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Friday, January 12, 2018

J.J. Abrams Force Awakens Diary

By Daryl Kane

Dear Diary, 

Kathleen Kennedy called me from over at Disney to let me know that they had selected me to write, direct and produce the new “Star Wars” movie. I told her I was really excited and would start rewatching the movies again for inspiration. May the force be with me! 


Dear Diary, 

So far I have had some really cool ideas. I was thinking that the main characters should be a girl and a black guy. Was also thinking that because most of the original heroes were white men it would be cool if the only new characters I wrote for white men were villains and then went out of my way to cast these roles with particularly pale/dweeby white guys. I wonder if Adam Driver and Domhnall Gleeson are available? 


Dear Diary,

Since Luke Skywalker isn’t going to be in the this movie to train the girl but I want her to be really powerful anyways I was thinking I could explain it by having a weird flashback sequence with her. I haven’t figured out or (really thought about) who her parents are yet so I think its good to put this scene in so the next director will remember to figure something out. Is she Luke’s daughter? Who knows, for all I know maybe her parents were a couple of losers who sold her for drinking money. I don’t really drink but I do like to smoke pot sometimes. Ok, I actually smoke pot allll the time. What was I doing? Oh yeah, I’m writing the New Stars movie!


Dear Diary,

George called today to wish me luck and offer some pointers. I told him about my ideas about making it super diverse which he seemed cool with but then he asked me if I had any other ideas about the plot, character development etc. Honestly, I hadn’t gotten that far so I mentioned some ideas about how we could give the Empire a new name and basically just continue the whole “Rebel vs Empire thing.” He said that that didn’t make sense since Luke Skywalker and his friends had already destroyed the Empire 30 years ago and then it got weird so I ended the call.


Dear Diary,

Kathleen called me today and said that George had called her and seemed concerned that I didn’t know what I was doing. She said he thought it was important to plan out the whole trilogy now, to the best of our ability and clearly figure out where our characters came from and where they were going. I told her that my method of just making things up as I went along like I did with LOST was better and then told her my idea to have the main characters be a girl and black guy and she agreed that my plan was better.


Dear Diary,

Had been going back and forth about whether or not the girl or the black guy should be the one to use Luke’s old light saber to battle the new Darth Vader guy. Then I had an epiphany, they both will!


Dear Diary, 

I came up with this bad guy who is like a storm trooper captain or something and wrote her to be a woman but then I had second thoughts because she gets beat up by men. I called Kathy Kennedy to see what she thought and she said it was ok since the guy who beats her up is black (Still thinking of a name for him so far I’m leaning towards Bob or Zapp.)


Dear Diary, 

Mark (Hamill) called me, says he is really excited about everything and asked me if he’d had any thoughts for his character yet. I told him I had something really cool planned for Luke Skywalker but it was a surprise. *evil smirk*


Dear Diary,

George called me again and was trying to be nice but I could tell he was still pissed. He asked me if I had remembered that the movies were about the Skywalker family and told me it was important to remember to make at least one new character a Skywalker.


Dear Diary,

I realized that George did have a point about the whole Skywalker thing so I had the idea that I could make the guy who is like Darth Vader be Han Solo’s kid. Not really sure where I’m going with this but I have a feeling it will turn out good. This is how I came up with the story for LOST and no one seemed to mind how that turned out.


Dear Diary,

I just realized that I have to come up with some alien planets so I was thinking that the girl could come from a planet that looks like Tatooine but isn’t and then there could be some other planet that is basically Pennsylvania in the winter time. Then I’ll make everything else look like the first Death Star.


Dear Diary,

Harrison called me today to talk which was really cool since Han Solo was my favorite character growing up. Then he told me that he was basically sick of Star Wars and had wanted to get killed off in Return of the Jedi and asked me to kill Han Solo in this movie. That’s when it hit me. The Darth Vader guy who is his son could kill him. I’m pretty sure this will make George happy too since he’s always talking about how these movies are about family relationships.


Dear Diary,

After I had the idea of having the Darth Vader kid kill Han I realized that I should have an Emperor guy too. I tried to think about where this character might have come from but my kid started eating LEGOs so I had to stop for a while. I think Kathleen said if I got stuck they could hire some novelists to come up with some books to flesh this type of stuff out for the fans that care. Might take her up on that.


Dear Diary,

I realized that I forgot what happened to this pilot guy named Poe who disappears after the first 10 minutes so I decided to bring him back at the end and have him fly around in space. The actor I’m using sort’ve looks white so I called Kathy Kennedy since the went against the whole women/minorities good white men bad motif we were running with but she said it was ok since the actor’s first name is Oscar and was from Guatemala. We’re really picking up steam here.


Dear Diary,

I was thinking about this Emperor guy again and thought it would be cool if the Darth Vader guy had his own army of bad guys with light sabers but I couldn’t really find a place for them in the story so I decided to put a shot of them in the flashback scene. Can’t wait to see what the next director decides to do with them!


