Monday, January 9, 2017

Herein you will find posts of original writing by me (Steve Minton) related to the following clustered topics:

* General cultural commentary

* Socio-political potshots

* Against cults and ideological wingnuts

* Paranormal versus mainstream science

* Pontifications on pop music

* Comics: graphic stories for a post-literate age - see Comic Art Connoisseur


My background as a writer, editorial maven and cranky commentator includes a degree in English literature from Boston University, experience as an editorial assistant, proofreader, writing tutor, educational standardized essay test scorer, raggedy zine publisher of multi-arts and esoteric publications (both in print and web-based since 1998), author of The Virtual Writing Tutor (a how-to guide for the savvier college term paper writer) and Talking Back to the Trees (neo-symbolist-surrealist-beatnik poetry and experimental excursions), and various blogs on the arts, culture, fringe science and political and culture war controversies.

On this page, I'll be posting new commentary as well as salvaging what I can from previous rants on Facebook which had a more writerly quality, albeit with some rough edges. Keep checking back and I hope to make steady improvements. If you'd like to add your own commentary to these various thought-salvos and provocative pontifications, head on over to Comments from the peanut gallery

Steve Minton's photo.

Human (a tentative definition): noun -  Aspiring apes with opposable thumbs, language, fledgling consciousness perhaps connected to a cloud computing-like Great Gig in the Sky and some formative progress in scientific understanding; capable of occasional flashes of love and fleeting compassion; quick to deem their dim views as absolute fact in the face of a universe or set of universes of infinite complexity and uncertainty; and preoccupied with squabbles and violent pissing contests over territory, access to resources, and which mind-maps to use to explain it all away

God help us all since we have a situation here on the third rock from the sun in which somewhat evolved and aggressively territorial apes (that's us) habitually tend to consider our half-baked opinions and dim-witted understandings of an infinitely complex universe as absolute truths. Religion and spirituality have value as a metaphorical and archetypal expression of the human experience, but since when are metaphors the same as absolute and irrefutably objective reality? 

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Technically, I'm not an atheist per se since I "believe" in the "three P's" (paganism, paranormal and the perennial philosophy, the latter of which allows for a non-anthropomorphic notion of a mysterious source of creation, akin to Kirby's the Source or Lucas' the Force), but good frigging lord, the actual shame belongs to biblical fundamentalists who believe such totalitarian and errant bullshit as described here:

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The susceptibility of humans to this sort of insidious cult-like dogma (including of course other idiotic systems such as fundamentalist Islam, Scientology, the Hare Krishnas etc. etc.) makes me suspect that the readiness to believe such nonsense is an evolutionary coping mechanism. In other words, people would be overwhelmed by the flood of sensory data and information without what Aldous Huxley referred to as the "reducing valve," or the easy answers provided by such worldviews.

And now, ladies and gentleman, for sanity's sake -- a musical break:

When people ask me what kind of music I like, I could prattle on about all of the performers in the film "The Last Waltz," flashback to the Dead, lounge around with Burt Bacharach and friends, mention a few gold nuggets of newer stuff like Arcade Fire and even guilty pop-country pleasures like Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw -- or just refer them to this one. It's hard to pack so much that's right in one place...unless you check out the version with Robert Fripp on

Wonder why do we call mean and contemptible people "assholes"? Let's do a chakra reading and find out.

Ever notice how people don't go around calling each other a "navel" or a "throat" but an "asshole" when they're being disagreeable, contemptible or motivated only by self-interest? At last the truth can be revealed as to why: see the location of the root chakra! That location is attributed to raw brute bio-survival and basic needs such as food, water, shelter,  protection and safety.

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How does the typical Bible Belt believer know that Adam and Eve were real? Look at all people. How do subliterate consumers pass textual-based knowledge? Like an orally transmitted virus. 

Down here in the carbon valley of semi-evolved apes we've got what poet William Carlos Williams called "the pure products of America" that "go crazy": Elvis, FB, Manson, Trump. Memes run amok. 50 million click-baits can't be wrong.

This world is a big ball of turds, upon which occasional magic mushrooms grow -- doorways into infinity, slammed shut for those stuck in the corner with their dunce caps on. "Rome is burning," said the second-in-command. "Don't bother me, I'm fiddling," said Nero.

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Yes, Mr. Van Winkle, President Donald J. Trump. It's as absurd as it sounds, and plenty malevolent. Kek kek? Not funny except to cross burners and such.

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From a display at the United States Holocaust Museum.

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Some big differences: Nixon was whipsmart and encyclopedic in his knowledge of foreign policy and had some significant achievements, despite his paranoia and corruption, i.e. presiding over the moon landing, establishing the EPA, opening up trade relations with China, a relatively decent record on civil rights etc. Plus, he didn't start to unravel from day one, unlike this sociopathic baboon who now pollutes the White House. Luckily though, he's more of an ineffective ass-clown than the genuine power-mad dictator he aspires towards. It will be fun watching him self-destruct, as the vultures circle in.

Steve Minton's photo.
Except not the funny kind.

I suspect that the majority of hardcore Trump supporters and true believing fundamentalists don't care a whit or draw much solace from the kinder and gentler passages from their good book. What really turns them on are the Bible passages which support fascist-like obedience to external authority and give them the conviction of having a non-revocable ticket to their vision of a hotel in the sky -- no heathens, homos, science-lovers or critical thinkers allowed.

