Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Report

There is an art to screwing up and covering up.

Collateral Damage


Deploying Assets

Evil is drab.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eating Charlotte

The bears have a plan and a menu.

The Contract

In a web where nothing but money matters, it's easy to hire a posse of bounty hunters.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ave Maria - Schubert

This is my Christmas card to all of my friends. I produced a version of Ave Maria by Franz Schubert.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Virtuality Uber Alles

The hubris of the machines... and the meat that programs them. All Hail Virtuality! Resistance is... pointless.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Do You Want To Be President, Sarah?

These are a blast to make.

So when will someone finally build something this much fun and this easy to do with
X3D? We created HumanML precisely for that. Now...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beautiful Boo

My wonderful ever beautiful daughter, Kelly Rene.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AROMA Party: Famous Modern Witches

Because our Constitution both separates church and state and protects freedom of religious expression, the AROMA Party must support the practice of witchcraft. However, an uninformed party is a party of ignorance as has been proven by past and current administrations; therefore, it is required that a study of examples of modern witchcraft be conducted.

Given there are many varying witchcraft sects just as there are sects of every modern religion, we feel it necessary to obtain authenticity, this being the hallmark of modern studies and much pop culture. So we go to the Devil, the original object of this religion to inquire as to the basic tenets. The Devil was happy to quote from a prayer he says states the ultimate goal or witchcraft:

The Devil: "... give us the power to trample the remnants of Christianity that are left in this world."

With this as our test, we present quotes from alledged practicing witches based on their own public remarks to determine which actually are practicing or have turned pro.

Christine O'Donnell: “Yes, I have my personal beliefs, and these questions come from statements I made over fifteen years ago. I was in my twenties, and very excited and passionate about my new-found faith. But I assure you my faith has matured, and when I go to Washington, D.C., it’ll be the Constitution on which I base all of my decisions, not my personal beliefs.”

Editor's Note: It seems her cheekbones have matured as well.

Bill Maher: “Let's face it; God has a big ego problem. Why do we always have to worship him?” The Bible looks like it started out as a game of Mad Libs.”

Editor's Note: News reports that Bill Maher is blackmailing Ms. O'Donnell to appear on his television program lend credence to the reports that a civil war has broken out in hell.

Richard Dawkins: “A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to atheism. Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.”

Editor's Note: Apparently it doesn't occur to Professor Dawkins that women might be Christians. It is a meme that escaped his Oxford education.

Emma Watson: “I feel like a voodoo doll. It's grim. It's gross.”

Editor's Note: The uncanny resemblance of Dawkins and Watson is well noted and may be used as evidence of the need to protect their basic right to self-adulation.

It's worth noting at this point that the concretely polarized thinking that leads one to post photos like that is not really fun, not really constructive politics, and is what leads to lunacy. We'd do well to take it seriously and consider just how fast and destructive a bon fire burns dry tinder before lighting it to drive the "base' to the polls.

  1. Religions loosely termed witchcraft DO run the gamut from pantheism to Satanism. All of them are protected under the Constitution.

  2. Critics of religion such as Dawkins, a man who give a TED talk asking for financial backing for his activist atheism do not broadly critique religions but target Christianity. They do this likely because of the politicization of Christianity by the Bush-era political operatives who used evangelical Christianity to drive voters to the polls.

  3. Even humorists from Bill Maher to Jon Stewart are in the same camp as Rush Limbaugh when it comes to attempting to label political demogoguery as entertainment and promote their end of the political spectrum. While some are mild and some are extreme, the corrosive effect is the same.

For almost four decades political operations have been using the politics of rage in America cynically and divisively in pursuit of political power. In doing this American politics have become polarized and incoherent in the SAME ways that we often criticize countries in the Middle East. Religion is becoming a weapon and in a country where separation of church and state is a fundamental structural choice that enables the most freedom possible, this is destructive.

We do well to consider those that are doing this as unworthy of our political choices. We have serious problems and while we can treat them with a humorous perspective, we should beware of using that perspective to advance the agendas of those for whom such freedoms are personally intolerable. That way lies chaos and failure to govern wisely in accordance with the traditions of tolerance and respect that make America a great nation and a world leader.

Monday, September 20, 2010

AROMA Party: Religious Bounty Hunters

Maybe we should give religion a rest and talk about sharing the spice before we end up as worm food!

Join the AROMA Party! A good nose doesn't need a media rebreather.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

AROMA Party: Economic Platform

The National Headquarters received the following from the AROMA Party Florida Chair regarding our economic platform:

Point of disorder, motion on the floor: I propose that the Economic Program of the Aroma Party be called by its Right True Name:


Resistance is optional, but will be terminal.
Submitted on Sept 7, 2010 in the month of the Plucked Virgo. JTMc - AROMA Party Florida Delegation Chair

After some not so cogent but distracted discussion, the motion from the Florida Chair is inanimously adopted. To wit:

Principles of Futilitarianism

  1. Given the economics of integerless investment where we can reckon the value of the gleam in the eye of the investor and derive unprincipled value from this, savings are futile, so the sensible act is to spend it all as fast as you get it. This is summarized by the phrase: Get It While You Can.

  2. Investors in the current economic structures of fractional currencies where the more we spend, the less we have and the more we make the more we need shall be called by their philosophically correct term: Slaves.

  3. Hope in a better future is contrary to the goals of Futilitarians. Since the eventual end of all things at any scale is entropy, cold dishwater on the barnacles of human existence, Futilitarianism captures the essence of the last declaration of the major philosophy of Futility: Why Bother?

Goals of Futilitarians

  • If our party comes to power, we will immediately spend resources to create a world wide web of despair, gloom and dissolution. This shall be known as The Futility Grid.

  • Futility Grid subscribers will be provided with free accounts but will be required to donate to the party any and all intellectual properties which they have in their possession. This ensures no good idea will be realized that reduces the overall value of the Grid. This is in accordance with the Why Bother Principle (See Above).

This list of principles and goals shall be expanded as received from AROMA Party members unless such principles and goals conflict with the lists above.

Monday, September 06, 2010

AROMA Party: Interview with the Devil Part 3

News Anchor: Tonight, we broadcast our final segment of Angelica Fulsome’s interview with the Devil. Tonight we hear why things are the way they are from the point of view of the most evil intelligence in the universe.

(in a comfortable chair, dressed in a low-cut short dress, perfectly styled, Angelica confronts The Devil dressed in fire and The Gap).

Angelica: I see you came dressed for a show

The Devil: I see you did the same.

Angelica: I dress professionally for the occasion.

The Devil: So do I.

Angelica: But you are the Devil. Do you just make up an appearance depending on the show? More precisely for the church? Are you different for different churches?

The Devil: Yes. But isn’t religion just theater, a show of lights, ritual, pomp and circumstance?

Angelica: Surely it has more value than that.

The Devil: Does it? How many wars are spiritual wars fought in the name of religion? Isn’t the very spirit of this time one of conflict among religious people?

Angelica: I don’t think so. I think people believe differently and fight about that, but we should respect all religions.

The Devil: How can you do that and not contradict yourself? Can they all be true?

Angelica: That isn’t reality.

The Devil: Isn’t reality a show? Is this image you see in front of you real or unreal? (Devil produces a Five dollar bill). Is this real?

Angelica: Of course. That’s a five dollar bill.

The Devil: What is it good for? Can you eat it?

Angelica: Well, no. But I can buy something to eat with it.

The Devil: I’m like money. I’m created out of nothing and have no value. Nothing buys a lot of evil.

Angelica: How?

The Devil: Nothing from nothing gets nothing. With debt. Make enough of them and evil is certain. Gaps.

Angelica: But I have to work for money.

The Devil: Do you? I think you work for debt. You work to service debt. Debt rises as more money is created. Interest increases it more. You have to work more to pay more and if you don’t, the bank will take back what you bought and mistakenly think you own. There is always more debt than principal. The bank always provides more debt and the biggest bank prints more money. It is only real in the books. It is a book of gaps. Only the creator can create ex nihilo, excuse me, from nothing. If you service the gaps, you serve… Me. You are my slave. Well, practically speaking, I’m nothing. You work for my minions.

Angelica: Minions?

The Devil: The other golfers. They are my administration. My managers. And practically, your owners.

Angelica: Why them?

The Devil: I corrupted them with power, property and more than that with the belief that the values they are raised with, given as children, are inherently right, worth dieing for, worth conquering others to perpetuate. But even that was not possible if they had not been gap-filled. Where one would find concern for others, they substitute money and tell themselves they will use that to help others. Then they go play golf and trade the money among themselves, small bets on their businesses, on the game. They have that fatal flaw your philosophers call hubris: that they can behave as gods. They can only imitate them and in doing that, they create more gaps, a bigger lie. They behave like me.

