Thursday, December 31, 2009

Avatastic New Year!

See the world virtually change before your very eyes with a pair of 3-D glasses and a little alter ego shape shifting. Thrive in 2010. Happy New Year!

“Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder”. Original watercolor/pen and ink.
© Copyright by Artist, KA Collins. For more information concerning the artwork, contact KA directly at (Author Links)

Create your own reality or let Bosch do it for you like he did in our ‘Dream Sequence’ November 29, 2009 posting "The Art of Reality”.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cashing In On COIN

Right about the time Erik Prince of Blackwater-now-Xe was sagaciously graymailing the U.S. government with an exposé in ‘Vanity Fair’, and Osama Bin Laden was shrewdly recruiting a fresh round of terrorists from American soil, we were furiously working at our laptops hunting the internet for some practical financial advice in a feeble attempt at damage control as the economy continues its slippery downward slope.

Following a trail of click-through links, we inadvertently stumbled upon a website that resembled an online scavenger hunt called “Find the COIN”.

They say the best place to hide something is in plain sight, and “Find the COIN” was clearly counting on it. First glance gave the impression of top secret encrypted access only, yet we were able to navigate the user-friendly site with the ease customary of any other public domain. It took only minutes to discover that the two adversaries pitted against each other in this virtual scavenger hunt were none other than Erik Prince and Osama Bin Laden themselves, using the avatars FLY and CHAMELEON, respectively.

The grand prize was a hunting trip with Dick Cheney while camping with al-Qaeda in the heart of the Swat Valley. Given the scavenger map they had to work with (shown below), it was obvious there could never be a winner.

The site permitted us to seamlessly trace their high-tech/low-tech maneuvers across the scavenger hunt’s mapped out terrain where the opponents’ choreographed war dance was being destructively played out on an expansive international stage - all orchestrated to the beat of technology’s rap song.

The CHAMELEON’s right sided domination of the scavenger map looked to be absolute, as did the FLY’s left handed supremacy. It appeared that CHAMELEON’s strategic preference was the aggressive accumulation of powerful modems and the equipment necessary to post YouTube recruiting promos, instruction videos, and the occasional “catch me if you can” taunts to FLY across his Facebook wall.

The FLY, on the other hand, had left a furious trail of ‘snatch and grab’ tweets posting classified coordinates for strategic assassination targets. More interested in acquiring beefier helicopters than potent modems, FLY seemed intent upon fully implementing his 3-F systematic action plan: FIND the target, FIX the target’s routine and FINISH the target off…all directed, of course, at 3-F-ing CHAMELEON.

A glance in the rear view mirror offered us a crystal ball reflection of the land of Oz as the Wicked Witch of the West cast her sleeping spell upon the expansive poppy fields that blanketed the yellow brick road on the way to the Emerald City. Doubtless few would rush to compare the Helmand province of Afghanistan to the land of Oz, yet few will deny that the road leading out of Helmand’s poppy fields is indubitably made of golden bricks. And somewhere over that rainbow is a pot of gold used to fund world chaos and conflict as the masses close their sleepy eyes to the underlying machinations of the true power brokers.

Deep Throat knew what he was talking about when he urged us to follow the money, for the one who controls the money, is believed to control the world because money makes the world go ‘round. A simplified version of doing the math might look something like this: Money = Power = More Money.

Yes, there will always be plenty of money to be made by the robber barons hard at work sparking civil dissention and provisioning war zones by supplying both sides with what they need to keep the sparks flying. Another thing’s for certain too, there’ll always be a need for an evil Boogey Man antagonist to pit the good against.

World domination through cash control is an ageless game. Wouldn’t then a declaration of war against evil be an illusion that simply makes the rich richer and allows us to feel good about it?

Going stealth can be as easy as changing your name. Guidelines for how to go unnoticed can be found in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ February 15, 2009 posting "Catching a Few Xe’s".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wedded Biz (VVV)

©2009 by DK King

Once upon a time
There was the perfect mate.
Society counsels marry,
That means incorporate.
Articles and by-laws
Once duly created,
Form a household compliant,
And lawfully regulated.
Board meets for nuptials recited
As both in agreement converge.
Separate assets become united
In a co-mingled blend ‘n merge.

So before you speak the words “I do”,
You might want to negotiate
The best deal for you.

Commitment phobes,
More risk adverse,
Commit to share space
Without sharing their purse.
Companionship is rendered
By indie entrepreneurs.
No autonomy’s surrendered,
Shared bennies both procures.
Secerning self preservement
Proves a win-win strategy,
For freelancing contractors
Circumventing legality.

So before you speak the words “I do”,
You might want to explore
The options available to you.

Partners opt in one hundred percent,
Position their investments to grow.
C.F.O. recommendation is buy vs. rent
Before delivering an I.P.O.
Celebration returns every fiscal year end
While hopes and dreams are propagated.
Black bottom line with plenty to spend,
Empty bedrooms soon are populated.
Team players busy multitasking,
Fully booked from morning to night,
Fosters synergistic fast tracking
For unions working the system right.

So before you speak the words “I do”,
You might want to hold in reserve

Something solely for you.

Corporations plan for perpetuity,
Redefining “til death do us part”.
Strategic goal is long term security,
As shown on the pension plan pie chart.
Life cycles forth with its ebb and flow,
Branches form a brand name niche.
Years to lay all those ducks in a row,
Not discounting that seven year itch.
Dissolution optional if shareholders split,
“Happily ever after” seems a fairy tale.
The end of the day finds it difficult to quit
When your business is just too big to fail.

So before you speak the words “I do”,
You might want to ask
Is marriage the right business for you?

Alley Cats traditionally have a little business on the side. Perhaps you'll hear one purring a sales pitch in our ‘Vice Versa Verses’ November 4, 2009 posting "Alley Cats".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Art of Reality (DS)

We had a dream......and in that dream we found ourselves strolling through the surreal terrain of Dutch renaissance painter H. Bosch in “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, and felt as though we were immersed in a modern reality feature film that only Tim Burton could direct.

Our voyage through this intoxicating dreamscape plunged us without thought of consequence deep into a world of art imitating life imitating art. To a place where we were incapable of separating fact from fantasy, for the reality is that there was no difference.

And like every true pageant of the masters where a two dimensional painting is brought to real life, we watched like voyeurs as the indulgent derangement of earthly pleasures before us morphed into a third panel reality war zone.

The reality wars being waged within our dream were inescapably dominated by the Balloon Boy posse and the D.C. No R.S.V.P. party crashers. We were rendered speechless as both competitors deliberately left in their wake a smoldering third scene battlefield fully decimated by outrageous exploits – all dramatically delivered with the flamboyance required of a successful reality show audition. A couple sets of felonious fingerprints were left behind in the scorched earth as well, with perhaps a couple more to follow.

Apparently in the real world, the end is meant to justify the means. This ostensibly translates for many to mean no rules, no boundaries, no limitations, no dignity and usually no talent. So when we see that big reality bull burst into a stampede through the china closet of innocent bystanders and carelessly shatter lives and livelihoods while screaming “me, me, me!”, we’ve bizarrely come to accept that even bad publicity is still publicity.

Well, psychology 101 has long asserted that negative attention is better than no attention at all. Yet to repetitively reward the bad behavior of attention grabbers with the media attention they're aggressively hungering for has not only helped create a ravenous monster always starving for attention, but has unquestionably sustained it.

As narcissism continues its incessant me-parade across our high definition screens, and Pavlovian conditioning reinforces the belief that anything and everything goes in the insatiable quest for notoriety, we can only wonder when going too far will just be going too far.

And then we woke up and realized that Bosch’s vivid, yet surprisingly realistic, illustration of life’s temptations and the human condition has lost no relevance with the passing of time and civilizations. Can we reasonably expect the master’s real life garden of earthly delights to remain as relevant in the coming centuries as it is today?