On the lively FB page "Donald Trump is a Disgusting Pig" we were recently asked to sum up the current president in three words and here's what I came up with: lower than whale-shit, rampaging science-denying planet-raper, self-serving swinish greed-monger, loud-mouthed douchebag xenophobe, corrupt money-grubbing rights-stealer, treasonous colluding self-aggrandizer, orange-faced racist asshole and fat ugly pig. No hard feelings.

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When Andrew Breitbart croaked, Bannon shifted the emphasis of the site from exposes of Hollywood limousine liberals to blatant appeals to xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and so forth, and provided a no holds barred forum for these alt right lovers of Pepe the Frog and the Moonman memes. Since Trump has been president, the paper has turned into essentially a pro-Trump propanda organ and has driven away many of the early enthusiasts to their anti-globalist, anti-Hillary, anti-immigrant agenda. Trump hasn't been getting much loyalty from his mutinous staff which leaks like a stuck pig, but he sure has it from Breitbart. Hopefully Mueller is cooking up something good in his kitchen and will add some interesting twists to this democracy-imperilling reality tv show spectacle of groteque corruption, pathological lying and likely obstruction of justice. Nixon was an amateur!

For a non-drunk and non-drug user, Trump sure trips up on Twitter alot. Not exactly a philosopher-king or master writer and legislator like sly code-maker Sir Francis Bacon, huh?

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The concept of arbitrary will, as expressed by philosopher Kenneth Smith, gives insight into how such a malformed monstrosity could arise from the dark  undercurrents of America's attempt at a civilization. Here's a clue: capricious takers do whatever they please and can get away with, and jackal followers always come in packs.

For insights into what sort of sick culture could produce the undercurrents which result in such a monstrosity run amok, check out this excerpt from a 1994 interview with philosopher, author and fantasy artist Kenneth Smith, PhD. (thanks to David Roel ): 

"Our particular civilization is distinctive because it has taken this CONCEPT OF ARBITRARY WILL [emphasis added] as its core, or defining principle. The belief that what we are is essentially a willful creature, that is, someone who could just as easily do one thing as another, a creature that has no inbuilt or innate natural needs or predispositions, a creature that has no higher spiritual or rational nature that it has to live up to--the belief that willfulness can be turned into a principle of existence is exactly what comes to dominate the plane or the region of social existence through the modern world, from the renaissance onward. This notion of personality which places an extraordinary emphasis on conscious ego, on superficial or decision-making will, which, as I say, could fall one way or another... The belief that we live in a world that is essentially stochastic or accidental, there are no morally binding rules that govern the physical or human or social world... And of course, we have evolved a legal system, an economy, an educational system, that conforms to that modern concept of character, or, really, technically speaking, characterless personality, personality that has no inbuilt norms or standards or whatever. Some human beings react against that culture, and do attempt to determine what is ingrained, what is obligatory according to their own character. It's obvious from, in my experience, the difficulties that students have confronting the college curriculum and evaluating what really serves their needs and purposes--what is good for them, obligatory for them, etc.--that difficulty is really expressing a kind of increasing chaotization of the kinds of resources I would call cultural or philosophical. The classical Greek motto "Know thyself" has become acutely more problematic for us, and to make a rather obvious point, academic philosophy is really not helping. It has nearly no bearing on concrete or existential questions--you know, who am I?, what ought I to do?, what are my options, my resources, my obligations?"

David Roel's interview with Dr. Kenneth Smith - philosopher, social critic and fantasy artist (San Diego Comic Con, July 27, 1995)

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Kenneth Smith (1943 to present) - Resident of Austin, Texas

Source: Via Google images, rights reserved to the photographer.

"In retrospect, the most revealing moment in the 2016 campaign occurred when Trump said at a campaign rally in January, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." The statement perfectly captures the mentality of the leader who holds the keys to power in the United States. 

Besides his own sense of self, Trump's arrogance about what is possible comes from his counting on many aspects of our political system to protect him from political or legal punishment."
And Smitty says: 

" ...There is no definitive criterion, there is no one uniquely right way of being human, or being rational, being responsible, and so forth. The question of what are the authoritative values that are healthy for a human being to cultivate--that question can be given multiple answers, a plurality of possible ways of living can satisfy all of those concerns, but that doesn't mean that just any arbitrary way of living satisfies them. There's more than one way of being human, but not just everything that our species does qualifies as "human" in that meaningful sense. Well, I guess what I'm trying to say is, there are many more ways of aborting or misconducting a life, essentially living in such a way that one comes into conflict with THE BASIC PRINCIPLES THAT MAKE A PERSON HUMAN IN THE FIRST PLACE -- we look at the sad conditions of what we consider derelicts, or addicts, etc.; there are human beings who spend their lives lying to the public for the sake of commercial campaigns and political campaigns; there are medical professionals who put their talents to work for the sake of torturing political prisoners for dictatorial regimes--there are many, many ways of misconducting a life so that instead of developing or cultivating oneself, one is really tearing the fabric of one's life apart, one is creating a kind of artificial schizophrenia. There are manifold ways of fulfilling a responsible and rational existence, but many, many more ways of ruining, shredding, aborting, disintegrating that existence. Not every human being cares about the right kind of principles and values, so that he's concerned about the moral or political quality of his existence." 

- Kenneth Smith, PhD.

Razing the wall that separates church and state: the unholy alliance of mammon and monotheistic monsters in the sky

'gOD is an IGNORAMUS‼️'

"These theocratic robber baron pigs only groove on their own rapacious, power mad mayhem, and ability to mold crowds and profiteer from them, laughing about so-called norms and laws all the way to the bank. Any wonder that Trump was a devotee of pro wrestling mass hysteria and fabricated tv personality spectacles? Those yahoos spoke his language: mass stupidity, distraction and entertainment instead of substance."