Dear Diary,

I was thinking I could have a Yoda type character but have it be a female alien, (for diversity.) Was also thinking I could introduce a new female droid like r2-d2 even though just beeps and doesn’t really have a gender. Ran both ideas by Kathy and she gave me the green light.


Dear Diary,

I was thinking that it would be cool for the fans if Han and Luke had a reunion on screen but then I realized that was impossible because I decided it would be best to basically keep Luke out of the movie entirely. I guess Disney is gonna have Rian Johnson write the next one so I was thinking I would send him an email suggesting he do a reunion scene in the next movie but then I remembered that that wouldn’t work either because Han Solo dies in this one. I hear Disney is going to do side movies so maybe they could do one where Han, Luke and Leia meet up again to help some younger characters, maybe their children or something. Or they can write books about it.


Dear Diary,

I had a mini panic attack last night thinking that maybe the original fans wouldn’t like the movie since A:) Han Solo’s death accomplishes nothing but prove that he was a lousy dad B:) Luke Skywalker isn’t even in the movie. But then I had the idea to make it up to them by having the Millennium Falcon flying around every 5 seconds and remembered that even if this movie ends up being god awful it is still projected to make approximately $97 billion USD.


Dear Diary,

Just got off the phone with Mark Hamill who flipped out after seeing the script. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t in the movie and I told him that if he was in it would only make sense to have him be the one to duel with his old lightsaber which wouldn’t work because I really wanted Rey and Finn (the girl and black guy) to use it instead. Maybe if I only had one of them use it I could have slipped him in but having all three take turns would have just been stupid. He asked me if I had talked to George or read any of his notes. Dude, chill out. I got this!!


Dear Diary,

Rian Johnson (episode 8 director) called me and said he had some questions about the direction of the story so that he could figure out what to do in the next movie. He was all freaking out like bro “who are Rey’s parents? whats up with her flashback? how does she know how to do everything already? how did Maz get Luke’s lightsaber? who is Snoke? who are the knights of Ren? why did Kylo Ren turn to the dark side? how come he killed his dad? were Han and Leia shitty parents?” and all sorts of stuff like that. Honestly I was too high to talk or listen to his shit so I just held my beard clipper up the phone, said “what? I’m losing you” a few times then hung up the phone. Not my problem bro!


Monday, December 25, 2017

Review: Sex, Not-Sex, and Love by Pierce Timberlake

Sex, Not-Sex, and Love is Pierce Timberlake’s exploration of that one subject we can’t resist obsessing over. The inexplicable thing that we nonetheless spend endless time and resources attempting to explain... to each other... to ourselves. Timberlake treats the subject with the perfect balance of serious investigation with what is always lurking beneath: amusement. The essay is leavened perfectly with a subtle humor that never speaks its name yet is always present, trolling just beneath the surface.

As the title’s punctuation suggests, the essay is sectioned into three parts. The first part deals with the nature of sexual attraction, the second—the most intriguing of the three, and what I comment on in this review—attempts to uncover the source of sexual repression inherent in all human societies, though mainly focusing on its manifestation and source in the U.S.  Lastly, Timberlake ruminates on how love relates to its spirit animal, sex.

The launching point for the essay is something Timberlake heard from a friend which he calls “Mark’s Axiom.” I have it on good authority that he mis-remembered the conversation slightly, and can confirm that it is actually Mark’s “Corollary”—to an axiom regarding male sexual behavior that has been stated in many forms. In fact, this axiom is the very same notion imparted by the senior doctor who castigated the junior one for not giving a pregnancy test to a particularly homely female ER patient. As Timberlake relates, it is standard procedure to test any female patient for pregnancy before any other work is done because of the injurious complications that may arise from a particular treatment or medication if she happens to be pregnant. In the book, Timberlake substantially softens the language, though, again, I have it on good authority that what the crude doctor actually said was this:

“She's ugly, she's fat, she's a pig.  And that's why you didn't order the pregnancy test.  Listen!  For every pig, there's a pig f*#ker!  Always order the pregnancy test!”

And this concept is what was related to Timberlake by his friend Mark as an axiom that he phrased thusly:

“Show me the ugliest woman in the world and I’ll show you a man who’ll f*#k her.”

And then Mark’s corollary is this:
“Show me the most beautiful woman in the world and I’ll show you a guy who’s tired of f*#king her.”

Rest assured that Timberlake thoroughly sanitizes both the axiom and the corollary ...but I just thought you should know...

Timberlake begins his exploration of our apparent need to repress our sexual passions (to an ever-diminishing degree, one might argue) just where you’d expect: the Puritans. He goes through the list of all the usual suspects: religion, society, Freud’s wacky death vs. sex theory, all in scholarly fashion (though always we sense that tongue firmly in cheek). Each is eventually found to be unsatisfactory, and Timberlake concludes by offering to replace Freud’s death impulse as the opposing force to sex with a “restraint instinct.”