Angelica: How does this continue?

The Devil: They convince you that it is in your best interests to buy those shoes, a half size too small. They convince you that if you buy those shoes they will pay you more and you can buy more shoes, all a half size too small.

Angelica: And if I choose not to buy a half size too small?

The Devil: (Laughter). Miss Fulsome, look around you. You are surrounded by competitors happy to buy them and my minions will see to it they get your job. You will mess up your health to improve your social status. You will accept any painful act to make it to the top. You will humiliate yourselves even deny yourselves the most wonderful ecstacies. Look at the conservatives of any religion you can name. The first thing they do is convince you good sex is evil but bad sex is necessary to procreate. Then you have to teach your children the same warped stuff except they figure it out and for a few years, have a good time. Then they become ambitious to get ahead in life and that requires them to be guilty about their pleasures so they will fit in. So they forget about good sex in the marriage and begin to cheat to have it. Good is bad. Bad is good. How can anything I make up be more evil than that? No wonder you like war so much. If I were you I'd want to kill you too. Religion is the conveyor belt of emotional hang ups.

Angelica: Yet you support religion.

The Devil: Oh, yes.

Angelica: Any in particular?

The Devil: All of them.

Angelica: Are some more you nemesis than others? Certainly some are not corrupted by your… minions.

The Devil: None. Don’t confuse religion with spirituality. Religion is a show, a parade of lights, sets, songs, sayings and so forth. Religion is coercion. It is how doctrine is infused into the young and old, how what is presented becomes what is believed.

Angelica: So the bigger the show, the greater the corruption?

The Devil: No, not at all. To each according to their needs and from each according to their gifts, isn’t that the saying? You think it is religion vs evil. It is good vs evil and evil is very lazy. In fact, I distribute minions proportionally according to the rooms. Statistically.

Angelica: So if there are ten worshippers, three are devils?

The Devil: Well, not exactly, but something like that. The job is not to crush the good. The job is to corrupt the good. Do you remember the movie, “Becket”?

Angelica: I think so.

The Devil: The advice Becket gives describes it … perfectly: "A good occupational force must never crush. It must corrupt" Evil isn’t something one religion has and the other doesn’t. Evil is like buttered bread; best served when spread from edge to edge. I can corrupt with an idea as easily as money as long as that idea does not serve your best interest and the interests of those close to you. I can corrupt your beliefs with your beliefs if your goal is to preserve those beliefs when they no longer or even ever were in your best interests. Religion can be good or evil like law. It is really a question of good vs evil.

Angelica: Why is it if you are so powerful with so many minions you haven’t crushed goodness altogether?

The Devil: An excellent question: an empty vessal is aware of its emptiness or it cannot be a vessal. Even if there is no there there, there is there. That is the power of locale. The closer you get the more there you are and where you are matters more than where you are not.

Angelica: How is that possible?

The Devil: Who cleans my house?

Angelica: You said, “Brownian motion.”

The Devil: And Brownian motion is?

Angelica: I looked it up. Brownian motion is the random movement of particles suspended in a fluid. Dust?

The Devil: Dust ‘in motion’. As long as it is moving, it is changing and as long as there is change there is the possibility of order emerging from the randomness.

Angelica: And you wish to stop that motion.

The Devil: Wish it? Maybe sometimes. Others of course not. The power of locale also enables elites to take control of resources and stop change. It's all just coercion. If you are coerced to do something against your best interests to belong to a group like a religion, then good for evil. If you are coerced to do something in your best interests, then good for good. As for me, I am nothing and how does nothing stop something in motion. No, the best I can do is to make you unaware of it, to distract you with shoes a half size too small so you will be perpetually uncomfortable, to be in pain. I make you suffer and that distracts you enough so that even if you occasionally consider the spiritual, you dismiss it quickly because well, it doesn’t get you new shoes and without new shoes, someone else will get your job. Then where will you be?

Angelica: Barefoot?

The Devil: And hungry. But potentially spiritual. So I see to it you have enough to be distracted, and always hungry for more.

Angelica: And if I am satisfied?

The Devil: You aren’t thinking of voting for Gene Simmons are you?

Angelica: No. I’m told that is just a rumor.

The Devil: Alrighty then, let’s see to it that it remains only a rumor. A distraction. If you ever consider that you can affect that random motion, then it can be ordered. You can make that change.

Angelica: Not God?

The Devil: You have to pick the change. You have to desire it.

Angelica: And that desire?

The Devil: Is spirit. This is what I and my minions work to keep you from realizing: awareness is spirit, it is the motion of the universe, the engine of change from which comes… order.

Angelica: What causes the motion? Light?

The Devil: No. Light enables you to be aware of the motion. The motion begins with the very smallest things that you cannot see and builds up as the small gathers into the large until you can see it. As long as things are divided instead of whole, there are gaps and the gaps become imbalance. The very tiniest gap causes the very tiniest thing to move in the direction of the gap. Very small motions move ever larger things.

Angelica: Then light is not spirit?

The Devil: No. Light enables spirit to be aware of itself.

Angelica: How is this possible?

The Devil: I don’t know. God gave rock n roll to you?

Angelica: A gap then in the knowledge of evil?

The Devil: A gap in evil’s knowledge of good.

Angelica: And where there is no motion?

The Devil: The dancers fall down? (smiles) There is only cold. I am very much a fan of cold.

Angelica: (Sneeze!)

The Devil: Bless you!

Angelica: You are…

The Devil: Am polite. Politics. I invented politics. I am the perpetual candidate. If politics is the art of getting funded to preserve the status quo, then it is the game where you trade-off information for money. As the campaign contributor, I give you money to keep you comfortably uninformed. Think of it as DementiaCraft. I know it makes you mad. The madder you get, the more demented you act.

Angelica: I don’t get that. You will run for office?

The Devil: No. I don’t have to. All of the parties run against me. Pick any party. Eventually they demonize their opponent. Their consultants tell them they have to to win.

Angelica: And the consultants…

The Devil: Are mine. Body, soul and Beamer. And to get the money…

Angelica: They play golf.

The Devil: (Smiles) In tight shoes.

Angelica: So you always win.

The Devil: Sadly for me, no. I lose more than I win.

Angelica: I don’t see.

The Devil: Well at least you see that. If I always won this planet would be a frozen ball of ice like Mars. I won there. Here, no, look around you. Isn’t this a perfectly beautiful day? Are you hungry or cold? Are your friends well? Are your pets fat? No I don’t always win.

Angelica: Why not? You play all the games, you control money, you control the people who have the power. Why can’t you just blow it all up? You’re the Devil.

The Devil: Because you keep filling the gaps. Sometimes with mortar; sometimes with brick; sometimes with learning, with imagination, with laughter, with love. Community, communion, common union. Love.

Angelica: So eventually, it will be alright?

The Devil: No. There is no eventually. There is now. Here. Cold or warm. You think of good and evil in pure local terms as if you still believed the Earth is the center of the universe of the entire realms of existence. Yet you look into the sky and see thousands of stars and you know it isn’t so. Your scientists can look even further and haven’t found the end or the beginning of it. Do you think those are not also realms of good and evil? Of warmth and cold.

Angelica: I don’t think about it.

The Devil: You should sometimes. It will give you perspective. Let me give you a thought: if you were able and you knew your Sun were going to explode in say, a thousand years, what would you do? Party or begin to work on a way to leave Earth?

Angelica: Where would we go?

The Devil: Somewhere else. You might not know but would you try?

Angelica: I suppose.

The Devil: Every night your scientists look at the sky with powerful telescopes, they record an exploding star. Every night. Do you think perhaps one of those a year has a civilization like yours with people who want to live, who will risk the darkness and the cold to find another home?

Angelica: Perhaps.

The Devil: Now, there are uncountable numbers of stars and galaxies. Where are they going?

Angelica: Where it’s warm?

The Devil: Are you cold yet?

Angelica: No.

The Devil: Live then. Enjoy the warmth. You never know.

Angelica: Do you have a final word of advice for our viewers?

The Devil: Good advice?

Angelica: How would we know the difference? You’re the Devil.

The Devil: (laughs lustily) Quite. That I Am. Try this: if a man has a monopoly on the solution to a problem, he will defend the problem.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

AROMA Party: Interview with the Devil Part 2

News Anchor: Tonight, Angelica Fulsome gives us a tour of the Devil’s Home on Earth revealing His Evil intimate side. Angelica, what did you find most interesting in the Devil’s House:

Angelica: His collections. They are very large.

News Anchor: He must keep a large staff.

Angelica: Not even one. That’s why they’re interesting.

News Anchor: Alrighty then. Let's get this Dust Devil to market. And now, Part II of Interview With The Devil.