What an unholy alliance between the autocratic, wannabe tinpot dictator government represented by Trump and the quasi-totalitarian fundamentalist religion of idiotic zealots. Both of these forces can go straight to hell. In America, we don't have to "worship" government or God; we believe or not as we please based on our constitutionally protected rights.

This poster proves my point that hard right Christianity promotes a totalitario-authoritarian mad-man as its image of God.

Only a corpo-god of malice, greed and chaos would annoint such a sicko. Let's get it straight: probable collusion, money laundering and election rigging with a hostile foreign power...obstruction of justice and admitted taping...sharing intelligence with the Russkies and thereby endangering allies and American lives...attempting a tinpot dictator-style coup against what truly makes America so "great": the separation of powers and equal treatment before the law...and tossing aside staff and other allies like used McDonalds, KFC and Dominos wrappers. How "godly." Fuck you to red meat supporters, congressional toadies and enablers and also to the hard right media apologists of this rampaging, malignant sociopath who breaks laws with impunity and thumbs his nose at human decency and history itself. Tick tock, said the impeachment clock.

What's perhaps the most deeply disturbing trend (besides Trump's attempt to turn the FBI into his own personal political weapon and thereby blatantly and brazenly obstruct justice) is the not-so-strange bedfellow relationship between budding tinpot dictator (or was that chaotic ass-clown?) Donald J. Trump, a man without a spiritual bone in his body, and the Christian hard right. I say not so strange 'cuz both demented belief systems thrive on "true believers" in a nativist totalitario-authoritarian interpretation of what makes America so "great." They're not so well versed or even give a whit about the finer stuff such as separation of powers, due process, equal treatment under the law for all and religious liberty for proud non-Christians who also are entitled to freedom of practice and the right to follow their own conscience. These theocratic robber baron pigs only groove on their own rapacious, power mad mayhem, and ability to mold crowds and profiteer from them, laughing about so-called norms and laws all the way to the bank. Any wonder that Trump was a devotee of pro wrestling mass hysteria and fabricated tv personality spectacles? Those yahoos spoke his language: mass stupidity, distraction and entertainment instead of substance.

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"Bizarro-President smash norms and laws of constitutional republic. Get away with it if you can and profiteer, am my only principles. Me am above the laws and norms of constitutional republic. Puny lawmakers and fake media get destroyed in my path, world leaders next! Separation of powers? Bah! Me demand loyalty from toadies, use them then toss aside like wrappers from McDonalds, Dominos and KFC."

Notice that these goons are always anti-"deep state" government, unless they're using it as an instrument for planet raping-profiteering, dismantling the separation of church and state, and wiping their butt on the principles of the separation of power and the rule of law? And for disbelievers in the established fact of evolution, they sure do love to practice social Darwinism. In essence, it seems that these theocratic power-mad buffoons want to bring us back to the laissez-faire era of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover - and look where that led us until FDR saved the day!

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For haters of the "deep state," Trumpbannon and co. sure know how to use it to their advantage and for purposes of chaotic plundering


What's an anti-establishment wrecking ball like Bannon supposed to do now that he IS the establishment??!!?? And for fuck's sake, let Mueller finish his work, slowly, methodically, brick by incriminating brick.

Trump is more of a chaotic clown than a proper dictator per se, and if we were living under true totalitarianism then there wouldn't be dissent, backlash and leaks coming out of every nook and cranny of this society. However, the following point from good ole Wilhelm Reich is well taken: 

“Even more essential, however, is the identification of the individuals in the masses with the "führer." The more helpless the "mass-individual" has become, owing to his upbringing, the more pronounced is his identification with the führer, and the more the childish need for protection is disguised in the form of a feeling at one with the führer. This inclination to identify is the psychological basis of national narcissism, i.e., of the self-confidence that individual man derives from the "greatness of the nation." The reactionary lower middle-class man perceives himself in the führer, in the authoritarian state. On the basis of this identification he feels himself to be a defender of the "national heritage," of the "nation," which does not prevent him, likewise on the basis of this identification, from simultaneously despising "the masses" and confronting them as an individual. The wretchedness of his material and sexual situation is so overshadowed by the exalting idea of belonging to a master race and having a brilliant führer that, as time goes on, he ceases to realize how completely he has sunk to a position of insignificant, blind allegiance.

The worker who is conscious of his skills—he, in short, who has rid himself of his submissive structure, who identifies with his work and not with the führer, with the international working masses and not with the national homeland—represents the opposite of this. He feels himself to be a leader, not on the basis of his identification with the führer, but on the basis of his consciousness of performing work that is vitally necessary for society's existence.”

― Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism

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Patrick J. Buchanan: the kind of reactionary alt-right patriarch Archie-Bunker-in-his-easy-chair you'd like to have a drink with? 

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Hunter S. Thompson and Patrick J. Buchanan

"Hunter S. Thompson was a journalist and author who symbolized counter culture and loathing the political establishment (AKA Richard Nixon). Pat Buchanan was a conservative politician turned political commentator who advised Nixon. How were these two friends?

Thompson and Buchanan met when Thompson was covering Nixon’s 1972 campaign, and Buchanan was advising the campaign. There’s no clear reason why they became friends, other than that they just enjoyed talking with each other.

When Thompson was asked about Buchanan during a 2003 interview, he said: “We’re still friends. Patrick is a libertarian, or at least in that direction. I think of politics as a circle, not a spectrum of one line not just right and left. Patrick and I are often pretty close. Patrick’s an honest person. He’s a straight guy and a very smart guy.”