I tend to think that unrestrained sexual behavior is simply incompatible with an organized, healthy society. The orderliness of our civilization is built upon the nuclear family unit. I cannot imagine a society maintaining order if people randomly engaged in sex like the infamous bonobo monkeys. Our religious strictures (attempt to) constrain sex within marriage not because “God” ordained it, but rather, because the survival and prosperity of human society requires it, our “Gods” then demand it.

Of course, we have observed massive changes in our sexual mores in just the last few generations. It is not a stretch to say that the entire edifice of established norms of human relations has been flushed down the toilet, and if this is the case, we may be on the verge of finding out if human society can indeed survive if its sexual morals “progress” to those of the bonobos.

But of course, there is no real answer to be found to the mysteries of sex. The attraction between man and women ultimately defies explanation—as it should, in my opinion. I’ve spent my entire life trying to figure it out... to figure out women... and came to the conclusion that we are intended to be mysteries to one another. Ultimately, that’s what makes it work.

Sex, Not-Sex, and Love is an absolutely delightful read. I have now read all but one of Timberlake’s fine “meditations,”—as I refer to them. I found this one the most enjoyable of the lot.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

An Outsider’s Inside Look at Scientology

Marcus Clintonius

It was 1973. I was all of nineteen, definitely in what are called for some bizarre reason one’s “salad days.” In the past year I moved from home in Brooklyn first to Los Angeles to join some other ex-New Yorker compadres, and finally to San Francisco... by myself, with my life in one old suitcase.

I’d managed to get a job, under particularly seventies’ San Franciscan circumstances. I’d been approached by a gay man (practically a daily experience for me while living in the City at this time) in Union Square park who knew someone (of similar persuasion, it turns out) who worked at an employment agency. Following up on the lead I was able to secure an office job working for Union Oil.

The Union Oil tower was a famous landmark until it was torn down in 2005 to make way for two luxury condominium towers (Rincon Hill). It reigned over the at-the-time modest downtown skyline, and was a friendly sight greeting commuters as they embarked onto (or disembarked from) the Bay Bridge to or from homes in the East Bay. More than half of my working day was spent in that completely windowless tower, where old records were stored on tall dusty metal shelves. When records were needed to settle a customer’s dispute that went back beyond recent history, I was sent to find the necessary details.

Believe it or not, I had to pay a month’s salary to get this job. But that was standard practice for job seekers with no relevant local employment history — and especially for “transients.” When this was explained to me I had to admit that it made sense from the employer’s point-of-view. The previous decade had seen the “Summer of Love” migration of youths from all corners of the country... and some of them actually sought legitimate employment. They were called “transients” because that’s what they were. Finding a way to earn a living, some of them stayed. But most (probably) did not. I can sympathize with an employer having to pay for bringing a new hire up to speed only finding themselves in need of a replacement in six months. Still, I resented it. I was living pretty much hand-to-mouth.

As it turns out, I didn’t stay in that job very long either; but it wasn’t to continue my “transienting” ways — it was to get a better job.

My first residence in “the City” was a seedy hotel room in the Tenderloin district. I believe it was the cheapest digs listed in the classified ads of the SF Chronicle. (Was it really $60/week?) As soon as I saved enough bread from the Union Oil job I got my own apartment. I have very fond memories of that large studio apartment on Willard St. in Ashbury Heights. It was beautiful, and yes, with a (northward) view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

* * *

"The man who talks to plants"
During my first years in San Francisco I had many memorable experiences. I made some good friends, saw some great Grateful Dead concerts at Winterland, got laid a lot, even palled around with some hustlers and wannabe pimps; and hey — this was only my road game!

I also had a brief but fascinating experience with Scientology. It was during my first months there, when I was living in the seedy hotel on Post St. In the evening after work I would walk around the Union Square environs. At that time there was a Scientology church located nearby. They had their people on street corners inviting people to come in and “take a free personality test.”

Unlike most of the rubes that took the offer, I had heard about the infamous L Ron Hubbard (LRH) and Scientology. I even remembered seeing the front page of an English newspaper somewhere with a picture of a man holding a strange device with some wires connected to a plant. Headline: “The man who talks to plants.”

I don’t recall the precise provenance of my knowledge of Scientology — but I knew its nefarious nature. I knew that once you joined they never let you go. Specifically, that people who had some cursory involvement with it, no matter how brief, were relentlessly pursued; by phone, by mail, no matter which corner of the planet they traveled to.

So, I knew that one thing I would never do is give them a real name and address. And so, one evening, out of curiosity, I took up the offer, entered the Scientology sanctum, and took the “Personality Test.”

I should mention at this time — my “salad days,” remember — I was a pretty confident dude. Not only was I at the physical prime of life, I also count myself as blessed with a winning personality, above-average intelligence (isn’t everybody?), and in possession of a healthy emotional and psychological foundation due to being raised in a normal, functioning two-parent household by parents who loved me and taught me right from wrong.

I don’t remember the test questions, but I do remember thinking that they were very canny. On some of them it wasn’t at all clear which of the multiple choices was the “correct” answer. However, nothing prepared me for the shock of the results when they were showed me by my Scientology handler. The results were on a graph. My handler pointed to the line of my responses and coolly said, “Man, you’re kissing the bottom.”