(Camera zooms to an empty lot in Lickskillet, Alabama.)

Angelica: Do you really live here?

The Devil Yes, well this is as good a front door as any. I live everywhere there is motion, something happening.

Angelica: Why Lickskillet?:

The Devil: Nothing happens here. I can relax. Isn’t that what home is for?

Angelica: I see.

The Devil: Do you? Really?

Angelica: You said you were divorced.

The Devil: 45 centuries last Christmas.

Angelica: Who lives with you?

The Devil: No one. I want to relax at home. Kick back and watch some ice hockey. Try not to mind the all-at-onceness of being eternal, at least, locally.

Angelica: Then you do your own cooking, laundry, and house cleaning?

The Devil: No, well, not really. My meals cook and deliver themselves. Reality is extreme take-out. My clothes were made by the creator who made me. They stay clean. My house cleans itself. Brownian motion. Nothing but me stays in one place long enough for dust to collect and even dust stays clear of me. I’m the Devil. I don’t occupy space. I’m nothing in time. Where everything is happening all at once, nothing is too. I never get involved. Time is my home court, not space. In Time, I win every game.

Angelica: You always win in time. Why?

The Devil: Gaps.

Angelica: Huh?

The Devil: (Twisting an invisible door wheel) Try to count silence silently.

Angelica: I can do that.

The Devil: Really? Definitely a six. Cameradude, stay put.

Cameraman freezes in place with camera running.

The Devil:Cameras don’t work in my house. Light doesn’t go there. (to cameraman) I’ll send you some footage close enough for cable. Ok? Ok. (to Angelica) Please, come inside.

(suddenly inside)

Angelica: Where are the fires of Hell, the the…

The Devil: Dammed?

Angelica: Yes

The Devil: I don’t live where I work, sweetie. Too much …emotion. Too… real. And that’s not what I do anyway. Monks made that up freezing in their little rooms barefoot and barebottomed wishing for fire and denying it to themselves to get closer to God. Fire? Too much work. I’m a lazy. Cold is my game. All that time their self-denial of even the basic requirements to stay healthy was bringing them closer to me. Ultimate take-out.

Angelica: How do you know who goes where?

The Devil: In Hell? I told you. Shoe sizes. Push a bit here a bit there it looks organized but it’s really quite random. It’s real torment to be five stuck among a crowd of 2s and 7s. But here, perfect order. 3s, 5s, 7s, 9s, 11s, 13s popping in and out like a swarm of black bees flying toward you. No 8s, 4s, or 6s, though. Don’t need ‘em.

Angelica: No ones?

The Devil: One is me. I’m the major one here or in hell. I’m the Devil. The real genius, I must say, is I don’t have to judge.

Angelica: Judge? You mean judge who are the worst sinners?

The Devil: No. I don’t care about sin. In a universe where a rock the size of Texas can obliterate you at any moment, that human beings worry about The Devil’s opinions of their indiscretions is one of the big jokes. When not playing golf, I watch your history on cable. It’s the best comedy ever. No, I mean I don’t actually pick who is tortured the worst.

Angelica: Who does?

The Devil: You do.

Angelica: How?

The Devil: It’s whoever wears the tightest shoes. You’re a six. You’re feet are a six and a half.

Angelica: Are you the enemy of life?

The Devil: Yes. Life fills the gaps. Then I’m the one in the tight shoes. Would you like to see my collections?

Angelica: I guess.

The Devil: Guess?

Angelica: Certainly.

The Devil: A six. A six.

Angelica: Didn’t you say there are no sixes here?

The Devil: I did. Indeed, I did.

Angelica: Then how…

The Devil: To be with me you must be other than me. All of this is me.

Angelica: I see.

The Devil: Do you really? C’mon then. Let’s go see my soul collection. The first are the unprepareds. They created gaps by thinking about how they would be perceived instead of what they would need to perceive others.

Angelica: The handmaidens who did not remember to bring the oil for their lamps.

The Devil:You know the story.

Angelica: I heard it on the radio driving up here.

The Devil: (looks up with wry smile). Unfair…. the next are the smugs. They create gaps because smugness closes the ears. If you had not listened to the radio, you wouldn’t know the story. And no matter WHO told it (looks up), you wouldn’t hear it.

Angelica: But I did hear it.

The Devil: And you came with me anyway. And here are some of my favorites: fools for fortune.

Angelica: The greedy?

The Devil: Not all. Those who know a fortune is needed for a foolish desire in life and they spend their life getting both. Nothing creates gaps as large as the success of the undeserving. Are you cold?

Angelica: (pulls her sweater) No!

The Devil: Alrighty then. Here are those for whom I have the most dispassion: the Atheists. They are the most complex because they are the unprepared, smug who spend their lives defending the most indefensible of arguments: the negative. These I treasure because they defend me assiduously, give their lives, their emotions, their dreams and ambitions for others to my defense. . I on the other hand, look back uncaring, unwanting, unchanged. I am not moved, yet generation after generation, they send their children into the community of man to defend me.

Angelica: Do you need defending?

The Devil: No. I am impregnable by means of logic. Only gap filling acts can break down the walls of randomness. Something from something for something or nothing if that’s what you have. So for my collection, they are the greatest fools. (The Devil puts one of the collection in his mouth and strips it like a chicken leg.) Hmm… Kung pao. And you are cinnamon.

(Angelica looks at him wide eyed and trembling).

The Devil: Can you count silence silently yet? Breathe.

Angelica: inhales a sharp short breath

The Devil: Would you like to leave? You appear quite cold.

Angelica: Yes.

(fade to news room)

News Anchor: Quite a chilling piece. Angelica, did he say of his collections which he was working on these days?

Angelica: Shoe salesmen.

News Anchor: Alrighty th… (chokes… clears his throat). Chinese. Come back tomorrow night for the final installment of Angelica Fulsome’s Interview with The Devil.

Friday, September 03, 2010

AROMA Party: Interview With the Devil

News Anchor: Tonight we have an interview with one of the most elusive and powerful personalities on this planet or any other. Tonight, investigative reporter, Angelica Fullsome will provide the first of our three part series: Interview with The Devil, Angelica, what was your feeling about this interview?

Angelica: At first I was very frightened but when the Devil accepted the invitation and insisted that I join him at his favorite golf course in the Hamptons, I was intrigued by the idea of coming face to face with the most intelligent evil force in the universe.

Anchor: And did you come face to face with him?

Angelica: (blushing) Not face to face.

Anchor: I see, well alrighty then. So here is the first part of our three part series, Interview With the Devil.

Camera zooms in on a casually dressed clean but overweight fat balding man reclining in a lounge chair next to the pool overlooking the golf course.

Angelica: May I call you The Devil?

The Devil: Of course, but my friends call me, Henry.

Angelica: Henry?

The Devil: It’s a family name.

Angelica: Oh, there is a family? Is there a Mrs. Devil?

The Devil: Divorced. 45 centuries now, but we stay on evil terms for the sake of the kids.

Angelica: And how many children are there?

The Devil: How many sides does the coast line of Britain have?

Angelica: Four?

The Devil: Right…. Went to Harvard didn’t you?

Angelica: Yes. Does it show?

The Devil: Not much.

Angelica: Do you have a mother?

The Devil: I’m not sure. I know I have a creator of sorts.

Angelica: A creator?

The Devil: Of course. Everything has a beginning. Even the Devil.

Angelica: Then let’s get right to it.

The Devil: Maybe later. Interview first.

Angelica: No one wants to go on the record about you? They seem to be afraid of you. Do you know why?

The Devil: D’oh. I’m the Devil.

Angelica: And people should be afraid of you, is that it?

The Devil: I suppose although if they got to know me, they’d fear me less.

Angelica: Why?

The Devil: I’m really lazy. The other guy has the hard job looking after all of you, keeping you out of mischief you bring on yourselves mostly. It’s full time and over time up there.

Angelica: And down here?

The Devil: I play a lot of golf. All of my staff does. It keeps us in shape for things to come. I don’t like to mix with the people. Too emotional. Golf courses are demon’s home, their hell on earth, so to speak.

Angelica: Do you play any other sports?

The Devil: Not me, but some of the lesser demons are most of the National Hockey League in America and all of the New Jersey leagues. Did you think the New Jersey Devils were locals or just Canadians?

Angelica: I see. So if you don’t mix much, to what do you attribute your reputation?

The Devil: Gaps.

Angelica: Pardon me?

The Devil: Not likely. God leaves gaps. I’m the god of the gaps.

Angelica: Can you explain that?

The Devil: I can but you won’t understand it. You see, your one of those intelligent types. You’re all about being positive, being right. You’re positive God is Good, and I’m Evil In fact, God IS good.