15 minutes: too long for reality show media mongers, too short for the truly talented. Spend 15 more minutes reading all about it in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ May 12, 2009 posting "The Boyling Point".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Apple Pie Goes Rogue

Facebook was the tactical wall from which the contagious propaganda was hawked and sneezed into the atmosphere, and Twitter kept the infectious buzz spreading like the H1N1 virus in real time. It only took four months of gimmicky posts and tweets to prime every true American for the debut of a new grassroots animated reality show aptly named “Back Asswards”.

Back Asswards” - featuring former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, in the 15 minute role of a lifetime – finally premiered this week with award winning drama and the usual dysfunctional media frenzy.

The leading “Voice of No” who chimes with the times with one finger on the pulse of ordinary American folks everywhere has made us believe she’s found her calling. And in her role as the new flag waving “Fresh Breeze of Toon Town”, there’s little doubt the year 2012 will yield much more than merely the climactic end of the Mayan calendar.

Speculation has predictably swirled around whether or not her future will include a run for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination, especially after Mrs. Quit dubiously resigned her Alaskan governorship in July. Considering what the GOP has to pick from these days; however, it looks as if the answer to the speculations would be a resounding, “You betcha!”

Nothing screams “I can lead America” louder than a tell-all, fact flawed autobiography without an index.

When right went wrong was when we realized that this all knowing hockey mom was in desperate need of some common sense solutions if she really wants to win the next big race, and her campaign handlers must be fully capable of finishing up all that she starts but only gets half way through.

Fellow conservative, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, would undoubtedly be an excellent choice for the role of campaign press secretary. Not only would it be refreshing for her to work with another beautiful woman whose views are just as black and white with no shades of gray, but here was a seasoned media personality who could offer some common sense solutions for reconnecting with the liberal media outlets that were unfriended by the “Rogue Gone Social Networker”.

Another common sense solution to her challenges with the press might include recruiting Tina Fey to act as a stand-in for all press conferences and interviews. That way she could personally bypass all of those perky news anchors asking all of those annoying questions. Of course, in order to keep it real, she’d need to continue writing and delivering her own entertaining off message, wandering, around the bend speeches going nowhere, chock full of clichés, one-liner sound bites, new Hillbilly vocabulary words, and folks appeal.

Then there’s Levi Johnston (aka Ricky Hollywood and Bristol’s baby daddy). We don't expect he'll be going away any time soon, especially since he's considered part of the family. Just because he’s a high school drop out, doesn’t mean he’s stupid, for he apparently proved himself to be a quick study in American capitalism during his time behind the scenes on the last campaign trail. One conservative common sense solution to reigning in this morally lost young man would be to bring on board another former beauty queen, Carrie Prejean, to act as Levi’s moral compass. And if we’re lucky, maybe Prejean’s own drama will overshadow Levi’s limelight.

We found our eyes glazing over as we glanced in the rear view mirror while listening to “Mother Maverick” on the radio during her interview with Rush Limbaugh. When the right-right twins finished discussing her new substantive book on policy, we were left scratching our heads yet hungering for more.

While fact checking doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list for either Palin or Limbaugh, deep dark secrets are. So when the GOP GILF starts down the 2012 campaign trail where every skeleton hiding in the closet will become a headline, we’ll be standing by, waiting for something truly sensational, like Sarah Palin is really the illegitimate sister of Rush Limbaugh.

As for the lazy media, the beauty queen “Bering to set the record Strait” is as irresistible as fast food. She serves it up fast and easy like a drive thru window, and few are the professionals who take the time to research what they're eating before regurgitating it out for worldly consumption. And not unlike a fast food meal which deceives us into believing our bellies are full, we’re essentially left starving for true nourishment and bloated with gas barely an hour later.

Love it or hate it, no presidential campaign has ever been won without support from the media, and no exceptions for going rogue or being mavericky either. Perhaps inviting Hillary over for a cup of coffee will help to clean up her relationship with the press in time for season two of “Back Asswards - Kissing Babies”. Even pit bulls wearing lipstick still have to twist and contort in order to lick themselves clean.

But what we really want to know is do we all have to watch?

Alaska’s queen crab has plenty of company. Check out the corporate roster in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ September 4, 2009 posting "Mediocre Minds Think Alike".

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Alley Cats (VVV)

©2009 by DK King

Amorous moonlight arouses
The old symphony of catcalls,
And summons the faithless,
Aligned along furtive back walls.
Without allegiance,
Instinctively spraying charmed house.
Marking vain territory
In a stale game of cat and mouse.
Fence sitting wanderers
Performing their slinky sashay,
Yowling to stray,
Forever cheap,
And woefully cliché.

Hungry anticipation,
Rough tongue on lips smack,
Never, ever expecting
To give anything back.
Self centered and serving,
Entitled to a fault,
Forget about foreplay,
The senses assault.
Emotionally lazy,
E’er beguiling tender prey,
Purring “It’s all about me”,
“Get your needs out of my way”.

Leonine traveler
Dreams to be king,
Regally demands
In one pompous ring,
"Hurry, stop dawdling,
Aye, drop everything".
Sheared mane uncovers
Patent patch and sugar drug,
Lays bare the bald wolf crowned
In a crooked sheep’s rug.
Always spying on time,
Busy scurrying like a rat,
Papa is a rolling stone,
And a LAB Rat Alley Cat.

Not a priority,
But convenient after thought.
Beckons at midnight
For an honored one sided talk.
Privileged and blessed,
Nay, holier than thou,
“MAU Me Me MAU”,
Drawls the elitist meow.
Inhaling obsidian air
As cigar fumes float on the waft,
Far too important
To call a common cat back.
Ambiguous, yet
So biased bent,
Overflowing with bitterness,
Even divine discontent.
No one dares ask
Zeitgeist Alley Cat,
Wherever on earth
Might it be at.

Free ranging
crude conduct,
Lacking genuine pedigree.
No rewards for bad behavior,
Considering nothing good is free.
Careless roamers still preen on,
Playing every side of the fence.
Duplicitous feline, Mysterious con,
Assuming no consequence.
Gavel drops with heart’s decree,
Suspicious egos birl and balk.
Alley Cats judged clearly unworthy,

Now it’s time to take a walk.

What's the difference between Casanova and an Alley Cat? Open book answers to this test question can be found in our ‘Dream Sequence’ October 17, 2009 posting "Casanova Works The Strip".

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Casanova Works The Strip (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we found ourselves observing the high stakes action at a back room baccarat table in The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas. The croupier was plumed to perfection as an 18th century Italian dandy - replete with the requisite powdered pony periwig - and the plastic name tag pinned to his left lapel was engraved with the name: CASANOVA - VENICE, ITALY.

A fresh deck of cards had been shuffled and cut, and the distinguished high rollers partaking in this very exclusive game of tomcat baccarat deliberately placed their ample bets on the table. Without delay, Casanova smoothly put the game in to play as he pitched the cards with precision to the roundtable of punting philanderers sitting before him.

Money was clearly no object to the big spending playboys who’d paid dearly for the privilege of being in the presence of the master of amore in the fleeting hopes that the master might throw a few lessons in the art of seduction their way, mano a mano. They gazed upon Casanova with veneration, and like puppies in love, waited with bated breath for him to bestow his tutelage upon them.

Our dream had cleverly dealt us an unexpected fusion of old world sagacity with new world emulation.

Being an observant man, Casanova felt it prudent to properly assess the skill level of the libertines seeking his instruction before doling out any sort of enlightenment. The swingers that were now gaping at him admiringly were overall a lamentable and disappointing array of wannabes, and he felt almost as if he’d be offering the precious gift of manhood to amateurs.

While Casanova knew nothing about men being from Mars or women coming from Venus, he did know that if any of these lotharios had bothered to read his memoirs, they would’ve saved themselves, not only a lot of money given the high price of his game, but loads of humiliation as well.

Casanova decided to begin their initiation with the basics, namely, his ‘ImaRAKE’ technique because the condensed wisdom he’d managed to distill from his life’s work would provide a succinct summarization of what was required to perpetuate the art of managing a successful seduction.