As I writer who strives continually to improve his craft, I concede that I love reading Buchanan since he's so razor sharp and well-informed and some of his shit makes a bit of sense, and it even correlates with far left warnings about the dangers of America's over-extended military empire as found in Gore Vidal or Chomsky. I do realize that abstracting Buchanan's writing prowess from the reactionary and anti-globalist trends of his work is kind of like saying Charles Manson was a pretty good musician, aside from all that mind control and mass murder stuff. And clearly the succor Buchanan gives genuine white supremacist racists is scary and needs to be fought against tooth and nail. However, as a person he often seems pleasant and he was a tight friend and vicious verbal sparring partner with Thompson, and I think it's bullshit that he was kicked off of MSNBC. Since when does democracy and free speech not flourish by engaging with all sorts of challenging and deviant points of view? Should ideological scumbags like Saul Landau and Angela Davis on the left be given a free pass to express themselves, but not Buchanan? The Buchanan triumphalism is for real, and of course he's directly adjacent to white supremacism, neo-Nazis, David Duke, et al.

Conspiracy theories = the flame, the virulent trolling of the alt right = the gasoline. A lamebrain's way of connecting the dots.

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And go straight to hell and have fun going through life with no conscience if you believe in the Sandy Hook conspiracy or other school shooting denialist drivel, or in Holocaust denial or minimization; pity the fool who holds to all that "global warming is a hoax" cherrypicking shuck and jive; and also, if you groove on the fashy, malignant neo-Nazi/KKK memes of Kek/Pepe the Frog and Moonman then GET LOST. We don't want "your kind" comin' 'round these here parts. And while I'm at it, fuck Alex Jones too:

These horrendous new memes of Moonman and Kek a.k.a. Pepe the Frog represent pure insidiousness, in their worst cases blatant endorsements of genocide, vicious racial epithets, the revival of lynchings and more along these lines of racial purity and purgings, homophobic religious fanaticism, white supremacy and mass murder. No joke. Gotta stay vigilant or it's bye bye democratic republic with separation of powers and civil liberties, hello neo-fascist authoritarianism with cross burnings and new final homes for the "oven-worthy." As long as the money's right, the name of the game of the farthest alt right and the new wielders of the levers of power in DC is deliberately malicious chaos, capricious arbitrary will and thumb-nosing the law, planet-plundering profiteering and the potential to become well-nigh as bad as the ISIS they oppose in their "clash of civilizations" wet dream fantasy of mass apocalypse.
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"Kek kek" sure does have a lot of k's in it.
I regard this article's definition of "conspiracy theory" as any historical collaborative striving as overly broad, since my intention is to critique unfounded speculations which confuse correlation and causation and add fuel to the fire of destructive ideas. In other words, every self-serving and spastic outpouring spewing out of the mouth of Alex Jones and his fellow travelers would meet a more commonly understood understanding of "conspiracy theory" as warrantless ravings. There's plenty of legitimate exposes of CIA wrongdoing available, which are based on Freedom of Information Act releases, congressional testimony and rigorous, well-vetted research. I'm thinking of Operation Mind Control by Walter Bowart, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner and the eight congressional investigations (resulting in the appointment of George H.W. Bush as director circa 1976 - 1977) which disclosed crimes and misdeeds such the overthrowing of democratically elected governments, assassinations, illegal surveillance, the MK-Ultra program in which psychotropic drugs were administered without consent to citizens and soldiers, and so forth. And if we want to talk about actual forensic evidence and court verdicts, we can get somewhere with the JFK assassination, as attorney Mark Lane did with Plausible Denial (in which the liberal-leaning attorney Lane reminded us that he successfully defended the neo-Nazi Liberty Lobby against charges of libel against ruthless Cold Warrior E. Howard Hunt being linked to the JFK assassination. In other words, a jury believed the testimony of an eyewitness gunrunner who claimed to have provided arms to Hunt and associates on the day of the assassination. The Liberty Lobby was acquitted of libel charges.) The other stuff though is beyond the pale: Holocaust denial? Saying that the mass murder of children and school teachers was a "hoax" and the work of "paid actors"? Reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Academies of Science and The Royal Society proving rising global temperatures are another "hoax"? Gawd help us all if I have to expend an ounce of energy marshaling my facts and figures to debunk such lunatic errancy. (Or else I could just call in Larry Finkelstein to hold forth with a mini-dissertation? CIA-bashing author Mark Zepezauer could weigh in as well, but lately he's been busy teaching kids their abc's and 123's or whatever it is he's up to.) Sometimes the official narratives are for real and the shrieking echo chamber of the conspiracy-sphere provides nothing but white noise. But when it comes to believing official narratives in this age of alternative facts -- not so much, kek kek.

My politics are solidly centrist, in other words I pretty much agree with the positions of Gov. Schwarzennegger, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Blue Dog Democrats and am a relative hard-ass on immigration, national security and the merits of political correctness. But god fuckin' damn, these alt righters and neo-fascists who have come out of the woodwork in the age of Trump are a bridge too far and make me look like Chairman Mao. And believe it or not, there are a handful of principled conservatives (who are annoyingly referred to as "cuck-servatives" in the alt right slang of the Cult of Kek) such as Charles J. Sykes and the subtler neo-cons at National Review who have slammed Trump and this crowd for their budding authoritarian demagoguery, corruption, malicious cruelty and utter disregard for the separation of powers and the rule of law. And I hate to tell you this, but in the last couple years I've noticed that lots of my former associates and acquaintances in the Tucson UFOlogy community have embraced Trump and right wing militia-type thinking. I suppose this is due to Trump's readiness to engage in conspiracy talk and willingness to take a wrecking ball to the establishment. Dumb asses. Didn't they get the memo that Hillary's campaign manager John Podesta is a major advocate for official disclosure? Oh, and if Trump if such a populist, how come he's bankrolled to such a large extent by Robert Mercer, the poster boy for rapacious Wall Street greed?