Angelica: And you’re NOT evil?

The Devil: Of course I am. I’m the Devil. I’m just not there when you need me. That leaves gaps.

Angelica: Would you give me an example?

The Devil: Sure. Let’s take this golf game. I’m waiting for a famous basketball player. World renown athlete. Wins at everything except golf. I can beat him at golf. Heck, you can beat him. Why? Basketball players are too tall to play golf. They can’t swing without bending over so they have terrible form. Golf is a game of short people. Gaps.

Angelica: I don’t understand.

The Devil: Right... Ok, let’s say you live in Alaska. Fairbanks in summer has 20 hours of sunlight a day. Until you force yourself to do it, you stay awake. A lot. Alcohol sales in Alaska are six times what they are anywhere else. So Alaska makes you strong or it kills you. Gaps.

Angelica: So does that explain…

The Devil: Sarah?

Angelica: Yes.

The Devil: No. She is perfectly adjusted to the climate of Alaska. On the other hand, America can’t adjust to her. They can’t understand a woman like that. Gaps.

Angelica: Does anything trouble you?

The Devil: Shoe sizes.

Angelica: Shoe sizes? Why?

The Devil: They keep changing. Every year the manufacturers adjust the standards for shoe sizes. Bugs me to high Heaven. You see, to keep up with ingress, I have to have a place in Hell for everyone predestined, scheduled, mapped out, you know, like it or not., arriving COD, the Cold Ordinary Dammed. What's the use of standards if they keep changing?

Angelica: And you do that with shoe sizes?

The Devil: Sure. I’m a lazy devil. I don’t want to stuff people in so tight that they fall apart. That would get them out of hell before my folks have time to torment them to my satisfaction. So we allow just enough room for their feet. They can stand up but they can’t sit down. I use shoe sizes to make the calculation. When they keep changing, I have to keep adjusting and there is only so much Hell per capita. It’s irritating.

Angelica: So you keep up with everyone’s shoe size?

The Devil: You’re a six.

Angelica: What?

The Devil: Your shoe size. It’s a six. Right? Of course, and yeah, I’ve got a spot for you already on the map. Don’t get your knickers in a twist? You’ve got a few years and a few more hit pieces to write. Would you like a drink?

Angelica: Yes, can I have a martini?

The Devil: Sure. Anything but pomegranate.

Angelica: Why pomegranate?

The Devil: That’s a secret.

Angelica: Are you planning a run for the Presidency?

The Devil: Absolutely not.

Angelica: Why? You could do tremendous evil with that kind of power.

The Devil: You journalists are so naïve. A six. Definitely. Look, first, the last five Presidents have inflicted more torment than I could possibly inflict being as lazy as I am. Second, what makes you think the President is all THAT powerful? Look around you here. See those guys teeing up? They are all international bankers, hedge fund geniuses, oil executives and Ben and Jerry. Remember, I said we demons play a lot of golf. They have real power. The President, every Senator, every Congressman, heck every used car dealer has to come play golf with those guys to get the money and they have to do it every day. As a result, they never get anything else done. That provides a lot of torment for the dollar and all we have to do is play golf. Well, except for the car dealership owners. They sell the latest designs and we keep making more room for indeterminate shoe sizes. Automation is the real killer app.

Angelica: Toyota too?

The Devil: Toyota too. Our top designers.

Angelica: I see. Is there anyone beyond your reach?

The Devil: Gene Simmons.

Angelica: The rock star? He’s the image of evil.

The Devil: Exactly. The image but not the fact. He doesn’t drink or smoke or cheat in business deals. He likes beautiful women and his queen is a really smart one. Guys like that can’t be tempted. I assigned a full team to work him over every day and he turned it into a hit reality TV show and made even more money. Talk about beating the Devil. A few more like him and I’d have to give up golf and work at this.

Angelica: Who do you admire in the music business then?

The Devil: Bob Dylan

Angelica: The folk singer.

The Devil: Sure. He’s my Man. Can’t sing. Looks crazy. Writes stuff no one can understand. I mean, except for Lay Lady Lay, who has sex listening to Dylan? Lay Lady Lay was banned from the radio. So, no one. And… (in low tones) my chief disciple is his biggest fan.

Angelica: You mean?

The Devil: Shh! Don’t even say his name out loud. It confuses people who think it’s a Republican campaign strategy. Keep that on the down low.

Camera fades to anchor desk.

Anchor: So our worst fears are confirmed.

Angelica: If you believe him, I think so.

Anchor: And do you believe him?

Angelica: (looking disconsolate) He said he would call.

Anchor: Alrighty then. Come back tomorrow night when we air part two of our three part series, Interview With The Devil.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

AROMA Party: Potential Candidate?

Ed Fishy, political analyst for the Washington-based Demon Examiner reports that the AROMA Party is in secret negotiations with multi-millionaire rock star, Gene Simmons to be the AROMA Party candidate for President. As yet unconfirmed, the Fishy Report stated:
"It makes sense. Simmons is a self-made man, megastar and multi-millionaire capable of financing his own campaign just as Meg Whitman has. Ever since Ronald Reagan proved that it was possible to run and win with an unqualified entertainer, campaigns such as that of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sony Bono have followed. Simmons would be the next Jewish Rock Star and family man to toss his wig into the ring."

While there have been no comments from either Simmons press representative or AROMA Party spokespersons, a former member of the K.I.S.S. road crew said the following on deep background:
It sounds like something Gene could do well. After all, this is a guy that doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, convinced a Playboy centerfold to live with him for all these years and raise two stellar children out of wedlock, yet wears a shining metal codpiece and kabuki makeup... and actually plays his own parts on the records. Gene's a real American success story. I can totally see it.

The Examiner will be following this Fishy tale as it is told.

Monday, August 30, 2010

AROMA Party: FBI Field Report 19-082910

FBI Field Report 19-082910
SUBJECT: AROMA Party Party Surveillance

On August 29, 2010, Special Agent Dagne Horowitz received a tip that members of the AROMA Party were conducting an unscheduled meeting at the home of an unregistered party member. Arriving in separate cars (see Appendix for make, model, licenses), they entered the home of Daniel Moz in the early hours of the evening. During the evening, surveillance showed the party members were studiously comparing the unedited and unaired satellite feeds of the Glen Beck organized Return to Honor gathering on the National Mall in Washington DC to a showing of "Mars Attacks", a failed Tim Burton film.

During the evening, party member April Merryweather went to a local food market. She returned with a bag or pomegranates. The reason for this is as yet unknown. A background check of the market employees is underway at this time.

Friday, August 27, 2010

AROMA Party: Effective Universal Symbols

Political correctness has become a burden to candidates and campaigns. As soon as a label is created, it is immediately, itself, labeled. The N-Word, the R-Word and of course, the Q-Word have been eliminated from all polite conversation.

As a result, it has become impossible to correctly and effectively assign values of combative opposition and this interferes with the nature of the contest and the context as realized in modern American politics.

The power of a political party is reckoned by the effectiveness of its message. Therefore, the AROMA Party chooses the Flying Fickle Finger gesture as the way to inform any candidate of which we disapprove the measure of our disapproval of their policy, dress, manner of speech or personality, or choice of locations for conveying any or all of the above.

In times past this gesture, also known as the Hawaiian Good Luck sign in smaller circles of political prisoners, has served as a way to let the other party know that they may sit on it and rotate. It being impossible this side of an elementary school playground to forbid or prevent its usage in impolite conversation, we believe this to be a sensible solution for insensitive party members there being no other type of conversation in American politics.

UPDATE: This decision can be summarized as "Two hands in the bush ARE worth one bird."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AROMA Party: Campaign Finance Reform

With the ever rising costs of running for political office including the need to scuttle the campaigns of the strongest opponents, spying on the weakest ones to ensure a reliable scandal in the last week before the election, paying off former lovers, paying the staff salaries of current lovers, and ensuring the jogging clothes of the candidate are the best the Chinese designers can offer, it is important to reform the election laws to reduce costs wherever possible. Only this will ensure that the winner represents the American people fairly and honestly.

After conducting surveys of insightful citizens of the Gaslight district in Vancouver, British Columbia, the AROMA Media Committee reports that the one source of expense that can be eliminated from American election is advertising on cable TV News networks. The committee summary is as follows:

There has been much criticism of FOX News and its English and Saudi Arabian investors. While it is true that Fox is a fascist right wing tool, CNN has become the old friend who's constant sleights and critiques make one realize they harbor bitter jealous resentments and are best avoided. MSNBC is a neurotic spouse who is a closet alcoholic in need of therapy. ABC News would be best viewed through a burka, and no one is watching Katie Couric anyway. By contrast, PBS is a good and patient friend who delights one with surprise and comfort.