'ImaRAKE' in four easy steps:
Step 1. RESCUE said damsel in distress from her current oppressive lover or unpleasant situation.
Step 2. ALLEVIATE said damsel’s distress, console, comfort, and champion her.
Step 3. KISS her seductively, and move on to passionate consummation.
Step 4. EXIT STRATEGY, which should always include the popular “I’m not worthy" and "You deserve better” for a friendly, yet conclusive parting of the ways.

Of course, had they all practiced his tried and true ‘ImaRAKE’ in four easy steps, they’d still be shamelessly cavorting with an inspirational Muse with Benefits (MWB-see definition below) today.

Upon stressing to his ardent pupils that no man is the exception to the rule, no matter how confident the man, Casanova then proceeded to offer personally tailored insights to each of the cads seated at his table:

David Letterman, Late Night Talk Show Host
Pappagallo! Casanova could only say, “Mai merda dove si mangia”, which means in Americano, “Never sh*t where you eat”.

Eliot Spitzer, Former New York Governor
Ipocrita! The love gov thought he'd been a big winner all night with his lucky number 9, but Casanova dismissed it as dumb luck inasmuch as the love gov should never have paid for something he could’ve gotten for free if he’d only played his cards right. The master admonished him to be more cautious the next time he decided to point his finger at others because there would always be three more fingers pointing right back at him. Casanova also suggested he consider leaving the country for a while. Maybe he could lay low in France because they understand about these things in France. Just ask Roman Polanski.

Bill Clinton, Former U.S. President
Don Giovanni! The world’s greatest lover felt like he was looking in the mirror when his eyes came to rest upon Bill Clinton. He could've chided Bill a little about that blue dress fiasco, but frankly, he just didn’t think he could teach Bill anything Bill didn’t already know. In fact, Bill could probably teach him a thing or two. He suggested they have a private tête-à-tête when his shift was over to compare memoirs.

Mark Sanford, South Carolina Governor
Imbecille! Don’t cry for me Argentina. And soul mate? Casanova was confused. What’s love got to do with it? Then referred him to ‘ImaRAKE’ Step 4.

John Edwards, Former North Carolina Governor
Stupido! Never get caught with the evidence, and that especially includes leaving your DNA behind. Then referred him to ‘ImaRAKE’ Step 4.

Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House
Stronzo! Stronzo! Stronzo! Casanova logically understood the marital strategies of a power hungry social climber, yet he warned the man with the reptilian eyes of a water lizard against letting that power go straight to his engorged head. Not one to judge his fellow rakes too overtly, Casanova couldn’t help but silently wonder if the stepping stone wives really believed that kissing the toad would turn it into a prince.

Larry Craig, Former Idaho Senator.
Signore Craig didn’t stick around long enough for Casanova to speak insightful words to him like the others. When Casanova directed his attention toward him, he simply stood up from the table, took a wide stance, and slipped Casanova a note wrapped within several large bills as a generous gratuity for the master before walking away. The note read “Meet me in the men’s room at midnight”.

On that note, Casanova looked up as Signore Craig moved to leave the room, and it was then he noticed the throng of starving seekers who were gathered by the thousands – the Moby Dicks, the LAB-Rats, the Trolls (see definitions below), the greedy, and more - all lined up along the corridor waiting for their chance to play tomcat baccarat.

And then we woke up and realized that despite modern man’s pretense of civilized evolvement, the primitive instincts are still running the show, and the show apparently must go on … even if the ending is always the same. Perhaps it’s time we finally change the channel. Who’s got the universal remote?

There’s no rest for the wicked. Bernie’s next assignment can be found in our ‘Dream Sequence’ March 16, 2009 posting "The Devil’s In The Details".

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Faux Food

Another summer has ended, and our nation’s school children have returned to their classrooms thanks to the old agrarian calendar. While the school year may continue its primitive revolution around the seasonal till and harvest, few are the children who have personally beheld the phenomenon of fertile farmland, let alone worked in the fields at harvest time.

Although many of our children will probably never participate directly in the hands-on science of crop cultivation, most are taught in science class about a very fundamental part of the earth's ecosystem called the food chain. A grade school science lesson on the food chain teaches us how energy flows from one level of existence to another upon consumption; and since food is energy, every living creature in the food chain gets its energy from the food it eats.

Naturally combining food chain principles with proverbial wisdom never fails to yield the ever popular: “You are what you eat”. Nutritionists have been preaching these timeless words of warning for centuries (and so has the Catholic Church with its Eucharist for that matter; but contrary to parishioner belief, the church isn’t part of the earth’s ecosystem).

The irrefutable science supporting the importance of a balanced ecosystem prompts us to question the motives of Big Food (and the reason behind government farm subsidies) when we consider the methodical alterations being perpetrated upon the natural flow of our food chain.

Foods today are described as processed, fabricated, artificial, and synthetic; and are full of chemical flavorings, artificial color, preservatives, fillers and binders as if this is normal. Even our basic staples like sugar and flour are known to be bleached, processed and refined. And let’s not overlook the customary corn syrup and casein infusions found in most things prepared and pre-packaged for human consumption.

Perhaps the reason we eat three times more than we should is because we’re unable to get the nutrients our bodies need from the foods we're eating and consequently, we never truly feel full or satisfied. Grade school science reminds us that it’s impossible to get life sustaining nutrients from something that is not alive and a natural part of the food chain.

We had a flashback in the rear view mirror that made us gasp in horror right alongside Charleton Heston as we watched a long line of waste disposal trucks pull up behind the Soylent processing plant, and proceed to dump one cargo of corpses after another. After the dead meat was delivered and then cleverly reconstituted into soylent green wafers, we could only gag when the recycle of life was fed to an unsuspecting and hungry population of 2022.

To dismiss “Soylent Green” as just some old 1973 dystopian sci-fi flick that couldn’t possibly have any relevance to our 2009 reality seems logical. Surely everyone knows that only in the movies would people be dumb enough to fall for a corporate gorilla marketing campaign designed to convince them that soylent green was a nutritious processed food made from high-energy plankton, and something they couldn’t live without.

Well, no one ever said that truth in advertising standards actually require anyone to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Far from it, for standard marketing practices make it a point to routinely stretch and manipulate the illusion of truth for maximum profitability. Any detrimental consumer side effects are usually considered negligible when measured against bottom line profit margins.

Case in point offers us a side mirror view at the marketing strategy for a popular brand of sucralose, and how its no calorie sweetener is a better alternative to real sugar. The product slogan rationally asserts “it starts with sugar, it tastes like sugar, but it’s not sugar”. What is never disclosed in plain speak, however, is that this artificial sweetener is basically chlorinated table sugar, and after intensive chemical processing, took what began as natural and made it unnatural.

An appeal to our collective need for sweetness without caloric consequences or accountability makes it a profitable marketing triumph, and the masses have been properly convinced that real sugar is bad and artificial sweeteners are good.

Corporate capitalism shamelessly intent upon increasing profits without a conscience has worked hard behind the scenes to remote control every facet of contemporary life. This clearly includes what we’re being fed, on every level.

Our supermarket shelves and delicatessen counters are being stocked daily with tasty mystery foods - foods consisting of unknowable and unnatural ingredients that are incongruent with the very food chain ecosystem we are an integral part of. We suspect changes in the lucrative business of reconstituting food will not be forthcoming from Big Food any time soon … not until of course it gets outed like Big Tobacco did. Until then, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

So will the cumulative effects of consuming nothing but faux food eventually turn us all into mannequins?

What’s the rush? Take some time to weigh in on our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ September 18, 2009 posting "Wait Weight".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rise of the Global Republic (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we saw Julius Caesar riding into Pittsburgh for the G-20 Summit on his white horse, just about the time Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi was trying to pitch his party tent on The Donald’s Bedford lawn. It took 94 minutes for Caesar to maneuver through the fray of plebeian protestors before triumphantly marching up the civic center steps where the new millennium’s world leaders were assembled en masse under the banner of economy and democracy.

Caesar may have lost a battle or two in his day, but he never lost a war, and his dark age old debate with Jupiter was no different. None of the gods were surprised to see Jupiter finally acquiesce in allowing Gaius Julius to transcend the millennial span on a dream ride into 2009 A.D. so he could see what remained of his illustrious legacy.