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Snide dismissive skeptics who demand proof then refuse it, dipshit new agers drowned in love and light and experiencers of the paranormal who need brook no doubts.

(Part of an exchange on Facebook with a crop circle debunker and Dawkins/CSICOP-style skeptic, picking up where I had made a snide remark about the likelihood of the new age concept of the so-called Ascension, in which I wrote:

I've been having so much fun lately bashing alt-right neo-fascists that I haven't gotten around to ridiculing the intolerant social justice shrill ideologues on the far left who are burning down the campuses whenever they disagree with the exercise of free speech, but I'll make a mental note to get to that tirade at some point. To me, all these myopic wingnuts and fanatics across the political spectrum are symptoms of a fractured society, with no escape in sight. Don't worry, though, the new age "ascension" of love and light is coming...any day now. Eckhart Tolle and Oprah told me so. (And speaking of Oprah... 

My mention of the so-called "Ascension" was intended as a swipe at the prevalent belief in new age circles (followers of the banalities of Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, The Secret, Sedona Journal of Emergence magazine, etc.) that anyday now, human consciousness will be transformed and in one fell swoop of higher vibratory enlightenment, we will be freed of human nature's propensity for violence, warfare and conflict and dance merrily in the new era of unending world peace and harmony. One would have to be utterly ignorant of the ongoing nightmare of human history and our competitive, destructive natures as instilled by millions of years of dog-eat-dog evolutionary adaptation strategies to believe in happy horseshit like that. As if ever in our lifetimes we will open up the paper or our browsers and not be besieged by the ongoing saga of corruption, mass murder, rape, pillage and so forth that dominate our headlines.

However, I do agree that there are plenty of positive trends like the ones you mention of lessening warfare, movement toward a realization that green energy is in our self-interest, as well as microcredit and microfinance as pioneered by Muhammad Yunus, the benefits of the completed Human Genome Project to understand disease, the historic low in commercial airplane crashes and so forth. Evolution also benefits from cooperation and continuous improvement! All of these trends have an evidential basis, unlike the new age ascension fantasy which is no more likely than the happy shiny rapture visions of the followers of the Jesus cult.

I realize that given your philosophical proclivities as indicated by our previous so-called "discussion" about crop circles (which mainly consisted of you firing off regurgitated pseudoskeptical talking points in order to shut down further inquiry) that you may inclined to conflate my perspectives into those which are tantamount to the new agers or equivalent to flat earthers or creationists, but that would be mistaken. I'm not interested in flogging the dead horse of that previous exchange, but I will assert that I have personally experienced many psi phenomena such as precognitive dreams, telepathy, observance of let's say anomalistic aerial phenomena, apparent contact with departed love ones and so forth. In this regard I have sympathy for these subjects when they are brought up by new age sources, but other than that, I find their ascension talk to be nonsense and their embrace of pop spiritual drivel like The Secret to be a cause for dismay. The paranormal is in fact proven to the satisfaction of anyone who has experienced it, but it does not follow from that that therefore the world is peaches and cream and positivity. And as for what it all means, what is the source and what is the mechanism through which such things can occur, I say "Who the hell knows??" The case is far from closed.

And as for the proof which I suspect you may demand for my personal and so-called anecdotal experiences, why should I bother going into all that when nothing I could offer you would suffice if your mind apparently is already made up that such things are impossible? Frankly, it's not my job to convince anyone of things I know for an apodictic fact I have experienced as real. Those looking for the proof which the sneering pseudoskeptics are always insisting doesn't exist are referred to the article "Skeptics concede evidence for psi" at or to It probably won't do any good to refer the truly hard-headed to such sources, since fat chance that any true believer can ever break free of their confirmation bias or "reality tunnel" as Dr. Leary put it. My convictions on these issues are not based on blind belief, however, but upon direct experience. In that respect they are categorically different from flat earthism, creationism, or for that matter, the dogmatic skepticism that accuses all such adherents as myself of lying or self-deception and refuses to accept the evidence they demand when it is offered. True skeptics or "zetetics" as Dr. Marcello Truzzi called them, demand proof and then change their minds as warranted by the evidence.

And as Mark B. Woodhouse, PhD. stated in his explanation of why the demand for extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims is not always the unqualified and reasonable demand that it appears: "The logic works like this. No matter how well-designed one's experiments, how far one has gone to rule out fraud, how many replications have been made, or how certain one is about a particular experience, claims involving the paranormal are so radically extraordinary that the evidence can never tip the balance. Skeptics deny such a strong bias, but in practice this is the way it works out on a case-by-case basis...Increasing numbers of people - not dropouts, New Age yuppies, or wasted hippies - but mainstream, balanced, educated, and realistic individuals *just don't find major areas of the paranormal that extraordinary in the first place*. Hence, the level of evidence required is correspondingly lower than what the skeptic prescribes...Insistence that we do not believe strange things until they have met higher than normal standards of evidence is turning into a mere expression of hope that we will find the paranormal as improbable as the skeptic does." (Paradigm Wars: Worldviews for a New Age, 1998)

Again, none of the aformentioned is intended as an endorsement of the mindset of the religious or new age fundamentalist, which boil down to "my holy book and preacher man done told me so, so I believe it." Nor do I dispute 99% or whatever it is of what orthodox science **affirms; rather I take issue with some of those experiences which it **denies. And I certainly would agree with them that all this ascension talk is a crock of bullshit.