Indeed, according to the graph I must’ve been a real loser. The line corresponding to my responses did indeed hover very close to the horizontal line at the bottom of the scale. What ensued was several hours’ worth of browbeating and back-and-forth between us as he tried to convince me how much I needed to take the $25 Communications Course.

I had made up my mind before even entering the place that not only was I not going to give my real contact information, I was not going to pay anything to take any course. I was there to find out as much as I could about Scientology because — it fascinated me.

I remember that as his pitch rolled on, and he was getting nowhere with me, the effort began to take its toll. He was tiring. It took some time but I eventually got him to reveal some things about himself. He admitted that he had tried many things. I don’t recall what exactly — perhaps “born-again” Christianity, perhaps EST, or maybe LSD, perhaps Hare Krishna, perhaps “Nam myoho renge kyo” chanting (which was a thing at the time) — but it was some list of belief systems that promised results for those lost souls in need of “the answer.”

To make a long story short, I eventually left for home, and Scientology did not fill another seat for a Communications Course that evening. I should mention that besides the one-on-one personality evaluation/sales pitch I also recall a group presentation that used charts and props to describe some Scientology theory of human behavior, how we seek ”affinity” at several levels of social organization: friends and family, community, nation, species, etc. They also explained some things about personal relationships; I recall something they called the “reach and withdraw dynamic.”

It was all pretty reasonable. There was nothing obviously objectionable. All in all, it seemed like a perfectly rational theory of relationships and the human condition. A theory, I mused, of which a thousand others could just as easily be constructed. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool Mrs. C’s second-born son.

I also got a taste of auditing on that first night. If you don’t know what auditing is, Google it. I was hooked up to an e-meter and briefly audited. The auditer asked me to think about everything I had done since waking up that day. Earlier in the day I needed a phone number. Since I was living in a hotel room, the only recourse was a phone booth (remember them?).

So I am now reliving that memory. I am in a phone booth thumbing through the phone book until I find the number I need. I must have neglected to bring a pen or paper, so I found myself tearing out the page I needed. At the moment I had this thought the auditer spoke up. At that thought the meter’s needle had jumped. He explained what happened, and that was the end of the demonstration. It was sufficient to convince me that auditing is indeed valid. Here’s what happened according to Scientology theory. I felt guilt at tearing out the page of a public phone book. I had done a bad thing, and I felt guilty about it. That act, the memory of it, created an “engram” which then lodged into permanent residence in my “Reactive Mind.”

The Reactive Mind sounds a whole lot like the subconscious, but if you wish to know more about the comparison between the two you will have to do some more Googling. I carry it as a badge of pride that I got my bachelor’s degree taking only one behavioral science course: Sociology 101. And indeed, upon taking it my suspicions were confirmed, and my disdain for the so-called “behavioral sciences” reinforced. But I digress.

Back to the Reactive Mind. The “Bridge to Total Freedom” is crossed by eventually extinguishing all the engrams in the Reactive Mind. This is done through auditing. The auditing is delivered in all the various and sundry courses and trainings that lead up to the state of “Clear.” One of the stated objectives of Scientology is to “Clear the planet.” That means to literally Clear at least 50% of the world’s population, at which time the Earth would become an infinitely better place to live, as the Scientology Clear-ed majority of the population would be in a position to mitigate and control the bad behavior of the minority non-Scientologists — the rest of the Earth’s population that hadn’t yet seen the light.

* * *

That evening was my initial exposure to Scientology. I don’t recall the circumstances, but somehow I became friends with several members of the Church. Of particular relevance to this story are two female roommates whom I’ll call Carol and Lynn. They would’ve been my age or slightly older. They were relatively new converts — not Clears or OTs (Operating Thetan). It was from them that I first heard what’s in the OT-III level “revelation” — Xenu and the whole sci-fi bit.

In retrospect, after watching Leah Remini’s show (Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, on the A&E network) I’m surprised that Carol and Lynn told me about this. First of all, they weren’t supposed to know (yet). But I guess in the rarified air of the Church of Scientology, rules get broken and it’s hard to resist sharing this “hidden knowledge” with one’s friends. Here I’m not so much speaking about Carol and Lynn sharing this with me (Lynn: “Xenu! He’s a bad dude!”), I’m talking about Scientology higher-ups who shared it with them. [1].

But you can find out all you want about Xenu from Leah Rimini’s show (season 2, episode 4, “The Bridge to Total Freedom,” to be exact) or just google “Xenu Scientology.” I will say a little more about Xenu in a moment. This is not the essence of what I have to reveal.