Sitting astride his fine steed 'Toes' in the middle of Pittsburgh, Caesar broadly surveyed his modern day surroundings, took inventory of what old Republic hand-me-downs were still in evidence today, and made a summary assessment of Roman contribution to 21st century operations.

Every direction he surveyed prominently flaunted vestiges of ancient Roman-Greco urban master planning. J.C. found himself surrounded by a forum of modern day government buildings, civic centers offering public gathering places, plenty of holy temples to the gods, sports stadiums modeled after the beloved Coliseum, amphitheatres for the performing arts, parks, and even the standard victory parade route.

Togas were obviously out, and sadly there was not a public bath house in sight. The closest he could get was a 24-Hour Fitness and everyone he saw sweating in the window had their clothes on ... well, sort of. Surprised by the overall plumpness of the populous not sweating at the gym, Caesar thought a vomitorium comeback might not be such a bad idea.

And the month of July? It was still coming around once a year right in time for his birthday.

While he can’t take credit for the Caesar Salad or the lifesaving Caesarean Section (even though he and Queen Cleo did have a son name Caesarion), J.C. was shocked to see that his melting pot blend-n-merge approach to religious doctrinal unification had been cast aside in favor of pronounced civil dissention born out of intolerance and arrogant sect supremacy.

Back in Caesar’s prime time, marriages were simply mergers designed to create corporate-styled alliances for the purpose of growing the family business. He could see little had changed in that arena. As far as strong, powerful women who knew how to rule a kingdom went, few could equal Cleopatra in his experience (and his old buddy and cousin Marc Antony could back him up on that one). As far as women knowing their place in a man’s world, it looked as if the campaign for gender equality was still waging on.

Little seems to have changed in the political arena as well. He watched as those G-20 global governments predictably finessed their way through the agenda in the traditional part-democratic, part-oligarchic elitist manner he knew so well. Caesar did, however, find the new Republic’s budgetary crisis a bit intriguing. Perhaps that’s because Rome had ruled for a millennium without ever having a budget. He couldn’t help but laugh though when he heard the familiar high-pitched squeals of the upper classes when the subject of them paying taxes came up, again. Some things just never change.

Gaius Julius Caesar had naturally been born into patrician high society, yet he’d always prided himself on being a populist and man of the people. The Republic of Rome was more important than the individuals it was comprised of, and he was pleased to hear that a contemporary world leader named John F. Kennedy had kept the torch burning when he proclaimed “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

After gloriously expanding Rome’s real estate holdings during the course of an exemplary military career, Caesar could deservedly declare in triumph “I came, I saw, I conquered”. Unfortunately the fateful demise of Julius Caesar didn’t occur on the battlefield as one would expect, but it came shrouded in cowardice from those closest to him. Like the Roman Republic itself, Caesar was taken out from within. Et tu, Brute?

And then we woke up and knew the die had been cast. It seems the world leader crusaders have mobilized a campaign in earnest to defend democracy as the new religion, and internationalism as the new book of doctrine. As the crusaders press on for absolute global conversion, do we need to worry that the new global government will become too big to fail?

America made us do it. Find out why in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ April 13, 2009 posting "Greed Goes Underground".

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wait Weight

The times they are a-changin’, and America’s double helping of new century change has stimulated its population to TARP their tears away three times a day with take out. True capitalists know that when it comes down to the emotional buttons pushed by recession and social depression, there’s little a super sized, super value menu can’t fix.

Nothing like a severe economic downturn, no paycheck, and a heap of recession depression to tempt even the heartiest of weight watchers with the promise of an extra large, cheap meal offering little but a week’s worth of empty calories in one sitting and high cholesterol. The fact that cultural perceptions about food consumption have shifted (to the delight of advertisers) from healthy sustenance to an emotionally needy pastime hasn’t helped either.

High speed technological advancements have obviously changed the way we work and play as well. One side effect of this change has been society’s overall devaluation of basic social skills and interpersonal connection. The ensuing social retardation, and the isolation and loneliness it begets, goes a long way toward creating a void that only sugar, fat, salt, and lots of sense-assaulting noisy stimulation can fill.

Upon heavy reflection in the rear view mirror we couldn’t help but see that extra large “Closed for Repairs” sign hanging on the entrance gate of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” attraction for the good part of a year.

Originally designed in the 1960’s, the ride was unquestionably in need of some 21st century updating. The sense of urgency prompting 2008’s closure, however, seems to have sprang from a chronic dilemma that even strategic rider placement couldn’t resolve ... the ride’s fiberglass boats were routinely bottoming out on cellulite sandbars and protruding paunches, thereupon bringing the entire ride to a constipated standstill. Logically, swift removal of the damming girth from the grounded lead boat was the sole remedy for restoring the ride to a normal flow.

With this recurring delay in passage came the certain knowledge that our world wasn’t so small after all.

While Disneyland eventually got around to dredging the plus-sized waterways it needed to accommodate the bulk of Americans, newfangled stadium movie theaters were long in the game with a “build it and they will come” approach to larger cushy seats, king size cup holders and mega-sized buckets of popcorn that any properly stocked self service condiment counter could help saturate in buttery flavored grease.

Hollywood then hit a homerun by offering more to love in casting plenty of big screen super (sized) stars who delivered body image peace of mind to movie goers as they pac-manned their way through the raisinettes and the previews.

In an era of survival aero-mergers, the airline industry has taken a more tightening-of-the-seatbelt approach to the expanding American waistline. Weight restrictions aside, the more seats crammed on to an aircraft, the more tickets to be sold. No one cares whose roly polys onto whom. Instead of enticing passengers to fly with the promise of a comfy seat and airy comfort food, they just stopped feeding everyone altogether. Everyone except perhaps the growing number of highly stressed, plump pilots who hold our lives in their hands at cruising altitudes (and are severely under compensated for it when considering their liability), yet look like a heart attack waiting to happen when the plane is parked at the gate.

Time has always been of the essence, but anymore, time is just a mcflurry in our world of instant gratification at the speed of a search engine set to find “now fast”, “a lot a deal”, and “cheap free”.

Yet when it comes down to the fundamental task of feeding our bodies, we suspect if one were to simply practice a slower more nutritious approach to dining – or to wait – odds are the load will become lighter, both emotionally and physically. And conversely, to habitually gulp down fast food on the go –or to not wait- odds are the load will end up much heavier all the way around.

It would appear excuses hold little weight when personal prerogative gives us permission to prioritize the time we need to properly nourish our bodies, for in the end, we alone are physically accountable for what we put in to our mouths.

A very weighty issue indeed, but what we really want to know is how do you weigh in? and what are you waiting for?

Sleep it under the rug with our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ February 15, 2009 posting "Catching a Few Xe’s".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reinczarnation (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we saw Nicholas II, the last Czar of Imperial Russia, standing with great distinction in his trademark uniform before an otherworldly horde of dearly departed leaders from history past.

The people’s revolution was as much a thing of the past as the eclectic group standing before him, but after Czar Nicholas had been officially canonized ‘Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer’, his ethereal vocation aspired to that of magisterial guardian.

History’s penchant for repetition supported Saint Nick’s dreamy notion that there was no time better than the present to decree the reincarnation of a new Czar-based administration consisting of several well-chosen individual Czars, each to be placed in charge of its own single purpose fiefdom.

Consideration for each incarnated inauguration was to be based solely upon the candidate’s special abilities, and not necessarily upon any aptitude for running an empire. Saint Nick immersed himself accordingly into the rigid Czar selection process by meticulously profiling this pool of old world ringleaders and how their best abilities could be utilized.

Although Nicky had plenty of royal relatives to pick from, our dream showed that he had no propensity toward nepotism this time around, for his elevated position had offered him an awareness level enhanced enough to realize that ancestry does not always a good Czar make.

And so we watched as he threw himself into the momentous task of divvying up his old Czar job between some of the local talent...

BANK CZAR: J. P. Morgan. Don’t just control it, own it all.

BIG TOBACCO TAR CZAR: Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, Co-Czars. Teepees, hookahs, and riding the “Wild West” war path going East.