Fidel Castro: good riddance to a murderous tyrant

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"Astute students of history should condemn not celebrate the legacy of this charismatic mass murderer and enemy of free speech and human rights. His guerilla revolt against the fat cat imperialist capitalists, gangsters and American business interests who were living high on the hog on casinos and resource exploitation during Botista's regime quickly turned from frothing revolutionary rhetoric of being a man of the people to mass killings, cruel and inhumane imprisonment of political enemies, vicious crack downs on free speech and due process, strangling the economy of his own people, and exporting his poisonous ideology worldwide. And all the while, he snookered and blew cigar smoke up the butts of fawning and deluded intellectuals, activist frauds and limousine liberal celebrities such Saul Landau, Angela Davis and Steven Spielberg who imagined him a tribune of the people." 

I voted for Obama twice due to my aversion to a conservative supreme court, among other things. However, I agree that his re-opening of relations with Cuba was done in a weak, kiss-ass manner (no terms and conditions to speak of that were beneficial to the U.S.) and if he or his delegates appear at the funeral of this loathsome tyrant, it sends a disturbing message of appeasement. Baby boomers like my parents remember well how Castro pushed the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he also drove the creation of fierce anti-Castro mercenaries in Florida who were deeply entangled in the assassination of JFK . Astute students of history should condemn not celebrate the legacy of this charismatic mass murderer and enemy of free speech and human rights. His guerilla revolt against the fat cat imperialist capitalists, gangsters and American business interests who were living high on the hog on casinos and resource exploitation during Botista's regime quickly turned from frothing revolutionary rhetoric of being a man of the people to mass killings, cruel and inhumane imprisonment of political enemies, vicious crack downs on free speech and due process, strangling the economy of his own people, and exporting his poisonous ideology worldwide. And all the while, he snookered and blew cigar smoke up the butts of fawning and deluded intellectuals, activist frauds and limousine liberal celebrities such Saul Landau, Angela Davis and Steven Spielberg who imagined him a tribune of the people. The world does in fact need a re-ordering of its priorities, socio-economic systems and programs of technological automation so that the planet's hard-knock people can have easier, sustainable and even, when possible, free access to vital resources such as food, water, shelter, health care and education, and we do need a return to the notion of the "commonweal" or common good as FDR advocated, rather than the mindless distracting public spectacles and myopic personal narcissism, vicious partisan zero sum games, crooked special interests, lobbies and corporate fascists which now dominate our public life. But the answers will not come from a malignant totalitarian such as ole Fidel, who had no checks and balances on his over half a century of abuses. DEATH TO TYRANTS, and no crocodile tears needed.

Conformist ole Ike: a better deal than we're getting today. And thank you, sir, for staving off the Nazis and admonishing us about the creeping power of the military-industrial complex, whose horrific implications to pervert and politicize science to inhuman ends were perhaps most deeply understood by the artists (see Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons).

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Despite the McCarthyism, persistence of segregation and unconstitutional promotion of school prayer which he represented or which took place on his watch, good ole Ike created a society of relative safety and prosperity which enabled cultural freaks and free spirits like Harvey Kurtzman, Kerouac and the Beats, Dean and Brando, and Elvis and the early rock and rollers to flourish as a mad, howling counter-response to stifling conformity.

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Charlie Sykes nails it again

 On educational matters, I lean toward more or less conservative notions such as E.D. Hirsch's cultural literacy series (based on canonical concepts of shared common knowledge), charter schools, a curriculum which embraces multiculturalism through the lens of Greco ideals, and the books of Charles J. Sykes who takes down the fraudulence and failures of the secondary and college educational systems; see his new "Fail U. - The False Promise of Higher Education" which point by meticulous point eviserates a campus culture of neo-Stalinist hysteria against opposing or offending views, exorbitant costs for diminished marketplace value, arrogant and pretentious professors who flaunt their disdain for undergraduates, and the imminent cataclysm on its way in which the entire system gets rocked by the digital tsunami of MOOCs (massive open online courses). I'll fight tooth and nail against the right when they push theocracy, prayer in schools and unscientific fairy tales that deny global warming and evolution. However, I stand foresquare with Sykes on these issues. Small wonder that this keenly observant Wisconsin writer and radio host stood firm as a Never Trumper and proved that principled and humane conservatives still exist. I correspond sometimes with a Yale PhD in philosophy and noted fantasy illustrator named Dr. Kenneth Smith who politically is, I shit you not, to the left of Noam Chomsky. Even Dr. Smith sings the praises of Sykes' unassailable logic and withering denunciations laid out brick by brick in his unimpeachable books, i.e. "Profscam." Let' not overdo smiley face stickers and trophies for self-esteem when kids can better smarten up with rigorous phonics, cultural literacy and core knowledge, and learning once presumed things like abc's, 123's and why the world is round -- at their highest level of proficiency. And let's not let the Trumpers of the world hold the mantle of decrying the strident intolerance of the academic left's crusade of trigger warnings, microaggressions and safe spaces -- esssentially an effort to make ideological diversity verboten and establish a cult of victims of oppression.

None of the aformentioned is meant as an endorsement of the science denial and religious fanaticism of the far right and their so-called "Christian education."

"Money is the honey" of cult leaders and Wall Street Wolves alike

Steve Minton's photo.

Is it a crime to disagree and offend?