If you wish to build an organization, a metaphorical army (which is a good way to describe the Church of Scientology, by the way), which of the following conditions would most likely ensure permanent loyalty; that is, which of the following would be most effective in preventing your “soldiers” from ever deserting?
  1. Exclusiveness. Instilling a sense of unique superiority over outsiders that only comes from membership in the group.
  2. Financial rewards.
  3. Intangible rewards: making you a better person with a fulfilling life — the contentment that comes from knowing you are living life in the correct way, benefiting not just yourself but also others, as you serve the greater good.
  4. Invoking terrible and painful punishments for leaving.

Though Scientology employs all of these except for (2) — and (4) is certainly not advertised — none of these choices is the correct answer. Read on.

Of my two Scientology friends, Carol was on the path, taking courses. Lynn, however was not presently taking any course. She was stymied.  It wasn’t the financial cost that was the impediment. (Though the cost was, and remains, mind-numbing, it is not what prevents these Paduwans from proceeding to the “Bridge of Total Freedom.” How they find the money for books, courses and auditing costing thousands and tens of thousands of dollars — auditing can run as high as $1,000 per hour, according to Rimini — I’ll never know. Refer to Leah Rimini’s show for anecdotal details.)

Scientology would not let Lynn take the course.

Once I explain the reason for this you will begin to understand the diabolically brilliant nature of Scientology as an organizing principle.

During some conversation, perhaps during the course she had taken, Lynn had revealed that some member(s) of her family opposed her involvement with Scientology. Someone in her family had clearly done his homework and would not give their seal of approval.

Now, Lynn was not bound by what her parents, or brother or sister or whomever it was, thought of Scientology. She was an independent adult, and this was 1973, not 1873. She did not require their permission. It was the Church that demanded she get their permission. Lynn could not take the next course until she had removed her family’s opposition.

Think about that. That means Scientologists who have fully committed themselves to the “path” (formally, the “Bridge of Total Freedom”) no longer had anyone in their immediate family who might be in a position, at some future time, to pull them back out if/when they become disenchanted. There was no longer any outside support system to turn to — they had already been convinced that Church involvement was fine, or they had been cut off by the Scientologist.  

* * *

I have nothing further on my two friends Carol and Lynn. I lost touch with them when I moved out of the Tenderloin — but I have more to tell.

Because of my friendship with Carol and Lynn I was able to volunteer at the Church. In retrospect it strikes me as sloppy security that they allowed someone to infiltrate so easily, but they did. While volunteering I got to observe several interesting (and remarkable) events. At one time while doing some filing I was able to observe a session of that very Communications Course I had worked so hard to resist enrolling in. The students were paired up across a long narrow table. The exercise was for one of each pair to say nasty insulting things to their partner across the table.  The partner’s job was to resist responding. Then they switched. I remember thinking at the time that it was a brilliant exercise; a stretching of normal interactions. I liken it to practicing free-throws from the top of the key so as to improve one’s shots from the free-throw line. If you can manage interactions at the extremes of behavior, normal communications would be that much easier. I could see how the Communications Course was probably really quite good.

On another occasion I managed to observe a presentation of self-auditing given by someone who had crossed the “bridge.” This guy was so advanced he could audit himself! So, he’s sitting up there on a raised platform auditing himself and suddenly breaks into laughter. He recounts that he just had a past-life memory of falling off a horse, in medieval times.

Did I mention that once someone has had their Reactive Mind cleared, they still may have to work on the Reactive Minds of their previous lives? Yes, reincarnation is firmly part of Scientology theory. Those that sign up for duty on the prestigious “Sea Org” sign a contract for — wait for it — one billion years. No lie.

* * *

An aside about this ability of Scientologists to access memories from past lives:

This facet of the cult’s behavior is actually instrumental in explaining something that defies rational explanation. Namely, when Scientologists reach OT-III and are shown L Ron Hubbard’s ridiculous grand space-opera revelation, how can they possibly buy into it?

In a nutshell, here’s the big reveal: 75 million years ago, Xenu, the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy,” brought billions of his people to Earth in spacecrafts very similar to DC-8 jetliners, dropped them into volcanoes and then blew them up with H-bombs. But their spirits are immortal, and they adhered themselves to ... us, and are the real source of all our psychic problems that actual cause the engrams in our Reactive Minds. Or something. 
Bear in mind that these Scientologists have spent upwards of several hundred thousand dollars up to this point.

Tony Ortega, in his July 2012 Village Voice article, posits that the reason otherwise rational people can believe this is because they have already bought into “space-opera” stories — the ones they have themselves discovered in their self-delusionary auditing sessions. It should come as no surprise that with such far-fetched concepts already in the environment, people will quite naturally want to believe that they themselves were important people in their past lives. Hence past-life “memories” uncovered during auditing often involve events on other planets, including situations where they played pivotal roles in cosmic battles and such. According to Ortega, he knew of six Scientologists who believed they were Jesus Christ in their past lives.

Given that state-of-mind, believing in LRH’s big reveal about Xenu may in fact make perfect sense to them. Ortega is right.
For more info about Xenu and everything else Scientology, go to www.xenu.net, and be sure to read Ortega’s excellent Village Voice article.