CAR CZAR: Genghis Khan. All terrain Land Rover with the ability to conquer invaded markets.

CENSUS CZAR: Pol Pot. Committed to keeping the numbers manageable.

CYBER CZAR: J. Edgar Hoover. Where paranoia is the name of the game.

DOCTRINE CZAR: Torquemada and Saladin, Co-Czars. A perfect blend of “it’s the one true religion or the rack” and jihadic crusadism.

DRUG CZAR: Ronald Reagan. Just say NO.

FOOD CZAR: Henry VIII. Corpulence is King!

HEALTH CZAR: Achilles. Uncompromising mercenary with a talent for strategy and group motivation, in spite of that little hitch in his giddy-up. Second runner up for the post was Empress Alexandra’s favorite, Rasputin.

INSURANCE CZAR: Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Fascism and survival of the fittest.

PAY CZAR: Caesar, Julius. Rape, pillage, and enforcement of the “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” bonus payment system.

TARP CZAR: John D. Rockefeller. Failure is not an option, especially when you’re big.

And then we woke up and realized that by assigning these historical vanguards a mini-Czardom in accordance with their best abilities, Nicholas had unwittingly employed a basic tenet of the very ideology that had ultimately rendered him impotent and superfluous. While communist credo had promised the people “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, the overall consensus seems to be that the people never really did get what they needed, regardless of the regime ruling the land.

It appears the real Czars assigned to do the regulatory paperwork these days, however, are merely public relations puppets whose strings are being adroitly manipulated by some unseen puppet master hidden behind a stage curtain. Will this Grand Puppet Master ever come out into the light and offer us unveiled illumination?

What goes around, comes around, and the proof is in the publishing of our ‘Dream Sequence’ April 5, 2009 posting "When Karma Comes Calling".

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mediocre Minds Think Alike

The 1894 legislation making Labor Day a national holiday essentially worked out to be a hasty bureaucratic effort to appease American labor forces after the militia opened fire on striking railroad workers in the Midwest. Few today, however, would expect that bit of ancient history to influence procession motifs along the nation’s holiday parade routes.

For many contemporary Americans, Labor Day is simply considered the symbolic end of summer, and a day of rest from the laborious task of looking for a new job.

For those a little more prone to introspection, this legislated day of rest can offer pause for reflection about what sort of creative approach might be needed these days in order to secure substantial and sustainable employment during the festerings of a chronic corporate dumb down overrun with mediocrity.

When the bar is never set above mediocre, it’s quite easy to be lulled into a false sense of competence…until one is downsized, that is.

Truth is, consistent guidelines and standards that support an entire organization as its staff works toward a common and (hopefully) profitable purpose are not only necessary, but can be mutually beneficial as well.

Obviously balance and common sense haven't always prevailed. Too many rules and suppressive regulations imposed by corporate brass onto its workforce have served not only to firmly secure the power held by those making the rules (since they are typically the exception to the rules), but appear to be the inspiration behind the mediocre brainstorming that has filled corporate think tanks across the board.

Hollywood satirists have yet to fail in scripting profound dialogue that truly mirrors this anomaly of corporate culture in a way that ironically makes us laugh about it.

We laughed when Jim from “The Office” said, “I’ve always subscribed to the idea that if you really want to impress your boss, you go in there and you do mediocre work, half-heartedly.” We also laughed in “Big” when Jon Lovitz’s “Scotty” said to Tom Hanks’ “Josh”, “Listen, what are you trying to do? Get us all fired? You gotta slow down. Pace Yourself.”

The propagation of modern day mediocrity has unconventionally integrated old world Machiavellian principles to culivate a corporate “crab bucket” mentality in the workplace. Sure we’d all like to see our friends and colleagues get ahead, but not too far ahead. So we work hard to never outshine our corporate comrades lest we forget that the tallest blade of grass is the first to get cut. And those clutching the ladder’s top rung continue to rule with little concern for those clinging to the bottom rung, for those at the bottom are too busy taking each other out vying for a position to ever challenge the powers roosting at the top.

We looked in the rear view mirror while listening to our iPod and watched the CEOs of the music industry spin 78 RPMs as they whirled to preserve their dominion when creative technology began to weaken their syndicated stronghold. Amazingly, instead of spending their billions on competitive innovation and integration, they chose to invest their dollars in litigation to halt the progress and then try to control it. Perhaps they thought they were too big to fail and didn't need to keep up. Or maybe they just believed the surrounding corporate yes-men spawned out of mediocrity who routinely tickled their executive ears with disconnected reinforcement.

And the music industry clearly isn’t the only industry reeling from the limitations inherent with mediocrity, for mediocrity and creative innovation are incompatible co-workers.

Albert Einstein’s belief that "Great spirits have always encountered violent oppositon from mediocre minds" would rarely find a true innovator and creative thinker in disagreement. So does this mean that when we hit a blockade résistance from the prevailing Lemming-Groupthink majority, then maybe we’re really on to something?

For a little mind control, surrender yourself to our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ July 4, 2009 posting "Carnac the FMRI".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Short Sighted

Regarded by many as the father of American literature, humorist Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.

20th century streakers sprinting through the ‘70’s in nothing but their Nike jogging shoes undoubtedly had a different opinion, but it seems reasonable to expect that lifestyle and environmental demands would considerably influence what society deems fashionably suitable as we transition further into the 21st century.

When Michelle O emerged from Air Force One in Arizona the other day, and catty commentary set the newswires ablaze as if the entire country had been sucked into the Grand Canyon, our rear view mirror conjured up an outtake from “Project Runway” we couldn’t help but call “First Lady on a Tarmac Catwalk”.

France's first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, was perfection in a drab Dior ensemble and as the outtake’s featured commentator. We listened keenly as she melodiously described the fashion show’s unfolding drama in her hallmark voice a la smolder. (We figure it’s pretty safe to assume Madam Carla would also disagree, like a true streaker would, with Mark Twain’s assertion, especially since her naked photos have been a favorite Christie’s auction item).

The show's highlights included a fashion plate roundup of Michelle O predecessors as they lined the tarmac catwalk before the first lady deplaned. Carla diplomatically described the summer vacation attire worn by those former first ladies in attendance….Jackie O in Oleg Cassini capris, Gap T-Shirt, custom visored pill box hat, and peds with Keds. Nancy Reagan shimmering in a one-shouldered Bill Blass sun dress (red of course), sheer cover-up, and strappy sandals. Hillary in jeans (to cover the cankles), yellow cotton blouse with matching shirt jacket, and Hush Puppies. Laura Bush in a tailored ecru pantsuit, pink floral blouse, nude Spanx panty hose, and open toed Naturalizers.

The shot heard ‘round the world must've backfired when Michelle O finally stepped out onto the tarmac in hiking shorts, cream camisole with khaki overblouse, and workout tennies.

Given the media’s reaction, you’d think Mr. Blackwell had turned over in his grave.

Our contemporary schitzo-media will undeniably go to great lengths to shear away anything akin to dignified boundaries in order to maintain a highly profitable double standard. All’s fair as long as it sells, and it’s clearly a two for one when it also stirs up a diversion from the doldrums of a boring summer.

Let it never be said that any self-serving mass media outlet ever rejected the opportunity to fill time and space with highly lucrative semi-nude and soft porn advertisements in the name of free press and capitalism, while simultaneously feigning outrage when the first lady has the audacity to expose her legs in hiking shorts while on holiday in triple-digit desert temps.

The fashion barometer once calibered by society's affluent does seem to be rapidly divesting alongside their depreciating balance sheets. Could it be that prevailing styles will begin to trend toward a life-in-the-real-world affordability making egalitarian standards more en vogue?

Get coifed with our ‘Dream Sequence’ July 11, 2009 posting "The Salon Beyond".

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ticker Trade (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we found ourselves hidden in the shadows near a second level banister that offered an unobstructed view of the active trading floor below and a panoramic ticker tape above. The open outcries reverberating from down in the pit were jumbled and chaotic, yet clearly influenced the ticker symbols as they scrolled along without delay.