When compared with PBS which broadcasts one hour of focused news coverage a day and the rare but informative Frontline special it is easily discerned that the cable TV networks are fast becoming the most expensive source of information in the modern election cycle. Not being a profit center, PBS does not have to recruit young deeply cleavaged leggy reporters with short skirts over crossed legs and pouty expressions to add faux credibility, pay outrageous wardrobe costs for fat aging loud political pundits with thousand dollar coiffures to hide their bald spots, nor fill up a 24x7x365.221 air time budget with barely disguised social engineering for issues which only matter in districts of candidates whom the investors in the network favor.

One hour in 24 dedicated to a focused effort to present the day’s events with ten minutes allowed for all sides to present their viewpoints should be enough to stomach before moving on to a repeat of ANY Burns special or investigation into ancient technologies found among the ruins in the Bolivian highlands. The main supporting argument is that PBS is already a voluntary public sponsored news source with some government funding and therefore meets most of the requirements proposed for public funding of campaign advertising.

The AROMA Party will work vigorously to eliminate cable TV news in favor of PBS as the sole beneficiary of campaign advertising budgets. This will ensure that Bill Moyers has the necessary revenues to fund true investigative reporting and that we may finally discover the truth about the alien vampire civilization that predates all Mezo-American civilizations at the time of the Pleistocene extinctions.

Monday, August 23, 2010

AROMA Party: Campaign Poster

It's time for real change: a change of heart.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

AROMA Party: Net Neutrality (Position Paper)

An important feature of the net is that it not restrict through traffic in any way that favors the traffic by type. This is a fundamental of net design and its applications to commercial enterprise. Restrictions on bandwidth are the core problem. Therefore the following has been established:

The issue of Net Neutrality with respect to bandwidth usage can be best resolved through standards for bandwidth. Therefore, the band cannot be so large as to enable dolphins or tuna to pass freely through the net, nor so small as to restrict the passage of minnows, coral reefers or other smoky cod not yet ready for harvesting.

Note: This resolution is not to be confused with broadband, a topic of some concern among 70’s girl bands such as Heart for whom bandwidth is a serious problem. The AROMA Party is insensitive to this issue.

ADDENDUM: The following resolution has been submitted by an AROMA Party member at large. The chair has it on good authority that he will no longer be at large shortly.

  1. Let it be moved that Aromatic is the Official Language of the Aroma Party since Aromatic is the language of common scents.

    • People! Wake up and smell the Kool-Aid! Join the Aroma Party!”

    • “Hey Snifter, can you paradigm?”

The Resolution Committee rejects Resolution 1 as

a) The term ‘aromatic’ is reserved as the name for AROMA Party memberships and the RC does not consider ambiguity a sensible state of affairs similar to South Carolina.

b) The role of Snifter is acceptable for those seeking a state of affairs but is reserved for the former Governor of the State of South Carolina and the former Governor of New York.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The AROMA Party: Position Statement - A Transparent Solution for the Near Enough Islamic Cultural Center

The AROMA Party has carefully studied the positions of other parties deliberating the so-called, Mosque On Ground Zero, aka, the Near Enough To Start the Fight Cultural Scenter. With his usual firm commitment to a course that neither defends nor offends, presumes or resolves, or otherwise provides a sensible solution to a sensitive problem, President Barack Obama said Saturday that Muslims have the right to build a mosque near New York's Ground Zero, but he did not say whether he believes it is a good idea to do so.

Whatta guy.

The following reflect the mainstreams of sensitive thinking on the topic:

"At its essence, our position is about sensitivity. Everyone -- victims, opponents and proponents alike -- must pay attention to the sensitivities involved without giving in to appeals to, or accusations of, bigotry. Ultimately, this was not a question of rights, but a question of what is right." – Abraham H. Foxman

“New York City's mayor welcomes the mosque.” Spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg

"The mosque should be built some place else," Speaker of the House Harry Reid.

"President Obama has this all wrong… Freedom of religion might provide the right to build the mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero, but common sense and respect for those who lost their lives and loved ones gives sensible reason to build the mosque someplace else." Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene of Florida

Given these hardwinded positions, the AROMA Party provides a sensible solution with its trademarked and patent pending insensitive approach. Adopting a strategy used by the Russian KGB during the construction of an American Embassy in Moscow, the AROMA Party platform position can be summed up in one trendy and often abused word


Because the positions of other parties are based on the groundless zero sum fears that such a center will enable ‘triumphalism’ for the Islamic hard right wing, and yet must be a center of faith, understanding and global acceptance by the hard left wing, the center fusilage must be constructed to endure the buffeting of the harsh winds of criticism, radicalism, racialism and anilihilism. After long and serious deliberations at the gay bar three doors upstream of the proposed construction site, the AROMA platform committee hammered out, hammered on or was simply hammered while sawing the following plank:

We resolve this issue by committing the resources and funding to the construction of a web-enabled transparency system for the center. Every room, every window, every closet and every bathroom will be equipped with state of the art cameras, microphones, and enhanced-see-through-your-underwear equipment. A web cast of all conversations, assignations and liaisons will be provided 24x7x365 to the globe. No effort in our time will so enable understanding of the inner workings of the Islamic faithful.

As with our Canadian Express solution, this is sensible, insensitive and a jobs program for our recovering economy. As such, funds from the Department of Homeland Security will be targeted, umm… reassigned to support this project. We expect the full and complete cooperation of the Federal agencies assigned to ensure full transparency of actions taken in the Cordoba Center.

AROMA Party Platform: Immigration - The Canadian Express

The topic of immigration along the southern borders of the United States has for too long bedeviled the Congress and the Governors of the States affected by undocumented immigrants pouring across these borders in ever greater numbers. The Aroma Party takes the position that the current situation exemplifies intolerance while overwhelming the resources of the affected States. However, there is a solution which is both fair and eminently sensible:

The Canadian Express.

According to WikiPedia, Canada is a

country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area. Canada's common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.

Archaeological and Indigenous genetic studies support a human presence in the northern Yukon from 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario from 9,500 years ago

Canada’s indigenous population was decimated by diseases brought by the white European settlers who now dominate this ancestral home of the Meso-American culture.

With a population barely the size of California, vast open unsettled territories rich in mineral resources and the primary exporter of oil to their southern neighbor, with the major metropolitan area steeped in multi-cultural nightclubs and languages, with lax drug laws and a porous border, undocumented immigrants will be able to take immediate advantage of the free health care systems, share in the enormous wealth and continue with their current business models with less interference from the government. Long a home of free thinking liberals who have enthusiastically supported human rights, offered sanctuary to those fleeing the oppressive society of their southern neighbor, Canada is the ideal immigration destination.

The AROMA Party supports the establishment of the Canadian Express. Illegal and undocumented immigrants fleeing the violence of the drug cartels, and simply families who wish to establish a better richer more powerful presence will be offered free comfortable transportation and per diem to travel to and settle in the marvelous and tolerant land, the land of their ancestors, Canada.

A Mari Usque Ad Mare

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What The Pundits Are Saying About Aromatism

"At last...a political party that makes scents!” – The Tango Times

“Insensitive but sensible!” – Poor Richard’s Picayoon

“Can’t have this. Colbert and I will be out of business!” – The Jon Stewart Show

“Well… maybe.” – Diane Sawyer, ABC News,

“A conspiracy of Moe, Larry and Curly nyuks” – The Washaton Yost

“If this catches on we may have to relight Hell!” – Demon Gazette

“There’s no loon like a left loon.” – Press Secretary Gibbs

“WTF???” – Keith Olbermann, MSNBC

“That’s CRAZY!” – San Francisco Examiner

“:)” – Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

"It could be a movement... or just gas." - Harvard Medical Review

“Who ordered pizza?” – Pizza Hut

The AROMA Party Founder Interview

Q: Is the AROMA Party a Big Tent Party?

A: No. We are insensitive to the weather, natural or political.

Q: Does the AROMA Party endorse special interest concerns, and if so, which ones?

A: No. We don’t find them interesting.

Q: All of them?

A: Any of them. Why discriminate?

Q: I don't understand.

A: Of course you don't. That's why they're special.

Q: But surely there are issues which concern you or why would the AROMA Party exist or be worth joining.

A: Of course there are issues that concern us. We simply aren’t sensitive about them or the special interests of others. We are insensitive but the issues that concern us are ‘sensible’. That’s another way of looking at the Aromatics: they are the ‘sensible’ voters. We only concern ourselves with issues that concern us.

Q: Why “Aromatic”?

A: Because Aromacrat or Aromacan aren’t real words. That’s insensible.

Q: So you believe that American politics today stink?

