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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bunk With a Capital B

I got into a bit of a debate with a guy at work about the Ancient Aliens thing. He didn't like my certainty that the ancient astronaut theory is total bunk, and I take his point. I can't prove that aliens don't exist. I'm sure they probably do, somewhere.

But I don't need aliens to explain the mysteries of human history. The human mind will do. It didn't take alien technology to build the Incan fortresses, with their tight perfectly fitted stones. All it took was will and ingenuity and hard work.

Prehistoric people were no dummies.

Erich von Däniken doesn't care about why the Nazca people built their lines. Their culture, language, religion, lifestyle, all of this is irrelevant. He only wants to fit their lines into his flying saucer theory.

Yes, it's an interesting theory, but it's bunk.

Science...You're Not Doing it Right

I was watching the History Channel series Ancient Aliens on Netflix the other day and while it's entertaining, it's also somewhat maddening. It's worse than ignorant speculation; it's pure pseudoscience, and vigorously so.

Rather than forming a hypothesis and testing it out --that is, having a question you seek to answer-- the ancient astronaut theorists already have the answer: the aliens did it. It's an answer in search of a question.

Who built the pyramids? The aliens did. Who moved those megaliths to Carnac? The aliens did. Why did the Nazca build their lines? For the aliens. The god Apollo? Pagan myth...or alien?

Sorry, guys, but I think human history is a bit more complex than that...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Missedtopia

Dan Simmons has a new book coming out, and I'm almost embarrassed to say that it's a ludicrous right-wing tinged dystopia that seems only somewhat more imaginative --but certainly no more plausible-- than Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin.

Imagine a financial collapse so big that people refer to it as "D.I.A.H.T.F." It means "Day It All Hit the Fan," which sounds like the kind of antiseptic acronym a Boomer thinks would catch on. Sorry...if the F doesn't stand for "Fuck," that shit ain't catching on.

But let's not pick nits. What about the big stuff?
"Our primary bank -- China -- was no longer there: split into thirty segments, each with one or more warlord fighting for ascendancy. The fact that "China" was now demanding payment in full on certain loans meant almost nothing. What meant something was that your ATM longer spat out any money, even when you swiped the card again and pressed all the right buttons."
Really? China, currently hurtling facefirst into the 21st Century, is going back two thousand years to the Warring States period? And must they be so inflexible on the terms? They're communists, for Christ's sake, not Republicans.
"Gold was still worth something and in the days after the D.I.A.H.T. F. the federal government passed legislation appropriating all private gold and promptly sent troops around to collect it. So much for that particular portfolio investment."
This sounds like Glenn Beck's worst nightmare as opposed to something that will actually happen. I mean, I can see gold still being worth something...until the Feds grab it by force. What are they going to do with it? If they spent any of it, they'd have to send out the troops to snatch it back, right?

Of course, it's not a dystopia unless we're remaking the Union. So here goes the secessions:
"There are 44 stars on the new flag of the United States...

Hawaii is a royal kingdom again, presided over by a pure-blooded Hawaiian queen...

Alaska is an energy-sufficient republic thanks to its "nationalized" oil and natural gas...

Texas is once again the Republic of Texas...

...all of what had once been New Mexico and Arizona, small swaths of Nevada, and irregular parts of southern California up to Los Angeles, ending at the Pacific Ocean. This is Nuevo Mexico -- pronounced in the proper Spanish-Mexican way..."
As you can see, this dystopia has all the imagination of the dude who gives the speech at the Sons of the Confederacy annual reception.

And then there's the Muslims...
"The Global Caliphate is a giant crescent, its central curve and core and capital in the Mideast where the triumphant states of Iran and Syria struggled toward mere regional hegemony in our own day. It seems that they succeeded. And then some. The northern horn of the Caliphate crescent stretches from the heart of the Mideast (Mecca and Medina, no longer part of the dead state Saudi Arabia at the heart of this heart) across Turkey and eastern Europe and all of Western Europe with the sharp tip of its crescent ending in Canada."
Yeah, sorry, don't think it's going to go that way.

If --what's the stupid acronymn again?-- DIAHTF really happened, I'm pretty sure the United States would remain intact. Fantasies of secession always dash themselves on the shores of reality, when the Texicans are sandwiched between a hostile United States to the North (and it would be hostile) and an even more hostile Mexico to the south. Alaska? Finally weaning themselves off the Federal teat? Why would they do that? Hawaii becoming a kingdom? Dude, conquered people don't come back.

As for the Global Caliphate, give me a break. The United States is going to break up, but the Muslim countries are going to unite? Yeah...that's going to happen.

I think with a dystopia you gotta go one of two ways...so absurd that it's obviously not going to be like that -- 1984, Blade Runner-- or go subtle about it. The Global Caliphate isn't subtle, but I'm not so sure Simmons is going for absurd, either. He's making some kind of statement.

I think he's been reading too much Victor Davis Hanson and Charles Krauthammer, myself...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clutch - Live at the 9:30

Getting old, man, I tell ya, I'm getting old.

I remember back in high school, this kid I had Algebra II with, Nick Zendejas, gave me a couple of tapes. They were dubbed, of course, that's how we did it back then, but they were awesome. Ministry's Psalm 69 record, Kyuss, and Clutch.

There was no internet back then, so all I knew was what I saw scrawled onto the tape and what I heard when I played it. All three made a lasting impression, but perhaps Clutch made the biggest one.

When I heard about this movie, I had to pick it up.

Identity Found

I bought a book on the Mexican drug war that's going on the other day and inside it had perfect color copies of a woman's important documents: her drivers license, passport, checkcard, and insurance information.

Never met this girl in my life, but I know a lot about her. I know what she looks like, where she lives, her birthday, where she was born, where she banks at, who her doctor is. And since these documents are of the type you'd prepare for a trip to a foreign country and I found them tucked in a book about death in Juarez, I know she was going to Mexico.

Lucky for her, I'm just amused by this unexpected potential goldmine. I'm not actually going to use any of it against her. I could, but I'm not even tempted. I was tempted to send them back to her, but I don't really need an atta-boy. I didn't steal your identity. What an accomplishment!

But still, it's one of the more interesting things I've found in a thrift store book.