First glance led us to believe we were observing a typical work day at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), but something was amiss. The surprising sight of rabbi traders peppered throughout the pit seemed highly unusual.

It was then we noticed the large gold-plated letters affixed to the wall above the trading room floor which read: RED SHIELD ORGAN TRANSPLANT EXCHANGE (ROTEX). The signage was positioned underneath an emblematic logo displaying a golden medical Caduceus centered in the reverse on an ornate Red Shield.

We inaudibly gasped upon realizing we were really somewhere in New Jersey watching an unsanctioned commodities market trade in body parts on the world market.

As the symbols continued their repetitious flow across the ticker, we began to piece the parts together and the first piece belonged to black market capitalism. Heartless profiteering resounded throughout the pit below as kidneys, livers, pancreases, hearts, lungs, eyes, appendages, bones, skin grafts, and even soft tissues were being traded, hedged, arbitraged, forwarded, and futured for obscene under-the-surgical-table profits.

Our dream ticked along as many of the dark secrets surrounding ROTEX and its membership roster were unmasked. Member traders had been covertly cultivated and sponsored by the guts and bowels of health insurance heavyweights, and admittance didn’t come cheap. Although membership proved to be extremely expensive, cost was secondary to the covenant of absolute secrecy, and all members were blood-bound for life to a “Skull and Bones” code of silence.

The rise of ROTEX had naturally spawned the unquestionable need for a highly sophisticated organ matchmaker rating system similar to that of other legitimate commodities markets, and the “Serpent Index” was unrivaled in its ability to grade donor quality, provide organ inventory stats and harvest projections, and rate body part pools for securitizing.

And then we woke up and understood that when it comes down to the business of selling a person's body parts, society’s moral line seems to be drawn at “if it can’t grow back, it can’t be sold”. However, the indisputable human instinct for survival can sadly provoke those facing serious financial challenges to cross that moral line when desperation dominates, even if it means survival minus a part.

But what we really want to know is did those organ brokers first cut out and trade in their own hearts before turning to profit on the illicit innards of human beings in dire straits?

For the price of protection, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ July 30, 2009 posting "The Sopranos Return for Another Season on HMO".

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sopranos Return for Another Season on HMO

The Healthcare Insurance Reform Cicadas have risen once again after 16 years of underground silence.

The “Cicada HCIR” has shown itself to be a loud and highly irritating insect indigenous to the U-S-of-A since debuting in the 1940’s when Harry S. Truman first cleared his throat with the annoying HCIR hum he’d picked up from his predecessor, Franklin D.

While insurance protection in every imaginable form is as old as mankind, it doesn’t appear that modern day legislative regulation of the insurance industry has really influenced the hard core, down and dirty facets of the business overly much. And the most recent “Cicada HCIR” cyclical uprising has once again directed special attention toward the health insurance sector of the industry.

With all eyes now focused on the deficiencies in American healthcare coverage, we just couldn’t resist one look in the rear view mirror to observe the approach of a black Lincoln Towncar with ebony tinted windows as it pulled along the curb and parked. The sedan’s doors opened in unison and two piece-packing, black suited professionals sporting dark sunglasses stepped out onto the sidewalk with a job to do. The gangster collection agents were out in force to squeeze payment from the neighborhood in exchange for protection.

Strong arm collection styles are understandably believed by most to be outright extortion.

Nevertheless, there was a time long ago when buying this kind of insurance protection really meant buying protection, and the organization collecting premiums from the locals usually stood behind its protection promises because it kept out the competition and granted monopolized dominion over very valuable turf. The ‘organizzazione familia’ naturally kept all premium payments collected as profit for there were no shareholders to share with, no underwriters, no exclusionary clauses for pre-existing conditions.

There’s little question that the neighborhood had been made an offer it couldn’t refuse. Paying up meant insurance coverage was in force. Payment not tendered when the hood collectors banked on having their palms greased resulted in premature end of life issues that were finished off with assertive euthanasia lacking in the customary compassion or compunction.

Like “The Godfather Insurance” days of yesteryear, there still remains an honor amongst thieves, and all honor goes to bottom line profits.

American health insurance policyholders have also been made an offer they can’t refuse, except there’s no one ensuring that the protections paid for and promised are actually being provided. Instead, top priority goes to substantially increasing shareholder profits which are dependent upon the number of claims not paid and policyholders being denied essential healthcare services.

If Al Capone had been running the health insurance racket for the last century, would the industry be any different today?

For other profitable turf masters, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ January 13, 2009 posting "What Comes in 3’s?"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Salon Beyond (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we found ourselves ascending so swiftly that the Milky Way vanished in the blink of an eye as we made our way ever higher into the Great Beyond.

Moving with such great speed, we never expected the abrupt halt and free fall that deposited us directly in the middle of a grand opening celebration apparently in full swing. Regrettably we’d missed the silver cord cutting ceremony only two weeks earlier.

Above us flew a myriad of banners that were being pulled behind winged astral bodies like something seen at the beach in the summertime when those little airplanes fly along the coastline with banner advertisements for captive viewing sunbathers. These Great Beyond banners all read “CHANGE YOUR HAIR, CHANGE YOUR NEXT LIFE”.

By the looks of it, Farrah Fawcett’s new hair salon was the mane event. Personalities were lined up around Orion's Belt waiting for the rare opportunity to co-create either a do-over or a make-over of their next incarnation, and Farrah’s guarantee was hair to define you.

Some recent additions to the ethers patiently waited in line for their turn in the stylist's chair. We smiled as they peacefully submitted to Farrah’s angelic touch, and the vision of another walk around the wheel of life. One by one they came, and we listened as they ordered up their next experience:

Robert McNamara was poised to receive the full compliment of serving his country, and promptly requisitioned a Jarhead Buzz cut to go along with his new hard body for a lifetime of service on the front lines.

Ed McMahon decided he had absolutely no intention of going out broke the next time around and immediately ordered up “The Donald” Cotton Candy Comb Over.

Michael Jackson quickly grabbed his crotch before floating in backwards toward the chair in a moon walk. He knew for a fact that growing up sucks and requested the life of a little person with Shirley Temple ringlets.

Karl Malden got an ego boost with a sculptured nose job by Michelangelo which fit nicely with his newly styled Mullet because now it was all business in the front and party in the back. The Davidesque nose-Mullet cut combo augmented with a flaming farmer’s tan and new GM pickup would make him a babe magnet for sure.

Mr. Infomercial Billy Mays insisted on getting volumized with Blago Hair products not only because “It’s Bleep’n Golden”, but because he knew that if he could sell Oxi-Clean and Kaboom, he could sell a seat in the Senate without getting busted.

And then we woke up and wondered if the philosophy “as above, so below” holds true, then wouldn’t “CHANGE YOUR HAIR, CHANGE YOUR LIFE” work for us right now?

To be blinded by the spotlight, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ May 12, 2009 posting "The Boyling Point".

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Carnac the FMRI

As our industrialized nation and its citizens plummet ever deeper into debt and default, it’s heartening to see behavioral masterminds fast at work discovering new ways to squeeze blood out of a turnip.

It seems no line exists today that a bill collector won’t cross in its quest to wring payment from a distressed customer with a past due account. Evidence of this can be seen in the latest mass manipulation technique which involves the formulation of consumer psych profiles in order to diagnose individual lifestyle situations and preferences. These profiles are then extensively analyzed to determine how the information can be utilized and twisted to either emotionally extract payment or power market.

Should the reality of an unauthorized personal psychological profile not prove invasive enough, then perhaps it’s time we let it all hang out in a world where our private inner thoughts are secretly scanned, catalogued and interpreted for future use and without our permission. Well never fear, for Neuroscience has been busy in the background refining the art of mind reading with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or FMRI, research.

In the rear view mirror we saw an atom split to create a distinct fork in the road of providence. The high road of providence seemed illuminated and benevolent as it offered the prospect of an advanced energy source and the opportunity to improve quality of life for the masses on planet Earth. The low road of providence, however, proved to be dark and sinister as its highway led promptly to the atomic bomb and the ability to render mass destruction in a fly-by. The bulk of the research money looks to have taken the low road.