A: Don’t you? But not just American politics; politics and politicians should be subjected to the smell test. Have you ever been in a room full of them when they are debating issues like health care? Whew!

Q: I see your point. But doesn’t that mean you are sensitive to smell?

A: Not at all. Just offended. Buy Mennen.

Q: Ok. Turning to another topic: religion.

A: Turn away. There is no field on our membership form that asks about religion.

Q: So you are atheists.

A: Not at all. I’m a Devout Backslider personally. Our treasurer is a Hindu. Our campaign chairwoman is Baptist. We have Catholics, Sufis, Muslims, Buddhists, you name it. The difference is we don’t allow any of our members to be sensitive about that.

Q: Uh huh. Race?

A: Sure. Pick the course, but I’m not a good runner.

Q: No, I mean any policies about race politics?

A: None. There is no field on our membership that asks about racing. You can be for NASCAR as long as you aren’t sensitive about who wins the Daytona 500.

Q: No, I mean, race discrimination.

A: I think one of our local captains is a Rusty Wallace fan. We just ask him to be quiet about it.


A: Not at all. But a green shirt on a green screen does make you look like a floating talking head. I guess that’s ok if that’s ok with you. It’s a bit creepy. Might scare the kids.

Q: What about gay marriage?

A: Everyone should be happy.

Q: So you are for same-sex marriage?

A: Isn't it always?

Q: Always what?

A: The same sex.

Q: (frown) No. What is you position on homosexuals being married?

A: In the center and slightly upwind.

Q: HA! So you are uncomfortable with gay marriage?

A: Oh No. No, I was the ring bearer.

Q: (sigh) Do you have opinions about undocumented migration?

A: Lots.

Q: Would you care to elaborate?

A: Why? Do you need a hall pass? I know a guy…

Q: Aaggh!! What about anchor babies?

A: Be sure you have a smaller boat. I can get you some Sugar Babies.

Q: Errmmm… maybe later. Let’s talk about you.

A: Ok. That's sensible.

Q: You are the founder of the party, yes?

A: That is correct.

Q: What led you to found the AROMA Party?

A: Facebook.

Q: Facebook?

A: Yes. You see I have friends who like Brewer and Palin but also friends who like Brewer and Shipley. I couldn’t have them at the same party without a fight breaking out unless of course, Shipley got there first and then everyone sort of nodded off. Quite boring really. Then I remembered something my first boss at CSC said about being tired of managing everyone’s ‘delicate sensitivities’. It hit me: that’s why nothing gets done in government. It isn’t corruption; they’re really practiced at that. It isn’t the different parties; they go to those all the time. It’s that everyone is so damm sensitive, they were always calling each other names like racist, fascist, or bigot, or ho’, or Pennsylvanian.

Q: So you decided to start a party without labels?

A: We have labels at our parties. We peel them off Bud bottles for fun and stick them on the bottom of bar tables. What we don’t have are people who are sensitive about being called names. We don’t get upset if someone snubs us because we don’t look like them or go to their church, temple, synagogue or mosque.

Q: Sounds sensible.

A: It really is and sociable too.

Q: So how can you be insensitive and sensible?

A: That should be obvious, but let me give you an example of insensitive and not sensible. Say you bring dirty dishes from the dining room in to where your wife is washing dishes. She says, "Dishwasher" and you hand the dirty dishes to her.

Q: That's insensitive.

A: And not sensible.

Q: So what would be the sensible move?

A: Leave them in the dining room.

Q: (groan) Will you be putting up candidates for election?

A: We certainly won’t be putting them down.

Q: Medical marijuana?

A: Yes, please.

Q: Aren't you concerned about the pot in the hands of kids?

A: I'm concerned they won't share.

Q: That's irresponsible.

A: No, that's insensitive.

Q: But is it sensible?

A: We don't want to steal it from them. That would be rude.

Q: (deep sigh). Well then, thank you. It was very stimulating.

A: If you insist.

Q: Can you validate my parking?

A: No. But there is a nice motel down the road.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The AROMA Party: Proud to be Insensitive

After 46 years of sensitivity to one special interest after another, I'm as sensitive as a sun burn and peeling fast. I will now be insensitive, brutish, chauvinistic, piggy, outright ignorant and obtuse.

Today I am announcing the founding of a new political party: A Rash On My Ash, also known as the AROMA Party. Our motto is: The Nose Knows!.

My campaign headquarters will open this week so send all of your surplus money to me. I promise to represent everyone:

  • Who was left out of the bailout but included in the tax audit,

  • Who can’t find a job or a bar showing local sports,

  • Who isn’t being sent on a tour by the State Department or LiveNation,

  • Who paid more in taxes than the undocumented immigrant down the street,

  • Who lives in a sexless marriage at least when he or she are in the same bedroom,

  • Who voted for the loser in any election only to watch the winner break every promise made while getting rich doing it,

  • Who can’t get a cab or a decent bowl of grits in Hoboken,

  • Who thinks teaching same sex positions to fifth graders is too much too soon and that’s what the Internet is for anyway,

  • Who can’t cross the border to have a baby or a better life,

  • Who bought health insurance only to have it canceled the day before the cancer diagnosis was confirmed,

  • Who is sure their current representative in Congress or their union is a corrupt jack ass but voted for them anyway because they seemed to be the smartest guy or gal in the room,

  • Who can’t understand why paying an extra half-grand for a Mac or iPhone that does the same thing as a PC or a Blackberry is a cool thing to do,

  • Who gets out of bed and drives to work in a Dodge with windows rolled down in the heat while the boss texts orders from an air conditioned Hummer on his iPhone,

  • Who thinks having the Bank of England in charge of printing US currency is running the American Revolution in reverse,

  • Who believes a mosque on ground zero is the same as a Confederate flag hanging in Ford’s Theatre,

  • Who is fed up and mad as Hell but has to keep taking it anyway to send a kid to a school that teaches them everything America does enslaves the rest of the world but won't accept the tuition in rupees, Euros or Loonies,

  • For that ever shrinking number of old white guys who can’t even pronounce Dos Equis much less be interesting,

  • For the squibs, the nerfs and the furries,

  • I shall, cross my smart ass and hope to fly, spend you money wisely … in Sweden. And remember, if you think this smells, it probably does.

    I thank you and God Bless the local auto parts store and Burger King who let us have it our way.

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Confessions of a Fence Sitter

    When you realize that half of your friends like Brewer and Palin and the other half like Brewer and Shipley, you know why you can't throw a party and invite all of your friends. That's what Facebook is like.

    Every day I watch the mounting number of cause solicitations and think they are getting even more annoying than the Farmville Send Me A Donkey's Kong messages.

    Here's Common Cause, voice of the Coffee Party:

    "Please, Help Free Manning and defend WikiLeaks!"

    "But he gave out classified information that's getting our friend's killed? Isn't that de jure treason? Assange called our soliders 'bastards' and said he wanted to 'crush them'."


    So much for inciting civility.

    The Stop The Nonsense! Save the Mosque on Ground Zero crew:

    "You have to show tolerance."

    "But isn't building a mosque on ground zero like building a Confederate War Memorial inside Ford's Theatre?"


    So much for inciting compassion and understanding.

    We'd all like to get along and have a good time, but as any nightclub owner can tell you and social media theorists claim to have discovered, some cliques should never be mixed. It isn't that they can't tolerate each other; they don't want to. Their opposition to each other is what defines them, makes them feel a part of something greater than themselves even if that something is less than fully human.

    Meanwhile the White House is facing the very real possibility that after bailing out Wall Street while Americans lose jobs and sueing the State of Arizona while undocumented immigrants come to the US for free health care in the emergency wards, they may indeed be a historical but one term presidency.

    In the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"

    As a Southerner growing up in Alabama, I thought the words to Kumbayah were "Come by, y'all!" Imagine my surprise when as an adult I read the Gullah translation to discover they actually do mean "Come by here".

    That at least is ... comforting. If we all sing it, Arizonans have to tolerate illegal immigrants and New Yorkers have to tolerate that mosque near the spot where three thousand people were murdered. We are a great nation. We tolerate everything.


    There is a wonderful movie making the rounds: Agora. It stars Rachel Weisz and tells the story of Hypatia of Alexandria. The story is about the burning of the libraries and the murder of Hypatia, the librarian as the Christians, Jews and pagans vowed for power and dominance while the Roman Empire fell around them. It seems I have to wait until it comes out on DVD in October because the movie is unwelcome by the American movie distributors who fear it will offend Christians and Jews. Pagans don't count. Meanwhile, years after the Pope asked the Saudi royals and the Yemenis to allow Christian churches in their countries for the over million Christians there, they are rebuked.

    So much for open mindedness and freedom of expression. But we are The Good Guys.