* * *

And now a word about the actual work I was asked to do there while volunteering. Remember several passages ago where I said I knew about the infamous tactic of Scientology tracking down errant recruits who had left the fold? Well, that’s what I was tasked to do. I was told to go through their files and record the names of people who had not been contacted in some specific period of time (which I don’t recall... maybe a year or something like that). Those names would then be given to someone who would dutifully do their best to track down their whereabouts and reestablish contact, presumably by letter or phone call.

In the files I would see previous letters written to them. They were cheerful letters inquiring why they’d been out of touch? They would usually include some friendly comment about some item specific to the individual, such as “What did you think of the Communications Course?” or perhaps some message about something in their personal life.

While in those files I found some notable names, such as members of the Grateful Dead. I specifically recall seeing Robert Hunter’s file, and I can’t be sure about the others, but I know I saw one or two of the boys: Jerry, Bob, Phil or Billy.
* * *

And so ends my anecdotes. I will leave you with one last observation. That San Francisco Scientology office occupied several floors (at least two). It was always bustling with activity. All of the people had this unique science fiction-ey look in their eyes. It was scary. If you’re thinking now of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or some similar movie about a possessed population, you’re not far off the mark.

The classes that I observed, the clever exercises drills, all served to mold the minds of Scientologists. I remember having the impression of training people to operate at 100% efficiency, to be able to focus 100% of their mental activity to any task assigned them. A super effective human being — a “super-soldier,” as it were.

I left my little clandestine subterfuge with the sense that the Church of Scientology might be many things — cult, extraordinarily lawyered up criminal enterprise, winner of Best Bait-and-Switch Scam in Galactic Sector award for 43 trillion years in a row, an insane science-fiction author’s fantasy come to life — but it most definitely was not something to be laughed at.

# # #

[1] Tony Ortega, “Why do scientologists accept the Xenu story?” Village Voice. 21 July 2012 https://www.villagevoice.com/2012/07/21/why-do-scientologists-accept-the-xenu-story/  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Who Controls the Gun-Controllers?

By Julian Edgens

In America we believe governmental authority comes from the consent of the governed, a concept that is meaningless if that consent cannot be revoked. If government has a total monopoly on force, then it's very easy for government to disallow the revocation of consent.

The 2nd Amendment, and the constitutional debate surrounding the Bill of Rights, makes clear that the purpose of prohibiting the infringement of the right to armaments is for just such a reason. The arguments against any standing federal armed force make it clear that it was they who the founders were worried about on this issue, not the common folk.

Of course, things have changed, and technology has accelerated greatly, meaning whereas in the past the army had access to comparatively tame firepower (black powder weapons), they now have access to missiles, drones, tanks, aircraft, and a high level of organization never foreseen in 1787 (though they were leery of any standing military). Civilian armaments cannot compete; even in just the area of infantry weapons, all but the most basic military weapons are banned or highly regulated. Clearly, if we're going to update the law in the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, by any standard civilian access to arms has fallen behind.

There are some who will, no doubt, point in horror and disbelief that anyone could say something so heartless after an event like Las Vegas. Don't I know that someone used a machinegun to murder a crowd of people? Yes, and we have already seen that miserable harpy use this as an excuse to call for the continued banning of suppressors, which has nothing to do with anything. The gun debate is punctuated by examples of evil people doing evil things, followed immediately by emotional calls to "do something." But we have seen in Europe that even a functionally total ban on firearms has done little to prevent mass killings.

"But don't you know that guns make it worse?" Perhaps, perhaps not. It certainly seems that way this time, but it didn't when Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City. If he had decided to open fire from a bell tower he might have murdered fewer children. But such things miss the point. Banning guns in America is literally impossible for a host of reasons. Even if Congress passed a bill banning guns and the President signed it tomorrow, there would be major changes in how we operate as a country, but terrorists and deranged individuals intent on murder would still be there and they would still be able to accomplish their goals through other means.

Even if it were possible to eliminate all guns and to prevent all violence by terrorists and maniacs, there is another even more insidious threat: government violence against its own people. The 20th century should put to rest any doubts about this. Unchecked governments can and have killed their own people, and in staggering numbers. The estimates for the 20th century put the number of dead at over 100 million innocents.

So now we've come full circle. Do we truly want "dangerous liberty" or "peaceful slavery"? Even someone who knowingly chooses peaceful slavery might be shocked to find out being peacefully slaughtered is still in the cards. If you're defenseless, it always is.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Microaggressions, Institutional Racism and Other Faith-based Tautologies

Julian Edgens

"Microaggressions" and "institutional racism" are both responses to the incredible dwindling of racism in America over the past century or so. Both are the result of those who thrive on combating racism or who gain meaning from their status as victims of racism not being able to point to enough obvious or compelling examples thereof. Both are what you might call "invisible" or "faith based" racism — racism that you can only see if you know where to look and have enough faith that it's there. They are of the same root as the hoaxes we have seen lately, where nooses or swastikas, etc. have been found to have been created and displayed by the very people who they are supposed to be directed against.