This new wave neuro-technology has created another fork in the road of providence – a fork that cannot clearly offer an unobstructed view beyond the approaching horizon’s blind spots. And like the potential of a split atom, the road taken will undoubtedly depend on the motivation and intention of those providing the essential research funding. Or as some would say, just follow the money....

To ponder the intricacies of merely one person’s consciousness and the unique experiences that influence and form it, is mind boggling at best. The data now being compiled will ultimately require interpretation by some to-be-named professional qualified under some to-be-determined criteria, yet we wonder if it’s possible to really anticipate the perceptions and true intentions deep within a human psyche.

It was funny when Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” knew the answers before the questions had even been asked partly because it had no true basis in our reality of the time. Funny how the humor begins to fade as we witness the present day reality of a rapidly compiled comprehensive thought identification data base, and the prospect of undisclosed powers believing they know the answers before the questions have even been asked.

In true Sci-Fi fashion and resembling that of contemporary attempts to block covert interceptions of private wireless phone conversations, we suspect few will be surprised to hear whispers of an underground movement actively employing countermeasures designed to block or jam involuntary random mind-reading scans on the ground.

How our thoughts are interpreted and how that information will be used to manipulate us in obscure ways is sufficiently disconcerting, but what we really want to know is who's going to own our minds and the thoughts it produces?

Explore FMRI research further, click on “Mind Reading” by Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes

For a little stroll down Memory Lane, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ March 14, 2009 posting "Barbie, BFF".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Boyling Point

Andy Warhol’s famous observations casually tossed like a bone to a hungry paparazzi seem to be even more relevant in our real time, fast food world than they were when he quipped them nearly half a century ago.

Warhol believed, with good reason, that the mainstream media could enable anyone to achieve “instant” celebrity status whether they deserved it or not, even if that fame only lasted a fleeting 15 minutes - or until the media diverted the public’s attention on to another shiny new object.

Today's carnivorous media can gobble up the raw and unseasoned with manufactured fame as soon as their prey has been blinded by the spotlight. Differing variations of the formula media blitz have been played out for the public’s viewing pleasure time and again, where everyone can watch with morbid fascination as the wide-eyed deer in the spotlight is shamelessly fawned and fattened on praise before being publicly roasted and devoured on the spit.

And no meal ticket for the barbeque could ever be sold without the self-promoting Troll on the Bridge (see definition below), since clearly, someone has to take credit for luring that deer out of the forest, and then serve as the toll taker who shrewdly optimizes the deer's 15 minutes by selling as many tickets as possible.

With one look in the rear view mirror where objects may appear larger than they are, we realize the “15 minutes of fame” factor is simply a litmus test for staying power. Perhaps even a succinct way to separate those who’ve laid the foundation and worked with focused commitment toward a personal goal from those who have not, which can extend to include the wannabes and the could-bes.

No doubt media neophyte Susan Boyle has had a crash course in dog-eat-dog since her April 11, 2009 debut on “Britain’s Got Talent”, and her subsequent record-breaking YouTube viewings of the shockingly wonderful performance which firmly placed her name on the lips of a global population at a speed never before seen.

Sneering pre-performance assessments were conspicuously rendered by Ms. Boyle’s talent judges, the audience, and even the world as all watched the frumpy, middle-aged, unemployed spinster courageously step out center stage in pursuit of her dream. (And to think she would’ve been disqualified for being too old to perform on the “American Idol” version of the same show).

While over four decades of hard work and personal commitment obviously preceded that pivotal moment when Susan Boyle found herself “discovered”, we find it difficult not to wonder if there wasn’t more to it than just luck and timing, for her pivotal moment resembled that of a “perfect storm” where each ingredient blended together at precisely the right moment to influence the destiny of all parties connected.

Only time will tell if the decades of prep work Ms. Boyle invested in her craft will give her the staying power necessary to go beyond the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. But what we really want to know is what components must perfectly intersect and coalesce in order to create those fateful moments of manifestation?

One way to cure memory loss can be found in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ February 27, 2009 posting "Big Brother Goes Hard…Drive, That Is".

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Century Nurturing

While April may’ve popped out of March’s Spring box like a Fool, May Day ushered in a new month filled with ancient traditions celebrating motherhood, fertility, and some light-hearted dancing around a Maypole.

Since history’s beginning, the Mother archetype has been recognized as the creator and sustainer of life, the nurturer, the caregiver, and even the soft heart of humanity. Although science has attempted to create and grow human life within the confines of a sterile laboratory, the hard-wired role of suckling and socialization belongs to the Mother and the nurturer’s influence has few limitations.

Today’s challenging economic times and shriveling job markets have revealed an interesting paradigm shift where we've begun to see men outnumbering women in the loss of high paying jobs. This has resulted in women steadily becoming the household’s primary breadwinner while more men remain at home to care for the family.

Familial units pulling together through troubled times is an admirable approach, yet with men increasingly playing a more substantial role on the home front, the country is beginning to rumble with the outcries of indignant male nurturers. The men who’ve dared to step into the important role of caretaker are now experiencing firsthand how thankless and invisible our society tends to perceive the function, so much so that many have even formed their own support groups.

To discount this paradigmatic transition as merely a movement toward the feminization of men would be unsound, since nurturing is gender neutral and essential for all humans, male and female, to flourish. Nurturing is the glue of any thriving civilization, and its existence-or non-existence, defines what that society will look like.

A culture that values the health and balanced well-being of its community finds it incumbent upon itself to recognize and support those who perform the necessary communal role of nurturer for it views nurturing as a form of preventative medicine. In contrast is the culture that believes nurturing to be a “give me”, requiring little or no investment…an approach that fosters nurturer burnout and outright neglect, with consequences most easily observed in an overflowing prison system.

We got a fleeting glimpse in the rear view mirror of Marion Robinson quietly moving in to the White House after The Big BOPR’s (see definition below) inauguration. There were those who loudly argued the unnecessary expense to the nation of supporting a grandmother in the White House. The arguments unfortunately gave no consideration to the possibility that the hard costs of supporting Ms. Robinson in caring for her grandchildren could save us far more than the costs of a First Family neglected

Sadly, in the red and black world of dollars and cents - coupled with the myopic belief that if it’s invisible and intangible, it has little or no value and should therefore be free – the hue and cry about "letting Ms. Robinson move in" offered little mention of the great personal sacrifices this mother and grandmother has had to make in order to provide a loving, stable environment for her family, as undervalued as that may seem in our bipolar American society.

With today’s paradigm shift, the systemic adjustments now in progress are by no means limited to the overhaul of our economic and financial structures, but reverberate to include a significant realignment of our value systems as well. So what really costs society more: the true cost of nurturing or the true cost of neglect?

For community outreach American-style, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ March 31, 2008 posting "The American Myth".

Monday, April 13, 2009

Greed Goes Underground

April Fool’s Day saw G20 delegates from the world’s largest economies converge in London for a common problem-solving objective: how to halt today’s global fiscal freefall and how to resuscitate the complected international financial systems.

As would be expected, every G20 country in attendance brought its particular budgetary agenda to the table, looming world economic collapse aside. These partisan agendas naturally provoked the traditional petty in-fighting over special interests, huffy insinuations of “protectionism”, and an intense desire to place the blame for this financial debacle on some Capital’s doorsteps.

And it seemed many fingers were pointing West, as the chants resounded “Blame America!”

What all the finger pointing failed to recognize, however, was that greed knows no borders.

Just ask the “Financial Fool’s Day” rioters who filled London’s streets, and angrily smashed in windows and ransacked bank lobbies, in protest of unbridled greed and executive bonuses. Or the Somalian pirates who went on a spree during the first week of April and hijacked five more ships - to add to the other dozen they were already holding - in exchange for big ransom money. Or the French employees of 3M who held their manager hostage as protestors burned tires throughout Paris and marched on the presidential palace enraged over executive bonuses and golden parachutes that the rioters themselves would never see as job losses mounted.