"Don't forget that the pendulum always swings, and a more globalized pluralistic America is an historical inevitability. I hope but am not totally confident that President Donald Duck will not go full-on fascist, and that the valid concerns he crudely gave voice to (tougher immigration and national security policies, a revival of American manufacturing and a middle-finger to political correctness) can be expressed in a fashion that is more tolerant, sensible and politically moderate. However, let's recall that after a night of tripping on magical mushrooms in the early 60s, Allen Ginsberg pronouned to Arthur Koestler, 'Love conquers all.' To which Koestler replied, 'Don't be so sure.' "

There's also a big difference between a form of feminism which seeks equal rights and an end to discrimination, glass ceilings, rape and harassment and the sort of vitriolic androphobia as I described above, which does in fact exist. It's understandable that sensible people would seek an alternative to that extreme, although tragic and self-destructive that the person chosen as that option was Trump and the forces he represents. Another distinction is that there's two forms of political correctness: the basic civility, absence of prejudice and fair play we should expect from one another, and the insanity of shouting down and suppressing any strongly expressed views which offend the safe spaces of precious sheltered "snowflakes."

One point that I think is worth considering is that we distance ourselves from the poisonous rhetoric of some elements of the radical left, which tend to depict all white heterosexual males as being by definition a lumpen mass of racist, sexist, genocidal homophobic oppressors. Shrill and androphobic characterizations such as this, so chic among leftist academics, activists and groups like the YWCA, helped to create a political vacuum which Trump masterfully exploited and used to nab the presidency. Did I just commit a microaggression? Too bad, because free speech should include all voices, if we are to move closer to a truly pluralistic and color-blind society.

Those who demanded the ideological purity of a Bernie Sanders or a Jill Stein and refused to vote for Hillary have inadvertently contributed to empowering a dangerously volatile demagogue who appeals to lots of whites who aren't so pure, i.e. the white supremacist followers of Patrick Buchanan, the KKK and David Duke.

Neo-Maoists to the left, neo-fascists to the right

I vaguely remember watching that movie cuz it had a certain scraggly Nobel Prize winner in it (you know, that Jewish folk singer from the black iron hills of Minnesota). Perhaps I should see it again? Also, I always resented the fact that Roger Ebert, who slammed that movie, had a bug up his butt about Dylan. Ebert was an astute film expert and a superb writer (he was the only film critic to ever win a Pulitzer prize), and obviously you know what side of that debate I'm on. As far as dystopia, I agree that in many ways we are living in a sort of soft totalitarianism as described in Huxley's Brave New World -- consumerist zombies vegging out in front of their passive media devices, obessed with public spectacles and feel-good distractions and disinclined to take tangible actions towards creating a better society. The scarier danger is an Orwellian hard totalitarianism, but I think America is too much of a divisive and contentious place for any one side to take over completely. Plus the Constitution usually prevails, look at Watergate. I dislike the neo-anarchism and shrill political correctness of the far left, with their current obession with campus "safe spaces" and "microaggressions" and so forth. To me that seems like an effort to make perceived offensiveness and ideological diversity all but illegal. However, the hard right is clearly a more potent danger, since they have more resources and now possess the apparatus of the federal government which they claim to hate so much. More worrisome to me than the moldable and volatile charlatan of a president who the raging rural masses just propelled to power is his vp Mike Pence. He represents forces that are hostile to the incontrovertible evidence of climate change and evolutionary biology, among many other things. Don't forget that the pendulum always swings, and a more globalized pluralistic America is an historical inevitability. I hope but am not totally confident that President Donald Duck will not go full-on fascist, and that the valid concerns he crudely gave voice to (tougher immigration and national security policies, a revival of American manufacturing and a middle-finger to political correctness) can be expressed in a fashion that is more tolerant, sensible and politically moderate. However, let's recall that after a night of tripping on magical mushrooms in the early 60s, Allen Ginsberg pronouned to Arthur Koestler, "Love conquers all." To which Koestler replied, "Don't be so sure."

Why did Donald Duck win?

Who the fuck knows...some kind of Brexit-style backlash against globalization and the demonization of rural America, I suppose. Massive trends beyond anybody's control...a reactionary last gasp before the tides of multicultural pluralism re-make the entire country and world...or something like that. A situation masterfully exploited by a phony populist demagogue and a creep who even a writer for  the conservative magazine Commentary referred to as a "sociopathic misogynist."

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Note: "Raising the Minimum Wage" is what they meant to say

I agree that Pence and what he represents -- mindless promotion of evangelical fundamentalism with its dark age superstitions and its dangerous denial of the science -- is a frightening danger to people who cherish the separation of church and state and the incontrovertible facts about climate change which affect the fate of our planet. However, I'm no fan of "social justice," as least as it's interpreted by the fanatics of the far left. We just learned what happens in the Electoral College when the angry white rural working class gets whipped into a frenzy of resentment, but what about the angry identity politics resentment of the far left? All their sheltered namby-pamby happy horseshit about campus "safe spaces" and "micro-aggressions" and so forth seems to me like an attempt to make perceived offensiveness and ideological diversity all but illegal. Furthermore, the far left's politically trendy demonization of ALL white males as racist, sexist, genocidal oppressors blah blah blah, helped to create the political vacuum and their feeling of disenfranchisement which Trump masterfully exploited to nab the presidency.