A microaggression is something that someone does or says that is taken as racist by an observer. It "reveals" that the person is secretly racist and pretty good at hiding it; or that they do not realize they are racist. The idea is that objective analysis of the thing done or said can't be definitively proven to be racist — otherwise it would just be called racism. But in the mind of the offended, this only reinforces just how insidious and genius it really is and how "blind" or "ignorant" someone really is if they can't or won't see it. Of course, literally anything anyone has said or done or will ever do or say can be taken this way if someone has decided to, because it is based entirely on the perception of a third party. Observation in the field shows this to be the case — I'll bet anyone who has had a political discussion on the internet with a lefty regarding race has seen countless examples of this.

Institutional racism is the same idea, but applied to statistics instead of an individual case. The beautiful thing about statistics, of course, is that they can be used to prove anything as long as the right information is examined and, just as importantly, not examined. Institutional racism takes any set of data that purports to show a disproportionate negative impact on racial minorities and then concludes that the cause is racism. No further analysis needed. Again, I'm sure anyone who has had a political discussion on the internet with a lefty will have seen plenty of examples.

Sadly, the left will use any of the above, declare that they win the discussion, and that if you don't agree you are sadly ignorant and/or the Enemy. There is no arguing with them, because anyone who seriously cites microaggressions or institutional racism as if it is evidence that's worth a damn has renounced reason.

The saddest part of all of this is that as the left froths at the mouth against white people and all this "racism", it encourages everyone to actually be racist — minorities because they are told they are constantly under attack, and whites because they are told everything they do is evil — that they actually are evil and there isn't anything they can do to change or absolve themselves of it. The left's desperate need to fight racism is actually creating more racism from both sides. That's a real tragedy because there are many awesome people of all skin colors who get lumped in together when we judge people based on... their skin color. Just one more example of why the left as a movement is morally bankrupt.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Yes Virginia, Antifa and BLM are Worse ...

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” 

—George Orwell, 1984

Yes Virginia, Antifa and BLM are Worse ...
Mark Charalambous

Since Trump had the audacity to mention that the “other side” at Charlottesville was “also very violent,” he’s accused of implying a moral equivalence between the white nationalists protesting the removal of Civil War monuments and the protesters that greeted them with clubs and rocks. He is guilty of the capital crime of “insufficient condemnation of Nazis.”

Politicians and political pundits elbow their way to the public square to proclaim their loathing for Nazism, denounce Trump, and prove their fidelity to the herd. 

We are now in the midst of an orgy of virtue-signaling. I am reminded of the scene in 1984 where the sheeple assemble in a propaganda hate-fest directed at Emanuel Goldstein, reaching catharsis after an orgasmic crescendo of mutual hate for the leader of the resistance movement.

Perhaps to preserve this moment of mutual admiration for our moral purity we should declare a new national holiday ... to ensure that “Never again will there be another Charlottesville”?

I propose “Virtue-Signaling Day.”

This continuous exercise in self-righteous collective moral masturbation can only be explained as a tremendous release of pent-up energy. The pressure had been building since the start of Trump’s presidential campaign.  It reached the boiling point when he won, and just needed one bona fide event of right-wing extremism to blow.

Alan Watts beautifully expressed the Buddhist existentialist notion of “now-ness” when he said “This moment is exactly what you’ve been waiting for!” I offer this slightly less profound abstraction: Charlottesville is exactly what the Left had been waiting for—and with a fatality to boot! 

How dare President Trump imply a moral equivalence between Antifa and Black Lives Matter and... Nazism?

Granted, the Unite the Right rally did include bona fide racists chanting anti-Semitic slogans, replete with their silly flags and regalia. But what kind of actual threat is really posed by the KKK and neo-Nazis today? The last neo-Nazi rally I remember hearing about occurred in 1978 in Skokie, Illinois. It was only newsworthy because they were defended by the ACLU. Alright, so maybe just because they average two marches every 39 years, maybe that’s ‘cause they wield so much power in the institutions of government, academia, the media, and the entertainment industry that they don’t need to hold rallies. Or maybe their real power is hidden—the nefarious man behind the curtain—pulling the strings of the dupes in government and industry, anxiously awaiting that “Order 666” signal to be given so they can dispense with the charade and take the reins of power.

Or maybe they are a tiny minority of ineffectual clowns, with no power anywhere but in their own “castles,” mutually reinforcing their own illusions with their secret handshakes at their secret meetings.

Where is the threat of white power? Where is the college professor that casually mocks Hillary Clinton in the classroom during the presidential campaign, assuming that no one in the room would object? Where is the Congressman tweeting her wish for the assassination of President Obama?  Where is the college professor tweeting “Let Them All Fucking Die” in response to a shoot-up of a black crowd by a white nationalist?

Where is the rabid gang of Young Republicans shutting down a university to protest a speaking engagement by a transgender rights activist?  Where are the Hollywood awards celebrating movies that criticize sexual deviancy, Islam, or the appalling degree of violence in black communities? Where are the calls for the extinction of the black race?

