tell, he believes he's cracked some kind of divine Da Vinci Code to learn the exact dates of the Rapture and its aftermath.

In his book, We're Almost There, he explains how he arrived at his mathematical predictions of deadline dates with a twisted concoction of Christian scripture, numerology and sophistry that Rube Goldberg would be proud of.

And as if that wasn't enough, according to Mr. Camping, all churches have been ruled by Satan for the last 20 years and consequently will offer little salvation for those seeking, well ... salvation.

Yikes. That can't be good...

It's comforting to know that he's made similar predictions in the past that didn't pan out. On the other hand, he seems pretty sure he's got it right this time.

If he nails this prediction, will those poor souls left behind to applaud his brilliance? And if he's wrong -- Apocalypzia is betting he's wrong -- how much of a total fool will he and his many loyal followers look like?

Is he a true prophet or just another dangerous wacko shouting hellfire in a crowded theatre? You decide...

Beware Little Brother!

Big Brother is One Thing, But Little Brother is Watching, too.
While the government watches us from almost everywhere with zoom lenses perched on street corner watch towers, we've become enamored with watching ourselves.

And though it's no American Idol, one of the most popular television programs on the planet is the reality show ... Big Brother.

And Live Web Cams are everywhere. It is now possible in the comfort of your own home, real time, 24/7, to watch nothing happening in almost every country in the world. You can watch what's going on in New York's Time Square, in front of the Grand Hotel Praha in Prague or in Leister Square in London, England.

And perhaps most interesting of all, any time you choose, you can watch the Beatles not crossing the street in front of famed Abbey Road studios as they did on the cover of one of their last albums.

Google Street View
And that doesn't even begin to get into the compelling yet unsettling world of Google Street View. How do they get those pictures anyway? Here at Apocalypzia, we've always imagined some kind of futuristic hovercraft cruising down city side streets with some giant revolving Cyclopic eye mounted to the top.

Google seems sensitive to our discomfort and provides us the chance to opt-out if necessary. Though the result is sometimes the great black void in the photo at the beginning of this entry.

And as regards another place you won't see the Beatles, Paul McCartney's estate was black-voided on Google Street View when the ex-Beatle rightfully complained.

Vast Wasteland
Once upon a time, then-head-of-the-FCC, Newton Minnow called television a vast wasteland. What Newton didn't understand was that maybe that's what we were looking for all the time.

Beware Big Brother!

Back in 1948, George Orwell warned of a frightening scenario 36 years in the future when government-installed TV cameras would spy on our every move. And when the fateful year finally arrived, Apple assured us that because of the newborn Macintosh computer, 1984 wouldn't be like 1984...

That was then, this is now.

Sweet Home Chicago has already announced an ambitious project to put traffic cams on every city street corner to auto-ticket red-light runners and speeders. Now they've proposed the clever -- or should that be lucrative -- idea of using those cams to identify and fine uninsured motorists. Chicago thinks this effort alone will wipe out the city's deficit.

Not happening, in your town yet? Stay tuned.

Big Brother is watching, all right...

BTW, have you read this book?
We haven't but it claims to shed light on the growing intrusion of government watching. If you read it, let Apocalypzia know what you think about it.

May Day!!! Run for Your Lives!!!

The Sky is Falling! ... The End is Nigh! ... Beware of the Blob!

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
1 Peter 4:7 King James Edition

Doomsayers have been with us for a long time. A very long time.

But lately, things have been getting out of hand. It has become almost fashionable to believe that the best of that which is within us is now behind us.

The 24/7 news cycle has whipped the doom and gloomers into a frenetic frenzy. Media outlets shout louder and louder to be heard, each one wanting to be the first to announce the End of Days.

Let's all take a breath
So far, every certain prediction of our wholesale demise has, thankfully, been incorrect. We'll have our share of tears and anguish but we submit that love and laughter are lanterns for dark nights of the soul.

And we hope that, as has been the case after every dark night to date, the sun will rise again.

Alas, nothing lasts forever
One dark day the doomsayers will be right. And on that day, there will be no debate, no discussion, no diversion.

Until that time, we prefer to contemplate and negotiate destruction rather than annihilation. After all, annihilation is a dead-endgame without hint of hope.

But destruction is the essential prerequisite for creativity and new growth. Out of the fragments of destruction today come the raw materials and building blocks of a yet undiscovered future.

If we're careful, smart and lucky, we can survive the long heralded and much dreaded coming apocalypse, just as we've survived them over the centuries. And we can come back even stronger.

That's the Apocalypzian point of view.

Take heart. The end of over.

The Beginning is Near...