The international community didn’t hesitate to jump on the big bull right beside America as it was charging forward, and every wild rider got to partake of the voracious financial windfalls with punch-drunk giddiness. Those intoxicating days have obviously left a very nasty hangover, and many of the international participants who enthusiastically shared in the boon time have tried to cleverly maneuver toward absolution from the sin of greed by confessing innocent ignorance with the assertion that all fault rests with America, America made them do it.

Greed claims itself to be one of the seven deadly sins and even the root of all evil, yet to blame America for the greedy nature of mankind is as absurd as the parents of South Park, Colorado blaming Canada for the bad behavior of their children…even if they did win an Oscar for the song.

Today’s global economic depression has cultivated a “class war” revolution of international proportions. On the surface, the communal revolts seem directed toward eradicating elitism and the redistribution of wealth, but underneath, simmering at the core, is rebellion against narcissism run amok.

The escalating world wide working class resistance of today appears to possess some sort of unspoken consensus intent upon breaking the bonds of mental slavery propagated over time by LAB-Rat (see definition below) governing styles that are utterly disconnected and insulated from what’s really happening on the ground.

A world in chaos, fueled by widespread social turbulence without boundaries, provides a golden opportunity for the financially elite to move their resources and assets around virtually undetected. So where are the financial illuminati’s quietly investing and sheltering their money now?

To resolve the financial crisis like a freebooter, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ December 7, 2008 posting "Who’s Talking Like a Pirate Now?"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

When Karma Comes Calling (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we saw The Hague’s International Criminal Court receive a formally filed complaint, with no return address, from Osama Bin Laden against former U.S. President George W. Bush and his ex-partner former VP Dick Cheney for crimes against humanity, war of aggression, and war crimes.

Through the haze, we observed The Hague’s ICC judiciary committee collectively scoff at Osama’s audacity in filing such a complaint. In their minds, it all boiled down to the pot calling the kettle black, and there was absolutely no reason for the international courts to get all snarled up in any he-said-he-said finger pointing between a couple of has-beens.

With a snap, snap, and two rolls of the wrist, Bin Laden fully expected enthusiastic obeisance and immediate compliance to his cave issued directives, and The Hague’s dismissive response to his perfectly legitimate complaint proved unacceptable. Our dream rolled along as Bin Laden proceeded to mastermind a black op campaign in true jihadic fashion against his two ‘war-on-terror’ antagonists.

No detail was left to chance and limitless financing oiled the way. Osama knew the well-trained and cash-strapped Blackwater-now-Xe mercenaries were a perfect fit for his rendition mission code named “Pay Back’s a Bitch”.

Xe’s top secret mercenaries covertly commandeered two scrapped RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopters with flawless precision. Like ninjas, the mercenary crews were dressed in black from head to toe, including full facemask coverage, as each chopper mobilized to pick up its respective cargo before coming together at 0300 hours below the radar in Nevada’s well-guarded Area 51 where the Jeppesen jet was standing by.

Chopper 1’s southern target was the Preston Hollow burb of Dallas to snatch up X-P “W” (see definition below), while Chopper 2 veered north to seize Cheney from his Wyoming ranch.

The Dallas crew had to silently tread undetected through dozens of scattered empty Bud Lite cans before ultimately finding X-P “W” sprawled and snoring on his game room couch, mouth agape and spittle drying into its crusty corners. Barney barely stirred from his curled sleeping position on the floor to glance nonchalantly at the swarming ninjas.

Cheney was discovered in his ranch house dozing on a therapeutic bed in the guest room because apparently it was better for his back. On the nightstand beside him was a heavily dog-earred copy of Orwell’s “Animal Farm” resting in opened, face down position next to a dimly lit pig-shaped lamp capped with a swinish caricature of Cheney’s face in full snout.

On a screen split between 1,400 miles, we continued to watch as the two abduction crews synchronistically blindfolded, bound and gagged their captives, cut off their clothes, administered each an enema and powerful sleeping drugs, outfitted them in diapers then finally jumpsuits - all critical steps specifically designed to prepare the kidnapped ex's for a very long rendition flight to black stop destination number one in Turkey.

As Cheney was tossed aboard the Jeppesen along side an incoherent and moaning X-P “W”, he recoiled even through heavy sedation when he recognized the surrounding voices of their captors as those belonging to his former "VP-only" super secret death squad. Ex-VP Cheney dully realized before losing all consciousness that any pledge of allegiance once given to him by this group of clandestine professionals was forsaken the very moment he stopped paying them.

The rendition rollercoaster ride zigzagged unpredictably for weeks, months, years from one black site hideaway to another - from Turkey to North Korea, then Iran, Iraq, Somalia, eventually winding down in the recently-vacated Guantanamo Bay. And there were plenty of waterboard confessionals to go around.

Bin Laden required every waterboard interrogation to be video taped and was dumbfounded as X-P “W” and Cheney consistently blamed each other for all accused wrong doing, under the compulsively steadfast belief that they were themselves true innocents, without culpability.

Blame shifting video montages full of “It was his fault, not mine!” and “He did it, not me!” were released to the only true news media outlets left in America that Osama Bin Laden trusted to deliver the story straight up: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. He’d had second thoughts about asking for a ransom because he didn’t think anyone would pay it and frankly he didn’t really need the money.

And then we woke up and realized the Universe has a sense of justice all its own, with a sense of humor to match. So will Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert make us laugh or leave us quivering in our boots when they deliver the latest breaking news of X-P “W" and Cheney’s comeuppance delivered at the hands of their greatest nemesis and Public Enemy #1?

For a little Happy Gitmo, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ November 1, 2008 posting "Will The Lame Duck Be Flying South For The Winter?"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The American Myth

Once upon a time there was a land of plenty and it was called America.

For more than a century, America held its brilliant torch high and boldly announced to the world: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”, never believing that many of its very own could work hard and become just that: tired, poor, homeless and tempest-tossed.

On its maiden voyage to America in 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg. The grand ship’s SOS distress signal swiftly surrendered to the sea along with 68% of her passengers. This tragedy sadly pales in comparison to today’s economic Titanic which has collided head-on with the massive iceberg effects of deregulation, and is swiftly sinking – nose down and props up in stink bug position.

America’s economic ship began to visibly take on water as deregulation seeped throughout the energy and utility sectors, and we got our first real glimpse of the end with the Enron fiasco in 2001. As the systematic deregulation of our financial systems surged forth, monopolies steadily squeezed out healthy competition and the notion of self-regulation proved to be oxymoronic.

Many of the economy passengers on board America’s modern-day Titanic have already been tossed overboard and feel abandoned, with new ones joining them under water every day. They appear to have little choice but to desperately cling to the side of the sinking ship.

With this changing of the tide have come the waves of opportunistic bottom feeders, rising to the surface, intent to prey upon those desperately holding on in order to benefit financially from their misfortune by offering the empty promise of a life raft…for a non-refundable, no guarantees, paid-up-front-and-in-advance fee, of course.

The overwhelming eruption of various niche scams designed solely to take advantage of our current economic SOS - restructuring, modification, workout, and employment recruiting services that expect payment of substantial up-front fees and premeditatively provide little but hollow promises - reveals an unsettling lack of social cohesiveness or sense of community, let alone any rudimentary compassion for the suffering of another.

Some might simply dismiss this as just another face, or extension, of the very greed that created the crisis to begin with.

In the rear view mirror we can plainly see how Black Tuesday on October 29, 1929 ushered in a decade long Great Depression which bred a survival psychosis of holocaustic proportions that permeated core belief systems at a cellular level for the next 3 generations.

Should history prove itself an accurate gauge, it would stand to reason that the emotional repercussions of today’s Great Depression will likewise deeply influence the core belief systems of generations to come. The immediate effects of the now emerging survival psychology will undoubtedly result in the loss of an entire generation of 30 to 40-something investors who’ll no longer trust the broken system, let alone choose to invest in it.

While this lost generation of investors may cautiously elect to opt out of what used to be considered the American dream, they’re still indisputably left carrying the bulk of today’s economic collapse and financial crisis on their backs.

What do you believe is worth investing in today?

For more ways to think rich, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ December 28, 2008 posting “Why Bernie Made Off With 2008".