Back in the olden days, under Ronnie Ray-gun, at least we had a conservative leader (despite any of his other faulty policies and the eggs he broke to implement them) who saved all of our collective asses from nuclear annihilation, laid the groundwork for the end of the Cold War and made the economy rip-roar. Furthermore, he almost always conducted himself with a warm, re-assuring geniality -- even when he was feeding ketchup to school kids as a vegetable. Now we've got a situation prophesied by Sinclair Lewis who stated,"When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross" and by Benito Mussolini, who said something about democracy being so great and grand, until it brings fascism to the USA by means of the tyranny of the majority. And where there's overt fascism on the far right, expect violent revolution and anarchy from the far left (and probably some damn good music as a form of resistance, i.e. Crosby Stills, Nash & Young under Richard M. Nixon). Welcome to idiocracy.

Greil Marcus on Trump as the face of hate: "If you look beyond such sadists as Father Coughlin and Gerald L. K. Smith— both of whom were fundamentally classic anti-Semites more than anything else — to figures to whom Trump has been compared, such as Tom Watson or Huey Long, you’ll find that they began as reformers, truly were outraged on behalf of the voiceless and powerless, and only later — not that it necessarily took that long —fell victim to their own egomania. There’s no such empathy in Trump."

As an addendum to my recent FB post suggesting that Trump was a sort of a second coming of a populist demagogue like Father Charles Coughlin, here's a comment from a recent interview with Greil Marcus that clarifies the matter: Interviewer: You have a deep interest in history and culture—and in “old, weird America,” as you have put it. Are there any moments in time we can look to for wisdom about the new populism and the rise of Donald Trump?
Greil Marcus:

If by moments in time you mean the past, as in looking for precursors, sure, there are countless thousands: race riots, populist rages, demagogues, lynchings, assassinations. And yet if you look beyond such sadists as Father Coughlin and Gerald L. K. Smith—both of whom were fundamentally classic anti-Semites more than anything else—to figures to whom Trump has been compared, such as Tom Watson or Huey Long, you’ll find that they began as reformers, truly were outraged on behalf of the voiceless and powerless, and only later—not that it necessarily took that long—fell victim to their own egomania. There’s no such empathy in Trump. I’m a great believer in the notion that there are always new things under the sun, and I think Trump as a face of the nation or a political leader is something new. That he has brought into the light, without any glossing, the size and commitment of the America that, from my point of view, hates America, is unparalleled.

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Greil Marcus. Is he trying to swallow a piece of lemon or is that a look of permanent supercilious contempt and elitism plastered on his face?


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Steve Minton's photo.

Trump as a central casting character in Dante's Inferno

Elvis Presley once said something along the lines of, "It ain't bragging if you done it." In other words, he was referring to the justifiable self-confidence of someone who's mastered their field of endeavor. Trump's sociopathic braggadocio is of a different sort, however. In its narcissistic cruelty, his bloviating non-stop stream of verbal diarrhea is reminiscent of the characters stuck in hell in Dante's Inferno, such as the sack of shit who before eating his own children while in captivity with them, saw only his own suffering reflected in their pathetic wimpering eyes. Witness Trump's latest threat to sue the victims of the disgusting sexual assaults he no doubt not only committed but felt entitled to.

'Counting only states that are leaning 5% or more in composite polls:

Clinton: 272
Drumpf: 108

Swing votes: 158

Assigning all states as they are leaning:

Clinton: 333
Drumpf: 204

Lately, most potential swing states have been trending towards Clinton. Early voting indicates Democrats will have a very good turn out. So the 333 to 204 could go even further.'

Some of the blame for Trumpie-boy's rise must fall on the resentment-fueled social justice ideologues of the hard left. For instance, the angry and race-baiting radicals at the YWCA here in Tucson have posted officially sanctioned material on their website which prattles on about how all whites (especially the males they castigate with such androphobic fervor) are by definition racist, sexist paradigms of privilege who had their run of a nation founded only on genocide, slavery and oppression and now are getting their just deserts as we enter a more multiracial, less Anglicised age. Not a word of acknowledgement for the legitimate concerns of decent and hard-working but underemployed and undereducated white males who are not part of this patriarchal conspiracy of the 1% and who strive for genuine color-blindness, fair pay, justice for killers with a badge etc. Trump has masterfully exploited the vacuum left by such intellectual frauds on the left, and empowered the truly scary elements on the right, represented by David Duke, the neo-Nazis, alt right pro-fascist nationalism and so forth.

Even a mandate won't stop Trumpie-boy, cuz he never loses. His dad, Fred "KKK riot" Trump Sr. and attorney Roy "Aids case" Cohn told him so.

Harlan "sf" Ellison vs. Forrest "sci-fi" Ackerman

Ellison, that annoyingly brilliant, bellicose and litigious hoarder of every genre award under the sun (who has claimed that he is now ready to ride off into a sunset on the edge of forever, after a debilitating stroke but to this day keeps on ticking) was the one who hammered into my head, when I was but a wee tot of around 10 years of age, to have an aversion for the term sci-fi. I think the quote from Ellison was that it sounds like two crickets copulating. And kicking around somewhere among my archives, I have an sf magazine in which Forrest J. Ackerman (who coined the term) slams Ellison for his self-righteousness on the issue, asking who the hell is Ellison to be the self-appointed arbiter of which terms are acceptable, when the world gets along fine with similar hyphenated abbreviations such as hi-fi. Ackerman certainly has the moral high ground here, as the co-founder of the first science fiction fanzine and godfather of fandom in general, legendary editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland and heavy-hitter literary agent, and of course for his fabled Ackermansion, probably the greatest collection of science fiction memorabilia and miscellany ever assembled. However, due to the power of early imprinting, I side with Ellison and to this day cringe at "sci-fi" and rejoice at the more erudite and informed "sf."

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Harlan Ellison (1934 - present)

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Forrest J. Ackerman (1916 - 2008)