In case you’ve been living on Pluto for the past few years, these scenarios all have real-life analogues, but with left and right-wing antagonists reversed.

Back to that “moral equivalency.”  Racism and discrimination (under the law) are unquestionably un-American. But, it hasn’t always been so. In 1787 not only was slavery legal, but the voting franchise was restricted not just to men, but to men who owned property.  So when we call things “un-American” we have to be careful to qualify what we say to account for the evolution of our values and laws over time.

What about the “other guys”—meaning Antifa and Black Lives Matter? Let’s measure how consistent their values are with American principles.

These groups both have a track record. There is no uncertainty about what they do. For the past two-plus years the antics of these groups have been plastered across the news—for those willing to watch. Antifa has been the main instigator of the various riots at several college campuses. They embrace violence as a legitimate tool.

Antifa haven’t been protesting actual Nazis or even so-called white nationalists. They have been disrupting the speaking engagements of conservatives who have the audacity to challenge their worldview. People such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, and the criminology scholar Heather MacDonald. None of these people advocate for white nationalism, let alone Nazism. They simply disagree with the standard victim-feminism, black-victimization and Islam-is-the-religion-of-peace narratives. And it goes without saying that given the opportunity each of them handily destroys those tropes, which is why they have to be silenced.

So what exactly does Antifa oppose?  It opposes the very concept of the US as a sovereign nation. One of its slogans is “No nations, no borders, fuck deportation.” That’s why they’re often called anarchists. But that’s not all that’s on their short list. They oppose free speech—freedom of thought itself. And free speech is foundational to what is considered “American.” It’s enshrined as the first of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. It takes a back seat to no other freedom. It is the fundamental liberty, without which all others are meaningless (apologies to Second-Amendmenters).

So, quite frankly, there is no moral equivalence between racism and the threat posed by Antifa. Antifa stands in violent opposition to foundational American values. Antifa is the greater threat. It is by far the greater evil.

With respect to Black Lives Matter, that other equally violent pillar of the Left’s “Resist” movement, they stand accused of the very thing they ostensibly oppose: racism. They hate whites, the cancer of the human race, who need to apologize for their whiteness and pay reparations for their crimes. Borrowing the “privilege” meme from that brilliant victim-feminist thought contagion “male privilege,” whites are ordered to “own their white privilege” and denounce it.

This latest incarnation of black empowerment calls for segregation—in college dorms, graduation commencements, and now even in college freshman orientations. BLM has openly called for the killing of cops (“Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon”), and the call is heard and answered. Sixty-four cops targeted and killed for being cops last year. Blacks are taking “community solutions for restorative justice” into their own hands.

BLM have also been instrumental in the disruptions of conservative guest speakers on the campus. They too, openly flaunt their rejection of free speech—for whites.

And what power is wielded by these left-wing groups? Are they impotent, like the white nationalists? Hardly. Local authorities and college administrators alike cower in compliance to BLM demands. Hollywood lionizes them. Politicians step aside to give them their podiums. The mainstream media bends over backwards to avoid criticizing them. It’s deny, minimize, then rationalize. And remember, the news correction that comes later (if at all) is quickly forgotten while the original “errors” live on as long as they lend credence to the narrative. And there is no correction for that most powerful of journalistic biases: omission. Just don’t report it. So while Fareed Zakaria refers to ISIS terrorists as “warriors,” the media put “Free Speech” in quotes when reporting on the Boston Free Speech Rally the weekend after Charlottesville (despite the fact that the organizers distanced themselves from white nationalism and invited speakers from both the Left—“true liberals”—and Right).

Since the Trump campaign began in June 2015, the Academy has made a mockery of free speech. How ironic that the birthplace of the Free Speech movement in the sixties, UC Berkeley, was the scene of the worst protest of them all earlier this year when Antifa, BLM and other barbarians successfully prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking. Chanting “Hate speech is not free speech,” they set fires, threw Molotov cocktails and smashed windows at the Student Union building where the Breitbart editor was scheduled to speak. Not confining their “protest” to the campus, they also vandalized shops off-campus.

And since “domestic terrorism” has been brought into the conversation...

Violence and threats of violence against civilians?

... with a political objective?

Can you be more specific?
Sure. Conservatives are targeted with violence to make people afraid of expressing their opinions if they aren’t in agreement with the politically correct “progressive” positions of the Left.

There is no question as to which of the two sides in the “battle for Charlottesville” is the most dangerous and poses the greater threat to the Republic. On the one hand is a group chanting “The Jews will not replace us,” who have no support in any segment of society—and on the other we have the mob. The barbarians who proudly proclaim their intolerance for any viewpoints that challenge their militant left-wing orthodoxy. The faithful zealots who fan the flames of racial animosity and openly embrace violence to silence any “infidels.” And yet it is these who are sanitized by the media and enjoy popular support.

The great danger is that the mob has the approval of the media, academia, Hollywood... all the institutions of society that frame the issues and shape public opinion. Who stands against them? Apparently only the alt-right.

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