    In the 70s we were up to our hips in Iranian and Saudi students who told us as soon as they got home they would overthrow the Shah and kick us off the peninsula. We smiled thinking of course they wouldn't do that. Imagine our surprise when announcing intent indeed proved to be the best predictor of future behavior. So while the Germans are closing the mosque in Germany where the 911 attacks were planned because the members are collecting funds and planning for future attacks while the Taliban kills ten medical team members for "spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity", the Mayor of New York is telling the New Yorkers to be 'tolerant'.

    We want to be. We do. It's just that past announcements of intentions to destroy the West once and for all keep being released from alQaeda known to raise funds in American mosques. This may not be one of those but who do we believe? Should we bend over backwards to understand or submit to the feeling that some people will screw us in any position we take? Sophisticates tell us that is paranoia but they also told us the Ayatollah could be trusted, the Saudis and Pakistanis are our allies, and tobacco didn't cause cancer.

    They also claim Dylan is a good singer. Ok, that one was hokey on the face of it but it's right up there with Apple Supports Open Source. Ya gotta wonder.

    One can't stay on the fence or pick a side to climb down. It seems one has to walk to the end of it and jump to the next back yard. But truth is often stranger than fiction and just when you think you know which side someone is on, well, you see this. Roll another one, Lawrence.

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    The Face of American Racism

    Eric Holder of the Department of Justice announced today that racism in the American Grizzly population has reached intolerable proportions and that suit will be filed to redress this sickening development. "This legacy of hate and violence against the human race as evidenced by the desire of these animals to attack and consume humans is not in keeping with the high aspirations of the American public or our administration." The bear currently incarcerated in a Montana bear cage had no comment but her representative stated that she expects to be vindicated when the full accounting of the incident leading up to this miscarriage of justice is made public.

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    Anonymity and Blizzard

    There is a minor tempest stirring about Blizzard exposing real identities in their forums removing the customary anonymity. It seems to upset women the most. They don't want to be treated differently for being women. Somehow the hypocrisy of that escapes them but one can counsel those who as Duran Duran said in Barbarella, "... find horrible the idea that one could do to me that which I do to others." In other words, if you are in a game where bad behavior is the norm, you're supporting bad behavior and accept that is what you are supporting or get out. The dustup over the Streamy's this year is an excellent example of what happens when 'wink-wink' suddenly bursts out of the privacy of production rooms and into real-time. Then those promoting that behavior get caught up close and personal, and the time for cute protests are over. You made the bed, as they say.

    Some time ago I made it clear that anonymous postings would be o-filed here at LaMammals. Why? People used anonymity to cause harm for political and work reasons. Since I couldn't filter fairly, I decided the best policy was a transparent one that was easy to implement.

    I understand better than some the problems of a real public personna, yet I've pretty consistently followed the rule that I won't use pseudonyms and if I am in an environment where a pseudonym is assumed, I think the better course is to get the hell out of that environment.

    Do you require a face mask to go ice skating? A public identity at a public event is assumed. What is it about gaming on a public server that requires anonymity? You can’t choose who you ice skate with in a public rink but the dangers of someone taking an inordinate interest in you there are likely higher than in a game. Will people track down an ice skater? They certainly will and have. Should the rink be held responsible? Certainly not.

    This brouhaha says more about gamer culture than civil rights. Marketing wise, it may not be wise because when targeting a demographic for a sale, one usually doesn’t try to cure them of say racism along with the sale. On the other hand, providing a room where people in hoods and robes can come and freely commit acts of racism is frowned upon and likely the owner of the establishment would find themselves party to a legal action.

    Is a game forum diffferent from such a room?

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    General Stanley McChrystal

    General McChrystal offered his resignation and it was accepted. He was not fired. As a friend notes on another blog where I posted the following as a response, there is a significant difference in the career of a soldier who has done all that was asked of him.

    We train these men to be the best soldiers in the world, which is to say the best killers. If we ask a man or a woman to do that, to lead other men and women to do that, then letting them retire with honor is the decent ending for a career.

    Still, it seems to me if the goals are to reshape cultures as said, then we should use the means that worked for us when we were being invited to do this instead of kicking the doors in to get one set of guys then hanging around to tell the rest how to live. I can’t think of any examples in our history where the latter strategy has ever worked.

    When we have been invited to share, we do quite well. When people come to our country for education and opportunity, we do quite well. When they buy or steal our culture, we do quite well. When we innovate and share our innovations, we do extraordinarily well.

    We are a strong and prosperous nation. We have been before this generation, a reliable ally and a fierce protector of the rights of the common man. When we have used our military strength to obtain prosperity, we have always sacrificed the strength of what has made our country great: our belief in ourselves as a good and decent nation. Many great friendships have been made and sustained by acting well and by encouragement, but never by our proseletyzing our way of life and belief. It is by giving of our knowledge and spirit, by fair dinkum as my mates in Oz say, that we prosper as an honorable people.

    The honorable soldiers we train to protect that are too blunt a sword to be used to obtain our prosperity or to shape a culture. We train them to protect the walls and we do not dishonor them for the ambiguity into which they are finally placed by a mission that cannot be reconciled to our beliefs but have meaning in protecting life.

    I’ll buy him a drink or a meal anytime anywhere.

    Meanwhile, let's get the hell out of Afghanistan. We are asking our soldiers to subdue and reshape a culture, not win a war. We are fighting counter-insurgency which is another word for fighting a faction of the indigenous culture while dealing with the next least worse faction than them. We pay them money to not fight each other or fight the faction we're there to kill, but worse, our enemies are paid by our friends whom we gave the money to fight them. If knowing that we ask our soldiers to fight, we're truly frakked. As Hackworth taught, in it to win or out of it.

    VietNamization. What? Really? AGAIN???

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    I Don't Wanta Know - Lyrics and Link To MP3

    A song about a fellow who realizes the beautiful mysterious woman he married is actually a vampire. She keeps him alive because, well, she loves him and he feels the same way, but she is what she is and all he can say is, I don't wanta know.

    Much of modern life is too much like this fellow's problem: it may not kill us but it hurts.

    I Don’t Wanta Know – Len Bullard

    June 12, 2010

    Whose idea was it to burn the candles low
    Who couldn’t wait to watch me … walk out the door
    What wicked thirst is this that makes you act so mean
    Walking around with a red dress on
    Nothing for me but a sniff and a moan
    Keeping the best for the backdoor man
    Hiding the Bible in the bedside stand

    But I don’t wanta know
    I don’t wanta ever feel that feeling again
    I don’t wanta know
    Hunting at night with a knife and a bow
    Leaving them out in the cold down low
    Disturbing the peace with a hot lawman
    Catching a break from any CatchAsCatch can
    But I don’t wanta know
    I don’t wanta know

    I’ve heard you brag that you have never had to lie
    Get your way with nothing but a smile
    A moonlit shadow swallows up the northern sky
    Sucking the blood from the heart of a man
    Stylishly cruel? Oh you know that you can.
    Cutting him up if he gives you a fight
    Making it in by the end of the night

    But I don’t wanta know
    I don’t wanta ever feel that feeling again
    I don’t wanta know
    If you’re that hungry for a bite to the bone
    First, ask your sister if I’m alone
    If the time ain’t right just be prepared
    If you’re raring up honey
    Well I ain’t scared
    Cause I don’t wanta know. I don’t wanta know.


    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Snake Oil And Jimmy Carter's Sweater: Ready to Respond

    Jimmy Carter's sweater is a phrase used in politics to indicate an earnest response rendered silly by the context in which it is offered. It asks for minimal discomfort when the political opponent is claiming you need suffer not at all.

    It is common effort versus snake oil. I'm in a business where snake oil solutions, technology as a solution instead of enabler is a way of life.

    Some say Obama failed with his speech. Exactly how so? He told us the truth, same as Jimmy Carter. We didn't listen to Jimmy. How'd that work out for us?

    Obama gave us a broad agenda with three quantifiable goals:

    1. Stop the leak.
    2. Clean the water.
    3. Get off the oil addiction.

    If he's asking us, that's to use the modern yak, crowd sourcing solutions. The first isn't as amenable to crowd sourcing. The second is but relies on resources and organization.

    We'll come back to that: that is the cross-jurisdictional communications problem. Years after Mike Chertoff stood there waving the early drafts of the National Response Framework/National Incident Management System (NRF/NIMS) and considerable capital investment, we haven't established a basic communications system that can enable us to establish scalable command and control. There are potential solutions that can be fielded, but that covers products I work on and this isn't an advertisement. Happy to discuss them but not in this blog.

    But and Nota Bene: ALL of the oil industry response plans are straw, carbon copied, incompetent filings for mission critical response systems. Say Federal fraud. NRF/NIMS for an event of this type is a hollow suit. This is serious and heads will and must roll for that.

    That leaves oil addiction and this is very amenable to crowd sourcing. A friend of mine did some math based on government figures: we are getting 6.8% of our oil consumed in the US from offshore drilling. Another web site shows that 1 billion spent on insulating 75,000 homes equals the amount of energy spilled into the Gulf currently at a current cost of 40 billion dollars. If you are one of those with retirement funds in BP or any other oil company stock, you may want to pay attention to those figures. That's money invested with no R&D. Off the shelf.

    Try to think of the problem not in an either-or culture ninja whack context. For a moment put down the pitchforks, let Frankenstein turn the grindstone, and let's ask ourselves if we can start reducing our economic and cultural reliance on oil.

  • Imagine church missions to insulate homes. Start in your own pews and work your way down the street. See if the Methodists and Baptists meet in the middle of if the Catholics can get there first. Don't ignore; compete.

  • Imagine MADD Against Plastics. Again, why do I have all these plastic bags and whatever are they good for except filling the landfill? Go through your house and count the things you use that require plastic or other petroleum products. It is a sobering exercise.

  • Imagine empty recycle containers because the house consumes all the energy it ingests in any form.

  • Imagine wikipedia for disaster response, Redress the expertise imbalance of government over big money: not big gov vs small gov but Smart Gov vs Merely Technically-enabled Gov. If industry experts wrote open source, freely sharable, always inspectable response plans, for example, instead of "oh just use this copy; it worked for the other guys", we can address part of the problem of industry owning all the smarts and government being merely a forms processor that writes checks.

  • We can do this, meanwhile, please Mr. President, more Carter's Pills!

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Big Government or Smart Goverment

    It's an expertise problem. Drop the 'big government' distraction for a moment and consider the amount of training and background required to evaluate the technical details in a seemingly simple response plan that BP would be required to file by regulation. The way government run and regulated industries work, there have to be not simply GS employees (civil servants, job for life, hiring favoring social engineering goals as well as on the job performance), but real technical experts in the field who maintain their expertise given a changing industry even if their job is to read reports and sign off on them.

    And before we run down the 'lazy gov workers' rabbit trails, how many of you can still do your ninth grade children's algebra assignments? Compare NASA in the days when Marshall had the complete fabrication facilities for a Saturn vs the manage-at-a-distance style now where as much of the thought work, testing and assembly is outsourced to contractors. Once expertise is lost, it is very expensive to get it back and as a result, the average government civil servant becomes expert at the process, knowing which forms have to filed, which signatures have to be obtained, bottom line costs and their own performance bonuses given objectives handed down by political processes, not technical adaptations to changes in the technology or the market.

    The problem of the 'big gov' topic is it doesn't actually address the problem of 'smart government', 'trained government' and innovative government. You will never be able to regulate a complex technical industry listening to politicians instead of scientists and engineers when it comes time to make the decisions about technical risks. Physics and chemistry don't recognize the supremacy of money.

    Quit playing football with your environment for the sake of bragging rights. That is how the BPs of the world shuck you for gumbo and feed you your own entrails. Demand smarter government instead of the uptown klan.

    Thursday, June 03, 2010

    When Both Sides Quote Woody Guthrie

    When both sides of the dispute are quoting Woody Guthrie, you have a real American smackdown. Once the oil well is capped, this is the next catastrophe in the making.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    BP and the Big Spill: Resilience

    I am reposting some comments made elsewhere so they don't get lost in the blizzard. The noise levels about the disaster are not helping. The "Bush Would Have Been Skinned" or "Obama is an idiot" discussions don't help. Obama has no magic fairy dust for this. No one does. There is blame but we need facts and that takes time. Time is what we don't have right now.

    Spy Vs Spy doesn't help.

    "Out! We need no urging to hate humans! But for now, only a fool fights on a burning ship." (Kang: Star Trek)" (props to Steve DeRose)

    It's one of the worst habits we've acquired: have a disaster and instead of facing the work, immediately apportioning blame. There is time for that after the fire is out. The Federal government is responsible for responding but doesn't have the resources or expertise. The Feds can't handle a deep sea capping operation. There will be some investigation required to understand BP's actions in that it appears they responded to save the well instead of capping it immediately. Flawed risk analysis often sources in flawed goals. Later. Cap the well first. Get the boats in the water first.

    The way the DHS/FEMA protocols work is by organized panarchical Emergency Support Functions (ESF). There are fifteen ESFs. It is a strict chain of authorities, State Federal Local and Tribal agencies and protocols. Unless a fire is built under them, they can react slowly but usually it is an issue of recognizing the incident type and marshalling the resources to respond. An unfortunate side effect of putting FEMA under DHS is it is reponsive to terrorism but a bit slower to react to other incident types. The State is in charge until the President declares otherwise. The most serious problem is this is organized around resources (think equipment, personnel, funding). The States don''t have the resources for this particular incident type and neither do the Feds. BP holds most of the marbles and BP had not planned for it so the resources were obtained and applied far later than an incident of this type demanded.

    Here is a diagram illustrating the process by which the various authorities activate by presidential directive.

    Another problem is the public safety industry products are centered in high cost dispatch systems for local agencies. These are good for real-time dispatch to house fires, traffic accidents, crimes, and so on but wholly unsuitable for cross-jurisdiction event-driven response. A different approach is required and the systems here are just coming on the market. In this aspect, the BP spill is more like 9/11 than Katrina. Fast reactions across the multiple authorities and agencies are required. CAD systems are lousy at this for technical and organizational reasons.

    You can't touch your elbow with the fingers on the same arm. IOW, a system based on pre-placed configured assets has to understand the incident type before it happens. We can simulate and play what-if, but the fixed arm length is having the resources in place because all of the response plans ultimately come down to dispatching resources to specific detailed situations and these are spread out across agencies and jurisdictions as I describe above. To repeat, neither the Feds nor DoD have the resources or the expertise to handle oil spills in this specific situation. They have never seen this and Valdez only applies insofar as it is oil and it is washing up. As you go up the chain of authority, the knowledge gets thinner but the responsibility gets greater. That is why the advisors have to be very well-trained, the information has to be very current (real time if possible), and the locations of resources identified in advance. Then you have to have a communications system that seamlessly puts all of that together. Think $$$.

    The key word is resilience: coherent response in the face of novelty. The public safety folk have become very resilient responding to and mitigating acts of terrorism, conducting mass evacuations, etc. They are adapting as fast as they can to this novel situation but unfortunately not fast enough to avoid the catastrophe unfolding before you. Also keep in mind, BP is not an American company. Coordination with foreign governments and companies is ESF#15 and that is handled by the State Department. Post-event, some learning in that function may be necessary. I doubt the State Department is practiced at this kind of work and practice is the sine qua non of disaster response.

    ESF#10 organizes Oil and Hazardous Materials response. It is a specialized response and requires analysis given failures in the current incident. Important to note here is Volunteer Registration and deployment. In 9/11, volunteers appeared everywhere ready to help. It's a noble instinct; however, not everyone who shows up are a) who they claim to be and b) trained to the work. As a result, there are standards for Volunteer handling and these require positive identification and proof of skills. This enables response crews to vette and badge these volunteers. Why are the shrimpers denied access to the Gulf? Very few are trained in hazardous materials handling and are required by protocol to be trained first. What happens otherwise? They can go into the scene and injure themselves and pose a danger to others. Media plays up the fact that workers on the boat are getting ill. They have to prove it is a result of the oil but it is likely they aren't trained for the task and are not protecting themselves. Media skirts that explanation because it doesn't have the right victims.

    Media IS a problem. There is an ESF for handling the media but it can't corral them or write their stories. A larger problem in our culture has been the death of professional and responsible journalism but that's a topic for another time. Simply be aware when you are seeing stories on this and other events such as the immigration problems you aren't always given the facts and even if given them, the framing is such that your emotions are being stirred instead of you critical faculties.

    Critique without critical thinking is toxic. It turns you into a Weapon of Mass Distraction.

    This is the good news: if everyone does their job in analyzing and documenting this, the system does learn. It is possible to enhance the safety, improve the response and adapt. This does rely on coordinated communications and here improvements in technology will be helpful. Obama did the right thing delaying or cancelling leases. That response ensures the system slows down long enough to learn even as it is adapting to the current catastrophe.

    Since the nuclear option is being discussed by some, here are two videos. The first is of what is called, The Gates of Hell, the result of an accidental puncture into an underground gas cavern. This has been burning since 1971.

    The second is a Soviet era film propagandizing the use of the a small kiloton nuclear device to push the surrounding earth to squeeze the well closed. I've no comment on this because emotionally it is abhorrent and technically, I'm not qualified.

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